This Week’s Mindful Scribbly Doodles

Feeling Angry

Good morning everyone. Well, just to keep you up to date, some of my website problems have been solved, thank goodness! But, things are not fully restored , so, I apologise if I can’t really follow, like and comment properly yet. Anyway, as you may be able to tell, I was feeling slightly fed up when I did one of my little scribbly doodles. Actually, it was done in about three snatched five minute sections. And, I did feel a bit better afterwards. First I scribbled away with ink, then I added watercolour and oil pastel. And then I couldn’t resist some final calligraphic marks on top.

The Tunnel

Finally, this one was completed even quicker as I was experimenting with charcoal, graphite and wash pencils. In fact, I found them as I was tidying up my studio, don’t ask! Well, I don’t think this one needs much explanation. However, you could read it as either coming out of a dark place or going onto one! Let’s see what happens next! Thank goodness I can do these scribbly doodles and feel the benefit. There are more mindful paintings on this post here.

Happy Christmas to you All

Christmas Eve in the Mountains

Good morning everyone. This is the ‘Happy Christmas’ acrylic painting I chose for my card this year. Actually, I didn’t think it printed out so well, but friends and family seemed to like it! Perhaps as artists we are sometimes too critical of our own work. Obviously a little bit of objectivity about our own work is helpful. But I do know a few amateur artists who have no confidence at all and that can be toxic. Anyway, I enjoyed painting the cool colours of the ice and snow, contrasted with the warm brown and gold of the cottage.

The Call of the Wild

I don’t think I’ve posted this before, something from a few years ago. In fact, at that time I had a great tutor. And I learnt such a lot in the years I went to Simon’s class. As you can tell by this painting, which I would have struggled to do on my own then.

Finally, this is an on the spot watercolour sketch of the snow of last year’s winter. And, I couldn’t call it ‘plein air’ because we were sitting in the car! Happy Christmas everyone and keep on painting!

The View from Woolley Edge

Sketching at the Tutankhamun Exhibition

Nefertiti

Good morning everyone. On Saturday I went with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire to the Tutankhamun exhibition in Experience Barnsley Museum. And I sketched this bust of Nefertiti, who was his father’s chief wife. Actually, this is not the original – it’s a very good replica. But there were lots of original artefacts, arranged in sections telling the life of the pharaoh. For example, the food he ate, members of his family, education and so on. Although the Tutankamun exhibition was small, it was quite fascinating.

A small figurine found in a tomb

After some time sketching, we then went down to the bustling town centre. In fact there was so much to observe and sketch – market stalls, a brass band playing. And then we ended up at the food court in the covered market for refreshments. Happily, from our table there was a delightful bird’s eye view of the main street below.

Looking Down on Cheapside

This was a very quick sketch in pen and watercolour. And I did it on the table, between pie and peas and cups of hot coffee! And the Tutankamun exhibition was a lovely bonus. Another lovely day with my sketching buddies. By the way, I have missed out all the difficult bits, like all the people! If you want to see what else we sketch, see this post here .

Charcoal Portraits All Finished Now

Feeling Thoughtful

Good morning everyone. As promised, here are my charcoal portraits from the drawing class last weekend. Actually, I was longing to finish them and finally found some time yesterday. But I spent a couple of days looking at them before that. And it seems to be an important part of the creating, I think. Perhaps you may enjoy hearing about the process of this one, a technique I’ve not tried before. Firstly we had to cover the paper with a thick layer of charcoal. Then we proceeded to carve out the outlines of a face, using an eraser, all the while staring into a little mirror. Maybe that’s why the facial expression is so serious! Well, it was the end of the class then, so I did the rest at home, including more subtle ‘removals’ and the addition of details in fine charcoal. Plus just a touch of white pastel.

A Portrait in the Scribbly Technique

Here is the finished version of the drawing I showed you in this post here. And this was a new technique for me too. Because the first preparatory sketch was quickly done and then partially erased! After that, we were encouraged to use a scribbly style of strokes with the sticks of charcoal. In addition, we were working in half light to accentuate the shadows on the face. Then I tidied it up and smoothed it down a bit at home. And, I am quite pleased with these charcoal portraits.

Finally, for those of you who want to see the finished collaborative abstract I took part in, here it is! As you may notice, it underwent a few changes before being hung on the wall in the projects room at The Urban Commune. So we can all admire it.

