Sketchbook people. This is a mix of drawings from my sketchbooks, some are from life drawing, some are from photos trying to work out angles and positions. Others are from when I was trying to get the hang of how Bruegel painted his characters.
For the last two years we have had a regular visitor to our garden we call him Archie. Archie is a beautiful male pheasant, he started appearing in Spring last year, usually under the bird feeders picking up whatever the other birds dropped, so we started feeding him then too. After a month or so he brought a female along with him and then two females, they too are very beautiful close up with delicate lace like patterns on their feathers and a pinkish ring around their eyes. He would strut around the garden showing off to them and we hoped that we might get to see some of the chicks later but we never did. The females gradually stopped coming so we assumed that they were sitting on eggs but Archie kept turning up to be fed until mid Summer and then he to came less and less and then not at all. Then just into the new year Archie reappeared followed a few weeks later by a female. They are now so used to us that they stand out side of the patio door waiting, sometimes I am sure that they knock on the window sill to attract our attention. Archie fluffs up his feathers and does the occasional call but his Mrs ignores him and keeps eating. We are hoping that we may get to see some chicks this year but even if we don’t it has been wonderful having these beautiful birds become part of our lives and of course subjects for me to paint, and we really must come up with a name for the female.
Living where I do in North Cornwall I am very lucky to be surrounded by dramatic scenes of rugged countryside. So much of my work has been inspired by this land and the things that live on it. Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor are just minutes away in a car and are places that I love to return to again and again.
Above is a photo of Steep Tor, we were on a mystery trip, taking whatever road we fancied and ended up here. It is not somewhere you would set out to go to, just a few houses and farms but I am so glad we did. There are wonderful views across the moor, old tumbledown walls and buildings, fields strewn with rocks and boulders, the occasional animal and trees covered with moss and lichen, It is like walking into a Tolkien story.
So of course I had to paint some of it. The first is of Steep Tor its self, I tried to include everything, the boulders, walls and trees, even the old wire fences. The second is a view in the opposite direction, across the moors and woodlands , distant farm fields, a fast fox, and a rusty red roof. We went in very early March so the colours were still muted from winter but I think that helped with feeling of other worldliness.
Dartmoor is bigger, more open and less obviously inhabited, the only sounds were of the wind and sometimes the buzzards. Again being there at the end of winter meant not only were the colours less vibrant but, probably because it was freezing cold, there were no people about either.
I chose to paint a view of all the different colours of the winter moor, the field boundaries in the distance just hinting at human habitation.