Isolation Pictures – May

Continuing the series of flowers painted in situ because we are all trapped in isolation, here are garden flowers in May.

Clematis II

This Clematis climbs up a the dead trunk of a Japanese Acer that suffered from wilt and eventually died.

14×10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour and Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study. Late morning/early afternoon.

Clematis II

Clematis II

Clematis III

This Clematis is thriving amongst some Jasmin, when I painted this the Jasmin was just coming out. I liked the contrast, struggled with the vivid blue.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study. Morning.

Clematis III

Clematis III

Roses

This is a Gertrude Gykel Rose growing in a planter near the house, its scent is wonderful especially mixed with the Jasmin at night when it drifts in through the windows.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study. Early afternoon.

Roses

Roses

Foxgloves

Love the wild un-ruleiness of these bi-annuals.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study. Mid Afternoon.

Foxgloves

Foxgloves

 

Lupins

Love the cultivated poise of the Lupins as a contrast to the foxgloves.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study. Morning.

Lupins

Lupins

Isolation Pictures – April

So, in my last post I said that it was difficult to know what would come next and guessed that I’d be plundering old sketch books and photographs. I also noted that the garden could provide the opportunity for some close to home en plein air work. The weather has gone through a spell of bright sunny days and the its seemed daft to be painting in the studio when the spring flowers have been so vivid and cheering.

So far I have had most success and pleasure from zooming in and doing flower studies. These are not precise, like botanical studies, but I have striven for a level of detail that makes them recognisable. As well as the watercolour pans (which I refill fill from tubes) I have made liberal use of acrylic inks, pen and wax crayon.

I have largely dropped the use of masking fluid in my landscapes and figure work. My first attempt was of one of the flowerbeds in my developing mixed media style.

Flowerbed

Flowerbed

For me the close ups work much better, or rather I enjoy doing them more. I have, however had to adapt my approach.

I always do a preliminary sketch. These are essential, they enable an exploration of composition lighting – essentially a design process – and additionally they help one to understanding and internalise the subject. Its almost as though the hand eye links get established in advance.

I do a foundational sketch on the support, this needs to be enough to guide but light to be painted over.

I use a masking fluid to reserve the big shapes, which are the flowers. When that’s dry, and it dries fast in decent weather, I can apply a liberal amounts of wax, water colour and inks to the background. The background stays abstract; essentially what I’m doing is limiting the depth of field in the same one might with a close up using a camera.

Then I add in the flowers which are the main subjects and focal points. All of these were completed en plein air, alla prima. I may well attempt some more detailed studies in the studio using these sources if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Tulips and Tulips II

We have Tulips in beds and in pots. These are both afternoon pictures. The first is at the end of the garden and was completed late in the afternoon. The second is near the house, earlier as the wall shadow v=creates full shade by 4-00pm.

14×10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour and Inks. 1 hour and 2 hour en plein air, alla prima studies.

Tulips

Tulips II

Clematis

Early afternoon. We have a Montana that goes berserk at this time of year. Unfortunately most of the flowers have migrated next door.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Clematis

Wallflowers

The wallflowers are a morning glory. Our garden faces due south and the wall casts a shadow that grows in size as the day moves on past noon.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 1.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Wallflowers

Forrest Flame

This old friend has been guarding the entrance to the patio for many years and never fails to look splendid at this time of year.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 1.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Forrest Flame

Cherry Blossom

The columnar cherry was one of our first plantings. Its been pruned hard 2 times in 30 years but maintains its shape and always delivers a huge amout of blossom. Morning.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 1.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Cherry Blossom

Bluebells 

Ok they are Spanish bluebells, paler blue and waxy compared to our native ones. I like them in a garden setting and since we inherited them they have spread. These is some evidence of hybridisation in the remoter patches where there are some smaller and darker flowers.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

 

Bluebells

 

Bush Anemone

At the bottom of the garden a Bush Anemone comes over the wall from next door. It doesn’t smell like the mock orange behind it but is does look lovely.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Bush Anemone wm

And just to prove the point

The garden has been a real boon and the good weather couldn’t be ignored so all these studies were done from life.

April Flowers WIP

 

2020 From Rain and Floods to Coronavirus Isolation

I have mentioned before that I have been concentrating on writing, but I have not stopped painting, just slowed down. The first 2 months of 2020 were particularly wet and this meant that I have been unable to do any en-plein air work. Instead I have been relying on very quick sketches or photographs. The problem with the sketches is that I either get wet or cold, or both before I have to move on so at best I can only grab an impression. In any case if we are hiking Kate does not like having to stop in inclement conditions – which is understandable.

January

So work in January was limited to a studio sketch inspired by a trip to Lake District in March 2018. Here I was inspired by the stillness of the water and trying to capture the feel of a winter day when the frost was so heavy that it looked almost like snow.

Derwent Water Water colour with ink

Derwent Water
Water colour with ink

 

February

We did a trip to the Lakes in February this year. I have been going to the Lake District since like forever so know full well that the weather can be bad. Its fair to say, however that this trip was the worst we have had. In winter you count it as a win if you get one or two days of cold but sunny days, these are the times you can get very dramatic lighting effects. This time we only managed to get out for short trips and these always involved rain, we actually stayed in because of torrential rain on the other days and played more board games sitting in a big bay window overlooking Morecambe Bay. The two pictures below show the best results, done inside from photos and sketches, I have the improved the lighting, one of the lasting impressions of this week is unrelieved greyness.

