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. 

Holme on the Wolds.

A simple, late afternoon, early evening sketch of the approach to Holme on the Wolds. I like this simple sketch, it is interesting to see the grass verges getting to be almost straw coloured as the hot weather continues. I could easily have continued with this particular painting but told myself to stop and leave it as it is. I met a local man whom I had chatted to once before. He was walking his dog and we talked about how road warning signage has been put up. His opinion was that it spoils the approach to the village and I certainly agree that we have far too many signs generally. The particular signs in question ( not shown in the picture ) were put up by the council as a result of a complaint made by a newly arrived family. The displeasure of the locals was made more intense as the family soon moved on, leaving the hamlet and leaving.... the signs.This is a view I may well do again,  I like the evening shadows on this picture and may well try another, slightly more detailed one later. Perhaps a good subject for my students?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Near Bainton, East Yorkshire Wolds.

30th June 2018.
I prepared a large canvas, 30 x 24 inch, with a dark grey ground and set off to paint, this time using my lovely Mabef, Italian French easel (;0).
I wanted to take advantage of the long day and took George's dinner as well as packing up for me. Therefore, no need to rush home. I explored the byways around Lund, walking through fields of cereal, now high and pale green with distinct 'ears' formed but needing more time to mature. At the edge of one field I saw a small, bright yellow, peice of plastic. I bent down to look closer, it had a message, 'despicable me' strange I thought until I read the rest of the message which said something about taking pet deposits away with you. It was a shame, I always carry bags when walking George but some people let us down. Plus, they also cause others to litter the paths with plastic signs.
I also walked through a another field, of barley, on a path created by a farmer which always feels strange. It connected with another field, and, another sign. ' Please take the short detour marked below, to avoid walking through the 'Bird's Eye' pea field. The poor peas' were really suffering from the lack of rain, June had been the driest on record, and the peas, to me, were struggling. Still no view to paint. I stopped and returned through the barley field, as I walked could hear, hidden behind a hedge, loud mooing. I walked off the field and round the hedge to a five bar gate. There, in the field, were the most beautiful cattle. They were very conditioned with rippling muscles and at first, until I saw their udders, thought they could be young bulls. The cows were accompanied by their inquisitive calves who were also in superb condition. I called them over to me. Slowly, they approached me and before long they were muzzling and sniffing my hand with wet noses inhaling deeply.
I drove through Bainton and spotted a view near a copse. It was what I was after so here it is.
Hope you like it.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Kirby Underdale on a very very hot day.

Before arriving at Kirby Underdale I went over to see the Robert Fuller Gallery. He is having a much publicised exhibition and his work is excellent. The Gallery was quite busy and I enjoyed chatting to a man from Hull, there with his artist wife. After sampling some elderflower cordial I drove off to paint.

Well. it was very hot and this view seemed a little ambitious. So, here we are. Kirby Underdale, it really is a special, special place. It seems that everywhere one looks, there are lovely views to paint. The high whine of a two stroke engine alerted me to some tree felling to the left of the view above. Though about a mile away, I could hear the crack, the arboreal scream of a tree falling, followed by two stroke trimming. Soon, plumes of smoke began to rise as a bright fire fed hungrily on the discarded timber. I think I will tidy up the farmhouse complex later as my choice of brush on the day could have been better. Apart from screaming swifts there was no bird noise at all. I think the weather, but I guess also, we may be between broods at this time might have had something to do with the silence. I always worry about this ever since I read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Though of course, the main concern then was, I think, DDT weakening egg shells. Now, I suppose, pesticides and plastic have taken over.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Yorkshire Wolds near South Dalton.

