Paul Critchley is currently based in Abruzzo, Italy, but previously spent many years in Spain. Paul, who has a number of paintings inspired by the seasons, relates the story behind Towards The End of Summer, a triptych of oil on canvas on shaped hardboard panels.
“It doesn’t just rain in Spain, it pours, especially towards the end of summer when, after the months of exhausting heat, the humidity rises and the heavens open. In Towards The End of Summer we hurry to close the windows as the rain lashes down, but the force of the storm blows them open, snapping the cord. After the storm has passed we open the windows and as we do, the lizard, who was sheltering on the window ledge, is startled and scuttles off into the sunlight which shines crystal clear through a break in the clouds. The rainbow, that symbol of peace from God to Noah, announces the end of summer.
This painting actually started life in Spring 1993 when I saw a rainbow stretched out above the village of Polop. I was so struck by the scene, the fact that beneath the rainbow there was light and colour whereas just on the other side of the prismatic bands it was dark and stormy, that I immediately made a note on the only piece of paper I had to hand, I kept the 4 x 5 cms. scrap of paper in a box not knowing what or how I could use it. Three years later I saw another impressive rainbow which reminded me of the little drawing but this time the idea of combining it within a window painting which would show before and after the storm was a logical solution.
Having decided to make a painting with a window and a rainbow (yes, I know it’s a clichÃ© to paint a rainbow but please give me the credit for not being intimidated nor frightened to tackle it. It’s a brave man who dares to take on a hackneyed theme!) I had to find a suitable landscape which, fortunately, wasn’t difficult because every time I passed along the road from Altea to Polop I would always look at the small white house set amongst the terraces of olive trees and wonder about the lucky soul who lived there. During the summer of 1996 I took the central part of the painting out into the country and every day I worked on it between the hours of 2 and 5 until it was finished. After I was satisfied with the landscape I took out my scrappy little drawing of the rainbow and using those notes and memory I painted the dark brooding sky. A few years later, when the painting was in an exhibition, a very observant gentleman told me that I had made a mistake: the colours of the rainbow are in a slightly different order. In a rare moment of quick wittedness I replied: “I’m not a camera nor a scientist – I’m a poet!”
Farindolese Landscape is of the dramatic landscape where I live – in the mountains of Abruzzo in central Italy – and shows the end of the summer when the trees are changing colour to reds and golds after the dryness of the summer. I find the atmosphere at this time one of calmness after the intense heat has passed. I did this painting as part of a big project which I will be exhibiting in Panorama Mesdag Museum in The Hague this coming winter.”