More Gouache Experiments

The Pathway to the Sea

Hello everyone. Well, as promised, I’d like to show you my gouache painting now it’s finished. Yes, yet more gouache experiments ! Just to remind you, here I wanted to use the paint in the same way as I use acrylics. That is, applied quite thickly to the paper . And, also, using bigger more gestural brushstrokes. As you can see, I really enjoyed the freedom of using the paint this way. I could allow myself go to town on painting the shape of the rocks and pebbles in the path.

To be honest, I didn’t take this photo myself. But it reminded me so much of the seaside closest to where I live . The Yorkshire coast here in the UK can be quite spectacular with its steep cliffs and rock beaches. So, I must give a shout out to L J George for the permission to use this lovely photo, on the Artists Free Reference Photos Facebook page.

Yet More Gouache Experiments

Coffee with Friends

Now, I must admit, this is not the best urban sketch style painting I have ever made. But I’d like to explain why I’m showing it. To explain, a couple of weeks ago, I met with two friends to go sketching en plein air. However, it was raining too heavily, so we went into a sweet, little cafe nearby. And we were chatting all the time, not having seen each other face to face for months. Bliss! But, when I got home, I was dying to do some sketching. And so I tried to recreate the scene from memory. As you can see, my visual memory is not so good! But, I’m sure the exercise must have been good for me. Click here to see a more successful urban sketch , drawn from life, outside, a few weeks ago in Wentworth.

The Experimental Bit

In this little painting , I tried to indicate that the trees through the window in the car park were obviously further away. And more indistinct than the figures and the furniture etc in the cafe. Also, I tried to indicate the shapes of the figures using deeper colours in the shading on the clothing. I know, just baby steps – but it sometimes feels like going back to the beginning ! And, my friend really did order a banana with her coffee !

Scene of a pathway to the sea, through rugged cliffs.  Paint applied thickly . More gouache experiments.
Banana and Coffee

Thinking about Drawing

The Old Church

Last Friday I went to a brilliant exhibition at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield. ‘ Lines of Beauty ‘ and this got me thinking about drawing. I saw some fabulous Old Master Drawings from the Chatsworth House collection like this one by Van Dyck.

A beautiful charcoal drawing of two friars by Van Dyck. A thinking about drawing example.
The Two Friars

In addition to these works of art, there was also interesting information about the artist’s materials available back in the day . And I was very taken by the drawings on toned paper made with black or brown ink, and , then coloured with watercolour wash . Finally, highlights were added in white chalk . Amazingly, these materials were often made by the artist and his or her assistant. To be honest, it made me feel very grateful for how easy it it is nowadays to buy chalk, ink, charcoal and paint ! If you want to see more pictures of the exhibition, have a look at the latest post on our Art Society Facebook page here .

On the shore

Reserving the White Paper

However, to get back to thinking about drawing, I did the drawing above last year. And, I think it shows very clearly how when you draw on white paper, you add the medium tones first. Then you strengthen some of them up to create dark areas . And, all the time you are quite cleverly ‘reserving’ the white paper for the light tones and the highlights. This means, plan the drawing carefully and leave the paper white in all the right places! To be honest, it took me a while to manage to do this properly.

Toned Paper Thinking about Drawing

Now comes the difficult bit – for me anyway. You see, when you use toned paper( that is, not white ) you can leave the paper showing for the mid tones. And this works well with beige or stone coloured paper. Then you can use darker pastel pencil or watercolour wash for the darks. Of course, you can then add white pastel or chalk for highlights. Obviously, this sounds straightforward but it took me a while to get my head around it . However, with the guidance of a good tutor , I managed to produce this drawing at art class.

A portrait of a man. On stone coloured paper with brown and black pastel and chalk. A thinking about drawing exercise.
A Portrait on Toned Paper

The Old Church

This was another exercise we did in class , thinking about drawing on grey toned paper.

As you can see, I had to be very disciplined about the different shades of grey. Because I wanted to show the shapes of the building and landscape as the light fell on them . Actually, all this at the same time as looking at a colour photo of the scene , which can be confusing. In truth, it’s a real workout for the brain !

Drawing from Life

Finally, I would suggest that when you are thinking about drawing, the very best thing you can do is to draw from life . So, here’s some of our pumpkin harvest , drawn very quickly at my allotment yesterday. Just think of all that roasted pumpkin ( with garlic ) that we shall enjoy all winter !

