Thursday, 6 December 2018

St. Augustine's Church, Hedon, East Yorkshire.

St, Augustine's Church at Harvest Festival
There is something awe inspiring about being inside a beautiful church. Here, at Hedon, "The King of Holderness", St. Augustine's Church is one such place. This painting took about three visits to sketch out the detail and I can thank JJ for her help with access. The Church has a nice, open, feel about it. The lovely view down the nave to the transept and the east window is uninterrupted by organs or screens and is the better for it. On one occasion when sketching I was kindly given a cup of tea to help me keep warm. On my last sketching visit the organ was being serviced and I was introduced to the men and we talked about art and the sketch I was making. As they walked back to the organ the man working on it asked if I would like to hear it. WOW, it was amazing. I expected a simple tune up of the pipes. But I was amazed to hear a note perfect rendition of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, ( click link to hear it ) it was absolutely brilliant. It is certainly a special organ at Hedon. As I was finishing a loud banging on the door heralded the arrival of the actual organist. He had come to practise for a piece he was playing on the following Wednesday when a new vicar was being installed(?). He was initially frustrated by not having the sole access key, I had that, a new system has just started regarding getting the key. Anyway, we were soon all laughing and sharing thoughts. The organist was happy to be able to explain a slight tuning problem to the men who were there working on it and we left together, leaving them to it.
Hope you like the picture, if you get a chance to hear the organ at Hedon do try and go.
Happy painting everyone.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

John Geekie 2019 Calendar.

Hi everyone, I have been busy this year painting and have produced this calendar for 2019.
The price is £10 GB pounds which includes packing and postage.
If you would like one please email me as I only have a few left.

It features a selection of paintings from my "East Yorkshire Wolds" exhibition to be held in 2019, when the original paintings will be for sale.

The images are suitable for framing.
Please email me if you would like a copy of this limited, collectable calendar.
Also now available at Ford Framing, North Bar Within, Beverley.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Slingsby Castle, Yorkshire.

This is the first sketch I made on the day at Slingsby showing the remains of the Castle from the road.
It is rather magical in it's isolation. The local site has some more information including a plan of the ground floor. It also has some good, close up pictures of the fabric. It seems to rise out of the deep vegetation which now surrounds it. The link Slingsby Castle will take you to the local site.
If you are traveling to Castle Howard it is well worth a short detour.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Slingsby Castle - sketch 2

I travelled to Castle Howard on the day before to visit the House to see a preview of the Christmas decorations. It started by walking down the long, dark drive to the House, either side of the narrow road being lit up from the illuminations from the large Christmas trees which lined the road. Entering the House was like being taken into a wonderland of special effects based upon the theme of 'Twelve Days of Christmas" it was wonderfully diverting. The passage leading to the main hall was magically lit and featured delicate silvered trees among the existing ornately carved stonework. The main Hall was lit by a combination of a crackling fire and beautiful cascading lights which seemed to fall from the higher balcony. But here of course, was the main event, the huge, twenty five feet tall Christmas tree.
I will leave it there, but just to say, if you can visit, it is worth it especially late afternoon when it is dark outside.
Okay, the next day found me at Slingsby. I took my watercolour paper and drew two views of the ruins of the Castle. The ruin is now off limits and is considered too dangerous to visit. It is now a designated wildlife area. I walked around the perimeter trying to get a decent view but could'nt see any better than this. The Castle is moated and the surrounded ditch is pretty much intact. I will add the second picture soon. Whilst walking around the site I was invited to help the nearby volunteers to sweep up the fallen leaves from the churchyard. The people were very friendly and I enjoyed talking to everyone.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Flowers 1

Just a very quick exercise here. Sometimes working quickly helps with getting the impression rather than the detailed object. That is what art is about I guess for lots of us. Anyway, this is an acrylic on deep edge canvas and measures 30 x 30cm. Hope you like it. I did this after varnishing the two large "Risby" pictures.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Workshop at Hornsea

After a busy summer of painting outdoors, traveling up and down the East Yorkshire Wolds where I painted many views, I have now slowed down and am considering different projects. On fine days over winter I intend to continue painting outdoors when I can, even perhaps inside some of our magnificent churches.... hmmmn... there is a thought, perhaps another theme.
Last Wednesday I went over to Hornsea, to see the Spectrum group of artists. They had invited me to give a workshop. This was something new. I prepared some materials and we decided to do one picture. I ambitiously set up two large, 40 x 30 canvases which I had roughly primed the night before with a grey background. I thought the size would help the artists to see what I was doing. It worked well except perhaps my idea for the second canvas. I had thought that I could involve the group to do some work on it but time was against us. So, a lesson learnt. Perhaps concentrate on just one canvas next time which will also mean that I can circulate more and help out where needed.
So here is the first picture. It shows the Folley at Risby. I was using acrylics with varying properties and wanted the picture to shout out that it was autumnal. The colours are thus rather vivid, perhaps less so than this picture shows, especially the Folley itself. Nevertheless the result is pleasing I think, the composition works quite well. The idea to exaggerate the water reflections seems to work and the lone fisherman is concentrating hard.
The second picture is the same scene.