Thought I would do a bigger, looser painting using acrylic just for a change. It means I need to use the larger French easel which can be amusing to set up but it all worked out okay. I spotted this view when taking George for a walk. We passed a mainly deciduous wood or, I suppose a copse which was fringed with tall, thin, coniferous trees with russet coloured trunks. The copse, I realised hid a deep depression, could have been a quarry perhaps at some time but now there emerged straight limbed beech trees stretching to find the light. As I walked looking at the verges I told myself to bring a wild flower book next time. There are a lot of gorgeous wild flowering plants hidden in the long grasses which have not been cut. A pair of buzzards silently wheeled round, high above the copse, on broad tilted wings.  Several people passed and some were eager to tell me that they had just seen a pair of fox cubs playing in the road. Very unusual. Mind you, I must say that on a drive yesterday I saw my first 'live' badger emerge on to the road in front of me. It ran along the road before diving sideways into the thick undergrowth. Again, yellowhammers were constantly calling as I painted. A couple, came over and we had a good talk about art. Must remember Thursday afternoon at Elloughton.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Looking north from near Holme on the Wolds

20th June, 2018.
As a test for both of us, I decided to board George.. for the first time...... just for one night. I drove over, and stayed in Hovingham, returning to collect him the next day. I know it makes sense, but it was very strange to be completely alone and responsible for only myself. Was I being selfish? However, next time I go anywhere, I will take George with me... unless I need to go abroad I suppose. So, after some sketches of Hovingham in the morning, I collected George from the kennels and then drove to Holme on the Wolds where I painted this scene. The sky was very busy and the distant farm gave a sense of scale and focus which balanced the picture. The clouds moved rapidly in a fresh wind, yet the temperature was warm and the sounds of yellowhammers could be heard continuously as I painted. After walking and feeding George, I made a coffee detour to the Pipe and Glass, at South Dalton. 
David Hockney

Saturday, 16 June 2018

A farmhouse in Kirby Underdale

12x10 inch - oil on canvas

I set off early afternoon and headed for Millington, just north of Pocklington thinking I could have a look at their "Open Garden" day. After walking around the village I came to the conclusion that I had got the wrong day. I spoke to a 'Wolds Way' long distance walker who was sitting outside the public house, enjoying a pint in the sun. He was from South Wales, I should have asked him if he knew Bill. He was having a great time and we talked about David Hockney and his Wolds paintings. I left him there and decided to travel to Kirby Underdale. As I dropped down the steep, narrow road, passing Painsthorpe I stopped at the Church, and went inside. It is rather beautiful, it's location, situated on a slope, surrounded by steep sided, wooded hills is idyllic. Leaving, I saw this farmhouse in the village and parked up. In an adjacent field a group of handsome young brown and white calves, with clean pink noses came over to the fence, when they saw me. I let them rasp my hand with their sandpaper tongues as I tickled their noses. They were trying to reach some low leaves of a cherry tree which I pulled down for them to grip. Leaving my audience I started to set up and quickly lay down the structure of this view. The feel of rain pushed me along and, luckily, I more or less finished as heavy drops started falling. Hope you like it.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Looking down on Warter, East Yorkshire.

Plein air, oil on canvas 12 x10 inch.

The forecast was for rain in the afternoon and I set off with no clear plan..A circuitous short cut got me lost, eventually emerging at Driffield, I had intended to head for Kirkham.... anyway a ride over to North Newbald, found us parking under the welcome shade of a huge tree near the village hall. As I sat, with George, with the tailgate up RoseH appeared having just left the hall. We commented on the fluffy cotton wool seeds now falling like slow motion snow. Then a minute later, RobinH, wearing a striped apron passed by. The sound of voices made me look up, two engaging ladies who had been painting, in the Hall came over and we talked of our common interest. I then took George for a short walk around the pond via an elevated path and past the public house. The yellow flag iris on the pond fringes are at their best, very tall and profuse, a refuge for young mallard. I was disappointed not to spot the very large carp which had recently been introduced by the man from Tibthorpe. I travelled to Huggate and popped in the the Plum Tree Studio of Belinda Hazlerigg and was very impressed, she has a lovely vibrant mixed media style which works well with landscapes. After a shared ice cream we drove towards Warter and parked just off the road where I saw the spire of the church emerging from the field edge. So, here it is. Very steep, small fields give a sense of the terrain. A local retired farmer stopped and checked me out, and we established a mutual respect. As we talked a red kite flew nearby. Of course the land here is part of an enormous estate, a private estate of 13,000 acres. We had a very good talk about pheasants, David Hockney, Beverley tea rooms and the weather before he drove off in his small vehicle which was loaded with pellets of pheasant food . His rifle safely secured probably explained the noise of shots I had heard earlier. I had to work quickly on this picture and by necessity, not overworked it - it was a last minute choice but I like it. I think this is a view I will repeat, especially as the seasons change.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Sledmere House, East Yorkshire.

