Munnings preferred to paint en plein air working outdoors rather than in the studio, and his many pictures of local country fairs, horse races and meetings as well as the bucolic countryside show his obvious preference for the direct study of nature. At his retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1956, of over 300 paintings exhibited, more than 60 were landscapes from the artist's personal collection. Reginald Pound comments, 'His pure landscapes would of themselves have made a reputation. In form, colour and craftmanship, those leading characteristics of the English school of painting, the best of them showed Munnings to be the line of direct succession to the English masters' (see R. Pound, The Englishman; A Biography of Sir Alfred Munnings, London, 1962, pp. 212-3).
Munnings's love of the water and open air made the River Stour near his home in Dedham a favourite painting ground which, with 'its lush landscape setting, could compare with anything of the kind in the world' (see A.J. Munnings, The Second Burst, Bungay, 1950, p. 157). The willows in particular had a certain appeal, 'What of the old, pollarded willows along the stream? These have seen their day; and now, with big, overgrown tops, which the old stems are unable to carry, year by year they split and fall apart, a desolate scene of wreckage, with cattle rubbing in the skeleton branches on the meadows' (see A.J. Munnings, The Finish, Bungay, 1950, p. 232).