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. I had a great day sketching on Saturday at Left Bank Leeds. And we worked with a super artist, Paul Digby, who first showed us some inspiring drawings by Piranese and Seurat. Also, Hopper, Jenny Saville and Barbara Walker. Actually, he used these examples to illustrate some of the things to keep in mind when drawing. For instance, perspective, tone, atmosphere and simplicity of line. Next Paul demonstrated different ways of deepening tone with graphite. Then he taught us some simple rules of perspective. All in all, a very interesting and useful session. Then we were encouraged to find a corner of this impressive Edwardian former church and draw. In fact, it is now a very welcoming arts and community hub, the Left Bank Leeds. (Sorry about the quality of this photo, no natural light, just a desk lamp!)
This is the finished version (just completed) and I deepened the darker tones, as Paul advised. And I think it looks more three dimensional now. As you may know, I don’t usually spend this much time on a drawing. Because my work with urban Sketchers is of necessity short, usually 20 minute sketches,completed on the spot. So, this was something new for me and very good practice. If you want to see an example of creating tones in black and white paint, see this post here.
Good morning everyone. At last, I managed to do a bit of cafe sketching, especially when in a well ventilated space, reasonably distanced from other customers. Actually, it’s probably also the first time I felt relaxed enough to do it. Anyway, we went to the Carding Shed cafe last week and I hid my sketchbook behind my bag and discreetly sketched a couple on the next table to us.
Unfortunately, I had left my tiny water bottle behind, so I couldn’t do a watercolour sketch and I had to make do with pencil only. Not my usual style. But, I completed this before they got up and went, so that was lucky.
Honestly, this is something I rarely do, add colour afterwards at home. Because I much prefer sketching with the brush and splashing colour around on the scene as I drink my coffee! And, I feel that the resulting painting is more lively, even if it’s a a bit less accurate. However, I really enjoyed myself and I now look forward to doing more cafe sketching.
There are lots of paintings and drawings in my Gallery on the People section here.
Finally, I realised I had done lots of imaginary people sketches over the past year or so. No doubt missing company and lifedrawing classes, so I leave you with this latest one.
Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to show you my attempt at a semi-abstract cityscape. Actually, I didn’t want to waste the leftover paint on my palette, so I started doodling. (Or, you could call it an intuitive abstract!). Anyway, when I saw the shape of a doorway, I thought I would try to paint a cityscape. Then, I loved the blocks of colour so much that it gradually led me into some semi- abstraction of the scene. And then a bit more! To tell the truth, this is my first attempt at this subject. That is, if you discount one collage of an imaginary view over a city that I did a few years ago. But, I would definitely like to explore this theme a bit more . And, I could even do a series, like a proper artist!
However, I must say that when I posted this on my Instagram account at least two friends saw this as an industrial scene, a steelworks melting shop to be exact. Well, at least they both liked it, so that’s the main thing.
And now, in complete contrast, this is a cityscape in southern France somewhere. That is to say, judging by the architecture and the strength of the sunlight. Obviously, I painted this based on a reference photo, and a bit of memory, not from my imagination like the first image. At the time I painted it, a few years ago, I was quite pleased with it. And, I still am, but, I’m quite glad that I am now moving away from following the photo so carefully. So, if I were to do a similar scene, I’m sure I would interpret it with more artistic licence.
An Urban Sketch Cityscape
Finally, this is an urban sketch I did, on the spot in about 30 minutes. Incidentally, I was out sketching with Urbansketchers Yorkshire, back in the day when there were no restrictions on mixing. Happy days! And, this old warehouse by the canal was part of the site dedicated to the well-known sculptor Barbara Hepworth. Well, I know it has its flaws, and I’ve learnt a bit more about perspective since then. But I do like the freshness and atmosphere I’ve captured here. Plus, of course the memory of a fab day out sketching.
So, whether I use acrylic or watercolour, a photo, my imagination or plein air approach. And, whether I paint in realistic or abstract style, I still find plenty of inspiration in this subject. You could see a very different type of cityscape if you look at this post here – the Piece Hall in Halifax, UK.
Good morning everyone. One fine day last week we went to have a look at this old colliery site – Barnsley Main in the Dearne Valley. Actually, we knew that the community group who look after it have worked really hard on it. So we had a wander round and I sat down at the picnic table and bench to sketch the view. To be honest, I had planned to do this some time ago. But, I suppose I was always too busy going somewhere else to sketch. And I needed a Lockdown to make me concentrate on the interesting locations that are just on my doorstep.
