Friday, 30 September 2011

The haystack and the honey bee (with better images)

As you may have noticed, I've been a little inactive with posting lately since I've not had a great deal of time to do much art that is worthy of posting. However, when I have had the time, I have been re-evaluating where I want to go with watercolour, reading some of my collection of art books, gaining inspiration and generally playing with some new colour ideas and techniques which I hope to try out properly very soon.

Despite the hiatus, I still managed to get a quick sketch done yesterday on the way home from work. I went back to a local farm that I had sketched recently and was intrigued by the haystack that had appeared since my last visit. The sketch was done a little too hastily and that haste became even worse when a bee that was bigger than a hummingbird decided it liked the taste of the honey in my Schmincke paints! After digesting all that Cadmium and Cobalt it's probably become a radioactive mutant ninja bee now lol. Dissatisfied with the sketch, I decided to rework it into a complete painting and a better composition, all done in the comfort of home! I'm still not entirely  happy with the result but overall it's a reasonable effort.

PS These images, which were photographed in daylight, replace the original awful scanned images I originally posted - time to put the scanner away I think :)

Haystack, watercolour and Inktense pencil on Clairefontaine 300gsm/140lb Not, 24cm x 30cm/9.5" x 12"

And especially for Sue, here's the original sketch.

Happy painting and have a lovely weekend everyone. Normal posting will be resumed as soon as possible :)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Sketchday Huntingdon I

Today was the first sketchday (I hope of many) held here in Huntingdon. I had arranged to meet up with fellow blogger, and extremely talented oil painter, Sharon Wright. Sharon lives in the neighbouring county of Norfolk and had kindly agreed to drive down to meet up with me in Houghton, a very quaint little village which is just a short cycle ride from my home in Huntingdon. Sharon and I have been blogging friends for only a few months now but we both recognised each other immediately. After a nice introductory chat we got our art gear together and set off through the village to do some painting and sketching.

Our first location was on the riverbank overlooking Houghton Mill and the lower mill pond. The mill is a wonderful old building which still mills wheat and sells bags of flour in the adjoining mill shop. Sharon decided to be brave, set up her easel, and made a tremendous start on an oil painting of the mill itself. She also took a few reference photos so that she can finish the painting back home in the comfort of her studio. I decided to play it safe and did a small watercolour sketch of the millkeeper's cottage and the lower mill pond, although you can just make out the waterwheel that drives the mill on the far left of this sketch! Unfortunately I didn't get a photograph of Sharon at work in this location or one of her painting of the mill but I'm sure she will be posting one on her blog shortly as well as a photo of both of us, complete with nosey dog, kindly taken by a passing dog walker!

Houghton millkeeper's cottage, watercolour, 7" x 10"

We decided to take a little break and so sat at the tables outside the local pub which overlooks the village clocktower where we nattered for a while and drank bottled water lol!. After our break, we returned to the mill and riverside - but this time in search of boats. Sharon has a great passion for painting boats, but unfortunately the river was almost totally void of them today :(. However, we spotted a group of brightly coloured wooden rowing boats and punts by the upper mill pond and so we decided to stop there, unpacked our gear again, and settled down to do a second painting.

Sharon did a fabulous watercolour of some of the group of boats which were moving around a little too much for her liking! Again I took the soft option and tried to capture the view of  the lovely trees on the opposite bank. The sky was starting to darken, and I'm sure I felt a spot of rain at times, but we both continued to paint on regardless, despite the chill of the wind and the constantly changing light and moving boats!

The time went all too quickly for both of us but we thoroughly enjoyed meeting up. It was wonderful to spend a little time with a fellow artist and kindred spirit and the whole plein air experience, which was pretty much a first for Sharon, was really lovely. Hopefully we can find a few more local (or perhaps not so local) artists to join us for Sketchday Huntingdon II. Perhaps we can make it Sketchday East Anglia I lol !! Well done Sharon for being so brave and thank you for making the day a really splendid one!

Happy painting everyone.

Sharon adjusting her easel

Sharon proudly displaying her super watercolour of the boats

Sharon's view of the boats

My view of the mill pond

Houghton mill pond, watercolour, 7" x 10"

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The river in flood

I painted this one from a reference photo that I took in February 2010 just before sunset and at a time when the River Great Ouse was quite high and had started to overflow onto the flood meadows that line its banks for much of its course through Huntingdon and the neighbouring villages . This particular part of the river is where I often sit and relax after a good or bad day at the office! This painting and the one in my previous post were both painted using Royal Talens Rembrandt artists watercolours - they are a delight to use and may very well become my favourites! Those Dutch know a thing or two about paint you know ;) Happy sketching and painting everyone :)

River Great Ouse in flood, watercolour on Arches 300gsm/140lb Rough, 23cm x 31cm/9" x 12"

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The quiet before the storm

It seems strange that only a couple of posts ago I was talking about Hurricane Irene and hoping for the safety of our cousins in the US and now it seems that we here in the UK, particularly in the northern areas, are about to be visited by Hurricane Katia on Monday. As is the case with all hurricanes, its path and power are quite difficult to predict accurately, but it does look like we are in for some extreme weather conditions over the next couple of days or so, and so I can only say please do stay safe everyone.

I had intended to do a second watercolour, again based on a photo I had of one of the local village churches. However, I often feel that, for me anyway, painting from photographs tends to make me tighten up my work and so instead I decided to paint a similar kind of scene, but this time from imagination. I lost my way in the reflections a little but managed to recover the situation with the aid of a pencil scraping knife! Happy painting to you all :)

Village church, watercolour on Saunders Waterford 300gsm/140lb Not, 145mm x 210mm/5.75" x 8.25"

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The meadow and the bull

We went for a long family dog walk across the local meadows last Sunday, taking our chance in between the recent showers we have been having here of late. The walk hugs the river for most of the course and the river itself divides into several branches and the local council have kindly provided lots of wooden bridges to cross between the islands as well as stiles and cattle gates (or kissing gates as we call them) to stop the local herds from wandering too much. We are quite used to walking around the edges of some of the fields to avoid the bulls but we did have a rather stressful encounter with one particular bovine who decided to walk over towards us and so we all made our way through the gate a little quicker than normal lol!

The views across the meadows are truly lovely and there is one particular spot where you can see the spire or tower of three village churches, each belonging to a separate village. This watercolour is a view across the River Great Ouse, looking from Houghton Meadow towards the church of Hemingford Abbots whose spire seemed to puncture the threatening looking sky that hung across this low lying countryside. Happy weekend to you all :)

Hemingford Abbots, Jackson's watercolour on Arches 300gsm/140lb Not, 180mm x 260mm/7" x 10"

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Down by the river

It's been quite a busy week at work with one of our massive team of three off on holiday and the other 'working from home' - yeah right, lol. So that left me. Oh well, I still managed to get away early today and stop off by the river in town on the way home to do a quick sketch. I keep promising myself to do more drawing like this so this was a good start towards fulfilling that promise. I used a 3B watersoluble graphite pencil, not in my Moleskine this time, but in a small square format cartridge sketchbook which opens out perfectly flat to allow you to work across the pages as I did here. One day I'll manage to sketch fast enough to capture one of the many canoeists or rowers that use this calm stretch of water to practice :)

River Great Ouse, watersoluble graphite, 4" x 8"