Yorkshire Writers Exhibition in Progress

Top Withens

Good morning everyone. This Saturday I took my big acrylic painting to our gallery at the Ridings centre in Wakefield. Because we are getting our show ready for the 29th September – Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers. Perhaps you remember that we started this project in 2019, but the pandemic stopped it in its tracks, with only half of the artwork in the gallery.

My First Painting for our Yorkshire Writers Exhibition

The Green Man Waiting for Sir Gawain at the Doorway of his Green Church

As you can see, here is my first piece for our current Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition and you can read all about it here. Actually, we do have super themes for our exhibitions – have a look at my Exhibitions page here. And you will see some of the work I did for the Northern Fringe Gallery exhibitions.

Top Withens

Anyway, just a word of explanation about this painting in which I felt inspired by poet Ted Hughes. In fact, I like many of his poems but I really loved the one entitled ‘Wuthering Heights’. And this location, Top Withens, is a ruined farmhouse on the Pennine moors near Haworth in West Yorkshire. Because it is presumed to be the setting for Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, it’s quite a famous spot. Well, Ted Hughes and his wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath lived nearby. And they hired a local guide to take them to the house. Both poets wrote a poem about the moving experience and I chose Ted’s piece. Here he describes the wild, now abandoned spot where the story of Cathy and Heathcliff took place. As well as his wife’s reaction to the experience. You can see both poems here.

Top Withens – a closeup

Finally, here’s a closeup so you can see the ghostly figure in the window, as described in the poem.

We are launching this exhibition 29th September at the Ridings, then it moves on to Mirfield Creative Arts Hub in October. And, I must admit that I just love being involved in art projects!

Sketching at World Heritage Site

Cromford Mill

Good morning everyone. As you may remember, I spent a few days in Derbyshire last week. And I managed to fit in quite a bit of sketching, including at this World Heritage Site, Cromford Mill. Perhaps you’ve heard of it – I had too but it didn’t look anything like I had imagined. In fact, it was quaint and very sketchable. Actually, this part of the complex is the original mill and it dates back to 1771. Incidentally, it was the first successful cotton spinning mill ever to be driven by water, so no wonder the complex is a World Heritage Site.

The founder, Sir Richard Arkwright is credited as inventing the first factory system, bringing workers together in one large building. And also providing housing nearby in Cromford village. But, as you might guess, my main interest was in the pleasing views I could sketch. And I really liked the juxtaposition of the old mill building and the even older limestone crag. I spent about thirty minutes on the watercolour sketch. Then I felt like my eyes needed a rest, so we had good coffee and cake in the courtyard cafe. Sometimes I realize that I benefit from taking a break from a painting, even a quick one. Then, I can see it clearer, and, in this case, add a bit of pen and ink for emphasis. What a lovely way to spend a few hours!

Cromford Mill – World Heritage Site

If you want to see more sketches from this trip, see here.

Lonely Farm in the Dales

A Lonely Farm in the Dales

Good morning everyone. I’ve just finished this acrylic painting of a lonely farm and I’m so pleased! Because it was really bugging me, and I couldn’t work on it until I came back from my short break. Incidentally, I wonder if you feel the same way when you have some unfinished work lying around? As I recall, I read somewhere that a painting isn’t finished until it stops speaking to you. And I think that pretty much describes the situation for me. Anyway, that conversation is now over, so I can start planning my next big painting.

The Lonely Farm on the Dales

However, this painting is loosely based on a photo I took a couple of years ago. And I vaguely remember the walk – it was limestone country in the dales. To be honest, I can’t be sure whether it was in Derbyshire or the Yorkshire Dales. But, in any case, the walking was gentle and we passed a few settlements like this. In fact, these buildings are probably barns, and we had probably just walked past the house and outbuildings. Possibly further down this hill, in a more sheltered location.

Lonely Farm in the Dales- a closeup

Actually, the thing I remember most about the walk was the quiet peaceful feeling of the place. And the intense green of the grass. Although these buildings are modern barns, I still remember the sense of timeless farming of the land. And, of course, walking in the footsteps of many people from the past on these ancient paths.

Finally, I can see with hindsight that this composition was quite influenced by pieces I have done in my online course. Although, obviously, the location is very different! See one of my Australian landscapes here.

