Drawing Small Animals from Life

The Billy Goat

Good morning everyone. Last week I went with my art group to Silkstone, a picturesque village nearby. We wanted to spend some time drawing small animals. And one of the attractions for us was the opportunity to observe farm animals and birds up close. I used all my powers of persuasion on my artbuddies to encourage them to draw living creatures. As you probably know, it’s quite a difficult task, because they won’t keep still! Actually, the sheep did doze off quite nicely in the shade, convenient for us sketchers.

Anyway, I sketched hens, sheep, goats and a peacock. For the most part, these were quick sketches, trying to capture the shape of the body. Also attempting to show the posture and perhaps some of the attitude.

Drawing Small Animals

Sheep and Goats

Then I spent a bit of time observing this mature male goat, pacing around his own field. Speaking of attitude, he was clearly in charge of all his family, even though they were the other side of the fence. And most impressive of all was his beard, long and luxuriant, sweeping down to the ground.

The Billy Goat

Finally, I’d like to show you a mixed media painting I did en plein air at Wigfield Farm. This was a couple of years ago when our sketch group visited this teaching farm, with some beautifully cared for animals. Luckily for me, this rabbit stayed still every minute or so. Sometimes it wandered around, investigating all the corners, and snacking. As I recall, I was using pen and oil pastel – these are rather unforgiving media, so expect a few mistakes I couldn’t correct. Even when I tried watercolour on top! Anyway, it was great fun and I’m sure we will go again. After all, practice makes perfect ( so they say!)

And if you want to see some paintings of dogs, you’ll find them here.

The Black Rabbit

Sketching Scenes in Sunny Scarbrough

The Path down to the Undercliff

Hello everyone. We’ve just come back from a lovely short break in Scarbrough on the Yorkshire coast in the UK. And it was quite sunny and perfect for sketching scenes! To be honest, I did this first sketch in Ravenscar, which is a half-hour drive further north of Scarbrough. Actually, it’s quite a fascinating place, the resort that never was.

Now, I must explain that the location is stunning, right on the edge of a dramatic stretch of steep cliffs. We love to spend time there, gazing down at the lush, expanse of under cliff, which comes between the top of the cliff and the rocky beach. But, this is really the problem because the path to the beach is very steep, and the beach has very little sand. So, not at all the best place to site a resort with relaxing walks and easy access to a nice sandy beach. However, this is exactly what the Peak Estates Company tried to do in 1890. And they planned the entire resort, buying up the land and everything. Even the streets and the sewers were laid out. Unfortunately, the gamble didn’t pay off, the venture failed. Nonetheless , the place has a cafe, a hotel and a National Trust Information Centre, so it makes our visits there even more worthwhile.

Perhaps you may wish to know that I was sitting at a picnic bench on the green in front of the one and only cafe as I sketched this. And, it was closed for the day!

Sketching scenes at the Mere

The Ducks at the Mere

Yesterday, as we were setting off back home, we parked the car right next to the lake. Then we had a cup of coffee and watched the ducks, geese and swans, as they preened and squabbled. In fact, they were never still for long, a bit inconvenient when you’re sketching!

Sketching on the Balcony

Behind the Flats

Finally, here’s a watercolour painting of the view from the flat we usually stay in when we visit Scarbrough. Actually, I did a small sketch on the spot and then I painted this larger version at home two years ago. Incidentally, this view shows the undercliff area at North Bay, Scarbrough. But it’s not as extensive as the one at Ravenscar. Nor as cut off and mysterious like a little lost world!

Perhaps you would like to look at the landscapes and seascapes in my gallery here . And there are more paintings of Scarbrough there too. After all, it is one of my favourite places!

Painting Clematis Flowers in Watercolour

Clematis Abstract

Hi everyone. I saw something online explaining how to do a nature inspired abstract, so I thought I’d have a go. The idea was to study the subject you have chosen – in this case, glorious pink clematis. Then, make a small sketch, recording the details you really like. And then, let your imagination go wild! (That’s the bit I like!) I’m not sure it’s finished, the pink isn’t vibrant enough for my liking. But it was interesting.

The Real Clematis

You can see why I was inspired! Anyway, just to finish this quick post, this is the same scene (a few years ago) with a different treatment. Acrylic, and painted more slowly. Also with a bit of artist’s license on the colour!

Flowers at Dusk

A Fascinating Little Local Museum

An old fireplace, with an oil painting hanging over the mantelpiece, and a fine wooden clock - a watercolour sketch completed on the spot.
The Mantelpiece

Good morning everyone. I did this watercolour sketch when we visited our local museum. In fact, the beautiful Maurice Dobson Museum is stuffed full of antiques and interesting objects. And, it’s quite difficult to zero down on something to draw. Actually, I’ve been there on several occasions on a sketch visit, and this time I chose the mantelpiece in the upstairs room. And, the volunteer staff call this the Domestic Life room. Because it is laid out like a normal, fairly well to do sitting room, in the past. Of course, it’s also full of many more fascinating objects than you find in a real house.

The Maurice Dobson Museum – our Local Museum

The Wash House

I like this area in the museum most of all, I think. And it’s actually in the courtyard outside. Obviously, there is a roof over this section, and the rest of the courtyard is a beautiful outdoor extension to the little cafe. (Incidentally, the cottage style planting in the borders is quite appealing). And, now we’re on the subject of the cafe, that’s where you’ll find the art by local artists on the walls. We’ve exhibited our work here several times recently, Barnsley and District Art Society, that is.

