Saturday, 6 August 2011

Extreme plein air sketching

These are my last offerings for you from my week's holiday here in the beautiful county of Dorset :( The first one was a very bizarre experience indeed for me. I thought that sitting in a quiet country lane at 8:00 in the morning wouldn't attract too much attention but I happened to pick a place where the owner of a thatched cottage, just to the right of the one I sketched, happened to be an amateur painter too! He stood and chatted with me and watched me make almost every mark. It could have been a horrible experience but it wasn't and now I have no fear of onlookers and also know how expensive it is to buy hay for horses LOL! The second one was done under much less pressure while I was relaxing on one of the National Trust beaches in Studland, a strip of loveliness along the Dorset coast and a fabulous place to sketch. I just threw my watercolour pencils onto my beach rug as I worked!
Have a lovely weekend everyone, Michael.

Ulwell cottage, Watercolour, Derwent A5 sketchbook

Here is an almost identical view of the actual place on Google Maps. Judging by the lovely show of daffodils in the grass verges, I would say the Google car took this photograph around April time. If you pan the camera to the right, you can see the thatched cottage, the left hand side of which was the the home of the onlooker that watched me paint! If you pan the camera further to the right, you can see the rough track where I sat and sketched.

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Middle Beach, Studland, watercolour pencil, Derwent A5 sketchbook


  1. Looks like you work well under pressure! That's a lovely loose painting. (...hay for learn something new everyday! :o)

  2. I like both, but the top one is great! Wasn't it difficult to concentrate with someone watching?

  3. This is gorgeous Michael. Especially the first one is well painted. Yes, every day you learn something. Now you know how expensive it is to buy hay for horses and you have fear of painting with onlookers overcome.

  4. Hi Michael, Again.
    I like these two paintings. I know what you mean about people standing beside you watching you paint. I did get use`to that a long time ago, but at first, it was nerve racking, as you probably know. My favourite is the cottage, the painting that fellow was watching you do. All the best Michael.

  5. Well done you - the top one painted while someone is watching - and it is FAB !
    You'll have to change your blog name to Michael "No Fear" :)

    The second is good too - love the windbreak behind the scrub. Nice touch . xx

  6. Michael, you certainly work well under pressure. I also am partial to the cottage painting. Love the composition and lovely shadows. The second is also very good. Love the way you used your derwent wc pencils, your ability to describe an on the spot scene is amazing. Have a great weekend.


  7. Not easy to paint/draw while people are watching , but for you it worked beautiful, I,m not a big fan of watercolor pencils, but you did well. The top one ?. That watercolor is a gem. !!! BJ

  8. It's fabulous that you are sketching regularly like this! It's something that I need to do far more of! I find people chatting to be quite distracting, but maybe that's more about the lack of confidence in what I am doing at the time! :0)

  9. I love the cottage painting. It conveys the charm of the quaint country scene. The colors are lovely too. And all that while being watched. Not something I would like to do.

  10. Oh my, so many comments. Thank you everyone :) Back home again now so hopefully these personal replies will not get lost!

    Lisa - I'm used to working under pressure in my job, but this was different. You're so lucky to live in Dorset :)

    Judy - no I think I concentrated more on mixing the right colours and thinking about each brush stroke so it was a worthwhile ordeal :)

    Renske - I learnt a lot that day and have a lovely memory in my mind and in my sketchbook now :)

    Vic - I wasn't nervous at all since it wasn't the first time out or the first time that someone has taken an interest, but it was the longest I have had to endure an onlooker :)

    Pat - Yes 'No Fear' I like that! I took out quite a bit of the background but the windbreak was a nice compositional feature and stayed in :)

    Joan - as you know yourself it's not easy being watched but it was worth it all to get such lovely comments :)

    BJ - I loved doing the top one best too so I'm really pleased you think it's a gem :)

    Sandra - this guy wasn't just chatting, he told me his whole lifestory LOL! I think it is a confidence issue at first but once you get through that you don't think twice about sketching in public.

    Jean - yes it is a quaint place definitely so I'm glad I conveyed that. I think you would be absolutely fine painting with an onlooker.

  11. Very nice PA paintings! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I love the energy of the second one, although the first one is very pleasing to look at.

  12. Hi Maggie and thank you. Yes it was a wonderful holiday and I managed to get lots of sketches done, all plein air, apart from the one I did in gouache from a photo. I like the more energetic marks of the second one too.

  13. I really like the top painting, great use of the paper to produce highlights.

    I'm amazed at what you carry around... I'll take a photo of my Cuba stuff for you, but haven't found a bag that'll take the A3 watercolour block yet lol.

  14. Hi Sue and thank you. Cuba, wow lucky you! I need to minimise even more on what I carry really. I took so much away with me, including an A4 watercolour sketchbook, but most of it was never used. Sounds like you need a Felix the Cat bag lol.

  15. The painting of the cottage is wonderful – its composition, its colors and depth. It’s great that you overcame the hurdles of plain air painting! To me even just the wind and sun are still too distracting, let alone a by-stander...

  16. Hi Blaga. Thank you very much indeed for your kind comments. You have some lovely work on your blog which I will take a longer look at very soon! As far as working plein air is concerned, the wind is a real problem in the UK but the sun ... well, not very often!

  17. catching up with all your recent sketches micheal ..cottage is super .

  18. Hi Jane. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments :)


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