I have been meaning to have a go at this for a while. I wasnt sure how effective it would be. I took some reference photographs as I was sitting on the roadside painting the image (below) which I posted in an earlier blog : the view over the hills to St Michael’s Church at Aughton, near Ormskirk – a favourite of mine.

I put a couple of walkers in, but it is a precarious place to walk as cars come wizzing along. I found them a bit too close for comfort as I sat painting by the roadside. Still, I lived to paint another day.

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I was asked by a painting club in Formby to run a paint-along workshop in watercolour texture next month. The problem for me is that it is to take place over one afternoon. So time is of the essence, as the format is: I will do a bit and the attendees will then have a go, before I move on to the next step etc etc.

I selected this old favourite of mine as the subject.

So over the last few days I have been working out how to do this. I will focus on the road surface and puddles. Initially, though, we will quickly wash in the sky and fields to provide context and then set about painting the roadway. How long this will take is anyone’s guess – but the aim is to complete the road. If time is left over at the end, we will try and complete the painting, which is pretty simple.

To check how this approach will work out, I set about doing another painting. I didnt do the original in this order. The result is above and seems ok. It gave me timings and areas where I could speed things up.

I decided to complete the painting – the one you see above, and it may prove useful for an exhibition I am planning in November.

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I’ve done versions of this before, but not being satisfied with the results I decided to try again. This was stimulated by another dawn scene I’m going to work on and will hopefully put out on my next blog. As I was planning my dawn scene I recalled this early morning view of the newly mown fields at the base of the rise we have the temerity to call a hill in these parts.

I have been wondering whether to introduce a murder of crows, which I have seen at other times, gathering to snaffle the dropped grains in newly mown fields, but have been held back by the thought that they might upset the harmony. The question is whether this harmony lulls the viewer into drowsiness or is there enough going on to maintain the interest?

I shall ponder on this and fight off any drowsiness as I do.

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This painting developed from an early morning sketch I posted a few weeks ago. A row of cottages at the top of a shallow incline – which in this area of flatness is called a hill. It was originally done in landscape format but I thought that it might pack more punch in long format. Even so, I’m not sure whether it will hold much interest for anyone save, possibly, the few souls that live there. Whilst working on another sketch by the side of the road up by the far cottage you see in the painting, a local stopped by and enquired whether I could paint his house which is just off to the right – I gave him my card, though so far I’ve heard nothing more.

As for the painting – it was the colour and shapes of the cluster of cottages set against the rough, dry grassland and the difference in brushwork between the two which interested me. Couple this with a scatter of random leaning power-line poles and you get my attention, though, I suspect, no-one else’s. But in the end I enjoyed the task – so here it is.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I am in the middle of a few incomplete projects at the moment, so here is another acrylic painting. It is a return to an old subject, with an old painting – the view from Clieves’ Hills. I did it in 2012, before I started blogging. It looks from the low hill across a summery view of Halsall and the Moss, towards the coast and Southport where I live.

I like the richness of colour in the foreground that helps create the aerial perspective which is driven further with the smokey blue background. Somebody else obviously liked this and purchased it.

I still like this area for sources of subjects and hopefully will be heading out there again when the weather gets warmer.

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I have just realised that it will soon be February, when I have two painting demonstrations to do. One request is for a canal scene, and this is what I intend to demonstrate. It is a painting I did in 2008 and at the moment I am working out how to best complete the painting in an hour and half. For me, it is a question of getting the order right, so the audience isnt sitting around whilst you mix colours, and there is quite a bit of mixing here to get the water effects. I also need to ensure to emphasise the points I want to raise.

The second demonstration was picked for me by the art club that engaged me. It is of a field of poppies I did more recently.

It isnt a painting I would select if I had a choice. There is a lot of texture in the foreground field that I did in a very haphazard manner, at the time – feeling my way through. I used masking fluid in the painting. Again I want to avoid delays, so I may need to get the hair dryer out to avoid waiting for the masking fluid to dry. Other techniques are a little faster – I did some scraping back and and finally resorted to gouache when all my options were used up. Again, I am working through this to find the best order needed to present it in a coherent way.

After all this I’ll need a holiday and yesterday I ordered some Egyptian pounds for a two week cruise down the Nile at the end of February. Hopefully we will get to go this time – this is the second attempt.

I will be taking my sketch book.

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