Off the beaten track

06-03 Tree at Little Rissington

I often wondered where the beaten track led to and decided as I was passing that today might just be the day to find out. As it is now June I want to do as much sketching outside as I can. As the track is narrow and deeply rutted it is not really suitable for the car so I parked a little way off and set off walking. It was quite interesting, passing a couple of buildings I had no idea were there, and then it was really out in the country, the track meandering between fields for as far as the eye could see. It was a case of “I’ll just go to the next bend and see where it goes..”  usually the answer was nowhere except to another corner in the distance.

I decided it was time to turn round and almost immediately spotted this lovely tree through a gate and over a hedge and I quickly set about a quick  drawing with a Staedtler pigment liner 0.3 and then – I felt the first drop of rain.

The watercolour was added when I reached the car by which time the spits and spots had turned into a downpour. It may be June, but the weather is still very playful.

“Off the beaten track at Little Rissington” 6 x 8 inches.

Hidden Door

Hidden Door

Doors, windows, gateways, have long been a favourite of artists, whether looking in from the outside or out from the interior.

In myths and traditions, doorways represent personal journeys and symbolize a transition from one stage of life to another. A new beginning.

Doors afford the viewer a glimpse into another world and is often the focus of mystery. What lies on the other side? An invitation to step over the threshold, perhaps into a different world.

Even closed doors may open at the gentlest touch if the viewer is brave enough to try…

Never put off…

05-23 Path from Upper Slaughter


It was a lovely day, as all this week has been, and I thought it would be a good idea to go back to a favourite tree of mine, which I have painted in the past and is always so much fun. Old, yes. Roughly textured, certainly. But it was the crazy angle it had adopted in it’s old age which made it stand out and gave it so much character. Not only a gift for a painter but no-one with a camera or a modern phone could resist it.

Over a busy main road, along a track, through one small village, through three fields heavy with buttercups, I anticipated how it would look, which angle would I paint it from ?  I never imagined it wouldn’t be there at all ! Alas it is no more. Just a little stump, it’s majesty cut up and carted away on the back of a trailer, and not too long ago by the look of it. If only I had gone last week.

I walked on a little further and looked back. If the day was not to be wasted, I had to paint something even if it wasn’t what I had intended.

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