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Painting on Gummer's How, Lake Windermere

This past summer my husband and I tried to pop out to the Lake District when we could. Unfortunately time slipped by and we only got out there a few times for the day, except of course when my son visited and I got to stay in Keswick two days with him! (but that’s another story). On this occasion we explored Kendal, then some small tarns but the best part was walking up Gummer’s How and having a picnic. (please click on photos to see larger views)

The Chocolate House, Kendal.

The Chocolate House, Kendal.

First we stopped in Kendal and had a quick run around, but lingered a little longer in the Chocolate House. It’s a very small shop filled with all kinds of chocolates and candies. To be honest I didn’t buy any this time, I just didn’t feel in the mood….I must have been NOT feeling myself! Well it’s a reason to go back again.

An amazing old door on a small church we visited.

An amazing old door on a small church we visited.

This is an amazing old heavy wooden door on a small church we visited.

A very scary ford to cross.

A very scary ford to cross.

This is a ford we came to, I’ve never seen one this wide! There was no sign saying not to cross it but I told Gary I’d get out of the car if he tried! It looked far too deep.

I'm so glad we decided not to cross this ford!

I’m so glad we decided not to cross this ford!

We drove around the long way and this is the ford from the other side. It was awful, the ground was all broken up from previous flooding, and it must have been 2 1/2 feet deep! There should have been a sign to warn people!

Gummer's How, waiting for us to come up!

Gummer’s How, waiting for us to come up!

This is Gummer’s How and you can just see Lake Windermere at its base. Time to get our boots on and get walking.

There were some really pretty areas on our walk up.

There were some really pretty areas on our walk up.

We passed small grassy glades and this one had a small stream that sounded so refreshing.

This is the path that curves around towards the top

This is the path that curves around towards the top

As we get near the top the path goes close to the edge and you get a great view of Windermere. I had to stop and take it in, though Gary said to keep on, he knew the view got better!

Now don’t get jealous of this next photo! It looks like a scene from the “Miss Potter” movie and I love that!

Settling down to do a watercolor of the view at Lake Derwentwater.

Settling down to do a watercolor of the view at Lake Windermere.

Of course my big plan was to do a watercolor study up top and I’m happy to say I did. Many times we walk and when we’re at the top of our hill I don’t feel like painting or there’s just no time.

The day couldn't get more perfect!

The day couldn’t get more perfect!

After our picnic of Ploughman’s sandwiches (cheese and pickle), various biscuits (cookies) and a can of apple cider we shared, I settled down on some soft mossy heather to draw.

This apple cider was nice at our picnic.

This apple cider was nice with our picnic.

It helps to carry a plastic bag to sit on, the ground is usually very damp so I always have one tucked in my field kit.

My small sketchbook and travel palette balanced on my knees.

My small sketchbook and travel palette balanced on my knees.

The difficult part is translating that huge expanse of landscape to your small pad, I focused in on several of the distant mountains and first sketched with pencil.

This shows how far I got while working in the field.

This shows how far I got while working in the field.

The above picture shows how far I got in the field. One of the best things about painting or drawing outside, is all the things you see as you sit there! We heard loud airplane engines and then two really big military airplanes flew right up the lake; it was below us and that perspective made it even more exciting! They must have been returning from an airshow?

Finished watercolor of "Lake Windermere from Gummer's How"

Finished watercolor of “Lake Windermere from Gummer’s How”

Here’s the finished watercolor (above). The most challenging thing (as always) was the changing shadow patterns on the hills. You can sit and gaze all day at the moving shadows from the clouds, picking out brilliant greens in one area then fading to appear in another spot. It helped me greatly to look at photos I shot when I finished up details at home. I had to pick a bit from many to fit what my painting was showing.

Click on this Wikipedia link to read more about Gummer’s How. I love the quote by Wainwright at the end, I guess I don’t have to hang up my boots just yet!

The sunset as we drove home.

The sunset as we drove home.

The end of a very nice day, this was the sunset as we drove through the Pennines back to Northumberland.  I hope you enjoyed the extra photos today, though I know August is long since gone, I’ll always remember our hike and painting on Gummer’s How.

"The Daffodils" by William Wordsworth

Springtime Daffodils

Springtime Daffodils

With Spring making it’s appearance I thought it a good time to remember the beautiful poem by William Wordsworth, one of England’s most famous and loved poets. He wrote this poem inspired by a walk on April 15 by Lake Ullswater, in the Lake District, the shores of which even today are full of Daffodils “fluttering and dancing”. His sister Dorothy accompanied him, which I imagine happened a lot as they lived together, even after he married Mary Hutchinson.

