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"Winter Sketches in England"

Winter has passed by and I’m still settling into my new life in England. I did some sketches as I could, being tired from unpacking, cleaning or just being overwhelmed in general. But happily I can see my sketching has increased as the months slip by and I will share all that in further posts to catch up.

Waiting at Gate 12, Buffalo International Airport...the big day way back in December!

Waiting at Gate 12, Buffalo International Airport…the big day way back in December!

Today I’m posting sketches I did way back in December and January. The one above I did while waiting in the Buffalo International Airport, Gate 12, for my flight to the UK. I like the way it came out, a person sitting ‘almost’ in silhouette in front of the huge windows. It definitely helped to pass the time and calm my nervous excitement.

Ink sketch of a very old Hawthorn in a farmers hedgerow.

Ink sketch of a very old Hawthorn in a farmers hedgerow.

After I settled in I started walking in the mornings, mostly on my favorite lane above the village. Just like at ‘home’ in New York, sketching in winter I mostly use very small pocket sketchbooks. It’s just too cold to stand around freezing my fingers off, so I just do smaller quicker sketches; the most important thing is just to keep sketching.

The drawing above is actually tiny, done at the top of the page, but I like how it came out. It’s done with a brown Faber-Castell ink pen; I love using these pens. It’s a twisted little hawthorn along a sheep field, very exposed to the winds at the top of a ridge. I like it’s character because it reminds me of a bonsai tree. Some of the little trees you see hedges made of are actually very old trees that are trimmed all the time.

"Tree on Upper Lane", a rough sketch on a very cold day, using water soluble pencils that I haven't wet yet!

“Tree on Upper Lane”, a rough sketch on a very cold day, using water soluble pencils that I haven’t wet yet!

This sketch was done very quickly because it was so darn cold! I love walking on this one lane that goes out of our village because it’s lined with ancient trees and gorgeous views of distant hills and fields. I did it using water soluble pencil but wanted to scan it before I wet it. When you wet them they can get very dark and intense…it still waits for me to wet it with my brushes and mess around.

This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed, it's great for winter sketches because it's small.

This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed.

This is one of the small sketchbooks I designed, it’s great for winter sketches because it’s small. I made a pen holder out of duct tape and attached it to the back cover. I have another one that’s even smaller that I used at home a lot too, just loved sticking it in my barn coat pocket when I went walking.

Small watercolor done while sitting along the bank of Edlingham Burn, on a very cold day in January.

Small watercolor done while sitting along the bank of Edlingham Burn, on a very cold day in January.

January 7, 2015 – I walked down to Edlingham Burn (small river) and found a mossy rock to sit upon with this lovely view. Well maybe it’s hard to imagine from such a small sketch, but it was a view of the burn and moss covered trees everywhere, just lovely!

(c)me sketching 1-7-15

Me in the freezing cold, painting Edlingham Burn.

I was very cold painting this, I did it with mittens on mind you, no easy task! I sat on a bit of rock, cold and damp, but it felt so good to be out and finally messing with my watercolors, that I didn’t notice (until I got up, all stiff!) I used one medium sized waterbrush to do this.

The livestock fence across the burn.

The livestock fence across the burn.

Farmers use old pallets across small streams or ‘burns’ here, to keep sheep and cattle in sectioned off fields. I put it in the background of my watercolor sketch you can see above.

A walk along the burn in January.

A walk along the burn in January.

This is Edlingham Burn, I walked along it looking for a spot to paint. Where the rest of the land was pretty bleak and bare, the river was/is fascinating to me.  With all it’s mossy trees, ivy climbing everywhere, dry grasses draping over dark banks touching the cold water and the sound of splashing water, wonderful.

From my small sketchbook, I love the way these two trees were twisting together.

From my small sketchbook, I love the way these two trees were twisting together.

These two trees I found behind the old church, in the farmers field. I really like how this sketch came out. They twisted together, almost in an embrace, part lichen covered, part moss. Standing in a cold, bare hedge, naked of leaves or flowers, just waiting till spring! Maybe someday I’ll do a larger color study.

Pine tree across the road from us, I noted the birds I saw while sketching it.

Pine tree across the road from us, I noted the birds I saw while sketching it.