The Barnsley Main Pithead with Winding Gear at the Old Colliery Site
Of course, I did this fairly quick watercolour sketch (40 minutes) on the spot with a little tidy up at home. To be honest, I didn’t want to use pen and ink. But I thought I must add a bit more definition. So I strengthened the black lines with more washes at home. This and the large building that houses it is the only remaining evidence of the pit above ground. However, it is quite unique and now it’s a Grade Two listed building. And it is well known as the mine that blew up in the Oaks mining disaster in 1866. Tragically, the fire from the explosion took the lives of over 380 miners and rescuers. If you want to know more, here is the link to the website.
The Oaks Mining Disaster Memorial
This is my quick, rough and ready plein air sketch of the statue by our local sculptor Graham Ibbeson. In fact, it is a very impressive and moving installation right in the town centre. Naturally, you can’t see all the details here. But, the sculptor has made up the hair and shawl of the miner’s wife out of pieces of coal. In effect, she waits at the colliery for news of her husband. And you can just make out the body of a miner, trapped underground beneath her feet.
Anyway, after I had finished my sketch, we walked down the path the miners used to get to work, over the canal and on to the fishing ponds. Really, it was a lovely sight, swans gliding on the water and families enjoying the sunshine and the outdoors together. A perfect day!
Have a look at this post here to see another recent plein air watercolour sketch done in my local surroundings, this time a lovely country park.
Good morning everyone. To be honest, the image above is not an example of virtual sketching. However, I wanted to show you the sort of work I do when we go out into the real world . In fact, on this particular day a couple of years ago, we went to Leeds Market Hall, UK. And we had special permission to go onto the top balcony which is usually closed to the public. And, what a wonderful view we had, looking over the stalls below. This stallholder shouted his wares incessantly and he attracted loads of customers to buy.
Personally, I feel that sketching quickly like this gives a liveliness to the work. Even though the technique suffers of course. But practice does help me to improve at speed painting! Just to explain, the aim of the Urban Sketchers movement is to record what you see, record the world one sketch at a time!
Virtual Sketching during the First Lockdown.
Now, this is the first virtual sketch that I did back in April last year. Unfortunately, the people who put this group together decided to close it after a few months. But I really enjoyed taking part. And I virtually strolled around in Greenland, Venice and Manchester on Google Earth. We were instructed to sit in front of the laptop and imagine being at the scene. Also, I had to use my travel sketching set and work to the same fairly short timetable as when outside. So I did! Actually, it felt a bit odd to start with. But I gradually relaxed into it. If you remember, the first Lockdown in the UK was very strict, and this was a way of getting out! At least in my imagination.
Going out sketching with Urbansketchers Yorkshire
Finally, I sketched this on Saturday when we ‘went’ to Knaresborough together in North Yorkshire. To tell the truth, as I looked up images of this charming place online I realised something. And I thought about how difficult it has been for many people never going more than a short distance from home. But, of course , keeping everyone as safe as possible is the priority. Anyway, I chose to draw the entrance to a famous visitor attraction in Knaresborough – Mother Shipton’s Cave. Apparently, she was a recluse who lived in a cave on this limestone river gorge. And she made a name for herself seeing into the future, the predictions being written down for us to see today.
And I completed the sketch quickly, with my basic watercolour set (see here) and I tried to imagine myself en plein air. It’s the next best thing to being there. Thank goodness for daydreaming! If you want to see my sketch of Wentworth Old Church ( within permitted visiting distance), see here .
Good morning everyone. Last week we had a really spectacular sunrise and this is my urban sketch, done through the window. Honestly, I think it was the most amazing sunrise sky I have ever seen. So, for quite a short period of time the red, gold and pink in the intense turquoise blue sky were glorious. What a beautiful planet we live on.
Actually I had just treated myself to a pack of cheap felt tip pens the day before. And I was very keen to try them out, especially as there were more colours in this selection. Normally I buy only the basics and try to blend them. But, having several shades of, for example, red, orange and yellow was much easier! And I used a very scribbly technique, similar to ones I’ve seen on Instagram.
Urban Sketching Postponed.
As you may know, I am a member of the Urban Sketchers Yorkshire but, obviously, our activities have been cut short by the pandemic. And I really miss the opportunity to go out into towns and cities with a group of art buddies. I seem to remember a lovely morning sketching on a high balcony above some market stalls. And the building itself is very interesting too – an ornate Victorian Market Hall in Leeds, UK. Left to my own devices I would always sketch in the countryside, as I did here in the country park . Therefore the urban sketchcrawls give me the encouragement to sketch buildings, churches, markets and streets.
Urban Sketching Through the Car Window
As you can probably tell, I sketched this in watercolour (about 20 minutes) in a very cold car. Well, you can have a good laugh at the cars, if you like!. But, in my own defence, I always avoid drawing them. So I think it was a brave first attempt to have them so prominent in this drawing. By the way, the weather here in the UK is quite cold and, of course all cafes are closed. So, any urban sketching outdoors has to be very brief or through the window!
