Archive for Studio Watercolour

Lakes, South West and Scilly

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.

Ullswater

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.

Ullswater Afternoon

Ullswater Afternoon

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.

Coniston Range from Backbarrow

Coniston Range from Backbarrow

Lake District Notebook

Lake District Notebook

Lake District Notebook

Laker District Notebook 2

Laker District Notebook 2

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).

Cornish Path

16×12 on 140lb Rough, Mixed media, Watercolour, Alla Prima

Cornish Path

Cornish Path

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.

Duloe Manor

14×10 on 140lb Rough, Watercolour & Ink, Alla Prima

Duloe Manor

Duloe Manor

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.

Fishing boats

I really got into fishing boats this year

Polperro Fishing Boats

Polperro Fishing Boats

Looe Fishing Boats

Looe Fishing Boats

Fowey Fishing Boat

Fowey Fishing Boat

 

Southwest Notebook

Southwest Notebook Extracts

Southwest Notebook Extracts

 

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.

Inisigden St Marys Isles of Scilly

Inisigden St Marys Isles of Scilly

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.

Road to Higher Town Quay St Martins, Isles of Scilly

Road to Higher Town Quay St Martins, Isles of Scilly

Hell Bay, Bryher, Isles of Scilly

Hell Bay, Bryher, Isles of Scilly

Old Grimsby, Bryher Isles of Scilly

Old Grimsby, Bryher Isles of Scilly

And the Notebook Extracts from Scilly

Scilly Notebook

Scilly Notebook

 

And some people watching

People Watching

People Watching

 

Braithwaite – March 2018

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!

Two Landscapes

Derwentwater

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

Derwentwater Squall - wm

 

Loweswater

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.

Loweswater sun - wm

And from the notebook;

Notebook march 2018

Studio Work – November 2017

I have been working in the studio using photos and sketches made on autumn walks.

Gannets at Bempton II

Watercolour, A3

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.

Watercolour A3

Gannets at Bempton II – Watercolour A3

 

River Wharfe near Grassington

Watercolour, A3

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.

Watercolour A3

Warfe near Grassington – Watercolour A3

 

 

Devon and Cornwall – April May 2017

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.

Devon

Croyde Bay;

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).

Croyde Bay

Croyd Bay

Colvelly;

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.

Clovelly

Clovelly

Lynmouth, Watersmeet;

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 Lynmouth

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.

Taw Estuary

Weather Coming In, Taw Estury and Bideford Bay

Cornwall

Duloe Manor

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.

Duloe manor Avenue

Duloe Manor

Looe Waterfront

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.

Looe Waterfront

Looe Waterfront

Polpero

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.

Polpero

Polpero

Notebook extracts

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

NE1 The Trip

NE2 Barnstable

NE3 Harbours and Fishing Boats

NE4 Coastline

NE5 Working Pictures

And finally some action shots;

Artist at Work

Commission Delivered

These are pictures I did for my cousin who lives in the US as mementos of Yorkshire.

The Gannets at Bempton is a composite from on site sketches and photographs I took as the RSPB site there. The footpath goes along the cliff tops and as the gannets rise on the updraught you really are close to these magnificent sea birds.

Gannets at Bempton Whitby Evening

The picture of Whitby is from the window a friends flat which looks right across the harbour, directly at the Abbey. The sun was setting behind the flats throwing the harbour into shadow but leaving the other side in bright sunlight – which was then reflected in the dark water making a striking contrast.

Two views from Otley Chevin

I must admit to being a little intimidated by the challenges of mixed media and got into a bit of “painters block” blaming the weather and finding all sorts of displacement activities. My excuse is that light has been bad more often that it has been good – even with my large north facing skylight overcast often means gloom.

My monthly trip to the Chevin (of which I will blog about more later) raised the spirits and I decided to conduct an experiment. Using a loose style I’d lead with 2 different mediums. Both these pictures are mixed media. They are both the same view from Otley Chevin as it was in November from the sketches and photos I took then. In the view we are looking north-east from just below the rock outcrops near the Royalty car park (Great Dibb), the hill on the horizon is Almscliff Crag.

Both are attempts to become less literal and convey more of the emotion that comes from the weather and the view, perhaps the difference between the  start of a sunny spell and the of one. It is also down to the differences between the mediums, the treatment and the choice of colour, there are some faint memories of the warm autumn colours as the winter is coming on.

The first is predominantly watercolour but has ink and acrylic in the mix. It has a lighter feel and the alizarin/purple lake in the shadows adds warmth. The second is predominantly acrylic; it is colder and has a more lowering, even foreboding feel from the ultramarine/umber but I think the sunlight works.

Watercolour, Inks and Acrylic

1 Looking NE towards Almscliff Crag – Watercolour, Ink and Acrylic

 

Acrylic & Ink

2 Looking NE towards Almscliff Crag – Acrylic and Ink