OUR picture choice this week takes us to West Oxfordshire and the work of Eynsham artist Eric White.
Morning Frost is one of a number of striking images depicting landscapes within a mile or so of Eric’s home in the small historic village some six miles north-west of Oxford.
Like many of his recent pictures, it was created with an initial foundation in acrylic inks and subsequently built up with layers of soft pastel, reflecting a love affair with pastels dating back decades.
Eric recalls: “Having initially worked in watercolour and oils, my focus changed when I was given an expensive boxed set of 72 pastels. Initially daunted by such a gift I took my first tentative steps into the medium and was immediately hooked.
“That was some thirty years ago and since then the majority of my output has been in pastel in one form or another, from pure pastel to pastels worked over watercolour or acrylics and pastel screen prints.”
Although entirely self-taught, painting and drawing was to become his lifelong interest and passion, endless experimentation and decades of practice helping him to evolve a flexible and personal style.
His galleries range from Cotswolds villages and Oxford townscapes to local landscapes and paintings taken much further afield, from France and Italy to Iceland, Morocco and America.
The locations may vary but his chief goals remain the same, he explains: “to capture the moment and to endow the image with a sense of place and atmosphere”.
“Although I work from sketches and photos the challenge is always holding that sense of place and of the moment to capture the essence of the scene. I go out in all weathers – sometimes holding a pencil in the cold can be the biggest challenge of them all.”
Commissions have resulted in paintings of houses and gardens, from the humble to the grand, cricket club grounds and sporting scenes, along with more abstract work for business premises, and he even tackled a portrait as part of the NHS Portrait for Heroes project during the first lockdown.
Travel opportunities may have been limited this year – some coastal views from north Devon before movement restrictions were in place – but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the great outdoors.
“There’s beauty to be found everywhere in your local area if you look for it and I always try to make the most of the changing seasons,” he says. “Out walking during the various lockdowns my wife and I have spotted woodpeckers feeding their young, boxing hares and countless varieties of bird including our local abundance of yellowhammers. You can always count on the song of the skylarks to lift your spirits.”