A simple pencil drawing of three pumpkins - a thinking about drawing exercise.
Three Crown Prince Pumpkins

,

Painting Water – How to Do It

Painting water -  pen and watercolour sketch of water cascading down a little fall in a park.
The Waterfall in the Rockery

When I went out plein air sketching last week at Clifton Park, I chose to sit in the rockery. And I tried to capture the movement of the waterfall over the limestone rocks. Painting water. Well, I tried ! To be honest, this is well-known as a particularly difficult subject for artists. Actually, I am fairly satisfied with this as a quick watercolour sketch ( 20 minutes ). Although I am well aware of all the faults, for example the lack of deep shadows in the water. But the drawing is a record of the scene and my response to it. And, most importantly, it was really enjoyable. Finally, believe it or not, it does help you to improve your drawing skills!

More Watercolour Water

Ducks at Cannon Hall Park
Worsbrough Country Park

These two sketches were completed recently . Again in about 25 minutes. If you look carefully, you’ll see that I used the same trick in both. So, when painting water, try adding ducks or any waterbirds, in fact. Only joking . But I do also try to add ripples, splashes or a touch of blue reflected sky . Really, it’s just to help to create the illusion of water.

Painting Water in Acrylic

Painting water- a moody, misty acrylic of huge waves crashing into the seawall at Scarbrough.
Scarborough in the Mist

I must admit, this acrylic painting is one of my favourites. Mainly because it’s Scarborough in North Yorkshire where we often go on holiday. And the weather is sometimes really misty when the sea fret comes over. But, the fascination for me is trying to show the movement of the waves, crashing into the bay And, this took considerably longer than 20 minutes ! By the way, the huge building looming over the town really does exist. It’s the Grand Hotel. If you like sea paintings, have a look in my Gallery here .

All my paintings are for sale at affordable prices . So, if you really like any of the seascapes in my Gallery, just go to the Contact Me page . And send me an email using the form on the page to find out more details.

Urban Sketching Art in Rotherham

A quick watercolour sketch of Clifton Park Museum -  a  beautiful sandstone mansion. Urban sketching art in Rotherham.
Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham

We had a great day out yesterday , making urban sketching art in Clifton Park Museum . To be honest, we didn’t really go inside the museum this time . Although it is very interesting and full of inspiring things to draw . No, we stayed outside and drew the beautiful sandstone building. Actually, this is the view at the back of the mansion where the modern extension is built. And this lower building on the left is the cafe . Well, you’ve got to get your morning caffeine somewhere !

Watercolour Urban Sketching Art

Perhaps, the way I see it, urban sketching art includes any quick sketching that I do when I’m out and about. Another way to put it would be ‘ en plein air ‘ . Or simply, outside sketching from life. Also , I have to say that I personally sketch mainly in watercolour. For example, I didn’t draw out the shapes with a pencil or pen on this one . Sometimes I do . Obviously, this is not the world’s most accurate, well finished drawing of the big house. But , for a 40 minute piece, it has some of the freshness and life I was aiming for.

If you want to see more plein air sketching adventures, see here and here .

The Front Entrance

Of course , the front entrance of the mansion is very grand . But, the whole building is well proportioned and pleasing to the eye . And it is set in an elegant Victorian park.

The Art Cafe Exhibition.

In the afternoon, we went down into the town centre to Fitzwilliam and Hughes cafe. Or, as I call it, the Art Cafe. If you look at my post here you’ll see that I had two paintings displayed with them earlier this year . And then in March I changed the paintings round a little bit . But I hadn’t had chance to see them due to Lockdown. So it was great to sit with a coffee and a slice of banana and chocolate cake and admire my handiwork! All-in-all , a great day out in Rotherham .

The paintings on the wall.
The cosy Fitzwilliam and Hughes cafe
Rest in Peace - my acrylic painting on display in the art cafe. Developed from urban sketching art done on the spot.
Rest in Peace
Somewhere in France

Sculpture Exhibition at the Park

A huge rooster in the sculpture exhibition.
Pop Rooster by Joana Vasconcelos

As you may remember, I promised to post another more detailed report on the Joana Vasconcelos sculpture exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. See post here for the short version and my quick sketch of this cheeky chicken !

