Four seasons in one view

 
Kew Green Edmund Palao.jpg

Commissions often provide an opportunity for me to create something different, such as an unusual theme, location or viewpoint. One project, in particular, presented me a challenge of producing four paintings, overlooking a large pond in Kew Green, south east London, with each piece depicting the same view but during a different season.

With an impressionistic eye, I focused primarily on capturing the typical qualities associated with a particular season such as the changing colour of foliage, the local weather and the cycle of life. I was intrigued, however, by the height and strength of the sun, the length and positions of shadows and how these changed over the months. More than just an exercise in plain-air painting, the project got me contemplating the bigger ‘astronomical’ picture of the landscape in front of me. 

Many years earlier I read a dusty old hardback book at home titled Larousse Encyclopaedia of Astronomy, which featured a chapter called ‘Our observatory, the Earth’. It was illustrated with charmingly quaint black and white photographs, diagrams of the earth, moon and sun, which elegantly explained the celestial motions. It mentioned the differing apparent heights and positions of the sun over the course of the year, caused primarily by the earth's tilted axis and, hence, why we experience seasons. The book gave me an appreciation of the scale of the solar system and how I could observe the celestial clockwork myself, without the need of a telescope or computer, simply by reading the landscapes and skies around me. The local area around Kew Green is stooped in natural science history, especially with the famous Kew Gardens, situated close by. A sundial is situated there and harnesses the mechanics of the celestial realm in a charming and practical way. 

When painting the Kew Green series, my mind contemplated the seasonal changes in the scenery on both a localised level and an astronomical one... from lengthening shadows perpendicular with an almost due-westerly sunset in late summer, to a low winter sun setting close to due south in the mid-afternoon. It made me think of the proper motion of the earth, tilted on its axis, moving around the sun, which are responsible for natural cycle of the seasons and changing colours. The project allowed me to document this expererience in paint.

  Kew Green - Summer  2014 acrylic on board 30 x 40 cm. The summer painting was the first in the series. Keeping an acrylic painting surface damp in dry conditions is key to creating a successful piece of work.

Kew Green - Summer 2014 acrylic on board 30 x 40 cm. The summer painting was the first in the series. Keeping an acrylic painting surface damp in dry conditions is key to creating a successful piece of work.

  Kew Green - Autumn  2014 acrylic on board 30 x 40 cm. Spot the aeroplane flying over the lines of trees, on its way to landing at nearby Heathrow Airport.

Kew Green - Autumn 2014 acrylic on board 30 x 40 cm. Spot the aeroplane flying over the lines of trees, on its way to landing at nearby Heathrow Airport.

  Kew Green - Winter  2015 acrylic on board 30 x 40 cm. This bare-treed view was painted from a slightly higher position than the two previous paintings above, which allowed for a better view of the reflections in the pond.

Kew Green - Winter 2015 acrylic on board 30 x 40 cm. This bare-treed view was painted from a slightly higher position than the two previous paintings above, which allowed for a better view of the reflections in the pond.

  Kew Green - Spring  2015 acrylic on board 30 x 40 cm. The last in the series, this bright painting was completed in one short sitting as I felt confident and familiar enough with the view to keep everything simple and spontaneous.

Kew Green - Spring 2015 acrylic on board 30 x 40 cm. The last in the series, this bright painting was completed in one short sitting as I felt confident and familiar enough with the view to keep everything simple and spontaneous.