Sketches from Heritage Open Day

Open Door at St. Mary’s

Good morning everyone. This is the quick watercolour sketch I did in St. Mary’s church, last weekend on Open Heritage Day. Actually, the event lasts for two weeks and it’s great to have the opportunity to visit buildings that are usually closed. For example, last year we went in the very impressive National Union of Mineworkers Headquarters. Of course, St Mary’s is open several times a week. But it was lovely to be welcomed into this beautiful space by the volunteers and the vicar.

Anyway, I chose this view to sketch, as I wanted to show the tall pillars of white stone. They are so tall that they make the massive door look small!

The View Towards the Altar

Next I felt inspired to try and include some of the patterns and colours that really stood out amongst the pale plastered walls and pillars. So I chose an abstract representation of this view down towards the altar.

Patterns and Colours in the Church

After that we went to the gallery coffee shop which is just opposite the church, for coffee and cake. And also to look at everyone’s sketches. What a perfect way to spend a morning on Open Heritage Day! Maybe you might like to see the outside of this building in this post here , it is very picturesque.

Why Do I Love Red?

The Backs

Good morning everyone. Why do I love red? Well, that’s a good question, and I’m not really sure of the answer. But I thought I would show you this acrylic painting from a few years ago and try and explain. For example, I was inspired by an old black and white photo of children playing on ‘the backs’. That is, behind the terraced row of houses in a pit village where they live. Obviously the colours were black, grey and white. However, I wanted to show the brightness and hope children bring to a community. So I painted them in colour. In my opinion, the touch of red draws the eye most and makes my point perfectly.

Perhaps you may be wondering how I chose this subject for this post? Actually, it was the theme for our latest meeting at our art society. And, it really inspired us all, so picked out some of my own paintings featuring red. Incidentally, this is my unfinished effort from Tuesday’s meeting. And it is a farm building with a tin roof, in gouache. When it’s propenly finished, I will show you . Anyway, in my opinion, the redness forms a strong focal point and also makes the scene look cheerful!

A Touch of Red

So, why do I love red? Because it can be cheerful and it helps the composition by being a strong focal point. In fact, it can also heighten the drama of a scene. How about the effect in this one?

Zig Zag

Personally, I think this is quite dramatic! Finally, of course, red can suggest blood and danger. And I do have some drawings done in the pandemic which reflect this. I’ll show them in another post, I think.

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My Brand New Bright Watercolours

Pumpkin Time

Good morning everyone. How do you like my brand new bright watercolours? Actually, that’s my little joke, because they aren’t brand new at all! Well, I was getting so fed up with the pale colours on my plein air quick sketches, see here.

So I looked a few things up on the internet, and found out that my paints should be ok. Because they are reasonable UK brands. Also, the paper is decent quality, but I’m working on finding something a bit better. Then I tried to remember not to muddy the colours too much. Eventually, I even started using gouache colours for their brightness, but I really prefer watercolours for on the spot sketching. Anyway, I decided to try something I read in a few posts and articles. And that is really wetting the pans of colour with lots of drops of water ( from a water brush). Then I waited ten minutes and painted two examples, this one being an imaginary landscape.

New Improved Bright Watercolours

View over the Bay

By the way, my Australian tutor Rod Moore encourages us to paint from imagination to help develop composition skills. But I’ll talk about that in another post. Next, I just had to do a little abstract doodle to test the colours again!

Another Purple and Yellow Abstract

As you can see, these are very bright watercolours. But, just a word of caution, let the paints absorb all the water before taking the box out on a sketch trip. If not, it will leak all over your bag! Perhaps you knew all this already, however it’s new to me. And, I’m very glad I read this advice on line.

Finally, I gave this new system a proper road test this weekend when I went to the allotment. After working hard all day watering, picking and tidying, I just had to do a quick 30 minute sketch. Can you see the pumpkins and the scarlet flowers on the runner bean plants? Happy painting!

Pumpkin Time

Industry and Yorkshire, New Exhibition

A Long Shift

Good morning everyone. If you follow this blog, perhaps you may know that I belong to a great group called Northern Fringe Gallery. And we have just decided to start a new group project ‘Industry and Yorkshire’. However, that’s only a working title, this project will probably evolve as it goes along.

Anyway, this is my version of a very evocative black and white photo from a book all about coal mining. Actually, my dad was a miner all his life, but not quite in conditions like these, thank goodness! Well, I painted this a few years ago, but I think it fits our theme very well. So I had it framed all ready for our show. Now have a look at the second one.

The Wool market at the Piece Hall

In fact, I have posted this watercolour painting before, see here. However, I’ll just explain that this World Heritage site in Halifax was originally a place where weavers sold their cloth. And, because the cloth was called a ‘piece’ that’s the origin of the name, Piece Hall. So you can see why I chose this for the theme. By the way, weaving was a very big industry in West Yorkshire, just as we were all about coal mining here in South Yorkshire where I live. However, spinning and weaving were also practised here too and my auntie worked in a wool spinning mill.

