Sunday, 15 December 2013

Trees

Amongst other things, trees seem to be on my mind at the moment. My creativity seems to be diverging in different directions. My artistic side is striking off in two different directions: developing my personal character style for which I now think I have something that I am excited to be working with, and a desire to enter the world of pattern making and strengthen my skills in surface pattern techniques. I began doing some daily journalling a couple of weeks ago and that has tapped into my spiritual side that has lain dormant for a while. Trees have figured in that significantly and, although I am not wiling to divulge much here, I feel a renewed sense of a need to go out and explore.

...

Deep around me is the song of the trees in the winter's wind that pushes over the hillside and is caught by the tall, leafless bodies. I sit on a fallen birch log and acknowledge their presence. Each an individual: unique in form and character. Tall, leafless, swaying to rhythms that move across the greyness above me. Light is subdued, no shadows today. Rain is imminent. I am bathed in the constant roar of the wind as it finds its way through the branches that fill the space. What can I learn from this place today? There is calm within the wood. The edges are wild and frantic with movement and conversation but within there is a greater peace and calmness. I have a senseless of natural healing: nature taking time to create inner ecological systems and to heal and create places of regeneration if there is harm or damage. This might happen in a wood, or within our bodies. This I am seeking for myself and this place is an inspiration that I pray will guide and help me.

A group of off-roading motorcylists roars thunderously past me breaking the peace and then a group of walkers talking loudly to each other does likewise. I am still here. I am just standing in a wild place and observing all that is around me. I look at the textures, the patterns, the movements - I use my senses to welcome my soul into this place. I am here, surrounded by friends. Just taking time to value and appreciate the trees around me. I give thanks and quietly move on.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Prayer of the tree

A little bit of inspiration for something.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Friday, 4 October 2013

Pony

A pony grazing. Haven't drawn horses for ages. Did do a bit if sketching at a local horse show last week but was a bit out of practice and wasn't happy with the results. This was an attempt to remind myself of a few basics such as getting the number if legs right!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A little rusty

This was a quick lunchtime skectch of a vaguely vintage tractor of unspecified manufacture. I drew it entirely from memory and it may bare some resemblance to a Field Marshall tractor, but it isn't intended to be. I do spend odd moments watching you tube videos of vintage farm machinery and I would like to darw more things on that theme.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Flowers at Croft Castle

The herbaceous borders at Croft Castle in Herefordshire looked superb a couple of days ago and there was so much there that I could have drawn. These flowers took my attention though and I took a few photos of some other plants that I might use for drawing practice later. My sketching on an iPad usually draws attention and people are usually quite intrigued by this way of working.

Croft Castle Walled Garden

I began this sketch with high hopes but after an hour and a half I got cold and bored and this isn't a finished illustration. The garden is possibly my favourite and it looked superb a couple of days ago. The apple trees were laden with fruit and the herbaceous borders were full of colour, shape and form. It looked wonderful. I tidied up a few lines when I got home but may try and work something in a proper pen and ink drawing from some photos I took.

Bucknell, Shropshire

I cycled into this village just as it began to rain and decided to shelter in the porch of the church. The row of cottages opposite was a pleasant challenge to draw whilst I hoped the rain would stop. My time here proved quite interesting as a group local villagers kept popping in and out of the church as they were preparing it for some heritage open day the next day. Several were quite chatty and I ended hanging a long hop bine above the church doorway for them - a task more suited to a readily available tall steady bloke and not someone of more fragile and older years. The church seemed to be keeping up with the modern age. Its roof had recently been insulated and a ground source heat pump was being installed in the graveyard. My sketch turned a bit scruffy due to my distractions but it vaguely worked. I continued my bike ride up onto Bedstone Hill, Hopton Titterhill and back to Black Hill near Clun and arrived back at the car drenched.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Black Hill, Obley, Shropshire

I love this part of the welsh border in south Shropshire and I was up here over the past few days with my bike. Every year I seem to try and make a journey to visit this hill and the nearby Hopton Titterhill. This picture overlooking the hamlet of Obley didn't work very well because I couldn't get all the view onto the canvas size in the way that I wanted and with a potentially long bike ride ahead of me I was a little rushed. The picture should be stretched to about twice the width and could have worked better in a more cohesive abstract style. I loved the patchwork fields and distant hills on the right and then Black Hill rises very steeply up to the left with forestry plantations on the top. I had parked the car there and I was now about to begin the steep climb down into the valley bottom to the village of Bucknell. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Scruffy Dog

After receiving a complaint about the disproportionate number of cats on my blogsite and a request for more dogs, here is a dog.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Where shall I go today?

