Rudyard lake railway.

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This is a drawing I did last year of the dam, a little station on the Rudyard Lake railway, a miniature railway which runs over a railway bridge above the road going out of Rudyard village towards Macclesfield.

The station for the railway is situated just beyond the bridge on the land alongside it, you can drive up a slope to get into the car park. The miniature railway consists of small steam engines  (I’m not sure of the scale,  maybe a 5th or a 6th of the size of a fully grown one). There are small passenger carriages some with windows and some without that are towed behind the engine.

The line is open at weekends in the summer months to take you along the wooded valley that leads up to the lake.  (Not sure how much it costs sorry). The first stop is at the Dam  (pictured) which is where the lake has been dammed to collect water. That is because Rudyard Lake is a reservoir for the local canal system. The train journey then continues down the length if the lake to the far end of it.

The journey is very scenic, with views over the lake with boats sailing on it and the wooded hills beyond. Sometimes we get out of the train at the dam station so I can do a drawing or painting.

The railway was built by a school several years ago. It’s on the track bed of the Great Central railway which went from Manchester to Birmingham and then London. The track was taken up in the 1950’s  we think. It went through Rushton Spencer and on to Macclesfield then Manchester apparently.

Anyway, I think the lake was named after Rudyard Kipling? But it might be the other way round. His parents used to visit the area, but I don’t know the story about that I’m afraid.

The miniature railway has a snack bar with teas and coffees. Rudyard Lake has a tea room and other facilities. Parking can be difficult by the lake but you can also park at the railway and walk along the track bed which is also a footpath up to the dam where you can walk across to the little area with the tea room. This is where the boat club is based together with a little visitor centre. The footpath continues along the track bed up to the head of the lake and there are also little paths that you can follow to get closer to the lake.

Other access to the lake is along a narrow road which takes you into the Rudyard lake hotel carpark. I’m not sure about the parking there. I don’t remember having to pay but it can get crowded.

Rudyard lake is a couple of miles away from the main road between  Stoke-on-Trent and Leek. You can also get to it from the road between Leek and Macclesfield.

I’m not a travel writer so this may not be totally accurate.

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Mow Cop

Mow Cop…..

If you ever drive on the A34 between Stoke-on-Trent and Congleton, look to your left as you are driving North, just past little Moreton Hall. You might catch a glimpse of Mow Cop on top of the hill…

Mow Cop is a folly, built to look like a castle, and it stands above the village of Mow Cop, giving views of the Cheshire plain and Shropshire and the Welsh hills.

We decided to visit today as a group I am in- Stoke USK, (urban sketchers group) is due to visit on Saturday but I can’t make it.

I did some brief sketches of the castle and the view, clouds were quite low over the plain and rain was threatening. I irritated myself because I started the castle drawing too far over the page so had to start again.

While we were there we saw a carved stone with lettering on it. I could just make out the words. “To the Glory of God
A camp meeting near this spot on May 31st 1807 began the Religious Revival led by Hugh Bourne and William Clowes known as Primitive Methodism (unveiled?) By the president of the Methodist Conference 13th May 1948”

I knew that the Methodists had started in the area; Bethesda chapel in Hanley , the city centre of Stoke on Trent, is currently being restored. I imagined people gathering at Mow Cop, listening to the Victorian preachers, in rain, wind and hail. A romantic view I know. But the place is very atmospheric.

We finally tried to walk up to the castle, but the steep steps defeated me so I only got half way up. Richard managed a bit further.

Want to visit?  The castle is a bit difficult to find. Once you are on the hill you can’t see it as well. However there is a good sized car park when you get there. You will see a National Trust notice board and it gives the opening times. Roads approach from the A34 and a road from Tunstall in Stoke-on-Trent.

Exhibition time

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It’s that time of year when I have a small exhibition of work at Etruria. An area of Stoke on Trent in the Staffordshire.  This year it came round fast.  I didn’t really know it was going to happen till a couple of days ago. I think I was feeling a bit down and so I hadn’t organised things very well.

