Ben Hartley's work as a painter begins seriously in the 1960s soon after he arrived to teach in Plymouth. Prior to that, in his student years, he had worked primarily as a print maker. The principal distinguishing characteristic of this work is the use of colour, dark browns and greens, very much in the vein of the English Neo - Romantics, artists devoted to nature and the landscape, who dominated British painting in the 1940s. The gouache is applied direct to brown paper, thus emphasizing the sombreness of colour in this work, compared with what was to come.
Compared with the changes to come, the imagery is relatively naturalistic, though not altogether. See Farm Scene where the space is flattened out and the various motifs bare little relation to three dimensional space.