Drawing Small Animals from Life

The Billy Goat

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

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

Drawing Small Animals

Sheep and Goats

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

The Billy Goat

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

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

The Black Rabbit

Sketching Scenes in Sunny Scarbrough

The Path down to the Undercliff

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

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

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

Sketching scenes at the Mere

The Ducks at the Mere

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

Sketching on the Balcony

Behind the Flats

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

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

Painting Clematis Flowers in Watercolour

Clematis Abstract

Hi everyone. I saw something online explaining how to do a nature inspired abstract, so I thought I’d have a go. The idea was to study the subject you have chosen – in this case, glorious pink clematis. Then, make a small sketch, recording the details you really like. And then, let your imagination go wild! (That’s the bit I like!) I’m not sure it’s finished, the pink isn’t vibrant enough for my liking. But it was interesting.

The Real Clematis

You can see why I was inspired! Anyway, just to finish this quick post, this is the same scene (a few years ago) with a different treatment. Acrylic, and painted more slowly. Also with a bit of artist’s license on the colour!

Flowers at Dusk

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.

Another Small Painting for Sale

A small painting of a walk through a beautiful landscape, in the hills on a calm Spring day.
Spring Morning

Good morning everyone. Here it is – the second small painting in my new series of work for sale. If you remember, I offered my first one here , and I suppose that this scene is slightly similar. Only, the season has moved on, and now it’s early spring. To be honest, to create this landscape, I had a look through one of my little sketchbooks for inspiration. And I found this scene, it caught my eye and inspired me to paint. In fact, I have realised that I really need to like a subject in order to get my acrylic paints out. Then I set up my easel and the fun begins. However, I must admit that I can’t recall anything about where the scene was, or what happened that day.

Setting the Mood in my Small Painting

Anyway, in a way that left me carte blanche to create any mood I wanted. So, as I worked, I tried to channel brightness, in the fresh foliage of the season. Also, I wanted to indicate early morning and the optimism that you feel when you set off for a walk. Because, the landscape is one you love, and the weather promises a fine day! But, it doesn’t really matter whether you, the viewer see all that or not. In fact, the picture may conjure up quite different kinds of emotional responses for you.

Whatever you feel, if you like this acrylic painting, 7 by 9 inches, it could be yours for £15 plus shipping (free postage and packing for UK). It comes as it is – unframed and without a mount. But, securely packaged and sent to you and you pay by PayPal.

As I was writing this, it just occurred to me that I may well have been influenced by this practice painting here below. Just to recap, I painted this scene for my online course and the setting is Australian landscape. But the sentiments are the same, I think – it’s all about the pleasure of being in the outdoors.

The Red Path

Well, it could be not be easier to contact me you know. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email. Then you can have some original artwork at affordable prices, and there are plenty of interesting paintings in my Gallery too!

Painting Small Boats in Watercolour

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

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

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

Painting Small Boats at the Seaside

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

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

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

Watercolour Sketching at Worsbrough Mill

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

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

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

Watercolour Sketching at the Mill with Art Buddies

The Mill.

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

The Bridge over the Millpond

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

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

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

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

Small Landscape Painting for Sale

View over the Park

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

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

The Preliminary Sketch for my Small, Landscape Painting

Cannon Hall Park

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

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

The View Over the Park

Summer Painting for Sheffield Exhibition

Egyptian Temple

Good morning everyone. Well, ok, I have shown you this gouache painting before. But, I am really pleased with myself because I entered it in a Summer painting open call. And Fronteer Gallery in Sheffield, UK accepted it! Then they will actually hang it on a wall, for two weeks in June. Somehow, I can’t quite believe it will really happen, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

My Summer Painting – All Framed and Ready

Back from the Framer’s

Of course, we are planning a launch, but it will all depend on government regulations and infection rates. But, I can look forward to it anyway. Honestly, it feels so good to be involved in shows and sketch trips again.

In fact, Fronteer Gallery opened up just before the pandemic and they’ve worked very hard to keep it open. To be honest, I really enjoy being able to support a gallery like theirs. Because they are giving us, the ‘little’ artists, a chance to show work.

The Goddess Isis

Finally, I have created lots of Egyptian themed paintings over the past two years. And, I chose this for my favourite, which I based on a photo of a wall decoration in a tomb. Another hot, summer painting. Just like this one here, but in quite a different interpretation.

I sell all my work at reasonable prices. If you see anything you like, go to the Contact Me page and send me an email to find out the details – there’s no obligation to buy!