His sister seems to have had a talent too, as she wrote in her “Grasmere Journal” there by the lake on April 15, 1802, “the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake”. I copied the entire text from Wikipedia of what she wrote and include it below, after her brother’s poem. I include it because I think it’s so beautiful and insightful and we know it inspired her brother a full two years later in 1804, to write his famous poem. Now I love hearing about someone using their journal like that, just as I would have done! And though they experienced this beautiful scene 211 years ago, we can still relate to it today, which is what makes it timeless.

“The Daffodils” or “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

To read more about William Wordsworth visit this page we created about him on the “Old School Tours” website.

Below click on the beautiful painting of Lake Ullswater by J. M. W. Turner to see it enlarged.

J. M. W. Turner – Ullswater from Gobarrow Park

It’s just ‘that beautiful’, but I especially like the dreamy way Turner captures the landscape.

“Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”

And here’s the copied text of what his sister Dorothy wrote:

“When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seed ashore & that the little colony had so sprung up — But as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about & about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed and reeled and danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever dancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here & there a little knot & a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity & unity & life of that one busy highway — We rested again & again. The Bays were stormy & we heard the waves at different distances & in the middle of the water like the Sea.”

—Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journal Thursday, 15 April 1802

Now isn’t that beautiful? It sets the scene in a real way for the famous poem her brother was inspired to write. And we know the date he was inspired, even though he wrote the poem two years later, because Dorothy had entered it in her journal on April 15, 1802! Sometimes I look back at my journals and read the dates, comparing how the weather is ‘this’ year as to then. I noticed that last year on Easter Sunday I was out sketching frog eggs and thinking of renewel of the earth. This year the frogs are calling like mad but no eggs yet! Today I’m headed out for an ‘explore’, we’ll see if we can find some. The point is, even if you just jot down some notes about the weather, how your plants are growing, or the birds you see, you can look back and remember. You’ll be surprised at how fresh it will stay in your mind especially if you draw or paint things, because you take time to really study and absorb the scene.

Enjoy today folks, happy spring!

“A jocund company”

All photographs (c) Mary McAndrew

ps. Sorry I don’t have drawings of my daffodils, but I have been doing sketches of fuzzy buds and will post those next!

“Derwent Water Marina” 9-13-09

Today I’ll take you to the Marina at Derwent water where I stayed overnight at The Derwent Hotel. It’s a gorgeous place to stay all newly refinished, the bedroom was just sumptuous! And oh yes, I really liked that they had internet so I could catch up with the folks at home and let them know I wasn’t lost somewhere in the English countryside!
This is the front lobby, coming down in the early morning to have my oatmeal made with cream and oh boy was it rich!
Then I made my way across the street and just down a driveway and there you are…the marina. A small, uncomplicated, peaceful place so early in the morning. toward the water…I took note of birds I saw, almost all were new to me, how exciting!
I love when the mist is lower than the mountains around it, the puffs were making their way up each ‘valley’ from the lake. Small coots were chugging across the still water looking for fish…I did some small sketches of birds and wrote my bird list on the sketch page shown below.
Click the page to read my notes.
These are simple sketches done while walking around, this is typically how I draw birds in the field. Not much to them, just identification notes, and I had my Altoids watercolor kit with me and did some simple coloring. I think one of my favorite birds was the wood pidgeon; with a flash of white on his wings when he flew from the deep trees where hidden. They are quite big compared to ‘our’ rock doves or pidgeons.
Later in the day I walked up the hill behind the hotel. It was very chilly and damp as I sat and worked. I did a small sketch of the lake view over the hotel, trying to get some color notes on it so I’d remember how it looked. I think my friend Gary arrived just in time though as my fingers were getting quite stiff! Time for hot tea!
I just finished the sketch,(back home in the states) working from a dull photo because it was a dull day. I sat in a coffee/lunch area in the grocery store on a nasty snowy day and worked on it…then finished it in the comfort of my studio. I perked up the color a little trying to keep in mind the original colors I had on the paper. I signed it Lake Derwent before I learned that it’s called Derwent Water. By the way, I did the entire painting using one waterbrush and my travel palette. I’m trying to practice using the waterbrush so it’ll come naturally in the field.
I think it’s a nice little painting!