Here we have a view of Morecambe Bay from Hampsfell

Morecambe Bay from Hampsfell Watercolour with ink and pastel

Morecambe Bay from Hampsfell
Watercolour with ink and pastel

 

Here we have view of the village of ……..after a trip to Glasson Dock. Thats how wet it was we actually went out of the Lakes “grockling” and did an hours sun (made up of 5-10 minutes snatches) amidst the rain and hail.

Conder Green Watercolour with Ink and Pastel

Conder Green
Watercolour with Ink and Pastel

 

 

March and into April

The final two pieces are from March and April to date.

I have been using material collected on a dales hiking trips. We just managed to fit in couple of expeditions. Once to Boss Moor (south west of Grassington) and once to Barden Moor (south of Grassington).

Here we have a view of Rylestone Fell as you approach to from Cracoe Fell along the ridge. The day was windy and cold but there were periods of good sunlight. I have reduced the cloud cover in this studio piece but captured the feel of coming down in the evening sunshine.

Rylestone Fell Watercolour and Inks

Rylestone Fell
Watercolour and Inks

 

This last piece is looser with a a liberal amount of ink and wax resist. This is from the same walk, we are now descending from Rylestone Fell walking on the bridleway then eventually ends up in the village. The cloud cover had increased again but the stand of pine trees silhouetted against the light makes an attractive subject and a time to try out copies amounts of antelope brown acrylic ink.

Near Rylesstone Watercolour, Ink, Pastel, Wax Resist

Near Rylesstone
Watercolour, Ink, Pastel, Wax Resist

 

Both the above were completed on 140 gsm Arches Rough which was stretched in advance.

Difficult to know what comes next. I guess I’ll be plundering old sketch books and photographs, the garden provides an opportunity for some close to home en plein air work and there is always still life…

 

 

 

A Review of 2019 – very brief highlights

This year I have given first priority to writing and developing the ideas behind holistic political economy but have not abandoned painting altogether. I attend a weekly life class, maintain the sketching habit and always take my paints away with me.

The pictures from February 2019 in Askrigg are in the previous post. I did put some well received work up on my facebook page, for example my notebook sketches of the XR protests in Leeds reached over 1500 people. This lead me to join both Urban Sketchers and The Plain Air Society groups on Facebook.

What follows is a very brief resume of the year and I am not repeating everything that I posted on facebook.

At the end of February we took a trip to Northumberland and surprisingly despite the time of year I managed to do some en plain air painting.

Lindisfarne Castle - Holy Island

Lindisfarne Castle – Holy Island

 

Dunstanburg Castle - Northumberland

Dunstanburg Castle – Northumberland

 

I didn’t realise at the time just how difficult a year it would be for painting outside (when I had the opportunity the weather was poor, and frustratingly seemed to be good when I was busy with her things)

In June we joined family and friends for our traditional week in the Lake District and then carried on with an extended trip taking us to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, rounded off with the Isles of Scilly. I had my notebooks and paints with me here are some highlights;

Fleetwith Pike - Lake District

Fleetwith Pike – Lake District

 

Generally speaking the weather was dreadful until we got to Scilly. This precluded en plain air work for most of the time – the painting of Fleetwith Pike we completed in the utility room of Bank Barn using sketches. Dorset, Devon and Cornwall yielded plenty of sketches but it wasn’t until Scilly that I managed to do some work outside.

Cromwell's Castle - Tresco

Cromwell’s Castle – Tresco

 

In both August and September we had visits to Rosedale in the Yorkshire Moors.

Spaunton Moor - Lastingham

Spaunton Moor – Lastingham

 

And we rounded off our week long trips with another visit to Askrigg for bonfire night andd the week following. Both of these were completed in the flat we were staying at – it wasn’t rain all the time but was windy and cold which, combined with short days kept me walking rather than painting.

 

Old Barn Warfdale

Old Barn Warfdale

 

Above Nappa Scar

Above Nappa Scar

 

 

 

 

Askrigg – February 2019

First visit to Askrigg this year. Had reasonable weather for walking but still to early in the season for plain air painting, I must be getting soft in my old age!

Wensleydale from Scar Top

16×12, on 140lb Rough, Mixed media/Watercolour

Scar top is a limestone ridge that outcrops below Addlebrough, and runs east-west along the valley from Cubeck to Bainbridge. It make a great walk which can be done from Askrigg. This view is looking northwest, up the valley, from the ridge just above Bainbridge.

Wensleydale from Scar Top

Wensleydale from Scar Top

 

Weather Fell and Dodd Fell

16×12 on 140lb Rough, Mixed media/watercolour

This is the view from Thornton Rust lookinNorthwest towards the fell above Hawes.

Weather Fell and Dodd Fell

Weather Fell and Dodd Fell

Old Barn, Addlebrough – Winter Sun

16×12 on140lb Rough, Mixed media/watercolour

I painted this in September (see previous blog) and was keen to capture the same view in another season. It is on the footpath which continues up to Askrigg Pasture just northwest of the village, near Lease House.

Old Barn Addlebrough - Winter Sun

Old Barn Addlebrough – Winter Sun

2018 Christmas card

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.

Evening Light River Wharf at Linton

Evening Light
River Wharf at Linton

Askrigg – and about time!

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.

Richmond Castle

14×10 on 140lb Rough, Watercolour, Plein Air, AllaPrima

Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle

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.

Approaching SemerWater

16×12 on 140lb Rough, Mixed media/watercolour

Approaching Semer Water

Approaching Semer Water

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

Old barn overlooked by Addelburgh

Old barn overlooked by Addelburgh

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.

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