In the midday sun

Not always a good idea to be out in the midday sun, but once I snuck into the field, I was able to sit in the shade of the wall to do some sketching under blue skies and reasonable temperatures. The first time this year I have been able to get this close to bales of any kind.

I worked mostly with Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Winsor Violet and French Ultramarine with a little Cadmium Yellow and Permanent Sap Green for the trees. Although there were plenty of ‘noises off’ indicating the presence of others in the distance, I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to be.

Between showers

Intermittent rain for most of the week so far, so I was glad to be able to dodge it today long enough to do a sketch. After a couple of days spent mostly inside due partly to the weather and partly to a bad back, it was good to be in the open air again and able to sketch something however briefly. I am always amazed at how much of a comfort it is – like a shot of oxygen.

Before the rain

Well, they’ve been promising it for days, and this afternoon it finally reached us. I saw the warning in the sky on my daily walk across the fields . There have been spits and spots in the air for a while but nothing more, but I had a feeling that today I couldn’t hang about for long, and sure enough, I hadn’t been home long before the heavens opened.

At least the plants won’t need watering tonight.

Making Hay

I eventually found some hay bales today just as it felt it was about to rain. This was at the end of a long walk and I was running out of time (and didn’t want to get wet). Later, I discovered the field went round a corner and continued far into the distance, and I really wished I could have stayed longer and spent more time looking at what I was painting.

As it happened, although there was moisture in the air and the light became more overcast, the rain stayed away. So here we have the artists dilemma; to get down on paper the first thing you see, in preference to doing nothing at all, or to take one’s time and wander round, examining all possibilities before making a start? There are arguments for both, and of course it depends on the circumstances. How much time is available? What will the weather be doing by the time you are ready to paint? Is it actually possible to wander around or is there a barbed wire fence between you and your heart’s desire? So many things to ponder.

At least I have a sketch and a memory, and if the weather holds and if the farmer doesn’t move the bales under cover and if I can go back soon, I will!


I sketched this early this morning before the heat became hotter. I’d heard there were bales in a field nearby, but they had already been collected and taken away. This is the view passing from one field into another, the edge being a footpath leading to yet another field and so on. Some days one can walk for miles without meeting anyone, other times it seems the whole world is out walking their dogs. Or running. This morning it was pretty much deserted except for the flies.

Along the Riverbank

Along the riverbank, the rear views of buildings mostly shielded by shrubs and trees, can be just as interesting as the more often seen frontage with their large windows of items for sale if commercial, or the doors and windows surrounded by climbers such as roses, clematis or wisteria of private properties. This is especially true of older structures which have been lived in for many generations, and are now showing signs of old age and beginning to sag in places. The chimneys here are hardly exaggerated at all.

House across the field

Painted this morning before the watercolour class from the field behind the village hall in Churchill. Not many people around except for a couple of dog walkers. The sky was nice and blue but clouded over during the morning. They are still predicting record-breaking temperatures over the weekend. I stood in a shadow cast by a tree and used a fence post to rest my Moleskine sketchbook on. If you are painting watercolours out in high temperatures, try and find some shade not only to protect yourself, but to reduce the glare from your white paper and to prevent your washes from drying too quickly. You may have to work a little wetter than you do normally.

Imperial sketch

Sketched this view in Imperial Gardens, Cheltenham, this morning before it became too hot, although I did find a handy tree to sit beneath.Plenty of people walked by, but only one stopped to ask what I was sketching, and declared it “Smashing!”

sketched in a Stillman & Birn 7.5 x 7.5 inch sketchbook

A good read

A tip if you want to sketch a figure – look for someone who is sitting comfortably and engrossed in a good read, preferably a book or a newspaper, as they are less likely to get up and walk away than someone glancing at social media. Actually I hadn’t intended to tackle such a subject at all, but his orange jersey jumped out at me like a beacon. I don’t know what he was reading, but he was still there when I had finished – the perfect unsuspecting model!