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Winter Rainbow

Wednesday, 5th December 2001, West Yorkshire

rainbowcollared doveDURING MOST OF THE DAY grey clouds move across the sky but at lunchtime there's a perfect rainbow arcing over the valley, with one end coming to earth at the end of the old railway viaduct.

I've been looking at a catalogue of paintings by Raymond Booth. They're mainly botanical but also include scenes of the hedgerows and woodland around Adel, north of Leeds, and close up details of mossy logs and fungi. Many of the images have an intensity about them that, on leafing through this catalogue, seems too psychologically charged to be natural; in fact you might call some of the images not surrealist, but perhaps supra-natural. One composition, The Entrance to the Woods, shows woodland creatures and plants framing the scene. This picture, and others, seems to have the intensity and strange, disconcerting atmosphere of a Richard Dadd fairy painting, but some of the flower pieces are far more gentle and relaxed.

dark sky, artist; Richard Bell So, having decided that these paintings are a little too intense, psychologically charged and not at all the type of thing that you or I would actually experience as we walk in the woods, I step outside. There's an intense brooding sky, bare branches twisting in sharply defined, stark silhouette and, in the foreground, our beech hedge, now turned to autumn colour and, again intensely detailed in the fading afternoon light. A Raymond Booth landscape on my doorstep. Why didn't I see that before?

When I look at a painter's work I often start seeing the motifs they use all around me in the real world. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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