Rotherham Steel Henge in Watercolour

Rotherham Steel Henge

Good morning everyone. Well, the image above is a page out of my sketchbook and I completed it on Thursday. You see, I went to a very interesting location with Rotherhamroar artbuddies. The Steel Henge at Centenary Riverside nature park, Rotherham. Honestly, it seemed at first like a very odd choice for a sketchtrip, but nothing could be further from the truth! Admittedly, it was a tiny green space in the middle of an industrial area. However, it was a haven for wildlife, with a river and wildflower meadows.

The Wildflower Meadow

In addition, there is this very powerful art installation right in the centre of the space. Honestly, we all reacted strongly to it, and set to work straight away with pencil, oils, acrylic and, in my case, watercolour.

Watercolour Sketching at the Henge

The History Bit

Just to give a bit of background, before much industrial development, this beautiful spot was used as a swimming place. And, very likely a picnic area by the locals. Then came the building of steel works. Actually, as they were investigating this site to add to the existing plant, the workmen found the remains of a Roman fort here. Apparently, it was sited to guard the crossing place of the River Don. What a history! (You could take a peep here at my painting of the mighty Hadrian’s Wall, another Roman remain in Britain.)

The Steel Henge

Anyway, the artist created the sculpture by using these huge pieces of steel, discarded parts of machinery that were found nearby. As you can see, the artist had the inspired idea of shaping them into a Stonehenge like formation. And, it certainly does pull at your heartstrings when you stand among the monoliths of the Steel Henge.

After my first watercolour sketch, I looked out in a different direction to see a modern factory in the distance. Now, perhaps it’s just me, but these buildings often remind me of a castle. So, that’s what I thought of as I painted. All in all, a very thought-provoking place to simply sit and sketch.

The Factory at the Edge of the Reserve

Watching the Water Go By

The New Path

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you some of the paintings I did while watching the water go by. And I dug this one out of the archives. But I remember the occasion well. Because we walked down this path for the first time and it had just been opened up beside the river. Actually, this river is dammed to make a lake at Nostell Priory, Yorkshire and here is the outfall. And I think it’s officially called the Lower Lake. In fact, it soon widens out to make a perfect habitat for swans, ducks and other waterfowl.

To be precise, I sketched the scene in pencil on the spot and then painted in acrylic after, my favourite medium. If I remember correctly, I tried to show the cold, grey light of a winter’s afternoon. However, I distinctly recall feeling optimistic that Spring would come in a few weeks time. Then we would take walks along this new path in all seasons. And spend some time watching the water go by. By the way, I’m selling this painting – acrylic on paper 12 by 8inches, unframed, £20 plus shipping [postage free in UK].

Another view over Thrybergh Reservoir

Finally, I sketched Thrybergh Reservoir in watercolour recently and I completed it on the spot. See my post on this sketchtrip here. All done while watching the water go by.

Drawing Small Animals from Life

The Billy Goat

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

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

Drawing Small Animals

Sheep and Goats

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

The Billy Goat

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

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

The Black Rabbit

Sketching Scenes in Sunny Scarbrough

The Path down to the Undercliff

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

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

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

Sketching scenes at the Mere

The Ducks at the Mere

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

Sketching on the Balcony

Behind the Flats

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

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

Painting Small Boats in Watercolour

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

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

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

Painting Small Boats at the Seaside

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

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

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

Watercolour Sketching at Worsbrough Mill

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

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

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

Watercolour Sketching at the Mill with Art Buddies

The Mill.

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

The Bridge over the Millpond

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

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

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

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

Small Landscape Painting for Sale

View over the Park

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you my new small landscape painting. As you may remember, I am following an online course, on Learn to Paint Academy, at my own pace. And our tutor, Rod Moore suggested something I hadn’t thought of before – small studies, brought to a finished state. Of course, this is a great way to practise techniques and experiment with composition ideas. However, it doesn’t take anywhere near the same amount of time as one of my larger works. And, it’s just as satisfying to do. But, although it sounds simple, I never thought to try it!

The painting above is 7×9 inches, acrylic on paper and I’m offering this mini landscape at £15 plus shipping, (in UK free!). So, if this quiet, end of winter, English scene appeals to you, go to the Contact Me page and email me. Then you can pay by PayPal.

