Stoke Ash, Afternoon
circa 1950s, oil on canvas 20" x 16"
Jean Royle made this landscape painting of the Suffolk sky in the mid 1950s when living at Stoke Ash. This view is typical of the English landscape in the mid 20th century.Here is depicted a characteristic Suffolk scene of a low-lying tract of land beneath a deep and expansive sky.Little clear sunlight penetrates the cloud cover, but a few spots of brightness enliven the otherwise subdued cornfields, whilst the nearest field is well lit, and is texturally treated to give focus to the foreground and recession to the painting.Grey-greens with varying warmer hints are used for the willows, with deeper green and brown mixes expressing the heavy colours of the dark foliage. This is then carried outwards in the hedges that divide the fields surrounding the wooded hollow.To the left are the burnt sienna buildings and a field of a more muted version of this colour, adding life to these dark areas.The sky is majestic with its huge banks of clouds surrounding a large gap of soft, pale blue into which has escaped a small, light cloud.The clouds are treated in a bold and vigorous way, with plenty of tonal contrast to show their bubbling, shifting forms, and much subtle variation of colour to add to their importance in this work. Clearly the influence of John Constable is evident in the massed clouds dominating the flat East Anglian landscape. (See thumbnail below).
The treatment of the clouds is very skilful: this is not a simple subject to portray but it is a joyous painting, expressing her exhilaration in the beauty of the Suffolk landscape. When we look at this painting we are out there on the rising slope of those as yet un-harvested cornfields, beneath those rolling clouds, and giving full praise to the unbounded beauty all around.