Tag Archives: charcoal drawing

Manic trees, magical colours and evening light

photo of the view from Winder - Sedbergh nestling in the hills, blue sky, evening colours of green, gold and violet

violet, blue, gold and green – evening view from Winder

In the evenings the light can be magical, with huge areas of shadow and soft golden shapes rising out of the darkness. The sky has more colours – violets and pinks as well as blue – and the hills can be anything from ochre to viridian or even burnt orange. It’s the best time to wander on the hill. All of the colours glow, especially the gorse flowers which are, oddly, always in bloom. No-one else tends to be around because the lure of the television screen is stronger than the power of nature at this hour, or so it seems.

gorse flowers glow in evening light

gorse glowing in the twilight

It’s also an excellent time to paint, although the cold winds of May have made it best to wander the hill while well wrapped up before painting in the last of the light through the window back at home.

photo of evening clouds in a row and stones atop a wall

clouds and stones

Drawings are just as vital as paintings and can help when getting to grips with a scene.

charcoal drawing of hill and tree

compressed charcoal on paper, A3, view through the window or ‘that tree again’

And sometimes a simple view becomes overloaded with meaning when inner feelings insist on finding their way into the paint during less serene times. That tree swirling out there in the middle of it all has certainly taken on a personality of its own.

painting of window view, tree and fell in oils

turbulent times call for turbulent trees – oil on canvas, 9×12 inches, painted as seen through the window

Where is this place?

Bowland landscape plein air drawing in pencil, A5

plein air pencil sketch, A5, drawn somewhere in the Bowland landscape, perhaps around Whitewell?

A place I went for a walk in about 15 or so years ago has turned into a mystical landscape somewhere in the back of my brain. I can see it now in my mind’s eye; it’s very green, cloudy and peaceful with nothing but hills and trees and it’s very damp, because it has been raining for a long time. In spite of being wet it is a beautiful place with rounded hills sweeping up and away and revealing further rises behind, which could be reached if you were to walk on, through a valley opening and beyond. It’s a very secret, mysterious place shrouded in mist. I know I made sketches of the landscape when I was there and I think I know which ones they are in my tiny sketchbook, but I can’t be completely sure.

The drawing above is the one I’m most sure of. There is also another one, obviously sketched in no time at all (maybe we were getting cold) that seems to be of the same place.

pencil drawing created in the Bowland hills

quick plein air pencil sketch in unknown Bowland landscape, A5

A subsequent watercolour sketch went a bit strange.

watercolour on Arches paper of landscape in wild colours

wild colours watercolour, 8 inches square on Arches paper

So I tried again, trying to keep the colours and shapes a bit more true, but it lacks the spirit of the place.

small watercolour painting of a Bowland landscape

somewhere in Bowland … a small watercolour painting

Finally I made the first sketch into a huge charcoal drawing as preparation for a possible painting.

A1 charcoal drawing of a Bowland landscape

charcoal drawing created from small pencil sketch of Bowland, A1 paper

When I walked in the real place I was on a camping trip with Andi, who was ill. My planned route turned out to be 14 miles in all: seven there and seven back. We did stop at an inn in the middle of nowhere at the halfway point but Andi was extremely stoical to tramp all that way through wet fields. I seem to remember him collapsing with a grateful sigh when we got back to the tent and not really moving until the next day. It might be interesting to go back one day but maybe not – you can never really go back. It might be better to reimagine.