Tag Archives: Watercolour

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

 

New paintings of Lancaster Canal

I’ve been working on a few different things recently, and painting the canal has been one I’ve really enjoyed – probably more so than painting the back door, which has been another project. The door was easier though.

These are mixed media paintings in watercolour and acrylic paint. I live very near the Lancaster canal and spend a lot of time both canoeing along it and walking my dog, sometimes also canoeing with the dog, (as he prefers to be in the boat). I love the tranquility of the canal, and aimed to capture its ethereal beauty in my paintings.

These are all paintings of my local stretch of the canal, between Garstang and Lancaster, including my favourite bit which is the arm to Glasson Dock.

Winter Canal, near Lancaster. Mixed media.

Winter Canal, near Lancaster. Mixed media.

Misty Winter Morning, Lancaster Canal. Watercolour

Misty Winter Morning, Lancaster Canal. Watercolour

Canal in spring, near Glasson Dock. Mixed media

Canal in spring, near Glasson Dock. Mixed media

Summertime, Lancaster Canal. Mixed media

Summertime, Lancaster Canal. Mixed media

Autumn, Lancaster Canal. Watercolour

Autumn, Lancaster Canal. Watercolour

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

Wintry Watercolours available as Christmas Cards

My watercolour landscapes (and sheep-scapes) of NW England are now available as Christmas cards via my website shop.  These can be ordered as standard with the greeting ” Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year’, but you can also choose your own customised inside greeting.

Wintry Watercolour Christmas Cards

Wintry Watercolour Christmas Cards

Portrait class – ‘Dawn’

A couple of my art classes are learning portraiture at the moment, and last Thursday a friend and colleague from Halton Mill came to model for my evening class. This was the first time that some people had ever tried to draw a person. I have been really impressed by their work. Here are a few of their charcoal drawings, as well as my quick watercolour study.

I think that drawing a portrait really is one of the most difficult things to do. Tackling a drawing of a person often means overcoming considerable anxiety. You also need to override your brain ‘helpfully’ telling you how a face goes, and learn to draw what you actually see in front of you. As with any other subject, be it still life or landscape or whatever, a face is, for the purposes of drawing, a collection of shapes of light and dark. I find that deeply contrasting light makes tackling a portrait easier, as you can more easily identify the shapes of the shadows and highlights. Also, the less you can see, the less you need to put in! So evening is an ideal time to have a go at drawing someone. I turned off the lights and Dawn was almost completely in shadow, with only the left side of her face lit up by a lamp.

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Dawn

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

Emma reading Middlemarch. Watercolour

She was a very good model. Its fascinating how difficult portrait painting is. I find it more difficult than any other subject, including life drawing. Its something to do with trying to capture somebody’s personality, which I think is more than a simple likeness (in itself hard enough). Sometimes you can sketch someone really simply, just a few lines, and it is unmistakably them, other times you can labour over a painting for hours and it evades you. I like watercolour for portraits, because you are forced to simplify and minimise fussy detail.

Emma reading. Watercolour.

Emma reading. Watercolour.