Good morning everyone. This is the ‘Happy Christmas’ acrylic painting I chose for my card this year. Actually, I didn’t think it printed out so well, but friends and family seemed to like it! Perhaps as artists we are sometimes too critical of our own work. Obviously a little bit of objectivity about our own work is helpful. But I do know a few amateur artists who have no confidence at all and that can be toxic. Anyway, I enjoyed painting the cool colours of the ice and snow, contrasted with the warm brown and gold of the cottage.
I don’t think I’ve posted this before, something from a few years ago. In fact, at that time I had a great tutor. And I learnt such a lot in the years I went to Simon’s class. As you can tell by this painting, which I would have struggled to do on my own then.
Finally, this is an on the spot watercolour sketch of the snow of last year’s winter. And, I couldn’t call it ‘plein air’ because we were sitting in the car! Happy Christmas everyone and keep on painting!
Good morning everyone. On Saturday I went with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire to the Tutankhamun exhibition in Experience Barnsley Museum. And I sketched this bust of Nefertiti, who was his father’s chief wife. Actually, this is not the original – it’s a very good replica. But there were lots of original artefacts, arranged in sections telling the life of the pharaoh. For example, the food he ate, members of his family, education and so on. Although the Tutankamun exhibition was small, it was quite fascinating.
After some time sketching, we then went down to the bustling town centre. In fact there was so much to observe and sketch – market stalls, a brass band playing. And then we ended up at the food court in the covered market for refreshments. Happily, from our table there was a delightful bird’s eye view of the main street below.
This was a very quick sketch in pen and watercolour. And I did it on the table, between pie and peas and cups of hot coffee! And the Tutankamun exhibition was a lovely bonus. Another lovely day with my sketching buddies. By the way, I have missed out all the difficult bits, like all the people! If you want to see what else we sketch, see this post here .
Good morning everyone. This is my latest little gouache landscape, and, I feel cold just looking at it! Actually, I’m quite pleased with this one because the original free reference photo showed an overcast day. But I wanted to paint a beautiful sunset, and this is the result. In fact, that’s the first time I have changed the weather and time of day so completely. Anyway, I improvised ok for the sky, but I overdid the bright reflections on the water at first. However, gouache paint will help you to correct mistakes, but you only get one attempt! After that, it’s all downhill! At any rate, that’s how it seems to me!
Well, as I painted I thought about this beautiful sunset as a possible for next year’s Christmas card, what do you think? I find it less stressful to design a card and enjoy painting something seasonal. And then, use one I did the previous year for cards – it’s nice stress free method.
On a very different note, last night I went sketching with my Rotherham Roar artists group. And we went to an old pub, a listed building with tiles and stained glass panels. Also ornate glass lampshades and an open fire. So, we sat together quite contentedly and sketched each other sketching. Plus, any unsuspecting customers who kept still enough! To be honest, I am a bit out of practice in figure drawing, but it was all good fun.
Incidentally, did you spot the name on the window? If you want to see more quick, figure sketches, see here.
Good morning everyone. I painted this scene in a pen and wash workshop last week. And we invited Gary, one of our favourite tutors, to art society to work with us. Also to show us some pen and watercolour techniques. Actually, it was a very enjoyable evening and everyone was pleased with their own version of this snow scene. After a quick pencil sketch of the main shapes, we tried to ink the lines in, using sketchy, gestural marks. Then, for me, the difficult part, using two colours only and being very restrained with the paint brush! Honestly, I was dying to pile on more and more texture and detail. But, I’m really glad I followed Gary’s instructions.
And, I took away from this workshop the idea that sometimes less is definitely more! However, as our tutor explained, this is really a basic scene – you can add more style to your liking. Preferably after learning the method. By the way, we also added more pen marks at this point if we felt we needed them. Plus a few dabs of white gouache for snow on the trees.
Perhaps you might be interested to see this pen and wash painting I did a few years ago. In fact, I did this after another of Gary’s workshops on pen and wash, I felt so inspired that I painted a few more. Incidentally, in this picture, the pencil sketch and watercolour come first. Then detail is added later in pen, again trying not to overdo things. And, here is a post showing how I use this technique when I’m painting in plein air.