Hello everyone. Well, we had a few fine days last week and I was able to get out for some fresh air. And we went to a couple of local beauty spots to enjoy the autumn landscapes. So, the image above is the view across Worsbrough Reservoir, looking towards the fields and hills beyond. Honestly, it was a feast for the eyes – soft, mellow brown, gold and russet. We were sitting in a nice sheltered spot and the gentle autumn sunshine kept my fingers warm as I sketched. (35 minutes)
Sketching Autumn Landscapes at Wentworth Castle Gardens
Another one of my autumn landscapes. This took me about 25 minutes. To be honest, it was quite difficult to isolate just one part of this view. Because the vista was huge, stretching from the stream at the bottom of the parkland and then up the hill. And, right at the top was the village and the church. As you can see, the trees in the parkland are beautifully placed. And, at this stage of autumn, all the leaves are now shades of brown. Really, I feel so very lucky to have such delightful countryside so close and accessible. Especially now that we are again in lockdown here in the UK. Personally I think it’s so important now to go outside, somewhere pleasant, if that’s possible. And just breathe and let your mind relax.
Plein Air Sketching with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire
This is a watercolour sketch I did last year when I went out with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. And what a lovely day it was! To explain, we sat outside on the terrace of a coffee shop and watched the crowds dash by. And I even tried my hand at frantically sketching figures as they wandered around the park and admired the fountains. But, that’s a skill that doesn’t come easily to me. And, now is not quite the time to practise it, for obvious reasons. Oh well, perhaps soon! Stay safe.
P.S. This area is just around the corner from the wonderful Millennium Gallery – click here to see an intriguing exhibition by a local artist from last year.
Hello everyone. Well, as promised, I’d like to show you my gouache painting now it’s finished. Yes, yet more gouache experiments ! Just to remind you, here I wanted to use the paint in the same way as I use acrylics. That is, applied quite thickly to the paper . And, also, using bigger more gestural brushstrokes. As you can see, I really enjoyed the freedom of using the paint this way. I could allow myself go to town on painting the shape of the rocks and pebbles in the path.
To be honest, I didn’t take this photo myself. But it reminded me so much of the seaside closest to where I live . The Yorkshire coast here in the UK can be quite spectacular with its steep cliffs and rock beaches. So, I must give a shout out to L J George for the permission to use this lovely photo, on the Artists Free Reference Photos Facebook page.
Yet More Gouache Experiments
Now, I must admit, this is not the best urban sketch style painting I have ever made. But I’d like to explain why I’m showing it. To explain, a couple of weeks ago, I met with two friends to go sketching en plein air. However, it was raining too heavily, so we went into a sweet, little cafe nearby. And we were chatting all the time, not having seen each other face to face for months. Bliss! But, when I got home, I was dying to do some sketching. And so I tried to recreate the scene from memory. As you can see, my visual memory is not so good! But, I’m sure the exercise must have been good for me. Click here to see a more successful urban sketch , drawn from life, outside, a few weeks ago in Wentworth.
The Experimental Bit
In this little painting , I tried to indicate that the trees through the window in the car park were obviously further away. And more indistinct than the figures and the furniture etc in the cafe. Also, I tried to indicate the shapes of the figures using deeper colours in the shading on the clothing. I know, just baby steps – but it sometimes feels like going back to the beginning ! And, my friend really did order a banana with her coffee !
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.
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 .
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.
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 !
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
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
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.
At last – I’m famous ! (Well , nearly ). Because there is now a magazine article showing my artworks. To explain, I am a member of the Barnsley U3A group. And this is a great , world wide organisation which is run entirely by volunteers of retirement age . In fact, we are called the University of the 3rd Age . Perhaps you have heard of us – our aim is learning, companionship and fun ! The group in my home town is fantastic . So when Derek , editor of our branch’s magazine asked permission to publish some of my paintings I quickly agreed !
To be honest, Derek had seen my work on this website, which is nice. Hopefully, you can read the text as it is a bit small. There are just over a thousand members in the group now , I think. And our magazine ‘ The Buzz ‘ is also published on our website see here .
More Paintings from the Magazine Article
These two images above were also featured in the magazine article. In addition to some details about the artist groups I belong to including Northern Fringe. Have a look at this post here to see our latest exhibition ‘Inspired ‘at the Ridings Centre, Wakefield. It’s about the third exhibition down.
To be honest, I did also promote Barnsley Art Society too. Although we are not very active at the moment, obviously. But you might be interested to have a look at our Facebook page here . Who knows , if you are nearby , you may like to take part in our arty activities when we start up again.
Of course, I didn’t forget to say some nice things about the U3A group too ! And they were all quite sincere. Actually . I belong to the painting group which we attend each week. And I also really enjoy the drawing group which inspires me to practise drawing skills . In actual fact , I really do need the practice ! Finally, I’d like to say a big Thank You to Derek for putting together a great Autumn issue during Lockdown ( especially the bit with my feature! )
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 .
