The walk from Grassington via Linton along the River Wharf in either direction is always worthwhile. I have many sketches and photos of this site. We haven’t had snow yet this year but I remember this evening light and thought it would make a good subject. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
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This year I have managed to be so busy I have only just got around to posting about our early autumn break in the last week of September at Askrigg. We were blessed with good weather on all but one day and I concentrated on walking but dodmanage a couple of pleinair sketches and one indoor study on the one rainy day.
14×10 on 140lb Rough, Watercolour, Plein Air, AllaPrima
We went to Richmond to be fitted up with Altberg Boots. Kate’s arrived last week – mine will take a bit longer, it turns out that there is a full size difference between my left and right foot (so for a small extra I have a 7 1/2 right and 8 1/2 left arriving). Anyway, painting, after the fitting I managed to find a sheltered spot on the river looking towards the town and spent a happy couple of hours on this sketch.
16×12 on 140lb Rough, Mixed media/watercolour
Spent the afternoon by the window in the flat working this up from my photographs of a walk round Semer Water.
Old barn overlooked by Addelbrough
14×10 on 140lb Rough, Mixed media/watercolour, PleinAir,AllaPrima
This was a great afternoon for painting, though rather chilly as the sun went down. It is on the footpath which continues up to Askrigg Pasture just northwest of the village, near Leas House. It was partly cloudy but when the sun came out the shadows were long and pronounced. It was the shadows on the barn the that caught my attention. I managed to get into position mid afternoon and paint through.
This year we managed to join up our regular trips to the Lakes, SW and Isles of Scilly, we were away for most of June, clocked up 130 miles of walking and I managed to do quite a bit of sketching and painting. We generally had good weather but were slightly ahead of the heat wave, the week in Cornwall was OK for walking but we suffered front mist and our flight to Scilly was cancelled because of low visibility. We were transferred to the Scillonian and sailed from Penzance on the same day but our late start had to be replaced with a 5-30am get up.
Here are the highlights
The Lake District (1st to 10th June)
We had a week at Ullswater and 3 days near Grange-over-Sands.
16×12 on 140lb Rough, Mixed media, Watercolour, Plein Air, Alla Prima
This is a great place to get a panorama of the mountains at south of the lake, its an area of rough ground east of Pooley Bridge just below the course of High Street Roman Road. We walked the entire stretch of high street from the peak of the same name to Pooley Bridge on 4th June, this painting captures some of the lighting from that day, although I returned to the site and did it on site on the 6th.
Coniston Range from Backbarrow
10×7 on 140lb Rough, Mixed media, Watercolour, Plein Air, Alla Prima
This sketch was completed in about 45 minutes on an extended lunch stop. It was in full sun.
Lake District Notebook
The Southwest (11th to 20th June)
On our way from the Lake District we stopped at Monksilver near Minehead for 2 days and then moved on to Duloe Manor near Looe in Cornwall. Both the larger paintings were completed at the apartment on on drizzly, misty days – not terrible for going out but with poor visibility, flat light and too wet to paint outside. So long as I can be in a place long enough to get some preliminary sketches down with accompanying photos before such a day happens it’s a really good way to fill the day when the weather is not so kind. Not saying I like bad weather on holiday but its not a disaster unless its really bad (see my blog post “Between the Showers, December 2015).
16×12 on 140lb Rough, Mixed media, Watercolour, Alla Prima
I complied this study from sketches and a number of costal path photographs. This was a planned work, I worked out the lighting and approach in my notebook. I wanted strong contrasts and to create a feeling of walking into the view. There are sections of the costal path where you would think you were in woodland – this was one such section on the coast from Polkerris to Gribbin Head. (Incidentally the crab sandwiches at the Rashleigh Inn are reason enough to go). I reserved the foreground plants with masking fluid and made liberal use of wax crayons for the less focussed areas of foliage. Wax resist is a standard watercolour technique, I like to use a complementary colour which will come through on rough paper it gives a similar effect to adding pastel on a dry surface, it look detailed at first glance but is actually quite loose.
14×10 on 140lb Rough, Watercolour & Ink, Alla Prima
Stayed here a number of times and painted both the house and gardens before. This was a new aspect – the view point is the archway between the newer apartments. The gardeners made a good job of the flower beds and the evening sun lit up and shadowed the buildings in an engaging way.
I really got into fishing boats this year
Isles of Scilly (21st to 26th June)
This year the weather in Scilly (after our arrival in fog) was exceptional, perhaps a bit windy at times but full sun and not the oppressive temperatures being experienced back in Leeds. We enjoyed the walking so much I was mostly limited to quick sketching – we even managed to go swimming twice.