The building it is in is an old warehouse next to the Trent and Mersey, and Cauldon canals. It’s a very old building, with an old canoe up in the rafters, and half a model canal boat up high at one end I the room. It also has some of the largest long legged spiders I have ever seen….but thankfully once I had set up they went into hiding.

Anyway its happened, its up. I’m selling cards and necklaces as well as paintings. I am not really good at doing that. I can be polite, helpful, and enjoy explaining the work I have done, but I don’t like selling, putting a price on things.

I’ve spoken to a few artists recently and they feel the same way. They want to be creative, because they are creative, not because they want to run a business. …

Anyway I think people enjoyed what they saw at the exhibition, I had some good feedback.

What  want to do now is start working on new art!

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!

I am still here!

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Just busy at the moment. I’m painting some of the scenery for our local mystery play next Saturday. The theme is the Tittensor Evictions by the Duke of Sutherland, and including two wars and the suffragette movement all in twenty minutes.

The scenery is based on a painting by Corot. I think it’s a landscape in the south of France. I’ve added a thatched cottage and there will be figures in the foreground. This is half of the panel (or flat as they call it in the theatre) its 8ft by 4ft. There will be another panel of the same size attached above it which of sky. I’m also going to add the hall where the Duke lived to this panel.

I’m painting with acrylics and emulsion on hard board. This took me about two hours to paint. I also have a sign to do…. so I will be very busy again!

The Mystery play has been happening for over 10 years now at Penkhull. It started out being purely religious but has taken on different themes over recent years, including one about the river Trent. Apparently it’s the largest community arts event in Stoke-on-Trent and there were 400 people participating in putting it on last year.

It’s on 7th July if you feel like coming along…

 

Kaleidoscopic

One of my favourite things to do with photographs is to put them through the google layout app that allows you to take a photo, flip it and flip it again. You end up with strange abstract patterns, of symmetry and asymmetry, depending in how many photos you use.

I treated the goose photos two different ways. The large goose has been tipped and twisted 4 ways do that there is a pattern of S shapes. The other is 4 vertical panels, all the same size. That I have called “get your geese in a row”. The third picture is of partly completed kitchen cupboards “kaliediscoped”…

The fourth picture is two photos of almost the same view. Both were flipped,  but I made sure they did not line up for a change.

The fifth us of the pilings supporting the cafe at a local lake. The cafe seems to float above the lake and these pillars help to support it. The final photo was of oriental poppies at a local pottery….there seems to be a stepped path up through the foliage.

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New views of Spode. ..

Things are changing at the old Spode factory site.

Old buildings that don’t have much historical merit are being demolished and older buildings , or more architecturally important ones are being released from their imprisonment in brick, mortar, chip board, steel and concrete.

Like an archaeological dig tipped 90 degrees, new surfaces and entrances are being uncovered. Courtyards with windows newly on view. Stacks of saggars piled on shelves up at those windows, small or large,  flat or square ….the weight of the saggars must be tremendous. I wondered if the shelves are rotting and if they could collapse .

I remember seeing a film called “solarus” or “solaris” once years ago. By Tarcovski? A Russian film maker. The character’s moved through a post industrial nightmare, and I can’t help thinking Spode uncovered would make a brilliant film set.

A recent film called “jawbone” was filmed at Spode. They recreated a boxing gym in the China halls there. So many new views. ….

walking along the new pathway to the studios there, I wonder at the air we are breathing in, dust everywhere…how do we know there is no asbestos or other contaminants?

The feral cats of Spode can be friendly.  A grey and white Tom cat was hanging about next to the Hulton art pottery. We were told that someone is thinking of rehoming him. He had water and food….my partner wanted to take him home. But we already have two of our own cats. I think he will be OK. I have nicknamed him Maurice. ….