winter sketching…

A few recent (rough) on-the-spot sketches from my second winter in Harpley, Norfolk. From snow to thaw… I love the way the snow is held in the furrows, and the etched patterns left by the tractors. The soil in these parts is a reddish-brown in most places.

It was usually so cold I’d have to sketch inside the car (with the window open to help retain the atmosphere and keep the colours true – car windows tend to have a colour caste). The ‘Harpley old mill’ sketch though was done from memory shortly after returning home from a walk in the snow, and is of the disused windmill (no longer with sails) on the hill above the village.

Harpley old mill in snow, watercolour sketch, © Mari French 2010 November, woods near Wicken farm © Mari French 2010

Though I use acrylics/mixed media in the studio, I love working with watercolours wet-in-wet for my outdoor sketches (often coupled with a water-soluble pencil or drafting pen). It’s more immediate and I get very excited by the unpredictable results of the colours bleeding into one another causing ‘blooms’ and ‘backruns’, which can be used to represent trees or hedges or clouds.

A good colour mix for winter skies like these is burnt sienna or raw umber plus french ultramarine. I usually try to note down weather conditions or colours or other things from the scene that will help jog my memory back in the studio. I often see wildlife at close quarters on these sketching trips – hares, pheasants, stoat, barn owls – perhaps because I’m sitting so still and quiet, usually on peaceful rural roads.

(By the way, if you click on the pictures, you’ll get a larger image to view.)

Norfolk farmland in winter, watercolour/wax on paper © Mari French 2010

Hedge in winter, misty day, acrylic ink/watercolour © Mari French 2010

Hedge in winter, misty day, acrylic ink/watercolour © Mari French 2010

From my sketchbook - winter, Harpley. © Mari French

From my sketchbook - winter, Harpley. © Mari French

4 thoughts on “winter sketching…

  1. Oooh these are lovely Mari – love the tractor trail ones particularly.
    Did you use a wax resist to get those lovely lines or masking fluid?
    Fantastic texture whatever it was you used. I bought a water brush (one of those with a hollow handle you can fill with water or wash) and I’ve never used it – more equipment hoarding lol. Honestly, I should know better – I’m still a heathen – using fingers and spit.

    • why thank you miss phipps – it was a wax candle by the way, works well doesnt it? the texture of the watercolour paper helps, it also helps with the separation of the pigment particles in certain watercolours (I know there’s a name for it but can’t think what it is just now). I wasnt sure about putting such raw sketches online but as i love looking at other artists sketchbooks I thought I’d give it a go. (love the gravatar btw) : )

  2. I love the thaw prints. The bleeding of colors reminds me of the changing from winter to spring before the new vegetation starts to bloom.

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