Friday, 31 May 2013

Charlecote Park

Visited the National Trust property Charlecote House in Warwickshire a few days ago in the pouring rain. This is a picture of the gatehouse that stands in front of the house.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Apple Orchard, Hanley Child

Hanley Child, Worcestershire, 27 May 2013
I unexpectedly came across this old apple orchard amongst some other newer plantings. The tall old trees formed a dense canopy of branches that shaded the lush extensive carpet of dark green grass beneath. The grass looked beautiful with few weeds and was bathed in a dappled light that broke up the darkness beneath the trees. Nearby, an old orchard had recently been bulldozed up and I wonder how much longer these old trees will remain here before probably suffering the same fate. New trees may well be planted in their place as has happened on the rest of this farm but it is unlikely that the new trees will reach the age of these old specimens as commercial pressure may probably call for regular replacements with higher productivity and easier management techniques. It felt quite a magical place and was perhaps the most memorable thing of this short holiday back where I was used live. I love apple orchards and this one drew my attention. It held a deep sense of history and nostalgia for me as we'll as being totally beautiful. The colours were by powerful and might be even more so when the blossom is fully out in a week or so.

This picture was painted from a photo as a quick sketch probably wouldn't have captured what  I wanted to remember.

Kyre Park

Kyre Park, Worcestershire, 27 May 2013
So here I am in a this open to the public large landscaped garden on a sunny bank holiday Monday and I am the only person here. Well, the rest of the family are in the car, but even so there are no other cars in the car park. The place once used to be more lively but now seems to be fading away through neglect and disuse for whatever reason. This view was beautiful: looking out through the trees across one of the lakes to the house and church beyond. I was apparently Christened in this church.

I had earlier walked past the nearby Kyre pool, a large secluded lake and was pondering the lack of bird life upon it. I am sure that as a child I remember the lake being place for swans, coots, moorhens, herons, assorted ducks and great crested grebes. Today? Nothing. I've been the several times in recent years and I am sure there is a distinct lack of wildlife in the countryside these days. There was a swan in the the garden above and a few geese but again I saw nothing in the way of smaller water bird life.

The garden was only a few pounds to enter. You just placed your money in a flower pot in a wooden honesty box and hoped that the next visitor didn't steal it!

Hanley Child

Hanley Child, 27 May 2013
Below the farm where I spent my early childhood years is this wooded footbridge which crosses a small stream that has carved a small but steep valley in the red soil. The wooded steeps banks are covered in places with wild garlic and mini waterfalls occur where the bedrock lies exposed. 

Stoke Bliss

Stoke Bliss, Worcestershire, 27 May 2013
Potatoes seem to be grown in all sorts of odd places around here now. The hilly field on the right was all ridged up and the lines curved in big sweeps over the contours with long distinct shadows in the early morning sunshine. The painting doesn't really capture this as I ran out of space through not planning the picture carefully enough.

Stoke Bliss

Stoke Bliss, Worcestershire, 27 May 2013
Found this pleasant early morning scene at the beginning of a long walk. After the warmth of the past few days I set out on foot only to return back after half a mile or so to get my coat. It was sunny but the wind was very cool. This luscious little valley by the church had some small pools in a rather boggy patch and the reflections looked wonderful. The soil around here is a very rich reddy pink colour which is so different to the chalky soils around home.


Wiggly Orchard Caravan Park
As well as looking out over towards the distant hills, our caravan here looked onto these tall ash trees and a rookery. Late in the evening after the sun had set the rooks were all flying around making lots of noise and I decided to paint this.

Hampton Court, Herefordshire.

Hampton Court, Herefordshire, 26 May 2013
There was a gardening show on here today and where the paths were lined with tall beech hedges people had set up stalls on the in-between grass. Bunting was strung between the trees and people were wondering around everywhere. This was a difficult subject to tackle in just half an hour or so, but I had a shaded perch beside a garden wall and decided to see what would appear. I did the people last as they kept moving and they don't quite fit but it was fun to attempt.

Hampton Court, Herefordshire.

