Started again

I’m just starting a painting about 2ft by 2ft 6 inches.

It’s a view of the Spode site looking from the building that houses Hulton Pottery which is a small studio pottery on the Spode site, looking down the run of buildings then on to the iconic Spode Chimney that stands high above the site.

Spode is changing, parts have been demolished, other parts will be gone soon. However new people at moving into the studio’s on the site. Together with the visitor centre and the hotel it is becoming more vibrant and interesting.

Hopefully the weather won’t get too cold this winter, that’s what really puts me off going. I have a studio but my mind isn’t on things really. I have found it really hard to get motivated but perhaps I have turned a corner…..

So I will leave you with the beginnings of a painting..with luck I can get it finished soon.

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Two old paintings

You know when you find old paintings? You wonder where you were when you painted them, what you were doing! These bring back memories of a holiday at Challaborough in Devon in 2002.

The rocks were dark and solid, with red brown sandy beaches. Across the bay you could see Burgh Island, a small island across a stretch of sand. To visit it you had to drive up from Challaborough and follow the coast road round to a little hamlet opposite the island.

The stretch of sand is really a sand bar that reaches out from the coast to the island, sometimes it is under water and can only be reached on a sea tractor that has a seated platform high above the waves. The island is worth a visit  because there is a 1930’s hotel on it that Agatha Christie, the famous crime fiction writer, stopped at. There was also a pub near the shore of the island, called the Pilchard. Im not sure whether they are still open as it was over 16 years ago that we were there!

I remember taking little canvases with me and sitting painting the view from the caravan site we stayed at at Challaborough, I also remember having to stay there longer as I twisted my ankle because the caravan steps were rusted through with the sea air and collapsed when I climbed up them.

Anyway these are two small canvases that bring back memories…..

Inkwell..

 

 

There is a particular filter on Instagram that I sometimes use when I want to convert colour photos to black and white. There are a few options you can use including one called willow I think, but I  prefer inkwell. I generally adjust the colour balance first and then go to the filters and choose inkwell. The blacks are rich and deep and the light and white colours are not overexposed. The grey tones are warm and the overall picture remains as it was when I took the original photos.  I generally don’t do any more editing than that.

One thing that can be confusing is when it snows, the image of the wire and gemstone ygdrasil tree hanging in our window , with snowy roofs behind is a case in point, I chose it from a tiny thumbnail, and now looking at it the sky seems a bit pink? Actually when you look closely you can see the brass ring on the window hanging is coloured. The world can be black and white without filters!

View of Dartmoor

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This is a painting I did a few years ago of a friend standing beside one of the outcrops at the top of a hill in the Dartmoor national park.

The rocks have been weathered over the millennia to create flat plate like structures stacked up on top of each other. Sometimes the base will be of softer rock and so the stack will be formed above a narrow neck of rock where the surrounding stone had been worn away. Another place to find these sort of outcrops is in Yorkshire. You can also get limestone pavements where the rock is at ground level but there are large cracks going down deep between the rocks with plants growing up, taking shelter between the stones. These can be found up at Malham cove in Yorkshire.

My friend used to fly gliders over Dartmoor, so he knew his way around the area. It is a beautiful part of the world, high up above the surrounding countryside with rolling hills and wide skies. Sometimes it snows up there and it can be very bleak in the winter . I can imagine trying to shelter behind these rock on a cold winters day with an northerly wind blowing snow and sleet at you. I guess Dartmoor ponies might even have sheltered there.

The painting was quite small and was painted with acrylic on canvas. It went to a good home.

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Today’s drawings

Today I had the pleasure of going out with The Orme Art group for our annual trip to a landscape venue at an old house and its grounds in Staffordshire.

The weather was very windy,  so I decided to take a small sketch pad  and coloured pencils,  soft pastels, and fine tipped ink pens. I thought I had my portable chair in the back of the car but it wasn’t there when I opened the boot. Luckily there were chairs in the garden of the large house for us to use.

The other artists there were either painting with watercolours or acrylics, but we were in a reasonably sheltered spot, so they were not affected by the wind. There is something wonderful, sitting in a green space,  looking at the landscape, the shapes of the trees and leaves. Noticing where the shadows fall, which direction the light is coming from. Choosing the medium which is most appropriate for the drawing you are doing. I find using black pens are good for quick sketches, and outlining and shading shadowed areas. The pastels bought out the colours on an old tree, where only one section of bark was still attached and so only a few branches were still in leaf. I used the coloured pencils to try and give an impression of the solidity of the house with feathery leaves superimposed on the walls and windows. Finally I drew a quick sketch of one of the other artists as she painted the tree that I had drawn.

Having a small A5 sketch pad that is ring bound is really useful. You can draw across the whole page without it flipping shut on you. Yes the holes and wire can get in the way a bit, but being able to fold the whole book back allows for easier handling. You can use it in portrait or landscape positions, and it is easier to fold shut if you get caught in a sudden rainshower.

I spent about an hour on the drawing of the house, and 20 to 30 minutes on the landscape/tree. The quick sketch of my friend took about 15 minutes.

The one thing I should have worn is sturdy shoes! There were a lot of insects about and I’m lucky I didn’t get bitten!

Sea view

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside/estuary.

Lovely sunset, tried to capture the colours but because it was getting dark I couldn’t see the colours if the pencils and if I had put the light on I would not have been able to see the view….

I do like sketching instead of photography but in this case the coloured pencils did not do it justice…

Anyway it was another gorgeous day in the sunny UK. I have just read a short story by another blogger about the world drying up through man’s insatiable needs. I do wonder if this is further proof of global warming.

So much to mull over….

Maiden castle

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This is a painting of maiden castle that I painted a few years ago.  The place is an ancient monument, an iron age hill fort, near Dorchester in Dorset which is in the south of England.

The dancing figure in the foreground is meant to signify the age of the place. Her bones, and the rabbit skull below her are collapsing into the ground, what would archaeologists find if they dug there. The slopes of the hill fort are built up in steep steps. Like huge waves breaking on the coast of an island. The grass really does like to grow in waves and clumps.

So why did I paint it? I don’t know. Except that the place is full of mystery and ancient history. I probably would just paint the landscape if I was doing it now, but I’m glad I added the figure.