Tag Archives: sketching

Sketching at Conder Green, Lune Estuary

I just thought I would share a couple of photos from this morning, I went to Conder Green on the Lune Estuary. Such a beautiful day that even the mud looked nice – reflecting the blue sky. I love the shapes carved by the tidal channels in the salt marsh and mud, and the birds are always fascinating. Today there were lots of redshank scurrying around busily, feeding before the tide covered up the mud. I think they were redshank anyway, they had red legs.

I’m planning a series of larger paintings from my accumulated sketchbooks of the Lune Estuary, I have dozens of sketches of birds and the river, I’d like to do something with them.

My Mighty Midget telescope and sketchbook

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Wellies essential all year round in Lancashire

Conder Green. Glasson Dock in the background and a flock of oystercatcher and knot?) which rose from the opposite side of the river

Redshank feeding on the mud, incoming tide

Blue Mud! An acrylic study I painted from my watercolour sketch.

Sketches of Spring

May and June are my favourite time of year. These watercolours are of gowans, lovely big daisies, which fill up the edges of our garden at this time of year, roses, and just the general joy and chaos of spring. I painted the deer at Leighton Moss, a nearby RSPB reserve. I’d gone with a group to sketch for the day and we were rewarded with seeing so many amazing birds and animals, an otter, marsh harrier, gorgeous young fluffy moorhens, and these red deer mother and young, who stepped out of the woods in front of our hide, like a scene from Bambi.

'June Garden', watercolour

‘June Garden’, watercolour

'Meadow', Watercolour

‘Meadow’, Watercolour

A sketch from a lovely garden in Eskdale, watercolour

Red Deer fawn, watercolour

Red Deer fawn, watercolour

Red Deer, watercolour sketch

Red Deer, watercolour sketch

 

Doon The Water

Here are a few sketches from over the summer. I’ve been sailing, (doing my Day Skipper course, with Scotsail based at Largs on the Firth of Clyde, who I really recommend). I forgot to take any Paynes Grey or blue watercolour paint, other than Cerulean (sky blue). Most of the landscapes I saw were either basically grey, or blue, so I had to do what I am always trying to teach i.e. focus mainly on tones of light and dark and not worry about ‘accurate’ colour, just use what I like. I also forgot all but one useable paintbrush and I didn’t have any watercolour paper. It has reminded me that to sketch you really don’t need much at all, and also, how rubbish I am at packing.

Burnt Islands, Kyles of Bute

Burnt Islands, Kyles of Bute

Two watercolours from the Kyles of Bute. We’d sailed north from Largs to Port Bannatyne, (accompanied by porpoises much of the way), then up the east Kyle and anchored in Balnakailly Bay. I sketched these while we had a boat barbeque. We didn’t make fast progress because we were doing our Sailing Drills along the way, i.e. practising picking up moorings, practicing messing up moorings, practicing diving off the end of the boat and retrieving the tangled moorings from around the rudder, and so on. This was the only day of bad weather. Bad weather is so much more interesting to paint though, in my opinion. I enjoyed the challenge of perceiving/inventing nice colours out of the smirry dreich drizzle. (Scots is so much better than English for describing rain.)

Balnakailly Bay, Kyles of Bute

Balnakailly Bay, Kyles of Bute

Porpoise

Stunning photo of one of our porpoise friends

Boat BBQ

Boat BBQ

Me sketching

Sketching in the Smirr

The rest of the trip was lovely weather so I concentrated on sailing and didn’t do any more drawing. I painted the following afterwards when we stayed in a cottage further north in Argyll, based on photos and memories. We saw a few noteworthy other boats while sailing. This ketch (two masted sailing boat) was just really pretty, near Portavadie at the bottom of Loch Fyne. We saw the Waverley Paddle Steamer on a day out ‘doon the water’ from Glasgow. And a nuclear submarine near Arran.

Ketch

Ketch, near Loch Fyne. I had no ‘blue’ paint (cobalt or ultramarine) so had to mix purple and caerulean.

The Waverley

The Waverley Paddle Steamer

Smoke on Arran

Smoke on Arran

Arran is a stunning island, the hills are really imposing.

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Sailing Boats, Brodick

Sailing Boats, Brodick. Our yacht, Kitmar, is on the right. Not that you can discern anything other than a white blob.

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At Portavadie Marina. This is our sailing instructor Andy in front

The following sketches are from further north in Argyll after we finished sailing. I’m a skipper now, woo hoo!

West from Dunadd Fort

West from Dunadd Fort

Sketch from the top of Dunadd Fort, looking west towards Taynish Forest and Loch Sween.

Wee house, Keillmore

Wee house, Keillmore

Sound of Jura

Sound of Jura

Paps of Jura

Paps of Jura

Jura from near Kilmory

Jura from near Kilmory

Pink footed geese drawing madness

This is a really good autumn for geese as well as harvests. At Martin Mere in West Lancashire there’s record numbers of pink-footed geese down from their summer breeding grounds in Iceland – 36,600 on the reserve, and another few thousand in the surrounding fields. They don’t normally have this many geese until later in the autumn. I went to see them a couple of weeks ago and found it baffling trying to make sense of the spectacle; like trying to keep track of ripples on a river or count stars.

Drawing the geese on the water and preening themselves on the shore was bad enough but trying to sketch them coming into land was definitely the hardest thing I’ve tried to do in a long time. I ended up abandoning pencils and just sketching directly with watercolours, because its faster. There’s no time for rubbing out or a second chance, you just have to draw as fast as possible. I found that I could draw them flying with just a couple of lines, but getting those two lines right meant I had to watch them for ages. It’s fairly easy to draw what you think you see, a lot harder to draw what you do see. Drawing from life can be incredibly frustrating, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I draw something that looks OK. Or even OK-ish.

I sometimes question why I like drawing birds and animals so much. I think it’s partly because its so difficult, I like the challenge, but mainly because in order to get anywhere you have to look so carefully, which means you end up seeing interesting things. That Friday I saw three or so enormous carp fish swimming around the geese, their backs right out of the water. The biggest must have been almost a metre long. It looked totally bizarre, like a school of mini porpoises.

Pink footed geese

Pink footed geese

PInk footed geese landing

PInk footed geese landing

Pink footed geese