"The artist...is also a born adventurer. His explorations, unlike those of a tourist, are rewarded by the discovery of beauty spots unmentioned in the guide books, and with tireless curiosity and an exceptional proneness to wonderment, he will come upon objects of remarkable interest overlooked or even shunned by more disciplined observers."

Augustus John, R.A.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Red kites

More images from yesterdays trip into Wharfedale. Driving down Lower Wharfedale, this young Kite was seen beside the road from Arthington to Weardley. Sketched with my usual Rotring Art Pen and tinted with Derwent Watercolour Pencil. Not a medium I use very often.

Sunday, 29 June 2008


Although not intended as a working trip, a day out in Wharfedale near Bolton Abbey produced some quick sketches. I don't normally work on such a small scale but I keep an A6 size sketchbook in the car with a few pens. It is ideal for doing quick sketches as the opportunity arises, (or as something to alleviate boredom whilst waiting in supermarket carparks or other such places). This skyline Ash tree attracted my attention, it is unusual to see such a large tree so dramatically sculpted by the wind. Carrying so much weight to one side must place enormous stresses on the trunk and root system. When sketched the tree was just a dark shape against an overcast sky. Shortly after I finished a brief shaft of sunlight illuminated the tree from the left.

If going out for the day I usually have my sketching bag in the car so having a little more time I did this in my normal 8'' x 10'' sized book. I was interested in the contrast between the different greens of the cut fields, the uncut areas and the grazed pasture in the foreground. Which emphasised the angular geometric shapes in the landscape. The overcast sky and dull light only served to 'flatten' the landscape even more, so I used simple flat washes of colour to lay in the shapes.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Recent Fieldwork

I've not had much time for field sketching recently, having been busy with other work. But this Speckled Wood Butterfly was sunning in the garden on friday evening as I was cutting the grass. It was much more restless than the last individual that frequented the garden, rarely remaining long in one place and this was all I could manage before it eventually departed.

Saturday, 21 June 2008


Summer in Littondale. Pastel. 9'' x 12''

A pastel painting reworked from a watercolour sketch painted some years ago in Littondale, about a mile down the dale from Arncliffe. Having recently bought a small set of pastels I've been experimenting with them over the last couple of weeks. The selection of colours (only 12) is a bit small so will need augmenting with extra colours and shades, but is quite adequate for quick landscape sketches.
Doing landscape work recently has been a refreshing change from my normal output. I've always sketched landscapes while out in the field, mainly as potential settings for wildlife paintings, but hitherto haven't produced many finished 'pure landscapes' just for their own sake. Although I have always enjoyed the challenge of trying to capture the effects of atmosphere and light on the countryside.

Saturday, 14 June 2008


The last light of the day. Pastel. 9'' x 12''

Midsummer evening in Ribblesdale. Looking towards Penyghent from Moughton Nab above Helwith Bridge. The fresh green of the newly mown fields contrasting with the darker colour of the longer uncut grass. The drystone walls help to give form to the landscape as they criss cross the lower slopes of the fell.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Halton Gill, Littondale

Littondale Meadows. Acrylic on Canvas. 395mm x 500mm.

Midsummer at Halton Gill at the head of Littondale. The meadows still full of wild flowers before the first hay crop is cut. The evening clouds gather around Fountains Fell threatening rain to come later.

Sunday, 1 June 2008


Whilst doing A Levels at school I did a lot of work using pastels. Producing a series of large landscapes depicting lonely moorland roads beneath imposing skies. Since then though, I have largely ignored the medium. This work, the first I have done in pastel since school, is based on a sketch made in the Tyne Valley near Prudhoe. An attempt to capture something of the oppressiveness in the atmosphere before a late summer rainstorm.