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.

Painting in Monochrome in Acrylic and Watercolour

Sunday Best

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to show you some of the monochrome paintings I have done. To be honest, I haven’t actually done a lot of painting in monochrome. But I have done loads of drawings in pencil and charcoal and some of the principles are the same. Just to be clear, monochrome means using one colour only. However, you can create all the different tones of colour to create form and perspective. Of course, this is done by adding water to watercolour and white paint to acrylic to make the original colour progressively lighter. ( I’m sure some of you know this already!)

Painting in Monochrome – a Welsh Valley

A watercolour painting in sepia tones. A beautiful, tranquil landscape of brooding Welsh hills, the valley and the river. After John Sell Cotman.
A Valley in Wales, after John Sell Cotman

Well, this is a watercolour exercise I painted this week , following an online tutorial. We were advised to use sepia coloured paint or ink. But the artist himself used black ink, back in the 19th century and it has since faded to a pleasing soft brown . In fact, I mixed burnt umber and ultramarine blue to create a faded sepia look . As we were doing a study of this master’s work, we gridded up the page to copy the composition. Incidentally, this simple scene is really quite complex!

A close up of the bridge and the cattle

The different tones of the hills and trees were carefully mixed , copying the artistic decisions of the artist. Actually, I really enjoyed the experience but I must just mention how much I struggled with the paper – supposedly a good quality one . But I found that the colour wouldn’t lift off at all and also , it ran down in strange vertical lines! And now the painting pad has been firmly placed in the ‘scrap paper’ pile!

A Nostalgia Painting in Acrylic

An acrylic painting in monochrome, faded tones of brown. A man standing proudly outside his cottage in his Sunday best clothes.
Sunday Best

Finally, here’s one from the archives, inspired by an old photo from a local mining museum. This worker stands proudly outside his humble cottage in his Sunday best clothes. As you can imagine, I was well inside my comfort zone with this acrylic painting, making all my own artistic decisions . And, I’m pleased to say that this nostalgic painting went to a new home last year. But, of course, I have plenty more artwork for sale in my gallery here

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.

My Natural Style Christmas Decorations

A gouache painting, showing a Christmas wreath , natural style. Hanging on a garden gate
Christmas Wreath

Hello everyone. I hope you have had a peaceful few days. Before the season is over, I’d like to show you this little gouache painting in my artjournal, a natural style of Christmas decoration. To be honest, I chose this subject in response to the challenge ‘ Christmas at Home ‘. It was set to inspire us in our Beginner Gouache Group on Mewe. And, I think it is a really good subject to explore. Especially now, of course, when some people can’t get home or see the ones they want to.

Anyway, this little illustration took far longer then I expected to complete, considering that it is only 8 inch square. But, I think it is really good that I try different styles of painting and drawing – it gets me out of my comfort zone. And it can also be surprisingly enjoyable.

Christmas Tree – Natural Style

Christmas Tree – Natural Style.

Actually, I painted this gloriously impressive tree from life, whilst sitting in the beautifully decorated Ballroom at Cannon Hall, a nearby stately home. However, I don’t think that my on the spot watercolour really captures the full effect of the tree. It must have been at least 18 foot tall! Personally, I adore real life fir trees and we always have one in the house ( about 6 feet tall ). It really makes Christmas for me. And, I also choose a very simple, natural style wreath, made of fir or holly, with just a simple ribbon bow. In fact, a lot of the decorations in my house are painted wood and ceramic,textile, my own festive paintings, flowers and plants plus candles – quite simple and natural.

A photo of a twig garland decorated in natural style with holly, fir ,slices of dried lime and white wooden stars.

We went for a walk before Christmas in the formal garden of Nostell Priory, another big house nearby. And to my delight, as we walked away from the lake towards the Menagerie Garden, we caught sight of the natural style decorations in the trees. And they were beautifully made by a local artist, using twigs, pinecones, twine and holly. As you might imagine, I felt quite inspired. Something to bear in mind for next Christmas! Click here to see some of my festive paintings from last year.

Christmas Robin in Oil Pastel

Christmas Robin

Well, folks, it’s nearly here, so I thought I’d show you my Christmas Robin. In fact, this is the second version and I did enter them both into the Birdmas challenge. It was hosted by the Triwing Art Challenge blog on Mewe. Honestly, the artwork presented for this fun project was first class – Draw Twelve Birds for Christmas. And, I’m pleased to report that I did complete it in twelve days, running from December 1st till Dec 12th!

Robin in a Thorn Tree

So, here’s version one- a quick watercolour sketch in my art journal. And the super photo I used for inspiration was taken in my daughter in law’s garden. You see, she loves feeding the birds who visit and some of them become quite tame, like this lovely little Christmas robin.

