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.
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.)
Hedge in winter, misty day, acrylic ink/watercolour © Mari French 2010
From my sketchbook - winter, Harpley. © Mari French