All my artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. Please go to my Contact Me page and email me for more details. It really is Affordable Art!

Quick Sketching in Walled Gardens

The Walled Garden at Calke Abbey

Good morning everyone. Well, we just got back yesterday from a few days holiday in Derbyshire, UK. And, it was very pleasant indeed! So, I thought I’d show you some of the quick sketching I did. Actually, I painted this yesterday afternoon when we were visiting Calke Abbey, an old stately home managed by the National Trust. To be honest, we chose not to go on the tour of the house, although I’m sure it was fascinating. But we are still being a bit cautious about indoor spaces at present. However, the estate, park and gardens were very impressive.

The Walled Garden – image by Wikimedia Commons.

Part of the Walled Garden

As you can see, this section of the walled garden was laid out with delightful flower beds and very healthy looking tree ferns. But for us the best bit was the vegetable garden and the fruit trees. And we admired a medlar tree in full fruit and the most bright orange pumpkins we have ever seen! Then we walked out through one of the lovely arched entrances. Fortunately, there was a very well placed bench for me to sit on, where I quite happily spent almost an hour watercolour sketching.

Quick Sketching in the Walled Garden

The Walled Garden at Calke Abbey

To tell you the truth, I had just read an article in my art magazine about keeping plein air sketches simple. So I immediately put it into practice and followed the three steps. Firstly, make an accurate sketch using light pencil strokes. Then draw over the lines in ink – without following them too carefully. After erasing most of the pencil marks, next add colour. And, it’s nowhere as easy as it sounds! Especially the add the colour bit – but it did simplify and speed up the process. Finally, back in the cottage, I took a good look at it and just added a few more darks. In fact, I think I needed that bit of time and distance to assess it. And add the finishing touches to my quick sketching.

See more of my plein air sketching here.

New Painting for Abstract Show

After the Thaw

Good morning everyone. I’m so pleased – Fronteer Gallery in Sheffield accepted my acrylic painting for their new abstract show in October! As you may remember, I exhibited with them in June this year. And I showed my Egyptian Temple in their Summer Solstice exhibition.

Egyptian Temple

Work for the Abstract Show

Well, the theme for the show this time was a dream – Abstract. That’s all, so I found it wide open to interpret just as I liked. Normally, I create a new work for an open call, but this time I had one ready made.

After the Thaw – closeup

Although I started this abstract composition purely instinctively, as I worked, I realised that two main themes were influencing me. Firstly, I had recently been to a great exhibition at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, by Anthony McCall. The light installation was very impressive and the museum encouraged visitors to move through the beams of light quite freely. So I painted a silhouette against the blinding white and the deep shadows the artist had created.

After the Thaw – another closeup

Secondly, the winter was quite cold that year and the snow was finally beginning to melt. And the streams were swollen, racing through sodden fields. Consequently, I added piles of soft snow, a stream and the moon piercing the darkness. However, you don’t really need to know any of that. In fact you can put your own interpretation on the scene. Or, even, obviously just look at it and react in your own way.

My Abstracts

Of course, I shall post a report of the abstract show when it is actually on the wall. Meanwhile, you could look at some of my other abstract paintings in the Abstracts section of my gallery.

As you may know, I sell all my art at reasonable prices and you can email me via my contact page.

Morning Sunshine on the Crags

The Crags

Good morning everyone. I suddenly realised that I hadn’t shown you my latest Australian landscape. Actually, I finished Morning Sunshine on the Crags a couple of weeks ago. But my life is quite busy just now and it slipped through the net. However, I like to use this blog as a record of my painting life so I had to find a space for it.

Apparently this location is Kenilworth Bluff, somewhere in Australia, but that’s all I know! If you know more, please tell me. Anyway, I sort of projected my own story on to it. And I imagined myself going out for an early morning walk across the sun burned grass of the fields. Obviously, this is where the path enters the cool inviting trees and then on to the slopes.

The Path into the woods

As you can see, the rocky crags sparkle in the sunshine – the view must be spectacular from up there. Unfortunately though, I must turn back, go home and get started on my chores. So, perhaps another day I’ll walk up to the tops.

