Search this Site:

Visit my Shop:

Share on Facebook

World Visitors to this Site:

Ancient Ash Tree at Edlingham Castle

This is the ancient ____ tree at Edlingham Castle.

This is the ancient ash tree at Edlingham Castle.

I love really old trees. Living here in England I am rich with so many of these wonderful trees. This tree is one that lives at the corner of Edlingham Castle, growing upon what looks like a very old part of the castle. I think some many years ago when the castle was left to ruin, a sapling must have grow up there. The oldest part of the castle was built in the 1300’s and saw many changes over time. I wonder what might be concealed in the rocks all tightly held by this tree’s massive roots?  You never know! One thing I know it does have is a geocache that someone hid there, it’s been there years! (oops was I supposed to keep that a secret? 😉 )

My drawing of the tree done in ink and wax crayon.

My drawing of the tree done in ink and wax crayon.

As I approached the tree, on this sunny May morning, I found a spot in front of it and just plopped down in the grass. I liked the form of the ‘scar’ where a huge limb must have been years ago, I think it was cut off because the area of the cut is so flat. I first sketched it in with an permanent ink pen then used a grey wax crayon to shade in medium values. I like how the two mediums worked together, and they’re easy to carry about in your pocket.

This shows the tree in relation to the castle.

This shows the tree in relation to the castle.

That’s the tree on the left (above), you can see how large it is!

Another view of the castle and the tree, taken in December.

Another view of the castle and the tree on the right, taken in December.

This view of the castle I took in December, on a cold grey day, standing near Edlingham burn.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at Edlingham Castle and it’s old Ash tree! Please leave me a comment below, love to hear if you have any special old trees in your neighborhood!


“Snowy Lane in Northumberland, England”

 (Some of the images go to my shop where you can hover and see enlarged details)

Snowy Lane in black wax crayon colored with watercolor

Even though I did this sketch back in December, while I was in Northumberland England, I guess it’s appropriate now seeing as there’s been a return of snow there! This was their first snow of the winter and it fell quite heavy for a time, coating everything with that heavy kind of silent snow. I had a cold but peaceful walk up the lane and stopped at this view with the trees I always like looking at.  I did the sketch while standing to the side of the road using a black wax crayola crayon. The snow was falling on my paper as I drew and it made it hard to draw, not to mention drawing while wearing my fingerless mittens. It was later that I added some touches of watercolor.

A lovely gate along the way

I love the way this ivy covered gate looks and would love to do a painting of it. Problem is it’s someone’s front gate and with the house being just inside, they may think I’m being rude standing there staring at it.

The snowy lane so quiet under snow

This is one of my favorite views as the lane curves into the distance.  You can see this is the view I stood and sketched in my drawing.

Another view along the high lane

The trees stand sentinel as they’ve done for hundred’s of years. Many of the trees you see along a lane are just overgrown from old hedges that weren’t kept trimmed down.

The black faced sheep were quiet in the cold.

I love how the trees look in the back of the field and how peaceful the sheep were, just trying to conserve energy I guess. These ewes are probably getting fat with lambs in them now…can’t wait to see the little ones in spring!

The thick snowy hedge along the lane.

There are beautiful colors all around you even in winter!

I like seeing the leaves in winter; these were interesting with the red spots. Sorry the picture isn’t brighter but the day was so grey!

Just waiting to be put in a drawing!

 This is an old farm shed I always look at along the lane, it’s so old it’s actually fallen off it’s foundation and the sides are collapsed. I don’t usually want to paint old barns as some people do, but this with the trees, shrubs and grass with their colors in this shot, really attract me. I can see it as an ink sketch perhaps or chalk.

I hope you enjoyed coming on this little snowy walk with me. More sketches and photos from England coming soon.

Click the picture below to see a glossy note card I created in my shop for Christmas! I even wrote a verse for the inside!

Glossy Note Card with customizable text

“Step Outside Your Door Today”

(Please sign your email in my “Subscribe” box on the right, to receive my posts)

Spring Fuzzy Buds

Spring Fuzzy Buds on "Long Lane Farm"

Today is the “Equilux”, that is the day of the Equinox, where day is the same length as night. I heard that it’s also “World Storytelling Day“; now this interests me greatly as I love to tell stories and love to hear and read them. I’ll have to look into that further.  For me today was like a story of Spring coming. The sun was out, though the air was still very cold, and the birds are all vying for attention, not from me but they were certainly getting it! I did some sketches and wrote notes and a poem while I was walking so I’ll re-type what I penned on my pages for you to read.  So I tell a story today. (Please click pictures to see enlarged).

"Step Out Your Back Door" notes, poem and Hawthorn needle.

"Step Out Your Back Door" notes, poem and Hawthorn needle.

Journal: “March 20, 2011 Just had to pop outside. It’s sunny but cold; I am wearing a wooly cap + wool fingerless mittens. Though the sun shines + the birds are all singing, it’s COLD! Daffodils by the back door are getting ready for their entrance into Spring.”

Then I walked out into the pasture, totally flooded and squishy; so lucky I wore my ‘barn boots’ or Wellies as they call them in England.  Here’s a little poem I wrote while standing and listening to the birds:


“Step Outside Your Door Today”

“Step outside your door today, walk in your backyard.

