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walking, painting, blogging - 'taking part in the existence of things'

Looking Ahead..........

Soft Shadows at Fulking Escarpment - 50cm x 34cm

If this year has taught me anything then it would be to employ a degree of adaptability and not grasp too strongly at preconceived plans and projects. So, I'm delighted to give you a glimpse of my well-intentioned and ever-so-flexible ideas for 2021.......

This painting, my last of 2020, is the harbinger of a significant project that will occupy me throughout the next year, and further into the distance: a watercolour study of the South Downs in Sussex. My home county enjoys an exceptionally diverse landscape but perhaps the jewel in the crown is the South Downs, a range of chalk hills that extends from Eastbourne in the East, across the county to Winchester in Hampshire. I see these distant hills, a featureless, violet backdrop, almost every day from the village of Cuckfield, where I live. They mark a boundary between the Weald of Sussex and the English Channel and have been a reassuring presence for as long as I can remember. Blessed with long, stunning vistas, excellent walks, a wonderfully biodiverse flora and fauna and welcoming pubs, they are a true Sussex icon, providing shelter to quaint villages, employment to farmers, and a pleasant view to the club cricketer, isolated in the outfield at Fine Leg.

Thinking about new ideas and inspiration I was shook by the extent to which my knowledge of this local landscape was so superficial; it should be deeper than simply thumbing through a book of Eric Ravilious' stunning paintings of the area. I hope that you'll stay with me as I walk and sketch these downland paths, joined by friends along the way, as I endeavour to bring you paintings and prose that illuminate this beautiful tract of the South of England. Of course, Dorset and Gloucestershire will continue to feature prominently in my work, as the galleries that represent me there continue to find new homes for my work (thank you, amazing gallery people!)

As time permits, I am also hoping to produce further video tutorials for those of you that are keen to progress with your landscape painting skills. These are fun to do, and it's always a pleasure to share ideas and techniques with you, but please bear with me as I try to fit these into my often-hectic agenda. Other educational resources are in the pipeline too, although I can't reveal any more details of those at this stage; suffice to say that it is something that many of you have been suggesting I do for some time now. I'm afraid that this will remain shrouded in fog for the time being, just as the sea mists roll in from the Channel, softening the foot of the Downs so that you only see the tops of hills, church spires and beech trees.

It has been a great encouragement to see new members joining the blog this year, and your continued interactions are always encouraged and most welcome - your support is never taken for granted. I have found the blog to be a soothing therapy this year and my exhortation to you remains the same: be in the landscape, walking it, reading about it, painting it. If you have enjoyed looking at my paintings, reading the ramblings and garnering a few painting tips, may I encourage you to share the blog with friends and family? Word-of-mouth recommendations are the best way of reaching new followers and you can be assured that any help will be greatly appreciated. "Thank you" also to those of you who have purchased paintings, prints and cards through the shop and for the commissions you have requested during 2020 - it is not hyperbole to say that these have enabled me to keep going through some commercially calamitous conditions.

That's all for now folks. Keep safe and well, and I look forward to sharing a wonderful 2021 with you all. Olly x

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