The next day I took along my camera and took numerous shots of the area, including some closeups of the flowers and others showing the context of how they grow. I was struck by how the patches of each flower in its thousands formed bands of colour, receding towards the woodland edge. When I got home I examined my photos, and felt frustration and disappointment that somehow I hadn't captured the wonder of it all. I went back several times, even bringing home some samples of the flowers and their leaves and stems, determined to find out what they were.
I realized there was potentially a lovely painting waiting for me here and I soon felt urgently that I should try to capture the scene before nature changed its clothes once more.
So this morning I put my sketchbook and some paints in my saddlebag and set out once more. It was a beautiful day, all day. The sun shone brightly and the air was clear, giving hard edges and a vibrancy to the colours which I hadn't seen before. I had a wonderful time. I stood in the field, painting, for about an hour and a half before I was done. And the great thing was this: I knew that here I had a view which was inherently free; free of any requirement for symmetry, or particular shape. It consisted of bold patches of colour in random shapes and sizes, sometimes flowing one into the other, sometimes showing a natural layering one on the other as they marched into the distance. Spiking up here and there were scores of milkweeds with their pink pom-pom flowers, and the occasional shrub and sapling added interest. There was nothing at all which said "I have to be here, and shown exactly like this!" So, I thought, here's the best chance I'll have to break away from tightness and careful drawing. I decided, for the first time ever, that I would not make a drawing, that I would use no pencil. Usually, I feel a certain fear when beginning a painting, that it won't work out the way I hope; that I won't realize the vision. Today I told myself that I had little need to worry, just so long as I faithfully set out the colours. And so it proved. I am rather happy with this one.