Good morning everyone. Last Saturday I went out with my art buddies for a day of plein air sketching in Greasebrough. And we walked from the village down a narrow walled path. Actually I guess that it had been created many years ago as a direct path to the church. Then we walked through a beautiful flower meadow and arrived at the end of the dam.
As you can see, the water level is quite low, we haven’t had any rain for a few weeks. But the view was still beautiful.
At this point, I tried to zoom in a bit with my eyes. Otherwise, the vista was very wide – I often end up trying to draw the whole world on a small sketchbook page! When I got back home, I zoomed in with my camera and you can see here what I was aiming at.
So here is the quick watercolour sketch (40 mins) that I produced.
By the way, the sun was very strong in a cloudless sky and the glare made it difficult to judge colours. But we all pressed on and it was a delight to be in such a lovely place together painting. After painting this, I rewarded myself with a cup or two of strong coffee from my flask. Also, a little sweet pastry! What a gorgeous day to be out plein air sketching in Greasebrough.
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 !
This is just a short post today . And , I’d like to tell you a little bit about the fantastic huge sculpture of a cockerel at Yorkshire Sculpture Park , sculpture in the open air.
This beautiful monumental installation is part of the exhibition by renowned Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos . It’s covered in brightly coloured ceramic tiles and it is a symbol of Portugal . As far as I could see, it brought a smile to the face of everyone who looked at it. And that includes me ! And , best of all , it’s sculpture in the open air.
Do you know , it was absolutely wonderful to go out and see some art . Although we had to pre-book our tickets , it was quite easy to do on-line. Of course , we wore our masks when inside the gallery spaces and the main reception area. Honestly , I think it is second nature now to manoeuvre yourself around others in public spaces. And , more importantly , most people are quite polite. In short , I think it is a small price to pay in order to have the pleasure of seeing art face-to-face.
We sat on the lovely shady cafe terrace with coffee and cake . And it was very pleasant to sit under the trees and look out over the parkland at the monumental installation . Then I took out my sketchbook and watercolours to do a twenty minute sketch. So , if you look closely, you can see a figure . I think he is trying to get a good photo on his phone . Anyway , it gives an idea of the scale of the piece . Just watch out for a post with more detail on this glorious sculpture in the open air . ( See more of my bird art here )
We went for a lovely walk last Friday at Worsbrough Mill .The day was very hot , so this shady spot was just perfect for open air sketching . I always carry a small sketching kit when I go into the countryside . For me , sketching means using watercolour with perhaps a simple pencil or pen sketch first . But quite often I draw with the paintbrush to get everything into position and then , the best bit , add the colour .This took about twenty minutes .You see , the idea is , not to produce the best finished sketch you ever did , but to make an on the spot record of the scene .
Outdoor Sketching Kit
It’s quite simple really , I fill a medium sized pencil case with a few pens and pencils , plus an eraser and a sharpener . Then I take my little watercolour set . It has twelve colours and the lid of the case is my palette. Three brushes is enough , I find . I use a little plastic travel bottle with screw top for water . The sketch books I take are mainly decent watercolour paper , two different sizes : 10 by 7 inch or , my favourite, 8 by 5 inches .This is quite small , I know , but then there is a good chance of getting the painting finished .
This is a simple phone snap , nothing fancy , just something to record the scene . I can also refer to it if I decide to use this little study and paint a larger picture of the subject in watercolour or acrylic .
The reservoir as Hokusai might have painted it .
There’s a long story attached to this painting – for all the details , seehere . But the short version is : this is my favourite beauty spot re-imagined with ‘The Great Wave ‘ appearing on it . It’s my tribute to the great Japanese artist Hokusai ( 1760 – 1849). Just to end on a lighter , more whimsical note !
Why do we do open air sketching ?
Good question .Firstly, I love the freshness of my work when I paint with the subject directly in front of me ( not from a photo ) . Secondly , finishing it quickly like this improves my drawing skills . And , of course , it’s really enjoyable !
This is my latest mixed media experiment an abstract composition using collage, acrylic , watercolour and oil pastel . In fact , there’s even some marker and pencil in there – although the pencil might be a mistake as it is too shiny. I wonder , do you happen to know how how to apply a few sharp , precise marks over mixed media layers without using pencil ? Because I’d love to know . Anyway, I don’t really know what I’ve painted here . It was quite instinctive really . But I think it has something to do with wanting to escape from the anxiety and threat of this virus ! And it’s painted on brown paper which I bought at David Hockney’s Gallery on a trip to Saltaire ( more of that later ) .
The toned paper in this case is a rather nice brown paper. You see , I have admired other sketching friends’ drawings on brown paper sketchpads so I bought one . However, I don’t really like the effect of acrylic paint on this paper . Perhaps it was the colours I chose . But they don’t seem to have the sparkle that I like when I use white paper.
Sketching on Brown Toned Paper – the Hockney Gallery Connection
Now for the interesting par – I bought this sketchpad at David Hockney’s gallery at Saltaire . At the time , I was taking part in an Urban Sketchers crawl back in February. Maybe you remember my post all about it . Anyway , we spent the morning in a small brewery/pub and I sketched the brewing equipment in mixed media . As you can see , I used pen , pencil and watercolour . See my blog post here
To be honest , it was great fun – perhaps one day soon Urbansketchers Yorkshire will be able to meet up again .