The Preliminary Sketch for my Small, Landscape Painting

Cannon Hall Park

Actually, you may have seen this sketch before. If I remember, the day was icy cold – the park was looking great, peaceful and dignified. Surprisingly green for the season. And some families were calmly taking their daily Lockdown exercise in superb surroundings. Unfortunately, I only managed a quick pencil sketch and then the cold defeated me. So I had to go home and warm up and I didn’t add colour at the scene, as I prefer. Anyway, after studying with Rod for a while, I now have the confidence to paint a small, landscape painting later. In fact, that’s a departure for me because I didn’t feel I could trust my visual memory. But, now it seems to be improving! Consequently, expect to see more little paintings based on my treasure trove of sketchbook pages made en plein air. ( I made some this week, but, that’s another story, perhaps for my Tuesday blogpost!)

So, enjoy this glimpse into my world, and let me know if you would like this piece of more affordable art for yourself.

The View Over the Park

Adding Colour to Quick Sketches

Flowers on the Runner Bean Plant

Good morning everyone. Well, I had a little bit of time to play this week and I read something online about not forgetting the importance of experimenting with your art. So I spent some time adding colour to this very quick pen sketch I made last year. As you might remember, I wrote here about how inspiring I found the lush growth on the runner bean plants. Anyway, I took the opportunity to really try to work out how to use the Inktense paints I bought. And, I had a breakthrough – use more water! In fact, as you will see, a bit too much water in places!

Flowers on the Runner Bean Plant

Adding Colour to the Pencil Sketch

The Big Glasshouse in the Walled Garden

Actually, this is the second very quick sketch I made when we went to Cannon Hall Park and Gardens (see here). And now, here’s the coloured version.

The Coloured Version

Now I feel that I’m getting to grips with using this type of watercolour, and the colours certainly are bright. And, to be honest, I felt very relaxed when I just concentrated on texture and colour like this, so it’s a win-win situation for all! So, have a good weekend, everyone!

Finishing off a Pencil Sketch

Brodsworth on a Sunny Morning

Good morning everyone. Just a quick post today, my life seems to be opening up a bit more now. And, we’ve plenty of work waiting at our allotment garden. But, I wanted to show you some of the artwork I have managed to do, based on a pencil sketch. Unfortunately, I haven’t got a ‘before’ picture to show you.

So, the image above is the ‘after’ picture! I started it off as a pencil sketch done in about February, I think. Or maybe March. Anyway, we booked a timed visit to Brodsworth Hall, a graceful, elegant large house nearby. But, the weather was dreadful. So I sat down on a bench where I could glimpse the pale sandstone building through the trees. Actually, I was fascinated by this view every time I had walked by. However, it was drizzling and quite cold, so I only had time for a quick pencil sketch. And no chance to capture the colours.

Adding the Colours to my Pencil Sketch

Brodsworth on a Sunny Morning- a closeup

Well, as you can see, I re-imagined the scene as it looks on a sunny morning. And, all this from the comfort of my armchair, something I rarely do. Perhaps you remember that I mentioned I was fed up with the watercolour travel set I use. Honestly, I thought the colours seemed very dull . Incidentally, can anyone recommend some bright, vibrant watercolours I could try? Well, I did impulse buy this little travel set of Inktense pans because they seemed bright. And, they certainly are bright, but not quite suited to plein air sketching, I think. Just an experiment!

Another ‘cold weather’ sketch

Wentworth Church

Of course, I sketched this on another still, grey winter’s day in the picturesque village of Wentworth. Because it was too cold to make a watercolour sketch, I feel it’s not really finished. So, time for the colour treatment, I think. There’s another post here of the other beautiful church in Wentworth, and I completed this one in colour, on the spot!

Sketching in the Walled Garden

The Pear Trees in the Walled Garden

Good morning everyone. Firstly, this is my quick sketch of part of the walled garden at Cannon Hall. And, if you look carefully, you can see the pear trees trained against the old brick wall. Actually, this garden has Heritage Pear Tree status and these varieties are amongst the oldest ones growing in the UK. In effect, some are over 200 years old. And the lovely old brick buildings forming one wall of this space are part of the estate offices and courtyard complex. In fact, the garden is conveniently next to the ‘big house’ . Because, this is where all the veg and fruit for the household was grown. Here’s the link to Cannon Hall’s website, it’s a really interesting old mansion.

