Watching the New Forest drift to get action shots of ponies running for an equestrian portrait

17 Oct 2013

I spent Sunday morning lurking at the edge of a wood with a telephoto lens. A bit odd, you might think. But I got what I went there for- a series of pictures of ponies running past. I have a commission to paint- an action portrait of a man on a horse rounding up ponies. The New Forest ‘drift’ happens through the autumn every year, and its purpose is to get the ponies in off the Forest so they can be counted, checked, inoculated, branded and so on. It is pretty exciting. One hears the sound of approaching hooves and a good deal of whooping and shouting, and then dozens of ponies come past with riders in pursuit. All very wild west. I am not going for anatomy here, but rather a sense of movement and loose, energetic brush strokes. At least, that is the plan. More of that in due course.

In the meantime, I have been finishing pictures in my studio- Sloane Square, from April and May; Martha’s Vineyard, from August; Exmoor, from the summer; and blossom pictures from the spring. So much to do and so little time. But having seen the space at Panter and Hall where I will be showing next October, I am feeling galvanised into action. 50 unfinished pictures are no use to anyone- I need them done so I can get on with new work!

This weekend I am showing Exmoor pictures down at Landacre, near Withypool. The big picture here has just been framed and looks fabulous.

Triptych study done in 2005

Triptych study done in 2005

It’s going to be hard to fit in the Passatt, but that is what I am going to do tomorrow. As long as there is room for it and me, it will appear on the wall at Landacre barn at the weekend.