Lovely Old Buildings in Watercolour

At Pot House Hamlet

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you two watercolour paintings of lovely old buildings that I have just finished. In fact, you may have seen the pencil sketches of animals in the petting zoo at Pot House Hamlet before. (See here). Because we visited this place in Silkstone village on a recent sketch trip. And we were surrounded by the beautiful old buildings of this little settlement – now a garden centre, cafe, shops and small zoo. Actually, the original buildings were 17th century glass making workshops and later pottery kilns. To be honest, I’m not sure about this building, but I chose it because of the unusual shapes. And, of course, the attractive colour of the stone. Then I added more washes of colour at home – the hot sunshine drove us into the shade!

Sketching at Elsecar Heritage Centre

Secondly, this is a sketch I more or less completed en plein air here at Elsecar, despite the steady drizzle. But, when I got home, I decided to heighten the colours, just for impact. Interestingly, one of my art buddies was painting his dramatically coloured acrylic paintings that morning. And I felt that I just had to have a go! I think I need a bit more practice, but I really enjoyed it.

Watercolour sketch of the Allotment

Picking Fruit

Good morning everyone. This is a little watercolour sketch I did yesterday, when I was sitting in the shade. Actually, it was a hot day and I thought that I had been in the sun long enough. And I had been quite busy. Firstly preparing a small patch of soil in the polytunnel and putting in some lettuce seedlings. Also sowing spinach and sorrel for salad leaves – we do love salad leaves! Next, I raked a small bed of ground outside to break the soil up a bit. Then I planted sixteen chicory plants and, hopefully, we shall have some winter salad next year. Meanwhile, my husband checked the courgette plants and did a bit more picking in the blackcurrant bushes . As you can see, I just managed to sketch him, examining the bush closely, not wanting to miss a berry. Unfortunately, it’s not been a good year for blackcurrant.

Man at Work, a Watercolour Sketch

Man at Work

Did you spot him? Incidentally, if you’re wondering about the ‘palm’ tree in my watercolour sketch, it’s actually a house plant we put there a few years ago and it really flourished! But I do confess to having used artistic license on the tomatoes in the green house. In effect, they are not red yet, rather pale yellowish green at the moment.

Ripe Tomatoes?

Well, this is good evidence, I think, that I really am very busy at the moment. Because everything in the veg garden is growing madly, and it takes up all my energy. If you want to see more paintings of us working in the allotment, see this post here. Anyway, some day soon I’ll put together a post with all the paintings of the garden that I have not yet shown you. Because it really does give me a lot of inspiration.

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

This Week’s Paintings in Watercolour

An abstract for my journal

Good morning everyone. This is a quick catch up post showing you this week’s paintings. Honestly, I haven’t really had much time for creating art. Because things have opened up a bit, I seem to be busier. And, of course, there is lots to be done in my allotment vegetable garden. For example, yesterday I spent a few hours watering everything and weeding the parsnip and broadbean plants. And it was tough on my hands as the ground was hard after heavy rain, then baking hot June sunshine.But, I can’t complain – I absolutely love the fresh, organic fruit and veg we grow.

Our Allotment Garden

Well, you can tell how much I miss painting when I take my sketching kit up to the garden. And snatch a few moments between chores. As you see, I couldn’t resist trying to paint these beautiful flowers. For example, the huge red Oriental poppies are so spectacular and so short lived. Also, the blooms of the purple irises in the tiny barrel pond last just a few days. So I had to include them in this week’s paintings. Fortunately, the mauve foxglove does stick around longer and these self seeded flowers are dotted all around the garden. However, I think you can tell by the way I overworked the watercolour that I am really missing painting with acrylic! There are some more paintings of my allotment here, you may not have seen them.

My Art Journal Abstract – One of This Week’s Paintings

As you can see, I had to do a small, intuitive abstract in my art journal in watercolour. When I was longing to do one on canvas. But, I didn’t have the time, so I really enjoyed creating this smaller one. And, it calmed my nerves, so, a good result all round! Plus the bonus is an interesting experiment in shapes and colours that I could expand into a larger version. When I have time!

