Good morning, everyone. This is the windmill house in Wentworth village, painted in plein air on a sketchtrip in September. At least, I painted the main part of it outdoors. But, as conditions weren’t great, we dashed off to the garden centre cafe for coffee and a chat. This image below is the first draft that I did outside.
Actually, I was quite pleased with this and I tried to use the techniques I have been learning about recently. However, as we were standing in a field of rough pasture and nettles, behind a 5 foot wall, it wasn’t ideal ! Anyway, at home later that day, I tried to think ‘ plein air sketching ‘ and not paint the picture to death!
The History of the Windmill House
Most of the land and the buildings in Wentworth village were built and are still owned by the Wentworth Estate. And this is now separate from the big house Wentworth Woodhouse, just around the corner from this lane. Perhaps you may remember this post here, where I reported on my visit to the mansion gardens. In fact, the family built this mill here on Clayfield Lane in 1745, obviously to process flour from the grain grown on the estate. Of course, it is now a private dwelling in a charming cottage garden, giving pleasure to everyone who walks by. To be honest, the whole village is full of picturesque views. And, I don’t think this will be the last sketch trip we will make to Wentworth village.
Good morning everyone. This watercolour experiment started off as a doodle really, then I began testing out different ways of manipulating the paint. After studying Paul Talbot-Greaves’ lovely book, I realised that I needed to practise techniques. And, by making a sample sheet, rather than a ‘proper’ painting so that I felt free to play. And, it definitely worked! So, here you can see wet-in-wet, stippling, spattering, dry brushing dripping and, hopefully, more movement of paint. However, it’s not in my nature not to put a bit of a story into my painting. Consequently, it became a walk in a wood at autumn time. Actually, the choices of colours and shapes must have come from my subconscious.
In fact, I found this exercise very useful and I think I shall be a bit more confident now when painting in watercolour. Honestly, I wasn’t using enough paint or making it wet enough, so things had to change!
Last Year’s Watercolour Experiment in Autumn Colours
Really, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the season than to sit and drink in the atmosphere of a beautiful autumn day. And then to paint a memory.
You could see more of last year’s autumn plein air watercolour sketches in this post here. And, don’t forget, all my work is for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email for more details.
Good morning everyone. This is just a catch up post where I’m showing you some of the watercolour sketches I did whilst painting outdoors. In fact, the weather this year was very kind to us artists. And I spent quite a lot of time sitting quietly, painting the view. Sheer bliss! So, this the view over the rough pasture to the pond at Longshaw Estate in Derbyshire, UK. Now the pond is man made and designed to be seen as you leave the formal garden and take the path to the stream. Actually, I’m not sure whether this is the pool for boating or swimming – there are two! But, as you can see, it’s idyllic and right on the edge of the moors.
While I painted this little scene I tried to use some of the techniques I’ve been studying. In particular, I wanted to show the contrast of light and shade in the trees behind the water. Not all that easy on a low sunlight day. Also, I used a gentle touch with the reflections on the water, which were very subtle.
Painting Outdoors at Cannon Hall
Lastly, we also went to Cannon Hall on a warm, sunny day and we sat in the shade in the formal garden. And I had another attempt at portraying the glass panes of the little greenhouse. And the effect is a bit more lifelike, I feel, (see here for another attempt!) Incidentally, this is where the 200 year old grapevine lives, but that’s another story!
Good morning everyone. It’s just a short post for you today about this flower abstract composition. Actually, it was a couple of weeks ago that we went to Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire.
And we sat in the formal garden a hot late summer’s day in the shade, next to a beautiful display of red coleus.
Fortunately, I had my plein air sketching set in my bag. So I spent a blissful half hour doodling shapes and colours whilst looking at the flowers. And, the result was this flower abstract. What a lovely memory this painting brings me!
If you want to see another ‘flower memory’, look here.
Good morning, everyone. I’d like to show you this watercolour painting, ‘A Country Walk’. Because it’s the third exercise I have done from Paul Talbot-Greaves excellent book, 30 Minute Landscapes. And I’m really pleased with the result. But I’m well aware that I’m not yet at the stage where I could make such a beautiful, striking composition as this from a simple scene. So, I’ll keep on practising!
