Wentworth Woodhouse Garden in September

The Path down to the Big House

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.

Hercules in the Ionic Temple

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.

Last of the Summer Days

View from Sandal Castle

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.

Reggae, Reggae

Finally, if you missed seeing this before, here is my imaginary scene of a sunny day nearer to home.

Painting a Castle in Ruins

Ashby de la Zouch Castle

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

From a painting by John Piper

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.

Quick Sketching in Walled Gardens

The Walled Garden at Calke Abbey

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.

The Walled Garden – image by Wikimedia Commons.

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

The Walled Garden at Calke Abbey

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.

See more of my plein air sketching here.

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

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

Painting Portraits in Acrylic and Watercolour

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

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

Painting portraits and modelling the flesh

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

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

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

Drawing Faces on Toned Paper

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

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

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

Three Mixed Media Abstracts from my Artjournal

A jumble of sharp, jagged shapes and urgent flashes of red - a mixed media abstract showing anxiety and fear.
Jagged

Hello everyone. Today I’d like to show you the work I’ve been doing in my art journal – some mixed media abstracts. Actually, I’ve continued using this journal since last March, when our first period of lockdown began. To be honest, I turn to it when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. As you can see in the image above, this intuitive abstract composition is quite dark and sombre looking. And there are some spiky shapes and touches of bright red to indicate danger. In fact, I used gouache paint, pencil and pen, and afterwards I felt much better!

An Experimental Mixed Media Abstract

Yellow and Grey

This drawing above is a good example of how I also use my journal to experiment with different techniques. As you can see, here I limited myself to lemon yellow and medium grey. Because I wanted to create a piece for a challenge in the Triwing Challenge group on Mewe. In truth, I would probably never have chosen this combination of colours. But it was very enjoyable and concentrated my mind on texture. You see, I had seen some fab work online with really densely applied layers. And, I used pencil, marker and oil pastel in this drawing. There’s a great freedom in scribbling in a journal. In addition, it’s therapeutic too!

A compact,crowded abstract composition of organic shapes in orange, yellow and dark green.
New Style Abstract

Finally, I’m quite proud of this little painting/ drawing. For, I tried a new style – a composition centred in the middle of the paper, with lots of white paper showing. Obviously, it’s quite different to my usual style which completely covers the space on the paper. And I tried adding graphic marks on top of acrylic paint with markers and biros. Watch out, I feel a series of mixed media abstracts coming on!

If you would like to see more Lockdown Artjournal experiments, see here and here.

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.

Drawing Twelve Birds for Christmas

Sparrowhawk

Good morning, everyone. I think I mentioned that I joined a great Beginner Gouache group on Mewe . And that led me to another group running the challenge – Birdmas. That is, drawing twelve birds for Christmas, from December 1st to 12th. Well, it looks as though I’m on track to complete the full set. So I’d like to show you a few of the earlier ones. For example, my sparrowhawk.

A gouache painting from my drawing twelve birds for Christmas challenge. A powerful sparrowhawk.
My first bird

Drawing Twelve Birds for Christmas – Day One

Just to be clear, the photos which inspired these paintings and drawings were taken by my lovely daughter in law. And they were taken mostly in her garden. And this particular one shows the sparrowhawk peering around carefully to make sure it can safely carry on eating. In fact, it had just brought down a pigeon and in this shot, the grass beneath its feet was covered in white feathers. Actually, during Lockdown, and afterwards, we saw two birds of prey bringing their kill into our own garden. To be honest, I live almost in the town centre and this is something we’ve never seen before. Anyway, I enjoyed painting this magnificent creature in gouache paint.

Day Two – A Pigeon

A Woodpigeon

Actually, this pigeon is quite tame and it will come down on to the lawn to be fed. So there is plenty of opportunity to get good close ups. I focused on the head and tried to capture the softness of the feathers in a pencil drawing.

A Hungry Bird

An ink and coloured pencil drawing of a hungry young crow, beak wide open and with a caption " feed me "
A Hungry Young Crow

As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge in the Triwing Art Challenge group. And the best part was seeing the creativity unleashed in my fellow artists. In fact, the artwork is a very high standard and it’s very pleasant to see this develop . Personally I think the challenge of drawing twelve birds for Christmas was very well chosen. And, finally, the image above, A Hungry Young Crow was completed in ink and coloured pencil. I tried to show the texture of the ragged wing feathers and the tree bark. To my own surprise, I was inspired by the beautiful work of the other artists to add a caption, not my usual style. The story behind the picture is that this bird was continually exhausting its parents with loud demands for food. I’ll post some more of my drawings soon.

If you want to see more of my bird paintings, look at this post here .

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.

