May has been uncharacteristically cold around here – not the kind of weather to dry your watercolours in when painting outside. Being of an impatient nature, waiting for paint to dry is just too hard for me. But yesterday the weather changed, with southern winds and bright sunshine. I got up shortly after 5am and headed towards the canal. OK, this first one isnt of the canal, but the canal was close by. The silhouetted shapes caught my eye and I thought that it would be a good one to start with.
Later I did settle down by the canal at a place called Parbold and painted the canal boats moored by the village.
It was great to get out in the morning. Hopefully there will be a few more mornings to come. Apart from these sketches I also took some photos so I have plenty of material for further paintings.
Last summer I climbed Parbold Hill which is close to the M6, south of Preston. It looks out west over the Lancashire plain towards the Irish sea, amongst other places. This was the view I saw as I made my way back to my car. Earlier I had sat and painted a number of sketches which I posted at the time.
Here is the first one of the day, on the way up the hill.
The trees, in a line in the mid ground, on the top painting, I think are hawthorn trees, though I have never gone to investigate. This line of trees in the centre of the field have always interested me. In 2015 I was painting on the hill in the evening and took some images of the trees and did a pastel from it. Same trees, different angle – again I posted this one at the time. I loved the shadows cast by the trees from the setting sun and so did someone else as the painting was purchased soon after.
I looked at my watercolour sketchbook the other day and saw that I hadnt done any outdoor painting in July. The weather hasnt been very good – well not for outdoor painting, though my lawn has rejoiced in the warm damp weather.
So with a mini heatwave forecast and two days to go, I set off up Parbold Hill. I had noticed some footpaths off the road that go up the hill, but have never explored them. So on Thursday up I trudged with my painting gear. The first painting is on the way up.
Dodging the many dogs that yapped and barked around my feet I got to the top and walked about the exposed plateau, taking a winding footpath through a wheat field. I liked the trees in their lush summer finery and sat on the path looking out over the Lancashire plain. It was as I was working on this second sketch that I realised the tall streak in the distance could only be Blackpool Tower.
As I started back I saw a row of cottages on the high ground above me. They looked like Cotswold cottages. I also liked the gaps in the trees that surrounded them, so I decided to get the paints out again and make the most of my visit.
In August I put out the same picture in watercolours. I wasn’t that happy with it and I wondered if it would be better done in pastels. So here it is and now when I compare there are improvements, but I have lost the lighting I achieved with the watercolour and I also made more of a feature of the foxgloves. Maybe that’s something I might do later to this painting.
This is the third painting from my trip up Parbold Hill in early July when the weather was good. The low light of the evening sun pushing through the contorted trees attracted me and the splashes of red from the drifts of foxgloves gave some complementary colour. It made for a productive trip even though I didn’t quite get the view of the churches I was after.
I wrote in my previous blog about going up Parbold Hill in Lancashire looking for a view of these churches and the plain beyond. I found this spot after a bit of searching having already done a painting. You get this view coming along the road which runs on the left of this painting between the trees and the nearest church. I think the trees, with their foliage, take a bit away from the scene and block off some interesting detail. It may have been in the late autumn or winter when I have come down the road and glimpsed the view from the car and this is the scene I remember. I need to return later in the year and have another look. But having said that, it’s still not a bad view.
The other night I went up to Parbold Hill which gives views across the Lancashire Plain. I wanted to paint the churches on the hill in the evening light. I couldn’t find the view I was after, but I cut my losses and did a watercolour sketch looking down from the right hand side of this painting. This row of trees attracted me as I sketched and after I had completed it I walked around seeing if there were some alternative views and saw the shadows the trees were casting up the hill and the light on the top of the branches. For this painting I have isolated the trees, cutting a fair few down in the name of composition.
That evening I then went on walking and found a view of the churches I was after. Sod’s law. Anyway I took a few photos and came home. There was a time when I would have continued searching rather than getting on with some painting, but on too many occasions I have finished with nothing or started so late I didn’t have time to complete and finished up rushing it. Anyway, it was a lovely summer’s evening.