But here, I wanted to be looser. To be rather less inhibited and to let the colours sing a little more.
I'm not sure which I prefer now. Again the brick folley is too pink but the rest of the picture works. I have experimented a little with the colours but on the whole they blend well I think. It is, as always, better to see the originals. I have only added some minor detail to both pictures at home, otherwise they are as I did them at the workshop.
Hope you like them.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

St Augustine's Church, Hedon, East Yorkshire.

Early afternoon painting, before the sun got round the back of the church. A little looser than normal but such a wonderful view of the church, with the blazing sycamore to the right. The tractor was used after I had started the painting which would not have been a problem normally but the excessive fumes given off by a redundant exhaust system meant that I had to stop every time he passed by. Choking, thick, black smoke. After this I popped round to St. Augustine's to sketch the interior again. Thankyou for the key by the way. Perhaps one more visit is needed to finish that. Before going round to the church I took George along the old railway line and made this up.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

St Augustine's Church, Hedon.

Couple of preparatory sketches made as Storm Callum battered us with high winds. These two sketches were done very quickly as it was difficult to hold the pad securely. Many many years ago my old friend Alan Bray did a view of this Church which I thought I would try to reproduce. However since that time the sapling trees he included have grown significantly and obscure the view . I was reminded of Hedon Church by recently talking to a friend at Hornsea. My intention is to revisit and sketch from another vantage point further away, perhaps in a nearby field. On this visit I popped into the church and admired the flower arrangements which were being made ready for the harvest festival service. I enjoyed advising on the balance of a particularly wonderful display (JJ) and hope others fully appreciate the work involved.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Calendar 2019.

Hi everyone, I have been busy this year painting and have produced this calendar for 2019.
I am pleased with it and my printer has produced an excellent job as well as a limited run. The price is £10 GB pounds which includes packing and postage.
It features a selection of paintings from my "East Yorkshire Wolds" exhibition to be held in 2019, when the original paintings will be for sale.
The images will be suitable for framing if desired. Please email me if you would like a copy of this limited, collectable calendar.
Also now available at Ford Framing, North Bar Within, Beverley.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Dahlia and sunflowers.

 Hi everyone, here are a couple of simple sketches. As the days get shorter there is a closing window as far as plein air painting goes. These are simply done observational sketches which I guess you will be seeing more of as winter grips us. Try not to be depressed or downhearted, soon we will be past winters shortest day, in December, and then the days get longer.

 Sunflowers on a table
Dahlias picked from the garden.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Pictures to download and add colour.

 I popped out today and pootled around without anywhere specific to visit. I headed home and stopped a couple of times to walk George and, at the same time, do a quick pen and ink sketch. I want to share these with you. I have uploaded the at a higher resolution which means you can download a good sized image, print it off and have a go at colouring them in. Pencil crayons would work well I guess, though a very thin dry...ish wash may work. Or of course you could reproduce on watercolour paper. Have a go!

 Near Middleton on the Wolds

Heading towards North Newbald from Huggate.

I thought perhaps you may like to see the simple watercolour wash I have just done to each of them.
These are very simple pen sketches done very quickly but I always kind off like them. Using ink to get the idea of shade is always interesting and then to add a colour wash is very satisfying.

 The cottage roof is too dark here, needs to be a little more orange coloured.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Pochade box demonstration piece.

This is a painting I did last Friday at the Hornsea Art Society. It was the first time I have given a demonstration and I was a little anxious. However the members of the Society were very welcoming and enthusiastic and I enjoyed the experience. I rushed it a little at the end and was not quite content with the finished detail, so, unusually I worked on it a little more at home. For the members there on the night I wanted to show you how I can get some indication of detail using the end of the handle of the paint brush. Rather like Aboriginal art, I often dip the handle end into the paint which I then apply to the canvas. Thanks to everyone at Hornsea A.S. for making me so welcome and good luck with your painting.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Pochade box sketch of a cool red yacht!

