The first time I saw this view – or rather the first time I really noticed it, was in the dark of early evening. I thought the buildings made interesting shapes and realized that with hardly any visible detail to distract me I was able to concentrate on the large masses seen as silhouettes – which is what one should always try to do when thinking about composition but isn’t always so easy. I determined to go back this morning and see what it looked like in daylight.
Although I could see more, I tried to keep the big shapes in mind and not be tempted to make too much of the detail, though the cars were a challenge.
Painted on a Saunders Waterford 9 x 12 ins HP block which I find is just about manageable when sketching in the car – any larger and the steering wheel causes major problems !
An interesting view of what is now a busy area coming into Stow on the Wold from the Fosseway to the north heading towards the town centre.
As far as I can make out, this area was mainly given over to Allotment gardens, some of which were on Glebelands, part of the Cleric’s benefice, hence the name ‘Parson’s Corner’
The only part the old Parson might recognize these days are the barn and some farm buildings behind the wall on the left. Today’s drivers tend to take the corner as if they are on a race track.
There are other interesting buildings further down the lane, but the only way of seeing them from this aspect is to park on a bus stop, which is rather frowned upon, so I may wait for a warmer, drier day when I can stand against a wall to sketch rather than attempt it from the car.
It has been such a lovely day today (for the end of October) that I went exploring down a side road which I don’t usually take as it is not really on my way to or from anywhere. I knew a few footpaths led off it but I was thrilled to turn a corner and discover this barn nestled in the trees.
I used New Gamboge, Permanent magenta and Winsor blue throughout the painting.
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.
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 !
Only a step away from the main High Street lined with shops and places to eat, this pretty corner receives little notice from the many visitors to the village.
Whether you are at home or spending some time at a holiday destination, it is worth searching out the back streets and the less well-known places which can often present the sketcher with some charming views.
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The summer weather couldn’t have come at a better time this year. Having spent some time out of necessity in the studio working on a commissioned painting and preparing for a workshop, I didn’t need much persuading when I heard reports of wall-to-wall sunshine..
I have been keeping my eye on the surrounding landscape over the last few weeks watching for signs of poppies and hay bales in the fields. It won’t be long before we have a riot of colour. The sun has been a long time coming and the farmers have been despairing over their crops ever ripening, but now it seems everything is surging ahead.
One of the most colourful places to visit is the Lavender farm at Snowshill. Field after field of the aromatic plant transporting you from the English Cotswolds to the French Mediterranean in an instant. If you haven’t seen it, it’s really worth a visit, especially now while the flowers are at their best.
And what a feast for the artist ! The day I visited, it was not too crowded. It is a magnet for photographers and those who just want to walk along the rows soaking up the atmosphere. There is plenty of space for everyone to do their own thing without being in anyone else’s way.
To sketch ‘en plein air’ out in the open, is one of the greatest joys as long as you don’t beat yourself up that what you produce may not be your best creation. For the serious painter it is a huge and important learning curve in studying the landscape and the effects of light. A never ending lesson. Whatever your level the experience and the emotions you have being there among the sights, sounds and smells lifts the spirits like nothing else.
So grab a sketchbook and have a go. Persuade a friend to accompany you if you like. They can always read a book if they are not inclined to play with paint.
And remember – Enjoy yourself !