Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Bridges and Lock Gates


As my regular followers will know, a while ago I decided I wanted to get out into the countryside and paint en plein air. I did this to some extent with my friend Ingrid when she came to visit a few weeks ago but the weather wasn't very kind to us. Anyway, I've bought myself a backpack specifically for the purpose and the other day I loaded it with sketch pads, paint pads, pens, pencils paints, small folding stool, bottle of water, etc, and headed out into the countryside. Eventually I want to do some long walks but for now I'll keep it local.

The first thing I headed for was a series of bridges near here called The Causeway. They look olde worlde as you drive over them and I felt sure they would make a great subject from down near the river but from that position they actually looked quite ugly being mainly industrial bricks and concrete slabs with a 'decorative' stone wall on top. It was disappointing but I spent about 20 minutes doing this pencil sketch, just for the practice.

From there I headed off along the river bank and after crossing a footbridge and following a narrow trail for a while, I finally came upon these lock gates. This looked like the perfect place to paint so I wasted no time getting set up. I have to say, painting outdoors with the pad on your knee and the paints on the floor, was far from perfect. The sun was really hot and the paint was drying as soon as it hit the paper. I found it hard to be too precise and I've really got to learn to be less detailed when painting outdoors. But it was a great experience and I enjoyed every minute.

Before heading home I pushed through a narrow overgrown path to see what was there for another day and came across another branch of the river next to a Hay field. In the distance I could see what I knew to be the buildings of a local boatyard. I shall come back to this spot another time to paint the scene but for now I spent 10 minutes doing a pen sketch.

Though none of this is what you'd call 'great art', it was great fun. I feel that my art will benefit enormously from making myself do this regularly because painting/sketching en plein air is certainly different from painting/drawing at my desk from a photo. I can't wait for my next opportunity.


14 comments:

  1. Oh John you did so much better with these sketches than I did with my last disastrous outing. I think I went in with the wrong frame of mind so didn't get anywhere. I found not having a surface a problem too. I now use two really light weight small triangle stools. One for me to sit on and the other to rest a clipboard on with my paints on top of that. It's much more comfortable than the ground. Though the Olympics has put a halt to all my watercolour outings for the minute. Enjoy the plein air. Laura x

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    1. Hi Laura. I also use one of those triangle stools. Using a second one for the paints is a great idea. I'll see how I get on next time out and bear this in mind. I know what you mean about the Olympics. lol. ;-)

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  2. It sounds like you had a pretty good day, John. These sketches are wonderful. I like the the pencil sketch of the Causeway...and your pen sketch of the boatyard is very nice. I did some plein air but had to leave pretty fast since the mosquitos were out in full force!! Enjoy your next plein air!!!

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    1. Yes, it was a great day Hilda and I'm glad you like the sketches, thank you. Sorry to hear Mosquito's spoiled your attempt. All the best.

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  3. It sounds like a pleasant experience, John! And looking at your great sketches it was a fruitful expedition!

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    1. Thank you very much Judy, yes it was great. Take care.

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  4. I really admire you for this! I only wish I could have come with you too! It isn't easy to paint outdoors but clearly you had a productive day and I agree that doing it as much as you can is a great idea! Your paintings/sketches are just lovely and the setting looks beautiful too :0)

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    1. Oh, wouldn't that have been fun. ;-) Yes, painting outdoors is harder than I thought it would be, but I'm determined to do as much as I can. Thank you Sandra. ;-)

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  5. I do like your light way of doing the distant trees! Take care John and happy painting/drawing to you!

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    1. Thank you Catharina. I've always considered my trees to be worse than useless, so I really appreciate your comment. Take care.

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  6. I'm jealous, John! I've had no time at all to get out sketching lately. Looks like you have some idyllic places over in Northants and you've come back with some really lovely sketches too. Excellent stuff :)

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    1. Sorry to hear you're not getting out there Michael. The weather doesn't help. We have a few nice spots here but I don't think Northants measures up to your area. I hope you get some time soon. All the best.

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  7. These are very good - well done on getting out and painting.

    Sorry, I'm away and haven't had time to keep up with posts.

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    1. Thank you Sue, I appreciate it. Enjoy Barcelona. ;-)

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