Well here is a picture I have just done a a practice piece.
It is from a photograph in a magazine. The actual picture is larger than the view here, and also, I have 'moved' elements around a little. All very strange and a little different not to be outside painting but I like the outcome. Hopefully I can see a series here, maybe another themed exhibition.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Hull Marina visit.

12 x 10 inch plein air oil on canvas.
It has been a very long time since I have been to Hull Marina by car. At one time parking was easy. I headed for the old British Rail ferry terminal and was pleasantly surprised to see that parking spaces were available. Three hours, so plenty of time to explore. I took George all the way around the Marina,  looking at the wonderful, varied collection of craft. The old Humber Lighthouse ship was still there and looked in good condition. Modern yachts and old sailing barges vied for places alongside each other. I decided to seek more commercial shipping and headed for the nearby Albert Dock. We crossed a very old wooden lockgate path and found ourselves at the foot of the path which leads over the roofs of the dock buildings. It is rather unusual. I knew of it's existence in the past and was surprised that it was still there. So up we went and onto the high level path with panoramic views of the Humber and the city of Hull, and indeed of distant hills.
heading back we crossed another lockgate, a modern one which I thought would be safer. It was for me but I realised George was being very tentative. I think it must have been the metal grill which was uncomfortable for him to walk on, though it may have been the fact that he could see through the mesh which was unsettling.
Back to the car, now just under two hours left to park, I left George and headed back to paint. I set up at a quiet spot and blanked in the buildings and sky. People came over and chatted. Hull is such a friendly place. Then a BBC reporter came and asked me about what I thought of Hull. He was a trainee, I gathered, and was from out of town. He seemed to want me to be negative about Hull, which is so predictable. So I put him right and suggested he should visit some of the interesting areas. Then I packed up and accidentally splashed him as I was cleaning my brushes.
How did that happen.
I have not detailed the painting as much as I would like as I was fighting the clock. Nevertheless I like it. I think I will do more ship / boat paintings though maybe try pen and ink or perhaps watercolour.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Near Flamborough Head.

Well today turned out well after a late start. I first visited Bempton Cliffs and had a look around the RSPB viewing points. It was amazing to see the gannets so close by on the vertiginous cliffs. Indeed one could see large chicks balancing on the smallest projection from the rock. I visited to see if the cliffs would make an interesting painting but decided that they were too massive and too close to provided a suitable subject. So back to the car, it was now 4.45 and time to feed George. I had sandwich which I had prepared before setting off. Then I drove back down the coast a little to Flamborough Lighthouse. I took George down to North Landing, which was just to the left of this view, he had a lovely time on the beach and kept running into the sea. After a short time we walked back to the car and I set off to paint a view. I walked a short distance past the Lighthouse and looked north. This view seemed interesting and so I started to paint. Below me, but out of sight, were some seals. I had seen them earlier as we walked down to the beach, indeed they were probably the same ones I had seen yesterday. As I painted, it was rather late to start really, the light changed quickly and also, the outgoing tide started to expose some plate like rocks. Only a few people remained, walking and exploring and seal spotting. Some passed me and we talked about how the painting was progressing. Unfortunately light rain started to fall and so I had to close the lid of the pochade box and wait for it to stop. Fortunately it did stop and I could finish the painting, though the changing light was now a little taxing. I may well return and do a larger, more detailed painting but for now I am pleased with this as it is.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Thornwick Bay, near Flamborough, East Yorkshire.

Tuesday 21st August 2018.
I have an inclination to visit the coast. 
So yesterday I traveled to small coastal villages north and south of Hornsea. My idea is to paint a beach scene when the tide is out and paint sky reflections on the wet sand. However the tide was high, the sky grey and it also started to rain lightly. So no painting. I watched an interesting little event at Hornsea beach. On the beach the small fishing boats were arriving, they lined themselves up, out at sea, with the waiting tractors,  then on full throttle they raced in and ran the boats up the beach. They attached their boats to the tractor pick up, to be taken away to sell their catch. As the tractors began to haul the boats out of the water they dug themselves into the sand. Here the beach rose quite steeply as the tide was at its height and the shoreline very steep. It meant reversing and realigning the direction of the pull which resulted in bouncing tractor units as they sought to get grip on the sand. But enough of that.

Today I headed further north, to Flamborough lighthouse. It was wonderful. The tall straw coloured grass mixed with bright yellow ragwort hid myriads of paths leading to the cliff edges, precipitous edges, where extreme caution was called for, especially with a big dog. At one point, looking down to the still sea, I saw two inquisitive seals with bobbing heads, looking one way and then another. The bright sun was very warm, hazy blue skies were scattered with pale developing clouds.  George enjoyed his walk here but it was really too hot for him.

