White House in the Valley

White House in the Valley

Good morning everyone. This is my latest acrylic painting and I chose a view of a white house in a valley for my inspiration. Actually, this is based on watercolour sketches I made in the Lake District, Cumbria in the UK. In fact, we used to go once a year, usually in spring or autumn. But we haven’t been in a while. Fortunately, looking at my sketches brings back lots of happy memories. For example, I did the two sketches I based this on whilst sitting in the hotel beergarden. A nice cool drink was just perfect after a days walking. And, as you can see, the views were spectacular.

Patterdale, sketch looking left
Patterdale, sketch looking right

Anyway, I also drew on my own memory to create this, remembering the varied colour and texture of the vegetation on the slopes. By the way, lots of the older buildings are painted white in this region. And they do stand out very picturesquely in these views over the rolling expanse of hills.

I seem to quite enjoy painting a white house, as you can see in this post here and here. All my paintings are for sale at reasonable prices. So if you see something you like, just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email for more details.

New Painting in Colour Exhibition

I Dreamt of a House by the Sea

Good morning everyone. Last week I found out that Fronteer Gallery had accepted my painting ‘ I Dreamt of a House by the Sea’ into their Colour Exhibition. And I was so delighted – firstly because it’s always a pleasure to take part in their events. Secondly, because of the theme ‘Colour’. As you might have noticed, I call this website A World of Colour. So, most of my work does suit this theme. However, I chose this particular painting because it seems absolutely bursting with colour.

I Dreamt of a House by the Sea – a closeup

Virtual Travelling for the Colour Exhibition

Actually, I painted this without a plan and it was quite late on in the process before I saw what it was. Perhaps a path leading up to the house with a view of the sea. Then, later on I suggested landscape and some vegetation on the cliff. But, for me, the most striking thing about this is when I made it. Right in the middle of being isolated at home, when I was desperate to spend time by the sea! In fact, the colours, the sunshine and the sparkling air are much more reminiscent of the coast of northern France in August. Ah, those charming, unspoilt little resorts where we spent weeks camping. Happy Days! So it seemed ideal for the colour exhibition.

There are lots of seascapes for you to dream about in my gallery here. And a post all about another of my paintings in the fabulous Fronteer Gallery here.

All my paintings are for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to my Contact Me page and send me an email.

A Beach Day

This is somewhere on the coast of Queensland, Australia. And you can find out more in my post here. Well, virtual travelling is the only way for me to go, at the moment!

Going Back to Cafe Sketching

Waiting

Good morning everyone. At last, I managed to do a bit of cafe sketching, especially when in a well ventilated space, reasonably distanced from other customers. Actually, it’s probably also the first time I felt relaxed enough to do it. Anyway, we went to the Carding Shed cafe last week and I hid my sketchbook behind my bag and discreetly sketched a couple on the next table to us.

Pencil sketch

Unfortunately, I had left my tiny water bottle behind, so I couldn’t do a watercolour sketch and I had to make do with pencil only. Not my usual style. But, I completed this before they got up and went, so that was lucky.

The Couple at the Next Table

Honestly, this is something I rarely do, add colour afterwards at home. Because I much prefer sketching with the brush and splashing colour around on the scene as I drink my coffee! And, I feel that the resulting painting is more lively, even if it’s a a bit less accurate. However, I really enjoyed myself and I now look forward to doing more cafe sketching.

There are lots of paintings and drawings in my Gallery on the People section here.

Finally, I realised I had done lots of imaginary people sketches over the past year or so. No doubt missing company and lifedrawing classes, so I leave you with this latest one.

Waiting

Revisiting Old Sketches for Inspiration

Burbage Valley

Good morning everyone. This is a gouache painting I did before Christmas and I had a look at some old sketches for inspiration. Actually, I remember this day very well – we had gone for a short walk in Derbyshire. And we were in the beautiful Burbage valley on a hot August afternoon, when my son was small. The heat was shimmering up from the moorland grass and there were no trees to sit under. In fact, this beauty spot was quite busy with people who had come out for some fresh air. But, everyone seemed a bit subdued in the heat. As we neared the car park, my husband and son went and queued for ice creams. Meanwhile, I sat on a rock and sketched the view in my tiny sketch book.

