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John Elwyn 'The Meadow'

28/04/2020
The painting, cropped
The Meadow by John Elwyn is currently stored at Cynon Valley Museum, Aberdare, South Wales. Bought by the Arts Council of great Britain, Welsh committee while the Eisteddfod was in the town in 1956. Much has been written about Elwyn for example the article here.
This painting is probably of Elwyn's birthplace, Adpar in Ceredigionshire, South West Wales. In the foreground is the meadow framed by rectangular hedgerows on either side. In the centre of the composition is a large pile of brash consisting of recently felled trees. There are leaves on the cut trees and a number of tall umbelliferous plants. A small herd of horned cattle are attracted to the stack of branches. In the distance are the houses of Adpar and behind them a hill and then a grey blue sky.
Horizontal pattern of brush marks

Painted onto hardboard the image size is 40 x 30". The composition is split horizontally into thirds. The lowest two thirds is the meadow itself while the houses, hillside and sky occupy the last third. These horizontal sections are emphasised by the use of parallel layers of paint clearly visible in the sky. There is a strong sense of perspective, although the buildings in the distance appear disproportionately large compared to the cattle in the middle distance.
Leaf pattern

The painting is predominantly in earth colours and nowhere near as bright or zingy as implied by photos on the internet. The back ground appears to be a mid 'army' green. On top of this layer of green the paints are applied fairly thickly with brush marks clearly visible throughout. The thick paint is applied with short brush strokes. Thinner paint is used with long brush strokes to represent the thin branches and whispy stems. Throughout the painting tonally light colours are placed on top of darker ones providing interest and contrast.
Abstract detail

Images on the internet or in books or even originals behind glass in galleries reveal only a little of how they were created. It's great to have the opportunity to look closely at an original painting to get some idea as to how the artist went about crafting their work. Thanks to Cynon Valley Museum for access to this artwork by one of my favourite painters.
Thinnest paint in finer lines