Our Sketch Trip to the Walled Garden

The Pear Trees in the Walled Garden

To tell you the truth, this was our first outdoor trip as a society for two years! Also, our art society met for the last time indoors in March 2020, when we had an illustrated talk on painting icons for the Orthodox Church. And it seems such a long time ago – have a look at our Facebook page here to see more. Anyway, we had an absolute blast! Because sketching together outdoors, chatting and the all important coffee and cake is what we love to do.

Two Sketchers in the Garden

In this image you can see two of our sketchers near the ornamental pond (just hidden). Also, you can see part of the installation displayed here temporarily. It’s inspired by the story of a local woman, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who brought inoculation into England in 1721. Apparently, she saw this medical procedure being carried out in Turkey to protect against smallpox. And, given our present situation, this is surely something to celebrate.

A Section of the Wall

Well, in my sketch, which I did in 30 minutes, I tried to capture the soft, mellow colour of the ancient brickwork. In addition, I was interested in the contrast between the formal, espaliered trees, flat against the wall and the modern prairie planting in the foreground.

What a fabulous day out – the first of many, I hope!

A Charcoal and Pastel Sketch

The View through the Window

Good morning everyone. I have literally just finished this sketch. (And wiped all the pastel chalk dust off the table! ) As you can see, I made a charcoal and pastel sketch of the view through my window. Well, I have distorted the perspective slightly. But, your eye should travel down the garden, over the fence and the lovely, old brick wall. Then you get a glimpse of the rather fine sandstone office building to the left. And one of the small trees in my crowded shrubbery garden is featured, dominating the space. Actually, it’s an overgrown pyracantha, very hacked about over the years, in an effort to keep it in its place!

To be honest, I sketched this rather impetuously , and I don’t claim to have any skill with pastel painting. You see, I had been browsing the net and I found a great post by kestrelart, all about sketching quickly outdoors. The artist very generously described trying charcoal for capturing the scene and then adding colour with pastel. Or, watercolour and also spraying the paper in some places and leaving others dry. What fun! In fact, I couldn’t wait to try it out. By the way, does any one else use these materials together?

You can see how well the artist uses this technique if you look at his latest post here. As for me, I’ll keep on practising and I’ll definitely take charcoal and pastel out with me next time I go out plein air sketching.

A Charcoal and Pastel Sketch of the Camelia Bush

The View through the Window – a closeup

Here I have attempted to paint the camelia bush – it flowered really well this year. However, we’ve been having some late frosts recently and, at the moment, the blooms are partly brown and crispy! But, this is all part of the trials of life as a gardener, as some of you will know!

An Abstracted Cityscape in Acrylic

Cityscape 1

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you my attempt at a semi-abstract cityscape. Actually, I didn’t want to waste the leftover paint on my palette, so I started doodling. (Or, you could call it an intuitive abstract!). Anyway, when I saw the shape of a doorway, I thought I would try to paint a cityscape. Then, I loved the blocks of colour so much that it gradually led me into some semi- abstraction of the scene. And then a bit more! To tell the truth, this is my first attempt at this subject. That is, if you discount one collage of an imaginary view over a city that I did a few years ago. But, I would definitely like to explore this theme a bit more . And, I could even do a series, like a proper artist!

However, I must say that when I posted this on my Instagram account at least two friends saw this as an industrial scene, a steelworks melting shop to be exact. Well, at least they both liked it, so that’s the main thing.

Somewhere in France

And now, in complete contrast, this is a cityscape in southern France somewhere. That is to say, judging by the architecture and the strength of the sunlight. Obviously, I painted this based on a reference photo, and a bit of memory, not from my imagination like the first image. At the time I painted it, a few years ago, I was quite pleased with it. And, I still am, but, I’m quite glad that I am now moving away from following the photo so carefully. So, if I were to do a similar scene, I’m sure I would interpret it with more artistic licence.

An Urban Sketch Cityscape

The Calder Building at the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

Finally, this is an urban sketch I did, on the spot in about 30 minutes. Incidentally, I was out sketching with Urbansketchers Yorkshire, back in the day when there were no restrictions on mixing. Happy days! And, this old warehouse by the canal was part of the site dedicated to the well-known sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Well, I know it has its flaws, and I’ve learnt a bit more about perspective since then. But I do like the freshness and atmosphere I’ve captured here. Plus, of course the memory of a fab day out sketching.

