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Monday 26 November 2012

Easton Workshop, Sketches & Flood

Yesterday was my last workshop at Easton for this year, and the Garden’s last opening day for the year. After all the rain the sun came out and it was a glorious day with long shadows and beautiful light and the flooded lower meadow by the bridge was quite something.

As always we are keen to get out and draw but we were also looking at some ideas for developing a sketch into a painting.
Colour, composition, detail, scale and orientation are all things to consider. Also you have to ask yourself if a sketch will actually benefit from working up. Some sketches are beautiful and as finished as you would ever want them to be. But some ask to be developed into a more considered painting.

There a million variations of colour combinations and many different reasons for choosing one composition over another, and then there is the question of size, and all this is dependant on what you are trying to say.  

The Arch

There is a beautiful old  “broken” arch at Easton, a relic of a road that now goes nowhere. It begs to be painted. 

Some initial sketches. It’s a tricky image because of the gap which has nothing in it.


Sorting out the tones……

easton ske 3 bg easton ske 2 bgeaston ske 1bgEaston 4 bg

and a few colour thumbnail experiments using limited palettes.

I have started a painting. It’s on the drawing board  to be hopefully “finished”… (whatever that is?) soon.


I shall miss my trips to wonderful and inspirational Easton and all my excellent workshop artists who have soldiered on through wind, rain and flood and taken themselves and their sketchbook outside to work. 
But we will be meeting up again next year for more workshops and an exhibition of our endeavours in August. Hurrah …watch this space! 

Sunday 18 November 2012

Colour Sketches

Not much on the drawing board this week but lots of plotting and planning, ideas and inspirations for the next couple of months.

I have only managed  three walks and was thinking mostly about the next workshop at Easton which is next Sunday 25th and our last meeting this year.

Three-Colour Landscapes

We will be talking about limited palettes and how to create a simple painting from sketch. So I walked up to the Visitor Centre again and made this quick three colour note of the spinney. 


This sketch is 5 x 8 inches. It’s just 3 primaries winsor blue (green shade), winsor red and winsor yellow. I added some rooks who love to hang around the VC at this time of year, hopeful for scraps.
There is not much green around now so I was careful not to lay the blue over the yellow too much. It was very cold and the paint took a long time to dry which always means I worked over too soon and got duller colours. My numb fingers also dropped the brush onto it …sigh.
I do struggle with watercolour drying times for quick sketching. I should have taken the gouache.

I have made quite a few sketches and notes of this spinney, only because it’s a nice place to sit with a cup of tea. (see previous notes) but it makes a good subject for a simple painting.

1 bg 2 bg  
These are from earlier in the summer when there were more leaves, a picnic and a strong wind.

Vc  bg

This one from a couple of weeks ago.. less leaves.. and fisherman.

Back home I took a slightly bigger sketchbook (10 x 7 inches) and made a small painting.  Again with the same colours but the blue is w. blue (red shade), to get a nicer purple mix.
I did wait for the paint to dry this time.

VC trees stage 1 bg

 Stage 1: first washes.

 VC trees cp bg

Stage 2: adding the darker tones.
I have just realised I forgot the rooks!


Its easy to forget how effective just these three colours can be.


Later in the week, a few more limited palette notes (just 3 colours in each case) from the other few chilly walks this week.

image image


 image  image

Its a great exercise for playing with just a few colours and seeing what happens…. hopefully more next week.

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Monday 12 November 2012

Week 12.. and counting

This weeks sketches were done in a slightly bigger sketchbook, A4.. Wednesday afternoon: Easton, cold wind and sunny spells. By the time I arrived the sun was already quite low, casting long shadows, but it was very cold in the wind.


bridge and yews  bg




Friday: Cold and windy. A local building.



Saturday: blustery and grey


The view over to Ellington


Sam’s Sheds

Sunday: Sunny and cold. In the morning we cycled round the reservoir, and returned caked with mud. I walked out later at dusk. The sunset was beautiful. Far too magnificent for my slender skills.


I walked up to the old railway bridge and looked down at the muddy path, a string of sky-lit puddles and a man with his dog. I only made a few lines and notes while I was there,  then added some more tones and the little sketch to the right at home. I liked the portrait format for this image.

Next week…..colour…..

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Saturday 10 November 2012

A Bee Print and Buzz News

Did you think I had been neglecting my bees? :) ….now would I?
While there has not been much of a buzz on the blog, in the background there is quite a bit going on.

I am planning some more bee paintings for next year and will be doing more workshops, another residency at Nature in Art (whooppee!!!) some more exhibitions and talks etc, including a lovely one day workshop at John Clare’s Cottage on June 15th and the wonderful Festival of Bees in Louth, Thursday, 23 May 2013.

One very interesting weekend, first in the diary, will be with the British Beekeepers Association, the BBKA at their annual meeting. I shall be there with my BUZZ paintings and a couple of short drawing/painting workshops. That will be Sat 13th April. 

I will be posting lots more details on the blog as the events are finalised.

So for the shows and talks I am preparing a few more prints, booklets, cards etc.
Here is a simple two plate lino print which I’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks.  I have just printed the first few which I will then develop a little more, with different backgrounds, papers and colours and other additions. The possibilities are really endless.




My lino print of “Waving Bee”,  my logo, printed on a background of a beehive and the word “BEE”.. Grey and Ochre on Blue Grey paper. Image 12 x 9.5 inches
One of some new bee images for next year’s shows.

Bees are few and far between now but my bee house is dry and safe and I am still seeing one or two bumble bees and honey bees. I am hoping for a good, kind, winter for the hibernating bumble bee queens and for the baby woolcarders and masons, who I hope will safely snooze the chilly months away, tucked up in their leafy, woolly nests.  

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Monday 5 November 2012

Week 11 Notes.

Just a few sketches this week..

Tuesday 30th November 
Up to the Visitor Centre again, sunny but cold, so not many visitors today. I drew the clump of trees again and clutched my tea to keep my hands warm.


Drawing and tea …


I wanted to record the figures for a sense of scale. As I drew them I was thinking about how a sketch like this compresses time. There are three figures in the sketch, but they were never all there at the same time. 
I thought about the wonderful narrative paintings from Jodhpur which I had seen a few years ago at the British Museum.


A little dog bounded by, very dapper in a smart red harness. It was a very happy, busy little dog, stopping to check things out, before rushing off to find its owner. It had a wonderful fluffy and constantly wagging tail which it carried high. I had a pang of dog longing!

Wednesday 31st November
It seemed to be a day of wandering and lost things. I saw a wandering labrador who just smiled and wriggled when I asked where it lived, a beautiful black chicken was sauntering down the lane, a lost child’s shoe was hanging on a branch and  and a solitary insole lay, just like its flat fish  namesake by the shoreline.
Here is a colony of tiny red fungi, a small fairy village scattered in the crook of a dead branch by the stream. 


Friday 2nd November
A good long walk on a cold blustery day.


One solitary windsurfer flying across the water, his one white wing echoing the wings of the gulls.

Small black clouds swept low across Top Field where once a bomb exploded during the war. ( I am learning more and more about the village history every week)

Sat 3rd November
We walked to Brampton Wood and back,  setting out in sun and returning in rain. The wood was quiet and still. At the end of one of the rides, encircling clumps of pine trees, are some magnificent rings of fungi. The circles must be at least 10 ft in diameter.


I had to check them out when I came back and I think they are Rhodocollybia maculata or Spotted Toughshank.. sadly non edible.

The writing-and-drawing walks have been a fabulously rich source of images and inspiration. My note book is almost finished and my head is full of ideas.
Five weeks left…