However, this painting was an excellent way to practise the new techniques I’m learning and have fun at the same time! For example, I practised stippling, as I explained in my last post here. Also there’s spattering of paint, created by flicking a paintbrush, loaded with paint. Please wear protective clothing! Seriously though, see if you can spot these two techniques in this closeup of a holly bush.
Trees in Closeup
And I also had the chance to practise painting nice fine branches and twigs by gradually changing brush size. Yes, I know I should have thought of that myself, but I didn’t! Finally, you might also see the shadows on the road are carefully painted by following Paul’s method. To be honest, I was very nervous about this part of the painting. Mainly, I think because I am so used to manipulating acrylic paint which very generously allows you to paint over your mistakes. In fact, I might now have a bit more confidence when painting shadows in a landscape. Instead of just fudging it and hoping for the best. Here’s a closeup of branches and shadows.
Anyway, I do think this study will help me to progress my painting. And , to finish off with, have a look at this acrylic painting from a couple of years ago, with a similar composition. Of course, this is an imaginary scene and seems to me not quite finished. Perhaps I will feel more inspired to finish it now, who knows?
Good morning everyone. This is the first quick watercolour I did from a little book I have just bought. ’30 Minute Landscapes ‘ by Paul Talbot- Greaves and I can thoroughly recommend it. Actually, I had a couple of recommendations from friends. And as Paul is a brilliant, local artist, I thought I would treat myself and support him too! As you may know, I use watercolour paint for little plein air sketches. But I’m really self taught and I started to feel a bit dissatisfied with the direction my paintings were taking. So, I was ready to learn and experiment with new techniques.
To be more specific, in this sketch I learned how to make the last layer of background recede in a subtle way. That is, by adding a wash of light red plus cobalt blue over the base colour. Also, I understood the importance of using increasingly small brushes for the branches and twigs of the tree.
Next I tried my hand at this sunlit, summer scene and I really enjoyed the challenge of portraying trees loaded with foliage. In this exercise Paul taught me how to put down the first wash of green with other colours subtly mixed in. For example, sap green, lemon yellow and ultramarine blue. Surprisingly, this makes the end result (after adding more layers) more vibrant. In addition, I tried stippling darker colours into the mass of leaves to show shade. Of course, you use the tip of the brush to dot the paint on. In fact, I was delighted with these two exercises and I can’t wait to attempt more . And I think this studying is changing the way I paint my own subjects – in a good way. What do you think?
Good morning everyone. This is my latest portrait of my allotment. Actually, I just realised that the little watercolour sketches that I do are really portraits. And they seem to me to show different facets of something that I love, very much like artists paint a loved one over and over.
In this particular painting I wanted to make a record of how the fiery red Discovery apples glow. And can be glimpsed through the gap in the hedge that separates two sections of the allotment garden. As you can see, the Brussel sprouts plants are going from strength to strength. Also the leeks in front of them are putting on lots of leaves before the winter comes. In fact, both of these plants will stand over the winter and, hopefully, provide fresh veg till spring.
Can you spot the gardener, weeding the few summer cabbages that remain? Incidentally, I make this figure nice and vague. Because I like to think that it represents both me and my husband, as we both look after the garden. You can see the gardener in this acrylic painting here too.
This Year’s Portraits of my Allotment
Well, this last image shows how I sat in the fairly bare winter scene, And dreamed of beautiful mauve flowers! There’s another idealised portrait based on reality here, showing how I think of the time I spend in the garden. But, in reality, we work very hard here. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Good morning everyone. Firstly I’d like to show you this little abstract I did in my sketchbook. And it was very much a quick, watercolour sketch done between chores with my travel paint set. However, it was also my first chance to try out two new watercolours, Mauve and Payne’s Gray. Actually, I’ve been doing a bit of research on watercolour technique. And I read that Payne’s Gray is a much better choice for a really dark dark, if you know what I mean! Also, it doesn’t seem to muddy the colour mix either, which I was having a problem with when I used black. In addition, I chose to use Mauve in this painting too, which is new for me. And I loved it – the colours seem so fresh and glowing! I wonder if you see the same scene as me- two figures in a cave?