Burbage Rocks

As I worked quickly, I thought about the ancient peoples who once lived here. Incidentally, behind me there was an Iron Age hillfort a field away. So it’s not difficult to imagine figures walking the paths all those years ago. By the way, that brings to mind a painting of mine showing a prehistoric man walking home at dusk. I must find it to show you. Anyway, if you look at this post here, you will see another sketch of the area that I did recently. Or, have a look at my page Gallery – Landscapes for more country scenes. (I’ve just updated the page). As you might have realised, I have many old sketches done over the years. Happily, I find them quite inspiring to repaint. Not to mention the lovely memories they bring back.

Green and Gold Gouache Landscapes

On the Lakeshore

Good morning everyone. Now that everything is getting back to ‘normal ‘ after the festive season, I am catching back up. So, here is a little green and gold scene I painted in gouache, back in November. As I recall, the reference photo was a touristy one I saw somewhere. But I altered it quite a bit and added a figure. That’s me, standing on the rock in the cool morning air with my cagoul hood up. And, I’ve probably got my field sketching kit in my rucksack. Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’m looking at the leafless tree on the left. Unfortunately, a much more common sight now when we’re out walking. Anyway, I still managed to fit in plenty of green and gold to cheer me up. Also, it was good practice to paint in gouache and I am gradually getting more used to manipulating the paint.

In a Park, Somewhere in Wales

Actually, the title says it all! For this scene, I used an old watercolour sketch I did when we were in Wales. However, I can’t remember the location other than it was a lovely ornamental park in North Wales. And, we had the place practically to ourselves. Because the season had been quite wet, all the late spring flowering shrubs were really blooming.In addition, the foliage was glistening after a brief shower. On the technical side, the paint was gouache and I built the painting from my watercolour sketch and , surprisingly, a bit of memory. In fact, it’s really addictive and I have a huge archive of sketches to mine!

The Flowering Shrub in my Green and Gold Gouache Landscape

Incidentally, there’s another uplifting green and gold painting in this post here , this time a woodland scene.

As ever, all my work is for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email for further details.

See Father Christmas in Green

Good morning everyone. I’m back after three days of technical difficulties – don’t ask! And I reckon there’s just enough time to show you my gouache painting of Father Christmas, before it all comes to an abrupt end. Well, this is the way Santa was portrayed traditionally, before he was changed into red. And I’ve tried to show him as a quiet, kindly old man, on his way through the woods. Obviously delivering a sack full of gifts to some hopeful children. Happy Holidays to you all. See this post here for last year’s festive images.

Christmas Eve in the Mountains

Christmas Eve in the Mountains

Good morning everyone. Well, obviously it’s not quite Christmas Eve just yet, but it’s been on my mind a bit this year. Because it will be different again, due to restrictions here in the UK. Normally we would visit a big house to see the lovely decorations, but we’re not too keen to be indoors with lots of people. So, just before things started tightening up we we went to the Carding Shed cafe, which is quite large and, luckily, was not crowded. And the coffee is very good! Not to mention the home baked pastries.

The Carding Shed Bar

Incidentally, I’d just like to explain that the business is part classic car repair shop and part cafe with an American diner, fifties style. So, that might help you to make sense of the photos.

Classic Car
Christmas Decs
Christmas Tree and Toy Soldier

Anyway, just to explain, the premises is a renovated industrial building in a Pennine valley, near Holmfirth. And I think the name ‘Carding Shed’ refers to one of the processes in preparing raw wool into yarn. Actually, weaving was one of the main occupations in this area of Yorkshire back in the day.

Christmas Eve in the Mountains

However, although we haven’t been very far at all this year, I do travel virtually in my paintings. For instance, I went to a beautiful little valley in the mountains here! Then I came home and painted myself this souvenir. Seriously though, I was very pleased with this as I painted it all from my imagination. And, for me, this is a big deal – something I find hard to do. So, on that note of traditional Christmas card scene, I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year ( remember, snow is optional). You can find another Yorkshire snow scene in this post here.

