SUMMER’S END – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

I’ve missed some good opportunities to get out painting recently. A few times the forecast didnt look promising but the next morning you are presented with a glorious day. Too late to assemble everything and select a location, leaving me to rue the missed opportunity.

Last week the opposite was true – good forecast, but I awoke to a hazy morning. As I was up and prepared, I decided to make the most of it.

At my selected location they were harvesting and the bales added interest to a fairly plain subject.

Then, I walked up and sat down on a few you see on the right and painted this view of the church and vicarage.

Perhaps a few wonky sheep, but by then the sun had broken the haze and I was in better spirits.

I could be criticised by my reluctance to seize any opportunity. But last minute opportunism can carry penalties. Last Wednesday evening I went to a life session. Setting out my equipment in the studio, I opened my glasses case to find it empty. Life is hard enough, but as the light faded it became almost impossible. On this occasion I’d prepared everything before departing, yet still forgot this vital accessory. Grabbing all my kit at the last moment only opens me up to many more omissions.

Still, hopefully, there may be one or two opportunities to paint outside left this year – I just need to be ready.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

HIGHTOWN FARMS – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

We’ve been on the road quite a bit recently visiting friends and currently celebrating the wife’s birthday in Dublin, but earlier in the week I managed to tear myself away and get some painting done. These are farms just north of Liverpool. The one above is Whitedge farm, the last painting, I did on my Tuesday morning trip.

Compare that to the softer effects of my first painting of the morning of another farm, Moss farm, below.

I think the effects are down to the slower drying rates you get in the cooler early morning. The top painting was done around 8-30 am, with the sun climbing in the sky, whilst the first, of Moss Farm, was done around 6-30 am. After doing this first sketch I continued along the track and painted Moss Farm again but from the right hand side as you look in the view above.

This was done contra jour and with a stiff brush I was able to remove paint to create some of the forms I could just see on the farm. This cluster of buildings isnt very pretty, but I think both paintings conceal most of the ugliness.

An enjoyable few hours on a glorious morning and the good weather continues here in Dublin. Just about to go off on a walking tour of the city.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SUNSHINE ON A RUST RIVEN ROOF – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

On my last sketching trip, which I blogged a week or so ago, I was cycling back when I spotted this barn with it’s rusting roof glowing in the sunlight. I resolved to come back and try a painting of it. But on my return, despite my expectations, the sun wasn’t shining. At the early hour the sun was still low in the sky, so I went along the road in search of another subject to paint. Here is one below:

Behind a hedge was this newly mown field, and the view up the hill. Upon completion, the sun was still playing hide and seek behind the fair weather clouds. So on I went looking for something else.

I followed an unfamiliar footpath that quickly petered out and deposited me in a field from which I found this view. A cluster of farm buildings; ones I have painted before, but this time it was from a closer viewpoint. And, when I had completed that, the sun still wasnt playing ball but by then it was getting late and I wanted some breakfast so I decided to go back to the barn and do the best I could. And there it is. Still, the red roof works well against the greens and the distressed side panels add to its character – but it would have been so much better with some bright sunlight.

Other landscapes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

BIRTHDAYS – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

It seems to be birthday season around here – not mine though – so expectations are for a hand painted card. I must admit that I dont do as many as I used to, but still, for each one you have to stop what you are doing and think of a suitable subject.

And here are a selection of the present crop. A particular pitfall is doing the same subject for the same recipient, particularly when they get them on consecutive years.

Yeah, life in the fast lane – and I havent even mentioned the Christmas cards…

Floral and wildlife paintings can be purchased from my website at unbelievably reasonable prices: grahammcquadefineart.com

HOT SUMMER DAYS – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

With predicted record UK temperatures I assumed the next day was going to be cloudless and packed my painting gear in readiness for an early start. At 5-30 it was hot, but not cloudless, but, ever the optimist, I started out and hoped the light would improve.

The first painting is of a subject I’ve done before, but not from this angle, sitting on the roadside verge, looking out across the fields at the distant Aughton Church and the cottage with the reflective roof tucked in on the left.

When a Range Rover narrowly missed me as speeding commuters passed on the lane behind, I knew why I had found a different vantage point in the past. Still, I lived to tell the tale and here is the evidence.

Retreating to a safer position in the middle of a field, I was struck by the variation of colours from the different crops and the seed heads of the grasses which I achieved by scratching out with a scalpel and then adding a bit of shading.

Perhaps a bit of tiredness had crept in on this line of trees along a track, though I think some good light might have made a difference. Yep, a bad workman always blames his light.

Other landscapes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

ANOTHER SUNNY MORNING – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

We’re getting some warm weather, but there is a lot of cloud with it. Monday was different – bright sunshine – so I got on the bike to find some nice light and shade. I started where I had finished on my last outing:

It was right down the end of the lane and past the three poplar trees you can see in the last sketch I posted. I spotted a track up the hill, one I had never been along before, and soon found a view with the long morning shadows.

