This painting was completed at the head of Bilsdale, part of the North York Moors. Just up from Hawnby where the lush wooded valley, or dale, rises to meet the heathland. After several miles of narrow roads enclosed by dry stone walls, it suddenly opens up to the moorland characteristic of this part of Yorkshire.
Bilsdale is on the Western edge of The North York Moors. Typical sheep farming terrain, with narrow lanes and steep climbs up and decents down, it's popular with cyclists and walkers. It ends here at Bumper Hagg. Hagg, I beleive means wooded slopes, which it must have been in the past – the remains visible below the rocky outcrops.
This original oil was painted in the sweltering heat of one of the hottest of hot days in the summer. Most of the sheep had retreated to any shade they could find – only the three silly ones you can see on the track, beyond the small wooden structure, were marching about in it. They were nearly as daft as me, sitting there getting baked.
The light was incredible, the colours delightful with the heather just beginning to bloom and the green oasis of the head of end of Bilsdale in the distance was enticing. Perhaps that's where the animals were headed.
Painting en plein air is often challenging. It's not just bad weather, but good weather too. It can mean your paints dry on the palette before they've got onto the canvas for example! Painting outside is strangely addictive though. Perhaps I'm just madder than the sheep.