Summer Sketching, Art on the Go.

My artist’s summer this year seemed to come late and leave all too promptly.  In common with many people I spent a frustrating spring and early summer dodging rain showers, bemoaning overcast days guaranteed to give the poor artist eyestrain and thoroughly resenting the endless days from winter to summer before outdoor activities once again became pleasurable.

By a strange quirk of fate as soon as summer did arrive I found my diary filling up all too quickly with indoor engagements and following the increased activity came the inevitable downturn in health that ME / Chronic Fatigue sufferers will know so well.  With holidays and painting trips fast approaching some compromises had to be made as I quickly realised that my usual outdoor artists bag was heavier than I would be able to carry.

Out went  the spare sketchbook and watercolour block, the various tins of watercolours and gouache and extra brushes I usually pack just in case……….. then my trusty knife useful for so many things from sharpening pencils to slicing up lunch, you might say pencils hardly had a point without a knife to sharpen them so they went too.

Hmmm, my bag was nice and light by this stage which was not surprising really as it contained only a black 0.5mm Pilot pen and a tiny book of Aquafine watercolour postcards 6″ x 4″.  True, it was featherlight, but just how much could I achieve with such minimal kit?  I decided a little present for self was overdue and ordered  Da Vinci’s travel brush set in sizes 2, 4 and 6, brushes which are that rare thing, a perfect Kolinsky Sable of unsurpassed quality which folds into its own handle for protection and is a mere 3 1/2″ long for carrying.  My final addition was a tiny plastic pot of the sort that is usually sold for carrying a splash of salad dressing to jazz up the picnic.  In this case I was hoping to jazz up the black and white images which were all that I was going to be able to produce with an art bag now the size of a purse.

So how did it all go?  I am pleased to report that I had fabulous trips to beauty spots from Rutland Water and glorious Bradgate Park in Leicestershire to the stunning Dunstable Downs and fertile countryside of Bedfordshire to name but a few.  I discovered a few more benches and useful rocks to sit down on than I previously knew existed and feel a great debt of gratitude to the family of Bill Kidd, who placed a bench half way up Markfield Lane in Leicestershire dedicated to his memory. Thank you, I wouldn’t have made it to the top of the hill without you.

Here are a few of the sketches I was able to achieve with this most minute of art kits.

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The water pot and brushes added greatly to what could be achieved with pen alone but be sure to chose a pen which is water soluble at least for a short while and find a sheltered spot to work on wet days or you risk your lovely sketches floating away.

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This charming cottage in Newtown Linford, Leicestershire beckoned not only because of its undeniable beauty, it had a very well placed bench on the opposite side of the road.

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Above, ruined Bradgate House where the nine days Queen, Lady Jane Grey lived.  Bradgate Park is stunningly beautiful with herds of deer roaming freely and many beautiful aspects to tempt the artist.

Below, Ford End Watermill in Bedfordshire has working Open Days.  There has been a mill on the site for many centuries and was an interesting change from the windmills which I frequently paint.

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Art and ME/Chronic Fatigue, Estuary TV Interview

It was great to have a chance to talk publicly recently about how art can help a return to health after major illness.  I had the pleasure of being invited to Estuary TV to talk with Emma Lingard and having blogged on this subject on this website I was very glad to share my experience of recreating life after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue/ME.  Below is a link to the interview which starts at about six minutes in and will hopefully offer encouragement to others who have recently received a diagnosis and are struggling to believe that life will regain quality and enjoyment.  Thank you Emma for your interest in life with chronic illness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTu0ViJq5XE B3-A5L s

This gouache painting of a Thrush was done at the time when I first started to feel strong enough to be able to attend craft fairs with my paintings and has always been a favourite for that reason.

Painting Brucie’s Portrait

I first met Brucie a few weeks ago when his owners asked me to paint his portrait.  I could see immediately he was a little dog with a big personality and given his owner was a keen gardener too we decided the painting should show him taking his morning inspection of his garden.  This suited me perfectly and I took my camera and sat down to watch as he walked up and down the garden path checking each new smell.  This is the stage of a painting you cannot rush as a dog will pick up on any tension you might be feeling and his body language will become stiff and uncomfortable.

The second time I met him was to accompany him on his favourite walk.  I stay very much in the background, observing and considering how best to show him to best advantage.  With Brucie it was easy as he was such a friendly easy going little chap.IMG_20150521_102658Back in the studio I began painting, a process which was interrupted firstly by a bad cold then by dramatic stormy weather which caused such drastic fluctuations in the light that progress was impossible for some days.

