Here’s a post I wrote from July, never too late to enjoy a bit of sun I guess!?
July 16, 2015
Did I tell you how much I LOVE living here in Northumberland? I did? Well I won’t get tired of saying it or doing my sketches out in the field.
Taking a rest, enjoying the day, in my barn boots of course!
I went up in the field near Edlingham Castle, I had it all to myself, no sheep or cows about. It was just that kind of day that I sat on the ground to think, listen to the birds and enjoy just living. Then I just lay back and put my straw hat over my eyes and let time slip by, and it was ok.
Trying to take a selfie with a 35mm isn’t easy!
Laying down amongst the clovers, it made me feel like a kid again. Isn’t that funny? I should go lay in the grass more often! Maybe we could start a national “Lay in the Grass Day”! haha.
Below is a picture of what it looked like, my view from the grasses, the clouds were so beautiful.
My view from the grass, my mouse eye view.
And below, this is what I saw near me, a Ringlet butterfly, a very common sight in the fields here in summer. I’m really enjoying learning the new butterflies and bugs here in the UK.
A Ringlet butterfly on a clover head.
Well I didn’t just lay around all day, after a little while I went down the field, found a spot to stand and did a small painting. Below is a picture of Edlingham Castle, this was what I drew. You can see by the photo, the lighting never stays the same when you’re painting outside. My painting ended with nice blue skies and sunshine!
Edlingham Castle view from field.
Below is the ink drawing I did first. Sometimes I do an ink drawing then paint with my watercolors, especially if I don’t think I’ll have time to paint it. The other way is to do a light pencil sketch and then paint, drawing with ink a little for details on the pencil before or after painting.
Ink drawing of Edlingham castle, over the gate.
Below is my finished watercolor painting, only 4.5″ x 6″. You can see how bright the colors are, the day really was so bright, unlike the photo! The ink drawing makes it look more like an illustration than a painting to me. Kind of like all details are picked out at once, but that’s ok.
Edlingham Castle, Northumberland. Watercolor and Ink 4.5″ x 6″
I hope you enjoyed a little look back into summer! If you don’t want to miss any of my posts, just put your email in the box at the top right column. It’ll send you an email notice and you just respond then you’ll get my posts right in your inbox. Remember though, it’s best to click to come here and read the post, it lays out better on the page (and you can leave comments here).
I wrote this post way back in July, when it was sunny and warm, now here we are at the end of October! I still have new drawings and paintings to share, it’s just been more hectic than I expected! I’m still settling into this new life, trying to learn how to drive standard (badly!), finding a new accountant, and not being able to find some of my supplies because many things are still packed and stacked in plastic bins! But what has been most excellent is our walks near our home and a few trips to the Lake District. The greatest joy Gary and I share is our love of walking in the countryside. I’m overwhelmed with subject matter, it’s just finding time to sit and work.
So, on to my July post! Please click on the pictures to see them enlarged and clearer, enjoy!
(July 2015) I’m very lucky to have an ancient castle near where I live. I can go visit the site and walk around it, or view it from the fields.
Brown ink drawing of Edlingham Castle done in the field in April 2015.
I did this drawing in brown ink (Faber Castell Pitt pen) while standing in the field where only local villagers usually go, way back in April. It’s great to switch your mediums once in awhile when out painting. I think it’s great ‘brain training’ as you have to approach it in different ways, seeing shapes, values, lines, textures and measurements; and thinking what you will use to capture that.
As I am settling into my new studio space here in England, I am still re-organizing my ‘stuff’ and wanting to play with materials I’ve had packed for ages. One of those is charcoal, I haven’t really used it in a long time so lately I’ve been rediscovering it. Below I’ll show you how I did another small drawing of the castle en Plein Air or sitting in a field with my art kit.
Sometimes I set my stuff out on the ground, this is charcoal drawing supplies.
This shows my small backpack, a big lawn + leaf type garbage bag, Altoids tin with loose charcoal sticks and one plastic box with charcoal pencils, tortillions, brushes, sandpaper and eraser. I almost always stand when I work but today I had a small folding camp stool to sit on. The garbage bag is great for when you want to throw your backpack or kit on the ground and it’s all damp OR use it for sitting on.
Here’s part of my field kit for charcoals, good ‘ol Altoids tin.
And the ever popular ‘Altoids tin’, once used by me for watercolors but now I put my charcoal sticks in here. The rubber bands on the lid are holding a piece of paper towel and some cotton balls in place.
Here it is open and ready to use; I put the messy hard and soft sticks in here.
The base holds an assortment of soft vine and compressed charcoal sticks also a piece of chamois for blending and shading.
You can use the ‘messy’ charcoal powder in the tin to draw with a brush.
When I sharpen points on sandpaper I let the powder fall into this tin and then it’s great to pick up with brushes for shading. A great way to start your sketch with soft blocked in areas of value, using soft or stiff brushes.