Some Sunshiny Paintings in Acrylic

Beach day

Good morning everyone. Today I wanted to show you another one of my sunshiny paintings – finished at last! As you have probably realised, I like to complete projects fairly promptly, before I forget all my ideas. And, this one was started a couple of months ago. So, it only needed a few finishing touches and at last I got round to it.

For example, I strengthened the figures so that you can spot them better.

And I also tried to make the background recede further back by blurring the vegetation on the headland. In addition, I dulled the colour of the sand near the cliff, so that it seemed more distant.

As you may have guessed, this is a bay in Australia, somewhere, sadly, I have never been. But, I really enjoyed painting this as part of the online course I am following. Plus the fact that , in these dull, cold winter days, it cheers me up just looking at it! Actually, I might frame it and hang it on my wall so that I can feel its warmth everyday.

Somewhere in France

Finally, here’s another of my sunshiny paintings. In fact, I did this a couple of years ago and, there is some memory painted into it. Because I visited France many times and well remember walking down streets like these. Always on the shady side of the street!

In case you didn’t know, all my paintings are for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email for details.

Summery Days – Painting the Sheep

Good morning everyone. I’ve been doing a bit of finishing off again and this little watercolour, Summery Days was started about a month ago. Actually, I was following a free tutorial one evening. And, putting the first layer down was straightforward, But, after that I found it difficult to make progress. So I left it to one side for a bit, busy with other projects. After a while, I couldn’t ignore it any more. So I tried to move it along by myself. Honestly, I wasn’t very confident. I often feel like that when painting a subject that wasn’t really of my own choosing. However, I persevered and I’m reasonably pleased with the end result.

Summery Days – Painting the Sheep

On the plus side, I learned how to make the sheep look more realistic . Initially I did this by putting a medium tone on the body, reserving the white of the paper for the light patches. Then I added the dark tones after. And, most importantly, I did all this as soon as possible so that the animals look part of the scene from the beginning.

Well, that’s all for now. And, I’ve now got a lovely summery picture to look at while we wait for the snow to melt here in the UK! (And here is another post with summery pictures in it.)

Sketching Faces – my New Challenge

Good morning everyone. After I’d finished the Inktober challenge this year, I realised how much I had benefited from the daily drawing exercise. So I was pleased to find a new Instagram challenge – sketching faces on #facetasticfriday. Actually, this is hosted by a great group I joined a while ago – Kick in the Creatives. And I think the reference photos are very good and sometimes different (like the one above!) As you can see, I couldn’t resist adding watercolour to the image, to bring it to life a bit. But, I drew most of my sketches just in biro, with no pencil sketch beforehand, just to add that bit of excitement when sketching faces!

Well, I’m only writing a short post today, because I’m just getting busier and busier! So, I’m off to the printers, getting some stuff ready for an exhibition, more of that later.

However, if you want to have a look at some of my adventures in portraiture, see this post here.

A Pink and Blue Intuitive Abstract

A pink and blue intuitive abstract,  organic shapes, swirling about in a sea of grey.
Pink and Blue

Good morning everyone. I been trying to catch up a bit recently and finish off some paintings that I had left midway. For example, this pink and blue painting first started life as a quick abstract sketched out in marker pens. In fact, I was in my studio early one morning watching the sunrise through my window. And the glorious colours – pink, soft blue and turquoise really inspired me. So, I grabbed a pack of cheap felt tip pens and a drawing pad, and created this.

The first drawing of the idea.

As you can see, I added greys to tone down the brightness. And these became quite a feature in my acrylic version on canvas board.

Pink and Blue – the Acrylic Version

Well, I really enjoyed applying the paint thickly and creating texture in this acrylic painting on board. However, it still didn’t seem quite right and so began the long wait! Actually, I looked at it everyday ( there’s stuff all over the house being “looked at”!) And then I got busy! Does this story sound familiar? Finally, I quickly finished it with some subtle marks, so, lots of thinking led to quick painting.

And, I was fairly pleased with it, so I put it on the dresser and I’m still looking at it. But now it’s stopped talking to me, so that’s ok.