I walked down to the pond, it was smooth and still, the only sound being from the tumbling water of the fountain. As I stood on the stone flag path, forming the perimeter of the pond, a bright electric blue damselfly landed at my feet. Almost instantly, another arrived and they fly off in a tight embrace. As I stand, a group of house martins fly down and hit the water heavily, appearing to be momentarily submerged, causing lots of ripples before flying off.  Are they bathing, drinking, i'm not sure. The sun is out and across the pond I can see lots of deer the hidden 'ha-ha' ensuring they stay in the park. A jingling rythmic sound heralds the arrival of a bright yellow, people laden old agricultural cart, being pulled by two magnificent shire horses. They are told to stop. They stand still, in the sun, motionless, but then a hard sharp voice of command tells the younger horse to be still as it starts to get impatient. Back under control they move away, across the rough grass and out of sight. I walk round the pond and suddenly, clouds of silt explode and I can see a massive fish arrowing away towards central safety. I notice in the rough grass lots of buttercups but especially cuckoo flower or lady's smock, which are quite white here. A couple from Huddersfield came over and we had a lovely chat ( a coincidence as last night I talked to Steve from Huddersfield but now living in Vancouver ).
The house is shown here standing high above the terraced upper slopes. This is one of many I intend to paint. When walking Goerge after doing this one I think I saw a better view which I will try later. Walking away after painting I spotted some large hawker dragonflies. The abdomen seemed to have a long yellow strip down the whole length. Cannot find out what it is ..yet... maybe a Lincolnshire Hawker (;o)

Thursday, 7 June 2018

South Dalton Church, St. Mary's, East Yorkshire.

12x10 plein air photo from phone a little too reflective and darker than original.

I know, I know, the spire is taller than shown here but it is only a small canvas. Of course, if you are not local then the spire is perfect (;o).
I started late, intending to visit Sledmere House, yet, being short on time found myself here, St. Mary’s Church, South Dalton. I walked into a field of growing wheat which looked almost white in the sunlight, a deep contrast to the deep shadows of the trees. Painted straight onto the canvas, with a small brush, I started with the church, then the sky and lastly, the foreground field of wheat. Overhead, a pair of low flying red kite with twitching forked tails made me pause to admire their colouring as they passed. Ladybirds are now out and about, I spotted one between the embryonic cereal crop of a neighbouring field as I was leaving. At the side of the church, a beautiful terrace of old, vernacular - well, to this area, bungalows are situated. They are enhanced by gorgeous floral displays, residents can sit on their cleverly designed outside porches facing west, thus getting the afternoon sun. In the common front lawn area are several bird feeders and on passing I watched a greenfinch busily taking advantage of the well stocked feeders. Now, I am sitting outside the Pipe and Glass having a coffee, listening to cooing pigeons, singing robins and ....the silence. After coffee I drove home via Etton and Cherry Burton. I had a mission. To visit a farm which has started selling milk direct from the farm. It was recently featured on local television, milk can be bought in one or two litres, in plastic or reusable glass bottles. I have always bought milk in glass bottles, as my former students are well aware, and I wanted to try their milk. It is delicious. So, if interested, the farm is on the Etton Road just outside Cherry Burton. Passing through Cherry Burton, on my way home, I saw a man with his small dog looking at the pond. What was he looking at? I slowed down. At the far side of the pond a large heron was standing, scanning the water for food. Then, when leaving Cherry Burton, near the Old Hall, I spotted a hedgehog on the road - so I immediately signalled oncoming traffic to slow down. Hope it survived. Sorry about the reflections on the picture I will alter it later.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Kirby Underdale, East Yorkshire Wolds.