Anyway, this is what my subconscious came up with, seemingly without much intellectual output from me! But, when I’d finished it, I turned it round all four ways, and I liked this one too. Incidentally, do you see anything in this one? You can see more of my intuitive abstracts here.
Finally, if I want to use new watercolours when I’m out and about, I’ll have to sort out the colours in my little paint set or carry extra tubes. Which could be quite awkward. Ideally I need something with more space for colours and larger areas to mix washes. And, at the same time stay compact enough to manage on my knee! Has anyone any good recommendations for this impossible ask?
Good morning everyone. I painted this view of the big house when we spent a few hours in Wentworth Woodhouse Garden , see here. And what a delightful place it is! However, this sight was a complete surprise. Because this is actually the original mansion, and the grander facade on the other side is the larger house that was built on to it. Who knew? Actually, the other side with its impressive carriage drive approach is the longest range of buildings in England. And that includes all our royal palaces. Really built to impress!
This quick phone snap shows you the real life view and we reached this point after a lovely stroll around the park. And there are plenty points of interest. For example, one of the follies carefully placed in the garden was this Ionic Temple. And it’s a quite convincing copy of a classical monument.
In fact, it looked good from all angles, but I chose to sketch the statue on the plinth. Incidentally, this is a representation of the Greek hero Hercules, fighting a mythical creature with his bare hands. Plus a hefty looking club.
The Camelia House in Wentworth Woodhouse Garden
Before I finish, I must just mention the Camelia House, now in a very dilapidated state and the subject of a fund raising campaign. But the camelia bushes are still growing and they are the oldest in the UK. And the original purpose of the building was the Duchess’ tearoom, when she entertained the guests of her husband, the Prime Minister in 1765. But, quite apart from that, I can’t resist painting my version of this intriguing building in Wentworth Woodhouse Garden. So, watch this space!
As you might have realised if you look at my blog, I am very fortunate to live in a part of the world where there are lots of beautiful historical places to visit.
Perhaps you might also like to see my visit to Melbourne Hall here.
Good morning everyone. This is the first intuitive abstract in acrylic that I’ve painted in a long time. That is, apart from a few doodles. But I do know why I didn’t – I was trying to concentrate on landscapes for a couple of months. Actually, I was following the advice of my online tutor, Rod Moore and I think it’s sound. Apparently, studying and practicing one subject and medium leads to more progress. And I think it’s true. But, I was having too many withdrawal symptoms and missing creating abstract composition. So I had to paint this one!
A Closeup of my Abstract in Acrylic
In fact, I had been getting ideas all along for combinations of colours and shapes for an abstract in acrylic. So, I retrieved this idea of interlocking gears from my memory archive. And combined it with a soft colour scheme of misty blues, greens and pinks. Although I followed my usual method of painting from all four angles, the pink figure emerged, and is determined to make its way out of the picture. I’m sure this is another example of art therapy!
A Doodle Abstract in Mixed Media
Finally, here’s one of the aforementioned doodles, this time in biro and pastels. And, I definitely felt better when I’d done it! See more abstracts in this post here.
As you may know, all my artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page and email me for more details. ‘Flight’ is acrylic on canvas board, 12 by 15.5 inches, unframed, and I’m letting it go at £50 plus shipping. Affordable art!
Good morning everyone. Well, summer is officially over now and there are signs of autumn showing. But, on one of the last of the summer days last week, we had our morning coffee break at Sandal Castle. Only 15 minutes drive away, and the weather was heavenly!
To be honest, I don’t know a lot about the castle. Just a few of the walls remain but they are quite impressive on the top of a mound on a hill. So the location is significant and played an important role in the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century. Just think Richard the Third. See here for more details.
Anyway, what attracted me was the glorious yellow colour of the fields in the landscape. And the juxtaposition of the old stonework and the modern housing at the bottom of the slope. Of course, I know you can’t see the ruins. But, I promise I will do a plein air watercolour painting of the castle soon. Meanwhile, here’s one of my favourite acrylic paintings of summer days, from a while ago, sunny Jamaica.
