Sketches from Heritage Open Day

Open Door at St. Mary’s

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!

The View Towards the Altar

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.

Patterns and Colours in the Church

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.

My New Silver Birch Painting

Silver Birch Wood

Good morning everyone. This is my new silver birch painting in gouache. Well, I thought it was about time I created my version of the silver birch woodland scene. Of course, I wanted to make mine a little bit different from the many excellent dark, atmospheric paintings I have seen. So I went for a feeling of slender tree trunks, shimmering in the hazy light. And, the colour of the grass is sharp and bright, just like it is after a shower. As for the sky, I exaggerated the mauve tones, to please myself actually! But, it really makes me want to step into the picture and see what is round the bend in the path!

Silver Birch Wood – a closeup

By the way, I am starting to feel a little bit more confident with gouache paint now, at long last! In fact, I do like painting with it very much. And, I am getting used to the way it moves around on the page and how the colours settle after a while. But, it can still surprise me when one colour can ‘merge’ into another over night! And that’s what happened to these silver birches with the white highlighting. As regards the shift in colour as they dry, I suppose it is becoming a little more instinctive. And, I must have gone through this when learning how to handle acrylic paint. However, I probably forgot about the learning stage as soon as I was through it. But, I must say I am now trying a different type of paper, a more smooth finish. And I’ll show you the first painting when I’ve finished it.

Painting Trees

Finally, you must have noticed how much I love painting trees, see this post here . So here are one or two examples. Firstly in watercolour and pen and then in oil pastel and watercolour.

A Tree in Outline
The Big Tree in my Garden

My Brand New Bright Watercolours

Pumpkin Time

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

View over the Bay

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!

Another Purple and Yellow Abstract

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!

Pumpkin Time

My Sketchbooks Over the Years

The View from Patterdale Hotel

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.

Place Fell, from Patterdale Hotel

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!

A Lake View

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.

Plein Air Painting in Cumbria

Inside Brougham Hall

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

Haweswater

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.

Industry and Yorkshire, New Exhibition

A Long Shift

Good morning everyone. If you follow this blog, perhaps you may know that I belong to a great group called Northern Fringe Gallery. And we have just decided to start a new group project ‘Industry and Yorkshire’. However, that’s only a working title, this project will probably evolve as it goes along.

Anyway, this is my version of a very evocative black and white photo from a book all about coal mining. Actually, my dad was a miner all his life, but not quite in conditions like these, thank goodness! Well, I painted this a few years ago, but I think it fits our theme very well. So I had it framed all ready for our show. Now have a look at the second one.

The Wool market at the Piece Hall

In fact, I have posted this watercolour painting before, see here. However, I’ll just explain that this World Heritage site in Halifax was originally a place where weavers sold their cloth. And, because the cloth was called a ‘piece’ that’s the origin of the name, Piece Hall. So you can see why I chose this for the theme. By the way, weaving was a very big industry in West Yorkshire, just as we were all about coal mining here in South Yorkshire where I live. However, spinning and weaving were also practised here too and my auntie worked in a wool spinning mill.

Of course, I shall paint a couple more for the show too. But, more of that later!

What Inspires You to Paint?

Golden

Good morning everyone. What inspires you to paint or create? Actually, this is what we were discussing yesterday on our Art Society trip. In fact, we went to the town gallery to study and sketch the gorgeous drawings and sculptures of local artist Graham Ibbeson here . And over good strong coffee and delicious scones, the conversation turned to how we feel inspired.

So, one of my art buddies likes to take elements from an old master painting and work them into his surreal style of painting. Another friend likes to try out different media and styles for inspiration. And I talked about seeing an image in my mind’s eye, out of the blue. And then using it as the basis for a painting, which is exactly what happened here. Because I saw vaguely hexagonal shapes, the golden colour of honey and beautiful purple.

Incidentally, after I had thought about using this image for my post, it reminded me of another intuitive abstract. Also the inspiration for this earlier one had just come to me as an arrangement of shapes and colours. Usually when I’m half asleep or daydreaming.

Golden, original

Well, I do have ideas about other kinds of paintings too, this was just for abstract composition. But I’ll maybe talk about that in another post. If you want to see some more intuitive abstract paintings, see this post here. Anyway, what inspires you to paint?

Look at this Small Abstract

Big Brain

Hi everyone. This is a very short post indeed, all about a small abstract. To be honest, I’m so busy at the moment, gardening and arty business. Not to mention just running my life! Anyway, I just couldn’t stand missing my art fix another day. So I found my small drawing pad, watercolour kit and a few pencils, oil pastels etc. And then let a few colours run into each other. Next I added some small, precise marks and accents. And all this without a single conscious thought, a small abstract. Afterwards, I found out which way up I preferred it. Only then did I notice a head in profile and I had a strong idea come into my head! Namely, we need someone with a brain this big to get us out of the mess we are all in. Well, on that cheerful note, I’ll sign off and hope to write a longer, more optimistic post soon. (There is a more cheery abstract here !)

A Holiday in the Dales

Kilnsey Crag

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!

Quiet Churchyard in Grassington

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.

