HOT SUMMER DAYS – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

With predicted record UK temperatures I assumed the next day was going to be cloudless and packed my painting gear in readiness for an early start. At 5-30 it was hot, but not cloudless, but, ever the optimist, I started out and hoped the light would improve.

The first painting is of a subject I’ve done before, but not from this angle, sitting on the roadside verge, looking out across the fields at the distant Aughton Church and the cottage with the reflective roof tucked in on the left.

When a Range Rover narrowly missed me as speeding commuters passed on the lane behind, I knew why I had found a different vantage point in the past. Still, I lived to tell the tale and here is the evidence.

Retreating to a safer position in the middle of a field, I was struck by the variation of colours from the different crops and the seed heads of the grasses which I achieved by scratching out with a scalpel and then adding a bit of shading.

Perhaps a bit of tiredness had crept in on this line of trees along a track, though I think some good light might have made a difference. Yep, a bad workman always blames his light.

Other landscapes are available 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

KOM OMBO AND EDFU – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

For me, Monday was a red letter day on this trip. In the afternoon we moored up right next to this temple at Kom Ombo, so for once I was able to sketch some of the architecture we had come to see. It is quite a late temple by Egyptian standards being started in the 2nd century BC. A giveaway is the ornate column tops which indicates Greek or Roman influence. In fact it had a whole range of column decoration. It is also unusual in that it is dedicated to two deities, the falcon headed Horus and Sobek, the local crocodile headed god. There were a lot of crocodile mummies on display in the museum – though, disappointingly, none in the river ( crocs not mummies).

I returned to the boat after the visit to the temple and museum and had about an hour to get this down. The warm evening light mellowed the stonework and I got a fair bit done before we set sail again, though I had to do the sketch in a rush.

On that same Monday, we woke up to find we had moored right on the waterfront of the town of Edfu. Normally we moored in walled areas or in out of the way and uninteresting places. On this morning we were right in the thick of it with touristy horse drawn carriages transporting people to the local temple of Horus. ( though being in the thick of it meant we were also close to the mosque, and got called to prayer at 5am – on this occasion I declined the invite) I had breakfast and hurried up on deck to get a flavour of the place before we set off. Again, another hurried sketch, which I finished as we headed to Kom Ombo.

Other townscapes are available on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

TOWARDS ASWAN – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

We are rapidly heading towards the end of the holiday and the dreaded day of reckoning when we have to settle the bar bill. As regards painting, I am getting a bit repetitious in my sketches, as there isnt any time to do anything on our visits to the temples and monuments, so all of my sketches are from the boat and there are a limited number of subjects that we pass on our voyage. I have taken to pencil sketching in a small sketchbook when I see anything interesting. I race to get the details down before we pass the scene. Then I copy the sketch onto my watercolour pad before starting the painting.

So, above is a sketch done in this fashion. It is a very basic Nile scene where the wind had whipped up the desert dust to give a slightly different colour palette. With the sun shining through the dust and reflecting off the water it gave some good contrasts as well.

At Luxor we had a sunset and I moved the hills which house the Valley of the Kings into the frame, and added a felucca which had earlier passed us, as a couple of guys paddled around the river, casting a fishing net in the warm evening breeze.

Oh, it’s a dirty business, but someone has to do it.

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

FURTHER DOWN THE NILE – WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES

As we progress down the Nile, the valley widens and closes revealing miles of lush agricultural lands on occasions, and then the desert makes an appearance with high limestone cliffs butting up against the river, marking the edge of the desert.

At other times the cities and towns come into view. The high-rise buildings seem very similar to the high cliffs of the desert edge.

As the boats slips by, children an adults rush to the shore and wave. I thought that this was because we are some of the first tourists for a couple of years, but I’m told that this has always happened.

In some places with lush water meadows and net fishing it feels like the place has never changed.

Other landscapes are available 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

OFF ROAD AND SKYWARD – WATERCOLOUR ABSTRACTS

With a commission and a demonstration and getting ready for my holiday I’ve been busy of late, but still found time to play around with some small watercolour abstracts.

They are all based on landscape and light.

Though none of them have been completely to my satisfaction, there are some nice parts which could be developed.

I do find with watercolour that creating interest with texture is a little more difficult than with oils or acrylics and have been busy spraying, scraping and dragging to try and vary my applications.

So here are a few of my experiments. I think I will pause for now, as I find you can quite easily go into auto repeat.

I have put them in my sketchbook and will look at them later to see where I could take them.

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

HALSALL SKETCHES – WATERCOLOUR

Warm autumn sunshine is too good to waste and yesterday morning I got up, rather later than normal, and went to a place I had spotted when returning from my last local plein air trip. It is of a cluster of farmhouses I have passed many times, but the newly mown field and an opening onto it gave me a different view and the crows also thought the same, between eating what the mowers had missed.

And then turning around, and looking in the opposite direction. I got a contre jour view of some cottages I have painted before, though, this time, with the hedge obscuring most of the view. There was still a slight mistiness which, earlier, may have completely obscured both views, this being a low lying marshy area. So it was a productive lie-in – As I’ve heard say, it’s not the done thing to arrive too early.

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

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