Beautiful Garden at Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire

The Birdcage Arbour

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.

The Birdcage Arbour, a photo from the brochure

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.

Two Acrylic Practice Paintings – Works in Progress

A dreamy view over the beautiful Australian countryside to the distant Mountains m, in the early morning light , one of my acrylic practice paintings.
The Red Path

As some of you may know, I am following an online course on painting at the moment. And I’d like to show you two of my acrylic practice paintings. In fact, the painting above is almost completely finished and I decided to leave it a while. To be honest, I am learning such a lot on this course. And I want to think a bit more about the techniques and design ideas I now know about. Then, later I will bring the painting to completion. However, I am fairly pleased with the stage I have brought it to. Incidentally, this method of working is quite new to me. Actually, I usually work in a more impulsive manner, but I do always put a lot of thought into my paintings.

New Techniques and Design Ideas in my Practice Paintings

In this painting, I used a different choice of colours on the palette, following the instruction given. And, this took me right out of my comfort zone, which can be a good thing! But, as you can see, these were the right choices for this dreamy Australian landscape. Secondly, I attempted to blend the colours in the sky – again something I never try to do. Admittedly, I need to practise this more, but then, hopefully, I will have acquired a new skill.

The Tribute to Monet Acrylic Painting

A spectacular deep lily pond with pink and white blossoms - one of my acrylic practice paintings.
The Lily Pond

Again, I must make it clear that this one of my acrylic practice paintings just lacks the final finishing touches. And , I’m prepared to leave it a while before I decide how much extra detail to add, if any. As you can see, there were plenty of challenges in this. Including, naturally, the subject – reflections on still water, a subject I have skillfully avoided until now! Well, I did do my best, but there’s room for improvement. On the other hand, I managed to suggest perspective in the floating flowers and leaves. That is, to put it simply, the furthest ones smaller and the nearest ones bigger and all at the correct angle to suggest they are lying on the water. Baby steps I know, but it’s very valuable to a self taught artist like me ! I really can’t wait to see what else I can learn. If you want to see a painting that I completed with the tutor’s help, see this post here . I will post another update soon!

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