So I headed north to Thornwick Bay.
Again it was wonderful, less busy than Flamborough but the cliffs just as challenging. The sea remained calm, exposed wet areas on the shoreline indicated the tide was beginning to recede. I found a path down to what looked like a beach. Though mostly rocky with huge, smooth, worn chalk stones this particular area also had small, sand like, stone grains. George wetted his feet but refrained from exploring more as the water was darkly coloured with masses of seaweed. A developing breeze offered some relief and at about 4.30, back on the cliff top,  I started to paint. I was looking down from the cliff and wanted to paint the nab as it entered the sea. Then I realised I was almost out of white paint. Tut tut. As I painted several people came across and we had some pleasant chats. A man from the West Riding, I assumed, talked of Ashley Jackson another Yorkshire artist. A family came over and a young girl displayed excellent taste, before getting a little white paint on her arm. Later another family group watched as I painted and we joked about including seagulls, as they required very little white paint.

One feature of the day was the huge number of grasshoppers. In the distance tiny white seabirds flew across the sea as I looked down. Indistinct yet vibrant specks of life. Just before stopping I saw a slightly vague silhouette of a small boat. As I added it I realised the access road was to be, chained and closed in five minutes, so I packed up and rushed off.
I am now sitting outside the Pipe and Glass having just finished a fish pie. The evening is very still, trees stand motionless. A pair of cyclists arrive and loudly, squeakily stop, blaming their disc brakes for the noise. All is well and diners sit and choose their food. Time passes and the outside lights switch on. I stay outside a little longer, watching and listening before going home.
Hope you like the picture, it is a little less detailed than usual but sort of captures the feel of the place, I think.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

View from the East Yorkshire Wolds, near Enthorpe.

12 x10 inch, oil on canvas.
The weather forecast is for a change, from this wonderful, prolonged hot weather to cooler days and, worryingly for the harvesting farmers, a strong likelihood of rain. Consequently, the Wolds farms are harvesting in earnest before any rain arrives. Driving along the narrow roads near South Cave, I find I am heading for Goodmanham. The road climbs and reaches a high point near Enthorpe. A feature at this time, is to see, unusually, as one drives along, that the five bar gates, leading to the fields are open. This indicates activity, specifically the intense harvesting. The combines are working flat out. I have seen green ones and yellow ones, some ancient and some very modern. They all make slow, deliberate linear progress creating clouds of dust in their wake. Close observation reveals tractors, parked, still, waiting .. they are ready to respond and move in quickly, towing the high sided grain trailers which will be fed from the combine's swing arm dispenser. Then the tractors race back to the storage facility before returning .. to take up their position again. All machinery seems to be utilised in this harvesting endeavour  and I notice an ancient, small red tractor parked in a distant corner of a field. 

I think of a nephew who liked seeing a red   t r a c t  o r  when, as a small boy he visited D'reen.

As I drive along I spot a promising field opening. It reveals pale golden stubble; so, this field has been harvested. Along one side is a copse providing shade from the 32 degree sun as well as sheltering me from the strong breeze. I inspect the entrance, and yes, I can drive into the field without damaging the car. Though I have some slight reservations, will a passing farmer object?  I quickly set up, the view is wonderful. I am high up looking east,  to the coast. The field I am in is huge and rolling. It links to distant fields, which become light ribbons of fading colour. The horizon is paler and hardly distinct from the sky. I decide to paint the horizon higher than usual, to emphasize the huge cropped field in which I am standing. As I paint, I realise that I like this place, a special place, it has it's own manicured beauty. Farmers with full trailers,  now pass regularly on the nearby road. They smile and wave  greetings from their high tractor cabs. I need not have worried. I think they are getting to know me and realise I am harmless. Being here is like being on top of the world, or I guess the Wolds. The scale of the work to collect the harvest, is staggering. It is a busy time for all the farmers. As I paint I hear a rustling behind me. I ignore it and continue to paint. Then, as I paint, I become aware of a movement to my right. It is a beautiful deer. It is now just standing, very close, looking... at me, looking at it. I keep still and it stays a few moments then turns, showing a white rump as it walks away. Yesterday, walking near Millington I was lucky to see a stoat. It was moving in jumps and starts, dancing and sinuous, before suddenly stopping as it became aware of me. It stood on it's rear legs, clear of the recently trimmed verge showing its white front and pointed head. 
For a brief moment it was like an Ernest H Shepard illustration from Wind in the Willows and it made me smile. I packed up and noticed that the distant view had now changed, the weather is already getting cooler. I drove to the Pipe and Glass at South Dalton, had a light drink and wandered through their wonderful herbarium garden.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

A view of fields ready to harvest, from near South Dalton.