After watching one of my favourite films a few weeks ago, the original Wicker Man, I was inspired by Lord Summerisle's armchair to draw this. I started it many days ago but then got tied up with moving house and now I am trying to get back to being creative again.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Ambleside

View from the very south eastern edge of Loughrigg Fell looking east over Ambleside. Sunlight was a bit bright thus my colours are a bit off. Had a decent walk this day in warm bright sunshine for most of the day but I arrived back at the holiday cottage drenched.

Ambleside

The dappled sunlight on this old stone bridge and trees was wonderful and I was pleased with this sketch. I was interrupted several times by curious onlookers but I don't usually mind showing people what I am up to.

Troutbeck Valley

My daughter went pony trekking along this path and I took a photo of the view and worked on the picture over several hours later in the day. It took various attempts to find a brush on the iPad and a style of working that I was happy with and, in the end, I was rather pleased with the result.

Limefitt Park, Troutbeck.

I sketched this old barn that was now being used as stables whilst my daughter went pony trekking for an hour. It was at the end of a long bumpy road which required a certain amount of driving ingenuity to reach. The old stonework was a challenge to draw and I'm not too happy with the sketch. The sun kept coming out from behind the clouds which didn't help either.

Brathay Quarry, Ambleside

An old building and some huge blocks of slate at the edge of this quarry. A footpath ran along the edge of the workings and I sketched the beautifully coloured rocks on one of my evening walks.

Wray Castle, Ambleside

View from the front of the National Trust property of Wray Castle on the edge of Lake Windermere not far from Ambleside. This was sketched over a photo I had taken as the sunlight was too bright to draw in. The green fields reached out towards the distant lake and hills with a few far away sheep dotted here and there.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Yoga on the lawn

Here I am enjoying the warm summer evenings by doing some yoga on the lawn. This is quite a difficult balancing posture so I am in need of a little help.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Stone

Merrily, merrily, merrily be
Down in the water there I see
An aged stone, cold and beckoning
There is my stone, my soul awakening.

Merrily, merrily, merrily be
Down I reach on bended knee
Into the coolness there to find
Something that calls and draws my mind.

Merrily, merrily, merrily be
There in warm sunshine I hold up thee
My stone so full of colour and dampened shine
I welcome you here and you are mine.

Merrily, merrily, merrily me
Here's a song I sing of we
Together travelling from here to there
Belonging in places that welcome prayer.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Walled Garden

Cycled to Luton Hoo Walled Garden today for one of their open days. I had hoped to spend the day there drawing people but it was a rather low key day and visitors were rather thinly spread out. I did settle in one spot but then a rather angry bee started buzzing too close for comfort and I decided to hastily move. I managed to loose the bee after a rather brisk walk to another part of the garden. I then sat in the shade under some apple trees and sketched this on the iPad. It's a bit scrappy because the light was very bright and it was a very hot day and I was a bit annoyed at not being able to do what I had wanted to do. The garden looked in good form but I would have been better off on one of the bigger event days when it gets full of people. I work better then when surrounded with lots going on. I did fill a few pages in my sketchpad with various plants and odd bits of people as well, so I did have a good day. Apart from the bee.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Poppies and Bladder Campion

This field of beans above Pirton was covered in a mass of poppies and looked amazing today. I tried out a different brush that I hadn't used before and wished I hadn't. I didn't like using it. Alongside the bridleway here some bladder campion was growing and so I added this to the picture. Hogweed is well out in flower now and the mid summer flowers such as knapweed, scabious, toadflax and sainfoin are just beginning to appear along the chalky bridleway.
 

