Silver Birches in Snow
circa 1980s, oil on canvas board 16" X 12"
Jean Royle made three oil on canvas board studies of these woodlands. In this version the silver birches frame the distant landscape. The composition is a series of interlocking triangles of subtle, soft greys reflected onto the snow from the darker sky, with strong, warm browns of the woods at each side leading the eye toward the distance, and the glowing apricot of the lower sky. The silver birches, which echo this colour, cut vertical lines through the composition, linking the foreground snow to the rest of the design.
She knew these woods very well from the time in the 1960s when she was living at North Lodge, Newstead Colliery. They were then a 20 minute walk from her home. In the 1980s, when these three studies were made, a 30 minute bus ride took her to the location – Annesley Woods just north of Newstead village in Nottinghamshire. Her preliminary pencil sketches of birches are shown below and in these later paintings of snow scenes she was working almost entirely from sketches, notations and photographs.