A Close up of my watercolour abstract

In fact, I can see lots of possibilities of interpretation here – for some reason it reminds me of cave painting. What do you see?

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.

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!

A Fascinating Little Local Museum

An old fireplace, with an oil painting hanging over the mantelpiece, and a fine wooden clock - a watercolour sketch completed on the spot.
The Mantelpiece

Good morning everyone. I did this watercolour sketch when we visited our local museum. In fact, the beautiful Maurice Dobson Museum is stuffed full of antiques and interesting objects. And, it’s quite difficult to zero down on something to draw. Actually, I’ve been there on several occasions on a sketch visit, and this time I chose the mantelpiece in the upstairs room. And, the volunteer staff call this the Domestic Life room. Because it is laid out like a normal, fairly well to do sitting room, in the past. Of course, it’s also full of many more fascinating objects than you find in a real house.

The Maurice Dobson Museum – our Local Museum

The Wash House

I like this area in the museum most of all, I think. And it’s actually in the courtyard outside. Obviously, there is a roof over this section, and the rest of the courtyard is a beautiful outdoor extension to the little cafe. (Incidentally, the cottage style planting in the borders is quite appealing). And, now we’re on the subject of the cafe, that’s where you’ll find the art by local artists on the walls. We’ve exhibited our work here several times recently, Barnsley and District Art Society, that is.

A photo of two visitors, admiring our art exhibition in the museum cafe gallery.
Admiring our Show at our Local Museum

Honestly, everyone enjoyed showing their work in such a pleasant setting, especially over a good coffee and some homemade cake! Not to mention the the warm, friendly welcome we get whenever we go. As I recall, we have had one or two great, little tea parties here on exhibition opening days!

If you want to get a better look at my ‘tomb sculpture ‘ painting (that’s the one on the wall), see here. As you may know, I painted this using sketches I made in the church at Silkstone village.

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.

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!

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

Fishes Swimming in the Deep Blue Sea

Swimming Free

Good morning everyone. This is my latest little gouache painting for our Beginner Gouache group on Mewe. And I painted these fishes swimming among the coral for our March theme – Aquatic Life. If you want to see the other gouache of a lily pond that I did for the theme, see here . To be honest, I try to paint at least two each month for this group. Because it’s a great group and well worth supporting – the work we produce is really rather good. Also, I find that joining in like this is helpful for my development as an artist. For example, I think that the themes are quite inspiring (this month’s challenge is ‘Garden’). In addition, I am still quite a beginner with this medium and I do benefit from the practice of a new skill.

Fishes Swimming among the Coral

A gouche painting of tropical fish, swimming through the coral.
Photo reference by David Cloade in Unsplash

Actually, I did rather enjoy painting the faces of the fish, much to my surprise. And, I did somehow manage to put a little bit of character into them! But, we are, happily, allowed some artistic license in this group!

Swimming Free – a closeup

I was quite pleased with this effort, 11 by 8 inches in my sketchbook. However, I was disappointed that I didn’t work out how to add more vibrant flashes of green on the fish. Perhaps I need a better quality of paints, or more variety of colours. Or, maybe just more practice! I do find gouache more tricky to work with than acrylic. But I just love the chalky quality and the colours.

Fishes in a Tropical Sea

A watercolour background of sea and coral with collaged fish in black and white.
Under the sea

Finally, here’s another sketchbook page of collage fishes swimming in a watercolour sea, with some imagined coral! Well, I created this last year in deep Lockdown, hoping to cheer myself up. And, it still makes me smile! If you want to read more about this post, see here .

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 .

Painting Portraits in Acrylic and Watercolour

Painting portraits- this is a face from my imagination,  painted in subtle shades of green and yellow.
A Green Man

Good morning everyone. Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about painting portraits. As you can see, for this one I took the slightly unconventional idea of deliberately not using flesh coloured paint . And I used watercolour which is not as forgiving as acrylic. So I had to think carefully about where I placed the brush strokes. Actually, I wanted a chance to practise using tones to model the flesh, something I learnt on an online tutorial. And, because I didn’t use skin tones like pink , orange and brown, this allowed me to be a bit detached. Probably because I could just treat the task like a problem to be solved, instead of wanting to create a lifelike portrait. Anyway, I had a go, my watercolour skills are a bit basic, I know. On the other hand, I do feel like I learnt something from the exercise.

