The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Donkeys Grazing by Ivor Powell

15. Donkeys Grazing

25.4 x 34.3cm. Hardboard with new frame

NLW(PG 5894)

This is one of two donkey studies. It is not easy to decide which of them came first. They were evidently painted closely together and are clearly intended as variations on a theme. As symbols of peace and tranquillity, donkeys always had a special place in his affections. It was a natural progression in his artistic development to include them in his compositions. While the foal looks at us warily, the mother has already decided that we are harmless and goes on eating with confidence. Everything about this composition was chosen to meet his communicative aims. While he conveys the spirit of New Forest heathland, his decisions over where to locate trees or bushes, and what their profiles, colours or textures should be, were not made by reference to a particular landscape but to the needs of his composition. The mother seems part of the pasture on which she feeds while the foal, in being curious about us, draws us into the picture. We are encouraged to see the donkeys as part of, rather than simply occupants of, the landscape through Ivor's distribution of their tones over the whole painted surface. The ochres of the donkeys, for example, are located again in the trees of the left background, and the clouds are secured to the land through inclusion of some yellow tones linked to the greens used in the landscape beneath. This is a painting which he was able to work out to a particularly satisfying conclusion.

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