Cypress Trees at Innisidgen
14×10 on 140lb Rough, Watercolour with Ink
The bump on the end of the promontory is the site of the Innisidgen bronze age burial chamber. This is the beach were we went swimming. The beach itself is behind this small headland and flanked at the other end by an outcrop of rocks which mark the natural boundary on St, Mary’s between The Road and Crow Sound. This little stretch of beach – not enough of an inlet to qualify as a cove is thus sheltered from the strong currents and within its protection there is an area of water where you can be out of your depth and still be close in to the shore. We were lucky to be there at the top of the tide, after the sand had been warming up all day – even so in June it is still a bracing experience.
I did a fairly detailed notebook sketch whilst I was drying out on Sunday 24th, then on the last day I managed to get down the bare bones of a more considered painting which was subsequently completed back home. I am always attracted to the shapes trees make against the skyline especially when the trunks as well as the tops are silhouetted. Viewed from the beach, this is a natural composition, with the few clouds and the strong shadows cast by the afternoon sun on the rocks, cliffs (about 6’ – topsoil), bracken and trees making a converging V shape. I wanted to capture the essence of the scene and was very caution about the added detail.
Pen and wash field studies
The following were completed out and about.
And the Notebook Extracts from Scilly
And some people watching
Interesting week – we beat the weather (it snowed in Leeds, people in Spain appear to have had bad weather). In this week we had 2 really good days and only 2 with rain and low visibility; at this time of year that means get some walking in. It was generally too showery for plein air painting so this year I have come back with some fairly detailed sketches in the book and two watercolour landscapes worked up in the flat. I was able to set up next to the patio windows and get reasonable light to work in and I can just look out of the window for reference material!
This is primarily watercolour with quite a lot of ink. 12×16.
I captured a lot a material on a walk from Keswick to Ashness and then crossed Falcon and Walla Crags. The light was changing all the time with sun, rain, snow and sleet all mixed together. This was the inspiration for the landscape – a squall but with sunlight on large parts of the fells
Pure watercolour 12×16 M
The best walk in Loweswater does not go round the lake – the road to Mockerkin and Lamplugh runs along the south shore, so the better walk is from the car park just outside the village. It goes out via Nook Farm – up the valley between Black Cragg and Carling Knott and runs along the top of Holme Wood before descending to Iredale Place. The path then runs along the north shore and returns to the car park via Watergate Farm. This view is looking south east across Hudson Place towards Grassmore and Buttermere Fell – again I was struck by the mixture of bright sunlight and shadows.
And from the notebook;
I have been working in the studio using photos and sketches made on autumn walks.
Gannets at Bempton II
This was painted on request for my niece Caroline. She had seen the earlier picture I did for cousin Christine and liked it so much she wanted a version of it, the Flamborough cliffs are her favourite stretch of coastline so how could I refuse! I couldn’t however just do a copy so another visit to Bempton and this time concentrated on the views looking North instead of south. The way these huge birds catch the updraught on the cliffs never fails to impress and inspire – its one of the best wildlife gigs in the country right on our doorstep.
River Wharfe near Grassington
This painting developed out of a walk from Grassington, with customary photographs and a sketch. This this is just before the path turns up hill towards Grass Wood. It was one of those lovely cold but sunny days.
An autumn trip to Askrigg has now become a regular event. The weather was mixed, sometimes too wet for using watercolour outside. However the three pictures presented here were all done, at least in part, en plein air. The degree of finish reflects the time I had available (and how cold I got before I gave in).
First up, two views of the village
Askrigg 1 – Above the village looking south
Mixed media, watercolour, inks, pastel, 14×10, plein air foundation, finished inside (5 hours in total).
I love the backdrop provided by Addleborough, this was a very windy day. I set out about 4-00pm using the field wall as shelter and was able to get the long evening shadows and the iridescent light when the almost vertical sunlight contrasts with and comes through gaps in the dark cloud. I captured the foundations of the scene and took some photographs for the light. The painting was completed in the flat next day (so I didn’t mind that it rained).
Askrigg 2 – Below the village looking North West
Mixed media, watercolour, inks, pastel, 14×10, plein air foundation, finished inside (3 hours in total).
This was a struggle. I particularly wanted evening light and it was a lovely sunny morning, as you can see from the action shot (see notebook extracts) although the sun stayed visible it was filtered through high cirrus and it became dull and quite cold with the wind chill. I managed 1 hours work outside but had to up sticks when it started damping. I was able to do a further 2 hours work inside. This was an almost continuous process because our flat is only 5 minutes walk away from this spot.