So, whether I use acrylic or watercolour, a photo, my imagination or plein air approach. And, whether I paint in realistic or abstract style, I still find plenty of inspiration in this subject. You could see a very different type of cityscape if you look at this post here – the Piece Hall in Halifax, UK.

Painting Outside in the Spring Sunshine

A quick watercolour sketch of a charming scene, looking over the reservoir to the cafe on the hill.
Thrybergh Country Park

Good morning everyone. As you may know, I absolutely love painting outside and the glorious fine, sunny weather is perfect for me. So, yesterday I went to Thrybergh Country Park to meet up with some art buddies. And we could paint all morning in complete comfort. That is, no shivering with cold or battling with strong winds to keep hold of paper and so on.

The Colours of Spring when Painting Outside

To be honest, it was the colours of the scene which inspired me most. Because at this time of year, as the trees begin to come into leaf, some of the greens are soft and yellowy and even the more vibrant ones are still easy on the eye. However, in this part of the landscape that I chose, most of the trees are bare and stark. Actually, that gave quite a dramatic effect against the calm, lazy surface of the water, gently reflecting the sky and trees. Of course, I did use artistic licence and I left out all the waterbirds. Also, all the walkers. But, for today it was the sight of nature gradually progressing through Springtime that interested me. Incidentally, this man made lake is available for free swimming on two evening sessions during the week. Maybe one day!

A close up of the scene at Thrybergh, which I did when I was painting outside.  The cafe at the top of the hill, and the path leading down to the water's edge.
The Cafe at Thrybergh Res

Naturally, there was plenty of time for coffee and chat. Plus, most importantly of all, scrumptious cake! And we talked about pochade boxes and outdoor easels. Then how to prepare wooden panels with gesso. And we discussed the different methods of capturing a scene like this using realistic versus impressionistic styles. So, all my artistic batteries were charged up. And I really am looking forward to a lovely summer season of sketch trips with like minded people. Sheer bliss! Have a look at this post here to read all about another sketchcrawl on a hot summer’s day last year.

Sketching at an Old Colliery Site

A plein air sketch in watercolour.  Pit headgear at an old colliery site surrounded by trees in Spring blossom.
Barnsley Main – an Old Colliery Site

Good morning everyone. One fine day last week we went to have a look at this old colliery site – Barnsley Main in the Dearne Valley. Actually, we knew that the community group who look after it have worked really hard on it. So we had a wander round and I sat down at the picnic table and bench to sketch the view. To be honest, I had planned to do this some time ago. But, I suppose I was always too busy going somewhere else to sketch. And I needed a Lockdown to make me concentrate on the interesting locations that are just on my doorstep.

The Barnsley Main Pithead with Winding Gear at the Old Colliery Site

A close up of the winding gear at the old colliery site
The Pithead

Of course, I did this fairly quick watercolour sketch (40 minutes) on the spot with a little tidy up at home. To be honest, I didn’t want to use pen and ink. But I thought I must add a bit more definition. So I strengthened the black lines with more washes at home. This and the large building that houses it is the only remaining evidence of the pit above ground. However, it is quite unique and now it’s a Grade Two listed building. And it is well known as the mine that blew up in the Oaks mining disaster in 1866. Tragically, the fire from the explosion took the lives of over 380 miners and rescuers. If you want to know more, here is the link to the website.

The Oaks Mining Disaster Memorial

A quick pen sketch of Graham Ibberson's memorial statue.
The Mining Disaster Memorial

This is my quick, rough and ready plein air sketch of the statue by our local sculptor Graham Ibbeson. In fact, it is a very impressive and moving installation right in the town centre. Naturally, you can’t see all the details here. But, the sculptor has made up the hair and shawl of the miner’s wife out of pieces of coal. In effect, she waits at the colliery for news of her husband. And you can just make out the body of a miner, trapped underground beneath her feet.

Anyway, after I had finished my sketch, we walked down the path the miners used to get to work, over the canal and on to the fishing ponds. Really, it was a lovely sight, swans gliding on the water and families enjoying the sunshine and the outdoors together. A perfect day!

Have a look at this post here to see another recent plein air watercolour sketch done in my local surroundings, this time a lovely country park.

