I can still remember the days when my parents woke us up in the early hours to start the long drive down to North Wales, where we would spend some of our best summer holidays. Nowadays, if I wake up very early, I still get a sense of excitement, albeit for a different reason. And why not? Art is all about experimenting, trying out new things, including waking up at 3.30am. For a number of weeks now, I have been chasing the dawn, and those illusive blue skies that only appear for a few minutes at the start of a new day.

At first I thought it would be just me and the easel; that no-one else would be around to share that special moment. In fact, many of my neighbours get up early as well, cycling out to work the early shift, or waiting on street corners for colleagues to give them a lift.

Straight away, as soon as I had the easel and lamp set up, I started to focus, as the light changes so quickly at this time of day. I gave myself 15minutes for each of the boards that I had brought with me. Experience has taught me to prepare a full palette of colours in advance, particularly the ‘in-between’ colours that play such an important role in harmonising the image – blue-grey, pale green, browns, pale yellows. Each time I remind myself to focus on the essentials, not to get lost in details.