Working Method

There are two essential facts about Ben Hartley's technique. He painted in gouache and chose always to work on brown paper, frequently paper that had been used for a parcel. Later on, when he moved to Wales, apparently he was unable to find brown paper, or so he said, and took to using printed wrapping paper he found in a factory in Hereford.

With the arrival of the bequest, bringing together the paintings and notebooks, it was now possible to present an overview of Ben Hartley's work.

Every painting has its origins somewhere in the notebooks. Sometimes they use drawings or words from several different books. Only very rarely is there evidence of a preparatory drawing that indicates the overall construction.

The qualities most strongly associated with the work of Ben Hartley are humour and colour and a sense of poetry in everything he did.

Three periods: Early, Middle and Late

Throughout his life Ben Hartley's work drew on his deep love of the countryside and his close feeling for the life of the country people. However, the bequest showed that the work evolved, falling into three distinct periods.