John Constable, the consummate English Romantic observer of nature and artist of magnificent landscapes, once observed: "when I sit down to make a sketch from nature, the first thing I try to do is to forget that I have ever seen a picture."
I was thinking about this remark of Constable as I settle into my newly furnished studio in Spain and decided I wanted to inaugurate it by painting whatever my eye lit upon as I looked out of the windows. It was an interesting exercise, as in truth, there was a lot of beauty, but nothing that especially spoke to me as potential subject matter. Too many leaves, too much tumbling brilliance of bougainvilleas - in short a jumble of shapes. But I decided I would press on. The result was this small watercolour. I deliberately tried to keep my mind blank and just work by reaciton.
Another remark Constable made was equally relevant to this watercolour exercise. Only someone who has worked a lot plein air could have such accurate insights. He said, "No two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of all the world; and the genuine productions of art, like those of nature, are all distinct from each other."
He was right about the fig tree having a wonderful diversity of leaf forms. He was equally so about the every-changing light, the fugitive shadows, the change in intensity of flower colour... But it was fun to do this study - in a brand new and lovely studio.