A post about Painting on Hills

Painting by Zalamanda

“On the Slopes Of Ladle Hill”

There have been, on a few occasions, calls for posts-that-aren’t-about-music. This is one such.

Some of you may know that I paint. I can’t describe myself as anything other than an amateur, but I don’t like to describe the activity as a “hobby” or a “pastime”, because those terms seem to imply that I’m doing it to while away the hours. It’s more than that. It is, at the very least, a creative urge. Even during the dark periods (unilluminated by paint) when I wasn’t actively painting, I’d still “paint” in my head.

But I rarely get paid for doing painting.

Art is like that.

However, I’d like to tell you a story. A true story; it happened on Saturday. A story of serendipity, ancient hills and cheap art.

I took my paints to a new hill on Saturday. A hill I’d been to before, but that they hadn’t. A hill that was just that little bit further away than my usual painting haunts, far enough that, if I had walked, my painting time would have been severely curtailed. So I drove. But there was still a decent walk to get to my target hill.

The hill is called Ladle hill. It actually has a hill fort on it – one that the archaeologists reckon was never inhabited (but it’s also never been excavated) – and it was the fort that drew me there. But I took a detour onto unfamiliar paths and mislaid my way slightly – with the result that I approached the hill from a new direction. A very steep direction.

And, also, a very attractive direction.

I decided that the steep slope, with its hollows, and its wild flowers, and its stunning view, was my subject. I’d finish my climb later. I found a flattish area to set the easel up on, and got to work. Some might say it was lonely up there – I hadn’t seen anybody since before I’d left the car – but it doesn’t bother me. I was starting to think about finishing (there weren’t any white bits of canvas left, and the image was looking pretty much like the scene in front of me) when I heard a cheery “Hello” from behind me.

Company! How lovely. I wondered if they would stop to talk, or leave me to it. Some people feel awkward about interrupting; others are interested and will stop to talk. I don’t mind either way.

It was a couple walking their dog, and they were feeling chatty. They told me that I was the first artist that they’d ever seen on this hillside, and asked whether I was going to include the white house at the bottom of the hill in my painting? Yes, I was – it was small from here, and it would be a final detail. It transpired that that was their house, and I felt more inclined to try and make it look like a house rather than the white blob it could have been (I paint with a knife on the hills; it’s a crude instrument, but it stops me getting hung up on fiddly details). We jived about whether these downs were better than the ones closer to my home, and I told them how to find my art blog, promising that the post featuring this painting would be up the following day.

They went home, and I smeared some more paint around for a bit before going home myself. I took the route up and over the top of the hill, admiring the hill fort in the late afternoon light and regretting – not for the first time – that I had left my camera at home that day. As I walked, an idea percolated in my head. Maybe I should pop a business card through their door. It’s really difficult to remember stuff like the name of a strange artist you meet on a hillside. I was sure that they’d like to see the final picture, with their house in it! (I suppressed the hope that they might want to own the painting.)

So, to cut a long story short, that’s what I did. I printed a close-up of the house as it appeared in the painting, scribbled a note on the back and put it through their letter box on the Sunday afternoon along with a card bearing my blog address and telephone number.

They rang the same day. They were a bit anxious that the painting might have been sold to someone else. Could they buy it?

Oh, yes!

I should put my prices up.

(The paint is still wet – oils take a long time to dry even when you don’t plaster it on like I do – and I’ve been asked to frame the painting, too. So it’s still in my possession, but as far as I’m concerned, it is sold.)

22 thoughts on “A post about Painting on Hills

  1. What a lovely story. Serendipidy indeed.

    It actually makes me wonder whether when you when you are going to include someone’s house in a landscape (even as a blob) you could invest the time to pop down there and knock on the door and tell them what you are doing and invite them to come and look at the house from the view you are painting. Once they see you painting it, you’ve probably made the sale, I reckon. If not home, do what you did here? I have no idea what I’m talking about.

    And the painting? It’s really, really lovely.

    • “Popping down” would have taken quite a while on foot (the house was about a mile away), but, if a house turns out to be in one of my paintings, it is a simple matter of courtesy to let the residents know…

      I am going to try and remember to take a few cards out with me on future expeditions, too. And a pen(cil).

  2. I was researching the people who’d lived in my previous house, some of whom were called Wishart, and I found that the Wishart family have an online family tree; much to my annoyance there’s a picture of my house on the website, which had been taken while I was living there – I could tell by the plants.