Clitheroe Castle Keep

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.

One More Quick Watercolour Abstract

Golden

Good morning everyone. I’m very busy at the moment, arranging exhibitions, visiting galleries and so on. So I don’t seem to have had much time to do any bigger painting projects. And I have also been finishing art society projects. Not to mention planting things at the allotment garden. But I did complete this quick watercolour abstract, thank goodness. As you may know, I hate leaving work unfinished. Anyway, this is quick abstract number 8. Actually, for this one I had a picture in my mind beforehand of hexagonal shapes. And, that along with the golden colour made me think of the shape of honeycomb. However, that was as far as the similarity went. As I painted, I got more interested in blending the gold and mauve together harmoniously. Of course, these two produce a range of soft browns. Therefore, brown was my third colour – I prefer to restrict myself to a few colours in abstract work now.

Areas of soft blending in my quick abstract

Then I decided to do the surface pattern over the soft background. On another day, in a ten minute slot of free time. Perhaps you can see that I used oil pastel, coloured pencil and markers for this stage. Frankly, the problem is knowing when to stop! Well, I added an accent of red and scribbled in some small pattern with black ink. Incidentally, I don’t think I am quite finished with this idea, so I may visit it again. Possibly with acrylic paint this time. As you may have seen on this post here, I am quite fond of the yellow and purple combination!

Finally, I can’t sign off without a mention that our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition ‘Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers ‘ opens tomorrow at Skelmanthorpe Library Gallery. And it’s presented by Village Art. To be honest, this is the third venue on our tour! And this is one of my pieces – Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse near Haworth. Widely agreed to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, the famous novel by Emily Bronte.

Top Withens

New Painting at Halifax Gallery

Warm Afternoon in Queensland

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.

The Piece Hall, Halifax

If you’re in the area, please join us at the opening event on Saturday 25th June, 5 till 7pm.

Three More Quick Little Abstracts

Quick Abstract 5

Good morning everyone. I’m showing you a catch up post about my series of quick little abstracts. Well, if I call them a series it makes it sound more serious! But it’s really because I’m so busy at the moment, and only seem to have time for small works. In retrospect, in this one I must have been greatly influenced by dark thoughts about the war in Ukraine. Perhaps it’s a cliche, but the red looks like blood to me, with something scary raining down on the city from above. Actually, I mentioned in my last post in this series that I only notice these things after the sketch is finished.

Quick Abstract 6

In fact, you may have seen this watercolour sketch before, as I included it in my post about our holiday in Scarbrough here. And I painted it after having paddled in the cold North Sea. Honestly, I found it fascinating to spot the different patterns created by the receding tide on the shore. So I had a lot of scope for decorative patterns in ink over the top of the background.

Quick Abstract 7

Finally I painted this one after a day’s work at the allotment garden, Where I immersed myself in greenery, vegetation etc. Obviously, I don’t have to tell all you gardeners out there about the rapid growth. And how all plants grow so quickly in the UK at this time of year. Admittedly, we have to work very hard weeding and cutting back, but it’s quite glorious really. If you want to see more of the greenery in my plot of land, look here. Just another one of my quick little abstracts for the series.

Some Beautiful Old Stone Buildings

Kirkham Priory

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.

Conisbrough Castle

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.

See my Small Watercolour Abstracts

Doodle 3

Good morning everyone. This is a quick catchup post, just to show you more of my small watercolour abstracts. Well, I’m still producing quite a few of these. And I’ve noticed that they definitely reflect my painting interests and colour choices at the time. But I don’t notice this till afterwards! For example, in this one above I’m exploring more restrained and sparse patterns, as a contrast to the busier designs of the previous little abstracts seen here.

Doodle 4

On the other hand, I noticed after I had completed this one above that it was connected to my current large acrylic. And also, the softer colours and bold black calligraphic marks are in the style on my online course. Who knew? Actually, my subconscious painting brain surprises me more every day, especially in my small watercolour abstracts!

Doodle 4 – a closeup

A Day by the Sea

North Landing, Flamborough

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.

The Tide

See my Spare Time Abstracts

Doodle 1

Good morning everyone. I think the title says it all, really, because I’m very busy at the moment. And, this is all the art I can manage to fit in at present – spare time abstracts! Actually, I saw a few things online about doodling, which seems to be very popular just now. But, to be honest, I’ve been scribbling little designs and patterns all my life. So, it seems to be quite natural to me. However, I noticed lots of ideas suggesting doing these small drawings over a background of watercolour marks. So, nothing could be easier, I use my little travel set of colours and it dries fast. Then, a little bundle of markers to choose from, and off I go!

Although, I must say the notion of using lots of surface pattern over paint is still new to me. But, that’s the fun part. And, as most of my marker pens are waterproof, it seems natural to add a bit more emphasis on top with thicker paint. Next, I have a look at the design for any ugly bits and correct them. And now I’ve done another spare time abstract! Right, back to the allotment gardening! There is some more fun doodling in this post here, using a slightly different technique.

