At the end of the road

I drive past this view two or three times a day without thinking about it. Today, for some reason, it struck me it would make for an interesting sketch. The cottage, tree and postbox went in quite well, but I was a bit frustrated with the vehicle which took more time to draw than the rest put together. The weather hadn’t decided if it was going to be cloudy or sunny, so the light was a bit flat. They said more showers were on the way, so I didn’t want to wait too long to see what happened. There are a lot of greens here which need to be separated into warm and cool areas. The main tree is made from New Gamboge, Permanent Sap green, French Ultramarine with Prussian Blue and Winsor Violet in the darkest areas.

From little seeds

The Poppies have been beautiful this year and are always a welcome addition to the garden whether planted on purpose or a gift of Nature. Although their delicate petals do not always last long once the wind blows, their tall elegant seed heads add another sculptural element to the borders.

A Special Place

Well, it was fun while it lasted. To be in the heart of the countryside in Summer, deep in the meadows under a sun which has ripened corn and nourished life and inspired painters and poets for countless ages, is a privilege. This peaceful place with it’s rolled bales of hay, the sound of blackbirds in the hedges which border the fields, the iridescent blue of dragonflies flittering from place to place, even the persistent dive-bombing of blood-sucking insects have been the very essence of Summer for hundreds of years.

It is the place which nourishes my soul, which gives the luxury of time to enjoy solitude, to banish for a while the demands of modern life which causes needless stress. The chance to recharge batteries and to understand what is important in life and to hold on to it. To reaffirm one’s beliefs and reconnect to the central theme which keeps us all going.

Everyone needs a special place, and for each person it will be different. For me it is this spot which fulfills me. But even as I finish this painting, I hear the tractor and trailer, which will scoop up the bales and remove them, approaching. The gentle breeze of the past few days is working itself up into something stronger, presaging a change in the weather. Next week will be different, but I know my special place will be there again one day, and I will be drawn to it, to be nourished again, as I always am.

Painted on Saunders Waterford watercolour block.

In the meadow

Same subject matter, different location. This time in the meadows near my home. Fields of them, and nobody looking as if they are thinking about moving them soon. So while everyone was sitting sensibly indoors, I perched in the shade of a bale and breathed in the sweet scent of freshly cut grasses and wild flowers while painting today’s sketch. The only down side was when I became aware of an itch in the hand holding my palette and discovered a not-very-nice-looking creature happily sucking my blood. I flapped it away, but some hours later I can still see the puncture mark it made.

This is another entry in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.

Summer bales

I spent this morning sketching possibly my most favourite thing to paint at this time of year. Hay bales or Rolls, call them what you will. You never know where to find them as they tend to crop up in different places each year. Wherever they are, I am always more than happy to spend a day, or days, in the field. Just them and me !

Today however, just as I found them and started to get excited, a large lorry drove into the field and parked between me and some of the bales. I was determined to get something down in my sketchbook before they disappeared, so did this first one fast.

After I’d finished, nothing much had changed. There was a lot of talking but no-one had approached either me or the bales. I assumed they were waiting for some other machinery, like a fork-lift or similar to start loading, so I decided I might have a little more time to sketch another.

Here I was standing on the side of the road trying not to get stung by the cluster of nettles, and used the top of a stone wall to rest my sketchbook on. Most passers-by ignored me but I had an interesting conversation with a lady who shared her memories of a painting holiday in Cornwall. With both sketches done, I thought it had been a good morning well spent.

Both painted in my moleskine 5×8″ landscape watercolour sketchbook.


The class painted at the old churchyard today, only the second time we have been out as a group this year! I sketched the archway which stands more or less by itself in the middle of nowhere. Ironwork on the pillars suggest there must have been a gate, or gates, at one time, so was perhaps the main entrance ? It could have been meant as a memorial. I shall have to go back when the Heritage Centre is open and I can read a bit more about it.

Although not quite as sunny as the day before, everyone enjoyed themselves and produced some good work.

Sketched on a double page spread of a Stillman & Birn 8×10 inch Beta portrait format sketchbook.

Cherries and scones

Our cherry tree continues to thrive despite its advanced age. After a late start, the fruit has proved to be extra plump and juicy this year, and has been much enjoyed by the Blackbirds and their young. Luckily we reached agreement with them about sharing and have managed to pick a few bowls for ourselves to make into jam.

I also managed to get some down in my sketchbook before they vanished into the pot.


Dodging the morning showers, I went to paint the medieval church of a village destroyed by fire in 1684.

The story goes that a local woman wanted to bake a loaf of bread but did not want, or could not afford, to pay the chimney tax imposed by the government of the day. She tried making a funnel from her hearth to her neighbour’s chimney, and succeeded in destroying twenty houses and ending the lives of four inhabitants.

The surviving villagers moved further up the hill and built a new village and church, this time of stone. The old building and graveyard fell into disrepair but were saved again in the 1800’s and are now a heritage site in Churchill, Oxfordshire.

This was painted on a small block of Saunders Waterford Hot Press paper which I quite like. It seems to have a different surface quality than the sheets of the same. It can be used on an easel without having to include a drawing board and is small enough and light enough to hold in the hand if not using an easel.

Garden pots

Turned out to be quite humid today but not as much sunshine as expected. However there was a brief moment early afternoon when I found an opening to sketch some garden pots with French Marigolds and Petunias before the shadows disappeared again.

No sun, but have flowers.

As we are lacking natural sunshine at the moment, I thought I’d import some from the supermarket in the form of Sunflowers. Although they are still a little shy, one of them has pried itself a bit more open than the rest, and I have been playing with it this morning.

Everything in the garden is about a month behind where it usually is at this time of year, possibly due to the frosts which kept on coming right into May. We are told things will perk up by the end of the week. Meanwhile, flowers, shy or otherwise, are always lovely to paint.