January 26th – I did this sketch on a day where I was tired and not feeling particularly inspired. That’s an especially good time to stick to your small sketchbook, just do something small until you ‘do’ feel inspired. It helped me to focus and relax; practice is always a good thing. I noted the birds I saw while doing it, Seagulls, Jackdaws and a Tree Creeper.

A pretty view of sheep over a country fence.

A pretty view of sheep over a country fence.

I thought I’d leave you with two more photos, from Jan. 6th on my morning walk. I love watching the sheep in the fields all around me, there are so many kinds here!

A sheep wondering what I'm doing in his field.

A sheep wondering what I’m doing in her field.

This little ewe was watching me, they run away if you get too close, so having a zoom is needed! They are all carrying lambs at this time and I can’t wait to see them in spring!

Check back for more updates, yes there are more sketches, paintings and photos to catch up with from this spring and I can’t wait to share them with you! Sign up in the right column with your email, if you want to be notified when I do new posts. Please leave me comments if you like!

Honey Bunny Leaves for England

(Please click pictures to see enlarged)

Honey Bunny left a message for her friends.

Honey  Bunny left a message for her friends at Long Lane.

Honey Bunny made her decision, she’s moved away from Long Lane to England. But her little friends and she have promised to write to each other. She wants to know what happens back home and they want to hear about her adventures!

The little flowers of her garden are sad.

The little flowers of her garden are sad.

Her leaving has made the little flowers of her garden very sad. Honey Bunny always cared for the little living things at Long Lane and they all will miss her.

Her little mice neighbors were sorry to see her leave.

Her little mice neighbors were sorry to see her leave.

Her mice neighbors had lived near her at Long Lane for such a long time, they were very sorry to see her leave.

Even the little insects were sad.

Even the little insects were sad.

When friends leave it can be very sad and lonely feeling but it can also mean something new and exciting is happening.

Life keeps expanding if you let it grow.

British Flag 2 here at last re

Well life has been expanding for me, as I am now sitting at my laptop in a cottage, in Northumberland  England. Expansion doesn’t happen all at once, I guess if it did it would hurt! What I mean is I think it’s going to take me some time to settle in and feel like this is home. Before when I came, it was for long visits and it was all new and exciting. I’m not saying it isn’t new and exciting now, just that it does feel different. We don’t have that countdown of ‘days until I leave’ now and that’s such a relief!

But I do keep referring to the place I left, back in Clarence Center, New York, as home! I’ll give myself some slack with that; I still refer to the place I grew up, Endicott NY, as HOME. “Going home to Endicott”…I referred to it like this all the years my boys were growing up, so much that even they used to say…”when can we go home to Endicott and see Grandma and Grandpa?”

1-17-15 my walk  (129) (338x450)

Walking down the lane in a small village.

But as they say “home is where the heart is”, and my heart is here with Gary, my soon to be husband. We share a love of nature and walking the hills, listening to good children’s stories and old tales and just being silly and laughing a lot. When I have a new idea for a story or character, and share it with him, it usually expands effortlessly, as he just ‘gets it’.

Gary and I on a walk by Edlingham Burn or creek.

Gary and I on a walk by a burn or creek.

So as I explore my new gorgeous surroundings, I promise to share lots of photos here. The drawing, painting and felting are a bit on the back burner because we’re still working on arranging things to make room for my soon to arrive shipment. “Groan”….I have a lot of boxes and plastic bins coming!! (Remember all those boxes I kept packing?) But I DO miss my ‘stuff’ and can’t wait for it to arrive!

Well here’s a selection of photos from some of the walks I’ve taken. I’ve done a few little sketches but will share them later.

Edlingham Castle and viaduct, just down the road from me.

Edlingham Castle and viaduct, right next to an 11th c church.

The viaduct was built in the Victorian age and was part of a railway line; I’d like to do some sketches of it someday. The views are spread out here, that is you can see really far especially if you get up a hill, and I’ve noticed people just walk to things they can see.

1-20-15 Walk to Crags + Viaduct (17) (450x338)

“My Northumberland!” from on top of the Crags looking down on the village.

Like above, we walked up to the top of the Crags and you have an excellent view for miles and miles!

This is the upper or back lane to the village.

This is the upper or back lane to the village.

This is the upper or back lane to the village and it’s one of my favorite (favourite 😉 ) places to walk…do you blame me?

Another view on the upper lane, coming back.

Another view on the upper lane, coming back.