Adding Colour to Quick Sketches

Flowers on the Runner Bean Plant

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

Flowers on the Runner Bean Plant

Adding Colour to the Pencil Sketch

The Big Glasshouse in the Walled Garden

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

The Coloured Version

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

Finishing off a Pencil Sketch

Brodsworth on a Sunny Morning

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

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

Adding the Colours to my Pencil Sketch

Brodsworth on a Sunny Morning- a closeup

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

Another ‘cold weather’ sketch

Wentworth Church

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

Sketching in the Walled Garden

The Pear Trees in the Walled Garden

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

Our Sketch Trip to the Walled Garden

The Pear Trees in the Walled Garden

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

Two Sketchers in the Garden

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

A Section of the Wall

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

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

Northern Fringe Gallery Now Open

Hadrian’s Wall

Good morning everyone. Well, I’m really pleased to tell you that our Northern Fringe Gallery is now open again! And with some lovely new work in there too.

We went to the Ridings shopping centre, Wakefield at the weekend and had a good look around. Also a nice catch up with Eddie, our chairman, who is looking after the empty shop premises that we have claimed as our own. In fact, I also found out about our next project, based around the idea of Midsummer. Honestly, it was such a joy to feel connected to our artist group. Especially after so many months of communication by email.

Our Gallery

Taking my work to Northern Fringe Gallery

Hadrian’s Wall

I was so thrilled to take my interpretation of Hadrian’s Wall to be hung in our gallery. Because I felt quite proud of the way this semi abstracted view of the wall, dominating the landscape turned out. And, everything seemed to fit together, including the massive size of the stones. Also, I tried to convey the feeling of the overwhelming power of the Romans who built this huge barrier in northern England. Of course, they intended to keep the fierce Scottish tribes out of the territories that they controlled. But I also wanted to show the Scottish side of the wall, very much alive and thriving.

My Acrylic Painting of the Moors

Ladybower

This was the second picture I took to our gallery. Incidentally, you may recognise this – it’s the banner image for the home page of this website. And, I hope it best represents my description of my site, A World of Colour, with its vibrant greens and blues. In fact, this is a place we’ve walked around many times over the years. Hopefully, in this interpretation you can sense my love of the place. And enjoy the heightened colours of a still, warm summer’s day on the tops, looking down at the jewel-like expanse of the water.

My work on the wall at our Northern Fringe Gallery

It was a real morale booster to talk about the group’s future plans- all of our exhibitions in bigger galleries were put on hold. And such a pleasure to see my fellow artists’ new work. You could find out about our activities here on our website.

These two paintings are for sale at reasonable prices, plus all the work in my Gallery. (There’s a new moody painting of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire coming soon!)

A Day at the Seaside

The Path down to the Sea

Good morning everyone. A day at the seaside – I love this intuitive abstract that I made when I was thinking about a day out. Well, to be precise, I was only dreaming about going to the coast. And that’s because we haven’t been able to go for over a year now. Partly due to Covid restrictions and also for practical reasons – I chose to stay home and keep safe. Anyway, I can always dream!

A Day at the Seaside – an Abstract Acrylic

A Day at the Seaside – in my Dreams

However, I must insist that this composition must have come from my subconscious. As I have mentioned before, I do a first quick impulsive pass and create a full design, covering all the paper. Then I might leave it until next day, look at it and think about it a lot! After that, I’ll work on it from all angles and enjoy myself, creating texture. For the next session, I’ll choose which is top, and which is bottom and have a look at the balance of shapes and colours. And that’s when I get nice surprises!

The Unexpected Features

Fish or Seabirds?
The Path and the Fence?

Actually, this picture almost painted itself and it was the first of my summery abstracts. Before this, most of my intuitive abstracts were in a different palette of colours. For example, here is one I did at the end of winter, with dramatic, sombre colours. In contrast, my seaside picture is in warm, mellow colours, with hints of cloudless sky and fresh vegetation. And, of course, the almost tactile yellow ochre indicating sand.

On the Shore

Finally, I made this collage a couple of years ago, partly as a tribute to the wonderful Mark Hearld. So, my imaginary scene of a day out at the seaside was made up of painted collage papers, cut-outs and watercolour. And then rounded off with a pretty, decorative border in muted colours. Ah, it’s almost as good as being there in person (almost!)

You could look at more scenes of the fab Yorkshire coast in my Gallery – Landscapes here. It’s affordable art, folks! Contact me for details here.