A huge soft sculpture  covered in appliqued,  embroidered fabric in the shape of a female figure  - one of the installations in the sculpture exhibition
Valkyrie

The Sculptures in the Underground Gallery

The sculptures in the park were fabulous. But the ones in the famous Underground Gallery were just as impressive. To explain, the image above shows a huge soft sculpture, sumptuous fabrics covered in embroidery and collage. Actually, it represents a mythical female warrior you may have heard of – a Valkyrie.

Shoes made of Saucepans

As you can see, the massive stiletto shoes above were made out of saucepans! You’ve probably worked out that the overall theme of the exhibition is female identity

The Beretta made of Telephones

In contrast, the chilling Beretta handgun sculpture in the image above is put together using old , black telephones!

To be honest, this is just a small snapshot of the glorious sculpture exhibition by Joana Vasconcelos. And, if you are in the area ( West Yorkshire, UK ) , it really is not to be missed. If you want to see more just click here

Artist’s Inspiration at Yorkshire Sculpture Park from the Sculpture Exhibition

To tell you the truth, I visit the park quite often. And I have lots of sketches of the grounds and the exhibitions in my sketchbooks . So, to finish off with, I would like to show you some of them

The Iron Tree

It’s a permanent installation by Ai Weiwei. And if you look closely, you can see the rusty metal structure bolted together.

A pink and white pencil drawing of a figure part human and part rabbit - one of the works in the KAWS sculpture exhibition a couple of years ago
From the KAWS exhibition

One of the strange creatures from the KAWS exhibition – about 10 foot high and painted in pastel pink and white.

And, finally, a view over the park to the Longside Gallery, which also belongs to the sculpture park. I did all of these sketches in place and fairly quickly!

I hope that this report whets your appetite a little for the spectacular sculptures on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Tower – Plein Air Sketching

A watercolour sketch of the tower - golden sandstone against a brilliant blue sky.
The Tower at Wentworth Old Church

We spent a glorious morning sketching at Wentworth village yesterday. And I wanted to concentrate on the tower of the Old Church. As you can see , the sky was a brilliant blue and cloudless for a couple of hours. However, I don’t think I captured the full effect of the brightness of the colour with a quick watercolour sketch. ( about 20 minutes ) . But I was pleased with my attempt at painting the soft, glowing sandstone. In fact , you can see a more detailed description of a sketchcrawl at the old church here . That’s when I sat in the shady churchyard and painted the gravestones and a monument. It’s great to be going out plein air sketching with some of my art buddies again .

In the Churchyard

A pen and watercolour sketch showing gravestones in the churchyard.
The Churchyard at Old Holy Trinity in Wentworth

At last ! I managed to get out on a sketch crawl with some art buddies . In effect , we hadn’t seen each other since March . Because , naturally , our indoor sketch group had been closed down back at the beginning of Lockdown . So we sat in the churchyard on our own garden chairs , properly distanced , of course . It was bliss to sit together and to just sketch the surroundings . Honestly , I don’t know why it’s more enjoyable to sketch in a group. But it really is . Possibly because you can inspire each other to greater efforts. And , as you might imagine , some people have more confidence when they are not alone . Finally, there is the pleasure of looking at each others work , at the end of the session.

In the Churchyard at the Old Holy Trinity Church at Wentworth village , South Yorkshire

A sunlit photo of the ruined building and the gravestones in the churchyard.
In the Churchyard

Well , you can see how beautiful the church is , with the glow of the mellowed sandstone in the sunshine But we were sitting in the churchyard a bit further back , looking out through the trees in the green shade .

The Marble Tomb .

Unfortunately , the church was closed when we were there last week . But , I have been inside and it is very impressive, in a quiet , atmospheric way . Anyway, this is the tomb of two members of the Wentworth family which is inside the old church. Obviously , a very important local family- the family that the village is named after .You can find out more about the church here

Another Wentworth Tomb

Rest in Peace

You can find this tomb sculpture in another , beautiful local church – All Saints at Silkstone village , a few miles away . This couple are Sir Thomas Wentworth and his wife .In order to complete this acrylic painting, I sketched this sculpture in the church first when on a sketchcrawl with some art buddies. And then I used some of my own photos as well for reference when I was painting this acrylic back home . After that , I did a watercolour sketch too , whilst sitting outside , in the churchyard. So , as you can see , I really do find these places very inspiring , especially when in good company ! This painting was on display in my first solo exhibition, back in January – see here . If you look closely , you can see Mike , the curator at Skelmanthorpe Gallery, hanging this picture on the wall !

