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

PAINTING OUTDOORS AT LAST -WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

I was going to display some more sketches of my garden, but on Wednesday the sun rose early and I decided to get out and do my first painting of the year.

I had decided on the location but on my way I spotted that a mist was coming off the moss and that would have made painting very difficult, so I swerved off beachward and tried to find something interesting to do on the dune belt.

The first were the pines lit by the morning light, above.

Then I spotted this pine on the edge of the woods. I liked the colour of the bark in the light against the darkness of the woods behind,

I had one more sheet on my painting pad so I decided to head towards the sea and sat on top of a sand dune and painted, the admittedly rather mundane, view to the sea.

Not an exciting bunch of sketches, due to the location being forced on me by circumstance, but it was great to get out and just have a chance to sit and meditate for two or three hours in the sun. There was also one advantage of this social distancing – no-one bothered me as I worked – not that there were many out at that hour and location.

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

TWO MORE FROM THE COTSWOLDS – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

Painting opportunities were sparse this week despite the scenery. We walked around Slad, where Laurie Lee (Cider with Rosie) lived but had to dive into the Woolpack – his local – for a cider, naturally, because of the rain. The next day, the sun only started to come out as we left Wells – a fabulous town I’ve never been to before, but it lead to a sunny evening in Bath where we stopped for a meal by the river.

So yesterday morning I took ther opportunity to snatch a couple more sketches of Leighterton before we left.

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

CAMBODIAN WOMAN – PASTEL SKETCH

Being a bit tied up with family issues I just had time to sketch out this portrait of a Cambodian Lady I spotted when I paused on a cycle ride by a river near Battambang – the second city of Cambodia. The light on her face accentuated her features as she squatted by some sugar cane that she had collected. I have a few pictures of different people of southeast Asia I took on my recent travels and was considering creating a small collection.

Other figurative work is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

BACK TO THE CANAL – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

Another from my early morning outdoor starts. I had spotted this the day before and there was much more tonal contrast when I first saw it. I still like it and there might be scope to work this up into a more finished piece.

Some old cottages spotted across the fields. The power cables in the hedge were a good lead in and I was able to sit painting undisturbed whilst taking in the early morning birdsong and sipping my tea.

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