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A Relationship with the River

I started painting the River Frome in Stroud during the first lockdown in 2020 - it was May, and hot. Taking the short walk from my home in central Stroud down to Frome Banks, a nature reserve currently managed by Stroud Valleys Project , was the perfect way to pass the days emptied of all normal responsibilities. All my exhibitions had been cancelled, and the concerts I was practicing for too, so this was an opportunity to approach some new subject matter.

I started by taking watercolours down there but it isn't my usual medium so I took the plunge and took my oil paints. Working on 25 cm square pieces of canvas paper I began my studies and quickly became entranced.

Painting moving water demands a particular kind of attention - a mixture of total focus and a dreamy state where you can take in the overall patterns of the flow. It becomes a lovely meditation - especially with the sounds of the river and the birds.

Later in the year during the winter I started to swim in the river - swimming in cold water was always something I enjoyed during long hikes in the Welsh mountains and I had missed the thrill of it. Our river is very welcoming and changes mood regularly - sometimes gentle, sometimes fierce. It demands respect and I approach it as though it were a God in its own right. It may be a small river but it is powerful.

Immersing myself in its flow changed the way I painted it too - I felt that it spoke to me more deeply and I could isten better and catch its moods.

In 2022 I began working on a series of paintings for a solo show at Spring Cheltenham and the idea of 'From Source to Severn' came about - to paint the river from where it emerges in springs near Birdlip and to trace it along to where it joins the Severn at Upper Framilode.

It has been a joy to paint

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