Work in progress, my support is just the cardboard back of a sketchpad.
Above here it is almost finished, just a few touch ups and strengthening of darks and details to do.
Charcoal drawing of Edlingham Castle, July 2, 2015.
And it’s finished! I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my kit and how I worked. I’ll try to post more of those sketches I’ve done! Leave me comments below, I love to hear from you all.
And my other facebook page: Mary McAndrew Painting and Illustration
(please click pictures to see larger)
Oak leaves and tracks in the snow, January 9, 2013
The sketches above are from my walk on January 9, 2013. I didn’t need to wear my snowshoes this time and I walked further than before, making it to “Oak Lane” today. It was there in my favorite lane, that I leaned against a tree to sketch the oak leaves on the ground. I also saw interesting little tracks that I can only guess are squirrel? I have grey and red squirrels here, these look a little big for red squirrel but I’m just guessing. The top track is life size at 1″ x 1″.
The Octagon House in Akron, NY
I went to Akron NY this weekend to go sketching a bit with my friend Nancy. I want to practice drawing buildings and houses more and Akron has some interesting old ones. This Octagon House was built in the 1840’s by Charles B. Rich for his fourth wife. It’s a museum too and someday I want to go through to see all the Victorian era furniture and decorations. It was a challenge to sketch standing there on the sidewalk opposite, leaning against a stop sign! I sketched it in pencil then put a little watercolor on; at home I used my ink pen to draw over and then painted from the picture I took. It was such a grey dull day but can’t complain about how warm it was.
A building on Main Street in Akron, NY.
This is a business on Main St. in Akron I started to sketch from a cold bench across the street. I’ll try to work on it this week to finish it up. I guess it looks like many old businesses do on any Main St. in America. It was popular to have a facade that is really taller than the building itself, kind of like an old western town movie set!
I also worked on a little watercolor landscape study from a photograph I took while in Northumberland, England, but want to put a few finishing touches on it.
St. Paul's Church
Just a quick little post to share a sketch I did the other morning while in Alnwick, (Northumberland England). While I was waiting for Gary I had about 30 minutes to walk to St. Paul’s Church to see if I could find something interesting to sketch. I was first drawn to the architectural feature that is over the door, like a large chimney pot with a crown. (Not sure what it is)
I walked around the church, pea gravel crunching beneath my feet on this cold October morning, and I met the grounds-woman Dorothy. She talked to me about the church and the plants, then I found a spot at the very entrance where I first entered and caught sight of the view I liked. I only had a short bit of time left to sketch and my hands were freezing and stiff, but I held my sketchbook with one hand while I stood there. I used a permanent ink pen so any lines I made were there to stay.
As I drew the biulding, I realized my eyes were fooling me and after reviewing the horizontal alignments I saw the roof was pitched much more dramatically than I thought. This is what I love about drawing buildings, you must draw what you see and take real measurements and alignments to check it.
When I got home I just touched up a tiny bit by adding more lines to indicate stones and darkened in the areas of the windows a bit. I hope you enjoyed this sketch, more coming soon!
Green Batt House Gate
This is an old gate in Alnwick, Northumberland, that I drew while waiting for Gary one morning. I don’t know how old it is or what the history of the name is but I liked the gate, green trees inside, golden sandstone blocks all worn away and the tread worn threshold stone below the gate. It’s just on a side street above the main shopping area of Bondgate Within in Alnwick. I leaned against a wall and many cars and passers by gave me a glance wondering what I was doing there.
Green Batt Gate + moths
Though it doesn’t show you much, I included the sketch in it’s early stages because I started it on one day and went back to finish on another. I wasn’t happy with the first sketch outline as I knew I had my comparative measurements off. So when I returned I decided to just draw over what was there with the pen and oh well! So it came out well, I bet you can’t really tell too much of where I drew over it? I like to show you my mistakes because they’re not really mistakes; every artist starts a drawing and needs to alter it to ‘make it right’. Drawing in permanent pen can make this difficult but also spontaneous, “wysiwyg” or “what you see is what you get”. You learn little things to cover up the mislaid lines or how to work with them. I was in a hurry when I laid down the initial lines but glad I was able to return to finish it!
I’ll save the information about the moth sketches for another post, just thought I’d show you how my pages get all kinds of things drawn next to each other!
Well I must admit I’m getting way behind in my posts, I have lots of new pages to share and adventures to tell about, but keep running out of time (or energy!) to keep up. Here’s a short story about my morning walk in the tiny village of Edlingham on a sunny morning in July.
Edlingham Castle from across fields
You can read my notes written on my sketch page too. The drawing above I sketched while standing on the side of a road, I just pulled out the watercolor pencil I needed as I worked. First I did a quick sketch with permanent ink pen then touched in with colors. Edlingham Castle is a great ruin to visit and explore, I love wondering what it must have looked like ages ago.
