Monday, 12 November 2018

End of summer

After quite a few sessions of sketching outdoors, its now back home and working at my desk. I have a stack of photos however and many memories to draw on.

Here is an ornamental doorway from Sarlat in the Dordogne region of France

And yet another Victorian house (I enjoy painting these)

And finally two from walks I made in September on the Sussex Coast near where I live.  The cliffs are the "Seven Sisters". 

Monday, 1 October 2018

More Moleskine watercolour sketchbook work

It is unusual for this time of year in England to get such a prolonged patch of dry sunny weather.  Its been a delight to keep going out with my sketching equipment and to spend an hour or so sitting outside drawing the lovely views around East Sussex.

Here is St Mary's church at a tiny village called Tarring Neville, nestled into a fold in the South Downs (a range of hills on the South Coast of England)

And then another one painted on a gap in the hills overlooking the sea at Birling Gap

I painted this first one on the cliff-tops at Eastbourne, our nearest large town.  At first I find myself a little embarrassed to be sketching alone perched on a my tripod seat but within no time at all I am so absorbed by the drawing that I don't notice anyone passing by.

Finally, here's one from the church at Bishopstone village, about a couple of miles from home.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Sketching with the Moleskine watercolour notebook in the Cuckmere Valley

Had a lovely afternoon out last week down in the Cuckmere Valley in East Sussex, just a mile or so from where I live.  I sat down on my sketching stool with few other people around and drew these two, then moved on to neary Birling Gap where I went up on the cliff and drew the Seven Sisters cliffs below me.  I painted them back at home.

This next one is just along the coast at Birling Gap.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Summer turns into autumn

Well after a fantastically hot summer, we're now starting to see slightly cooler days and I must say, I always anticipate the start of autumn with a dregree of pleasure.  The colours become more subtle in the countryside and as I'm not out in the garden all the time, there seems to be more time in the evening for drawing and planning paintings.

I took part in a bird painting challenge on Instagram and painted five birds, the only one I was truly happy with being this American avocetc.

On a bird theme, I found myself on the River Thames last month at a point where swans gather to strut around on shore and do whatever they do when in large social groups.  I painted a sketch at Caversham Bridge and managed to get quite a few swans into the picture.

I had a bit of a gap in the middle of the month as I was building website for the church and also developing my daughter's online shop.  I soon realised that painting was too precious to me to leave it for long so sat down to draw this painting of Chateau Chenonceau

There have been quite a few other paintings since I last posted so I'll finish with just one more, a sketch of a house that took my eye when I was walking around Eastbourne one morning last month.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Just me and my sketchbook

My wife couldn’t come away with me to Southwold this year (a quite coastal town on the east coast of England) so I had four days on my own in a lovely little cottage right in the middle of town, next to the lighthouse.  I decided to use this short period as a “retreat” both for drawing and Christian reflection (don’t worry, I won’t write about the latter here!).

I had just bought a new sketch stool and had all my supplies in a small rucksack.  The weather for once was fantastic for the whole period so I was able to be out morning and afternoon sketching in this extremely picturesque little town and its coastal surroundings.

On the Sunday morning I went to the 11th century Parish Church of St Edmund and then drew one of the many “greens” in the town, with the lighthouse visible behind a row of cottages.

Then later in the day I went out to another part of town and drew “South Green”

This is a double-spread in my Moleskine watercolour notebook of course.  It was glorious sitting in the sun doing all the details of this interesting view.

The next morning I went back to the old church to try to do a church interior (Stephanie Bower is so good at these) and I wanted to see if I use her approach to this complex scene. Unfortunately I couldn’t!  Its come out a bit messy and confused but at least I learned some tips for next time.

As a bonus, a pianist came in to the church to do his practice and it turned out that this was no ordinary pianist but a concert-level musician who played Liszt’s etudes while I was painting – what an experience to be sitting in the ancient church with these sounds washing over me.

Later in the day I went down to the little ferry (one man and row-boat!) across a river to cross over to the little village Walberswick where there was so much to draw – here is one of three I drew there.

After that I went home and after a short rest went out to the local pub where I had a pint or two of the local Adnams ales sitting outside on a bench in the sun and reading a paper.

The next morning I went back to the church and tried to do the entrance from outside in the church yard with local people passing by all the time and trying to glance at what I was doing.

Above the doorway you can see a statue of St Edmund the Martyr who was tied up by invading Vikings and then shot with arrows and beheaded.  Poor Edmund!

Back to the harbour again and couple another river scene

Then on the way back to my cottage I sketched “Gun Hill” with its row of cannons

In the evening after another couple of Adnams ales I went back and sketched the view from the window my my little house with the lighthouse again visible behind cottages.

And that my friends was what I did with four days on my own in the delightful little town.  I will finish with just one more sketch

Monday, 11 June 2018

A change from buildings

After a few weeks of painting landscapes and buildings I felt the need to try something else. So what better than to tackle a reproduction of an ancient masterpiece? Boticelli's painting of Simonetta Vespucci caught my eye when it arrived on my phone via the Daily Art app (do get it if you haven't already) and I thought I would try to paint it in watercolour.  

Known for her beauty, poor Simonetta died from TB at the age of 22 but before then featured in several well-known paintings of the era.

After that, then what better than a bit of wildlife? Whenever we visit our son and his family in South London, I am always thrilled to see bright green parakeets flying around in the trees. Nobody is certain how these beautiful birds came to be established in London but they seemed to be escapees from captivity who manged to establish a breeding colony in the suburb of Twickenham. Now spread all over the London area and beyond, they are a joyful contrast to our usual sparrows and pigeons.

I used some Schminke granulation medium on the background - a first for me. Both these paintings are in my new Seawhite large spiral-bound sketchbook with 300gsm paper in it. The paper has a unique texture.

After a walk around the nearby town of Eastbourne, these old shops caught my eye and before long I was back to drawing one of my detailed buiding pictures yet again.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Crossing the Pyrennees

I have been watching a series of programmes on BBC about people who escaped from German Prisoner of War camps (in World War II) and then had to travel immense distance, often across mountain ranges, in order to get home.  We have heard of people who had to travel down through Italy and crossing the Dolomites, others for whom the Alps were their greatest challenge, but this week I watched an episode about the freedom trail across the Pyrennees from France into Spain (the Spanish never joined with Hitler and so were neutral territory).

I have been across the Pyrennees myself but in a car and remember the long and winding road running alongside deep chasms with views of long ranges of mountain peaks.  What forbidding country it is.  Anyway,  I felt inspired to seek out a scene I could paint of this spectacular countryside and soon found one on the website of Collett's Mountain Holidays.  Here is my painting, followed by the photograph on which it is based. 

On gentler territory, the fine weather we have had this week encouraged me to paint from a photograph I took a couple of years ago of two women walking on Lullington Nature Reserve, near where I live in East Sussex.

This is so typical of the countryside around here - chalky paths crossing gently rolling hills, always with white cliffs and blue sea in the distance.  I hope these two enjoyed their walk on the South Downs Way - they seemed to sum the easy companionship of two walkers on a fine morning, in no hurry to get anywhere.