Good morning everyone. A few weeks back I went out for the day with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. And we went sketching in the industrial museum at Kelham Island in Sheffield, UK. Actually, the name is slightly misleading because it is an old preserved industrial area in the city centre. Because it is alongside the River Don and some of the water is diverted to power a mill, a small area becomes an island! Now, as well as the museum in an old electricity generating station for city trams, there lots of lovely buildings. To be honest, they are now blocks of flats and pubs and so on. But still beautifully restored and picturesque.
This is an old drawing on display in Kelham Island Industrial Museum. And it shows the sort of work which was carried out in the small shops typical of the area. For example, making tools, in this case metal files. So, I spent an hour or two wandering around the interesting exhibits, looking for inspiration. As I am at present painting industrial subjects for our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition, see this post here.
Anyway, this is a quick pencil abstract I did later, after spending some time making working drawings in a workshop. In fact, it was an enterprise where the men cut out shapes from sheets of steel, for machinery parts. However, I’m still gathering ideas for a finished painting for our show. If you keep reading this blog I’ll post as soon as it’s finished.
Good morning everyone. I have felt so inspired lately by the beautiful colours of autumn and I wanted to show you my latest gouache painting. Actually, we were working on the theme of The Colours of Autumn at Art Society this week. So, I decided to do an impressionistic design of leaves drifting to the ground, whilst still keeping their glorious colours. Of course, these colours only last a short while, so, enjoy them while you can. Perhaps you can tell that this little painting is in gouache. Because the creamy texture and soft blending are typical of this medium. Incidentally, can you spot the gold-coloured paint on the two brown leaves? If you would like to see the very. very simple, short video I made about this painting, look here.
Maybe you have seen this plein air watercolour before? In fact, I painted this whilst sitting in my son’s garden last year. And, I particularly wanted to capture the vibrant copper leaves of the Virginia Creeper. Happy Days, sitting on the patio, painting, coffee and cake and good company! Or, here are some more of my happy memories from the year before. When we were admiring the colours of the pumpkin harvest in Wortley Hall gardens, in this post here .
Well, this is just a glimpse of an acrylic painting I started yesterday, based on a fabulous photo by Viktoria Stockmal from Landscape Reference Photos for Artists. And I’ll show you the progress as I go along, I haven’t painted in acrylic for a while. And I’m really enjoying being creative in this simply gorgeous season of the year.
Good morning everyone. This is the quick watercolour sketch I did in St. Mary’s church, last weekend on Open Heritage Day. Actually, the event lasts for two weeks and it’s great to have the opportunity to visit buildings that are usually closed. For example, last year we went in the very impressive National Union of Mineworkers Headquarters. Of course, St Mary’s is open several times a week. But it was lovely to be welcomed into this beautiful space by the volunteers and the vicar.
Anyway, I chose this view to sketch, as I wanted to show the tall pillars of white stone. They are so tall that they make the massive door look small!
Next I felt inspired to try and include some of the patterns and colours that really stood out amongst the pale plastered walls and pillars. So I chose an abstract representation of this view down towards the altar.
After that we went to the gallery coffee shop which is just opposite the church, for coffee and cake. And also to look at everyone’s sketches. What a perfect way to spend a morning on Open Heritage Day! Maybe you might like to see the outside of this building in this post here , it is very picturesque.
Good morning everyone. How do you like my brand new bright watercolours? Actually, that’s my little joke, because they aren’t brand new at all! Well, I was getting so fed up with the pale colours on my plein air quick sketches, see here.
So I looked a few things up on the internet, and found out that my paints should be ok. Because they are reasonable UK brands. Also, the paper is decent quality, but I’m working on finding something a bit better. Then I tried to remember not to muddy the colours too much. Eventually, I even started using gouache colours for their brightness, but I really prefer watercolours for on the spot sketching. Anyway, I decided to try something I read in a few posts and articles. And that is really wetting the pans of colour with lots of drops of water ( from a water brush). Then I waited ten minutes and painted two examples, this one being an imaginary landscape.
New Improved Bright Watercolours
By the way, my Australian tutor Rod Moore encourages us to paint from imagination to help develop composition skills. But I’ll talk about that in another post. Next, I just had to do a little abstract doodle to test the colours again!
