We arrived in the United Kingdom on 1 May, 2106, when the beautiful mayflower was just beginning to decorate the countryside with white, enhancing England’s amazing range of greens. Since we pay visits to many places in England and Europe during the summer, I do more drawing, usually with ink and water or sometimes graphite with the plan to paint the scene later. The quick, loose sketches sometimes turn out more interesting than the finished painting. I include here a sample of work done over the summer.
Mayflower in May in the U.K.
I enjoy a few specific mayflower locations so much, some in nearby Flitwick Moor, that I paint them over and over, never twice the same way. In the scene below a public footpath moves through the buttercups to a footbridge surrounded by mayflower. This scene changes drastically with the season, ending the summer with wild flowers of 20+ varieties, and cows grazing the fields. Painting the carpet of buttercups and the mayflower is challenging, and I have used every trick I know, masking fluid, spraying, dappling, salt, and scraping and still haven’t settled on the perfect method. I have painted it large and small.
A favorite painting meadow in Flitwick Moor
Mayflower and Buttercups, 6x9, watercolor on paper. Painted in Flitwick Moor, U.K.
Footpath through the Buttercups, 11x15, watercolor on paper, painted in Flitwick Moor
Even though I paint some scenes multiple times, I have never run out of new painting scenes in the moor. The change of lighting during the day and colors with the seasons, sunsets, clouds, and the weather create something new every day.
Sunset in the Moor, 6x9 watercolor on paper, painted in Flitwick Moor
Another favorite in Flitwick Moor. Friends call it Jim’s Tree. I also painted it as abstract and from both sides. This picture and the paintings of it have been published in several magazines and newsletters.
Jim’s Tree from the other side, 6x9 ink and water on paper
Flitwick Mill is in view from the south east entrance, and I often warm up here with a sketch of the mill.
Flitwick Mill from the Moor, 6x9 ink and water on paper.
Sometimes I bring a stool and easel. Sometimes I sit on a stump.
View from a Stump, 6x9 watercolor on paper, painted in Flitwick Moor.
During day trips to meet friends and find new adventure I take advantage of new scenery for painting. We traditionally meet friends at The Boat Inn in Stoke Bruerne, where the canal boats with the thatched roof pub behind make an interesting painting.
The Boat Inn at Stoke Buhern, 6x9 watercolor and ink on paper. Painted at Stoke Bruhern
Wrest Park-This English Heritage stately home and park, located in Silsoe a few miles from our Flitwick home provide a wide variety of beautiful scenery. As members we go there often to walk, picnic, paint, and attend events. The changing light during the day and seasonal covers provide endless opportunities. Sometimes Pauline’s sister, Alison Farrow joins me in painting here. Weddings, concerts, reenactments, and games are also fun to paint.
Reflecting Pool at Wrest Park, 6x9 watercolor and ink on paper. Painted at Wrest Park
Sculptures at Wrest Park, 11x15, watercolor on paper, painted at Wrest Park, U.K.
Concert at Wrest Park, ink and water on paper, painted at Wrest Park, U.K.
Concert at Wrest Park 2, ink and water on paper, painted at Wrest Park, U.K.
Chinese Bridge, 6x9 watercolor on paper, painted at Wrest Park
Stately Home at Wrest Park, 6x9 watercolor on paper, painted at Wrest Park, U.K.
Depending on time constraints and desire, I often draw a scene on larger paper and finish it more carefully later in the studio. Below is such a painting in one of my favorite cities, Winchester, that I drew several years ago and finished this summer.
Bridge at Winchester, 11x15, watercolor on paper, painted in the U.K.
Bedfordshire has an active art community and I belong to the Mid Bedfordshire Arts Association http://www.midbedsart.co.uk/ , which sponsors exhibits and workshops led by well known British artists. I take advantage of some of these to learn new techniques and tricks. Such workshops are the only place where I find painting from photographs to be interesting and useful, since the focus is on learning. Peter Weatherill, a well known watercolor pencil artist, http://www.penciltopics.co.uk/, showed us new ways to use watercolor pencils, and I created the painting below in that workshop.
River Scene, 11x15, watercolor pencils on paper, painted from a photograph provided by Peter Weatherill.
Also, within a few minutes from our home in Flitwick lies Woburn and Woburn Abbey, both offering endless opportunities for painting. In August, the rhododendron blooms, filling the forest around the abbey with beautiful flowers. A large lake adds reflections to the scene.
The Rhododendrun at Woburn Abbey, 8x15, watercolor on paper, painted at Woburn Abbey, U.K.
The Abbey Lake, 6x9, watercolor on paper, painted at Woburn Abbey
I love to visit the old Abbey ruins, and Jervaulx Abbey was on our list of visits this summer. One often wonders what would be here if Henry the Eighth had not destroyed such places. Would this place be as beautiful as it is now? After arriving, I realized that I was painting in good company.
Our first continental side trip included 8 days in Andalucia, the beautiful southern part of Spain. Each day we visited a different major city with stops in between and around, including Mijas, Malaga, Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, Seville, and Antiquerra.
The Cordoba Alcazar (palace) and mosque/cathedral were the high points of the day.
The Alcazar of Cordoba, ink and water on paper, painted in Cordoba, Spain
Rhonda was so loaded with great painting possibilities I had difficulty in choosing. A few hours free to paint also gave me an opportunity to do a complete painting in one sitting. On looker, Juan Rivera took this picture.