The Colourful One

Not Much Time for Painting

Australian Landscape – unfinished

Good morning everyone. Well, the title says it all – I’ve not much time for painting at the moment. So I’ll just show you my works in progress. For example, I’ve spent about an hour and a quarter so far on this Australian landscape. Perhaps another 30 minutes will complete it and it’s 7by 9 inches, gouache on paper. Note to self: I must dull down the colours a bit more!

Scribbly Drawing – unfinished

Please don’t laugh (yet!) This was done very quickly at a charcoal drawing workshop. And I’ll tell you all about it later, in my next post. Oh, by the way, this was drawn in very low light, in order to cast strong shadows on the face. So, that’s another excuse! Anyway, I’ll show you both of these when they are finished.

Workshop at Left Bank Leeds

In the Old Church

Good morning everyone. I had a great day sketching on Saturday at Left Bank Leeds. And we worked with a super artist, Paul Digby, who first showed us some inspiring drawings by Piranese and Seurat. Also, Hopper, Jenny Saville and Barbara Walker. Actually, he used these examples to illustrate some of the things to keep in mind when drawing. For instance, perspective, tone, atmosphere and simplicity of line. Next Paul demonstrated different ways of deepening tone with graphite. Then he taught us some simple rules of perspective. All in all, a very interesting and useful session. Then we were encouraged to find a corner of this impressive Edwardian former church and draw. In fact, it is now a very welcoming arts and community hub, the Left Bank Leeds. (Sorry about the quality of this photo, no natural light, just a desk lamp!)

A finished version

This is the finished version (just completed) and I deepened the darker tones, as Paul advised. And I think it looks more three dimensional now. As you may know, I don’t usually spend this much time on a drawing. Because my work with urban Sketchers is of necessity short, usually 20 minute sketches,completed on the spot. So, this was something new for me and very good practice. If you want to see an example of creating tones in black and white paint, see this post here.

Beautiful Sunset in the snow

The End of a Winter’s Day

Good morning everyone. This is my latest little gouache landscape, and, I feel cold just looking at it! Actually, I’m quite pleased with this one because the original free reference photo showed an overcast day. But I wanted to paint a beautiful sunset, and this is the result. In fact, that’s the first time I have changed the weather and time of day so completely. Anyway, I improvised ok for the sky, but I overdid the bright reflections on the water at first. However, gouache paint will help you to correct mistakes, but you only get one attempt! After that, it’s all downhill! At any rate, that’s how it seems to me!

Well, as I painted I thought about this beautiful sunset as a possible for next year’s Christmas card, what do you think? I find it less stressful to design a card and enjoy painting something seasonal. And then, use one I did the previous year for cards – it’s nice stress free method.

On a very different note, last night I went sketching with my Rotherham Roar artists group. And we went to an old pub, a listed building with tiles and stained glass panels. Also ornate glass lampshades and an open fire. So, we sat together quite contentedly and sketched each other sketching. Plus, any unsuspecting customers who kept still enough! To be honest, I am a bit out of practice in figure drawing, but it was all good fun.

Ken
A Customer in the Cutler’s Arms

Incidentally, did you spot the name on the window? If you want to see more quick, figure sketches, see here.

Painting with Pen and Wash

First Snow

Good morning everyone. I painted this scene in a pen and wash workshop last week. And we invited Gary, one of our favourite tutors, to art society to work with us. Also to show us some pen and watercolour techniques. Actually, it was a very enjoyable evening and everyone was pleased with their own version of this snow scene. After a quick pencil sketch of the main shapes, we tried to ink the lines in, using sketchy, gestural marks. Then, for me, the difficult part, using two colours only and being very restrained with the paint brush! Honestly, I was dying to pile on more and more texture and detail. But, I’m really glad I followed Gary’s instructions.

And, I took away from this workshop the idea that sometimes less is definitely more! However, as our tutor explained, this is really a basic scene – you can add more style to your liking. Preferably after learning the method. By the way, we also added more pen marks at this point if we felt we needed them. Plus a few dabs of white gouache for snow on the trees.

The Cottage

Perhaps you might be interested to see this pen and wash painting I did a few years ago. In fact, I did this after another of Gary’s workshops on pen and wash, I felt so inspired that I painted a few more. Incidentally, in this picture, the pencil sketch and watercolour come first. Then detail is added later in pen, again trying not to overdo things. And, here is a post showing how I use this technique when I’m painting in plein air.