A photo of the memorial statue in town centre.
Graham’s Statue

Signs of Spring in the Country Park

Signs of Spring – Blackthorn Blossom

Good morning everyone. This is a little watercolour sketch I did at Worsbrough Country Park last week. Finally we had one or two milder days and we really enjoyed the fresh air. Actually, I have been searching out the first signs of Spring this year. Because the winter did seem to me to be very long. And, it was such a pleasure to spot the first hazel catkins and the willow blossoms.

In fact I realised this year something I had never noticed before. That is, that the pussy willow flowers gradually open right out into larger flowers and the pollen escapes. Then the tree seems to be a vivid greeny yellow from a distance. As you approach, it gradually changes to be a dusty yellow colour. Just remember, the stark, dark brown branches are bare of leaves at this time. Honestly, this is the first time I ever noticed this!

One of the first signs of Spring on the willow trees

The Willow Blossom

But, just to return to the blackthorn tree and its creamy white blossom. What a welcome sight at the end of winter! Again, the branches have no leaves, and the trees are covered in clouds of creamy white blossom.

The Blackthorn Blossom

In order to sketch this view en plein air, I sat on a very comfy bench near one of the pedestrian entrances of the park. And we were looking down towards the paths that lead around the shore of the reservoir in both directions. Honestly, it was such a treat to sit in the sunshine, and see happy walkers, children and dogs relaxing. In fact, even the watercolour sketch went well until I tried to indicate the showy, white flowers! Eventually, I had to leave that part of the painting until I got home. Then, out came the little tube of white gouache paint , but even then, I couldn’t quite do the tree justice! But, it was worth it to do my first outdoor sketch of the season.

Last year’s Spring flowers

A colourful acrylic painting - semi-abstract composition of pansies and polyanthus in the rain  - the first signs of Spring in the garden.
Flowers in the Rain

Incidentally, this is an acrylic painting I did last year, in Spring to cheer myself up. It’s a semi abstracted view of pansies and polyanthus flowers in my garden, listening in the Spring showers. Well, it did cheer me up, but I’m so glad that I could go out this year. And appreciate the trees and their impressive blossoms in the Great Outdoors! If you want to read my post about last year’s exhibition ‘Springtime in Yorkshire ‘ see here .

Winter Landscapes, in my Sketchbook

An instinctive,  semi abstract composition of trees in the mist, one of my winter landscapes. In graphite pencil, acrylic and ink.
Trees in the Mist

Good morning everyone. I thought I’d like to share with you some winter landscapes I’ve painted quite recently. In fact, I realized I’d better hurry up, as everyone is now spotlighting the signs of Spring!

Well, the image above is a mixed media piece I did instinctively straight after a short drive in local countryside. As you can see, the mist was fairly thick, and the sun just peeped through briefly in a couple of spots. Actually, I was quite fascinated by the tangle of bare, tree branches looming in and out of focus . And all this against the thick, soupy consistency of the off-white sky.

Closeup of Trees in the Mist

Winter Landscapes – Part One, the Instinctive Semi Abstract

Firstly, I scribbled some trunks, branches and random lines with a graphite pencil. And this gave me very strong marks, just what I wanted. Then, my idea was to lay in shapes in the negative spaces between the branches with acrylic paint. But the paint wouldn’t quite cooperate – I think it’s time I tried water mixable oils! However, I used what I had, sketched in some grasses and so on. Then I put some detail into the tree trunks with sepia ink, applied with a tiny brush.

A Winter Scene – Part Two , the Plein Air Sketch

A quick, en plein air sketch in watercolour.  One of my favourite winter landscapes,  Wentworth Castle Gardens.
Wentworth Castle – the Folly

And this is the other one of my winter landscapes – a watercolour sketch I did en plein air. To be honest, the ‘air’ was very cold! So I spent 20 minutes sketching from life, then painted more layers of washes at home. Again we have the bare branches against the beautiful, subtle greys of the sky. But I hope you can see the difference between the two approaches to the similar subject matter. That is, an impressionistic, imagined painting and an on the spot sketch, staying close to reality. Which style do you think gives a more effective record of a scene?

We often walk in the grounds of Wentworth Castle Gardens (NT) and I love to paint the mock castle here and the other features, such as the rockery, see here if you’d like to enjoy the views.