Sculpture in the Open Air

This is just a short post today . And , I’d like to tell you a little bit about the fantastic huge sculpture of a cockerel at Yorkshire Sculpture Park , sculpture in the open air.

The glorious , huge sculpture of a rooster at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, sculpture in the open air.
‘Pop Galo ‘ ( Pop Rooster ) at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

This beautiful monumental installation is part of the exhibition by renowned Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos . It’s covered in brightly coloured ceramic tiles and it is a symbol of Portugal . As far as I could see, it brought a smile to the face of everyone who looked at it. And that includes me ! And , best of all , it’s sculpture in the open air.

Social Distancing

Do you know , it was absolutely wonderful to go out and see some art . Although we had to pre-book our tickets , it was quite easy to do on-line. Of course , we wore our masks when inside the gallery spaces and the main reception area. Honestly , I think it is second nature now to manoeuvre yourself around others in public spaces. And , more importantly , most people are quite polite. In short , I think it is a small price to pay in order to have the pleasure of seeing art face-to-face.

View of the Sculpture from the Cafe Terrace

We sat on the lovely shady cafe terrace with coffee and cake . And it was very pleasant to sit under the trees and look out over the parkland at the monumental installation . Then I took out my sketchbook and watercolours to do a twenty minute sketch. So , if you look closely, you can see a figure . I think he is trying to get a good photo on his phone . Anyway , it gives an idea of the scale of the piece . Just watch out for a post with more detail on this glorious sculpture in the open air . ( See more of my bird art here )

David Hockney’s Gallery – a Trip to Saltaire

Mixed Media Abstract Composition

Mixed Media Abstract composition in pink,  purple , ochre with black  and  white .Organic shapes with a face and some vague bird like shapes
Mixed Media Abstract Composition – Bird man by Margaret Hall

This is my latest mixed media experiment an abstract composition using collage, acrylic , watercolour and oil pastel . In fact , there’s even some marker and pencil in there – although the pencil might be a mistake as it is too shiny. I wonder , do you happen to know how how to apply a few sharp , precise marks over mixed media layers without using pencil ? Because I’d love to know . Anyway, I don’t really know what I’ve painted here . It was quite instinctive really . But I think it has something to do with wanting to escape from the anxiety and threat of this virus ! And it’s painted on brown paper which I bought at David Hockney’s Gallery on a trip to Saltaire ( more of that later ) .

The toned paper in this case is a rather nice brown paper. You see , I have admired other sketching friends’ drawings on brown paper sketchpads so I bought one . However, I don’t really like the effect of acrylic paint on this paper . Perhaps it was the colours I chose . But they don’t seem to have the sparkle that I like when I use white paper.

Sketching on Brown Toned Paper – the Hockney Gallery Connection

Pencil drawings on  brown  paper.  Patterns observed on objects in David Hockney's Gallery in Saltaire
Patterns seen at the Museum

Now for the interesting par – I bought this sketchpad at David Hockney’s gallery at Saltaire . At the time , I was taking part in an Urban Sketchers crawl back in February. Maybe you remember my post all about it . Anyway , we spent the morning in a small brewery/pub and I sketched the brewing equipment in mixed media . As you can see , I used pen , pencil and watercolour . See my blog post here

Watercolour and pen sketch of vats at a small brewery
The Brewery – Urban Sketching

To be honest , it was great fun – perhaps one day soon Urbansketchers Yorkshire will be able to meet up again .

David Hockney’s Gallery at the Saltaire World Heritage Site, Shipley , near Bradford , UK

A view from the gallery window across to the allotments and the model village

Salt’s Mill is actually a complex of woollen mill buildings established by Titus Salt . Also , he built the model village alongside it in the 1850’s . In effect , the village included neat, tidy terraced cottages , a church and a Sunday school . And then there were allotments , a school , a park and much more alongside the river Aire . Really , it’s quite fascinating, so go and have a look if you get the chance .

The downstairs floor of Salt’s Mill shows an exhibition of earlier Hockney artwork . Do you know, David Hockney was born and brought up in Bradford , just down the road from Saltaire .The downstairs floor is also where you can find the art shop where I bought the toned paper sketchpad . And , upstairs there’s a museum room about the history of the factory . But the star of the show is the David Hockney Gallery. In fact , it now displays some recent work from the Spring exhibition of locations in East Yorkshire . This , of course , is where the artist used to live . Enough said , just have a look at the fabulous pictures !