This is usually how the upper lane looks as I come back, with the sun low in the winter sky.

There are sheep everywhere!

There are sheep everywhere!

Most of the fields and hills have sheep on them. I can guess at three breeds- Norfolk, Scottish Black Face and Texel. They’re all nice but the Scottish Black Faced ones are especially bonnie!

A tiny beautiful bird, the Blue Tit.

A tiny beautiful bird, the Blue Tit.

There are all new birds here for me to learn too. I’m frustrated when I hear them sing or twitter and I have no idea ‘who’ it is! I’m getting good at identifying them on sight though.

A male Blackbird, in the thrush family and closely related to the American Robin.

A male Blackbird, in the thrush family and closely related to the American Robin.

This beautiful bird is a male Blackbird…the same that were baked in a pie and that the Beatles sang about ‘singing in the dead of night’. They are thrushes just like ‘our’ American Robin; so things it does reminds me of it, and yes they’re known for their song!

Walking down by Edlingham Burn, wearing my gators!

Walking down by the burn, wearing my gators!

It’s spring. It’s muddy. When I go out walking and I put on my leg gators first, I’m always glad I did. The gators wrap around your lower leg and ankle and zip up. They stay put because of a strap that goes under your boot and a hook at your laces. I bought them years ago when I came here and just love them!

A walk along the burn in January.

A walk along the burn in January.

Can you see how beautiful this is? I love the tangle of roots, the moss covered trees and the branches that scraggle in all directions. I just hope I can start to capture it all when I start painting.

The livestock fence across the burn.

The livestock fence across the burn.

Farmers use old pallets strung together across the burns or streams, to keep livestock in the proper pasture. I really like the way this one looks, like it’s blended in with it’s natural surroundings.

Well I’ll leave you here, time to go get busy. I’ll post more pictures as I go and hopefully some sketches. Please leave comments below as I love to hear from you all!

“Morning Walk in Edlingham” July 13, 2010

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

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.

Meadow Cranesbill

Meadow Cranesbill

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

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

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, Edlingham

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)

Song Thrush

Song Thrush

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
Snails beware.
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.

“Time in a Field in England” June 12, 2010

This morning was sunny so I headed up the country lane to walk above the little village of Edlingham in Northumberland, England. Here’s a watercolor painting I did while sitting in a field, see the pictures following it and ‘come along with me’ on my walk. Enjoy!

"Fields above Edlingham"

"Fields above Edlingham"

After walking as far as I thought I had time for, I picked a corner of a nice field, not far from the road to work. The painting above is almost all done sitting in the field, I added details to the house and changed a few little things on the hills once I got home. There’s a picture later showing how it looked when I came home, before details were added.

Rock from Romans

Rock possibly from Roman times

This is the very interesting rock I sat on, I keep a pad in my bag from an old diaper bag; it’s great to sit on cold damp rocks or ground. I’d like to learn more about this rock, there is an old Roman fort right at the top of a nearby hill; we feel this looks Roman made.

my sketchbook with 3 page layout

my sketchbook with 3 page layout

Here’s a picture to show you how I worked, my sketchbook is on my lap clipped to a small board with watercolor pan handy. I had a small container of water on the ground within easy reach and I’m holding the only two brushes I used to create the painting. One round and one flat, it’s the first time I ever used a flat with watercolors and I’m very happy with what I could do. It was great for making the bush and tree lines on hills.

As you see I was also wearing gloves because it gets very chilly when you just sit still for one plus hours; these are thin kidskin I think, a dress pair that I decided would serve better on my sketch hikes. They’re thin so I can feel what I’m doing still and the leather helps me with grip.

writing on clouds

writing on clouds

Please click to read better, these are the thoughts I wrote before I started to paint.

Close up- left side of painting

Close up- left side of painting

Here’s a close up of the left side of the painting, just to show you more of the details. I touched up the house, posts some of the road and if you notice the tops of the clouds I softened them up. I’ve also totally removed a treeline somewhere…can you find it? (compare to the pic below)

Fields above Edlingham watercolor unsigned

Fields above Edlingham watercolor unsigned

Here’s the painting just as it looked when I left the field to go home.

country cat

country cat

A friendly cat I met while walking up the hill, I caught her with her tongue out! I LOVE the note cards, mugs and stickers I made from some cats I’ve met…including this one and a gorgeous black cat on the castle wall. (Go here to see their pictures!)

country lane

country lane

The beautiful lane I wandered along…it was great.