The finished Portrait which Brucie’s owners felt nicely captured his character.

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Tour de Yorkshire 2015

The Tour de Yorkshire Cycle race takes place this coming weekend.  The race will pass through some of Yorkshire’s finest landscapes including historic Beverley on the second leg.  Following on from the excitement of last year’s Yorkshire’s ‘Grand Depart’ of the Tour de France, the Tour de Yorkshire, with its exciting list of arts and events, looks like a great success in the making.

Inspired by Beverley Minster and various cycle races, here is my latest artwork. It is available as a 21 x 10cm card from this website, and The Old Ticket Office at North Ferriby’s railway station, priced £2 each.

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New Landscapes for Autumn 2014

As an artist who loves to work out of doors I find I spend a lot of the year longing for the warmer weather and bright light of summer.  Who could say in all honesty that they don’t get enjoyment from sitting out of doors engaged in what they love most in the world with the added benefit of being warm and comfortable.

Picture the scene, tartan blanket in a shady spot, summer hat, paints, water and the artist engrossed in capturing the summer landscape with no need to concern herself with fading light, encroaching chills or sudden gusts of wind sending her running in all directions trying to catch what she has just spent several hours committing to paper.

Desirable as these comforts are it is nevertheless Autumn in all its variety which really inspires me.  From warm sunny days to lashing wind and rain suddenly the landscape wakes up from its hot and hazy summer holiday and springs into vibrant life.  Early in September there are warmer tones to light and foliage, shadows lengthen and days can become more unpredictable as does the quality of the light until the glorious late autumn finale allows the artist full reign with the earth pigments, the ochres, siennas and umbers of the palette.

Here in East Yorkshire we are blessed with the glorious foreshore at North Ferriby and autumn is no less inspiring beside the great River Humber than further inland amidst woods and fields.  My latest watercolour painting Evening Shadows at North Ferriby Foreshore captures the changing river landscape in early autumn, a dramatic sky, warm golden light on the pebbles and rocks of the beach and strong shadows cast by the aged and weathered wooden pillars sunk deep into the ground where the tide swirls about them as it has for countless autumns past and countless still to come.

You could almost say that summer is the landscape in its party dress, Autumn is where it reveals its bone structure

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Painting The Humber Bridge

The Humber Bridge is a favourite subject for watercolour paintings, the tones of the river and surrounding landscape vary tremendously from moment to moment, delicate mistiness one minute, strong stormy hues the next.  Those who have never visited have a tendency to think that the flat lands of North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire don’t warrant much attention compared to the other beauties of Yorkshire but living here by the river as I have for twenty years I have come to know both it’s harshness and its beauty, seeing it sometimes as still and smooth as a mill pond, sometimes as angry and violent as a stormy sea with the South Bank lost in cloud or fog.  Often the beautiful Humber Bridge rises up elegantly out of the mist, a pale grey shadow.

In this area the bridge is a prominent part of the landscape and even away from the river by some miles it is always to be seen through trees or dramatically catching the evening sunlight to show brilliantly on the horizon.  Here is one such view which I painted recently along with a number of smaller watercolours taking the Humber Bridge in its landscape as my theme.

The Humber Bridge at Sunset By – Yorkshire Artist.   Watercolour 11″ x 8

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Commission your Humber Bridge or other painting. Email: art(at)stephaniehatley.co.uk (click)

Bardwell Windmill – Suffolk

Recently I wrote about the process of painting to commission, using as an example paintings of Skidby Windmill located here in East Yorkshire, and Bardwell Windmill in Suffolk. I was asked to record a client’s memories of enjoyable visits to Bardwell Mill and the events that are held there and was sent a lively and colourful photograph to work from which captivated my imagination. I am delighted that prints from the painting have been able to help their fundraising effort, and I have been glad to hear of the successful completion of the various stages of the restoration.

If you are planning a similar restoration of a historic building, and would like to commission a painting to help with your fundraising efforts, please get in touch by email; art(at)stephaniehatley.co.uk (click)

Bardwell Windmill By – Yorkshire Artist. Watercolour
Bardwell Mill
Commission your Bardwell Windmill or other painting. Email: art(at)stephaniehatley.co.uk (click)

It was with real pleasure and anticipation that I was finally able to see for myself this characterful windmill in its beautiful setting. As an artist I am aware of how misleading a photograph can sometimes be and there were many details I was anxious to check. Would the scale be as I had imagined, how would the various buildings relate to each other in actuality, would there be foreshortening of the approach or might the brick work perhaps be less rich in colour? It is always a challenge to discover the direction of the light in order to produce a factually accurate painting with light and shade in their proper places and I have many times had recourse to maps to check these details, would I have been correct in my deductions in this particular case? All these are questions the artist considers carefully when creating a painting from a photograph of a place she has not personally visited.