Morning Sunshine on the Crags

That’s it for today – all of my artwork is for sale. Just go to my Contact Me page here for enquiries. Of course, there are lots more landscapes with stories in my Gallery here.

Painting Watercolour Sketches from Life

In the Park

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to write you a quick post about sketches from life – something I love to do. Especially when the weather is kind ! Actually, this image is from a sketchtrip we went on two weeks ago. And we went to our local town park, which is a lovely, green space in the middle of an urban environment. So, here I am trying to show the patterns of light and shade, cast by the well established trees. Normally, the contrast between light and dark can be quite muted in Britain. But, on this particular day the sun was very bright and the patches of shadow were very dense.

Please bear in mind that I painted this plein air sketch quickly and instinctively. Honestly, this type of sketching is more about practising observation and recording the occasion, and less about producing a finished, complete painting. Incidentally, I’m a member of an Urbansketchers group, and our intention is to ‘ record the world, one sketch at a time’.

Sketches from Life at Pot House Hamlet

The Garden Centre

Perhaps you remember that we went sketching at Pot House Hamlet in Silkstone village recently. And I had the chance to paint a goat and some chickens (see here). Well, the place is so picturesque that I had to go back and capture this scene at the entrance to the plant shop. Of course, it was a very busy location, and I had to select what to include and what to miss out. For example, all the parked cars and the customers. You see, painting from life takes a lot of practice. And sometimes I feel like a beginner! Anyway, I enjoyed myself and the sketch is a nice reminder of my visit. Maybe you might enjoy it too, making sketches from life, if you give it a try! If you want to see more plein air sketching, have a look at this post here.

Big Tree in my Garden

The Big Tree

Good morning everyone. Well, it’s finished at last! And, to be honest, I don’t really know why I didn’t complete the Big tree in my Garden earlier. Actually, I started this big painting back in the spring, after doing at least two other studies. In fact, you may remember these mixed media versions, because I think I did post them.

Study 1 for The Big Tree

As I remember, I painted the twisting shapes of the branches, still really visible in spring, before the leaves grew thicker. And I found these fascinating, at the same time realising that we had created them ourselves. Simply by hacking the growth back every year in a vain attempt to keep the tree small for our modestly sized town garden. Anyway, I sketched first in charcoal and then I worked in oil pastel.

Study 2 for The Big Tree

Now, this is the second version that I sketched in charcoal and then added watercolour and pen for finishing touches. By the way, I sketched both of these through the living room window. And, as you can see,the season is moving on!

The Big Tree

But, to get back to the bigger painting, I decided to paint the tree quite simply and make sure that it dominates the space. But I also wanted to give emphasis to the rather fine building on the other side of my garden wall. At present it is used as offices, but, using my artistic licence, I show it as the grand family home that it once was.

And, I daydream about the people who live there, do they watch my house from their windows? And, what is there over the hill that the house sits on top of? So, as you have realised, I have created an imaginary scene from the reality I live in. Because, there’s always more than meets the eye, in my imagination anyway!

The Big Tree – a closeup

Finally, this acrylic painting on paper is 16 by 20 inches and the price is £80 plus postage, free in UK. Just email me on my Contact Me page here. And, if you want to see more of my trees, see here.

I Painted these Beautiful Sunflowers

Beautiful Sunflowers

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you my beautiful sunflowers, painted in acrylic on paper. Actually, I’m quite pleased with this effort and, as I said in a recent post here, I feel like I’m finally making progress. Because this picture seemed to come together fairly well.

Anyway, I also tried something different here and I used gloss medium for the bright petals and leaves. Just a dab when mixing the sunny yellow, the vibrant green of the sunflowers. Not to mention the rich purple of the irises.

In fact , the other intention of this project was to try to work in a looser style. That is, not to concentrate too much on precise detail and leave something for the viewer to work out. In other words, not to paint the picture to death! Well, I did manage to loosen up a little, but I clearly need more practice!

Sunflower in Watercolour

Now, just for the sake of contrast, I painted this sunflower in watercolour last year. And here I tried to show the accurate shape and arrangement of the petals and the seeded centre. But the actual brush strokes were quite loose and gestural. So, you see there’s clearly more than one way of painting beautiful sunflowers!

All my artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. Have a look at more flowers in my Gallery here.

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