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.
Outside our house, along the road, are sycamore trees and against a bright blue sky they recently displayed a vitality I felt compelled to capture in paint. They looked good, despite the problem of all the seeds that come down with the leaves, leaving me with a year-long task of uprooting seedlings as they emerge.
Now, after a few autumn gales, the title should be Fell – but the display was good whilst it lasted, though I notice bunches of seed heads still hanging onto the otherwise bare trees, taunting me with their presence.
I`m working on a commission at present so here are a couple of paintings I did a while ago but didnt get around to posting. This one above is from a set of photos taken earlier in the year when it was too cold to paint outside – well for an impatient wimp like me who spends sunny, summer mornings waving paintings in the warm air getting the washes to dry.
I had posted an earlier version of these autumnal birches in our local woods, but decided to have another go. Lots of spraying and splattering, but not much progress. It seemed to go downhill from the start with a pallid sky which I had hoped to to use to accentuate the warm autumn oranges.
Back in June this year, I published a post where I displayed 3 paintings all done from the same spot, my sketching stool, just looking in different directions on Clieves’ Hills. This latest offering is based upon one of them. It is brassy, stretched out and made to look like an old steam train destination poster, but the essential elements have been retained, including the Church.
This is another in the graphic style I was exploring, using the local vicinity as my reference point. It may have got a bit fussy in the foreground, but I like its boldness and colour and it complements the others paintings in the series.
I may be tempted to get out and gather some more reference material for the dark winter nights ahead.
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.
I was in the middle of an acrylic painting and had an impulse to paint this in watercolours. It is of another favourite subject of mine: Ainsdale Woods which sit on the edge of the sandunes on the coast. I loved the purples, blues and greens, which I have enhanced here, and how they collide with the yellows of the sunlit leaves.
I tried to be sparing in my washes and brushwork to keep a freshness and may have left areas underworked as a consequence. Anyway, there`s plenty of colour for a gloomy pine forest.
I did warn you there were more churches to come. These are local country churches. I did a sketch of Halsall Church, above, one quiet morning during the lockdown. Normally the road in the foreground is very busy, but on that morning there were only a few passing vehicles and a couple of pedestrians. Even so, I wedged myself over a wall on the steep bank of a stream and painted into the light. On this version I widened the field of view, to put the Church into context.
This second one is of Sefton Church and I have presented a version of this before, but I wasnt happy with the washes and I felt I had too much foreground at the expense of the subject. So here is a second go. I feel happier with this version.
Anyway, that concludes my ecclesiastical excursions – well at least for now.
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?
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.
Tuesday dawned bright and sunny – just the day to get out to paint. Though I am reluctant to do it – despite having seen someone painting outside the other Saturday.
So I thought that I would do the next best thing and settled down on my deck and painted one of the flowerbeds. Even the blue tits came to the bird table feeder. Once to allow me to sketch the shape and then obligingly they returned to give me some colour hints later. The result isnt that clear, a shame after all the effort that they made.
I may even do another view if the sun gets out again..