A Charcoal and Pastel Sketch

The View through the Window

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

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

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

A Charcoal and Pastel Sketch of the Camelia Bush

The View through the Window – a closeup

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

An Abstracted Cityscape in Acrylic

Cityscape 1

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

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

Somewhere in France

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

An Urban Sketch Cityscape

The Calder Building at the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

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

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

‘Floating’ Shapes – an Abstract Composition

A colourful abstract composition in crimson, blue and ochre. Shapes floating through the air or swimming.
Floating

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you an acrylic abstract painting ‘Floating’ that I have just finished. Of course, now that it’s complete, you can see all kinds of motifs. But, I assure you, these were not planned or anything. And, as I painted, after the first impetuous, free stage, I began to see shapes developing. So I just helped them a little bit to emerge more clearly. Actually, what is weird is that I rotate the painting round when I do this. And still something recognisable appears! Incidentally, this is quite a contrast to how I created this post here all about floating objects. As you can perhaps see, this was carefully constructed and planned.

What do You see, Floating in Air or Swimming?

A closeup of the strange face floating up close to the viewer.
Floating – a closeup
Floating – another close up

Obviously, there is a face appearing and that’s because I sort of painted the lips while the painting was upside down. (From the way it was started, I mean). And then I just went with the flow! And, in order to explain away the fishy detail in the second closeup, I can’t! But those fish just seem to find their way into lots of my abstracts.

However, I do remember reading somewhere that the human brain is programmed into finding patterns in what we see. Particularly, we perceive faces and people very readily everywhere. Perhaps it’s some kind of survival instinct. Personally, I do enjoy looking at abstract and semi abstract work more when I can see shapes and make a story. As if this way of seeing allows me into the picture more easily. Instead of feeling that I am blocked from entering.

Straight Lines and Curved Shapes

Finally, I’d like to explore the concept of design a little. Or, to put it more simply, how to decide where to put things, and how to arrange them on the page. Naturally, this element of composition is important for figurative and abstract paintings alike. In my own case, I think about the design about half way through the process in abstract work. To be honest, I have been watching stuff recently on line about various types of composition design. And I read all about the combination of straight lines and curved shapes.

In fact, I realised that I use this style of design quite a lot in my abstracts (see here ) And, I didn’t really know I was doing it! But, I shall carry on because you can create strong compositions with a lot of movement this way. However, now I can think about trying out some more design schemes as well. Well, it’s all part of the lifelong learning plan!

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.

A Canal Scene in Acrylic

An acrylic painting in muted colours of a canal scene. A lock and a lock keepers cottage.
A Canal Scene

Hello everyone. This is my canal scene, a recent acrylic painting that I did while following an online tutorial by Care Visions. Actually, the teaching by the tutor John Skelcher was very good. And, it was free, so that can’t be bad! To be honest, my natural style of painting is not usually this realistic. On the contrary, I like to take a more loose approach and slightly impressionistic. Really, I do find it very difficult to describe my own painting style. But, on this occasion I found it very helpful to follow the instructions and paint like John! Or, at least, to paint in the style he adopted for the tutorial.

A Canal Scene in a Muted Palette

As you can see, the colours we used are quite toned down – the buildings in cream and brown. And a pale, unobtrusive sky, with brownish green trees in the background. However, I did manage to indulge my love of colour by painting some vivid greens in the foreground. But, I must admit that this restricted palette is very effective. Perhaps it’s a better representation of the actual canal scene than my usual highly saturated, intense colour choices would give? Hmm, something to think about here! Just have a look here at this post of some really monochrome paintings.

I’d like to to pass on to you a good tip that John gave us. Just don’t worry about not having an in depth knowledge of a subject when you’re painting. If you can reproduce the shapes of the elements of a scene fairly accurately, that will suffice. Hopefully the viewers eye will recognise the objects because of the surroundings. And, that’s just as well, for I know nothing at all about lockgates! Apologies to any canal experts!

More Houses by the Water

A bright, vivid painting of the view across the lake to some houses  on the hill.
Cusworth Hall

Finally, by way of contrast, this is an acrylic painting that I did a couple of years ago. And, as you can see, here I gave full rein to my enthusiasm for bright colours. In my defence, I must point out that it was a beautiful, sunny winter’s day. And the water and the grass sang out to me. So, no muting in sight! Admittedly, I can now see several bits that I could improve. Maybe I will! Because, I am quite fond of this painting. Perhaps a before and after version would show me the modest improvements I am making. So, the practice and studying are all worthwhile. And that’s good to know!

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