Monday, 30 July 2012

Three simple Pastel tips

 With a grey sky threatening I decided to have a go at a Sunset painting I had previously sketched of Ullswater. I taped and fastened down Fisher 400 pastel paper onto a board. I then applied primary colours of watercolours, which I then spayed with water to try and get some movement. I left this to dry flat and then started to apply pastels.

Stage 2 
Yellows, Oranges reds and a little Blue was laid into the sky, I then gently softened it with the palm of my  hand ( Tip number 1) With the sky starting to take shape, I painted some of the back mountains, I find doing this even though the sky is unfinished helps to make sense of the sky!! Are you still following!

Sunset Sail
Stage 3

Nearly finished, to paint the mountains tonally does help using the different number scales of Unison pastel (Tip number 2) I also once the correct tone  is applied  I then very lightly drag across the sky colours
 (Tip number 3) I find this helps to harmonise the sky and landscape.

Watercolours and Pastels at Grasmere
Monday 8th to Thursday 11th October 2012
for more details

Monday, 23 July 2012

A memorable watercolour weekend in the Lakes

Sunny skies and a warm breeze perfect weather for Derwent Island weekend. We took the launch across to the Island for a wonderful day of painting.

 This is just one of the amazing views from the patio, imagine having this every morning, I would never get very far! We watched rowing and sail boats most of the day go by, changing light in the  Newlands valley and walkers like matchsticks on the summit of Catbells.

Walking around the edge of the Island, foxgloves growing around every corner.

 I started with a full and frightening wet in wet over all of the paper.Cobalt blue for this distant mountains with a touch of Cadmium Red, Gamboge, For a difficult to paint 'Catbells Raw Sienna again with a small amount of Cad Red, painting wet in wet, adding pale green to show the shape of the fells. Warm Ultramarine helped to paint  the foreshore trees adding hints of yellow.I added a few reflections and a single boat to my demonstration.

To finish the day a wonderful cream tea was served in 'The Drawing Room' and enjoyed on the terrace. What a superb way to finish a painting day.

Catbells viewed from the Italian balcony

We were met on Sunday with strong winds and more Paynes grey in the sky. It was touch and go whether the Launch would run, but they decided to give it a go.Intrepid artists clambered on board and we set off down the lake with strong gusts blowing spray into everyone's face. We made it down to Brandlehow and settled at our first location for a couple of hours.

Grey skies were looming overhead, occasionally bright shafts of light would illuminate a lemon yellow field.

After a much needed 'Hot Chocolate' at Lodore and a quick watercolour sketch, we caught the launch to the last location of the day beside Ashness gate.

What a wonderful weekend with many memorable moments.

If you fancy a watercolour break in the Lake District for beginners or aspiring artists.
I have a couple of single / double en suite rooms left with no single supplement from Monday 13th to 16th August based at Dalegarth House hotel Portinscale, Keswick.
The days will be spent painting around Derwentwater and in the beautiful Borrowdale valley

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The cheese man on Col d' Aubisque

I had to share this this with you today. The Tour de France rode the Col  Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresoude. I sat and watched it on the sofa in the rainy Lakes and I can't believe I cycled three of those totally amazing passes. A friend asked me this week how I had got on and I replied' to be in that scenery,  got me up those passes' I hope your not getting bored with all this Tour de France chat and stories, because I've got another one for you.
The scene above is on one of the last stretches up to the Aubisque. You've cycled nearly 2,000 metres up, with towering peaks above, a tiny strip of road saving you from the depths of a sheer drop hanging below. In front, you can see a little hut, perched on the edge of the plateaux. Getting closer you see a tall man stood proudly, with a black beret and  a swish moustache. The door is open, and  getting closer you see the cheese that this local farmer is selling. For me memories like this are priceless. If you look closly you might just make out 'The Cheese man'

Painted in pastels
Size 24 x 24 inches 

Been inspired by the tour helped me finish ' Ullswater pastel, I've really enjoyed getting the pastels back in action. So now all it needs is a good home

Monday, 16 July 2012

Ullswater pastel first stages

Ullswater rays 
Stage One
Watercolour washes on Fisher 400 paper. With no pre sketching I quickly laid down washes of Permanent Yellow and Permanent Rose with darker hues of Ultramarine Violet and Burnt Sienna. I then left this to dry flat to see what surprises might appear.

Stage Two
With the paper bone dry, I laid on different shades of Ochres, Peach and Dark Mauve pastels.
Trying to figure out where I was going, direction of light, mood and some sort of composition. Not using Pastels for nearly three months I was feeling a touch rusty. Using mainly Unison soft pastels they really do blend  and are very tactile to use. I find having an under painting much easier and more enjoyable.
So tomorrow I'll report back to show you how it's coming along.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Pyrenees Poppies

It's surprising what catches my inspiration, I think this would make a lovely watercolour study. 
Watch this space.

9 x 19 inches

Pyrenees Poppies
For sale 

I've had another go at 'Pyrenees Poppies'. It was quite a mad affair, with Red paint everywhere including me , a palette knife, a water spray, and the sponge all took centre stage. Zucchero played quietly in a corner trying to bring a sense of calm. 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Col d 'Aubisque my greatest cycle ride

Seeing these wild ponies basking in the sunshine near the top of the Col du Soulor I did feel like joining them! Cycling up from Argeles Gazost through breathtaking scenery, passing through picture postcard villages and round  hairpin bends of flower meadows with every colour imaginable. This was our fifth and final cycle ride 'Hautacam' had been conquered the day before a fairly short 17 kms up! All the passes have been so very different but all beautiful. 
The last bend of the Col du Soulor and these two characters had me smiling.

On reaching the top of Col du  Soulor I did wonder if I had the energy or inclination to do the Aubisque? But boy when you see this pass cut out of the sheer side of the mountain your breath is taken away and I didn't care if I had to push! I wanted to experience and see the dramatic scenery that was to unfold. If you look at the photo below just above my helmet is the ridge of the pass and it follows a line right across. 

If you look closely you can see Nigel waving on his bike, I didn't wave I can tell you it was hands on the brakes and not looking too closely over the death edge!! I now it sounds dramatic but gosh what an amazing experience. 
So here is my list of Five Tour de France passes in order of merit and enjoyment!

1. Col d' Aubisque --For sheer drama and jaw dropping beauty
2. Col de Peysesouade --For Poppies and wild flowers along the way and a gentle climb.
3. Col de Tourmalet --For tears and giving me back determination, it was brutal!!
4. Col de Gavarnie--- For history and a stunning Cirque
5. Hautacam-- For a cooler day and easier ride 

I hope you've enjoyed my little trip to the Pyrenees it's back to the paint brush but with some stunning memories and inspiration.

Here is a link to the book which holds our new adventures. 
 Anyone that enjoys cycling, dramatic scenery stunning photo's and history about fifty famous passes 
for just under £10 I think it's a absolute bargain. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Col de Peyresourde

Number three cycle ride which is now becoming a cycling holiday!  Col du Peysouade was a beautiful cycle ride we started from our base of Bagners de Luchon and made our way slowly might I add up the Col. This is one of the stages on the Tour de France this year and what a beautiful ride. Parts of it did remind me of the Lake District fells it's quite different to the French Alps but just as beautiful. Passing quaint old villages, chickens, Sheep with bells and fields and fields of wild flowers.

The last few hairpins to the top

Poppies have always inspired me and on this cycle ride they lined the route blowing softly in a warm breeze nearly all the way to the top. 

 Peyresourde Poppies