I think the painting will always mean something different to the artist who painted it in the field. As I sat and sketched, then painted…I absorbed all around me. My eyes studied the colors, my ears heard wrens and thrushes singing, the wind blowing through the pines, my fingers felt the cool rain drops and mist, my face felt the breeze and my nose smelled the wet leaves and mosses in the undergrowth behind me…and the smells of the kitchen below. As I look at that little painting…I can remember it all! THIS is what makes painting outside in nature so rewarding, and it’s why I do it. I hope you’ll join me someday in experiencing this feeling.

“My Travels from Grasmere and Ambleside to Derwentwater” 9-2-09

River Rothay in Grasmere, a wonderful little town in the Lake District.

I’ll tell you from the start, this post has NO drawing in it! I feel a bit guilty but what can I say? I loved my travels between the places I stayed while exploring the Lake District and I wanted to share some of the photos with you. I must declare here and now, I fell in love with England when I visited the Lake District! It has swept this artist’s heart away and I won’t be truly happy until I return! Happily that’ll be soon, as I plan to return to England this Summer for more exploring and painting. I also hope to teach some outdoor nature sketching classes while there.

I thought this was a Merganser but here they call it a Goosander, it was working it’s way up the river fishing…turning around in circles sometimes then diving. What a beautiful bird!
Wonderful Celtic crosses in a churchyard right in town. I love the different colors from the moss and lichens growing on them.
Another wonderful thing I discovered in England was flapjacks. When I went with my friend Gary to buy goodies for our journey he said “how about some flapjacks?” I looked at him like he was crazy…how rediculous! Who carries flapjacks around with them?? haha….To the American a flapjack is a large flat pancake you eat with butter and syrup for breakfast, you don’t take it in the car to nibble on. (Though I have been known to nibble on cold ones for a snack from the fridge!) He kept pointing to stuff in the bakery case and I kept looking for the pancakes! Well, to the English a flapjack is a wonderful healthy snack made from oats and whatever you want to put in it like raisins etc. It’s like a chewy granola bar. So in the picture, here I am enjoying my first flapjack! Just check out those hills behind me; the reddish color is from the Bracken turning color in the fall.
Me taking some shots before we moved on, it was hard to leave this spot it was so beautiful.
A farm in the valley where we stopped.
This is in Ambleside, the “Bridge House” set right over the river or “Stock Beck” (Norwegian name for river is Beck); this was to escape the land tax at the time. It was used as an apple store and at one time had a family with six children living in it!

That’s a Jackdaw on top of it; Jackdaw’s are a common bird much like our House Sparrow or Starlings are…both came from England originally by the way. So as I was excited to see the Jackdaw about everywhere, no one payed any attention to them. It’s something to remember, things in your own backyard can be really fascinating to others. So take a closer look at what you’ve got and appreciate it.
Hmm…that could have meaning on several levels 😉

“Rydal Water Hike” 9-11-08 painted pg 1

I’ve been trying to go back into my sketches I did on my trip to England and add some color or finish what I’ve started. On this little sketch I scribbled it out in 5min….and added some notes on color right on the page. So to keep practicing with my waterbrush and watercolors I added some color while looking at a photo I had taken that day. It’s different using the waterbrush alone and not an assortment of brushes. You have one tip to work with and a different kind of flow of water. I’m liking it more and more, but it still has it’s limitations, most especially when wanting to lay in a large wash of color. You have to mix a puddle of color first on your palette, squeezing the barrel to make drops of water come out.
Here’s the sketch as it appeared in my original post about my hike. To read more about this hike go to my post:

“Rydal Water-Last Day” 9-12-08

In the morning looking out my window, I was greeted by an unusual sight, sheep in the courtyard! I guess it would be very frustrating to have a garden here as the sheep kind of wander where they like, especially if their gate is left open. The owners of Cote Howe B+B told me it was hard to protect the garden and they try to put fencing around it.
This morning I was leaving Rydal Water, I was sad to say good-bye. I went out behind the B+B to wait for my friend Gary to come, it was chilly and damp. I climbed up on top of a big wooden gate with huge stone posts and did a balancing act as I swung my legs to the other side. The stone wall is fascinating in itself to study, notice the huge cap stone at the end on the left…I don’t know how deep it goes into the ground, but I’m sure it goes down a few feet at least. This is how the stones were set for Stonehenge and the other stone circles around England and Ireland. The big stone here is used as the post, the wall being built up against it and also gates can be hung on it. The wall has a niche in it, I forget what the owner told me it was for? Does anyone know?
Above you can see some beautiful forms of fungus’s and moss. It seems anything that wasn’t moving in England this fall, was covered with mosses! I’ll try to identify these later from my field guides, if anyone has some good identification, leave me a comment please!
There were sheep in the field, an occasional hiker and just a beautiful view looking towards Rydal Water and the path I took yesterday for my hike. I sat on a gate and sketched the sheep and path view, the bunny is from when I was standing by the garden and saw him there. I sat so quietly sketching that the sheep came right up under me, when I spoke to her, she was very surprised to see me! That’s the neat thing about sketching in nature, you sit so quietly engrossed that wildlife will come around you.
Below you can see my original page, this is what I did as I sat on the fence, I painted it in while looking at the photos on my computer screen, using my tiny Altoids watercolor kit and just one waterbrush. You can see my tiny color tests in the spiral area of the paper.