Honeysuckle and galls

This sketch was too complicated to get going and I got bored trying to do all the leaves so I gave up. Along one of my favourite hedgerows I can across some honeysuckle which is now beginning to flower everywhere. Alongside these flowers were the branches and leaves of some field maple which were covered it the tiny red galls created by a tiny mite. When you looked at the hedgerow it looked as though someone had just sprayed red paint over all the maple leaves in this one particular location.

Elderflowers

Today was probably the hottest day of the year and I enjoyed a leisurely cycle ride to Hitchin. Having been thoroughly tortured by my physiotherapist yesterday I struggled to do anything that didn't involve freewheeling! Elderflowers are probably at their best now and these flowers smelt gorgeous. They can be eaten straight off the plant but it seemed a shame to pick them so I didn't. I found these along a shady bridleway and in one of my favourite hedges.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Rhubarb

Just a quick sketch of some rhubarb on the allotments. Potatoes and parsnips seem to be thriving on my allotment. Sweetcorn, onions and garlic seem to be doing alright. Tomatoes and courgettes look poor but will probably pick up in the anticipated forthcoming heat wave. Busy packing up the house in preparation for moving.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

June hedgerow

Plantain, buttercup and lesser stitchwort. Walked along one of my favourite hedgerows this morning and drew these flowers. Not a lot of colour around yet but the hedgerows seem quite lush and with grasses, cow parsley etc. This particular hedge runs beside a bridleway and doesn't get mown so lots of interesting plants entwine themselves together here. These flowers grew on the edge of the muddy track. I liked the delicate anthers of the plantain, the tiny white stitchwort flowers and the bright yellow buttercups against a dense green background of leaves and grasses of the wild herbaceous border behind.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Woods

Went for a pleasant walk today and sketched this in some local woods. There was a strong cool breeze under a cloudy sky and although I was wrapped up well I froze. The weather has been rather unpredictable recently and later in the day the sun came out and it began to get moderately warm. The woods were rather dark beneath the leaf canopy and all the bluebell leaves had died down leaving just a few blue flowers here and there.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Vespa

There was a collection of these in Hitchin town centre today (along with various other stalls and groups of people) and this one looked like it wanted to be drawn. It was early morning and crowds hadn't really gathered yet to do their shopping but, even though the square was almost empty, several groups of people managed to stand right in the middle of my view just chatting away and so this took twice as long to draw as I had expected.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Charlecote Park

Visited the National Trust property Charlecote House in Warwickshire a few days ago in the pouring rain. This is a picture of the gatehouse that stands in front of the house.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Apple Orchard, Hanley Child

Hanley Child, Worcestershire, 27 May 2013
I unexpectedly came across this old apple orchard amongst some other newer plantings. The tall old trees formed a dense canopy of branches that shaded the lush extensive carpet of dark green grass beneath. The grass looked beautiful with few weeds and was bathed in a dappled light that broke up the darkness beneath the trees. Nearby, an old orchard had recently been bulldozed up and I wonder how much longer these old trees will remain here before probably suffering the same fate. New trees may well be planted in their place as has happened on the rest of this farm but it is unlikely that the new trees will reach the age of these old specimens as commercial pressure may probably call for regular replacements with higher productivity and easier management techniques. It felt quite a magical place and was perhaps the most memorable thing of this short holiday back where I was used live. I love apple orchards and this one drew my attention. It held a deep sense of history and nostalgia for me as we'll as being totally beautiful. The colours were by powerful and might be even more so when the blossom is fully out in a week or so.

This picture was painted from a photo as a quick sketch probably wouldn't have captured what  I wanted to remember.

Kyre Park

Kyre Park, Worcestershire, 27 May 2013
So here I am in a this open to the public large landscaped garden on a sunny bank holiday Monday and I am the only person here. Well, the rest of the family are in the car, but even so there are no other cars in the car park. The place once used to be more lively but now seems to be fading away through neglect and disuse for whatever reason. This view was beautiful: looking out through the trees across one of the lakes to the house and church beyond. I was apparently Christened in this church.

