heaven's brink

oil on canvas, 52ins x 30ins, 1320mm x 760mm.

Following a trickling sound I found a small overgrown gorge where obviously no one had ventured for years. I used a rope to get down. To steady myself I reached out for a fallen branch but grasped only an empty tube of wet moss - the wood inside had completely rotted away. An event from a dream. Looking up, splashing water seemed to spring out of the sky.

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oil studies

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composition : photo distorted in Photo Shop
to match spatial emphases in studies

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composition on canvas

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early underpainting
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first glazes for the darkest areas
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A badger blender used to lay an even glaze. The glaze contains stand oil, a type of linseed oil that creates particularly flat, flexible layers.

books in the running brooks

For some reason the uncomfortableness and privacy of this spot brought scraps of poetry to mind. So when I got home I looked them up. I had picked out lines remembered from school:

Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like a toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from human haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
I would not change it.
                            As You Like It, The Duke, II.i.

                                       .... clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season...
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink
                             Endymion, John Keats

I also knew of Henry Vaughn's poem The Waterfall  but not read it; so I looked that up too, and was struck by these lines:

Why, since each drop of thy quick store
Runs thither whence it flow'd before,
Should poor souls fear a shade or night,
Who came, sure, from a sea of light?

Driving home, I couldn't quite work out why this damp little gorge had been so moving, or why I'd thought of poetry... But on seeing the printed lines together I really did feel that I'd sensed something from each passage. And somehow the detail of the place made these feelings substantial to me. I had felt a particular book in a particular running brook. It was my job to paint it.

Paintings and prints available. For information, images and all other enquiries please contact

Email: st@stephentaylorpaintings.com

Phone: +44 (0)1353 667014

Letter: Coach House, 7 Douglas Court, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4SE, UK

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