See myThree Art Journal Abstracts

Frantic

Hello everyone. This morning I’d like to show you some of the art journal abstracts that I’ve been painting over the past week or so. My art journal has been such a lifeline to me during the pandemic. For example, when I felt that everything was beyond my control, I would turn to my journal. Then I would grab the nearest materials to hand and just randomly create. Invariably, I would have some precious time engrossed in painting or drawing and not dwelling on problems. And , afterwards, I would feel better !

The Ceramics Patterns One

A softly coloured,  calming abstract composition in watercolour and gouache.  Muted palette of green, gold purple and fawn. One of my art journal abstracts.
Patterns

I painted this one above very quickly in watercolour and gouache. Actually, it was only afterwards that I realised how much I had been influenced by the beautiful ceramics on display at Cannon Hall. In fact, I can also see echoes of the colours in the pieces – soft green, gold, purple and fawn. As it happens, that’s quite an attractive combination of colours to inspire feelings of calm, I think.

The Ink Drop Art Journal Abstract

A chaotic jumble of shapes, half glimpsed figures and patterns in orange and red acrylic inks, fineliner and watercolour wash. One of my art journal abstracts.
Frantic

To tell you the story behind this picture, I had watched an interesting documentary about the British artist Maggie Hambling. And she explained how, every morning she sat down and ‘ doodled ‘ or scribbled very quick sketches using acrylic inks. Interestingly, without pen or brush – just moving the ink around with the dropper in the bottle. But, as she explained, this was an exercise to loosen up before spending the rest of the day painting. As you can see, my small abstract clearly reflects my agitated state of mind ! However, I really enjoyed the process, especially adding marker and watercolour afterwards. So, having a sketchbook and a few art materials handy enables me to follow any inspiration straight away and on the spot ! ( The dining table, actually )

The Graphite Mark Making One

Making Marks

Obviously, my mind was still running on pattern in this one. But I had also been looking at art blogs online where people had been experimenting with pencil and marker. So, I had a go and, I must say, it was very soothing to do. And, I quite like the black and white movement around the page in this example of my art journal abstracts. Well, that’s another reason to keep an art journal – a little safe space to experiment and practice different media and techniques. And I was also quite pleased with some of the collage that I experimented with in my journal. See here – my underwater scene. To be honest, my journal is almost full up, but I’ve got another one, all ready in the wings and waiting to be put to good use!

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

I Love Trees.

I love trees - I really enjoyed sketching with a thick pen, fineliner and watercolour wash to create this close up of an old massive tree trunk
The Old Tree

I love trees and we often walk in the country in order to enjoy the peaceful, green spaces. And we had a stroll around Cannon Hall Park and Gardens yesterday to have a look at the restoration of the Georgian walled garden. You see, the park finally acquired the cash to restore some of the original features. For example, the 60’s style rectangular pond and pergola was replaced by a beautiful round lily pond. And the old glasshouses that grow the famous 200 year old grapevine are being restored too. However, the work is not quite finished . And when it is, I’ll write a post all about it .

I love trees

But yesterday , I simply enjoyed being in the formal garden. As you know, I love trees and I’m always attracted to drawing them when I’m out plein air sketching. The sketch above was completed in 20 minutes using a super dark pen, a fineliner and a wash of black watercolour. In fact, I sat on a low wall right under the tree. And the markings on the bark and the shadows cast by the foliage of the tree itself were quite fascinating up close .

Some other trees

The Tree in the Park

Actually, I feel quite affectionate towards this drawing. Because it was the first urban sketch I did back in May, when we were at last allowed to go to the town park .

The Wentworth Folly

To be honest, I don’t think I have shown this sketch before. As I have already said, I love trees and at all times of the year too! So this is a tiny pen and watercolour sketch I painted at Wentworth Castle Gardens last year.

I Love Trees – Even in a Spooky Wood !

The Boy and the Bird

Finally, I couldn’t resist showing you one of my favourite acrylic paintings. Obviously, this is what happens when I just let my imagination go wild! You could see another abstracted tree in this post here . But, these paintings and drawings have one thing in common – they are all inspired by trees.

Thinking about Drawing

The Old Church

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

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

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

On the shore

Reserving the White Paper

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

Toned Paper Thinking about Drawing

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

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

The Old Church

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

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

Drawing from Life

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

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

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Painting Water – How to Do It

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

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

More Watercolour Water

Ducks at Cannon Hall Park
Worsbrough Country Park

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

Painting Water in Acrylic

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

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

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

Urban Sketching Art in Rotherham

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

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

Watercolour Urban Sketching Art

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

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

The Front Entrance

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

The Art Cafe Exhibition.

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

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

Sculpture Exhibition at the Park

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

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

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

The Sculptures in the Underground Gallery

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

Shoes made of Saucepans

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

The Beretta made of Telephones

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

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

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

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

The Iron Tree

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

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

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

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

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