You could see more of my abstracts here in my gallery . And all of my work is for sale at reasonable prices, email me via the Contact Me page for details. And here is another pink and blue abstract, acrylic on board.

A Little Gouache Story Picture

Good morning everyone. Well, this story picture is finished at last! In fact, I started it back in August as a response to an open call, online. But, I didn’t like what I produced at all. And, it has been hanging around the house ever since, staring at me reproachfully. And whispering, ” Why won’t you finish me?” Anyway, I gave in on Sunday and repainted it, changing the figure into something I like. By the way, as well as the original reference photo, I looked at this image a lot for direction ( see below)

By Hugo Scheiber

When I looked him up a bit more, I really like this Hungarian artist’s expressionist painting. Hugo Scheiber 1873 – 1950. And to me, still modern and fresh looking.

The Book

What’s the story? Actually, this story picture is quite an open image and full of possibilities, what do you think? And, here’s another of mine, still waiting for its story to be told.

Going Out Sketching in Wakefield

The huge sandstone cathedral towered above me, when going out sketching in Wakefield.
A Modern Madonna and Child in Wakefield Cathedral

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick post to update you on my plein air sketching. And we spent a lovely morning, going out sketching in Wakefield. Actually, I was with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire and it was great to see everyone after a long break.

Well, the city is full of characterful streets and imposing buildings. So we headed straight for the cathedral and me and my art buddy found a little wall to sit on. Luckily, the cathedral precinct was a little quieter than the main streets. And I particularly liked being so close to the huge building. In fact, that’s what I tried to capture in the watercolour sketch – the stone work towering above me.

The Side Door

After about fifteen minutes we had enough of the battering gusts of wind, blowing round the building. So, I slapped some colour on the pen sketch and we went for a coffee in the octagonal shaped cathedral cafe.

The Modern Madonna and Child

As I recall, there was almost too much to choose from in the beautiful church. But, my eye was caught by this modern statue and I found it was very moving. Somehow it reminded me of what’s really important in this changing world – the love of family and friends.

If you like looking at sketches of English churches, see this post here and here.

Northern Fringe Exhibition Now Open

Good morning everyone. Well, as I write this, it’s not quite true because we are opening the show tomorrow, see poster above for dates. Anyway, we have waited a long time to put on our Northern Fringe exhibition. Obviously, due to lockdowns and so on, so I’m really looking forward to going tomorrow to see everyone’s work.

As I have mentioned before, the theme is a really meaty one that you can get your teeth into! In my opinion, at least, ‘Inspired by Yorkshire Writers’. Perhaps you have seen my first entry already. But, here’s another chance.

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

And, I felt inspired to paint this by the poem ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ‘ by Simon Armitage. In fact, he reworked the medieval poem about King Arthur and his knights. And it’s a really good read too.

The House on the Moor

Secondly, I painted this view of the ruined farm house on the moors near Howarth, probably the setting Emily Bronte chose for her novel, Wuthering Heights. But, I was also inspired by the poem by Ted Hughes about the day he and his wife, Sylvia Plath walked up to Top Withens.

Top Withens

Now, after having painted both of these, I was tidying my stash, and I found my Egyptian Temple painting. Actually, I did it a year ago, when I did a series of gouache paintings about Egypt. And, I had forgotten that my imagination was fired up by the exhibitions put on by Joann Fletcher in our town. Joann, born locally, is a well-known Egyptologist – her exhibitions were very good, as were the documentaries on tv. In particular, I remember her striding around the sites in baking heat, with the sun striking off the white stone.

I explain all about this painting here, it has just come back from an exhibition.

Two More Paintings for our Northern Fringe Exhibition

Egyptian Temple

Finally, just before I had to take the paintings to the gallery, I had an idea about one of Ebenezer Elliott’s poems, Trees at Brimham , in North Yorkshire. You see, this Victorian poet lived all his life in my area. And I especially like his poem about this area of rocky outcrops. As he says, the rocks and trees are shaped by each other, and live in ‘union strange’.

Brimham Rocks

Literally, I painted this acrylic painting on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and then delivered it on Tuesday! As our exhibition themes are usually ongoing, I’ve got time to paint more! Watch this space….