As you can see, these are very bright watercolours. But, just a word of caution, let the paints absorb all the water before taking the box out on a sketch trip. If not, it will leak all over your bag! Perhaps you knew all this already, however it’s new to me. And, I’m very glad I read this advice on line.
Finally, I gave this new system a proper road test this weekend when I went to the allotment. After working hard all day watering, picking and tidying, I just had to do a quick 30 minute sketch. Can you see the pumpkins and the scarlet flowers on the runner bean plants? Happy painting!
Good morning everyone. In my last post I showed you little watercolour sketches from my sketchbooks. And it got me thinking about how many sketchbooks I had filled over the years. Quite a few! So, I looked through one or two and found plenty that I drew whilst on holiday in the Lake District.
For example, this one is a view over to the hills from the garden at the front of Patterdale Hotel, near Ullswater. Actually, we used to stay here once or twice a year, pre pandemic. Unfortunately, I still don’t feel brave enough yet to stay in an hotel. Anyway, the views all around are spectacular. And it was very tempting to sketch while sitting on the patio garden with a cold drink after a walk in the hills.
Well, this is another view from the garden, the majestic Place Fell, which rises to 2154 ft. How could you not draw this? If you’re wondering where the lake is, this view shows the end of the lake, which is rather boggy and soon floods after heavy rain. These two paintings from my sketchbooks are about three or four years old, but, look what else I found! A very similar sort of landscape from 2003. And, I have some even older! How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!
Please note, these are all plein air sketches done in 25 to 40 minutes, to capture the moment and they are 7 by 5 inches. If you wish to see a white cottage view in the Lakes, all neatly finished off, see here.
Good morning everyone. We are just back from a short break in the Lake District, UK, where I managed to fit in some plein air painting. And we visited this lovely place here- Brougham Hall, pronounced ‘Broom’, apparently! Of course, quite a lot of it is in ruins now. But a friends group (volunteers) look after it, on a small budget. And they are managing a long project of restoration. However, it is quite charming and I sat in the courtyard cafe here and did this watercolour sketch. Actually, you can see the well which provided the castle’s water, the structure in bottom right.
In fact, on that day we were spoilt for choice. Because we spent the rest of the day visiting another castle and not one but two henges. In case you didn’t know they are the remains of earthwork structures constructed in Prehistoric times. Unfortunately, no one seems to know exactly why they were created. So, it’s all guesswork from there onwards. But, you can let your imagination run wild about what they were used for. Most likely meeting places of some kind, but, very evocative and intriguing!
A Plein Air Sketch of a Lake
Next day it was misty and drizzly, so we drove to Haweswater, a lake up on the high ground. And they enlarged this stretch of water to provide a reservoir of drinking water for Manchester. However, to achieve this they flooded the land near the top of the lake. And in my sketch here I painted the remains of the village buildings that are usually under water. After all, this has been the driest summer for years in the UK. Anyway, I tried very hard to show the misty atmosphere. But I stopped sketching when I realised I subtly changed the lighting , as it naturally happened! Obviously one of the challenges of plein air painting.
Just to remind you, I painted both of these watercolour sketches on the spot and quite quickly. So, by no means are they finished paintings. If you want to see studio painted landscapes, have a look at the landscapes in my Gallery here.
Good morning everyone. We have just arrived home from a holiday in the Dales. That’s the Yorkshire Dales, UK, a peaceful, fairly unspoilt rural area about an hour and a half from my home. Anyway, we drove up to Kilnsey Crag, and sat on a bench overlooking the trout fishing ponds. And I attempted to capture a bit of the ridge rising up to the skyline. Actually, the most impressive part, the sheer drop of the crag is a bit more difficult to get to. So, that’s for another time!
Actually, this watercolour sketch is not quite finished, but I’ll show it anyhow. Well, we spent the afternoon in Grassington, a town which is always very full of tourists. However, we found a peaceful spot to sit for a while. And I painted away, lost in my thoughts, until the rain made us move away.
Finally, we spent a lovely day in Clitheroe on this holiday in the dales. And I couldn’t resist painting the imposing ruin of the castle keep. Amazingly, I wasn’t alone – there was a local art group there to keep me company! Perhaps you think that I make a habit of going on holiday in order to paint castles! And, you may be right – see this post here. By the way, these are plein air watercolour sketches, completed on site in roughly 40 minutes.
