Revisiting Old Sketches for Inspiration

Burbage Valley

Good morning everyone. This is a gouache painting I did before Christmas and I had a look at some old sketches for inspiration. Actually, I remember this day very well – we had gone for a short walk in Derbyshire. And we were in the beautiful Burbage valley on a hot August afternoon, when my son was small. The heat was shimmering up from the moorland grass and there were no trees to sit under. In fact, this beauty spot was quite busy with people who had come out for some fresh air. But, everyone seemed a bit subdued in the heat. As we neared the car park, my husband and son went and queued for ice creams. Meanwhile, I sat on a rock and sketched the view in my tiny sketch book.

Burbage Rocks

As I worked quickly, I thought about the ancient peoples who once lived here. Incidentally, behind me there was an Iron Age hillfort a field away. So it’s not difficult to imagine figures walking the paths all those years ago. By the way, that brings to mind a painting of mine showing a prehistoric man walking home at dusk. I must find it to show you. Anyway, if you look at this post here, you will see another sketch of the area that I did recently. Or, have a look at my page Gallery – Landscapes for more country scenes. (I’ve just updated the page). As you might have realised, I have many old sketches done over the years. Happily, I find them quite inspiring to repaint. Not to mention the lovely memories they bring back.

Watercolour sketch of the Allotment

Picking Fruit

Good morning everyone. This is a little watercolour sketch I did yesterday, when I was sitting in the shade. Actually, it was a hot day and I thought that I had been in the sun long enough. And I had been quite busy. Firstly preparing a small patch of soil in the polytunnel and putting in some lettuce seedlings. Also sowing spinach and sorrel for salad leaves – we do love salad leaves! Next, I raked a small bed of ground outside to break the soil up a bit. Then I planted sixteen chicory plants and, hopefully, we shall have some winter salad next year. Meanwhile, my husband checked the courgette plants and did a bit more picking in the blackcurrant bushes . As you can see, I just managed to sketch him, examining the bush closely, not wanting to miss a berry. Unfortunately, it’s not been a good year for blackcurrant.

Man at Work, a Watercolour Sketch

Man at Work

Did you spot him? Incidentally, if you’re wondering about the ‘palm’ tree in my watercolour sketch, it’s actually a house plant we put there a few years ago and it really flourished! But I do confess to having used artistic license on the tomatoes in the green house. In effect, they are not red yet, rather pale yellowish green at the moment.

Ripe Tomatoes?

Well, this is good evidence, I think, that I really am very busy at the moment. Because everything in the veg garden is growing madly, and it takes up all my energy. If you want to see more paintings of us working in the allotment, see this post here. Anyway, some day soon I’ll put together a post with all the paintings of the garden that I have not yet shown you. Because it really does give me a lot of inspiration.

Rotherham Steel Henge in Watercolour

Rotherham Steel Henge

Good morning everyone. Well, the image above is a page out of my sketchbook and I completed it on Thursday. You see, I went to a very interesting location with Rotherhamroar artbuddies. The Steel Henge at Centenary Riverside nature park, Rotherham. Honestly, it seemed at first like a very odd choice for a sketchtrip, but nothing could be further from the truth! Admittedly, it was a tiny green space in the middle of an industrial area. However, it was a haven for wildlife, with a river and wildflower meadows.

The Wildflower Meadow

In addition, there is this very powerful art installation right in the centre of the space. Honestly, we all reacted strongly to it, and set to work straight away with pencil, oils, acrylic and, in my case, watercolour.

Watercolour Sketching at the Henge

The History Bit

Just to give a bit of background, before much industrial development, this beautiful spot was used as a swimming place. And, very likely a picnic area by the locals. Then came the building of steel works. Actually, as they were investigating this site to add to the existing plant, the workmen found the remains of a Roman fort here. Apparently, it was sited to guard the crossing place of the River Don. What a history! (You could take a peep here at my painting of the mighty Hadrian’s Wall, another Roman remain in Britain.)

The Steel Henge

Anyway, the artist created the sculpture by using these huge pieces of steel, discarded parts of machinery that were found nearby. As you can see, the artist had the inspired idea of shaping them into a Stonehenge like formation. And, it certainly does pull at your heartstrings when you stand among the monoliths of the Steel Henge.

After my first watercolour sketch, I looked out in a different direction to see a modern factory in the distance. Now, perhaps it’s just me, but these buildings often remind me of a castle. So, that’s what I thought of as I painted. All in all, a very thought-provoking place to simply sit and sketch.

The Factory at the Edge of the Reserve
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