Finally, if you missed seeing this before, here is my imaginary scene of a sunny day nearer to home.
Good morning everyone. Well, this is the last of the watercolour sketches that I managed to do on my little holiday in Derbyshire. And we went to the English Heritage site at Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire to look around the castle in ruins. In fact, the castle was built in the 15th century and deliberately partially demolished during the Civil war in 1648. However, enough of the shape of the buildings remains so that you can imagine the life that was lived there.
Actually, the weather was unseasonably cool for August, and the light levels were low. So I had to exaggerate the shadows a bit, as I sat underneath a huge old tree to sketch. And we were looking across at the Medieval Great Hall – that’s in the centre of the picture. To the right is just the edge of the huge kitchen tower. Incidentally, there is a tunnel connecting the kitchen to the hall. Just to make sure the food doesn’t arrive at the table too cold! If you want to know, the building on the right was the chapel. Perhaps you may know that this castle was one of the settings for the novel ‘Ivanhoe’ by Walter Scott in 1819. As I’ve not read the book , I can’t tell you much more, apart from the fact that Ivanhoe was a medieval knight.
Another Castle, not in Ruins
Now, just to finish off with, this is a real castle, not in ruins. As I recall, we picked up a postcard in Renishaw Hall, a painting by John Piper, one of my favourite artists. Incidentally, this is my version in acrylic. And, if you want to look at a folly in my own local area, see here for another plein air sketch.
Good morning everyone. This is another of the little watercolour sketches I did on my hols in Derbyshire. In fact, it’s a sketch of the Birdcage arbour in the beautiful garden of Melbourne Hall. And we spent a very pleasant couple of hours there, despite the cool, drizzly weather. Unfortunately, the house itself wasn’t open, but the garden was not a disappointment at all. If you’d like to know, it was designed in the style of Le Notre as a formal French garden. And I chose this view, looking down the gently sloped lawns to the pond. Of course the viewpoint was the ornamental arbour, known as the Birdcage, for obvious reasons. Incidentally, it’s made of wrought iron, constructed to mimic wood, as in the originals in French chateau gardens.
As I was sitting on a lovely French style park bench, the slight drizzle turned into a downpour, so I quickly packed up my paints. And we ran for cover under a spectacular tunnel made of a double row of ancient yew trees. Honestly, we were bone dry under that gloomy, atmospheric canopy. However, the rain dried up and I went back to my bench to finish off my painting.
The Other Melbourne
Well, I should of course say the first Melbourne! Because the larger, more famous Melbourne in Australia was named in honour of our Lord Melbourne from this town in Derbyshire, UK. And, as you may know, this chap was Prime Minister to Queen Victoria in 1837. But, that’s another story!
And this is just one of my phone snaps that I plan to paint now I’m back home. But, that is no where near as much fun as painting in situ, en plein air (just to say it in French!)
A View over Melbourne Hall Gardens
And if you want to see a similar bird cage, in a very different context, see my painting ‘The Caged Bird’ in my gallery here.
Good morning everyone. This Saturday I took my big acrylic painting to our gallery at the Ridings centre in Wakefield. Because we are getting our show ready for the 29th September – Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers. Perhaps you remember that we started this project in 2019, but the pandemic stopped it in its tracks, with only half of the artwork in the gallery.
My First Painting for our Yorkshire Writers Exhibition
As you can see, here is my first piece for our current Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition and you can read all about it here. Actually, we do have super themes for our exhibitions – have a look at my Exhibitions page here. And you will see some of the work I did for the Northern Fringe Gallery exhibitions.
Anyway, just a word of explanation about this painting in which I felt inspired by poet Ted Hughes. In fact, I like many of his poems but I really loved the one entitled ‘Wuthering Heights’. And this location, Top Withens, is a ruined farmhouse on the Pennine moors near Haworth in West Yorkshire. Because it is presumed to be the setting for Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, it’s quite a famous spot. Well, Ted Hughes and his wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath lived nearby. And they hired a local guide to take them to the house. Both poets wrote a poem about the moving experience and I chose Ted’s piece. Here he describes the wild, now abandoned spot where the story of Cathy and Heathcliff took place. As well as his wife’s reaction to the experience. You can see both poems here.
