At the end of the road

I drive past this view two or three times a day without thinking about it. Today, for some reason, it struck me it would make for an interesting sketch. The cottage, tree and postbox went in quite well, but I was a bit frustrated with the vehicle which took more time to draw than the rest put together. The weather hadn’t decided if it was going to be cloudy or sunny, so the light was a bit flat. They said more showers were on the way, so I didn’t want to wait too long to see what happened. There are a lot of greens here which need to be separated into warm and cool areas. The main tree is made from New Gamboge, Permanent Sap green, French Ultramarine with Prussian Blue and Winsor Violet in the darkest areas.

Café conversations

The tail end of a storm passed through this morning, so I had the chance to draw a few ‘types’ taking refuge over a cup of coffee. Despite restrictions having been lifted, there are still a lot fewer people around than in pre-covid days. This meant I had a choice of tables where I could sit and draw without being too obvious. It is always fun to try and capture these mini-characters, but it’s been a while since I had the opportunity. If I had been able to sit there uninterrupted for a few more hours (days?), I might have begun to get somewhere.

Two Blue

After a morning in front of a computer screen, I needed to get out into the fresh air and stretch my legs. I took a sketchbook with me as usual, but I didn’t go out with the prime intention to ‘find something to paint’. In my experience, the more you search for a subject, the harder it is to find one. The danger then is to become frustrated at having ‘failed’ to find anything suitable. So, in desperation, you grab hold of something which isn’t at all ‘suitable’ and try hard to make it into a masterpiece. That mostly doesn’t happen and usually leads instead to feelings of negativity. Not good.

However, none of that happened today. I went out more to think than to look , and having a sketchbook with me was more by habit than anything. But on my way back, I happened to glance across the allotments and for some reason these two barrels caught my eye and I knew I wanted to sketch them – just for fun.

Fresh from the garden

With showers on and off all day, I travelled only as far as the vegetable patch and back. Looks like courgettes (zucchini) and beans are on the menu tonight. Not sure about the beetroot yet. Can’t get fresher than that!

The cooler greens of the beans are from Lemon yellow and Cobalt blue, while the darker greens made use of New Gamboge, Permanent Sap green and French Ultramarine. A little Prussian blue was used for the highlights as well as leaving some unpainted paper. Permanent Rose, Permanent Magenta, Winsor violet and a little Raw Umber were used on the beetroot.

Before the rain

We’ve been used to blue skies and sunshine recently despite warnings of thunderstorms since the weekend. Today was grey, it’s true, but I went out anyway and managed to paint this little barn, which I have done many times before. The rain stayed off long enough for me to walk home, and when it came it was heavy but brief. Not long enough to give the gardens as much as they could do with, but there may be more on the way.

From little seeds

The Poppies have been beautiful this year and are always a welcome addition to the garden whether planted on purpose or a gift of Nature. Although their delicate petals do not always last long once the wind blows, their tall elegant seed heads add another sculptural element to the borders.

A Special Place

Well, it was fun while it lasted. To be in the heart of the countryside in Summer, deep in the meadows under a sun which has ripened corn and nourished life and inspired painters and poets for countless ages, is a privilege. This peaceful place with it’s rolled bales of hay, the sound of blackbirds in the hedges which border the fields, the iridescent blue of dragonflies flittering from place to place, even the persistent dive-bombing of blood-sucking insects have been the very essence of Summer for hundreds of years.

It is the place which nourishes my soul, which gives the luxury of time to enjoy solitude, to banish for a while the demands of modern life which causes needless stress. The chance to recharge batteries and to understand what is important in life and to hold on to it. To reaffirm one’s beliefs and reconnect to the central theme which keeps us all going.

Everyone needs a special place, and for each person it will be different. For me it is this spot which fulfills me. But even as I finish this painting, I hear the tractor and trailer, which will scoop up the bales and remove them, approaching. The gentle breeze of the past few days is working itself up into something stronger, presaging a change in the weather. Next week will be different, but I know my special place will be there again one day, and I will be drawn to it, to be nourished again, as I always am.

Painted on Saunders Waterford watercolour block.

In the meadow

Same subject matter, different location. This time in the meadows near my home. Fields of them, and nobody looking as if they are thinking about moving them soon. So while everyone was sitting sensibly indoors, I perched in the shade of a bale and breathed in the sweet scent of freshly cut grasses and wild flowers while painting today’s sketch. The only down side was when I became aware of an itch in the hand holding my palette and discovered a not-very-nice-looking creature happily sucking my blood. I flapped it away, but some hours later I can still see the puncture mark it made.

This is another entry in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.

Summer bales

I spent this morning sketching possibly my most favourite thing to paint at this time of year. Hay bales or Rolls, call them what you will. You never know where to find them as they tend to crop up in different places each year. Wherever they are, I am always more than happy to spend a day, or days, in the field. Just them and me !

Today however, just as I found them and started to get excited, a large lorry drove into the field and parked between me and some of the bales. I was determined to get something down in my sketchbook before they disappeared, so did this first one fast.

After I’d finished, nothing much had changed. There was a lot of talking but no-one had approached either me or the bales. I assumed they were waiting for some other machinery, like a fork-lift or similar to start loading, so I decided I might have a little more time to sketch another.

Here I was standing on the side of the road trying not to get stung by the cluster of nettles, and used the top of a stone wall to rest my sketchbook on. Most passers-by ignored me but I had an interesting conversation with a lady who shared her memories of a painting holiday in Cornwall. With both sketches done, I thought it had been a good morning well spent.

Both painted in my moleskine 5×8″ landscape watercolour sketchbook.

Old barn early morning

With continuing high temperatures it’s been best to set off sketching early before it becomes sweltering, and the difficulties mentioned in yesterday’s blog start to become a nuisance. I wanted to capture the light filtering through the trees, and the shadows on the roof of the barn, before it all changed. Sometimes you have to simplify, a lot, to capture the feeling that first attracted you to the scene. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of being too literal to the scene as it changes, and end up losing the initial idea. I think in this one I have almost captured what I was hoping for.