Pen and Wash Sketch, en plain air, ala prima, 1 ½ hours
Out of the town square a path runs alongside the castle and opens out into a large field, it makes a great vantage point. I deliberately completed this pen and wash fast to keep it fresh.
Here are extracts from my notebook and some work-in-progress shots.
Over the last 2 years I have been visiting Otley Chevin once a month making sketches and taking photographs. I have concentrated on a small number of locations so that it is possible to see them at different times of the year. I have also been exploring mixed media using both acrylic and watercolour paint as the dominant base whilst freely adding in inks, wax crayon pastels. This calendar for 2018 is the result.
January, April and August; this view is from the ridge just to the west of the car park opposite the Royalty (known as the Great Dib) in the first two the contrast is muted, the remains of the bay willow herb are surprisingly tenacious before the new growth comes to a spectacular peak in August. In may ways April looks bleaker than January because new growth is not really apparent and in January the remnants of last years growth are stronger.
February and December; as you walk through the woods to the eastern end of the Chevin and then go up towards the ridge the most striking thing is low sunlight casting long shadows, in terms of growth both of these views are bleak but dramatic. February is mainly acrylic whilst December is mainly watercolour.
March and October; are looking east towards Menston, the contrast is less than would be expected – October gales had stripped the leaves and it was late in the month when I made my October tour.
May; Follow this path far enough to reach the White House. In May the trees are still bare but the gorse looks fantastic. The Chevin is not the place for hosts of daffodils – not something that had occurred to me until this project made me notice it.
June; Full of foliage looking across the valley with the gravel pits around Ashfield House.
July; Dappled sunlight on the path down to the quarry car park
September and November; My personal favourite view, this is from the towards Almscliff Crag, a tangle of bracken and briers below the largest outcrop of rocks on the Great Dib
Although the trip to the Isles of Scilly started in heat of 30°, the forecasts for our week on St Mary’s were consistently for cooler overcast weather. The heat wave disappeared into the distance along with Penzance. Luckily for us the weather forecast does not seem to be able to cope with the variability in the Atlantic and everyday (except one) we had periods of sunshine breaking through the cloud. The changeability made it a bit difficult to commit to watercolour outside – there was drizzle mixed in – but I managed to do a lot of sketching. The 23rd was a great (unexpectedly dry) day and I was able to paint in the morning and afternoon, splitting the session with the customary pint and pasty at The Turks Head which is one of my favourite pubs.
Sand Bar – St Agnes;
14×10 Watercolour with Ink
St Agnes is separated from the island of Gugh by a sand bar the is covered at high tide. This was painted from Gugh looking back to the sandbar and landing in Porth Conger. The morning was one of changing light so I worked up the scene and allowed the paint to dry before adding the cloud shadows with a wash of Purple Lake and Ultramarine.
Horse Point – St Agnes;
14×10 Watercolour with Ink
This is the view from the garden of the Coastguards Café. This café shares the same premises with High Tide restaurant which operates in the evenings. If you go to Scilly I heartily recommend eating at the High Tide Restaurant for a treat. We always book in for a meal on out last night. This year the squid and John Dory were fabulous. This view is looking south, it was done in strong sunlight, a little early in the afternoon so I concentrated on the aerial perspective and lengthened the shadows a bit anticipating the clock by a couple of hours.
Here are extracts from my notebook.
I have quite taken to watercolour pencils as a way of adding colour to my notebook. This takes a bit more time than black and white sketching and using these pencils alongside ink and pencil has had the unintended consequence of taking over from the 7×5 pen and wash studies that I used to do.
After last year’s week of unbroken sunshine near Devoke Water (SW) we knew it would be back to normal this year, and indeed it was. Most days it rained. We stayed at a wonderful let called Bank Barn, Ullswater – never was a place more badly named it was like a palace. We could walk straight from the property to the Ullswater steamer at Pooley Bridge or towards Aira Force. When it was sunny it was too tempting to go walking,
My favourite walk this week was a route was from Patterdale to Hartsop, Pasture Bottoms, Threshthwaite, High Street, the wonderfully named Straits of Riggindale, The Knott, Satura and Buck Crags, Angle Tarn, Bordale Hause and back to Patterdale via Rooking (when I do it again I’ll add in Hartsop Dodd and Caudale Moor).
Despite having limited opportunity to work outside I did manage to complete a couple of paintings
14 x 10 Watercolour with ink and pastel
This was painted using a sketch and photographs done on the path from Martindale to Patterdale that runs alongside Ullswater. In this painting I concentrated on the strong contrast in light and shade and took a naturalistic approach to the colours. Itwas completed in a single session.