Watch the Blackbirds sing and play, smiling is not hard.

The woodpecker laughs from his high perch,

As signs of Spring you do search.

Cardinals red and grasses of brown,

You smell the earth deep beneath the ground.

A stirring of creatures above and below,

Spring’s arrival defeats Winter’s foe!”

Mary McAndrew

Hawthorne needle

Hawthorne needle

Then I walked on and around “Aspen Hall”, a favorite area of my land where the boys and I used to picnic, I found a branch from the Hawthorne tree on the ground. I plucked many of the long sharp spines off it, then poked one through my paper like a needle. This looks really cool if you click the picture to see it enlarged!

As I walked it was so cold I had to keep my hat and scarf on.  When I found a sunny spot in the “Maze”,  it actually felt better to sit down out of the breeze. I was able to pull my wooly hat off and stretch my legs out; I put a plastic kitchen garbage bag on the ground to keep the wet where it belonged! Just make sure you don’t put it on any pokey stubs of things, you’ll get a hole and be surprised later!

Black Crayola Crayon Sketch

Black Crayola Crayon Sketch

Here’s a page in my sketch journal that I worked on, a view of the path I had just walked on.  I started with a little border line around the edges to add a neat design element. Then sketched in black ‘Crayola’ wax crayon that I had sharpened with my knife. Using this crayon was SO MUCH FUN! I can’t wait to try it some more, I loved the feel of the crayon on the slightly rough paper, you could see the texture too. You can press harder for darker lines and very lightly to make it light of course.

Using the flat tipped waterbrush to wet the watercolor crayons

Using the flat tipped waterbrush to wet the watercolor crayons

Then I tested my colors by making a tiny dot at the bottom of the next page and wet it. Make sure you test your colors before you scrawl all over a drawing, watercolor pencils and crayons can surprise you at how different they look wet!  I very lightly, using the side of the point of each crayon, added color to the areas. I saw the bushes and trees in front of me as more of a mass of value with some standing out in the foreground; so I massed it in as brownish reds then added heavier marks for trees and branches.  Experiment with adding lines onto your wet paper, they will be very distinct and bold; this is good for adding branches.

I’m using the flat waterbrush, I really like this brush for studies that need large washed areas and it’s great for making grass marks! PS. yes it was cold still, I did the sketch with the mittens on, the flipped back the finger cover to use my brush!

Sketch in the Maze done with watercolor crayons on black wax crayon

Sketch in the Maze done with watercolor crayons on black wax crayon

Here’s a picture of my crayons, (each is broken in half to make them fit and weigh less in my pack) I have them tucked into an “Altoids” tin with some paper towel. The ones in the lid on the left are what I used for this sketch. Another thing you can see is how in the foreground I used more lines from the crayons going back and forth to add texture. Then the flat waterbrush with tip sort of dry, it spreads apart and makes good grass type marks. Touch it to your crayon tip to get color and brush it on the paper. Click on the finished sketch below.

"Springtime Path in the Maze" watercolor crayon + wax crayon

"Springtime Path in the Maze" watercolor crayon + wax crayon

Here’s the finished sketch done in wax and water soluble crayons. I rather like it! Oh and the three bigger trees on the left are the “Sister Trees”, they are a group of huge trees I’ve painted before.

You may like to read my notes on this page that I wrote as I did the little painting. They are here at full size so you don’t have to click it and I typed out the notes below the picture!

Notes from my walk with colors for sketch at bottom.

Notes from my walk with colors for sketch at bottom.

Journal: “I’ve found a sunny spot to sit in a clearing on one of the paths in the “Maze”, an overgrown field on my property that I cut paths and tracks all around. This is an area I cleared more  into an open, private spot along one path. I put a clean plastic garbage bag upon the ground and that’s where I’m sat; legs stretched out and wooly hat off! Sun warming me nicely now! 🙂 I did the little sketch with Black Crayola crayon and it was wonderful to see the fine texture of the paper under my hand; pressing hard or light to get variety of lines. Then I lightly scumbled over it all with watercolor crayons by Caran d’ Ache. I never used these before as I thought the colors too garish- but if you go light the browns + the golden yellow were great over the black wax crayon! I love how the black crayon just stays. I used the big, flat waterbrush and it blended all nicely, then made perfect marks for texture on the ground in front.

Just sitting here quietly feels wonderful. I hear birds + distant sound of cars. The Chickadees are so curious they keep coming closer and closer. One just looked down on me from a small bush. Something else interesting, I can hear the ground making sound! There is a barely audible sound like “ticking” here and there all about me. I’m sure it’s the sound of air bubbles coming to the surface of this very wet ground…the earth breaths as the ice melts…the peepers awake.

12:10 pm 3/20/2011  Mary McAndrew”

Ginger on Long Lane, listening to the Peepers singing.

Ginger on Long Lane, listening to the Peepers singing.

Now, go get your dog, your children or just yourself, grab that sketchbook and some crayons and get out there!! Good days don’t wait for anyone, go enjoy what’s around you no matter where you live. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve been out and noticed signs of Spring, leave me some comments.

I started putting lots of my sketches on “Flickr” if you want to stop by and see them, I may use it as a place to show all my sketch pages? We’ll see. Don’t forget to stop by my ‘SHOP’ to see the new Easter and Spring cards.