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

DAYS ON THE NILE – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

At last we made it to Egypt and are slowly making our way down the Nile from Cairo to Aswan. I would like to take my painting gear on our visits to the sights, but I am never sure how much free time there is available. I could have done the Sphinx which had great form in the early morning light, but other visits have been more busy. So, I have limited myself to painting as we proceed down the Nile. The sketch above was done shortly after we set off one morning.

This one was up near Cairo with some guys fishing. They put their nets out and set about thrashing the reeds and banking with their oars to scare the fish into their nets.

Painting on a moving boat entails, for me, getting a brief sketch down as you pass and then painting what you remember of the scene, finishing the sketch about 10 miles down stream from where you started.

Still, it’s a great way to fill the day.

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

A DAY OF LIFE – ACRYLIC AND PENCIL

Saturday saw a now rare opportunity for me to do some life painting and drawing. This study above was done in acrylic. I decided to roughly paint areas of light and shade before I did any drawing and I was pleased with the energy this created in the final piece.

I did this second one in a similar way, but I felt it lacked something of the first study.

Perhaps it was the stiffer pose and the lighting not being as effective. At this point of the session, the guy running the show decided to have two models posing together. I decided to focus on just the female model because the male model was even more rigid as the quick sketch below left shows.

So, it was good to get at least one satisfying painting from the day, especially as I hadnt attended a life session since December. I must make more of an effort, but the thought of standing, cramped in a room with a whole bunch of artists for two or three hours is still unappealing – especially as I want to go on holiday in a few weeks time.

Other life paintings can be found on my website: grahammcquadefineart,com

SKETCHES FROM PORTUGAL 2 – WATERCOLOURS

We have reached the end of our walks, arriving in Sagres in the Algarve yesterday – although it isnt over for us as tomorrow we visit friends near Faro for another few days. Sagres is a fishing port in southern Portugal and here are a couple of old boats sunning themselves in their retirement.

On the way to Sagres we walked along many clifftops and beaches and you keep taking photos as each place seems stunning at the time. In the end realise you have too many views of cliffs and beaches. So here is a painting of some cliffs instead.

Then, after a few miles of cliff you hit a beach and a small settlement and hundreds of surfers looking for the perfect wave. From a distance, and in their wet-suits, they look like the tadpoles that populate my pond in the spring.

And finally, yet another beach nestling amongst the cliffs. The others had gone for ice cream whilst I stayed to paint the scene for you.

There may be more sketches before we return. I have plenty of paper left.

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

SKETCHES FROM PORTUGAL – WATERCOLOURS

We have decamped to Portugal for a few days of walking down the coast of Alentejo and the Algarve coastlines in the south of the country. So, in hindsight, it was bad planning of me to follow up some local beach scenes with more from Portugal – maybe I was getting excited about having a holiday at last.

We started at Vila Nova de Milfontes on the mouth of the river Miro. A really lovely old, small town. The above sketch is of the beach and cliffs on the way from Milfontes, south to Almograve as we walked along the fisherman’s path on the top of the cliffs. We sat on the beach to eat lunch and I did this sketch in between bites of my sandwich.

This is the pontoon at the foot of our hotel at Milfontes. The sea is in the background with the pontoon on the river. Shoals of mullet were frothing the water and in the distance is a small headland at the river’s mouth. The river water is calm in comparison to the Atlantic breakers at the head of the river.

I did this quick sketch of Cabo Sardao Lighthouse sat in the dugout on the football pitch which was adjacent to the lighthouse. I had about 30 minutes to do it as our tour guides organised the transport to get us back from the day’s walk.

The lighthouse is famously built backwards with the living quarters opening out into the prevailing winds and the light at the back

As we headed south the cliffs got higher and were made of Schist which had broken up in planes to give great light and shadow areas. This was a painting I started on a lunch break which for no apparent reason got curtailed. Hence a lack of much detail. Though it was a good practice piece to explore the rock textures.

So I am about to go out again for a walk on my own, so there may be some more sketches – you lucky people,

Other seascapes and beach scenes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.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

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

SKETCHING ON THE SPOT – WATERCOLOUR

Well, the weather has broken around here and my early morning outings have stopped. Here is the result of my last foray on the first day of this month.

It took me a while to find a suitable subject that day and eventually I selected the view on Clieves hills across the fields to Aughton Church which is just outside Ormskirk, With the cottage in the foreground it might be one worth working up in the future.

As I painted I noticed another view to my left with the far hills shrouded in mist.

So when I completed the Aughton Church view I turned in my seat, replenished my water, had another cup of tea and started the view over the valley to the far hills. On this one I think I went a bit too dark too soon but again it could be one to work on later.

And then, as I was thinking that one more painting might round off the morning well, I turned to look up the hill and saw the weather blown trees. I decided to select just a few of these trees which stand high on the ridge and with a second twist of my stool and another cup of tea I started on the final painting of the morning.


Three paintings without moving – so it was a good morning and the cycle ride home was helped by a following wind – what more could you want?

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

MORE GARDEN VIEWS – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

I did these a few days ago when the lockdown was still tight on and the sun came out. This time I ventured off the decking and into the wilds of the garden.

and another one, looking back to the decking and the house.

With the weather set for an upturn this week I will try and venture from out the garden and into the countryside where I will hopefully find something more interesting than last time. Ill post the results whatever the outcome.

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