Plein air Sketching in Yorkshire

A watercolour sketch of a beautiful old church in glowing sandstone - plein air sketching in Woolley village.
St. Peter’s at Woolley Village

Good morning everyone. Last week we went for a stroll around a very picturesque village where I did some plein air sketching. Actually, the weather was extremely cold and we saw a fair few other people, wandering aimlessly around. Well, that’s the Lockdown effect for you, but I couldn’t think of a more pleasant place for an easy winter walk.

The Village Buildings – My Plein Air Sketching

In fact, Woolley village was full of beautiful old cottages, some farm buildings and a splendid Old Hall. But it was the church that caught my eye, and we found a bench under a huge yew tree. So, this is the view right in front of us- irresistible. Just look at the glowing sandstone, the backlit holly tree and the quirky shapes of the ancient gravestones.

St. Peter’s at Woolley Village

Plein Air Sketching at this Historic Site

In fact, there has been a church on this site since Norman times, that is since the eleven hundreds. Hopefully, you can just make out the odd shapes in the bottom left of the picture. Apparently, these are shrine like tomb boxes from the Norman period. In addition to this grade 2 listed graveyard, inside the church there is a William Morris stained glass window. Unfortunately, the church wasn’t open, so that will be for another day.

A photo of St Peter's and the tranquil churchyard that I painted while plein air sketching.
St. Peter’s at Woolley, South Yorkshire

If you follow my blog, you will be aware that I love to sketch en plein air or from life outdoors. For me, this means watercolour sketching and I do like to complete the sketch whilst outside. However, for this one, I managed to do about two layers and then my fingers froze! (40 minutes). Then I finished it off at home. But you can see the Quarry Park here and Wentworth Old Church here which were completed in situ. Oh well, let’s hope for some mild spring weather soon!

Through the Window- Urban Sketching

A view over terraced houses with a glorious red, pink and orange sunrise - through the window. Felt tip pen.
Sunrise

Good morning everyone. Last week we had a really spectacular sunrise and this is my urban sketch, done through the window. Honestly, I think it was the most amazing sunrise sky I have ever seen. So, for quite a short period of time the red, gold and pink in the intense turquoise blue sky were glorious. What a beautiful planet we live on.

Actually I had just treated myself to a pack of cheap felt tip pens the day before. And I was very keen to try them out, especially as there were more colours in this selection. Normally I buy only the basics and try to blend them. But, having several shades of, for example, red, orange and yellow was much easier! And I used a very scribbly technique, similar to ones I’ve seen on Instagram.

Urban Sketching Postponed.

As you may know, I am a member of the Urban Sketchers Yorkshire but, obviously, our activities have been cut short by the pandemic. And I really miss the opportunity to go out into towns and cities with a group of art buddies. I seem to remember a lovely morning sketching on a high balcony above some market stalls. And the building itself is very interesting too – an ornate Victorian Market Hall in Leeds, UK. Left to my own devices I would always sketch in the countryside, as I did here in the country park . Therefore the urban sketchcrawls give me the encouragement to sketch buildings, churches, markets and streets.

Urban Sketching Through the Car Window

A quick watercolour sketch through the window of my car, parked in the supermarket carpark
Supermarket Carpark 2

As you can probably tell, I sketched this in watercolour (about 20 minutes) in a very cold car. Well, you can have a good laugh at the cars, if you like!. But, in my own defence, I always avoid drawing them. So I think it was a brave first attempt to have them so prominent in this drawing. By the way, the weather here in the UK is quite cold and, of course all cafes are closed. So, any urban sketching outdoors has to be very brief or through the window!

The Church through the Museum Window

St. Mary’s – a sketch from an Urban Sketchers Yorkshire trip 15 months ago.

Sketching Outside in Winter with Watercolour

The Town Park

Hello everyone. Happy New Year to you all – let’s make this a good one ! Well, sketching outside in winter actually depends on just a few things, a fine day, some simple art materials and enthusiasm! To be honest, I have sketched outside in drizzly rain (see image above ) But, if the rain persists, the paper becomes too wet and the watercolour develops strange patches of colour that you definitely didn’t intend! Seriously though, I do enjoy sketching outside in cooler weather. And you can always go for a brisk walk to warm up and drink some hot coffee from your flask. ( I forgot to mention this in the list of essentials )