Doodle 2

Bad Planning and Good Planning

Peace

Good morning everyone. Today I wanted to show you this abstract design, which required quite a lot of planning. Obviously, it’s just a modest little watercolour abstract painting, but, first I had to think hard about the background. You see, I kept the colours soft so there is not too much eye catching contrast. At the same time, I introduced a subtle sense of movement with the white paint. Honestly, I really had to restrain myself from adding loads of busyness all over the place! Anyway, I achieved it and now I could choose a motif to put over the top. But, what to choose? Not wanting to experiment on the page, I used my I pad trick and scribbled a few ideas over the image on the screen. After a few tries, I settled on a mandala.

The I pad trick

So then I felt confident enough to paint my mandala in black paint (don’t laugh, it’s an abstract one!) Actually, I haven’t got the skill or the patience to paint a good one. However, I think it’s quite effective. And the main point of the exercise for me is to take some time and thought when planning an abstract.

Peace

Bad Planning

Sunny Morning

Next, here is a glorious example of bad planning, more like my usual style! Here’s the story, l wandered into my ‘studio’ after showering one morning. And there was the usual view over the roofs, all bathed in gentle sunshine. Well, I couldn’t resist grabbing a pad and a black marker for a quick sketch. Then I used my new oil pastel pencils for the colour which didn’t of course cover the lines. So, not the best laid plan, but a real delight to record my response then and there! To sum up, I suppose I think that there is a time for careful planning and also for spontaneous response. Maybe you missed another quick response I made to this view, in a spectacular winter sunrise last year here.

Look at my Framed Abstracts

Up

Good morning everyone. I finished this small watercolour painting yesterday and, with a bit of magic, it’s now one of my new framed abstracts. Isn’t science wonderful? Only a few minutes work, and there it is , in a frame and on the wall of a virtual room!

Up in the Dining Room

Not only does it boost my confidence to see my work displayed on the wall. But also I can then easily assess the work and make mental notes how to progress in the next one.

Perhaps you might not be aware, but I can see quite a lot of influence here from the Painting with Yvette course I am following. For example, the general movement of the colour red across the paper. Also, I have used both thin, washy paint and more thickly applied coats in this composition. In addition, I have applied patches of fine surface pattern on the top layer. Obviously, this might not be all that easy to see in these images of one of my framed abstracts. But, close up it is more effective and I learned all this from this excellent course.

In the Shadows

Finally, I couldn’t resist ‘hanging’ this little abstract on the wall. And I like the way the dark, moody colour of the background complements the mysterious feeling of the painting. In fact, when I look at it now, I think of a passage back into the light from a dark place, perhaps a cave? However, it was an intuitive composition, with no planning beforehand. If you would like to see more of my abstract work, see here.

Drawing the Figure in Movement

Figure in Movement

Good morning everyone. This is another page in the art journaling course Sketchbook Revival by Karen Abend. And I really enjoyed this tutorial by Barbara Baumann all about the gestural method of sketching the figure. That is, concentrating on the figure in movement. Basically, you sketch out the direction of the limbs, the torso and the head. Most importantly you study the angles of the tilt of the head and torso. Also, the direction of the outstretched arms and legs. Obviously the photo reference for this sketch was ideal – the pose was quite extreme. Also, unbelievably high off the ground!

The Proportions of the Body

After that, the really hard part! To be honest, I already knew about planning out the shoulders, elbows and knees as circles. But in the lesson I learned about the shapes of the upper and lower torso. And that is new to me and extremely helpful. In addition, I appreciated the tips about creating a background of dynamic lines and splodges. In my opinion is does suggest the figure in movement, which is not easy.

Ballerina in Flight

As you may know if you follow my blog, I have attended life drawing classes for a few years now. And I’ll finish up with one of my favourite drawings, done from life when we were also thinking about Matisse. In fact, a lot of his later cut- out work is very gestural. So, here’s my tribute to that great French artist. Actually, you could see more of my paintings of the figure in People, a section of my gallery.

Model in Blue

Two Paintings from my Archive

The Road to the Mountains

Good morning everyone. As part of my grand tidy-up, I looked through this old sketchbook to check for any empty pages. And I found these two paintings from my archive. Admittedly, I am not very organised, I have several sketchbooks on the go at once, with no particular plan! But the time comes when I must fill them up and put them away. Actually, I found that I had filled up this book and, in the process, I discovered these two mixed media pieces.

Over the Bay

Although I love them both, I must confess that I can barely remember doing them! Except, I do recall that it was round about the time that I was busy experimenting with coloured pencils. Perhaps six or seven years ago, possibly. And, me being me, I also couldn’t refrain from using watercolour pencil, oil pastel and marker pen too! Anyway, I am certain that I drew them from postcards or magazine cut-outs, not plein air. However, when I examine them now, I can clearly see bits that remind me of places I love to draw from life. For example, Over the Bay is definitely influenced by the hours I have spent looking and sketching at the Bay at Scarbrough on the north east coast of Yorkshire.

As for the mountain one, I can see in it the vegetation that grows on the moorland around where I live. So, I do remember happy days when I look at these paintings from my archive after all! You could see some more evocative landscape paintings in my gallery here.

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