Askrigg 2017

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).

Askrigg 1 - Looking South

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).

Askrigg 2 - Looking North West

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.

Middleham Castle

Pen and Wash Sketch, en plain air, ala prima, 1 ½ hours

Middleham Castle

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.

Notebook Extracts

Here are extracts from my notebook and some work-in-progress shots.

Notebook Extracts

A Year on Otley Chevin – Calendar 2018

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

A year on Otley Chevin Calandar 2018 January to June

A year on Otley Chevin Calandar 2018 July to December

 

Scilly – June 2017

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.

Sand Bar - St Agnes

 

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.

Horse Point - St Agnes

 

Here are extracts from my notebook.

NE1 People

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.

NE2 Boats

NE3 Misc Views

Lake District – June 2017

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

Near Rooking;

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.

This path runs along the valley at the otherside to Patterdale. There is a great tea shop at Rooking.

This path runs along the valley at the otherside to Patterdale. There is a great tea shop at Rooking.

 

Threshthwaite Mouth;

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.

The view south - down Pasture Bottoms towards Patterdale and Glenridding. Cloud shadows and sunlight making a dramatic scene.

The view south – down Pasture Bottoms towards Patterdale and Glenridding. Cloud shadows and sunlight making a dramatic scene.

 

Here are extracts from the notebook I had with me this week.

Notebook 1

Notebook 2

 

 

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

2017 Plein Air Season Opens at Knaresborough

Saturday was a brilliant sunny winter day. It had pored with rain all night and the fields and moors are very waterlogged so we decided to visit Knaresborough instead of doing our customary hike in the Dales. The view of the railway viaduct is a bit of a cliche view but it was too good to miss. The pitch had other benefits – there were plenty of people about and the ones who stopped were all complimentary so I ended up feeling good – even if a bit chilly!

Here is the in progress view (just to prove I painted this on site), the finished painting. I did tighten it up a bit this morning. And the preliminary sketch I did to check out the composition.

Knaresborough In Progress

Knaresborough

Knaresborough - Sketch

 

2016 Christmas Card

This went down well. I painted is specially for the Christmas Card. The tree is on Sweet Side which is above Barstow Wood on the Limestone Pavement.

Winter Evening on Sweet Side

 

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.

Been a while…

So this is by way of a catch up. I have been busy with another project (not art related). I have also been painting a commission for a present and don’t want to publish a spoiler before they are received, framed and given.

We had a week in Askrigg & that allowed me to clear the decks for some favourite landscape subjects.

This is a view from Askrigg Bottoms near the River Ure looking back towards the village (so looking north). It was started en plein air because the evening light with the clouds and long shadows was quite enchanting. I had made some good progress when I was caught in a squall – this one was persistent and by the time it cleared the light was fading so I finished it back at the flat.

Rained Off

Rained Off

 

askrigg-bottoms

Whilst I was pacing up and down, shaking the water off a passer by said hello  and seemed interested in my efforts because, as she said “I own this meadow”. I didn’t have time to respond as her companionn said “she owns it in the sense that she has painted it”. It turned out to be Judith Bromley (though she didn’t say at the time). As an aside when I was painting near Appletreewick some time last year I did get into a conversation (friendly) with the actual owner of the meadow (see An Afternoon by the Warfe, 3/11/2014).

The next day Kate and I were walking near Semerwater and who should we meet but Judith. This is something of a coincidence given the scale of the landscape. We had a longer conversation and she invited me to call into the shop which is only open on Wednesdays.

Wednesday came with rain so I was painting at the flat and about 3-30pm went for a walk and decided to call in. The discussion, which started, including a customer who also paints got into abstraction, inspiration, the landscape and working practice. I was shown round and introduced to Robert Nichols as well. Both were very friendly, indulged my questions. Here is a link to their studio. Well worth a look.

http://www.askrigg-studios.co.uk/

Here are a couple of other pictures that I managed to produce – these were worked from sketches and photos on the same or next day because it was too wet for watercolour outside (that’s 2 years now). I can work outside in the cold but rain and watercolour mix in the wrong way. Still its a favourite spot and we’ll keep going so we are bound to strike it lucky eventually (OK it took 30 years to get a week of solid sunshine in the Lake District).

Semerwater from Bardale Head

Semerwater from Bardale Head; this was rather splendid because Addleborough was lit up and the clousd shadows added drama.

 

Askrigg Pasture

Askrigg Pasture; a long green lane above the village leading into a misty view.

 

Here are some notebook extracts.

Notebook Extracts 1

Notebook Extracts 1

 

Askrigg Notebook 2

Askrigg Notebook 2

 

 

The Southern Fells, June 2016

And so to the annual trip to the Lake District.

This year we were blessed with the warmest, sunniest and driest week I can remember (possibly ever). We stayed at a place called High Ground, which lived up to its name admirably and had the most extensive mountain view from its patio.

I managed to get a couple of pictures completed.

I spotted a natural composition on the day Kate and I went up Harter Fell, this was near Birks which is where the path up turns north and goes steeply up through the forestry plantations and on to the summit. In this view we are looking SW from the path on the approach to Birks, in the background are the Dunnerdale Fells.

Rough A5 compositional sketch to get light and dark contrasts

Rough A5 compositional sketch to get light and dark contrasts

 

Looking SW towards Dunnerdale.  16 x 12 watercolour, wax crayon, inks, pastel.

Birks, Duddon Valley looking SW towards Dunnerdale.
16 x 12 rough paper  watercolour, wax crayon, inks, pastel.

 

On a family walk from Dalegarth after visiting Stanley Force we stopped for lunch above the trees on the side of Green How, which afforded a splendid view straight across Eskdale to Scafell. I did a compositional sketch and returned in the late afternoon to do a ‘plein air’ painting. I happily got lost in the process and had 85% complete. I have to admit that the foreground was completed indoors; when the best light had gone at about 7-30pm my tolerance of the midges suddenly collapsed and I beat a hasty retreat.

The fells in view are from left to right; Kirk Fell, Great Gable (just visible), Scafell looming over Eskdale Fell, then the distant hazy horizon showing Esk Pike, Bow Fell and part of Crinkle Crags. The sun was mostly but at times during the evening broke through adding the contrast I have tried to capture.

Reasonably considered A5 sketch, done to get to know the view

Reasonably considered A5 sketch, done to get to know the view

 

Work in progress, I blocked in main areas and then added detail top to bottom

Work in progress, I blocked in main areas and then added detail top to bottom

 

Scafell from Greenhow  - looking North across Eskdale Completed picture 14 x 10 rough paper, watercolour, wax crayon, inks and pastel.

Scafell from Greenhow – looking North across Eskdale
Completed picture 14 x 10 rough paper, watercolour, wax crayon, inks and pastel.

 

And lastly some notebook extracts.

Notebook Extracts - Lakes 2016