14 x 10 Watercolour with Ink and pastel
This was painted in two sessions. I had a sketch and photographs from a 12 mile walk. I used a package called ArtStudio to manipulate the colours, tints, shades, saturation and definition of one of my photographs – this enabled me to move away from naturalistic colour whilst keeping a harmony to the composition. I transferred the image to Langton Rough 14 x 10 by gridding up. The picture was completed in 2 sessions, first blocking in the basic shapes working dark to light and top to bottom, the second session adding definition.
Here are extracts from the notebook I had with me this week.
This years first trip was to Devon and Cornwall, here is my painting experience (we did other things as well). Introducing the pictures I may mention things in the notebooks I keep. As usual my I have put the Notebook Extracts at the end of the post – where I refer to them they are abbreviated as NE1, NE2 etc.
22nd April. Watercolour Pencil with Inks, – 14×10, Preliminary sketch NE 4.
The approach to this picture was born out of necessity. Having walked across the headland and back round the coastline I eagerly set up to capture this view, the gate gave some interest to the foreground and I imagined the viewer walking through it into the rest of the picture. The sketch went well confirming the composition and I eagerly put up the easel, then reaching for the paints got a shock – hadn’t put them in the rucksack. Now what – abandon the project, accrue shame and leg pulling or keep going. Watercolur pencils, and Indian ink to the rescue. I was rewarded for my efforts be numerous complimentary comments. I find this aspect of plain air work encouraging – those who don’t like to just pass on so the comments you gat are always good ones (so far, anyway).
23/4 April. Mixed Media- 14×10, Preliminary sketch NE3.
The notebook sketch developed into a illustration style pen/colour study so the next day I tried to loosen it up a bit with a larger mixed media study, it also gave me the opportunity to add the boat – I had this on the photographs and it was there when I started sketching but moved away and my vantage point on the harbour wall meant I could not see it properly when I was sketching.
25/6th April, Mixed Media– 16×12. Preliminary sketch NE5.
Rainy days on holiday are never a problem provided that there is space to work. The Abandoned Cottage had a mezzanine which was a child play area, I was able to commandeer it for a studio; it has a large velux window affording good working light. The previous day we had visited Watersmeet and walked to Lynmouth and back, the enclosed, wooded gorge with patches of sunlight combined with the fast flowing water is something I also experience on walks by the Warf and Nidd – the rainy day gave me the opportunity to spend some time working out how to approach then scene. I feel that I will be returning to this kind of scene there is a lot of complexity in the subject which makes it a rewarding subject.
Watersmeet above Lynmouth
Taw Estuary and Bideford Bay
26th April. Watercolour, – 14×10, Preliminary sketch NE 5.
I could see this out of the mezzanine window and painted it in parallel with the Lynmouth picture. It was this weather coming from the Atlantic which cause widespread snow and hailstorms, enough to be reported in the papers. Back in Yorkshire our Pieris suffered a lot of frost damage and after a spectacular start now looks rather sad. But the sky really did look like this – I just wanted to get the sunset down. The headland in the far distance is Hartland Point.
Weather Coming In, Taw Estury and Bideford Bay
4th May, Mixed Media, 16×12, Preliminary Sketch NE5
I really like this avenue of trees that run straight towards the main house at the HPB site. I painted it last year, the record shows that whilst the bluebells were out the wild garlic and leaves of the trees were more advanced this year. This year I altered to composition from portrait to landscape and moved the edge of the avenue occluding the line of trees on the right. As an alternative composition I think it works. It was a dull day but improved as I painted. I blocked in the darks from memory and limited them, then worked up the rest with light colours, later in the session I was able to uses washes for the dappled light. This is not ideal if the conditions are such that the paint applied first isn’t drying.
6th May, Watercolour, 16×12, Preliminary Sketch NE5.
Another rainy day, another opportunity to do a more considered watercolour. I am constantly learning about loose-tight and subjects with boats and building bring this challenge to the fore. My brother had bagged this painting as as a souvenir of the holiday.
7th May, Mixed Media, 14×10, Preliminary sketch NE5.
Better than Colovelly (it’s a working village) and to my mind only bettered only by Polruan (which has a working boatyard). OK boys stuff! We walked to Polpero and found a great spot near the library where we were sheltered from the wind. This is a subject that I tackled last year – this time I got the perspective right.
The following are extracts from my notebook. I have organised them thematically rather than chronologically but the notes on the pictures posted above refer to the relevant pages if you want to do some comparisons.
- The trip (people watching)
- Barnstable area
- Harbours and fishing boats
- The coastline
- Working sketches
And finally some action shots;