A little sunshine

A little sunshine and a holiday weekend ahead, and the world comes out to play. A young couple walked arm in arm, a family, father and sun striding ahead of mother and daughter, heads bowed deep in conversation, a lone jogger zig zagging her way between the visitors, a group of horse riders being led, a photographer taking pictures with a real camera mounted on a tripod. All chose to spend their morning in the little village of Lower Slaughter, where I found a quiet spot to lean on a gate to paint this stone building in a small sketchbook.

Old stone shelter. Lower Slaughter

Spring morning

I have not tried Gouache (opaque watercolour) very much before, but having discovered some tubes in a box at the back of my shelves, I thought I would give them a try. I’ve read a lot about the various pitfalls, but then most mediums have pitfalls in one way or another, so on the principle that the best way to see how something works is to give it a try and see what happens, that’s what I’ve been doing.

Early days yet, and admittedly I have been using them thinly so there is not a lot of difference from the transparent watercolours I normally use except perhaps a slight creaminess in the texture which I quite like. Also because I have not added a lot of white to them, or tried to build up any impasto, the colours do not appear any duller.

Spring morning in Ampney St Mary

    ‘Spring morning in Ampney St. Mary’ 7 x 11 “

                               Gouache on Saunders Waterford HP watercolour paper



The church of Ampney St Mary near Cirencester stands alone in a field by the side of a busy road a few miles distant of the village. It is thought the original village may have fallen prey to plague or the Black Death. Whether true or not, the church with it’s trees standing guard around it provides an interesting subject for the artist.

This is a sketchbook entry from which I want to make a larger painting on paper – part of a series with the other Ampney villages, Ampney Crucis and Ampney St Peter.

03-21 Ampney St Mary

Before the week is over

Having spent most of the week chasing about on non-painting stuff, I was determined to go out today and sketch if only for a few minutes before the week was over.

After a beautiful couple of weeks, the recent rain has made  many of the fields waterlogged in places, so the going was a bit squelchy. Nevertheless I managed this little sketch on a half page of my Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook. Not great, but it felt so-o good to be putting paint to paper again! I arrived home just before the rain started.

sketchbook note

February morning

With a temperature of around 15c/60f it is difficult to remember this is actually FEBRUARY.  With hardly any breeze today one could easily be fooled into thinking it was Summer. Now the schools are back after their half term break, it is much quieter and I only met two dog walkers on my way to my ‘painting ground’.

It’s strange how some days you can look and look and not find anything that inspires you and other times like today there seems to be so much in every direction you don’t know where to begin. The truth is, you can spend an awful lot of time waiting to be ‘inspired’ and end up with nothing (actually if you just sit and wait for inspiration to come along and grab you, you probably wouldn’t paint very much at all). Whereas for me the very act of washing pigment onto paper and watching it merge and interact is the greatest inspiration there is.

February Morning

By the water’s edge

Out for a walk the other day, my eye was caught by a little river which sometimes trickles, sometimes gushes through the landscape. Sometimes the water is still and clear, other times it is full of ripples. Always different, endlessly fascinating.

I took photos and made some small pencil sketches from various positions trying to concentrate on what I thought were the essential points of the view I was seeing. This little 6 x 8 inch is the first thoughts on what I hope to build up into a larger painting, although not necessarily from this angle. It might be something I have to keep coming back to as I keep exploring the idea.

02-22 By the water's edge

First Tulips

I love Spring flowers but am dismayed at how quickly they come and go. Their life span is short and so too our chance to paint them, and a whole year passes before we have another chance, by which time one has forgotten what to do..

These have  probably been forced somewhere and their buds may not open, but they are too good an opportunity to miss. I think I should have put more darks into the leaves but that might be another day.

Painted in a Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook.

Yellow Tulips

A walk is never wasted

Sometimes when out walking you make wonderful or surprising discoveries simply by determining to go on a little further to see what is around the corner. This was not one of those times. I’d hoped that there was a fence or a gateway into another field which would eventually lead me to somewhere I recognized, and another little piece of the jigsaw of local fields would fall into place.

Unfortunately the undergrowth was so dense here I had to turn back until I could find a way through to where I knew I had to be. It was still an interesting walk and not entirely wasted (walks are never wasted) as I ended up with this small 6 x 8 inch painting.

02-13 End of the field