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.
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 !
I love Spring flowers but am dismayed at how quickly they come and go. Their life span is short and so too our chance to paint them, and a whole year passes before we have another chance, by which time one has forgotten what to do..
These have probably been forced somewhere and their buds may not open, but they are too good an opportunity to miss. I think I should have put more darks into the leaves but that might be another day.
Painted in a Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook.
This little balck and white timber-framed building on stone pillars was originally a meeting place for medieval wool merchants in Burford. The wool trade made the town and the Cotswolds rich, which is why there are so many grand buildings around.
Here I wanted to keep things sketchy with the neighbouring buildings only hinted at. I started by laying in a pale wash of French Ultramarine, Brown Madder and Yellow Ochre, letting them mingle on the paper, so the ‘white’ of the building is actually mostly this first wash.
The building now houses the Tolsey Museum containing artifacts of local interest.
Painted on Saunders Waterford 9 x 12 inch block.
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.
Sometimes it’s just not practical to sketch at a certain location – no place to stand without getting run over, nowhere to park a car, too much rain to make watercolour stick to the page… all of these applied to this one, but I just loved the tree and wanted to paint it so I had to resort to taking a photograph.
Horse Chestnuts, or “conkers” are always a welcome sight and I look forward to painting them at this time of year as they are so evocative of the change in seasons. You would think that they would all be the same size and shape, but I have yet to see two identical.
For the body of the chestnuts I use combinations of Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Violet (either Winsor violet or a mixture of French Ultramarine and Permanent Alizarin Crimson). If the chestnut is still bright and shiny I use a brighter yellow. As for the bits on top I make very light washes of mostly the same colours and let them mix together when wet and then go back in later with a few darker washes.
At one time, children used to drill a hole through them and attach them to a piece of string and then bash them against each other’s to see whose Chestnut would “conker”the rest. I tried to keep some of mine in good condition as I regarded them more as lucky mascots rather than weapons.
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 !