Taking the undulating Galloway landscape and its pastoral life and folklore, Hornel produced richly-decorative paintings, superseding the early naturalism of the Glasgow Boys. Colour, pattern and texture took precedence over line and form. He possessed an intuitive sense of colour, which enabled him to conceive harmonies and contrasts that were very much his own.
In 1905 Hornel had returned from Japan and settled in Kirkcudbright. Although he clearly had been influenced by Japanese art the broad handling and rich pigment are still apparent in his paintings. He is not merely portraying girls playing together on hillsides but weaving a rich pattern of multi-coloured shapes, in which perspective is flattened, the horizon almost disappeared, the demarcation between figures and background is purposely indistinct and the handling of paint is broad.