I had earlier walked past the nearby Kyre pool, a large secluded lake and was pondering the lack of bird life upon it. I am sure that as a child I remember the lake being place for swans, coots, moorhens, herons, assorted ducks and great crested grebes. Today? Nothing. I've been the several times in recent years and I am sure there is a distinct lack of wildlife in the countryside these days. There was a swan in the the garden above and a few geese but again I saw nothing in the way of smaller water bird life.

The garden was only a few pounds to enter. You just placed your money in a flower pot in a wooden honesty box and hoped that the next visitor didn't steal it!

Hanley Child

Hanley Child, 27 May 2013
Below the farm where I spent my early childhood years is this wooded footbridge which crosses a small stream that has carved a small but steep valley in the red soil. The wooded steeps banks are covered in places with wild garlic and mini waterfalls occur where the bedrock lies exposed. 

Stoke Bliss

Stoke Bliss, Worcestershire, 27 May 2013
Potatoes seem to be grown in all sorts of odd places around here now. The hilly field on the right was all ridged up and the lines curved in big sweeps over the contours with long distinct shadows in the early morning sunshine. The painting doesn't really capture this as I ran out of space through not planning the picture carefully enough.

Stoke Bliss

Stoke Bliss, Worcestershire, 27 May 2013
Found this pleasant early morning scene at the beginning of a long walk. After the warmth of the past few days I set out on foot only to return back after half a mile or so to get my coat. It was sunny but the wind was very cool. This luscious little valley by the church had some small pools in a rather boggy patch and the reflections looked wonderful. The soil around here is a very rich reddy pink colour which is so different to the chalky soils around home.

Rookery

Wiggly Orchard Caravan Park
As well as looking out over towards the distant hills, our caravan here looked onto these tall ash trees and a rookery. Late in the evening after the sun had set the rooks were all flying around making lots of noise and I decided to paint this.

Hampton Court, Herefordshire.

Hampton Court, Herefordshire, 26 May 2013
There was a gardening show on here today and where the paths were lined with tall beech hedges people had set up stalls on the in-between grass. Bunting was strung between the trees and people were wondering around everywhere. This was a difficult subject to tackle in just half an hour or so, but I had a shaded perch beside a garden wall and decided to see what would appear. I did the people last as they kept moving and they don't quite fit but it was fun to attempt.

Hampton Court, Herefordshire.

Hampton Court, Herefordshire, 26 May 2013
Visited these gardens on a gloriously warm and sunny day. I think these are aliums and were some of the few flowers that were filling the herbaceous borders. Spring is so late this this year and even the apple blossom is only just beginning to appear in the gardens and orchards.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Snail

Saw this snail up on the Pegsdon Hills today. I always marvel how they sometimes seem to want to climb along bramble stems high off the ground. I was just about to take a photo of it when I jogged the plant and the snail fell to the ground. Thus I had to take separate photos of the bramble and snail and then use them as a basis for the picture when I got home. Whether the snail was happy at finding itself back on terra firma rather than a foot off the ground on a prickly bramble I'll never know.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Croft Castle, Herefordshire

This is the walled garden at the National Trust property Croft Castle (4 May 2013). This has to be one of my favourite gardens and overlooking it is this lovely cottage. One day we hope to go and stay there when we have a few spare pennies as it is available as a holiday cottage.

I painted this is the same way as the previous picture of Southstone Rock. I just painted over a photograph picking up the colours from a photo and layering up the image. In some ways I feel this is a totally pointless way of working as all I am doing is basically copying a photo. It was though quite a therapeutic thing to do - like doing some cross-stitch perhaps. I don't have to think about anything creative, but just follow the pattern of the colours of the photo. That isn't quite true as I only allowed myself one main brush as I had to work out how to translate the photo into brush strokes. I kept me quiet for 6 hours or so.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Southstone Rock

Southstone Rock, Shelsley Walsh, Worcestershire

I had a childhood memory of visiting this place and wanted to try and find it again in February. I knew roughly the area where I thought it would be: in one of the wooded valleys that line the hills here. However, after walking along several footpaths I was puzzled by the lack of finding anything that resembled what I was recalling from my childhood memory. I took another path a short distance up another valley but again I couldn't match memories with reality and with what I could discern geologically on the ground. On returning home and doing some research on the Internet I realised that on this last path I had only been about a minute's walk away and if I had been looking in the right direction I would have seen what I was looking for. I was also annoyed with myself for not realising that the local church was made of rock from here and if I had looked a bit more closely at the stonework when I visited it on the same day I might have realised I was on the right trail.