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 .
At last ! I managed to get out on a sketch crawl with some art buddies . In effect , we hadn’t seen each other since March . Because , naturally , our indoor sketch group had been closed down back at the beginning of Lockdown . So we sat in the churchyard on our own garden chairs , properly distanced , of course . It was bliss to sit together and to just sketch the surroundings . Honestly , I don’t know why it’s more enjoyable to sketch in a group. But it really is . Possibly because you can inspire each other to greater efforts. And , as you might imagine , some people have more confidence when they are not alone . Finally, there is the pleasure of looking at each others work , at the end of the session.
In the Churchyard at the Old Holy Trinity Church at Wentworth village , South Yorkshire
Well , you can see how beautiful the church is , with the glow of the mellowed sandstone in the sunshine But we were sitting in the churchyard a bit further back , looking out through the trees in the green shade .
Unfortunately , the church was closed when we were there last week . But , I have been inside and it is very impressive, in a quiet , atmospheric way . Anyway, this is the tomb of two members of the Wentworth family which is inside the old church. Obviously , a very important local family- the family that the village is named after .You can find out more about the church here
Another Wentworth Tomb
You can find this tomb sculpture in another , beautiful local church – All Saints at Silkstone village , a few miles away . This couple are Sir Thomas Wentworth and his wife .In order to complete this acrylic painting, I sketched this sculpture in the church first when on a sketchcrawl with some art buddies. And then I used some of my own photos as well for reference when I was painting this acrylic back home . After that , I did a watercolour sketch too , whilst sitting outside , in the churchyard. So , as you can see , I really do find these places very inspiring , especially when in good company ! This painting was on display in my first solo exhibition, back in January – see here . If you look closely , you can see Mike , the curator at Skelmanthorpe Gallery, hanging this picture on the wall !
At last ! I managed to do some urban sketching in watercolour outside from life (well , from the car window). And the house really was painted green ! To be honest , I didn’t realise how much I would miss painting from life and going out with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. Well , this took 20 minutes for the watercolour sketch and a little finish off at home with a fineliner . That’s because I like my plein air sketches to keep that freshness. And so I tend not to do too much ‘ editing ‘ afterwards .
This is a great idea – Virtual Sketch on Facebook. Actually , you can do this in real time ( or afterwards) and go on a virtual trip . In fact , there are lots of locations in Greenland or other countries to choose from . Then you pause the sequence and sketch . Here is my quick watercolour sketch of Sisimut harbour. Honestly , I enjoyed sketching it ( 30 minutes ) and, for a moment or two I felt like I was really there ! If you check this out , there are lots of interesting places around the world to choose from .
Urban Sketching in Watercolour in a Brewery
You might remember that this was the last Urban Sketchers trip I went on , to a brewery in Saltaire. As you can see , I was really into my stride with this one back in February. But I feel quite out of practice now. So you might like to have a look at this post from February . Because it’s all about the Saltaire trip and my pen and wash sketch. See here
Just to explain , I did this pen drawing through the art gallery window, looking down at the lovely church and churchyard right in the middle of town . And I drew this straight in with a marker pen which gives it a fresh and lively look but doesn’t leave much room for error .
Sketching in Pen on a Collage Background
And , to finish off with , a pen and ink sketch done last year while drinking a cup of coffee in a shopping centre cafe . I think this is urban sketching at its best . Those were the days ! Perhaps this is something for us all to look forward to in these days of Social Distancing . Meanwhile , take care .
p.s – here is one I did this morning as part of a lovely walk around the park. Actually , it took me 20 minutes. And , I think I might use it as a basis for an acrylic painting, concentrating on the different layers of greens , yellows and browns. So you see , there’s no time to be bored when you’re an artist !
This is just a quick post – I wanted to share with you a watercolour sketch I did this weekend . I spent the day with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. We went to the fabulous Salts Mill ,at Saltaire near Bradford , a World Heritage site. But , first of all , we spent the morning in a craft brewery urban sketching, looking down on the factory from a balcony. See here for some great photos of the Beer Factory.
Well, I did my usual pen sketch and I realised how many gorgeous patterns there were in the view . So , when adding watercolour , I started to emphasize and exaggerate the abstract shapes. At the moment , I’m concentrating on abstract composition in my acrylic painting so I’m a bit obsessed ! But this is the first time I’ve actually put one together while ‘ one the spot ‘ so to speak. This could be addictive !
I used some of the new techniques I’ve learned – putting more contrast in the design and trying to harmonize the colours.
I’ll post something a bit longer soon , when I’ve a bit more time, all about a great exhibition I saw in Sheffield .
Have a look here for more of my urban sketching at Saltaire and other places !