I need not have worried, walking up the lane to the mill was a revelation. The scene unfolded exactly as the photograph suggested, gardens to the left, appealing cottages to the right, workshops beyond, the Mill itself centre stage and utterly captivating.  You could search the length and breadth of Britain and not find a more charming example of a windmill undergoing restoration, everywhere there was evidence of the tremendous dedication and sheer hard work that has driven the project forward since the 1970’s when the Mill came into the ownership of the Wheeler Family.

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The restoration of Bardwell Mill has not been without major setbacks including serious damage sustained during the great storm of October 1987, but the primary aim of once again milling commercially has never wavered. New sails turn, each part individually sponsored by friends and supporters of the Mill and over the course of the winter each component of a new fantail has been engineered and constructed in the workshop. It is delightful that in the surrounding buildings a shop sells Bardwell’s own flour and delicious bread mixes and a bakery where highly successful bread baking days are held.

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I took many photographs during the course of my day at the Mill, any one of which would contain ample material for an atmospheric painting of an attractive windmill in the rural Suffolk  countryside, but the true charm of Bardwell is a little different in that, due to the foresight and dedicated hard work of one family through three generations it is a piece of living history in a modern world.  My client had originally asked me to produce a painting that could have been at any time in the Mill’s long history  and I was strongly conscious of a blurring of past and present standing in the courtyard watching the sails turn.

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If you are in the vicinity, perhaps holidaying in the area, do visit, you can’t fail to be charmed by this beautiful landmark and it’s dedicated owner and should you be tempted to buy a bag of flour you will know that in doing so you are continuing a tradition that began when Bardwell Windmill’s sails first began to turn almost 150 years ago.

http://www.bardwellvillage.info/content/blogcategory/66/141/

https://www.facebook.com/BardwellWindmill

 

 

Cosmos

Painting the Watercolour “Cosmos”

 

Cosmos, a summer painting begun in the depths of winter!

Earlier in the year I wrote about my experience of using art in a therapeutic sense, specifically about painting for pleasure from time to time and occasionally being prepared to let go of working to a deadline.
Here you can see the watercolour entitled Cosmos which I began as something of a therapy painting after a resurgence of M.E. during the winter. It is quite a large watercolour at 22″x15″ and was painted slowly, and with enjoyment as the main ingredient. I began with a good idea of what I hoped to achieve but painting over several months certainly allowed my ideas to develop and the finished painting has grown beyond those first thoughts. In particular, I feel that there is a softness and peaceful quality which wouldn’t have been easy to achieve had there been a deadline looming. Obviously not all paintings can spill over into several months but there is a lot to be said for allowing this kind of relaxed approach once in a while. In the case of Cosmos, it brought me peace and healing and I would like to think that one day it will take that same sense of tranquillity and hazy lazy summer into the lives of those who view it.

The watercolour painting Cosmos will shortly be displayed in the Watercolour Gallery of this website.

For a step by step tutorial explaining some of the techniques used to develop the soft romantic feel of this painting visit me on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Hatley-East-Yorkshire-Artist-Painter/250993321711650

Painting to Commission

The process of painting a commissioned artwork is an interesting one.  Painting to commission usually begins with an email or enquiry asking whether I would be interested in a particular type of painting, whether animal,  landscape or floral.  Usually the subject is similar to a painting that the enquirer has seen either on this website or when I have work on display locally.  I am always delighted to receive such an enquiry and look forward to hearing what it is about the subject that has enthused my customer to the point of wanting to capture their memories for all time in a painting.

A couple of years ago I painted a small watercolour of Skidby Windmill in East Yorkshire.  It is quite a landmark of the area, standing on high ground and visible in many directions across the local countryside.  I followed with interest as its sails were removed, giving it a forlorn look for many months.  When the repairs were finally completed I decided it was high time I painted such a notable historic building.