“Rydal Water Hike” 9-11-08

Not too long ago I posted about my hike around Rydal Water in the Lake District of England. I did sketches as I went, some being quick as the day grew short and chilly. Below is a sketch I did with a permanent micron pen, I just couldn’t resist the view. I wrote notes on it about how I felt and even some abbreviations for color notes.
Last night, quite late actually, around midnight I found myself in front of the computer with a photo I had taken on the spot up on the screen. I used my tiny altoids watercolor kit and one #8 round brush to color in the sketch. I went over the words in a heavier line because they started to get lost. I think it’s a bit distracted looking if that makes sense, I think because I was in a lot of pain (neck and lower back! ohhhh!). But I wanted to do this up…I may go back into it with a micron pen to scribble in more forms. But at least I practiced with my colors and what I could produce with my tiny kit.
I have another post coming soon that I colored after also, of some sheep, a bunny and a little view of my path.

“Rydal Water and Cote How B+B” 9-11-08

After a long night time drive from Muncaster, I arrived at Rydal Water and settled into my room at Cote How Bed and Breakfast. I had only one day to explore as I spent an extra day under Muncaster’s spell. I spent the entire day hiking, taking photos, sketching, talking to people and video taping. Every few steps I had to stop and exclain “wow”…”oh!”…”beautiful!”…I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I wish I had a week so I could really go out to draw and paint. I’ll do work from the photos in the studio and try to return there perhaps to teach a class as we hike around the lake?
After a wonderful breakfast at the Cote How b+b, I came down a path and this is the view of the lake as I approached. The day had a promise of rain; I had my rain gear in my backpack, some snacks bought on the way to Rydal, bottle of water, and extra art supplies. My video camera was hanging from my waist in handy reach, 35mm around my neck, and my art kit hanging from my waist also. Umm…I felt a little like a pack horse but believe me I tried to keep it light! I always try to not carry too much, my back just can’t take it.
Sometimes the path veers away from the lake but always followes along through woods and over hills. Every gate I came to was set in a different scene, mood and lighting. I saw wooden gates and metal, all attached to ancient stone walls with lush green moss on anthing that wasn’t moving!

Once I got out and walked next to the lake, I did a really quick sketch looking across to the other side. I put color notes on the sketch and wrote about some nice walkers I met along the way.

Another gate, this one is for the cows who are lazily lounging along the lake. I put a video clip at the end of this post that shows this view with the wall. Can you see the other side across the water? That’s where I’m eventually headed, this hike today will take me around the entire Rydal Water lake.
Ok…no one said the hike was super easy! This is one part of my walk that took me up the mountain on the other side of the lake. Sometimes I was following a dry creek bed for a path.
After that part of the hike I smartly decided to sit and have lunch, maybe it was a cover so when people walked by they wouldn’t notice my heavy breathing! haha…I sat and did a micron pen sketch of the gate on the path. I added notes about color and things so I could remember later if I do a painting. Just as I finished the sketch my favorite little European Robin landed on the gate! I had to sketch him in.
I’m on the other side of the lake now…looking back and down the valley at the sheep in the fields. They were everywhere, wandering about even on the paths were I was walking.

Along the way I met all kinds of nice people, this is a group of photographers from Scotland. I knew they’d be friendly if I chatted with them, I have friends in Buffalo who go shooting and they love talking shop. As we talked standing along the valley stone wall, a friendly European Robin came and started looking for handouts. One of the group put some crumbs out and we became instant friends with the little bird! Here’s a picture taken with my tiny camera on zoom, not so great for clarity, but it works!
I love when you’re hiking along and if you keep your eyes open, really take notice of what you see, you may see something almost underfoot, literally! I was chatting with an older gentleman while up on the far side of the mountain, a good thing to do to catch your breath. I pointed out a dung beetle crawling along on the ground. I took lots of photos…it’s just great to look at later and notice all the cool things you don’t see at the time. His feet had long ‘toe’ parts, his antennae were a beautiful color with several parts to it, his legs a gorgeous deep purple. When I looked at him from above he was just like the ancient scarabs the Egyptians used in their jewelry. Ok..yes, he’s still a dung beetle, as I studied him…he crawled directly across the path and found..umm…dung! I spared you the picture of that!
This I did while up at the highest point, looking down at the b+b I came from. I stradled a cold, damp stone wall and tried to sit on my coat. I had to hang one leg over the side towards the valley, it was a pretty big drop off. People passed by and I just tried to do my best with my small set of oil pastels, smearing the clouds as the weather changed and mist came in.