Good morning everyone. I’m so delighted, my new painting has been accepted for the Summer show in the Open Gallery in Halifax! And this is a new gallery, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it and the current show on the walls. By the way, the theme actually is Summer, so I thought that this painting would fit in very well. In fact, I created this while I was studying a module in an online course. And the tutor, Rod Moore lives in Queensland, Australia. So, most of the reference photos he provides are of his local area. Maybe you can see that I tried to create an atmosphere of heat rising from the fields in the late afternoon. And a hint of heat haze on the distant mountains.
Of course, we have to deliver it soon, so we can spend a morning walking around historic Halifax. And perhaps potter around the wonderful Piece Hall, as I described in my post here. And you can read all about this Grade 1 listed building.
If you’re in the area, please join us at the opening event on Saturday 25th June, 5 till 7pm.
Good morning everyone. I thought I would show you the last of the three watercolour sketches I did on our mini holiday. ( See the other two here) Perhaps you have noticed how much I love painting old stone buildings. So, here’s another one! In fact, I did this as we were driving home from the coast. And we stopped for an hour to eat a sandwich at Kirkham Priory, a beautiful ruin looked after by English Heritage. Well, this was the view from the picnic table and we we were in the old gatehouse. Obviously, I couldn’t resist sketching this section of the massive wall and a glimpse through the door. Meanwhile, my husband walked around the site with a guidebook, trying to imagine the splendid buildings as they once were.
Actually, we seem to do a lot of this, trying to imagine what old stone buildings once looked like. But, just to show you the exception to the rule, here is the keep at Conisbrough castle which is completely restored. As I recall, when we visited in November last year, we saw all three floors. Then we climbed up to the viewing platform at the top, to see a glorious view over the town. If you want to see another historic English castle, see this post here.
Good morning everyone. We’ve just spent a lovely few days by the sea. And I painted this quick watercolour sketch looking down at North Landing Bay at Flamborough on the Yorkshire coast. Although it looks deserted in my sketch, there were actually some families playing on the beach. And the snack bar was open and doing a roaring trade. Also, a small boat came back to the shore, with a few crates of fish. Then they pulled the boat up the ramp to the boat house. After I had finished my sketch, (about 30 minutes) we walked a short way along the cliff path on the headland. Actually, we were looking out for puffins, but they were all hiding! What a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.
In fact, I had paddled in the sea on the beach at Scarborough that morning, in freezing cold water. And when I got back to the flat I decided to do an intuitive abstract. So I painted an impression of the movement of the water, as the tide receded around my feet. If you look at this post here from last year, you’ll see another sketch of this coast.
Good morning everyone. This is a cheeky little bird I painted from a good tutorial by Shari Blaukopf in the Karen Abend ‘Sketchbook Revival ‘ series. And it was great fun, so that makes two birds in one week! (More of that later). Anyway, the reference photo and the tuition were excellent, and I learnt how to make the feathers look more realistic. Hopefully the bird then doesn’t seem too ‘solid’, a pitfall I have fallen into sometimes. In the case of this watercolour sketch, things were a bit more tricky because of the windy weather. Perhaps you can see that the wing and breast feathers are ruffled up into a fluffy ball by the breeze. In fact, the bit I am most proud of is the effect of the reflections of the legs. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the bird itself, how about you?
Two Birds in One Week
Well, I did say two birds, so this is the other one! Actually, there were plenty of birds to spot on our quiet walk around the Dearne Valley Country Park . But this one very obligingly stood still for me to do a quick pencil sketch, as we sat in front of the small lake. By the way, we did go to see the bluebell display in the ancient woodland. And, Nature didn’t disappoint – I really love this time of year. ( You could see more of my bird sketches in this post here . )
Good morning everyone. Well, it really feels like spring is here, for this week at least! And I love to have spring flowers in the house. As soon as these daffodils opened up, I just had to paint them! So I practised some of the watercolour techniques I have learned from an online course. In fact, after years of trying, I finally managed to loosen up a little with watercolour. That means, more water in the mixture and just nudge it into place, instead of controlling it more tightly. Actually, I was really pleased with the end result. In fact, I succeeded better conveying the papery texture of the petals this time, I feel. Hopefully, you can see that in my photo.
