THE ROAD FROM HAWES – WATERCOLOUR SKETCH

Last week we stayed in a cottage in Settle on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. In the main the weather was overcast, particularly in the morning when I went out to sketch. Towards the afternoon and evening the sun broke through the clouds. Here is a sketch from, memory, of a view I saw as we drove back from a walk in Hawes – another Dales’ village. High on the moorland these isolated farmhouses dotted the road and as we climbed the hill the silhouette of the buildings stood out against a break in the clouds.

I did another version, even more sparsely:

This was at a stage before I started to add detail and ruin it.

Because of the flat light my morning sketches disappointed me. I was also hindered by drizzle and inquisitive cows which nearly trampled over my painting gear.

The middle sketch above shows similarities to the first sketches, except that the building was a small electricity substation. I sat balanced on a dry-stone wall painting it, packing in when a light drizzle started to fall.

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

MORNING SKETCHES – WATERCOLOUR

We are having a spell of good weather, which for August in the UK is unusual. Unfortunately, with a few commitments, I havent been able to take advantage. One exception was last Wednesday when I dawn broke without a cloud and I was awake enough to get out. These scenes are from the village of Halsall, close to where I live. I have seen this view many times as I cycled to work, but I noticed a gate had been cut into a field which allowed me space to sit away from the road. This was the first view I painted and the dampness and coolness prevented the paint from drying quickly and there is a softness in the image which I quite like.

The next painting was done as the morning started to warm and the edges are much sharper due to the quicker drying. I only had to move a few feet from where I painted the first painting to get this view. I had just set up when two tractors and a wagon waited to go through the gate. The driver who unlocked the gate wanted me to paint him, though his enthusiasm seemed to drain when I told him he needed to take off his clothes.

With the rush hour over and the vehicles away and out of sight down the track you can see, I did this final painting – about 180 degrees from my first painting. Again the edges are much harsher and I can detect a tiredness creeping in.

It was a great way to spend the early morning, sitting contemplating the views, meditating and painting in the quietness of a still, sunny dawn ( well, apart from the brief disturbance of the tractors ) made better by the fact that I had only to move a few feet to get three good views. Then, as an added bonus, I saw a potential scene for another painting on my way home. Hopefully, some good weather will allow me to explore that one fairly soon..

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

CUCKMERE SCENES – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

I mentioned in my last blog that I was on holiday. We are in the south of England and yesterday I walked along part of the River Cuckmere in Sussex which flows out into the English Channel. This scene, above, was painted when I was close to the end of my walk at the village of Alfriston. In the distance you can see Alfriston Church across the water meadow. The river is behind an embankment in front of the church.

When I completed this sketch I walked up past the church. There is a bridge to cross the river to the right of the church. As I approached the bridge I saw that the river had breached the embankment – this was what was filling the water meadow you can see in the sketch. I had to cross a couple of breaches, knee deep in fast flowing water. Fortunately I reached the bridge without any slippages watched on by a crowd of onlookers stood on the bridge.

You do your best to entertain the crowds.

The second sketch was earlier on my walk, in drier times. I liked the red roofs of the buildings peeping from behind the trees and the layers of vegetation banding up from the River Cuckmere, up the chalk hill, to the higher ground.

Landscape paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

MORNING ON CLIEVES’ HILLS – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES.

It has been a busy weekend, a life session and the weather was good enough to get out painting. With the plein air painting, I had decided on the canal, but despite it being bright where I live by the sea, there was thick fog at the canal. So, I headed for the hills, but even up here the fog was clinging on. I was deciding to head back to the coast when I spotted this view and decided to stay on the hill and persevere. I loved the way the layers of background were being revealed as I painted. Maybe one to work up as a larger piece.

As you can see the mist cleared as I worked and was pretty much gone on this second piece. This is an old favourite subject – Aughton church – seen from a different angle as I explored a new path, down between some farmhouses.

Just turning on my stool from the last sketch I saw this intriguing view of a farmhouse obscured by foliage and barley. I was taken by the tonal interchange.

So despite the the shaky start chasing around, avoiding the fog, I got some pleasing sketches. I’ll show the life painting on my next post – bet you cant wait. Anyway, the fine weather’s set for a few days so I might get out some more.

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

RIVINGTON PIKE – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

On Monday we decided to visit a hill called Rivington Pike. It is on the western edge of the Pennines and is visible from where I live in Southport. I’ve never been there before because, even though it is fairly close, the roads to it aren’t direct. So here is a sketch from the top which will save you the effort of scaling it yourself, even though it is only 1200 ft high. This view points to the direction of Southport, but with the clouds on Monday, you couldnt see too far.