Skidby Windmill April 2012Skidby Windmill, East Yorkshire, An Original Watercolour by Stephanie Hatley

The painting sold quickly and another followed which was displayed for a while in my watercolour landscapes gallery at www.minigallery.co.uk/Stephanie_Hatley/ prompting an enquiry as to whether I would like to paint Bardwell Mill in Norfolk to commemorate a fundraising day that had been held there.  Of course I was interested and a photograph duly arrived by email.  The scene was colourful and lively and I immediately began to think about how I would paint it, which elements to emphasise, where my clients particular interest might be focused.

In this particular case, the brief was to capture the timeless spirit of the day, that it might have been any day in the Mill’s history.  One or two more modern elements were removed and care was taken to focus attention on the vintage car and bike in addition to the mill and surrounding buildings.  I’m delighted to say that prints of the painting are now used to continue raising funds to help with the cost of repair work.  As you will see from the painting the mill had only two of its sails at this point in its restoration.

Bardwell Mill

Bardwell Windmill, Norfolk, a commissioned Original Watercolour by Stephanie Hatley

Recently I was asked to paint Skidby Windmill again, this time to be given as a wedding present to commemorate the big day, quite a responsibility!  Blue skies and a general cheerful palette of colours helped to add a bright celebratory feel to this painting.

Skidby Windmill WeddingSkidby Windmill, East Yorkshire, a commissioned Original Watercolour, by Stephanie Hatley

The first step when I begin painting to commission, is always to have a general conversation with you either by email, telephone or in person if local.  It is important for you to feel a rapport and for us to be comfortable with each other.  I like to discuss the subject matter of the painting with you, and to have a good understanding of what you have in mind, areas such as atmosphere and what memories are to be captured will be important at this stage, either acrylic on canvas or watercolour will be chosen.  This is a good time for us to consider the finished size of the painting and to establish a budget.

Next, having decided on the mood and content of the painting, it’s time to start drawing and I’ll begin a sketch fixing some of the detail we have discussed and showing the colours I intend to use in the finished piece.  Often a photograph fails to capture the light and vibrant colour which is part of your memory of the event and recapturing this will be an important part of the brief.   I will usually post this to you so that you can consider the colours which will be used. After this we consult again and any changes and new considerations can be taken into account. An approximate delivery date will be set.

When the painting is finished, l will email you a scan for general approval and assuming that all is satisfactory either dispatch by Royal mail, or send for bespoke framing as you wish. I always hope to capture your memories of a special day or event and am delighted to hear back from you when you have received your painting to know that it is as you hoped.

Commission your painting. Email: art(at)stephaniehatley.co.uk (click)

And to finish….

I recently enjoyed a walk in the Skidby area and took some rather inspiring photos…………watch this space!

By – Yorkshire Artist

Looking For the Good in Life and Landscape

At this time of year almost everyone you meet has a comment to make on the grey skies of January.  It’s not that we don’t get bright days, blue sky and crispy white frost, it’s just that they don’t come often enough.  Recently I was talking with a friend who made a point of saying that he had adopted the philosophy of trying to look for the good in life.  Later, a link to  a song     popped in to my inbox which made the point even clearer.

I began to think round the idea from the point of view of an artist.  All too often when painting from a photograph we forget that this is only the starting point, there is much more that is good to be found by seeking a little harder.  I recently began a simple watercolour of the distant Humber Bridge seen across fields, a subject which I have painted many times and usually find enjoyable.  This time, however, inspiration was missing, the weather was poor, the light dull and my photographic reference material didn’t inspire.

Here in East Yorkshire, we have the most amazing skies, seemingly on a grander scale than I have been used to in other parts of the country.  I wondered why wasn’t I enthused by their grandeur today.  A low tree to the right  leant in to the painting and as a bonus had a very acceptable shape without the need for artistic license, what could possibly be holding me back? Why could I not see the “good in life” in this case?

After musing for a while I looked down at the paint box and brush ready and waiting beside me and on the spur of the moment mixed up Brown Madder and Prussian Blue, two of my favourite colours.  Immediately inspired, and needing only the addition of a little Winsor Yellow and Alizarin Crimson to energise the sky my painting was completed quickly, the whole process being both enjoyable and energising.   The end result was very far from the naturalistic landscape colours I often use but the painting had a freshness and energy that emphasised the pleasing composition of tree, sky and Bridge.

So thanks, Colin, for  sharing your philosophy with me,  I am going to try to apply it to all my landscape paintings through the next few months until the dull winter weather clears and bright spring days return.  Oh, and the added bonus is that if I apply it to life as well I shall hopefully be a much cheerier person to know.

 This is what reminded me that though the artist may wake up to a grey start, there is the whole day to paint it a different colour.

 

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