Finally, here’s a closeup so you can see the ghostly figure in the window, as described in the poem.
We are launching this exhibition 29th September at the Ridings, then it moves on to Mirfield Creative Arts Hub in October. And, I must admit that I just love being involved in art projects!
Good morning everyone. As you may remember, I spent a few days in Derbyshire last week. And I managed to fit in quite a bit of sketching, including at this World Heritage Site, Cromford Mill. Perhaps you’ve heard of it – I had too but it didn’t look anything like I had imagined. In fact, it was quaint and very sketchable. Actually, this part of the complex is the original mill and it dates back to 1771. Incidentally, it was the first successful cotton spinning mill ever to be driven by water, so no wonder the complex is a World Heritage Site.
The founder, Sir Richard Arkwright is credited as inventing the first factory system, bringing workers together in one large building. And also providing housing nearby in Cromford village. But, as you might guess, my main interest was in the pleasing views I could sketch. And I really liked the juxtaposition of the old mill building and the even older limestone crag. I spent about thirty minutes on the watercolour sketch. Then I felt like my eyes needed a rest, so we had good coffee and cake in the courtyard cafe. Sometimes I realize that I benefit from taking a break from a painting, even a quick one. Then, I can see it clearer, and, in this case, add a bit of pen and ink for emphasis. What a lovely way to spend a few hours!
If you want to see more sketches from this trip, see here.
Good morning everyone. I’ve just finished this acrylic painting of a lonely farm and I’m so pleased! Because it was really bugging me, and I couldn’t work on it until I came back from my short break. Incidentally, I wonder if you feel the same way when you have some unfinished work lying around? As I recall, I read somewhere that a painting isn’t finished until it stops speaking to you. And I think that pretty much describes the situation for me. Anyway, that conversation is now over, so I can start planning my next big painting.
The Lonely Farm on the Dales
However, this painting is loosely based on a photo I took a couple of years ago. And I vaguely remember the walk – it was limestone country in the dales. To be honest, I can’t be sure whether it was in Derbyshire or the Yorkshire Dales. But, in any case, the walking was gentle and we passed a few settlements like this. In fact, these buildings are probably barns, and we had probably just walked past the house and outbuildings. Possibly further down this hill, in a more sheltered location.
Actually, the thing I remember most about the walk was the quiet peaceful feeling of the place. And the intense green of the grass. Although these buildings are modern barns, I still remember the sense of timeless farming of the land. And, of course, walking in the footsteps of many people from the past on these ancient paths.
Finally, I can see with hindsight that this composition was quite influenced by pieces I have done in my online course. Although, obviously, the location is very different! See one of my Australian landscapes here.
All my artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. Please go to my Contact Me page and email me for more details. It really is Affordable Art!
Good morning everyone. Well, we just got back yesterday from a few days holiday in Derbyshire, UK. And, it was very pleasant indeed! So, I thought I’d show you some of the quick sketching I did. Actually, I painted this yesterday afternoon when we were visiting Calke Abbey, an old stately home managed by the National Trust. To be honest, we chose not to go on the tour of the house, although I’m sure it was fascinating. But we are still being a bit cautious about indoor spaces at present. However, the estate, park and gardens were very impressive.
Part of the Walled Garden
As you can see, this section of the walled garden was laid out with delightful flower beds and very healthy looking tree ferns. But for us the best bit was the vegetable garden and the fruit trees. And we admired a medlar tree in full fruit and the most bright orange pumpkins we have ever seen! Then we walked out through one of the lovely arched entrances. Fortunately, there was a very well placed bench for me to sit on, where I quite happily spent almost an hour watercolour sketching.
