The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Feeding Swans on a Lake by Ivor Powell

30. Feeding Swans on a Lake

21.5 x 34.3cm. Wooden board with new frame

NLW(PG 5892)

This composition was based on a park in the part of North Devon where Ivor spent holidays. Of particular interest is his choice of surface for this painting. Though he could have used canvas or fabricated board, he found an old piece of wooden board and used it even though it had already suffered woodworm damage. Almost like the panel painters of the Northern Renaissance, he had discovered that painting on a hard and smooth wooden surface made it easier to use the brush with greater precision, and he evidently needed to do this in this complex composition, which called for the skills of the miniaturist. His swans, especially, are finely formed, and his treatment of the woodland in the background shows just what he could do when he was confident that his brush strokes would land just as he wanted them to. This North Devon scene is far removed from the landscape with the apparently abandoned church and solitary horse. This is nature encircling sociable humanity, and it shows the world the way he wanted it to be.

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