Because it was so sunny and bright, we went to Brodsworth Hall for a few hours. Perhaps you remember some of the other sketches I have shown you in this blog, we do go to this garden often. As you might know, the gardens are spectacular, in all seasons. By the way, I must admit that I definitely took artistic license with this view. Because I completely missed off the main building , being far too interested in the trees and the daffodils, tiny points of golden light that studded the grass. Perhaps I will use this quick sketch in watercolour and pen in plein air as a study for a larger painting.
Finally, I couldn’t sign off without giving a mention to my acrylic painting of spring flowers. At the moment, Daffs at my Allotment is part of my exhibition Picturing the Landscape at Rotherham Roar , see this post here . Alas, very soon to come down, so there’s just a few days to see it! Well, nothing lasts for ever, not even spring!
Good morning everyone. This is my latest acrylic painting and I chose a view of a white house in a valley for my inspiration. Actually, this is based on watercolour sketches I made in the Lake District, Cumbria in the UK. In fact, we used to go once a year, usually in spring or autumn. But we haven’t been in a while. Fortunately, looking at my sketches brings back lots of happy memories. For example, I did the two sketches I based this on whilst sitting in the hotel beergarden. A nice cool drink was just perfect after a days walking. And, as you can see, the views were spectacular.
Anyway, I also drew on my own memory to create this, remembering the varied colour and texture of the vegetation on the slopes. By the way, lots of the older buildings are painted white in this region. And they do stand out very picturesquely in these views over the rolling expanse of hills.
I seem to quite enjoy painting a white house, as you can see in this post here and here. All my paintings are for sale at reasonable prices. So if you see something you like, just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email for more details.
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.
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.
Good morning everyone. Now that everything is getting back to ‘normal ‘ after the festive season, I am catching back up. So, here is a little green and gold scene I painted in gouache, back in November. As I recall, the reference photo was a touristy one I saw somewhere. But I altered it quite a bit and added a figure. That’s me, standing on the rock in the cool morning air with my cagoul hood up. And, I’ve probably got my field sketching kit in my rucksack. Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’m looking at the leafless tree on the left. Unfortunately, a much more common sight now when we’re out walking. Anyway, I still managed to fit in plenty of green and gold to cheer me up. Also, it was good practice to paint in gouache and I am gradually getting more used to manipulating the paint.
Actually, the title says it all! For this scene, I used an old watercolour sketch I did when we were in Wales. However, I can’t remember the location other than it was a lovely ornamental park in North Wales. And, we had the place practically to ourselves. Because the season had been quite wet, all the late spring flowering shrubs were really blooming.In addition, the foliage was glistening after a brief shower. On the technical side, the paint was gouache and I built the painting from my watercolour sketch and , surprisingly, a bit of memory. In fact, it’s really addictive and I have a huge archive of sketches to mine!
The Flowering Shrub in my Green and Gold Gouache Landscape
Incidentally, there’s another uplifting green and gold painting in this post here , this time a woodland scene.
As ever, all my work is for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page and send me an email for further details.
Good morning everyone. Well, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t seem to have much time to start on big projects lately. So, I thought I would show you some of the small sketchbook abstracts I managed to squeeze into my busy days. Actually, I find it quite a comfort to grab the nearest small sketchbook, relax in my armchair and paint!
However, this first one started life as a rapid ink sketch, intuitive really. Then watercolour, but this time I made an effort to keep the colours very clean. That is to say, adding glazes on top of the three basic colours to add tone, instead of creating mixes on the palette. Also, having seen something online about adding depth to abstract shapes, I tried to think of them as 3d objects. Incidentally, this is very pleasurable to try. In fact, I’ve just realised these small sketchbook abstracts are arty experiments, as well as being good for stress management.
As you can see, this small sketch book abstract has been built using watercolour pencils. Actually, I haven’t played around with these for ages and I was considering taking them on an outdoor sketch trip. So I wanted to remind myself how easy it is achieve quick, bright colour. Obviously, it is very easy and so I took a couple of pencils with me when we went to the Danum museum, before Christmas. And I really enjoyed using them.
Above all, I really love painting intuitive abstracts, whether they are small or larger, like this one in this post here.