Sketching Outside in the Town Park

Sketching outside in the town park. Ink and watercolour sketch showing the impressive tower and the grand entrance with a flight of steps.
The Town Park

Back in November, on a cold, intermittently rainy day , I sat for half an hour and managed this watercolour sketch. And I just went straight in with the ink and didn’t bother with a pencil sketch. Incidentally, this is my preferred method of outdoor sketching. Actually, it does help me to produce a fresh, lively painting, a record of the occasion, which is what I’m aiming at. Although it was damp and grey, the park was quite busy with families, pairs of friends meeting up outdoors and loners, coming out to stare hungrily at company. There was also an elderly jogger doing a circuit round the tower and up and down the steps. Actually, this tower is a fine sight. And a team of volunteers look after it and show visitors round on Sundays. However, I must explain that my sketch only shows about a half of the impressive height of the tower.

Sketching from the Car

A watercolour sketch showing a wide view of snowy fields and winter trees, through the  car windscreen- almost sketching outside.
A Snowy Day

As you can see, in December the weather became much colder. And I was dying to go out and attempt to paint the snow covered fields. Fortunately, we found a decent parking spot with a huge view over the fields and little copses of trees. And, I was still hankering after propping up my sketch book and paints on the dry stone wall. But, it wasn’t practicable, so I settled for the passenger seat of the car. I wanted to convey the way the tufts of rough grass were forcing their way through the slowly melting snow. And, I enjoyed leaving the paper white for the snow – it seems ages since I painted a wintry picture. This one took 40 minutes

The Winter Trees

The Winter Trees

As I have tried to show here in this close up, in the golden sunshine, the bare branches almost glowed a warm russet brown. And, then I realized that I was trying to change the temperature of the colours and the sky. Because the stormy clouds were moving in and I hadn’t noticed! So, it was time to call it a day and go home to get warmed up. Let’s hope for more milder, fine days – ideal for outdoor sketching!

If you would like to see more of my recent winter sketching, see here and here.

Finished Drawing and Unfinished Drawing.

A watercolour sketch of a stretch of countryside. showing the autumn colours of the trees, hedgerows and fields. With a little house in the foreground of my finished drawing.
A Sunny Autumn Day

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to explain about the difference between plein air drawing and finished drawing. Well, this is only my opinion, and, I know for a fact that many other artists feel differently. Anyway, to my mind, a plein air painting or drawing is one that is completed outdoors and on the spot. Of course, you could complete it indoors, if you were in a museum or a gallery, church or anywhere really. The point is that you draw your impression of the scene and then leave it . To be honest, this means that some parts of it could perhaps benefit from some improvement later. Personally, I prefer to leave it as it is, as a true record of what I saw.

An ” Unfinished ” Drawing

A finished drawing of a copse of pine trees  - a finished drawing done en plein air.
In the Park

This watercolour sketch was done in 25 minutes in a medium sized sketchbook whilst sitting on a bench. In fact, this is one of our favourite places, an English Heritage garden. And it is beautiful even in cold, overcast autumn weather. Actually, I love this spot, looking across at the majestic Scots pines to the ” daffodil meadow “. (You’ll have to use your imagination ! ) You see, some people might think that this is not a finished piece. Mainly because it could stand quite a bit of improvement. But, to my way of thinking it is one of my finished drawings. Because it’s a true record of my immediate reaction to the scene, full, I hope , of spontaneity and memories.

A Finished Drawing

A Sunny Autumn Day

Well, this is an example of what I call a finished watercolour sketch. To be clear, I sat for half an hour in front of this glorious bright view and sketched it and laid down about two layers of colour. Then, time was up! And I had to leave it at that and come home. In effect, I was very inspired by the beauty of the mellow autumn colours of the trees and hedgerows . So I did some work on it afterwards to do it justice, spending a very pleasant hour doing so. To sum up, I have now created quite a nice finished off painting. But I can’t describe it as a plein air watercolour sketch. I hope that I have made my reasoning clear and that you can appreciate both kinds of work.

An Unfinished Drawing ?

The View from the Car Park

Finally, this watercolour sketch was completed in 40 minutes as I sat in the car, while my husband was shopping in the supermarket. In my mind, this is finished, although some people might think of it as unfinished. Mainly because it could be improved. You can see more real plein air sketches here . As we say in Urban Sketchers, a true record of that day. And, I do hope that you can see the difference.