A few days ago I took my daughter to find this unusual rocky outcrop in the woods. It suddenly seemed to appear out of the trees and my daughter was quite taken aback and a little apprehensive by the rather dark towering piece of geology. It was made out of tufa which is a rock formed when calcium carbonate dissolved in ground water precipitates out (often on mosses and vegetation) where a spring emerges from the hillside. The rock is light and strangely textured. Apparently monks and hermits have a history of visiting here in times gone past. I will probably make another visit sometime and explore it further when I'm on my own. It is interesting how my memories of it from 30 or more years ago have changed. I knew it was in this area but I hadn't remembered it being so big which is why I probably missed it earlier in the year. I was looking for a small dark outcrop only about 6 ft high, not something 60ft or more high - my line of sight didn't reach up into the woods above me. In the painting the small pink figure is my daughter who had just plucked up courage to cross the small wooden bridge over the stream and follow me up to the rock.

This picture was done on the iPad by overpainting a base photograph. I worked on the front elements first and then steadily moved backwards on subsequent layers. Probably around 4 hours worth of work. The style could almost be the beginnings of a photo-realist type of painting. I have always had an interest in such work and perhaps one day I will apply my mind to doing something in that style.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Rearranging things a little

Been busy the past few days: lots on at work, tidying garden and sowing seeds, painting all window ledges on house, travelling to Worcestershire, mending bikes, out on bikes with family, enjoying glorious sunny weather and not really wanting to be inside. I can't do a "picture a day" everyday. It isn't practical. And anyway, is anyone actually interested?

The next few pictures will hopefully be a selection inspired by my visit to Worcestershire. I took some photos and will see how it works using these as a basis to work from. I haven't really worked that way on the iPad before but when time is limited in far off places and the sun is so bright it should be easier to do this than work in-situ. The pictures may take a while to work on but they will appear as and when time permits over the next week or so. Then I will decide what to do next.

Our garden looks wonderful this morning with tulips, daffodils, wallflowers and amelanchier blossom givining loads of colour.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Pavilion, Wrest Park, Beds.

Visited the English Heritage property of Wrest Park today at Silsoe, Bedfordshire. It was breezy and cold and not a great day for sitting outside and drawing but I managed this sketch of the Pavilion in the gardens. Colours are a bit pale as the light was quite bright and so my iPad screen was more difficult to see.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Desert Island

I was was inspired to do this after seeing some cartoons on the web a few days ago, and just wanted something quick to draw today.

Friday, 26 April 2013

On the move

If one had a beautifully big garden it would be a good idea to have a mobile garden shed that could be moved around the garden into new places as and when required.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Library

I love browsing in book shops, libraries or through piles of second-hand books. This looks like a good place in which to spend a happy few hours on a warm and sunny day.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Storyteller

Went to the children's book festival today at Luton Hoo Walled Garden and spent the day there drawing in beautiful spring sunshine. I didn't see this particular character amongst the crowds of people but I was a bit stuck for what to draw late in the evening and so decided to create what might be my alter ego!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Cotehele, Devon 7-4-13

Visited the National Trust property at Cotehele on 7th April. It was a cold and windy day and the daffodils were not yet out in all their glory. In fact there was not much blossom out anywhere. Some camellias looked colourful and while standing next to a bush about to draw some of the flowers a robin came and pottered around me. It was incredibly tame and was quite happy to sit on a branch barely a couple of feet away from me. I sketched the flowers and took photos of the robin and then completed the picture later in the evening. I wasn't quite sure how what style I was going to use and this was a bit of an experiment.

Morwellham Quay, Devon 6-4-13

Two sketches here. One is a line drawing of some of the buildings on the museum site, and the other is an old horse drawn implement which I quite liked.