Painting portraits and modelling the flesh

Painting portraits and making a tribute to artist Mary Cassatt. A beautiful,  red haired woman.
My version of a portrait by Mary Cassatt

Although I haven’t quite finished this portrait, this was the exercise I did during a tutorial hosted by Care Visions. In fact, I found it very helpful and the tutor John Skelcher skillfully guided us through the process. First of all, we sketched and checked that the proportions of the face were reasonably correct. Next we painted the face and neck with a mid tone. And then I added darker paint for shadowy areas and lighter colours for highlights. Finally I understood what I was trying to do, instead of adding too many shades and colours!

Incidentally, there was one other challenge in this session – we had to use the ‘ Zorn’ palette. Just to explain, an artist called Anders Zorn (1860 – 1920) made this choice of colours famous when he created his superb portraits in oils. For your information, the restricted palette consists of red, yellow ochre and black, with white allowed too. You could try it out — it’s amazing how many colour mixes you can create with this combination.

Drawing Faces on Toned Paper

A drawing of a man in red-brown pencil and white pastel on light brown paper.
Portrait in sepia pencil

Well, just to finish off with, in this portrait exercise, I used sepia pencil for the darker tones. Then the fawn coloured paper itself for the mid tones and white pastel for the highlights. Honestly, it sounds very simple, I know, but it’s taken me years to understand it!

By the way, I made this study with the aid of a photo provided by the tutor. Whereas, the first image I showed you – the green man – I created from my imagination. Because I’ve been studying the proportions of the face recently, I think I’ve managed to improve at this. And I made the painting look a bit like a real person! (Even though the eyes are not quite right!) If you want to see my baby angel portraits, see here for my tribute to Raphael.

Virtual Sketching with Yorkshire Urbansketchers

A lively watercolour sketch of a fruit and veg stall in Leeds Market.  Done en plein air, not virtual sketching.
The Fruit and Veg Stall

Good morning everyone. To be honest, the image above is not an example of virtual sketching. However, I wanted to show you the sort of work I do when we go out into the real world . In fact, on this particular day a couple of years ago, we went to Leeds Market Hall, UK. And we had special permission to go onto the top balcony which is usually closed to the public. And, what a wonderful view we had, looking over the stalls below. This stallholder shouted his wares incessantly and he attracted loads of customers to buy.

Personally, I feel that sketching quickly like this gives a liveliness to the work. Even though the technique suffers of course. But practice does help me to improve at speed painting! Just to explain, the aim of the Urban Sketchers movement is to record what you see, record the world one sketch at a time!

Virtual Sketching during the First Lockdown.

A watercolour sketch of a peaceful harbour in Iceland.  Virtual sketching.
A Port in Greenland

Now, this is the first virtual sketch that I did back in April last year. Unfortunately, the people who put this group together decided to close it after a few months. But I really enjoyed taking part. And I virtually strolled around in Greenland, Venice and Manchester on Google Earth. We were instructed to sit in front of the laptop and imagine being at the scene. Also, I had to use my travel sketching set and work to the same fairly short timetable as when outside. So I did! Actually, it felt a bit odd to start with. But I gradually relaxed into it. If you remember, the first Lockdown in the UK was very strict, and this was a way of getting out! At least in my imagination.

Going out sketching with Urbansketchers Yorkshire

Sketching in Knaresborough

Finally, I sketched this on Saturday when we ‘went’ to Knaresborough together in North Yorkshire. To tell the truth, as I looked up images of this charming place online I realised something. And I thought about how difficult it has been for many people never going more than a short distance from home. But, of course , keeping everyone as safe as possible is the priority. Anyway, I chose to draw the entrance to a famous visitor attraction in Knaresborough – Mother Shipton’s Cave. Apparently, she was a recluse who lived in a cave on this limestone river gorge. And she made a name for herself seeing into the future, the predictions being written down for us to see today.

