This little painting started out as simply an obvious place to set-up and paint. The gatehouse at Burton Agnes Hall & Gardens matches the main house perfectly, and with the Yew trees echoing its interesting turrets, I felt it was wrong not to paint it.
The thing about working en plein air, at a location, is that you get to observe it. That's what plein air work is about of course: observing. I mean more than just observing what's sitting there though.
You also notice the fleeting things: shifting light effects, nature quietly changing and wildlife such as birds, insects or animals. So while I painted this scene, I saw the white butterfly dance infront of the dark green Yews in the sunshine – it almost shone. I watched leaves silently landing on the perfectly manicured lawn and became aware of a glitter to the Yews as the pin sharp light touched their needles.
Though it was sunny, it was the first sense I'd had of the end of the summer, so have called the painting 'The first signs of Autumn'. A formal, stately garden filled with things that don't seem to change from day-to-day, even year to year, decade to decade, is actually changing all the time.