Plein air painting 12 x 10 inch, all done in one visit.

Kirby Underdale
After a later start I set off for the Wolds again. Necessity meant I had to detour via Kirkburn where I visited the wonderful Norman church. Here, outside, on trestle tables were a collection of plants for sale. As I looked at the plants a man turned up bearing more plants. We had a talk about the plants, one in particular, southernwood, an aromatic herb, which was supposed to be used for putting on floors in medieval times where it's fragrance would help mask unpleasant smells. So I bought one as a curiosity, my floors at home are okay.... Before I left he pointed out the deliberately overgrown fringes of the graveyard, an orchid in particular, one of five to be recorded here. Then off to Huggate and.... beyond,  I was aiming for a place called Painsthorpe as it sounded intriguing, yet found myself at Kirby Underdale. I had not been here before, it is a little paradise. Steep Wolds sectioned into small, hedge lined fields. Bright yellow buttercups dominated the lower fields which gave me my focus for the picture. A farm stood half way up a distant hill looking like something from a book about 'Perfect Locations for a Farm'. I set up and started painting as a lone buzzard circled high on broad lazy wings. A couple of walkers appeared and asked me where they were, they appeared lost though in fact, a road sign was to blame as it said Kirby Underdale was two and a half miles away - in fact, it was just a few yards further over the crest of the road. A loud noise heralded the arrival of a man riding a mower. He just appeared as if from nowhere, cut a little patch then disappeared. A white van passed bearing a logo saying Halifax Estates. This was to be significant, a public car park, local barn and another cottage also bore the same name. Must investigate. I finished the painting and noted the buzzard had now been joined by it's partner, the pair of them soaring in unison. I took George for a walk down a narrow steep road, intriguingly sign-posted for Hanging Grimston. I passed lots of cow parsley, still in abundance up here, though Hogwort is now very much in evidence and will dominate soon. I also saw yellow and blue vetch, crosswort, red clover and rattle. It is all rather wonderful and I am sorry not to have explored the area before now, just as well that I have decided to paint this series of paintings about the Wolds.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Sunday visit to the Pipe and Glass, South Dalton.

 Sunday 3rd June 2018

I set off later on a strange day, the very lightest precipitation was actually welcome on this hot, humid, still, windless day. Intending to paint a larger canvas of the Wolds area near Holme on the Wolds I realised that the visibility was distantly, hazy and misty, so I adjourned to South Cave. Parking at the Pipe and Glass, there seemed to be an ethereal, heavy, low pressure greyness, the sun hidden behind a veil of encompassing, moisture filled, yet brightening now, sky. Looking back along the light grey road, at the neat, whitewashed cottages, framed on my right by a large ash tree, I decided to try a sketch. My intention is to use this as a study for a later painting. As I sat on the rear bumper, next to George, with the tailgate wide open, I listened to the quiet round voices of contented, well dressed diners,  all the time being serenaded by the beautiful song of a blackbird perched high above, in the ash tree. The constant arrivals and departures of diners was noisily interrupted by the arrival of several people driving sports cars, mainly Porsche but also Lotus, E Type Jaguars, an AC Cobra, Morgan three wheeler ( but was it pre-war?) and several Italian super-cars. Then another group, of motorcycle tourers, arrived and had a few problems manoeuvring around the now, decamped, sports car drivers who had taken up residence outside. Shortly, both groups drove off, loudly and I could hear the blackbird again. As I finished the first sketch, an enchantingly graceful car stopped next to me, having finished lunch and happily replete I was asked to show them my sketch. They displayed exceptional judgement and good taste as we chatted briefly, before they resumed their journey.
Before leaving, I decided to visit the Herbarium, it is welcoming and imaginatively constructed and helps supply the kitchen with a huge range of fresh herbs.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Looking down on Enthorpe Station House ( beware of trains ), East Riding Wolds.

