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"


  1. You sure have a way with words! I hope folk follow the link on my blog because you have described the day magnificently. I had a fabulous day, thank you. You certainly out-painted me, but you have inspired me to get out there and just do it!

  2. Hi Sharon and thank you for taking the time and trouble to get here today. Good to know you got back safely too :) It was indeed a fabulous day, despite the slight chill of autumn! I hope we have both inspired others to get out there and enjoy their art plein air!

  3. So enjoyable to see you both had a wonderful day! It's so much better to paint plein air with a fellow artist! You both made wonderful paintings!

  4. Dear Michael,

    How wonderful for you and Sharon to meet and paint together. Love what you both did, you are an exceptional artist and Sharon is quite gifted.

    All the best to you,

  5. Hi Judy. Thank you, it was great to spend a day painting with another artist. Happy wet-in-wet painting :)

    Hi Joan. Thank you! Yes, Sharon is a gifted artist. I hope she starts to get the recognition she deserves. Best wishes, Michael :)

  6. How lovely! And such gorgeous sketches too! Let me know when it is 'Sketching day in East Sussex', lol! :0)

  7. what a fabulous day, meeting up with a kindred spirit.
    Love your watercolours - and listen, going out there is no soft option - so I wouldn't call your paints that either!

  8. You both have a beautiful landscap painted. Each in his own style. Really nice

  9. Hi Michael.
    All brilliant my friend. Photos as well. Glad you met up with Sharon for a days painting. In my Sons area as well. Lovely paintings Michael, well done. All the best.

  10. Thank you all very much indeed!

    Sandra - what a great idea, how are you with next Saturday lol! Seriously, there are quite a few (in my group of followers that is) who live around London ... so maybe we could arrange something there :)

    Pat - you're absolutely spot on. Going out painting isn't a soft option. We did get a few nosey parkers, mildly irritating comments and a very big and bouncy but lovely dog lol.

    Renske - yes, it is interesting to watch another artist at work and to see the different views and approaches they take to the same scene.

    Vic - if you're ever up here to see your son, and have a little spare time, we really must meet up. That would be really nice :)

  11. Beautiful is so fun to see your scenery "translated" into paint--beautiful!

  12. Hi Celeste. Thank you very much for your kind comment and for stopping by my blog. All your work is lovely and so inspirational :)

  13. 1st. Congratulations on getting out there and doing it.

    2nd.Your millkeepers cottage is fabulous! Although I prefer Houghton mill pond as it has great atmosphere.

    Sketchday EA... count me in, if I'm in country ;D

  14. Thank you Sue. Yes it was great to sketch and paint with Sharon, a great artist and kindred spirit.

    Sketchday EA is beginning to sound more than just a possibility - Cambridge, Colchester, St Albans: all good from a logistic and artistic point of view!
    As I suggested to Sandra, staging a meet-up in London would be good too and we may get quite a few more people interested from the Midlands, Home Counties, South and South East as well as East Anglia.

    Hope you are settled back into life in Qatar again after your relaxing break in Cuba :)

  15. Wonderful post. You and Sharon did a great job and I really like "Millkeeper's Cottage". What a fabulous day. I'm not a million miles away from your neck of the woods so could be up for Sketchday Huntingdon II. ;-)

  16. Hi John and thank you very much for your lovely comments. Not sure when Sketchday Huntingdon II will be but I have got a few more holidays left to take this year so as soon as I have some possible dates I'll definitely be in touch. It would be great to meet up :)

  17. Michael, great work on both of you... your watercolors blow me away! so natural, (so English) just the way I always picture them... BJ

  18. Hi BJ. Wow, thank you very much for your generous comment. It was great fun and really good experience to paint with Sharon. I'm delighted that you really liked my watercolours :)

  19. I see a 'James Fletcher Watson' touch here Michael, and I love it! :)

  20. Thank you very much Ingrid - that's a huge compliment. Actually, although I was aware of JFW and loved the 'apparent' simplicity of his watercolours when I started to paint 20 years ago, I never got any of his books and now of course they're quite difficult to get hold of. He was a true master of watercolour :)


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