A photo of two visitors, admiring our art exhibition in the museum cafe gallery.
Admiring our Show at our Local Museum

Honestly, everyone enjoyed showing their work in such a pleasant setting, especially over a good coffee and some homemade cake! Not to mention the the warm, friendly welcome we get whenever we go. As I recall, we have had one or two great, little tea parties here on exhibition opening days!

If you want to get a better look at my ‘tomb sculpture ‘ painting (that’s the one on the wall), see here. As you may know, I painted this using sketches I made in the church at Silkstone village.

Another Small Painting for Sale

A small painting of a walk through a beautiful landscape, in the hills on a calm Spring day.
Spring Morning

Good morning everyone. Here it is – the second small painting in my new series of work for sale. If you remember, I offered my first one here , and I suppose that this scene is slightly similar. Only, the season has moved on, and now it’s early spring. To be honest, to create this landscape, I had a look through one of my little sketchbooks for inspiration. And I found this scene, it caught my eye and inspired me to paint. In fact, I have realised that I really need to like a subject in order to get my acrylic paints out. Then I set up my easel and the fun begins. However, I must admit that I can’t recall anything about where the scene was, or what happened that day.

Setting the Mood in my Small Painting

Anyway, in a way that left me carte blanche to create any mood I wanted. So, as I worked, I tried to channel brightness, in the fresh foliage of the season. Also, I wanted to indicate early morning and the optimism that you feel when you set off for a walk. Because, the landscape is one you love, and the weather promises a fine day! But, it doesn’t really matter whether you, the viewer see all that or not. In fact, the picture may conjure up quite different kinds of emotional responses for you.

Whatever you feel, if you like this acrylic painting, 7 by 9 inches, it could be yours for £15 plus shipping (free postage and packing for UK). It comes as it is – unframed and without a mount. But, securely packaged and sent to you and you pay by PayPal.

As I was writing this, it just occurred to me that I may well have been influenced by this practice painting here below. Just to recap, I painted this scene for my online course and the setting is Australian landscape. But the sentiments are the same, I think – it’s all about the pleasure of being in the outdoors.

The Red Path

Well, it could be not be easier to contact me you know. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email. Then you can have some original artwork at affordable prices, and there are plenty of interesting paintings in my Gallery too!

Painting Small Boats in Watercolour

A peaceful scene - the view over an expanse of water, with three small boats, tied up to a jetty.
Small boats on Ulley Dam

Good morning everyone. Last week I went out with some art buddies from our Rotherham Roar group, here . And we found this charming scene down the path from the visitors centre at Ulley Reservoir. And, I spent some time painting small boats. Although it was quite cold, we were all entranced by the beautiful view over the calm water. Partly because there were three brightly painted pleasure boats bobbing about, safely tied up to the jetty. Perhaps they are only available at the weekend, I’m not sure. But, I think they lead the eye quite naturally to the far hill in my composition. And, over the hill you’ll find the village of Ulley.

As you can see, the late Spring foliage on the trees is still a fresh, bright green. And it contrasts quite nicely with the blue and red paintwork of the boats. Of course, this is only a rough, quick, plein air sketch of the scene. But I hope it captures a little of the tranquillity and beauty of the morning.

Painting Small Boats at the Seaside

A man in a life jacket getting ready to push his small yacht off the beach, into the sea.
Getting Ready to Set Off

Actually, I found this acrylic painting in my stash when I was attempting to tidy my studio. In fact, I painted it from a little postcard photo. (Really, in order to get this viewpoint in real life, I would have been standing in the sea!) And it shows the picturesque Edwardian seaside resort of Filey, on the Yorkshire Coast. Incidentally, the tutor on the online course I’m following was recently encouraging us to look back at our old paintings. And, the intention was to critique them, carefully noting both the good as well as the poorer aspects of the painting. It’s all good practice in the grand plan. ( That is, of becoming a better artist!) So, wish me luck!

If you want to see a more recent example of me painting small boats, see this post here. And have a look at my tribute to artist Raoul Dufy.

Watercolour Sketching at Worsbrough Mill

Part of an old mill building in glowing sandstone on an overcast day. Three stories with a slate roof.
The Mill

Good morning everyone. Well, today I thought I would tell you all about when I went watercolour sketching with art buddies last week. Actually, I arranged the outing myself and I chose Worsbrough Mill for our get-together. Because it is an impressive site with lots of inspiration for keen sketchers. Or, even sociable art group members and friends who want to connect after some lonely times! Anyway, there was a good turnout and we had a brilliant time.

Just to explain, I sketched the scene above looking over the yard to the main mill building. In fact, my painting shows the more modern section, which was added to the old mill in the 19th century. And, the original part of the complex dates from 1625. But apparently there has been a corn mill on this site since medieval times. If you are interested in more details of the history, see this link here.

Watercolour Sketching at the Mill with Art Buddies

The Mill.

In actual fact, we were sitting on tiny fold up stools to sketch this, so the view point is very low. As you can see, the buildings are made of beautiful, old sandstone which really did glow in the grey, overcast light. Probably a little bit beyond my watercolour skills, but I had a go!

The Bridge over the Millpond

Well, after everyone had disappeared back to their cars to go home, I sneaked back to the millpond. And I did a small, 10min sketch of the scene. By now, the strong breeze blowing from the reservoir was chilly, so I went home too!

The footbridge over the millpond.  A soft, muted background of the foliage of spring trees and strong, dark branches.
The Millpond in Colour

And, I couldn’t resist adding some colour later on at home. So, now I have two ‘snapshots ‘ to remind me of my morning watercolour sketching with friends!

If you’d like to see me sketching in the Mill Country Park and the paints I use, see this post here.