12x10 Oil on canvas

The road from Etton to Enthorpe climbs high and at this point the views are wonderful. I am looking north, to my right looking east, the vista is enormous showing field after field and disappearing towards the horizon. Cow parsley is still looking good, buttercups, speedwell and plantain feature up here. However, the biggest surprise is the huge drifts of crosswort in the verges. Here, at this point, the fields are completely open, with no hedges, the crops coming almost up to the road. This caused a problem, inasmuch that there was no shelter at all and as the wind was quite strong, together with a mistiness developing I became very cold. I had to put a warm jacket on, yet, despite this my hands became very cold and I had to stop painting. Before painting, when it was warmer, I walked George to the distant building. On the way, I wanted to check out the disused railway line which is where the track dips. Sure enough, there was an old railway bridge and a closed gate to the Enthorpe Station House. On the gate a large circular sign declared the we BEWARE OF TRAINS. I stood looking down at the disused railway ( private land ) and heard a yellowhammer calling. I also noted that the swifts are really here now in great numbers as they flew around me.  Smiling, I continued past the pale brown field to the next junction. The field was deeply furrowed and the tops of potato plants were just emerging. The soil here is heavily contaminated or at least mixed, with lots of broken flint. It made me wonder about how good the drainage would be and how resilient the potatoes needed to be.   To the right of the picture, tall, thin, tree trunks can be seen against a dark background. This reminded me that earlier in the year, I had seen a huge wagon transporting felled lumber away from this spot.
Again, I rushed to the Pipe and Glass for a coffee to warm my numb hands and was delighted to see, as I passed St. Mary's church, a low flying red kite, it's forked tail working hard as it manoeuvred in tight circles.
What a lot of writing, hope you like it, I have treated this picture a little loosely  again and am pleased with it.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Looking north to Dalton Park, East Yorkshire.

Well, tut tut, I slept in....after an enjoyable, late night with friends in York. So today found George and I here, parked at the entrance to a field of growing cereal. The day was hot and a little hazy which meant that landscapes were always going to be rather vague. I decided to do this as an exercise. The distant view shows two buildings on the Dalton Park estate. I thought these would provide some interest, even though they seem to disappear. The grass verges here surprised me as they contained some magnificent borage plants, in full bloom. Beneath them I could see yellow vetch, crosswort, plaintain and red clover as well as many different grasses. also, wild 'forget me not' and of course cow parsley. apart from the occasional pheasant it remained very quiet with little birdsong.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Looking towards Lair Hill, East Yorkshire Wolds.

I did this this afternoon, Wednesday 23rd May. The previous evening I had seen the film, ' I Claude Monet' and had the idea of painting the grass verges on the Wolds. My plan was to be a lot looser and more impressionistic, suggesting the wild flowers and without a sky. As you can see, I failed miserably.
This is my first 20 x 16 inch canvas for a long time. I used an old French easel, with old tubes of oil paint, which resisted being opened. I also used, mainly, a small headed, hogs hair brush with a long handle. I used a much larger brush for the sky. I have tried to be less detailed yet still faithful to the scene. I need to try a lot more and look forward to developing a looser style...... maybe. One does need to keep challenging, revising, and inventing new approaches to 'looking'. I have exaggerated the sky here and I like it. I have suggested the presence of cow parsley and campion using daubs of colour. The field in front of me was very light soil, actually full of flint and some chalk. As I painted George watched, barked, got taken for short walks and chased his ball and seemed quite content. Yellowhammers sang and bird scarers boomed in the distance. I spotted a solitary figure, a farmer I think, walking over a bare flinty field inspecting it's condition for planting. These large bare fields make it easy to spot the occasional hare and I wonder about the young leverets, are they safe? Are they a target for the numerous buzzards? Questions, questions.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Above Weaverthorpe, Yorkshire Wolds.