This quick sketch was done on the fly…the weather was changing and I was a little worried about how long it would take me to finish my hike. I did take pictures so I could do a little color study later, if I can I’ll post it.
And this is the last page of my sketchbook for today that I wrote while at the Badger Pub. After my hike I freshened up at the b+b then walked the back path to cross over the bridge to the pub. The dinner was excellent and when 9pm rolled around, we were invited to go out back of the pub to watch the badgers get fed! I counted at least nine of them! It was really cool, my only experience with badgers was when I was a zookeeper, his name was Boris! You had to keep a shovel between you and him to keep from being nipped!
I hope you enjoy the video clip below of the lake from my hike. It was a fantastic walk that has filled my memory with wonderful things. I hope you come along with me on the rest of my journey in England!

“Muncaster Castle Day Three, The Owl Centre” 9-10-08

My third day at Muncaster was so full, I did two posts to cover it, this is the second half!

The following pictures are all from the World Trust Owl Centre at Muncaster Castle on September 9th in the late afternoon after a busy day filled with hiking and exploring the castle. At the end of my day I walked around the owl yard and sketched a little…I was quite tired so I didn’t sketch too much! It was raining gently so I limited myself to a few brown watercolor pencils and watersoluble graphite pencils, a brown micron pen and a sepia micron pen. I listed the owls of England on my sketchbook page; Long Earred Owl, Short Earred Owl, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, White Breasted Barn Owl.Above is a Buzzard that is being brought out to take part in the Bird of Prey show they put on everyday behind the castle.

This is a Buffy Fish Owl, they have a funny sort of look with their ‘ears’ flopping out to the sides many times.
This is a Mackinder’s Eagle Owl…the Eagle Owls are some of the largest owls in the world. I just love the sleepy look of this bird…I really want to do a painting of this one!
This gorgeous bird is the Oriental Bay Owl; I just love it’s patterns and colors! I feel another painting coming on!

This is a video of Red Tailed Kites flying around in their pen. Such a beautiful bird, it’s centres like this one that help educate people about Birds of Prey so they won’t kill them in the wild or take their eggs.

“Muncaster Castle Day Three, Morning Hike and Castle” 9-10-08

I started this busy day by meeting my host Patrick and spent the entire morning walking the property with him. We left my backpack in a tiny little room with a tiny door to the outside of the castle and a spiral staircase that went up. Here he is standing in front of the castle looking out over the valley.
Below is the view we had that morning of the valley below the castle.

We went out into the garden, then into the woods and followed many paths and sometimes left it for the woods, Patrick knew it all like the back of his hand. This 1800 acres was his backyard!

A beautiful magical path.
Above a most gigantic Sycamore tree, the trees here are old and immense. Their canopy spans huge areas that Patrick said was a problem for the Rhododendrons trying to get light from below!
Below Patrick showed me that to tell the type of Rhododendron you flip the leaves over and look at the underside! His Rhododendrons are from all over the world and he keeps records of all their growth habits, failures and successes. He is a true master gardener.
We wound our way up the mountain, sometimes catching a glimpse of the valley through the trees, and then before you knew it a gate appeared before us.
This is the gate from the other side…it’s called a kissing gate and is designed to keep livestock from pushing the gate open but people can easily swing it one way the back the other to allow them through.
Then I looked up and this is what I saw! The Irish Sea!! Wow, how amazing it was…this part of England looks out to the Isle of Man and past it Ireland. It was such a wonderful surprise to come out of the woods and an open expanse of beaches and water!
This is a road that leads to an old church on the castle grounds.
This is a view looking back down the terrace at the castle, it was extremely wide and immensely long.
This view is looking up the valley away from the castle, it gives me a chill even now to remember how it felt to stand there looking at such beauty.
These pictures of the paintings I actually took this morning as we prepared to leave the castle. Patrick had some things to attend to and I took some shots while I waited. I love portraits and these were incredible, some were by Gainsborough, Titian and Reynolds.
Just look at how dark and rich the colors in this man’s face looks! I think he was a Pennington.