12x10 inch, oil on canvas.
I took George to the Westwood for an early morning walk before popping into Beverley town centre.  It is Saturday, and Beverley is very busy. The market stalls with their multi-coloured striped covers, looked wonderful as I passed. I was heading for my Saturday morning coffee meeting. Saw BF and ‘Molly' the black Labrador, and as CF arrived we chatted, briefly ....   coffee was calling. The big local news is that Beverley Arms is now open and today is their first Saturday, lots of people have been waiting for it to open and I heard, it was, as expected, very busy.
I returned home, fed George early before setting off to paint. I had a notion to feature the sky,  more interesting now that we have some light winds and it is slightly cooler. I drove through South Dalton, past Holme on the Wolds and stopped on the elevated road near Holmedale Farm. The view towards Lair Hill House has changed. Earlier in the year it was greener, now the fields are light, straw coloured and ready to be harvested.
As I painted swallows flew past, their undulating, foraging flight came close to my head at times and I felt as if I could touch them. Occasionally they would assemble, chirruping, on nearby telegraph wires. Small flocks of goldfinches, ‘Majesties’ in training, also settled on the wires.
This place, about fifty yards from the narrow road is very quiet. In the verges, willow herb is still flowering and purple knapweed is in abundance. The grasses are now reduced to tall, pale, elegant seed bearing strands, contrasting against the dark hawthorn hedges.
As I began to pack up, three large farm vehicles passed heading down the hill. They filled the narrow road with their small convoy. The first was towing a long contraption, apparently  the front of a combine, the second, a tractor was pulling a blue high sided seed trailer. Lastly, the combine itself. I watched as they all entered a field. The combine was assembled and a huge dust cloud indicated the commencement of work. The first vehicle returned to collect another seed trailer, and, as it was now 7pm they were going to be working very late. This is a relentless time for farmers in this area. The pea crop has just been collected and now lots of cereal fields need harvesting before the weather changes and the need to use driers.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Pipe and Glass, South Dalton, East Yorkshire.

Oil on canvas 12x10 inch
The Pipe and Glass is a wonderful place to visit. Often I stop on my way home for a coffee, today however, I found myself stopping to paint. Earlier I had visited Etton village to walk around, to look for a view to paint. As I looked at the interesting Holderness Hunt buildings two farm vehicles passed me and then turned into an adjacent field. The second vehicle, an open backed van had two very interested collies on board. The first van towed a tri-axle trailer loaded with fencing. I looked as the little convey drove up the hilly field, thinking, that the trailer would be difficult to turn. Sure enough it made a huge arc before returning, some way off and parking next to the other van. They proceeded to create a pen to hold the sheep when they were rounded up. The field is very big and, what looked like hundreds of sheep, ewes with large, almost full grown lambs were scattered all over. I was expecting the collies to round up the sheep but a strange thing happened. The sheep began streaming in lots of single file threads towards the farmers. I was thinking what well behaved sheep they were when suddenly, one of the collies began to 'work' them. Frankly, it was chaos. The sheep about turned and ran away in different directions. An agitated farmer kept shouting 'lay down' and other directions without any obvious compliance from the dog. My attention was distracted as two women passed, heading for another field in which two horses grazed. They entered the field and the very well behaved horses walked towards them to have their halters fitted. Then they walked towards me and the gate which I opened. It made me think about doing a painting of a horse, maybe just the head, something for the future I think. Looking back at the sheep, one of the farmers was now flapping a green plastic bag, the other farmer carrying a lamb and the single collie now working well to corale the sheep. I decided to leave them to it and drove to South Dalton. The Pipe and Glass have a superb garden at the rear and all the plants are edible, even, as a gardener told me, the roses. I walked around the sinuous winding pathways surrounded by the fragrance of mint, borage and aniseed. Of particular interest was an apple tree whose origins date to the same tree Isaac Newton knew, when he formulated the effects of gravity. Guest rooms open out onto this garden area, a wonderful place to stay. The gardener and I had a long talk about garden design which I really found interesting. The notion of OC or CO ( that is Order and Chaos, or, Chaos and Order) was a thought provoking idea, as indeed was the methods Monet used when planting Giverny. He explained his idea of using the colours Turner had employed when painting and how he transposed these into remarkable garden designs. The notion of particular colour schemes was all very stimulating. The gardener, it turned out was a student at Beverley Grammar School, just before my time though,  and we recalled some of my colleagues, some of whom had taught him as a student,

which made me think


what a small world it is.