The Coming of Spring in Yorkshire – 2011 in David Hockney’s Gallery

A beautiful Ipad drawing of a wild flower meadow from David Hockney's Gallery
By David Hockney
By David Hockney
A painting of East Yorkshire in Springtime showing a leafless old tree and a tree in May blossom from David Hockney's Gallery
By David Hockney
By David Hockney

Our First Visit

The first time we visited the gallery was thirty years ago . And we were lucky enough to see the large drawing that David was sending by fax across from California ! The drawing was arriving piece by piece. Then the very large drawing was re-assembled from pieces of copy paper and displayed on the wall . This was revolutionary at the time . I love the way this artist always enjoys using the latest technology to create his work .

These ‘paintings ‘ are all actually prints of iPad drawings and I think they are absolutely stunning ! I hope that you have enjoyed my little exhibition review .

By David Hockney

Urban Sketching in Watercolour

Plein air watercolour sketching

Urban sketching - a view from the car park over the houses to the hill
From the Carpark

At last ! I managed to do some urban sketching in watercolour outside from life (well , from the car window). And the house really was painted green ! To be honest , I didn’t realise how much I would miss painting from life and going out with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. Well , this took 20 minutes for the watercolour sketch and a little finish off at home with a fineliner . That’s because I like my plein air sketches to keep that freshness. And so I tend not to do too much ‘ editing ‘ afterwards .

A Harbour in Greenland

This is a great idea – Virtual Sketch on Facebook. Actually , you can do this in real time ( or afterwards) and go on a virtual trip . In fact , there are lots of locations in Greenland or other countries to choose from . Then you pause the sequence and sketch . Here is my quick watercolour sketch of Sisimut harbour. Honestly , I enjoyed sketching it ( 30 minutes ) and, for a moment or two I felt like I was really there ! If you check this out , there are lots of interesting places around the world to choose from .

Urban Sketching in Watercolour in a Brewery

At the Brewery urban sketching in watercolour

You might remember that this was the last Urban Sketchers trip I went on , to a brewery in Saltaire. As you can see , I was really into my stride with this one back in February. But I feel quite out of practice now. So you might like to have a look at this post from February . Because it’s all about the Saltaire trip and my pen and wash sketch. See here

Saint Mary’s Church

Just to explain , I did this pen drawing through the art gallery window, looking down at the lovely church and churchyard right in the middle of town . And I drew this straight in with a marker pen which gives it a fresh and lively look but doesn’t leave much room for error .

Sketching in Pen on a Collage Background

Art in the Cafe

And , to finish off with , a pen and ink sketch done last year while drinking a cup of coffee in a shopping centre cafe . I think this is urban sketching at its best . Those were the days ! Perhaps this is something for us all to look forward to in these days of Social Distancing . Meanwhile , take care .

p.s – here is one I did this morning as part of a lovely walk around the park. Actually , it took me 20 minutes. And , I think I might use it as a basis for an acrylic painting, concentrating on the different layers of greens , yellows and browns. So you see , there’s no time to be bored when you’re an artist !

A beautiful old tree

Urban Sketching at Saltaire

Pen and Watercolour and Urban Sketching

Watercolour sketch with pen all in yellow mauve and brown showing huge vats in a brewery . Semi abstract style whilst urban sketching
Brewing

This is just a quick post – I wanted to share with you a watercolour sketch I did this weekend . I spent the day with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. We went to the fabulous Salts Mill ,at Saltaire near Bradford , a World Heritage site. But , first of all , we spent the morning in a craft brewery urban sketching, looking down on the factory from a balcony. See here for some great photos of the Beer Factory.

Well, I did my usual pen sketch and I realised how many gorgeous patterns there were in the view . So , when adding watercolour , I started to emphasize and exaggerate the abstract shapes. At the moment , I’m concentrating on abstract composition in my acrylic painting so I’m a bit obsessed ! But this is the first time I’ve actually put one together while ‘ one the spot ‘ so to speak. This could be addictive !

I used some of the new techniques I’ve learned – putting more contrast in the design and trying to harmonize the colours.

I’ll post something a bit longer soon , when I’ve a bit more time, all about a great exhibition I saw in Sheffield .

Have a look here for more of my urban sketching at Saltaire and other places !