There were Meadow Cranesbill flowers growing along side the road, very pretty! I guess they’re named such because as the flower head looks a bit like a crane’s head and bill.
Black Faced Sheep in the Field
This is how pretty it is around Edlingham, black faced sheep and huge shadows passing over hills of many greens.
Sheep with lambs
Now these sheep are ok as sheep go, but really not my favorites; I think they are a variety from France. I tend to refer to them as “uglies” ohh I know that sounds harsh…but they look like ‘beefy’ sheep thugs wearing wool sweaters.
Burnside Cottage, Edlingha
I made my way up the lane to near where the busy road is and sat on a gas meter to look over the hills. As I made my way back down there is a sweet cottage called “Burnside Cottage” right by a stream; Burn meaning stream. I stood across the road and just up a bit from it to do this ink sketch while standing. The light changed as I worked but I was interested in an ink drawing so it didn’t matter. I did take a few snap shots of it so if I want to go back and color it, which I think would be nice, I could. (forgive the quality of the picture, it’s not scanned, I only have my camera to photograph my sketchbook with then I try to edit them a bit on the computer to brighten them)
At the very end of my walk I was greeted by the song of the Song Thrush. And here is a little poem I just made up in honor of the Thrush:
The Song Thrush
The Song Thrush
Hides in the bush.
The air is ringing
With his joyful singing.
Take to the air
The thrush he is a winging!
(c) Mary McAndrew 2010
Don’t forget to visit my shop on Zazzle where you’ll find my most recent photos of landscapes and nature from my hikes in Northern England, CLICK HERE.
Today I did something a little different, I went to the 11th c church next to Edlingham castle and instead of sketching it (architecturally) I went inside where it was dark, cold and damp. I only had the natural light to sketch by and you can see the day was overcast.
I know this sketch looks really spooky, well it was supposed to! Sometimes the old gravestones had rather grim or skull like faces carved on them. Was it a fear of the afterlife? I found this one on a huge wall gravestone, inside the church. I find it fascinating to read the dates on really old stones and imagine what was happening back in history at that time. I’m a terrible historian and need to learn more, this helps to inspire me. The skull I sketched using charcoal is life size, about 3″ across, and they put some kind of black paint into the eyes, nose and creases. It was so dim in the church I had a really hard time seeing my drawing while I was doing it!
There were words carved in the center (written to the left of skull) and the date at the end, I love the style so I copied it. The funny thing was they had a ‘type-o’ way back then and changed the 3 to a 4 later, why I don’t know. You can see the chisel marks in the eyes.
carving on columns
Just some interesting ‘beading’ on the columns inside the church.
Gravestones at Edlingham
I then went out to explore the graveyard, looking at more dates and admiring the carved stones. I guess I get interested in the heavily carved stones with the lichens and mosses growing on them. The greenish stone made me sad, I wrote some of the words down on the page, “John Cowans of Edlingham 1894-67 yrs Erected by his 10 sons. 1898-Mary Cranston wife 69 yrs. I imagined his 10 sons, standing proud together as a family, erecting such a big and impressive stone so long ago. Where would we be without family love, pride and memory?
Alnwick Doors + Windows
Some more sketches of architectural elements from about Alnwick (pronounced Annick). The page above is my entire sketchbook page, I drew the boarded window, then much later added the doorway. I kept the page just for windows and doors or things like that. Then even later than that I played around with decorating the page with scrolly bits and made up lettering for the word “Alnwick”
Window in Alnwick
I did this sketch using an inktense watercolor pencil and my waterbrush while standing looking over a stone wall into an abandoned yard.
This “Number 8” was done with a permanent ink pen when I was sitting in the car waiting. People might think that I’m secret police studying their houses! I drew some of the leaves at top (vines) and bottom in the hedge then left it to finish later by repeating mostly. This was a little cottage with a white door, dark stone walls and pink roses and greenery all around, very sweet!
Playing around with the name “Alnwick” using my watercolor pencils. I like to make up my own lettering, it’s fun to do this on your pages. Check out some note cards and prints I made using my photos and drawings of architectural elements here.
Here’s a quick little post about a building sketch I did in Alnwick, Northumberland England. Alnwick is an old town, perhaps 800 years or so, and therefor filled with interesting architectural elements. It has it’s very own castle on the edge of town and a huge stone gate that once was part of a wall around the town, now gone for building stones.
Baily's Cafe sketch
I sat on a cold, hard, stone wall on the busy “Bondgate Within” street, a street with shops, small hotels and the upper part still filled with bumpy cobbles. They do have new benches but none gave this straight-on view of the shop I wanted to sketch. I only had enough time to start my sketch when Gary showed up and we were off and running again; this was on June 17.