Inktober Project Finished at Last

Good morning everyone. Well, I finished this Inktober project at last! Actually, I’m very pleased that I made it to the end, because that’s the first time ever. And it’s only because I decided to make the sketches just that, quick sketches. Only five or ten minutes (some even less!) in contrast to a lot of the work I saw online. In fact, lots of people did absolutely beautiful finished drawings, and there was plenty of creativity too.

Collide

Anyway, back to my Inktober project – this first image was in response to the prompt Collide. And I immediately thought of stars colliding. So I looked at some astronomy photos online and used them as a starting point. Then my imagination took over! The ink was very easy to push around and layer up to get the effects I wanted.

After that, I simply drew my phone charger for the prompt Connect. Next, the prompt Helmet sparked off a few ideas and I finally settled for this Viking helmet. In actual fact, this piece of armour was found in York, a city in Yorkshire, not far from where I live. It was originally a Viking stronghold and has lots of evidence of Roman activity too.

A decorative fan for my Inktober project

Of course, the prompt for this was Fan and I just had to draw this big red fan on the wall in my hall. But, I found it quite difficult to draw in only black or white. As you may know, I’m really fond of lots of bright colour, so, I must do a coloured version some time.

And, finally, the last image is my response to the prompt Risk. As I had been wading through paperwork to create a risk assessment document for our Art Society, it was very much on my mind!

Maybe you can tell that I enjoyed Inktober – you can see the rest of my sketches on my Instagram margarethallfineart. But, I’m glad it only comes around once year!

Ink Sketches for Inktober 2021

Good morning everyone. Today I thought I would show you some of the ink sketches I have been doing for Inktober 2021. Actually, I have been posting them over on my Instagram account @margarethallfineart. So, if you want to see more of these, that’s where they are – the good, the bad and the ugly!

But, back to these ones. Firstly, the Chinese pagoda or gateway – the prompt was ‘Roof’. And, to be honest, it was a bit of a cheat! It was painted using a brush and some thinned sepia ink. Because I had been looking for a dip pen or a fountain pen locally and couldn’t get one. Honestly!

Then we have one of my favourites – ‘Moon’. Incidentally, the real moon has been visible and very beautiful this month here in the UK. And, I sketched this in biro.

One of my Ink Sketches – prompt ‘Extinct’

Of course, this was the sad one. This beautiful animal, the Western Black Rhino, exists no more. Biro sketch.

Next, we have my answer to the prompt ‘Sprout’. And, it couldn’t be anything else but a Brussel Sprout plant! But, this is the best bit, I drew it from memory and this is how the plant looked then. However, this double row of large plants at the allotment is now being cropped. And, very nice they tasted too for dinner last night! Marker pen.

Lastly, I had a little go at a story picture from my imagination, something I find doesn’t come easy to me. And I thought of how gleefully I picked these three sunflowers, because something ate all the other plants. And this was the first time I managed to grow the blooms successfully for a few years.

Well, these were some of my best efforts on my first try at Inktober. And I decided to do very quick five or ten minutes drawings so that I could commit to it. Wish me luck to complete the whole thing!

Painting Buildings – Real and Virtual

Cityscape

Good morning, everyone. I thought I’d do a little catch up post. Because I’m producing lots of small drawings and paintings at the moment, including painting buildings. Rather than big projects and I suppose that doing Inktober 2021 is partly to blame for that. ( It’s all on my Instagram @margarethallfineart)

Anyway, I really enjoyed doing this quick, virtual urban sketch, thanks to the challenge set by @tobyurbansketch. Actually, I don’t know the location of this photo, but the idea is to imagine that you’re on the spot. Then sketch quickly and fluently, spending the same time on it that you would in the field. In fact, for me that’s about 40 minutes. In this way, you can try to retain the freshness and not overwork it. By the way, this way of urban sketching was very popular during lockdowns, for obvious reasons.

Painting Buildings in the Garden

The Little Shed

In contrast, I was actually here on the spot for this sketch, nothing virtual about it! In effect, we have three sheds, a greenhouse and a polytunnel in our allotment. So, I always have plenty of material to paint, not to mention the plants and the crops. Have a look at this post here, for more garden buildings.

