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!

Seed pods

During a routine garden tidy-up this weekend, one of the casualties was a sad looking bedraggled poppy with shrivelled leaves flopping over the wall and across the pavement. I saved these seed pods to paint and to keep until they are ready to burst and provide us with a lot of offspring next year.

Under grey skies

We have lost the sun for the moment, but the low light on these black plastic bales of silage in a field near Snowshill was still enough to attract my attention today. I used combinations of yellows and blues to create the greens, mostly Cadmium Yellow, New Gamboge, French Ultramarine and Prussian Blue.

5×8″ landscape Moleskine sketchbook

The Poppy seat

We bought this seat as a garden feature but also for somewhere to sit in order to take a breather from the never ending little jobs that always seem to need doing in any garden. Last year some self sown marigolds grew up around it, and this year a lone poppy plant which seems to have expanded in all directions, has completely surrounded it, making us feel like intruders!

May be next year we will get to sit on it, that is if the foxgloves don’t beat us to it.