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Views of Edlingham Castle, Northumberland

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.

(c)April 2015 Edlingham Castle from the field

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.

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.

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.

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 stiff brush.

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.

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.

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

“Edlingham 11th c Church + Gravestones”

Edlingham Church

Edlingham Church

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.

Skull 1737

Skull 1737

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

carving on columns

Just some interesting ‘beading’ on the columns inside the church.

Gravestones at Edlingham

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?

Walk in the Yard 2-4-08

Today I wanted to get outside without spending too much time thinking about it. Sometimes you can waste time just planning and packing so I kept it super simple. I took a gallon ziplock bag, my 6×8″ sketchbook, a tortillion, a small stiff brush, one small set of charcoal pencils (already in a clear pouch so I could grab them), and something new to me a set of “Cretacolor” leads or sticks with a lead holder. I have a bigger picture of them laying on my sketchbook pictured. The set comes with a 4b graphite stick, a white chalk, two shades of brown chalk, and sanguin? stick that is like a color pencil and doesn’t smear or blend easily.

I should have brought a simple pen for writing, hard to write with charcoal! oops! Next time. I wore these work gloves because they offered a bit of protection but they let me use my hands better than my heave work gloves! I use these when I do oil landscapes in the fall or spring when it’s still chilly.

Something I’ve mentioned before, it’s when you really stop and be still for a time that you start to notice little things you might have missed before. Today I was setting my ziplock bag in the snow as I worked on drawing standing up. When I crouched down to retrieve something from my bag, I noticed a tiny, tiny bug on my bag. Then I noticed there were more tiny bugs on the snow under the dead Zinnias I was drawing. Then as I looked around, no kidding, they were all across the snow everywhere! Yikes, glad they were tiny, but it’s a sign of spring. I’m not sure what they were.