Quick Sketching in the Walled Garden
To tell you the truth, I had just read an article in my art magazine about keeping plein air sketches simple. So I immediately put it into practice and followed the three steps. Firstly, make an accurate sketch using light pencil strokes. Then draw over the lines in ink – without following them too carefully. After erasing most of the pencil marks, next add colour. And, it’s nowhere as easy as it sounds! Especially the add the colour bit – but it did simplify and speed up the process. Finally, back in the cottage, I took a good look at it and just added a few more darks. In fact, I think I needed that bit of time and distance to assess it. And add the finishing touches to my quick sketching.
Good morning everyone. I’m so pleased – Fronteer Gallery in Sheffield accepted my acrylic painting for their new abstract show in October! As you may remember, I exhibited with them in June this year. And I showed my Egyptian Temple in their Summer Solstice exhibition.
Work for the Abstract Show
Well, the theme for the show this time was a dream – Abstract. That’s all, so I found it wide open to interpret just as I liked. Normally, I create a new work for an open call, but this time I had one ready made.
Although I started this abstract composition purely instinctively, as I worked, I realised that two main themes were influencing me. Firstly, I had recently been to a great exhibition at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, by Anthony McCall. The light installation was very impressive and the museum encouraged visitors to move through the beams of light quite freely. So I painted a silhouette against the blinding white and the deep shadows the artist had created.
Secondly, the winter was quite cold that year and the snow was finally beginning to melt. And the streams were swollen, racing through sodden fields. Consequently, I added piles of soft snow, a stream and the moon piercing the darkness. However, you don’t really need to know any of that. In fact you can put your own interpretation on the scene. Or, even, obviously just look at it and react in your own way.
Of course, I shall post a report of the abstract show when it is actually on the wall. Meanwhile, you could look at some of my other abstract paintings in the Abstracts section of my gallery.
As you may know, I sell all my art at reasonable prices and you can email me via my contact page.
Good morning everyone. I suddenly realised that I hadn’t shown you my latest Australian landscape. Actually, I finished Morning Sunshine on the Crags a couple of weeks ago. But my life is quite busy just now and it slipped through the net. However, I like to use this blog as a record of my painting life so I had to find a space for it.
Apparently this location is Kenilworth Bluff, somewhere in Australia, but that’s all I know! If you know more, please tell me. Anyway, I sort of projected my own story on to it. And I imagined myself going out for an early morning walk across the sun burned grass of the fields. Obviously, this is where the path enters the cool inviting trees and then on to the slopes.
As you can see, the rocky crags sparkle in the sunshine – the view must be spectacular from up there. Unfortunately though, I must turn back, go home and get started on my chores. So, perhaps another day I’ll walk up to the tops.
That’s it for today – all of my artwork is for sale. Just go to my Contact Me page here for enquiries. Of course, there are lots more landscapes with stories in my Gallery here.
Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to write you a quick post about sketches from life – something I love to do. Especially when the weather is kind ! Actually, this image is from a sketchtrip we went on two weeks ago. And we went to our local town park, which is a lovely, green space in the middle of an urban environment. So, here I am trying to show the patterns of light and shade, cast by the well established trees. Normally, the contrast between light and dark can be quite muted in Britain. But, on this particular day the sun was very bright and the patches of shadow were very dense.
Please bear in mind that I painted this plein air sketch quickly and instinctively. Honestly, this type of sketching is more about practising observation and recording the occasion, and less about producing a finished, complete painting. Incidentally, I’m a member of an Urbansketchers group, and our intention is to ‘ record the world, one sketch at a time’.
Sketches from Life at Pot House Hamlet
Perhaps you remember that we went sketching at Pot House Hamlet in Silkstone village recently. And I had the chance to paint a goat and some chickens (see here). Well, the place is so picturesque that I had to go back and capture this scene at the entrance to the plant shop. Of course, it was a very busy location, and I had to select what to include and what to miss out. For example, all the parked cars and the customers. You see, painting from life takes a lot of practice. And sometimes I feel like a beginner! Anyway, I enjoyed myself and the sketch is a nice reminder of my visit. Maybe you might enjoy it too, making sketches from life, if you give it a try! If you want to see more plein air sketching, have a look at this post here.