Travelling a little further, on a hot, still day, I arrived at Sledmere House. I thought I would see how the walled garden is progressing. The head gardener Andy, is making the walled garden look rather special, full of colour and interest. I have produced a few pictures here, at Sledmere, for my "Walled Garden" exhibition, one which I postponed as my priority was to look after D'reen. When it happens, it will be a reminder of our trips to various gardens such as Castle Howard and the beautiful Wassand Hall ( open this weekend), try and visit if you can. Okay enough of that, Sledmere was too busy, the car park full, they were having a dog event day, and so I headed north. Here is a view I spotted looking down from the village of Weaverthorpe. I parked on a neat grass verge, rather too exposed and wondered if I could 'fit it all in'. I did most of it there but have to admit I added some detail later. This was done on the 13th of May when the oil seed rape was shouting out, "look at me". Now, it is turning, and looking greener, before long it will look ugly and dark indicating it will be ready for collecting in. I liked the active sky. It changed conveniently slowly and I rather like trying to capture the movement. Hope you like it.
To AT, I am glad you enjoyed your plein air adventure.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Holme Wold Farm - A Royal Picture?

The town was very quiet this morning. Unusually, several stalls were empty in the colourful Saturday Market, all very strange.I wondered why until someone reminded me of a wedding taking place. I visited Carluccio's for a coffee and a catch up with a friend and then returned home. On the radio ...... THE WEDDING commentary ! So, I gave in and put the television on, vows were being exchanged, then some wonderful singing from the choir followed by the excellent cello playing of Sheku Kanneh-Mason. I found that I was actually enjoying it all. Well all the best to them for a happy future.

It was a lovely sunny day, off I went, into the South Dalton area again. The cow parsley in the hedges is at its peak. Wonderful. Hawthorne hedges, bridesmaids bouquets, is also gloriously covered in flowers, May blossom. Trails of beautiful white flowers, flowing from the parent plant exude a heavy fragrance, which on passing lifts the spirits. The hedgerows continue to look wonderful, bluebells here and there, slashes of crimson pink campion, in particular, and some subtle wild flowers whose identity eludes me. I parked up in the shade of a dense copse, and made sure George was comfortable before setting up. This view is looking towards Holme Wold Farm. Most of the farm is hidden by the surrounding trees. As I painted the soft chirruping noises of foraging partridges could be heard as they approached me via the tractor 'runways'. On seeing me they exploding into flight and cruised off into the distance. Otherwise the day, was very quiet. Ethereal. A distant call, a mewing sound, alerted me that there was a buzzard, or was it a red kite, above me. It remained invisible until closer, on broad wings it soared past effortlessly, scouring the land for food. Orange tipped butterflies are still to be seen and are now joined by small blues. I also spotted a lone plover fly past. Again, I felt rather sad, as, as a young boy I would see huge flocks, so I adjourned to the Pipe and Glass for a coffee.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Lair Hill House, on the Middleton-on-the-Wolds road, near Holme-on-the-Wolds.

A cool day, though not a bad as yesterday when we had an artic wind... in mid May!
So, out again. Not too far, near Holme on the Moor, on the Middleton on the Wolds road, passing hedges full of cow parsley, campion, buttercups, cowslips and trimmed hawthorn hedges with fresh reddish growth sprouting into life. Yellowhammers are numerous and I think I saw a cuckoo flying along a low hedge in a strange undulating flight as I approached it flipped over the hedge and out of sight, is it too early? Perhaps not, even the swifts are here now,
This view, good for my art students, is looking up at Lair Hill House. It is beautifully situated with lots of interesting outbuildings and surrounded by a protective bank of trees. As I painted lots of huge vehicles passed by, massive tractors with raised rolling gear and agricultural bulk carriers. All courteously slowing down as they passed. A beautiful day.