Beautiful Dales Landscape in Gouache

A Sunny Day in the Dales

Good morning everyone. Here’s another beautiful Dales landscape in gouache, Yorkshire Dales, that is. Actually, this is just a quick post today, to keep you all updated on the artwork I have finished. And I really enjoyed painting the luscious foliage in this sunlit view. To be honest, it reminds me of many walks that we did in this part of the world. Because we have returned to this delightful place over many years, camping and staying in youth hostels. And, now, renting cottages. In fact, the area is not really so big, but each small area is very distinctive and the landscape is quite varied.

As you can see, this view is of the valley bottom, but still quite high up. Of course, the hills are not far away and the view is, in my eyes, very pleasing. At times, the weather can be challenging, even in summer. However, in my painting you can almost feel the heat rising from the grass. Also, in my imagination, I can hear the insects busily buzzing around. Incidentally, the last walk we did in Wharfedale this summer was in sun till halfway round. Then hailstones and heavy rain for the other half! But, that’s part of the charm, I suppose. Anyway, in my opinion, you can have a beautiful Dales landscape in any weather.

Pinks and Blues in Oil Pastel

Now this is something quite different, a quick intuitive abstract made in marker pen, oil pastel and pencil. And it took me about three sessions of ten minutes each while I was doing chores. And, I felt a great deal better when I finished it! How satisfying to do some art therapy in snatched moments of time. As you may know, if you read my blog. I do rely upon these abstract sketches to cheer me up. See another post here for more examples of occasions when I only had time for sketches.

New Paintings, Finished at Last

On the Beach

Good morning everyone. I’d like to show you these two new paintings, finished at last! Firstly, this beautiful Mediterranean scene, based on a photo from Landscape Reference Photos for Artists, here , by Penny Wohler – Stone. And this was such a pleasure to paint! In addition, gouache paint seems made for a scene which cries out for delicious textures and vibrant colours. Of course, this painting also fits in with my theme of hot, dry landscape and Australian scenes. (See here ) In fact, it’s turning into a collection now! To be honest, I couldn’t really see the point of doing a series before. But this one seems to have grown itself! Now I’ll have to think about displaying it together somewhere. Anyway, I’ll just paint a few more first.

Encounter

Secondly, a completely different intuitive abstract in watercolour, pencil and marker pens. Actually, I found this little painting when I was tidying up some sketchbooks. And, I remember trying out a tip about keeping watercolours moist – I think I proved here that it does work. Because, as you can see, the paint didn’t need much encouragement to wander across the paper nicely. So, I was pleased with it, and when it was dry, I stashed it away.

Anyway, I looked at it from all angles and embellished it with patterns and markings. Then I noticed something in it that suggested a face to face composition – I wonder if you can see it too?

Encounter – a close up

So, there you have it – two new paintings, finished at last.

On the beach – a close up

Sketching in the Industrial Museum

The Chimney House

Good morning everyone. A few weeks back I went out for the day with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. And we went sketching in the industrial museum at Kelham Island in Sheffield, UK. Actually, the name is slightly misleading because it is an old preserved industrial area in the city centre. Because it is alongside the River Don and some of the water is diverted to power a mill, a small area becomes an island! Now, as well as the museum in an old electricity generating station for city trams, there lots of lovely buildings. To be honest, they are now blocks of flats and pubs and so on. But still beautifully restored and picturesque.

Making Files

This is an old drawing on display in Kelham Island Industrial Museum. And it shows the sort of work which was carried out in the small shops typical of the area. For example, making tools, in this case metal files. So, I spent an hour or two wandering around the interesting exhibits, looking for inspiration. As I am at present painting industrial subjects for our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition, see this post here.

Machinery

Anyway, this is a quick pencil abstract I did later, after spending some time making working drawings in a workshop. In fact, it was an enterprise where the men cut out shapes from sheets of steel, for machinery parts. However, I’m still gathering ideas for a finished painting for our show. If you keep reading this blog I’ll post as soon as it’s finished.

Painting Big Pictures in Small Sketchbooks

Autumn in the Hills

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you how I have been painting big pictures in small sketchbooks. Well, they are fairly small, 7 by 5 inches but the pictures I try to cram into them are definitely big! Actually, it seems to be a habit I can’t break. Whenever I pick up a small sketchbook, either sketching outside or from a photo, I paint everything! That is to say, I’m not very good at zooming in and choosing a small, neat subject.