Above is the Pike viewed from Southport on a sunny morning from a painting I posted in January. In the first painting we are sat on the purple point at the top on this view.

The strange building you can see on the first painting is part of Lord Leverhulme’s ( Billy Lever of yore – founder of what is now, Unilever) country getaway, built on the side of the hill in the early twentieth century with ornamental lakes, gardens, bridges and a bungalow; somewhere the poor man could wander around and think undisturbed. This strange, incongruous tower was built for ornamental pigeons and doves that roosted on the first two floors and as a sewing and music room, for his wife, on the top floor. Whether he locked her in there wasn’t revealed. That may have been what he was thinking about – where he had left the key.

When you descend from the pike you go through Lord Leverhulme’s Folly and into a country park. In this park I was taken by the lush, verdant greenness enhanced by the sunshine. I thought that I would pause and paint the path leading down to the carpark. However, once I got started the clouds came over and ruined the dappled effects created by the sun and foliage and trunks of the oak trees which lined the path. I managed to get some of the shadows in on this one.

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

AROUND HASKAYNE – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

With a fine morning forecast for Tuesday I checked the maps and headed for some lanes I had not visited before. They were behind the small village of Haskayne around six miles from where I live in Southport. I had no idea what I was going to find to sketch. The first subject was a rickety footbridge over a drainage ditch. I liked the way it was partially in shadow and the intriguing view between the branches into another field. Nothing much, but it was a pleasant way to sit on a sunny morning, listening to birdsong between the silence – this time without the passing crowds.

I eventually found a second subject – a magnificent tree standing serenely alone in a wheat field with the morning sun illuminating its trunk and leaves. It had the shape of an oak, but the leaves seemed to be fine like an ash, I couldnt get near as the foreground grass and plants covered a deep ditch.

I had to get back early as the plumber was coming to sort my boiler out – but it was pleasant few hours on a sunny June morning.

Landscapes area available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

MORE SUNNY DAYS – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

I wasnt prepared for Thursday dawning without a cloud in the sky and by lunchtime it was still cloudless so I decided to get out and do some painting. Unfortunately I hadnt made any plans, so I headed off on a well worn route, hoping to spot something new of interest. This, above, was a view across to farms on the moss with the remains of last year`s bramble and undergrowth in the foreground.

I continued up Clieves`s Hills – the only bump in the Lancahire Plain around here and close to the top, I took the opportunity to get off the bike and sit down to paint this house. I liked theinterchange of light and shade on the walls and the tree just coming into leaf, all set off against the recently tilled soil.

And finally another drainage ditch. Again I liked the light and shade and the way the banks zig-zagged like teeth of interlocking cogs. In hindsight, there is room to play more on the light and shade of banks and I think the water close to the bottom of the painting was wider then I have it which would add to the contrasts. But by then I had cycled twenty miles and was on my third painting – concentration was beginning to sag – but a great afternoon, nevertheless.

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

APRIL’S OUTDOOR PAINTING – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

We have been getting some decent weather of late, even though it has got colder. On Saturday it was still warm enough to get on the bike and do some more outdoor painting. My plan was to attempt more complex subjects – subjects I would normally attempt in the studio. The one above is of a small bridge over a drainage ditch. I liked the counterchanges from light to dark and back again. In the end I had to to the railings in gouache when I got home – as I didnt take any with me. Whilst the gouache was out I added some stalks and grasses on the near bank. Despite the austere subject it made an interesting painting and might be worth doing bigger.

The next subject was daffodils in a small coppice. The flowers were away from the trees, but I wanted to use the darker trunks as a foil for the flowers. Normally I would use masking fluid, but outside, without any, I had to work around the flowerheads. I find daffodils difficult at the best of times because the yellow isnt a very imposing colour. In hindsight I should have pushed the flowers back further against the trees and used the contrast for all it was worth and, at the same time, reduced the complexity of the background – but that is what sketching is about – working out the best options.

Whilst I sat working on this picture, at the edge of the wood, a hare came slowly towards me. It got to within about 5 feet. I wanted to photograph it, but reaching for the camera would have disturbed it. In the end it realised I was there and bolted off into the woods.

Landscape paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

PENDLE HILL – WATERCOLOUR SKETCH

As practise for future plein air work I did this quickly on the back of an old painting, so I may not have got the proportions of the hill correct. I had an old photo and pretended that I was sat in a field getting it down with the minimum of washes. I also took the opportunity to jazz up the light at the same time. I was pleased with the result and I think the sky helps; along with ignoring a lot of the detail in the landscape. Its something I need to do more out in the field, putting in just enough detail to capture attention, but not getting bogged down.

Landscapes are available for purchase on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com