And I completed the sketch quickly, with my basic watercolour set (see here) and I tried to imagine myself en plein air. It’s the next best thing to being there. Thank goodness for daydreaming! If you want to see my sketch of Wentworth Old Church ( within permitted visiting distance), see here .

Waterlily Pond in Green and Gold

A semi-abstract interpretation of a tangle of lily pads. Green and gold on shimmering water, with glimpses of goldfish.  In gouache paint.
Waterlily Pond

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you this gouache painting of a waterlily pond that I did for our Beginner Gouache group on Mewe. Well, the prompt for this month is Aquatic Life and I think it’s a great choice. Because it’s nice and wide reaching. For example, I decided to concentrate on a pool , or you could choose a river or the sea. And, even better, the Life could be animal or vegetable. Actually, the reference photo of this scene really appealed to me – it’s by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash. In particular, I liked the arrangement of the waxy green pads, just lightly resting on the surface of the water.

The semi abstract approach to the leaves on the waterlily pond.

The Waterlily Pond – a closeup

To be honest, I was very attracted by the semi abstract jumble of leaves gently floating. And also, of course the shimmering light and reflections on the water and on the glossy pads themselves. Perhaps you remember that I am working on a theme of the semi abstract in these little gouache pieces. And you can click here to see my painting of a camel at the pyramids in this style. By the way, did you spot any other kind of life in the pond?

The Watercolour Version

A watercolour painting of waterlily leaves, in a small pond.
Waterlily Pond – the watercolour version

Finally, I just couldn’t resist exploring the subject a bit more and I tried a different medium. Frankly, I’m no expert with watercolour, but I do sometimes really love to play with it. Possibly it’s the complete contrast to acrylic paint that I like – wet and flowing rather than thick and textured. Anyway, I think I’m not done yet with this theme. And I looked up some images by Monet yesterday, seeking inspiration. So, watch this space! Meanwhile, here is my acrylic painting of a lily pond, with some more aquatic life!

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!

English Cottages in Acrylic and Watercolour

English cottages- this one is a grand house beside a large, beautiful pond. Semi-abstract style.
The Red House by the Pond

Good morning everyone. Last week I took advantage of two free tutorials online and I painted English cottages. Although this one looks to be rather a grand cottage. Of course, the location of it is superb, right next to a tranquil pond. You see, Artclassesgroup is the name of the host, and the classes took place over our school half term week. Although, to be honest, a lot of children in the UK are at home anyway right now. But, nonetheless, the group provided some good activities which were designed to interest all ages, including adults like me!

The Reflections of the Cottage

Closeup of the Water and the Reflection

As you can probably tell, I painted this in acrylic and fairly rapidly too (the class was only one hour long, but I spent another hour on it as well). Actually, I felt out of my comfort zone using this colour palette, which can be a good thing. Also I enjoyed learning a different way of depicting reflections. In this case, I roughly painted the shape of the cottage, let it dry and then very lightly brushed over the greeny blue colour of the water. Then, when that was dry, I applied some fine ripples in dryish white paint, to show the flow of the water. And all the time, I was wondering about who lived there. And I imagined being able to gaze out over that delicious view every morning, as I opened the curtains.

English Cottages in Watercolour

This white English cottage is beside a river, running through a beautiful valley. Watercolour in realistic style.
The House down by the River

And now for something completely different! In my opinion, this delicate watercolour in more realistic colours and detailed style contrasts well with the first painting. Obviously, the acrylic painting had dramatic, heightened colours and a fairly abstract brushstroke treatment. However, they are both English cottages near the water. Well, I painted this one while I was following a good tutorial hosted by Care Visions Healthy Aging group. Incidentally, I have done a few lessons with this group, including this girl on the beach here , a tribute to Joachim Sorolla. But, to return to my watercolour, here I tried to include realistic detail (not my usual style, but good practice).

Closeup of the House by the River

Although my brushstrokes are only suggestions, I have shown quite a lot of detail in the shutters, the garden shrubs and the gate. Again, what an idyllic, peaceful place to live! So, there’s some more virtual travelling for us, and I hope you enjoyed it!

If you want to see a more humble style of cottage, have a look at this post here. Then you’ll see the miner dressed in his Sunday best too!

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.