In the Desert

However, I do prefer to finish the painting in one session en plein air, or quite quickly if I’m at home. Of course, this is do-able with a little piece of paper. And it’s also less daunting if I’m short of time and feel a desperate need to create! If you want to see another dryland painting, see here.

Anyway, I have upgraded my watercolour paper now. In addition, I have learned to keep my paints more moist. So, now I’ll turn my attention to my worn out, scrubby brushes. Then, I’ll not be able to blame my tools any more!

A Small Folding Sketchbook

Finally, this is one of two folding sketchbooks that my friend gave me (the other one is even tinier!). So, now I will be able to do more painting big pictures in small sketchbooks!

I do paint bigger pictures too, and they are all for sale! See more landscapes in my gallery here. And email me for more details.

Drylands

Not Inktober – My Small Sketches

On the Table

Good morning everyone. It’s that time of year when dedicated artists draw in ink, guided by a list of suggested prompts, Inktober. But after feeling too much pressure to keep up last year, I decided to do Not Inktober! Actually, I was missing doing small, sometimes silly drawings, where I could play! So, I invented Not Inktober, that is, draw when you like and what you like. And then choose a title.

Perplexed
Headache

Of of course, this last one doesn’t need any explanation, I think! However, when I was researching for this post, I found out that there is a challenge called Inktober 52, see here . Perhaps this is worth thinking about too – making a more developed sketch over a week, different prompts. And taking the whole year to take part.

Travelling
Machinery

Well. this is the last of my Not Inktober sketches ( there may be more!). Perhaps you would be interested to know that I did this one after a great day out with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. In fact, we went to Kelham Island Industrial Museum and I found it very inspiring. But the best bit is that I’ve now got loads of ideas for an Industry project. Maybe you remember our Northern Fringe Gallery group of artists exhibition on this theme. It’s an ongoing project, so I have plenty of time to create an abstract composition based on this drawing. Anyway, I shall still find time to do small, quirky sketches too as it is so enjoyable. If you want to look back at my Inktober efforts last year, look here.

Two More Small Landscape Paintings

Small Barn

Good morning everyone. At last I managed to buy a decent watercolour pad! And I just had to paint two small landscape paintings to try it out! To be honest, I discarded the first two attempts. Because I had literally forgotten how to use the paint on good paper Actually, the old paper was not cheap at all, and strangely poor quality for this paint. Anyway, after my little practice, I really enjoyed creating pools of colour, without any effort. The paper is delicious!

By the way, this is another of those small barns in the Yorkshire Dales . And this time I have painted a backdrop of sunlit hills. Perhaps you can smell the sweet scent of warm grass, like me.

Poppy Time

Well, here is the second of my small landscape paintings, 9 by 7 ins. And, I’m definitely still experimenting here. But, I’m quite satisfied with it, especially because I put the composition together from a couple of photos and my imagination. And it’s a lovely colourful scene. However, I think I could improve on the scale and size of the flowers. In fact, that’s something I find tricky in a made-up scene like this. Of course, the only way to improve is practice, and, luckily, I enjoy painting so much, so, no problem!

By the way, all my artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. So, go to the Contact Me page, if you see anything you like. And send me an email.

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.

My New Silver Birch Painting

Silver Birch Wood

Good morning everyone. This is my new silver birch painting in gouache. Well, I thought it was about time I created my version of the silver birch woodland scene. Of course, I wanted to make mine a little bit different from the many excellent dark, atmospheric paintings I have seen. So I went for a feeling of slender tree trunks, shimmering in the hazy light. And, the colour of the grass is sharp and bright, just like it is after a shower. As for the sky, I exaggerated the mauve tones, to please myself actually! But, it really makes me want to step into the picture and see what is round the bend in the path!

Silver Birch Wood – a closeup

By the way, I am starting to feel a little bit more confident with gouache paint now, at long last! In fact, I do like painting with it very much. And, I am getting used to the way it moves around on the page and how the colours settle after a while. But, it can still surprise me when one colour can ‘merge’ into another over night! And that’s what happened to these silver birches with the white highlighting. As regards the shift in colour as they dry, I suppose it is becoming a little more instinctive. And, I must have gone through this when learning how to handle acrylic paint. However, I probably forgot about the learning stage as soon as I was through it. But, I must say I am now trying a different type of paper, a more smooth finish. And I’ll show you the first painting when I’ve finished it.