As I painted the gate leading to Dalton Park was constantly opening and closing making a regular clanging noise. Sheep in the park nibbled their way towards me as I painted, hence the need for the gate to be closed. Hope you like the picture.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Hornsea Plein air art session at Hornsea Mere.

Pen and ink sketch with watercolour wash
I did this sketch some years ago, but it seems like yesterday. Visiting today was a delight. Lots of artists from the Hornsea Art Society were taking part in a competition and were to be judged by Sky landscape artist of the year Tom Voyce. I gather that Tom gave the participants some guidance first and the event was organised to run from 12 noon until 4pm. I walked from one artist to another and saw a couple of people I knew and we talked about the day, the windy conditions and the various views that they were painting. At 4pm the work was gathered in and judged by Tom and another local artist. Having seen the group working it made me feel as if I would enjoy painting as a member of a large en plein air group. Anyway, well done everyone who took part, it was a lovely atmosphere.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Mill Farm, Cherry Burton, East Yorkshire.

12x10 inch, oil on canvas.
Mill Farm, Cherry Burton, East Yorkshire.
The morning rain was heavy as I walked George on the Westwood where the varied cattle conjoined to form dense numbers moving deceptively quickly as they fed. The rain eased to a fine, soaking mist, the temperature remaining comfortable at 19 degrees C. After the walk I drove to Cherry Burton, where I had an idea to do a painting of the Mill at Mill Farm. It is a disused Mill surrounded by outbuildings and two houses. One of the houses is called..... Mill Farm and is adjacent to the Mill. A friend had spoken to someone, who lives at the Mill, and asked if I could visit some time with a view to doing a painting. So, I confidently knocked on the door and a man appeared. He was very helpful and we chatted about the Mill. He asked me if I would like to see inside the Mill, which of course I did. He opened a large door and what a surprise. The outside appearance of the Mill, with no windows fitted gave the impression that it was an empty shell, I was expecting to look up and see the sky, but here, above me was a timbered floor held in place by massive oak beams. Closer inspection revealed the need for reinforcing steelwork which supported these beams, nevertheless it was impressive. A dust covered, vintage, Universal Mill stood sleeping, and, for a moment, I thought it had something to do with the Mill but the farmer explained that it was originally driven by belts from a tractor take-off. I was kindly allowed to wander the site, into the surrounding fields, past suspicious geese and chickens and, a scuttlingly furtive, moorhen. However it was difficult to get a good view. I decided to try from the nearby, disused railway. Aha, straight away I found a good view. I took George for a long walk along the disused railway line where he could run free and then back to the car for a drink.
I set up and started to paint.
A woman passed me with two dogs, one a large black Alsatian, we smiled at each other as I gave the dogs some space. The railway footpath is a useful conduit and more people appeared. A mother and her two young daughters came off the track and passed me and we had a brief chat before they moved on. The sound of horses made me turn round and what a sight. A beautiful large dappled grey horse was walking slowly down the track towards me. Though huge the horse moved deliberately, carefully, stepping along and guided by the lady rider. Behind, another beautiful, light brown horse followed, it being, I think, a little smaller. This second horse was leading a tethered pony. Again we exchanged a few words. A father on a cycle appeared next with his young son and daughter, both riding cycles. They passed me, down the sloping path to the level track. I heard the father explain that one way led to Market Weighton and the other way to Beverley. I think the young daughter decided on the latter route. Anyway, back to painting... then behind me more voices. It was the mother and her two girls again. They were returning, having walked to the nearby Field House Farm where they had bought ice cream. I had bought milk there before, unaware of their other temptations, something I will remedy very soon.  
I made a mental note.
The temperature was now climbing as the sun began to break through. I was having to stand, on flattened nettles in the long surrounding grass, and kept feeling as if I was being bitten. George was safely in the shade but I decided to finish and return to him, it was also provided respite from the biting insects.
Hope you like it.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Near Middleton-on-the-Wolds.

26 07 2018
Near Middleton on the Wolds.