The Abstracted Version of my Christmas Robin.

A Christmas robin,  drawn in oil pastel,  perching on a little branch in a thorn tree.
The Christmas Robin

After I had drawn a couple of straight up, realistic birds, I suddenly felt that I wanted to branch out a bit and use my imagination a bit more. So I drew this alternative version, and really enjoyed myself! Because I chose oil pastels from the very first sketch , I knew the lines would be a bit unpredictable. But, that’s ok – I really did want to create a loose drawing. So, this is my Christmas card to you – have a good one, in the circumstances, that is .

The Crazy Bird

A quick sketch in acrylic  marker.  Drawn from my imagination,  a bird in green and red feathers with a crest on its head, to keep my Christmas Robin company.
The Crazy Bird

Finally, here is my ten minute, acrylic marker crazy bird, created purely to cheer us all up! If you want to see more of the birds I painted for the challenge, see here and here.

More Christmas Birds Artwork

A little painting in gouache of a duck coming close to beg for food. A yellow beak and shiny green and purple feathers on the head. One of my Christmas birds.
A Duck Begging for Food.

Good morning everyone. Well, as promised, here are some more Christmas birds that I created for the Birdmas challenge. As you might remember, the challenge was organised by the Triwing Art Challenge group over on Mewe. And, it was a real pleasure to be taking part – one bird a day for the first twelve days of Christmas, or thereabouts. Anyway, here is my close up of a duck, coming really close in, prospecting for food. However, on this occasion the bird was unsuccessful. Because my daughter in law, who took all of the fab photos that I used, she hadn’t got any duck food handy!

Actually, this is the first gouache painting I’ve done in a while. You see, I’ve been working hard on the online acrylic painting landscape course that I’m following, See this post here for an update on that. But, to get back to gouache, much to my relief, I hadn’t forgotten too much about how to handle the paint. To be honest, the main difference between them is that acrylic layers dry completely and gouache never seems to dry. Of course, this makes it awkward to paint layers of colour, but it can be done. And, gouache has a charm all of its own.

Christmas Birds with Shiny Feathers

The plumage on the drake was quite subdued in colour, but the feathers on the head were iridescent. I tried to show the subtle changes of colour, shifting from green to purple by blending small brushstrokes together. But, I’m not sure the photo really shows this well.

Closeup of bird’s head
A pastel drawing of a fluffy, white hen - one of my Christmas  birds.
Chicken

I had been really looking forward to painting a chicken. So, I decided to use chalk pastels – I thought they would best portray the fluffiness of the feathers. And, I am fairly pleased with the outcome . But, I did make a big mistake in choosing the wrong paper! Purely because of my impatience to get started. You see, the paper was so smooth that most of the pastel fell off! There must be a lesson to be learnt there.

The Comical Seagull

And, finally, the photo I used for inspiration for this quick watercolour sketch was an absolute gift. For, the pose, the cheeky attitude – they were already there . And, all I had to do was concentrate and alter nothing. Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my Christmas birds -there might be a few more posted before long! Check out this post here to see the bird paintings I posted last week.

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.

Halloween Paintings- Past and Present

A ghostly bride waits in the lonely graveyard, one of my favourite Halloween paintings.
Waiting at the Church

Hello everyone. I thought I’d do a quick round up of my Halloween paintings from the last couple of years. And it took me quite a while to find them in my chaotic ‘filing system’ , also known as the piles of sketch books, canvases etc. in the spare bedroom! However, the one above was easy to find because I only just completed it . You see, I painted this for an online Halloween challenge for Artists Free Reference Photos. The original photo was of a peaceful graveyard scene by Fiona Evans. But, I decided to inject a bit of melodrama into it by adding the ghostly bride, waiting at the church. Of course, this is my tribute to Tim Burton’s ‘Corpse Bride’, an image I’ve been longing to paint for a while.

The Churchyard after Dark

A digitally altered sketch of a sinister looking graveyard - one of my Halloween paintings for this season.
The Churchyard at Night

Actually, you might recognise this painting above from a recent post I wrote here . Except for the fact that I took the plein air watercolour sketch and tinkered about with it. And, in fact, this is the first time I used the editing tools on my tablet to change the colours on a piece of my own work. And, I must admit, I’m quite pleased with the outcome. Spooky or what ?

More Halloween Paintings

Which Way to Go ?

I must admit that I painted this sketch ‘Which Way to Go’ a couple of years ago. Initially, I had the idea when I was doing a series of ‘scary trees ‘ pictures. As you might know, I find a lot of inspiration in trees and this was a project to let my imagination run wild. But, at the time, I became engrossed in another theme and this painting didn’t quite get finished ! However, I’m going to include it as one of my Halloween pictures. And, I will get around to completing it soon. Because I rarely leave anything unfinished – that’s just the way I work.