Painting Trees

Finally, you must have noticed how much I love painting trees, see this post here . So here are one or two examples. Firstly in watercolour and pen and then in oil pastel and watercolour.

A Tree in Outline
The Big Tree in my Garden

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

My Sketchbooks Over the Years

The View from Patterdale Hotel

Good morning everyone. In my last post I showed you little watercolour sketches from my sketchbooks. And it got me thinking about how many sketchbooks I had filled over the years. Quite a few! So, I looked through one or two and found plenty that I drew whilst on holiday in the Lake District.

For example, this one is a view over to the hills from the garden at the front of Patterdale Hotel, near Ullswater. Actually, we used to stay here once or twice a year, pre pandemic. Unfortunately, I still don’t feel brave enough yet to stay in an hotel. Anyway, the views all around are spectacular. And it was very tempting to sketch while sitting on the patio garden with a cold drink after a walk in the hills.

Place Fell, from Patterdale Hotel

Well, this is another view from the garden, the majestic Place Fell, which rises to 2154 ft. How could you not draw this? If you’re wondering where the lake is, this view shows the end of the lake, which is rather boggy and soon floods after heavy rain. These two paintings from my sketchbooks are about three or four years old, but, look what else I found! A very similar sort of landscape from 2003. And, I have some even older! How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!

A Lake View

Please note, these are all plein air sketches done in 25 to 40 minutes, to capture the moment and they are 7 by 5 inches. If you wish to see a white cottage view in the Lakes, all neatly finished off, see here.

Plein Air Painting in Cumbria

Inside Brougham Hall

Good morning everyone. We are just back from a short break in the Lake District, UK, where I managed to fit in some plein air painting. And we visited this lovely place here- Brougham Hall, pronounced ‘Broom’, apparently! Of course, quite a lot of it is in ruins now. But a friends group (volunteers) look after it, on a small budget. And they are managing a long project of restoration. However, it is quite charming and I sat in the courtyard cafe here and did this watercolour sketch. Actually, you can see the well which provided the castle’s water, the structure in bottom right.

In fact, on that day we were spoilt for choice. Because we spent the rest of the day visiting another castle and not one but two henges. In case you didn’t know they are the remains of earthwork structures constructed in Prehistoric times. Unfortunately, no one seems to know exactly why they were created. So, it’s all guesswork from there onwards. But, you can let your imagination run wild about what they were used for. Most likely meeting places of some kind, but, very evocative and intriguing!

A Plein Air Sketch of a Lake

Haweswater

Next day it was misty and drizzly, so we drove to Haweswater, a lake up on the high ground. And they enlarged this stretch of water to provide a reservoir of drinking water for Manchester. However, to achieve this they flooded the land near the top of the lake. And in my sketch here I painted the remains of the village buildings that are usually under water. After all, this has been the driest summer for years in the UK. Anyway, I tried very hard to show the misty atmosphere. But I stopped sketching when I realised I subtly changed the lighting , as it naturally happened! Obviously one of the challenges of plein air painting.

Just to remind you, I painted both of these watercolour sketches on the spot and quite quickly. So, by no means are they finished paintings. If you want to see studio painted landscapes, have a look at the landscapes in my Gallery here.

A Holiday in the Dales

Kilnsey Crag

Good morning everyone. We have just arrived home from a holiday in the Dales. That’s the Yorkshire Dales, UK, a peaceful, fairly unspoilt rural area about an hour and a half from my home. Anyway, we drove up to Kilnsey Crag, and sat on a bench overlooking the trout fishing ponds. And I attempted to capture a bit of the ridge rising up to the skyline. Actually, the most impressive part, the sheer drop of the crag is a bit more difficult to get to. So, that’s for another time!

Quiet Churchyard in Grassington

Actually, this watercolour sketch is not quite finished, but I’ll show it anyhow. Well, we spent the afternoon in Grassington, a town which is always very full of tourists. However, we found a peaceful spot to sit for a while. And I painted away, lost in my thoughts, until the rain made us move away.

Clitheroe Castle Keep

Finally, we spent a lovely day in Clitheroe on this holiday in the dales. And I couldn’t resist painting the imposing ruin of the castle keep. Amazingly, I wasn’t alone – there was a local art group there to keep me company! Perhaps you think that I make a habit of going on holiday in order to paint castles! And, you may be right – see this post here. By the way, these are plein air watercolour sketches, completed on site in roughly 40 minutes.