Sheep resting

Sheep resting

There are many different breeds of sheep here in England, this one I still have to learn. My favorites are the black faced sheep. These moms and lambs are really enjoying the sun. (Go here to see more photos of sheep in fields I’ve seen in England, you can order note cards if you like.)

country lane

country lane

The hedges here are of Hawthorn, when they’re in bloom not only are the pretty but they smell great.

Field view

Field view

The riding lesson

The riding lesson

Here’s a girl getting a riding lesson, walking on a long line then sometimes off.( Here’s some note cards and gifts with my horse paintings, drawings and photos I’ve taken.)

I hope you enjoyed taking this stroll with me and seeing my painting. Please visit my shop on Zazzle to see many of these photographs as note cards and more, here’s Landscape Photos and Landscape Paintings.

“Ingram Valley” May 15, 2010

Come with me on a walk up into the Ingram Valley in Northumberland England, land of unending vistas and wildlife. I know that sounds ‘corny’ but its true, Northumberland is so beautiful and wild.

Mama sheep and 2 lambs

Mama sheep and 2 lambs

As Gary and I began our walk, right away we met a proud and healthy mama black faced sheep with her two little lambs. Walking the hills in lambing season is so much fun, the little ones prance, bounce from all fours like they have springs in all hooves and they join up in little gangs to play king of the hill. When they can they run to their moms and push under for a feed, their tails wag like little flags of victory!

Ingram Valley -shepherd's road

Ingram Valley -shepherd's road

We turn our attention towards the uphill walk in very chilly wind, but with the sun it was bearable. This is a small track used by the shepherd with his quad-bike, to visit the various hills with sheep on. (I’m actually taking a look ‘back’ downhill here).

Ingram Valley-old stone wall and some lone Scotts Pines

Ingram Valley-old stone wall and some lone Scots Pines

This is along the way up, an old stone wall like so many you see in England, with a few lonely Scots Pines playing sentinel on the lonely hills.

mama sheep

mama sheep

When we went as far as we wanted to go, we watched the sheep playing and running. This ewe and her lamb were all by themselves on the other side of the fence. The lamb looked so special that we couldn’t help but wonder if the shepherd had separated them on purpose. The mother was gorgeous with a coat like no other!  (I loved them so much I created note cards of them, and the other sheep, in my shop!)

Wheatear in Ingram Valley, Northumberland

Wheatear in Ingram Valley, Northumberland

As we made our way down, I talked Gary into stopping for a sit down….of course this was my chance to try to do a watercolor study of the hills opposite! We relaxed, and sitting quietly as I worked, a little bird landed down the hill a bit and started to work it’s way up towards us. I got my camera slowly and started to shoot as he came closer and closer; the wonderful thing about nature sketching or plein air painting is because you’re so quiet, usually wildlife will come near. (keep your camera always handy!) I created note cards of this one too of course, I can’t wait to do a painting of it!

sheep on far hill

sheep on far hill

Now this is the hill we looked at on our way down and what captured my attention for painting. I wanted to show you first if you look closely, you’ll see tiny white dots on it, those are sheep! No kidding…see the picture below.

sheep on far hill-Zoomed in

sheep on far hill-Zoomed in

This is a close up of the same hill, see the sheep walking single file along the steep hill? They are sure footed but Gary told me sometimes they do fall and get killed 🙁

The picture shows you the scale of the size of the mountain.

Ingram Valley

Ingram Valley

So I sat on one of many tussocks remaining from and old forest, (a tussock is a small hump covered with grass that remains from where a tree used to be) and used my watercolor pan and one water-brush.

Ingram Valley

Ingram Valley-watercolor

This is the finished painting; I used the photo I took and looked at it on my computer screen when I got back to finish it. It may have the wrong color cast as I don’t have a scanner to use while I’m away from home, I just shot a picture of it with my camera. Here is a note card of this painting in my shop.

I hope you enjoyed this hike with me, I enjoyed having you along! Remember when you’re out for a walk to look around with curiosity and you may discover something you never noticed before.

Remember for any of my note cards, if you order 10 or more you get a discount…and the savings increase the more you buy, they can ALL BE DIFFERENT CARDS TOO!!

