Grey skies, Bright fields

It’s been a week of grey days and rain showers  (some of them heavy), so standing out to sketch hasn’t really been an option.

Even so, there have been some moments when one couldn’t have wished for a better scene, and this one caught my attention for two reasons. Firstly the eye-watering bright slash of colour across the landscape, and secondly the buildings behind which seem about to be swallowed up by the flourishing  crop.

Apparently, Rapeseed is the third largest source of vegetable oil in the World, which probably explains why there is so much of it about at the moment.

04-30 Sign of Spring


The woods are alive

The weather always likes to keep us guessing, but now I know Spring is here as the bluebells have come up in the woods, giving me the chance to paint one of my favourite annual scenes.

It may turn cold again, but it is only relative. Everywhere one looks there are signs of Nature coming back to life – and many folk re-discovering their lawnmowers !

04-29 Among the Bluebells

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