Anubis

Finally, I’ll show you a little watercolour sketch I did when I visited the Ancient Egypt exhibition at our town museum .The exhibition was curated by Professor Joann Fletcher of York University, who actually comes from Barnsley. And there is an interesting review of the exhibition here . Well, the ceremonial mask of Anubis, the god of death with his jackal head looked threatening enough to me! So, I had to include it in my Halloween themed show of paintings.

From Sketch to Acrylic Painting

Scarlet Flowers

Well, here it is, as promised . A step by step demonstration of the runner bean plant in my allotment – from sketch to acrylic painting! To be honest, it really seems a long time ago now when the growth was at its height. Of course, I’m talking about August, when I did this quick, plein air sketch.

The Working Sketch

The Working Sketch of Runner Beans

As you can see, (if it’s not too faint) I wrote myself a few notes about colours. Actually, I often do this, if I plan to paint the scene later. But, on this occasion, I did find another few minutes later that day to add watercolour to the sketch . Although I took a few photos as well, a colour sketch at the scene is much more helpful.

From sketch to acrylic painting.  This is the working sketch in pencil with added watercolour.
The Runner Bean Plant in Colour

So far, so good. Perhaps you may have seen these sketches in a post I wrote a few weeks ago. And, I drew our cabbage and sprout plants too here . Really, I find my garden very inspiring. But, I’m often far too busy working on the plants to do much artwork. But, when I got home, I drafted this painting in acrylic in a couple of sessions.

From Sketch to Acrylic Painting – the First Draft

The Runner Bean Painting – First Draft

At last, some time to paint! In fact, I had already done a lot of the editing and designing of the composition in the working sketch. To explain, I had to decide which of the shapes of leaves and so on I wanted to include in the final version. Because the design would have looked too busy if I had included them all. Also, I tried to give the arrangement of the stems, beans and flowers some movement across the page. After all, this would give a more pleasing picture. Well, that’s the theory, anyway!

The Final Version

From sketch to acrylic painting  - the finished version.  A runner bean plant climbing up a cane support .
The Runner Bean Plant – Acrylic Painting

Well, this is the version I decided on. First of all, I painted in too much detail in the background. So , all that had to be calmed down so it did not take attention away from the plant . Then, I made some decisions about the different shades of green and tried to be more consistent with them. Finally, I made sure that the focal point – the scarlet flowers – were as red as I could paint them . So , I really hope you like my painting! By the way, we ate the last helping of runner beans last night at dinner. So, all the work is really worthwhile!

All my work is for sale at reasonable prices. This painting is acrylic on paper, 16 by 20 inches. Unframed and without a mount. Price – £ 60 plus shipping. I’m based in the UK . You can pay by PayPal. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email

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.

Watercolour Flowers from my Allotment

A bright bunch of watercolour flowers in a small, glass vase
Watercolour Flowers from my Allotment

When I want to do a quick painting I will often sit down at my dining table to work . Of course, if I have a large chunk of spare time, I go into my ‘ studio ‘ . To be honest, this is also known as the spare bedroom and it’s where my easel is set up. And , this is where the acrylic paints live. So it’s all a tiny bit more serious ! Anyway , I had half an hour – so I gave myself a little treat and just painted. I chose watercolour flowers from my allotment. Actually, I had noticed last Thursday that I wasn’t achieving the results I wanted with watercolour . I was out urban sketching with art buddies in the park – see here . And when I looked at my friend’s lovely delicate sketch of the mansion, I realised I could do better !

Trying different watercolour paper

You see, I always use the same brand of paper in different , handy sized sketchbooks when I’m out plein air painting. In effect, I was well satisfied with the quality. But, things had changed and the paper was now quite poor. And , it took me a while to notice ! So, out came some better watercolour paper from the stash. And , now I could try laying down pools of colour and wet in wet technique without fighting to drag the paint over the paper !

More Watercolour Flowers

Sweetpeas and other watercolour flowers in a pretty china cup.
Allotment Bunch
Another Allotment Bunch

As you can see , I did manage to find some decent paper for these two paintings of watercolour flowers. These are from a little while ago and , quite by chance it would seem, the paper was better ! Well, now I know and I won’t make that mistake again !

Watercolour Flowers from my Allotment

For those who like to know , here we have cosmos, sweetpeas, marigold, cerinthe and sweet Williams. A real cottage garden bunch. For lots more flowers in all kinds of media , see my gallery here .

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 )