Of course, I shall paint a couple more for the show too. But, more of that later!

A Very Quick Catchup Post

Dream Landscape

Good morning everyone. Just as it says in the title, a very quick catchup post. In fact, I’ve not really had much time to paint lately. So these two pieces are quite literally small works done in snatches of time. To be honest, I started this gouache in five minutes before starting on breakfast! Well, you get the picture. Anyway, quite unusually for me, this was straight out of my imagination. And, I don’t really feel like it’s finished, but to add any extra elements now would look too artificial. So I’ll consider it as a study, a practice in using gouache paint.

Emotional Outburst

Now, as you can see, this one in my quick catchup post is completely different. Of course, it’s a doodle, but also a picture of my state of mind at the time. What do you reckon, anger, anxiety, bewilderment ? All of the above. We are living in such strange and difficult times and I usually try to keep my worries under control. However, sometimes they break out and I suppose there’s less harm done if it’s contained within a painting. Actually, oil pastel is really good for this kind of art therapy. Because you can pound it into the paper and get rid of all those uncomfortable feelings. Honestly, I’ve no idea what it is or if it means anything. But,I definitely felt better after I’d done it! And there’s another post here with more art therapy exercises that you may not have seen before.

What Inspires You to Paint?

Golden

Good morning everyone. What inspires you to paint or create? Actually, this is what we were discussing yesterday on our Art Society trip. In fact, we went to the town gallery to study and sketch the gorgeous drawings and sculptures of local artist Graham Ibbeson here . And over good strong coffee and delicious scones, the conversation turned to how we feel inspired.

So, one of my art buddies likes to take elements from an old master painting and work them into his surreal style of painting. Another friend likes to try out different media and styles for inspiration. And I talked about seeing an image in my mind’s eye, out of the blue. And then using it as the basis for a painting, which is exactly what happened here. Because I saw vaguely hexagonal shapes, the golden colour of honey and beautiful purple.

Incidentally, after I had thought about using this image for my post, it reminded me of another intuitive abstract. Also the inspiration for this earlier one had just come to me as an arrangement of shapes and colours. Usually when I’m half asleep or daydreaming.

Golden, original

Well, I do have ideas about other kinds of paintings too, this was just for abstract composition. But I’ll maybe talk about that in another post. If you want to see some more intuitive abstract paintings, see this post here. Anyway, what inspires you to paint?

Half Way Through Our Exhibition

A Big Back Garden

Good morning everyone. As it says in the title, we are about half way through our exhibition at the ‎Mirfield gallery. So I thought I would show you one of my paintings that you may not have seen before. Actually, I painted this after a lovely holiday in the English Lake District. And, I’ll tell you the idea that inspired me. When people in the farm house looked out of the window at the back, they would see this glorious view. In fact, this hill is part of the Langdale Pikes, if I recall. And, it would be part of their back garden, in my imagination.

Elephant Festival

By the way, this painting makes me smile every time I look at it. And, I remember how much I enjoyed painting it. Of course, the challenge was to make the skin of the animal appear real, varying the colour from shades of brownish grey to delicate pink. Just to finish this quick post, I include here two snapshots of the launch party. Firstly, me and a friend discussing subtle effects of paint, and how to achieve them.

Animated Arty Chat

And here you can see some of our members, deep in discussion about our exhibition. If you look carefully, you can see my elephant in the background! Perhaps you would like to see my post about the launch here.

Another Arty Chat

Look at this Small Abstract

Big Brain

Hi everyone. This is a very short post indeed, all about a small abstract. To be honest, I’m so busy at the moment, gardening and arty business. Not to mention just running my life! Anyway, I just couldn’t stand missing my art fix another day. So I found my small drawing pad, watercolour kit and a few pencils, oil pastels etc. And then let a few colours run into each other. Next I added some small, precise marks and accents. And all this without a single conscious thought, a small abstract. Afterwards, I found out which way up I preferred it. Only then did I notice a head in profile and I had a strong idea come into my head! Namely, we need someone with a brain this big to get us out of the mess we are all in. Well, on that cheerful note, I’ll sign off and hope to write a longer, more optimistic post soon. (There is a more cheery abstract here !)

See Australian Landscapes in Gallery

Sunlight on the Crags

Good morning everyone. We had our last meeting before the summer break at Art Society last Tuesday. And, as we usually do we had a pop-up gallery evening. And everyone brought a picture or two to show off to the other members. If you want to see my report on Facebook click here. Even if I say so myself, the work was outstanding! Anyway, I chose two Australian landscapes that I completed on the online course I follow. Actually, I said a few words about the most difficult challenge in this scene, as I saw it. And that was creating the illusion of distance with the crags at the back. Because this is something I find quite difficult to do when the wooded slopes are very green. But, overall I was pleased with the end result, especially the bare rock, visible through the vegetation.