Bailey's Cafe sketch finished
Click here to see sketches of buildings in my shop as note cards, more coming!
We returned on July 20 and I, with sketchbook in hand, said I’d be drawing while he ran errands. I had about 35-45 minutes to finish this sketch, so I found the same hard, cold rock on the stone wall to sit on and got busy. This is with a permanent ink pen so whatever marks I made were not erasable. I first tried to put the rest of the lines in for the main building row and the dome. Then I added windows, lamps, people and cars. I didn’t bother to add the distant buildings and cars till the end, but glad I got them in, they really add some depth and interest to the drawing. What I loved about this building was it’s green patina dome, I would really like to do another sketch of it using my colors.
Though I went for this walk a month ago, I need to catch up on posting my sketches from all my walks so you can see where I’ve been. This walk started at the Edlingham Church from the 11thC and Edlingham Castle.
Edlingham church and castle quick sketch
As I noted on my page, it was a gorgeous, sunny day. I started by walking past the old church and as I stood in the parking lot near it, I sketched using my Derwent Inktense “Ink Black” watercolor pencil. I then used my waterbrush to make washes using the pencil lines. You can add more color or value by touching the tip of your pencil with the waterbrush and adding it to the already damp paper. If you re-draw on the damp paper the pencil will make a very strong line and be harder to blend. Since I don’t have use of a scanner here, I photographed my pages and then brightened them, the picture here looks a bit more contrasty than the real one.
The sketch of the castle at the bottom of the page (shown above) is started with the same Inktense pencil then later colored with watercolors and watercolor pencils. I was way up in a sheep field looking back when I did this, just a quick impression.
Edlingham Church and Castle
After my walk I added color to the top sketch of the church, with watercolor pencils. I’m going through a phase with them right now, as I so often do…then I switch back to my loved watercolors. I’m having fun layering colors to find nice greens and browns. I don’t like a drawing or painting to look ‘mushy’, that is be too soft, and I’m tempted to go back and draw with my ink pens into these little studies. But they are studies and sometimes the soft look of them is nice.
As I walked up through another farmers field I saw Lapwings on the ground. They are such a neat bird with two long feathers on their crest that looks like a fancy plumed hat! When they fly their wings are wide, rounded and a sharp looking black and white. They have a very nice call too. This picture is a bit blurry as I shot it from far away, but you get the idea of what they look like.
Dog Rose + Lapwing
I’ll type out the notes from this page down below.
I had fun and created a old fashioned looking greeting card with this Dog Rose watercolor I did. Click to see it in the shop, it has pink inside and you can add your own text. Click your back button to return.
On the way to the top
This photo shows just how gorgeous the views were; I wanted to stop and paint all the time! But if you don’t keep walking you’ll never see as much, so on I went. (click it to see it in my shop larger)
Yup, that's me!
Yes, well, that’s me! I was happy to be out walking alone, stopping as I pleased and discovering interesting things, like the butterflies below.
Painted Lady Butterfly
This is a tattered looking Painted Lady, it looks similar to the Tortoiseshell below, but see how that one is dark in the center around the body?
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
This small little Tortoiseshell butterfly looks like it’s been through some weather, maybe even escaped a birds beak? I saw quite a few butterflies along the little dirt lane I walked on, I think they enjoyed the windbreak of the stone wall that followed it.
At the Roman Fort site, wow, buttercups!
(Click to see this picture as a glossy note card) This picture is at the top of the hill where the Roman Fort used to be. There are piles of stones around in a big rectangle shape, all that is left of it now. The Buttercups were so pretty, I crouched down low to get this shot, I liked the angle of it.
Here are the notes I wrote on my page: ” Headed to the Old Roman Fort. Sitting here now- it’s so beautiful the scene. Skylark is singing to my right + sheep are calling down the valley behind me. I don’t have time to paint the landscape, I have too much to do at home. 🙁 oh…I couldn’t resist! Quick watercolor sketch!” (See below!)
Small watercolor view from top of Edlingham
I’m so glad I took some time to do this little watercolor, now I look at it in my field journal and can remember the scene so well. I sat on a huge rock of the fort, with my feet up and set a little container of water besides me. I used regular watercolor brushes for this one. I first laid on washes of blue and quickly lifted areas with a tissue for clouds. Then overlapping (on purpose) the blue near the horizon, I put pale green hills. The blue showed through and it made very nice distant hills, keep it soft and pale for this. Then I put various patches of greens for the fields in front.
View from Top, "Ah, this is the life!"
I used this picture to create a glossy note card for those who love hiking, click on the picture to see my “people in landscapes” but I also created one that says on it: “Ah, this is the life!” I guess that says it all, you’ll find that one in my shop here.
More posts coming as I catch up! Please sign your email in the box at the right if you’d like to be notified. Exciting news coming soon about Creative Journaling and Sketching tours!