“Hike up Clennell” 10-16-09

Today it was sunny and very blustery! We decided to take a hike near Clennell up the valley along the River Alwin then we looped back by walking up and along one of the huge hills. What gorgeous views we had! Of course I brought my field kit for watercolors with me hoping to find a quick sketch, as usual we pushed on without much lingering for painting or we’d never do the loop before dark. I did get some pencil sketches done that I later colored with watercolor as you’ll see.

Along the Alwin River

Along the Alwin River

This is the valley we hiked along for a few miles, flat and easy except for the driving wind blowing on us at the start. It settled down as we got into the valley more. You can see on the far left a dust cloud with a huge truck in it, that’s a logging truck coming down the road we’re walking on, we’ll be headed around the base of that hill soon.

River Alwin into the Kidlandlee Dean

River Alwin into the Kidlandlee Dean

As we walked occasionally a Grey heron would be spooked from the river and fly upstream a bit. We had the valley all to ourselves except for the sheep and maybe one passing truck. The Kidlandlee Dean is the forest area ahead; a Dean is a small ravine, a word that comes from the Anglo Saxon’s. At the base of those pine trees we’ll turn our path up to the right and go up onto the hill we’ve been hiking along side.

RIver Alwin and "The Dodd" (hill)

RIver Alwin and "The Dodd" (hill)

Here I was able to convince Gary to stop long enough to let me catch my breath and sneak in a quick pencil sketch. This is just before we started to walk up the huge hill and I’m looking across the River Alwin and the Kidlandlee Dean is just to my left. The hill I sketched I found out later is called “The Dodd”. Later at home I painted the colors in with my waterbrush and watercolors while looking at the laptop photos. I put notes at the bottom of the colors I used.

River Alwin below

River Alwin below

You can see we’ve been walking along the hillside, this is looking back towards the spot where I sat and sketched. We walked all along that ribbon of road down there! Along the way there are sheep that give you a look before running off into the grass, these two were right on the edge of the hill, it was pretty steep.

Hills called "The Dodd" and "Old Rookland"

Hills called "The Dodd" and "Old Rookland"

Looking back again; though the hills look bleak the colors on them of the bracken, grasses and grey-blue stone are really beautiful, but most especially when the sun hits it and creates dramatic shadows!

An old Drovers road also called "Border County Ride"

An old Drovers road also called "Border County Ride"

This is a view looking back along the road that we picked up on top of the hill. Gary says that it probably an old Drovers road, a drover being someone who’d be hired to drive cattle to market by the farmers 200 years ago or more. So they are English Cowboys I guess! Some 400 years ago they would have been using this road and would have to defend the cattle against the Border Rievers who could steal the cattle.

View of Clennel Hill

View of Clennell Hill

This is a view looking across the valley (at the steep edge the sheep are on) to Clennell, we walked up that valley along the river. The wind was whipping but you can see the views were spectacular, so vast.

View over Clennel towards Rothbury

View over Clennell towards Rothbury

We sat here upon the top of this hill looking out over Clennell and Rothbury would be further on in the distance, Alwinton would be to our right. A farmer was burning some wood piles down below and it could be imagined that in ancient times when the Celts had their settlements there, there would be similar fires burning. Just below us to the right, on top of a smaller hill is the remains of a Celtic ring fort, at one time it would have had small fires burning in the crisp fall air.

Watercolor sketch "Views over Clennel"

Watercolor sketch "Views over Clennell"

We threw the waterproof picnic blanket on the ground and I sat to do a quick sketch. I just used my pencil and ‘zoomed’ in on a view that you see in the photo previous. It was so windy and cold I had a heavy wool blanket over my shoulders as I sat to help block the wind.  Come to think of it, lucky I had on my rain pants too, they block the wind quite a bit. All the paint marks you see in the upper left I did on the spot as color notes. I used my big flat waterbrush and labeled colors, yes I know it is right on my watercolor sketch but it’s a ‘working sketchbook’ too and I wanted to do color notes on the spot. So when I got home I painted it in while looking at my laptop, using my big waterbrush (pictured on my equipment page).

I hope you enjoyed coming along on this hike with me, you didn’t have the feel of the wind on your face or smell the fires burning but maybe someday you can come on a real hike with me and learn how to paint in the field too. I welcome your comments below!

“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.