After that sketch, I continued up the hill and looked across the fields to a cluster of houses I have painted before, but from the other side:

Then back down the hill: I was off to find a morello cherry tree I had spotted a few years ago whilst sketching. I have some morello cherries from trees in my garden, but wanted a few more to make a decent batch of jam. On the way I spotted this scene and paused by the roadside and sketched the cottage up the track.

There were a nice series of curves bending this way and that. Throw in a few powerlines and you have got my attention. I was a bit disappointed with the outcome – perhaps a bit too heavy handed. It also could do with a bit of judicious rearrangement. I have some photos so another version might be on the way.

After this it was off to the cherry tree, but when I had got there the tree had been stripped bare by the birds with plenty of pips hanging by stalks, but all the fruit was gone.

So, it looks like only a couple of pots this year.

Other landscape paintings are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

LONDON SCENES – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

We decamped for a few days to London. The wife had come up trumps on the Wimbledon lottery and had some ticket options. Not that you win any tickets, no; just the right to purchase some centre court tickets. This, though, is a step improvement on getting up at 4am to stand in line to try and get entry to the outer courts on the day.

I decided to go down with her and mooch about SW London while my wife and daughter – who lives in London – sipped Pimms and downed a few punnets of strawberries whilst watching a match or two.

Here is what I did instead. The first one is a sketch of Putney Bridge. This bridge spans the Thames between Putney and Fulham. As I sat on the Putney side I was caught by the bright London busses crossing the bridge, adding a bit of colour to the scene.

The church in the background is All Saints in Fulham which is on the perimeter of the grounds of Fulham Palace, the seat of the Bishop of London. I didnt know it was there until I wandered across the bridge. Entrance to the grounds was free and I did another sketch in the palace gardens as the other punters sat on the terrace and took tea.

The light wasnt very good, but it was a pleasant way to pass the day and I visited places I hadnt been to before and then enjoyed some evening meals out with family.

It beats working.

Other landscapes and townscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

ANOTHER DAY IN THE SUN – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

An early start on a warm summer’s morning, I happened upon this footpath which proved to be a very secluded spot and I was able to spread out and work undisturbed. Nothing too exciting, but I enjoyed myself.

By contrast, on this one I was perched by the side of the road, trying to ignore the passing traffic. I liked the cluster of cottages and the powerlines at the top of the slight incline.

Finally, I sat in front of those cottages in the previous painting, looking at the view they see from their front windows. As I painted, a guy stopped in his car. He owned the house you can just make out behind the trees on the left at the end of the ploughed field. It turned out he had seen a painting I had done of the area which I had previously sold. He said he was interested in getting a painting of his house which he is currently renovating. I gave him my card but so far he hasnt got back to me – but you can never tell.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

WOODLAND SCENES – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

It was midsummer solstice and I hadnt yet been out painting plein air this year in the UK. I had done some in Egypt and I have posted those sketches, but in the UK either poor light, cold or life had got in the way. So, with good weather forecast, I decided on my venue and off I went. On the way, a connecting road was closed. So I had to think quickly of some other place to paint. Not a good start.

I had planned to do some simple light and shade studies without too much detail, so when I saw this half cleared wood I was hesitant. It was more complex than I wanted, but the colours were great and the glimpses of light intriguing. So I parked the bike and started painting. I did most on site, but I had to finish at home. When I saw my photos, there was barely any of the redness on the images and it was this colour that drove me to do the painting. I like the result, rough as it is and may be working it up later.

Then I saw this scene. Again, I should never have started it, but the light and shade was too much to resist.

I then arrived at the kind of thing I was after, sitting in a field of barley – a simple view, passages of light and shade, whilst the traffic inched along on the other side of the wood on the right. So, after all the setbacks I got three studies in the bag and broke the ice – which you’d expect in June.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

FALLING WATER – ACRYLIC SKETCH

Another sketch for the proposed commission based on Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. Though I have a foreboding as I havent heard from them for over a week. This was one they said they liked. Silence can be a sign that something is wrong. Though I did have a commission a few years ago, where there were great spells of silence. It was only when they came to pick up the finished painting, about a year after we started the commission, that they told me the painting was a present for a family member in Canada. The other siblings were clubbing together to buy it and agreement was needed at each stage. If only they had told me at the outset, It would have spared me some anxiety. Then, I find many people assume you know what is going on in their head.

Above is another sketch I produced based on Robie House in Chicago. This one was less enthusiastically received.

This issue, when it comes on the back of an exhibition where I didnt sell anything, just chips away at your confidence. Hard times are now with us with the economic situation and paintings are first to go. I suppose I should hunker down and just enjoy my painting, painting for myself and the fun of it. Having said that I did complete a commission for a friend, but I cant show that as it is from a picture he took off a newspaper.

Still, if you are looking for a painting, check out my website: grahammcquadefineart.com