A Beach Day

Next I showed everyone another of my Australian landscapes. And this time it was an idyllic scene of a hot, lazy day spent on the beach in Queensland. However, the main problem for me was the aerial perspective of the lush green headland. And how to give that feeling of it receding into the background when it’s a warm green colour. Hopefully I managed to make it sit back by muting the green.

Secondly, I was pleased with the tiny figures on the beach as I always find people hard to draw. Happily, everyone felt confident enough to say a few words about their artwork in this supportive group. And the evening went very well. Finally, click here to see another one of my Australian landscapes, at present in the Summer exhibition, Open Gallery, Halifax.

New Techniques in Floral Abstract

Blue with Flowers

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick catchup post, to show you what I’ve been enjoying painting, a floral abstract. Actually, I’m working my way through a course by Suzanne Allard, see here. In fact, I have experimented with loose floral abstracts before, as you may have noticed on this blog. And, I’ve used other media over the paint. But I never felt like I knew what I was doing. So I’m very pleased that I found Suzanne’s tuition on line. Because she guides me through the myriad possibilities of adding crayon, oil pastel, ink and so on. And in a way that I can understand.

Blue with Flowers – a closeup

To be honest, I created the background for this painting a while ago, for a different project. However, I thought that it would work well. And I muted the intense colour of the acrylic paint with oil pastel in places where it needed it. As can perhaps see in this close up. You can see another loose floral abstract in my own style in this post here.

Delivering Paintings to New Shows

The Power of the Waves

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick post today – as the title says, it’s been a busy week delivering paintings. Because not only am I catching up furiously in the veg garden. But also I delivered my paintings to two galleries, well, one gallery and a church! Actually, we went to Fronteer Gallery yesterday with the seascape for their exhibition ‘The Sea’. I can’t wait to see that one, Fronteer exhibitions are always interesting, I love a theme for a show.

The Power of the Waves – close up 1
The Power of the Waves – close up 2

We also went to St. John’s church at Hoylandswaine delivering paintings because the art group in the village invited me. In fact, I have belonged to this group a number of years. Admittedly, I couldn’t go to the meetings during the worst of the pandemic. But, fingers crossed, I am gradually going out more now and things are looking more normal, socially speaking.

Sunshiny Day

To be honest, I am taking part in five exhibitions at the moment (I know!) So a lot of my work is already out on the road, so to speak. However, this abstract is a favourite of mine. And I’d like to see it in a lovely exhibition again, so the village festival show seems like a good thing to be involved in. Got to run, but if you want to see more of my abstract painting see here.

Two Paintings of Women’s Stories

The Woman at the Window

Good morning everyone. Here are two more of my paintings from our exhibition ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’, on now at Mirfield. And these two in particular are all about women’s stories. For example, in the one above, I wanted to explore the reality behind living a secluded life. As I painted I thought of the women living where the culture requires them to stay indoors most of the time. Hopefully, you can see the loneliness this woman feels, peering at the outside world through the window. While she always must remain indoors.

Coffee for One

Next I chose to exhibit this painting which highlights another one of my women’s stories. And the story here is rooted very firmly in time – a period of respite in the recent pandemic. In fact, here in the UK, restrictions had been lifted, only to be reimposed shortly after. During that time, people seemed to sit quite nervously in cafes, socially distanced. However, they didn’t stay long and soon hurried out, with a sigh of relief. Just like this woman, with her coffee and cake. You could see more stories about women’s lives here and here.

Coffee and Cake

New Narrative Paintings for Mirfield

Paradise

Good morning everyone. This is a quick post today, I’m insanely busy right now. Why is it that you wait two years for an exhibition and then five come along at once! Anyway, I wanted to show you another two of my narrative paintings. And, as we speak, this should be hanging on the wall at Creative Arts Hub Gallery, Mirfield. Well, I hope so, it’s the launch of our art society show ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ in the morning!

Actually, you may have seen this on this blog before, along with the next part of the story, in this post here and here. In fact, I did paint five pieces to tell the tale of ‘ The Progress of Mankind ‘. As illustrated by me! Simply put, this first chapter shows the unspoilt paradise that the earth once was. Perhaps you can see the suggestions of an insect, a bird, a butterfly and a flower.

Hell on Earth

And here is part two – my interpretation of the way our world is almost destroyed by the exploitation of all our resources. Perhaps you think it’s pretty bleak. But by Chapter Five of my narrative paintings, things are a little bit more hopeful.

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the other stories on the wall tomorrow morning.

