Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Million Ponds - and two views in a series

The Ecology Park Pond Series
#6 - Moor Hen Pond from the roof of the Ecology Centre 29th January 2009
(Right) #7 -
Moor Hen Pond from the roof of the Ecology Centre 2nd February 2009

The Ecology Park Pond Series

Thanks to the snow I have my very first pair of seasonal images.
This is the bit I know I'm really going to enjoy about my project. How exactly the same view can look so different as the seasons, light and vegetation changes!

In this instance the gap is just four days! On the left is the view last Thursday - a bright sunny day with a dazzling blue sky at the end of January. On the right is the same view as of Monday afternoon - after we'd had the six inches of snow in the early hours of the 2nd February!

Both images are the view from the path which goes across the top of the Ecology Pavilion (which was created inside an earth bank.) For anybody puzzling, they're not exactly the same view in terms of dimensions as I cropped in slightly closer in the snowy one.

Colour in snow was very interesting - it was almost as if the "stuff" (botanical name yet to be determined) which I know is colourful had been drained of colour. Also everything was incredibly "matt" in texture which for me now highlights even more the gloss and the reflections on the water on the sunny day. The sky overhead was very grey and leaden and hence there was no light bouncing around on the snow. (In contrast to yesterday, when I couldn't go into my kitchen to make a cup of tea without dark glasses to counteract the dazzle of snow in very bright sunlight!)

I'd have loved to go back yesterday - but that would have been asking for trouble as the 'mushy' snow had frozen overnight and was now very dangerous. I'm hoping to get out again this afternoon if possible as we're now expecting more snow Thursday and Friday.

One aspect which was interesting on Monday was the way in which all the birds had almost completely disappeared. All I could see were a couple of coots at the very edge of a very nearly frozen Willow Pond. Apart from the bird which looked like a very large mallard stuck up a tree squawking his head off.

On Monday I did a review of the first six images produced so far in
The Ecology Park Pond in January on Watermarks. Looking at the images of the six drawings together I think I'm beginning to grasp in a much more personal way what Monet was getting at when focusing on the unity of a series as a whole.
The conflict between Monet's attempt both to paint ephemeral lighting and atmosphere and create pictorial richness ensured that he made more use of his studio when working on these paintings. His dominant concern with this series is the internal unity and coherence of the group of paintings as a whole. Monet used the studio setting to revise the paintings and rework the colour harmonies. The editing which took place was partly to create greater contrasts between individual canvases and also to make sure that all the paintings formed part of an integrated whole which had its own aesthetic.
Monet's series paintings - stacks of wheat
You can read more about series painting in Working in a Series - Resources for Artists - which is the information site I developed for my Working in a Series Project.

A million ponds

Thanks to Adam Cope of Dordogne Painting Days for sending me a link to Britain's ponds to double to 1 million.
maps and government surveys suggest that in the last 150 years the number of ponds in Britain has halved. Of those that have survived, eight out of 10 are now damaged by falling water tables, pollution running off farmland, roads and urban areas, and invasion by alien species.
Britain's ponds to double to 1 million
Looks like I might have picked myself some topical subject matter! Apparently the Million Ponds Project which has been created by the Pond Conservation charity aims to reverse the long-term decline in countryside ponds in the UK. It wants to restore ponds to pre-industrial levels, protecting threatened species and helping them to survive global warming. They've certainly got some pretty heavy weight partners on their side.

I think I may well drop them a line and tell them about my art project!

Here's a Guardian slideshow of some of the rare species of plants and amphibians that will benefit from the Million Ponds Project.

Plus if you have a garden pond or are interested in developing one you might want to take a look at The Garden Pond Blog.



  1. How wonderful to see the same view in such different circumstances. I like them both.
    There are not enough ponds to my mind - the more the merrier.
    I can't wait till I have my house on the lake in Georgia - lots of water everywhere!

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  3. Lovely. And lucky to have the opportunity to capture this scene as snow is more a rarity in London than here.

    Snow makes such a difference to the landscape doesn't it? And sun on snow is spectacular for those stunning blue shadows.

    Yes, do tell them about your art project on the ponds. In Newfoundland there are more ponds than you can shake a stick at. You can't seem to move a mile without tripping over one!

  4. There's no photos on Flickr yet Robyn as I'm still stuck with the problem over the Uploadr.

    There's only so many visits I can make to that site before I get totally frustrated at the moment!

    I have my fingers crossed that they are going to produce a fix.

  5. Interesting contrasts in both scenes in just a short space of time!

  6. Lovely to see this scene so transformed - the pictures we're seeing on TV of London in the snow are spectacular!

  7. WOW - I love the pond in snow. Very Japonisme, Katherine. Certainly worth risking life and limb for.

    This turning out to be an a beautiful and fascinating series. One day they may have to build you a pavilion by the ponds to house it all.

  8. I love this kind of series work, Katherine...beautifully done.

    Sorry to hear you're having difficulty with Flickr! I did until I uploaded their newest version, but it doesn't sound as if that's your problem...

  9. Katherine, did you have a favorite between the two, doing them I mean? I love seeing them together like that!
    On another note, been concerned for you all, and also so many here in the states that had great snow, and no electricity for days and days.
    Lastly, I WANT that view you have from your window! (wink)

  10. Great sketches both. It is awesome to see two drastically different views within such a short span of time, and they look great together.

  11. lovely

    and yes, a whole series has the element of time and changing light - my seascapes have another dimension when seen hung together with the changing tide, time,season, light, weather ...

  12. Two very beautiful pieces Katherine! This is such a wonderful setting to capture. I never get tired of the colours of winter. The shadows on snow, the dazzling brilliance...always facinating. It is a good thing I love the look of snow as we get lots of it here in Ottawa, Canada. I am so glad you were able to get out and appreciate the landscape's snowy beauty! Again, beautiful work.

  13. nice drawings!

    ( i grew up by a mill pond in hampshire, so it's something close to my heart, frogs, toads & all...)

  14. The snow photos are now going - very slowly - onto Flickr via the basic uploadr (6 at a time!).

    I've started a new set for The Ecology Park Ponds Series - February 2009

    All the snow pics are in a set called The Big Snow!

  15. Thanks for providing a link to the results of your October poll, 'What's your main reason for working in a series?' I hadn't seen that survey, and now find the results thought-provoking I have done some seasonal variations of mountain landscapes, and hadn't really thought about my reasons for liking this idea.


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