Hampton Court, Herefordshire, 26 May 2013
Visited these gardens on a gloriously warm and sunny day. I think these are aliums and were some of the few flowers that were filling the herbaceous borders. Spring is so late this this year and even the apple blossom is only just beginning to appear in the gardens and orchards.

Sunday, 19 May 2013


Saw this snail up on the Pegsdon Hills today. I always marvel how they sometimes seem to want to climb along bramble stems high off the ground. I was just about to take a photo of it when I jogged the plant and the snail fell to the ground. Thus I had to take separate photos of the bramble and snail and then use them as a basis for the picture when I got home. Whether the snail was happy at finding itself back on terra firma rather than a foot off the ground on a prickly bramble I'll never know.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Croft Castle, Herefordshire

This is the walled garden at the National Trust property Croft Castle (4 May 2013). This has to be one of my favourite gardens and overlooking it is this lovely cottage. One day we hope to go and stay there when we have a few spare pennies as it is available as a holiday cottage.

I painted this is the same way as the previous picture of Southstone Rock. I just painted over a photograph picking up the colours from a photo and layering up the image. In some ways I feel this is a totally pointless way of working as all I am doing is basically copying a photo. It was though quite a therapeutic thing to do - like doing some cross-stitch perhaps. I don't have to think about anything creative, but just follow the pattern of the colours of the photo. That isn't quite true as I only allowed myself one main brush as I had to work out how to translate the photo into brush strokes. I kept me quiet for 6 hours or so.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Southstone Rock

Southstone Rock, Shelsley Walsh, Worcestershire

I had a childhood memory of visiting this place and wanted to try and find it again in February. I knew roughly the area where I thought it would be: in one of the wooded valleys that line the hills here. However, after walking along several footpaths I was puzzled by the lack of finding anything that resembled what I was recalling from my childhood memory. I took another path a short distance up another valley but again I couldn't match memories with reality and with what I could discern geologically on the ground. On returning home and doing some research on the Internet I realised that on this last path I had only been about a minute's walk away and if I had been looking in the right direction I would have seen what I was looking for. I was also annoyed with myself for not realising that the local church was made of rock from here and if I had looked a bit more closely at the stonework when I visited it on the same day I might have realised I was on the right trail.

A few days ago I took my daughter to find this unusual rocky outcrop in the woods. It suddenly seemed to appear out of the trees and my daughter was quite taken aback and a little apprehensive by the rather dark towering piece of geology. It was made out of tufa which is a rock formed when calcium carbonate dissolved in ground water precipitates out (often on mosses and vegetation) where a spring emerges from the hillside. The rock is light and strangely textured. Apparently monks and hermits have a history of visiting here in times gone past. I will probably make another visit sometime and explore it further when I'm on my own. It is interesting how my memories of it from 30 or more years ago have changed. I knew it was in this area but I hadn't remembered it being so big which is why I probably missed it earlier in the year. I was looking for a small dark outcrop only about 6 ft high, not something 60ft or more high - my line of sight didn't reach up into the woods above me. In the painting the small pink figure is my daughter who had just plucked up courage to cross the small wooden bridge over the stream and follow me up to the rock.

This picture was done on the iPad by overpainting a base photograph. I worked on the front elements first and then steadily moved backwards on subsequent layers. Probably around 4 hours worth of work. The style could almost be the beginnings of a photo-realist type of painting. I have always had an interest in such work and perhaps one day I will apply my mind to doing something in that style.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Rearranging things a little

Been busy the past few days: lots on at work, tidying garden and sowing seeds, painting all window ledges on house, travelling to Worcestershire, mending bikes, out on bikes with family, enjoying glorious sunny weather and not really wanting to be inside. I can't do a "picture a day" everyday. It isn't practical. And anyway, is anyone actually interested?

The next few pictures will hopefully be a selection inspired by my visit to Worcestershire. I took some photos and will see how it works using these as a basis to work from. I haven't really worked that way on the iPad before but when time is limited in far off places and the sun is so bright it should be easier to do this than work in-situ. The pictures may take a while to work on but they will appear as and when time permits over the next week or so. Then I will decide what to do next.

Our garden looks wonderful this morning with tulips, daffodils, wallflowers and amelanchier blossom givining loads of colour.