Approaching Middleton, on a crest of a small rise I see a sign, a footpath sign near the entrance to a field. I park in the shade of a small tree and take George out for a walk. The temperature remains dangerously hot, 32 degrees in the shade. I make sure we walk slowly,  the hemmed in path, is single file narrow, I am wearing shorts brushing past long grass and occasional reminders of nettles. Suddenly we emerge into the open. The views are good, looking over a newly harvested field of barley I see a white cottage with the rolling Wolds beyond. The heat makes walking difficult and we stop every 50 yards to rest and cool down in the shade of some field margin oak trees. After about 200 yards we reach a wonderfully cool wood. George walks ahead, now off his lead and much happier as the ambient temperature is much more comfortable. The path through the wood is broad and level, dappled light shines on golden orange coniferous needles and then, suddenly I stop. Ahead I see a large hare sitting, studying us as we approach. It stays still. We study each other. George has not seen it, and as he overtakes me the hare seeing George approach, flip hops silently into the dense green undergrowth and vanishes. The wood, I discover, is called Prickett's Hollow. It is absolutely wonderful, on this hot day, to walk through the shade. A slight breeze adds to the pleasure as we move deeper into the quiet solitude of this place. The refreshing breeze gently ruffles the small leafy saplings at the side of the broad track as we pass. The path detours to the edge of a field, a warning sign 'BULL BEEF' is fixed to the wire fence. Amazingly, the path drops dramatically. Alongside I see a small hidden valley with cattle in the distance. We turn round and head back. George walks through the dancing dappled light, his tongue hanging, soon we will be back at the car where I have lots of water. On the south side of the broad track the trees are mainly coniferous, stretching only about 30 yards to the fields, the north side is wider, perhaps 60 yards and is made up of mainly deciduous tress with an open canopy. I stop, I have heard a bird I do not recognise. I see it. It is sparrow sized. I cannot make out any detail, perhaps a black cap. It is foraging in the pine needles. I must bring my binoculars if I come again. I am momentarily distracted as I spot a soaring buzzard, and then the unknown bird is gone.  We have the wood to ourselves, it is a peaceful place, the silence, only occasionally broken by unseen, cooing pigeons. There is no traffic noise. Out of the wood we walk from the shade of one tree to another. Meadow browns, small blue and orange tip butterflies flitter flutter around us and, grasshoppers rasp their presence. We reach the car.
After resting and cooling George down we head back, to the nearby shade of a tree, and I set up to paint. I wet George to help him keep cool and he sits near me trying to catch the slight cooling breeze. As well as lots of tall hogweed going to seed now, there is the flash of Ragwort yellow, ( the enemy of horses, as it attacks their livers). Also, noticeably now, drifts of small ground creeping pink and white columbine cover the ground. Brambles can be seen among the white, long, dried grasses, some 6 feet tall with particularly dense, almost furry seed heads.  This year has been wonderful for seeing wild flowers. Back to the car, George disappears into the dense undergrowth, emerging triumphantly with three quarters of an old tennis ball, and now he is covered in various seed heads.
Hope you like the picture.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Shandy Hall and a cup ot tea.

Well I had decided to go to Shandy Hall again. The excellent curator, can be seen here introducing Shandy Hall. The two volunteer gardeners were busy dead heading and generally tidying up, and as I painted, offered me a cup of tea. So, if you see this, thank you.
 I hope to visit again soon. This view shows the rear of the house and the stone building where tickets are bought. The house and grounds cost £5 and the grounds alone, £3. Very good value. More information here.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Nunnington Hall garden.

12x10 inch oil on canvas

Headed north west seeking the prospect of fresher weather, perhaps even rain. So I found myself at Nunnington Hall thinking about a picture of the garden. The long slightly elevated transverse terrace proved interesting with some varied plants. So I set up and had a go at painting this view. I started late and so didn’t finish until 5.45. I then realized no one else was there and indeed found the access from the pedestrian bridge to the car park blocked. Having overcome this obstacle I then found the car park gates closed, a big chain securing them shut. Fortunately, on close inspection I saw that the padlock was open so I quickly made my escape. Then to my favourite hotel, The Worsley Arms, for something to eat and drink. The rain has not arrived... yet, though it is decidedly fresher. With the doors open at the hotel, screaming phalanxes of swifts dived past at low level, exuberantly dancing at high speed as they perform an aerial ballet. A couple come in and tentatively ask if dogs are allowed. Tony, the manager, welcomes them ..and the dog as valued guests. The dog was a Staffordshire bulldog and was perfectly behaved, even joining me on my bench. As I post this, late evening at home, just back from walking George the heavens open, heavy rain, at last. Mind you I hope it stops by the morning (:o)

Friday, 13 July 2018

Above Leavening, edge of the Yorkshire Wolds.

12x10 oil on canvas

This was the second painting of the day, earlier, I had been to Howsham Mill.

On the way home I stopped at the spot I seen earlier. I set up and started the rather ambitious idea of painting the view. Suddenly a screech of brakes and loose chalky gravel made me look across. Two apologetic men emerged and it transpired that they were pigeon fanciers. They were there to release some homing pigeons. Apparently they were young pigeons and only had a short distance to fly, but before releasing them the men scoured the sky. They were looking for hawks. They explained that their worst fear was that a peregrine might be about but in the end only a pair of sparrow hawk were seen. So the men synchronized their actions and released three crates of birds. Quite a sight.


