The Cottage

10-06 village cottage

I pass this cottage any number of times during the week, sometimes without really noticing it. Recently as I went by, it was the light on the foliage in front of the cottage which jumped out at me and made me want to paint it.

I couldn’t stop at the time, but the memory stayed with me.

Although the building may be recognizable, it is not accurate. I didn’t want to make a portrait of a particular place. Many liberties have been taken and the background hardly mentioned at all. As it was the tree(s) which struck me, this was where I tried to keep my focus when I painted it later mostly how I thought it should be.

I hope I have caught the feeling of the place.

Greystones 2

10-05 October barns 2

This is a different version of yesterday’s view of the farm barns. Less of what was actually there and more of how I wanted to paint it to give it more of an autumnal/wintry feel. The feeling a subject gives you is just as important to take into consideration.

This one was painted with a limited palette of Yellow Ochre, Brown Madder and French Ultramarine, which in some ways is easier than using a full colour palette as you don’t have so many decisions to make and it gives the painting a certain unity. Also it is interesting to see just what colours you can make from so few pigments.

Which version do you prefer?

In-between days

09-20 Freshly fallen

We are currently having that tug-of-war between the seasons with some days wild and wet,  proclaiming that Autumn is asserting its superiority, and others, mild and sunny suggesting that Summer has not yet quite deserted us.

The wild and wet days knock down the Horse Chestnuts from the trees together with some small branches. Some of the fruits split upon hitting the ground giving us a glimpse of a startling white interior and a flash of  mahogany of the concealed nut.

All too quickly the bright colours become dull and one has to be quick to grab the chance of a sketch. This was painted on Saunders Waterford 140lb Hot Press.

“Conkering” with Watercolour

09-20 Horse Chestnuts

Horse Chestnuts, or “conkers” are always a welcome sight and I look forward to painting them at this time of year as they are so evocative of the change in seasons. You would think that they would all be the same size and shape, but I have yet to see two identical.

For the body of the chestnuts I use combinations of Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Violet (either Winsor violet or a mixture of French Ultramarine and Permanent Alizarin Crimson). If the chestnut is still bright and shiny I use a brighter yellow. As for the bits on top I make very light washes of mostly the same colours and let them mix together when wet and then go back in later with a few darker washes.

At one time, children used to drill a hole through them and attach them to a piece of string and then bash them against each other’s to see whose Chestnut would “conker”the rest. I tried to keep some of mine in good condition as I regarded them more as lucky mascots rather than weapons.

Street Signage

09-17 Street signage

As this is on the main road into and out of the village, I must have driven passed or into it countless times without thinking about it or considering what was there. Which is probably just as well as the road is busy enough with cars, coaches, pedestrians and a corner just ahead of this scene. There is already quite enough to think about as it is.

Which is why, I expect, it was when I was walking by the other day that the different shapes of the signage caught my eye and made me consider them as a possible painting. From a sketching point of view there is a lot of interest here. As a driver the signage can be annoying as it sometimes blocks the view of oncoming traffic.

Approach through Lansdowne


Having had a little time off from painting recently, I felt a little rusty and so painted this view of the River Windrush as it meanders it’s way towards the village from a hastily scribbled sketch in my studio.

The trees are only just beginning to hint of Autumn if you look closely, so there is still a lot of green around, which is always a challenge. At the moment I mostly tend to use Winsor & Newton New Gamboge (yellow) and French Ultramarine in various proportions, and for the darker areas use more of the blue with a touch of Winsor Violet.

Painted on Saunders Waterford 140lb NOT (cold press) paper 11 x 15″

Coffee shop moments

coffee shop moment

I’m really not very good at figures but it’s something I always like to try when sitting for a few moments in a certain coffee shop or similar.

Usually I take the easy option and sketch a figure from behind so I don’t get hung up about facial features or worry about getting a likeness. For me the fun is to try and capture a moment and create a memory, and if I can include a little of the surroundings, so much the better.

Here I drew with a Zig millennium fibre tip pen and then washed in some Winsor and Newton Paynes Grey watercolour, but you could achieve the same effect with water soluble ink and a damp brush.

There is the added excitement of not being sure whether the figure will still be there when you next look up from your sketchbook or whether you have to finish it from memory !