David Hockney’s Gallery at the Saltaire World Heritage Site, Shipley , near Bradford , UK
Salt’s Mill is actually a complex of woollen mill buildings established by Titus Salt . Also , he built the model village alongside it in the 1850’s . In effect , the village included neat, tidy terraced cottages , a church and a Sunday school . And then there were allotments , a school , a park and much more alongside the river Aire . Really , it’s quite fascinating, so go and have a look if you get the chance .
The downstairs floor of Salt’s Mill shows an exhibition of earlier Hockney artwork . Do you know, David Hockney was born and brought up in Bradford , just down the road from Saltaire .The downstairs floor is also where you can find the art shop where I bought the toned paper sketchpad . And , upstairs there’s a museum room about the history of the factory . But the star of the show is the David Hockney Gallery. In fact , it now displays some recent work from the Spring exhibition of locations in East Yorkshire . This , of course , is where the artist used to live . Enough said , just have a look at the fabulous pictures !
The Coming of Spring in Yorkshire – 2011 in David Hockney’s Gallery
Our First Visit
The first time we visited the gallery was thirty years ago . And we were lucky enough to see the large drawing that David was sending by fax across from California ! The drawing was arriving piece by piece. Then the very large drawing was re-assembled from pieces of copy paper and displayed on the wall . This was revolutionary at the time . I love the way this artist always enjoys using the latest technology to create his work .
These ‘paintings ‘ are all actually prints of iPad drawings and I think they are absolutely stunning ! I hope that you have enjoyed my little exhibition review .
This acrylic painting , along with the other two I will show you, were chosen to be on display in a ‘Springtime in Yorkshire ‘ exhibition . And , this would have taken place at Skelmanthorpe Gallery featuring local artists ,in the month of April . But , of course , the exhibition was cancelled due to social isolation . This painting shows a sweet view of my allotment, complete with gardener and a row of daffodils , my favourite spring flowers .
I’ve just started working in the veg garden (a little bit late I know ) . For example , today I sowed rocket and radish seeds . Then I picked a stir fry of little shoots and things for dinner.
This painting was proving to be quite popular with my art friends and supporters and would have been for sale . But, they didn’t get to see it , nicely framed and in a gallery setting.
It’s bluebell time at the moment here in Yorkshire, UK . Of course , this makes all the little pieces of woodland around us shimmer with that heavenly blue. So perfect for a vibrant , colourful painting .
Spring Flowers in the Big Rockery – Springtime in Yorkshire
I must confess , Snowdrops in the Big Rockery is one of my favourite paintings .Probably because we often go walking in the grounds and park at Wentworth Castle Gardens and I love the place . So this painting shows the very end of winter and the beginning of spring last year. If you look carefully, you can see small clumps of snowdrop flowers, shining in the low light of late afternoon. If you would like to see more of my flower paintings , look here .
I was really looking forward to seeing all the original artwork from my fellow artists for this exhibition – Springtime in Yorkshire. Alas , it didn’t happen , but , maybe next year ! I hope that you enjoyed my exhibition review .
Local Artist’s Story Pictures at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield
I went to see a great exhibition at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield a couple of weeks ago . And it was called Nomadic Tales by Richard Bartle , including lots of story pictures .
Honesty , we were so delighted to be able to walk round with Richard himself . Because he told us the fascinating stories behind his huge paintings . As you can see , they were painted on canvas material , just like banners . I know that Richard took inspiration from the medieval illustrations of a 14th century artist and storyteller Siyah Kalem . Interestingly, the artist used the motifs of men and demons in his paintings . In this way , he could comment on the everyday life of the nomadic tribes .He concentrated mainly on those who lived on the Silk Road in Asia .
Living in Istanbul
Richard lives part of the year in Istanbul , Turkey. And he has put his own interpretation of the life and political turmoil of the area into his story pictures .
Its a really inspiring show – try and catch it if you are in the area . So , I hope you enjoyed my exhibition review !
To tell the truth , I do enjoy painting story pictures myself . And , funnily enough , I painted the story of how the secret of making silk was smuggled out of China . Actually, it was done by a Chinese princess . To explain , she hid the silkworms and cocoons in her huge headdress , according to the legend . ( See more Story Pictures here )
My Story Pictures
This is a romantic version of history , of course . But I am also drawn to putting social comment into my pictures . In fact , I have painted a series particularly highlighting the problems of women in our modern world . Just like this one in the image below.
This one ‘ Caged Bird ‘ was painted for the exhibition ‘Vote 100 – a Century of Change ‘ for the Cooper Gallery ,Barnsleyhere .Now , the exhibition was last year and all about the suffragettes and their struggles to get the vote . Incidentally, I was lucky enough to sell this one to a lovely lady at the exhibition !
Women in Modern Society
As you can see , in this painting , I explored the idea of the restricted lives that some women lead . Subsequently , I followed this theme over quite a few paintings . And I sort of brought it to a conclusion with this last one below ‘ Women in Chaos ‘ . Here I show a woman trying to deal with all the pressures and problems modern life can throw at us .
Perhaps this is pretty heavy stuff – I suppose it is . But I like all kinds of art . And that means including the kind that really makes you think and I particularly enjoy a story picture.
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 !