Thursday, 12 July 2018

Howsham Mill, on the River Derwent near Kirkham Abbey.

Howsham Mill

I decided to visit a place I had never been to, Howsham Mill.

It is a restored watermill and sits on an island in the middle of the River Derwent. I traveled via Leavening where I saw the magnificent view from high above the village looking west over low hills to the plain of York. A panoramic sight. Arriving at Howsham I took George for a walk along the riverside to the mill. The scene was idyllic, lots of tall wild flowers and the sound, the only sound  being from turbulent water cascading over various weirs. Two huge Archimedian screws  are positioned at one side of the mill, one was turning a massive gearbox driven, purely by the force of water. I walked to an adjacent swing bridge and looked down at a stream bed which, due to the dry weather comprised now of some trapped, isolated ponds. Suddenly, two kingfishers flew past, their iridescent electric blue rumps shining brightly. The peace of the place was wonderful. Here otters can be seen occasionally testifying to the condition of the river. Wild, yellow water lilies embraced the river margins and long strands of sinuous water plants seemed to be alive as the strong current eddied past. Banded demoiselles danced all around on their strange large wings looking rather like water spirits, a vision of blue. The mill is beautiful though proved rather difficult to paint, as dense vegetation precluded any distant views. So, I set up a little closer than I wanted. As I painted my setup started to sink into the sandy soil which became distracting. Three young people came along and shared ideas about where to swim safely and where to use kayaks. Having achieved as much as I could I headed off, back down the track, past huge Himalayan Balsam, willowherb and wild geraniums, past tall grasses now very pale stems holding masses of seeds. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Looking down to Gardham, Yorkshire Wolds.

I was thinking of camping at Castle Howard but have postponed it until the World Cup is over. I drove to South Dalton and noticed the pale blue, sky blue, forget-me-knot, blue of ripening fields of flittering flax. A beautiful sight. However, there was a cold cool breeze making painting a little unpleasant, especially wearing just a light summer top. So, moving on I found myself looking down towards Gardham. A short walk took me past a field of barley hiding twitching ears of a pair of hares. Butterflies flew among the hedges and tall grass seasonally nodded, seed almost set. I set up and for the first time tried a different painting medium. Very much a learning curve. Though it is worth persevering. Later, in South Dalton, sitting outside with George I watched two industrious sparrows collecting strands of cut grass before flying into a large honeysuckle to build a nest. Occasionally screaming swifts made one look up just in time to see a social group pass.
Hope you like the picture, the new medium has meant it is a lot looser than usual but I like it.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Near South Dalton, East Yorkshire.

This was another HOT day. Too hot to travel far and so I stopped here, on the main road into South Dalton village. After walking George and giving him plenty of water I left him in the car, which was in the shade of this tree, and with the tailgate open. I was really pleased to see the blue colour. The field, along with many neighboring, has been planted with, what looks like, to me Mediterranean flax. I say this because, about three years ago, I found a similar plant when walking George on the Westwood. This individual, with slender leaves had a beautiful pale blue flower. It caused quite a stir locally and I counselled 'learned' opinion. Research eventually provided a name, Mediterranean flax. But, how had it got here, on the Westwood. The reasons ranged from a migrant bird passing the sole seed to a local bird depositing a 'bird table' seed. Now, it looks like a more obvious answer is just that it was from a local farm. So, the blue, to me was significant. This corner of the field had started to flower though the rest has yet to catch up. I like the dominant tree here and the field margins with it's colourful reddish dying weed. After packing up I walked and watered George again and then went to the Pipe and Glass for a drink, changing my mind from tea to tonic water. Actually, when walking George he suddenly got the scent of something and 'pointed' to a patch of long grass in the roadside verge. I went over thinking it may have been a hedgehog. I peered down, could'nt see anything at first, then as my eyes adjusted I saw a large shape, not a hedgehog but a female pheasant. She was well camouflaged and was determined not to move. So, I assumed she must have been sitting on eggs.
Hope you like it, phew, it is still very hot !!!!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Shandy Hall, home of Laurence Sterne

Shandy Hall.
(Shandy Hall, Coxwold, York, YO61 4AD)

The wonderful home of Laurence Sterne. This was an impromptu sketch and, hopefully, the first of many. The gardeners say that they "umpire" the wild area of the garden, a lovely expression. This picture shows part of the house from the more formal garden. More details of the house are here.