One More Quick Watercolour Abstract

Golden

Good morning everyone. I’m very busy at the moment, arranging exhibitions, visiting galleries and so on. So I don’t seem to have had much time to do any bigger painting projects. And I have also been finishing art society projects. Not to mention planting things at the allotment garden. But I did complete this quick watercolour abstract, thank goodness. As you may know, I hate leaving work unfinished. Anyway, this is quick abstract number 8. Actually, for this one I had a picture in my mind beforehand of hexagonal shapes. And, that along with the golden colour made me think of the shape of honeycomb. However, that was as far as the similarity went. As I painted, I got more interested in blending the gold and mauve together harmoniously. Of course, these two produce a range of soft browns. Therefore, brown was my third colour – I prefer to restrict myself to a few colours in abstract work now.

Areas of soft blending in my quick abstract

Then I decided to do the surface pattern over the soft background. On another day, in a ten minute slot of free time. Perhaps you can see that I used oil pastel, coloured pencil and markers for this stage. Frankly, the problem is knowing when to stop! Well, I added an accent of red and scribbled in some small pattern with black ink. Incidentally, I don’t think I am quite finished with this idea, so I may visit it again. Possibly with acrylic paint this time. As you may have seen on this post here, I am quite fond of the yellow and purple combination!

Finally, I can’t sign off without a mention that our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition ‘Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers ‘ opens tomorrow at Skelmanthorpe Library Gallery. And it’s presented by Village Art. To be honest, this is the third venue on our tour! And this is one of my pieces – Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse near Haworth. Widely agreed to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, the famous novel by Emily Bronte.

Top Withens

Three More Quick Little Abstracts

Quick Abstract 5

Good morning everyone. I’m showing you a catch up post about my series of quick little abstracts. Well, if I call them a series it makes it sound more serious! But it’s really because I’m so busy at the moment, and only seem to have time for small works. In retrospect, in this one I must have been greatly influenced by dark thoughts about the war in Ukraine. Perhaps it’s a cliche, but the red looks like blood to me, with something scary raining down on the city from above. Actually, I mentioned in my last post in this series that I only notice these things after the sketch is finished.

Quick Abstract 6

In fact, you may have seen this watercolour sketch before, as I included it in my post about our holiday in Scarbrough here. And I painted it after having paddled in the cold North Sea. Honestly, I found it fascinating to spot the different patterns created by the receding tide on the shore. So I had a lot of scope for decorative patterns in ink over the top of the background.

Quick Abstract 7

Finally I painted this one after a day’s work at the allotment garden, Where I immersed myself in greenery, vegetation etc. Obviously, I don’t have to tell all you gardeners out there about the rapid growth. And how all plants grow so quickly in the UK at this time of year. Admittedly, we have to work very hard weeding and cutting back, but it’s quite glorious really. If you want to see more of the greenery in my plot of land, look here. Just another one of my quick little abstracts for the series.

Catching Up with my Paintings

Pumpkin Seedlings

Good morning everyone. At last, I’m really pleased that I managed to do some catching up and finish this gouache painting. In fact, I started it off about four weeks ago at our art society meeting. And the subject was “food” so I chose to paint these pumpkin seedlings we were growing. Well, I called it future food, so it fitted in! Anyway, the way it almost looked like an abstract composition seen from above inspired me. Because of the circles, I suppose. But I didn’t let it take over, and I made sure I painted in quite a realistic style. Another goal I had in mind was to apply the paint more thickly and I did succeed to some extent. However, I will need more practice on this. If you want to check up on the progress of the plants, they are all now in the ground, flourishing and underneath some netting. It’s a rabbit problem, don’t ask! If you want to see a drawing of last year’s harvest, have a look at this post here .

The Last Tree

Finally, more catching up,here’s one of my new style abstracts, using passages of colour to provide interest in the background. So, the first stage was done ages ago and was sitting on my dining room table, reproaching me. For, I couldn’t think of a suitable motif to be the top layer. Nonetheless, inspiration eventually came, and I quickly drew in a lifeless tree. See more live trees here .

See my Small Watercolour Abstracts

Doodle 3

Good morning everyone. This is a quick catchup post, just to show you more of my small watercolour abstracts. Well, I’m still producing quite a few of these. And I’ve noticed that they definitely reflect my painting interests and colour choices at the time. But I don’t notice this till afterwards! For example, in this one above I’m exploring more restrained and sparse patterns, as a contrast to the busier designs of the previous little abstracts seen here.

Doodle 4

On the other hand, I noticed after I had completed this one above that it was connected to my current large acrylic. And also, the softer colours and bold black calligraphic marks are in the style on my online course. Who knew? Actually, my subconscious painting brain surprises me more every day, especially in my small watercolour abstracts!

Doodle 4 – a closeup
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