Although you might not notice, I can definitely see some improvements in my watercolour sketching now. Because studying techniques in any styles and paints usually does pay off. For example, I’m pleased with the way I’ve achieved more fluidity in the sky and foliage here. Although I’ve spotted a tendency to push the paint around like I used to, if I don’t concentrate. So, more practice required, I think – but, that’s the fun part!

The Little Shed – a closeup

A Flower Abstract in Watercolour

Coleus Abstract

Good morning everyone. It’s just a short post for you today about this flower abstract composition. Actually, it was a couple of weeks ago that we went to Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire.

And we sat in the formal garden a hot late summer’s day in the shade, next to a beautiful display of red coleus.

Fortunately, I had my plein air sketching set in my bag. So I spent a blissful half hour doodling shapes and colours whilst looking at the flowers. And, the result was this flower abstract. What a lovely memory this painting brings me!

If you want to see another ‘flower memory’, look here.

Learning New Techniques in Watercolour

A Quiet Walk

Good morning everyone. This is the first quick watercolour I did from a little book I have just bought. ’30 Minute Landscapes ‘ by Paul Talbot- Greaves and I can thoroughly recommend it. Actually, I had a couple of recommendations from friends. And as Paul is a brilliant, local artist, I thought I would treat myself and support him too! As you may know, I use watercolour paint for little plein air sketches. But I’m really self taught and I started to feel a bit dissatisfied with the direction my paintings were taking. So, I was ready to learn and experiment with new techniques.

To be more specific, in this sketch I learned how to make the last layer of background recede in a subtle way. That is, by adding a wash of light red plus cobalt blue over the base colour. Also, I understood the importance of using increasingly small brushes for the branches and twigs of the tree.

Down the Lane

Next I tried my hand at this sunlit, summer scene and I really enjoyed the challenge of portraying trees loaded with foliage. In this exercise Paul taught me how to put down the first wash of green with other colours subtly mixed in. For example, sap green, lemon yellow and ultramarine blue. Surprisingly, this makes the end result (after adding more layers) more vibrant. In addition, I tried stippling darker colours into the mass of leaves to show shade. Of course, you use the tip of the brush to dot the paint on. In fact, I was delighted with these two exercises and I can’t wait to attempt more . And I think this studying is changing the way I paint my own subjects – in a good way. What do you think?

Putting New Techniques into Practice

Down by the Bridge

If you would like to see more of my quick sketches, there’s loads on my Instagram margaret hall fine art

Wentworth Woodhouse Garden in September

The Path down to the Big House

Good morning everyone. I painted this view of the big house when we spent a few hours in Wentworth Woodhouse Garden , see here. And what a delightful place it is! However, this sight was a complete surprise. Because this is actually the original mansion, and the grander facade on the other side is the larger house that was built on to it. Who knew? Actually, the other side with its impressive carriage drive approach is the longest range of buildings in England. And that includes all our royal palaces. Really built to impress!

This quick phone snap shows you the real life view and we reached this point after a lovely stroll around the park. And there are plenty points of interest. For example, one of the follies carefully placed in the garden was this Ionic Temple. And it’s a quite convincing copy of a classical monument.

In fact, it looked good from all angles, but I chose to sketch the statue on the plinth. Incidentally, this is a representation of the Greek hero Hercules, fighting a mythical creature with his bare hands. Plus a hefty looking club.

Hercules in the Ionic Temple

The Camelia House in Wentworth Woodhouse Garden

Before I finish, I must just mention the Camelia House, now in a very dilapidated state and the subject of a fund raising campaign. But the camelia bushes are still growing and they are the oldest in the UK. And the original purpose of the building was the Duchess’ tearoom, when she entertained the guests of her husband, the Prime Minister in 1765. But, quite apart from that, I can’t resist painting my version of this intriguing building in Wentworth Woodhouse Garden. So, watch this space!

As you might have realised if you look at my blog, I am very fortunate to live in a part of the world where there are lots of beautiful historical places to visit.

Perhaps you might also like to see my visit to Melbourne Hall here.