Rhonda, 11x15, watercolor on paper, painted in Spain
Our third city visit was Granada, Spanish for pomegranate, which being the first hand thrown weapon gives the “hand grenade” its name. After a delicious snack of churros dipped in chocolate, I sat in the market place and painted the fountain.
Fountain in Granada Marketplace, 6x9, watercolor and ink on paper
Our next stop was the Alhambra (fortress), which provided even better sketching scenes. The evening included a visit to the barrio for a dinner featuring flamenco dancers and music, one of the most exciting drawing exercises I have ever done..
The Barrio, 5x7, Ink and water on paper
The easiest was the guitar player, since he was relatively stable.
Flamenco guitarist, 5x7, ink and water on paper
The Flamenco Dancer, 6x9 ink and water on paper, painted in Granada, Spain
Our last major city was Sevilla, and our first stop the beautiful Plaza de Espania.
Plaza de Espania, 6x9 ink and water on paper.
Later I produced a quick ink study and a watercolor painting of the cathedral. As is often the case, the study turned out better than the full painting.
Sevilla Cathedral, 6x9 ink and water on paper
On the last day of our excursion, we visited the beautiful town of Antiquerra and lastly the Guadalhorce Dam, where the high mineral content colors the water green. The first stops allowed time only for sketching, but the lunch stop at the damn provided nearly an hour to paint.
Antiquerra, 6x9, ink and water on paper
Green Lake at Guadalhorce Dam, 11x15, watercolor on
Rhine River Excursion
In June, 2016, we made an 8 day Viking excursion from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland, which provided many painting opportunities, some from the top deck of the ship, some from our room, which had a balcony, and some on excursions. The first painting was the Amsterdam Harbor from the upper deck of the Viking ship.
Amsterdam Harbor, 11x15, watercolor on paper.
We woke the first morning with a beautiful view of Kinderdijk from our veranda. There is almost nothing more fun to paint than a wind mill. ………almost.
Windmills of Kinderdijk, 15x22, watercolor on paper, painted in The Netherlands
In the evenings, we enjoyed drinks in the ship’s bar while listening to the music of Stefan, who sang, played piano and saxophone. Musicians are fun to draw since they remain close enough to the same position for relatively long periods of time.
Stefan, the piano man, 5x8, ink and water on paper
Cologne is one of my favorite cities in Germany and the Kolner Dome is my favorite cathedral in all of Europe. Since I know the city well, we passed on all excursions and spent the day wandering around on foot. I have painted a few scenes in Cologne more than once, each time trying a new approach.
Inside the Kölner Dome, 6x9 ink and water on paper, painted in Cologne, Germany
Homes on the Rhine, 11x15 watercolor on paper, painted in Cologne, Germany
I returned to the cathedral and painted it in the evening.
The Kolner Dom at night, 6x9 ink and water on paper, painted in Cologne, Germany
From Cologne to Mainz, the river is lined with beautiful vineyards and castles. The view from the ships top deck was perfect. Typically, I had about 15 minutes from when the castle first came into view until we had passed it.
Rhine River Castle Sketches, 9x12 ink and water on paper.
I drew a few with graphite and painted them later.
Katz Castle, 5x8 watercolor on paper
Rhine River Castle, 5x8 watercolor on paper
We docked at Worms, Germany and had a day to explore. One of the most interesting sites was the Jewish Cemetery. This town and its cemetery somehow survived the devastation of WWII and is one of the few undamaged Jewish cemeteries in Germany.
Jewish Cemetery at Worms, 5x9 ink and water on paper.
Our excursion continued through the Black Forest, Heidelberg, Strausburg, and Basil which include numerous drawings and paintings not yet finished. On our last evening of the excursion in Basil, Switzerland, I left the hotel before sundown and discovered this scene on the river to paint. I began with some simple sketches to get the feel and then started two watercolor paintings, which I completed later back in the studio.
Basel Am Rhine, 15x22 watercolor on paper
In early July, we traveled to Rhodes, Greece for a week for a conference. Although I spent a lot of time in the conference I also found time for painting. During the week we visited ancient sites, Roman forts, two acropoli, stadiums, and ruins. I spent one day painting in the Old Town.
Old Town Rhodes, 11x15 watercolor on paper, painted in Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes beach scene, 9x12, ink and water on paper
Rhodes Harbor, 6x9, ink and water on paper
The end of July included a return to Heidelberg for the Optical Society of America conference. Although involved with the conference, I found time to create a few paintings. My hotel had a roof top garden with a perfect view of Heidelberg Castle.
Heidelberg Castle from the hotel patio, 11x15 watercolor on paper, painted in Heidelberg
The Old Bridge in Heidelberg, 6x9 ink and water on paper
The Old Bridge in Heidelberg, 11x15 watercolor on paper
Other Scenes around Flitwick
Waiting at the Flitwick Station for the 45 minute train ride to London, the typical 20 minute wait gives me just enough time to make a quick sketch. From this station we can be in Paris in 4 hours
Flitwick Station, 9x12, ink and water on paper.
The Flitwick Church of England provides a good subject for painting. I paint here at least once every summer. While Pauline visits her ancestors in the cemetery, I paint. We got married here in August, 2001. I have painted this church many times in various media.
Flitwick Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, 6x9 watercolor on paper.
I love to paint cathedrals, both inside and out. I added Ripon Cathedral to my list this summer bringing the total of cathedrals visited in the U.K. to 35.
Ripon Cathedral from the Nave, 9x12 ink and water on paper