    If they’d asked, of course I’d have said yes…

  3. Am I just being stupid or has the way we make new posts on The Splll changed?

    I logged into WP as me. I see than I am me. But the only option seems to be to make a ‘random post’ and I only do purposeful, meaningful and highly relevant posts:)

    • When you log in, you should see a dark grey band at the top, with your identity on the right-hand side, On the left is ‘The ‘Spill’; hover the cursor over this and a drop-down menu appear; hover over ‘New’ and a new menu appears to the right, including a link for ‘Post’; click on that.

  4. Beautiful painting and a great story to go with it. Has the purchase of your painting given you any sense of ‘recognition’ that you may not have had before? There must be a difference in hearing people praise your paintings, but another having people prepared to pay for them. I’m off now to your website to enjoy more of your work. Incidentally, are you self-taught?

    Ref the point raised above byTinny, I have never been able to work out how to post on The Spill (a blessing in disguise some might say!), despite following the instructions given in the manual. Can anyone enlighten me? Thanks

    • There’s a difference in having complete strangers buy your paintings! I have sold a few paintings before, to friends and acquaintances. Oh, one or two Lego paintings did go to people I didn’t know at a village fair – but it’s like Aba says, they’re “fun”; this is the real deal.

      And yes, I’m self taught. Mostly. I have done a few odds and ends of practical courses part time, and I’m not saying that they haven’t influenced me – but the ones that I found most influential were the theoretical courses that I did via the OU.

    • Sorry for delay replying – & it’s at least your second request. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Have you e-mailed Blimpy for a ‘Spill ID/logon? Without one you can comment but not post (& the ‘Spill needs posts).

  5. That is lovely. If we actually had any money, and you hadn’t already sold it, I’d be bidding for it myself. Your Lego ones are fun, but this is beautiful.

  6. Re. the ‘problems’ posting at the Spill; the times [and the Spill], they are a changin’.
    Nowadays to post I have to log out and then log back in again whereupon I’m told that my password is incorrect, so I input the same password and that mollifies the WP gatekeeper, he lets me in. Once in, I click on ‘new post’, which is totally unlike the ‘old post’ and then paste my contribution which was pre-prepared in another program, I’ve had enough of those ‘lost in cyberspace’ episodes!
    Second; I am so pleased to see a non musical contribution being so warmly received, I’ve long felt that the Spill was capable of more. I might even insert something I’m working on.
    Zala, thanks for breaking the ice, lovely story and lovely end result but how did you insert all those links into your story?

    • Crikey, GF, that sounds like a lot of work – just to log in! I don’t have any of those problems. I also edit directly in WordPress, most of the time (every now and then I resort to… Notepad, because it doesn’t think it’s cleverer than I am!).

      I take it that I don’t need to explain about the chain-link icon in the WP editor that allows you to insert links?

      Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got up your sleeve…

  7. OK #2: Zala’s response caused me to review my procedure and I realised that I was trying to return to the old, well tried and known way of creating a post with pics, youtubes etc; I wasn’t succeeding but I thought that I was about half way there. I tried Aba’s suggestion but that didn’t seem to be what I thought I was looking for nor did the ‘New Post’ icon at top right, so I kept poking.
    If you hover the mouse over the circled W on the black band at the top left one of the drop down options is ‘new post’, click on it and you get a layout somewhat similar to the old posting page. At least I’ve talked myself into believing that.
    It has the following options;
    Write a Post
    Post a Photo
    Post a Video
    Post a Quote
    Post a Link
    plus the usual bold, italic, inset, numbering for lists etc.

    I’m a convert! and so should you be also Tinny.
    More thanks to Zala for simplifying it all.

    • I did that? Fabulous.

      There are seveal ways to circumvent WP’s well-meaning but utterly useless “quick post” thingummy or whatever they call it (I think it’s for people who post from their smart phones*). GF describes one. Alternatively, click on the blog name in the grey bar at the top and select new post; or go to the dashboard (there are innumerable routes thereto), then posts, then new.

      I notice that they’ve done away with the acronym “HTML” in the view tabs on the editor and replaced it with “text”, which is a bit silly, ‘cos it’d scare you senseless if you were averse to code.

      *My mobile ‘phone is just as clever as a ‘phone ought to be, and the battery lasts longer that way, too.

  8. I’ve got to ask – did anyone (other than GF) investigate the links in the story?

    I squished a bit of music in, as you may have seen. But I honestly did not change the story to accomodate it (apart from the phrase “some might say”, which I tried to reconsideer but the urge to use a song there was too strong… that was where it all started!)

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