David Bellamy – Sketching & Painting Wonky Old Cottages

Jenny and I have just returned from running a course on Exmoor where we had the luxury of sketching and painting inland scenes as well as the coast. The delightful village of Winsford provided us with a great many stunning subjects, while the heavy rain showers kept things lively. For many the local pub was a life-saver! The following days improved and we had a hot, sunny day at Lynmouth, with a harbour crammed with colourful boats and cottages climbing high up the wooded hillsides.

One of several scenes I tackled was a cottage high up above the harbour, using a graphite water-soluble pencil, and washing over it with a brush afterwards. Behind the cottage rose the wooded hillside. This highlighted the cottage really well, and I rendered it as a mass rather than outline each tree individually. You can discern a slightly darker shape rising above and between the chimneys – this was my sole indication of any sense of shape within the mass. As the cottage was perched above  many cottages I decided to vignette the foreground by extending pencil lines downwards, some linked to a hint of vegetation, plus some spatter from the brush after I’d picked up some of the watersoluble graphite on it. This technique is an excellent way to isolate your favourite part of the scene and leave out the bits you don’t want. The only worrying aspect to the sketch for me is the absolutely straight line of the roof – in such a wonky building it would be almost de rigueur to provide the finished painting with a supremely wonky roof ridge line.

Our course was organised by Alpha Painting Holidays run by Matthew and Gill Clark, with whom it is a great pleasure to work. They looked after our every need throughout the course, and we thoroughly recommend them. We still have vacancies on my course in Pembrokeshire from 28th September to 3rd October at the splendid Warpool Court Hotel in St Davids, where we have a wide choice of coastal and inland subjects for all tastes. You can get further details from Warpool Court on 01437 720300 or email info@warpoolcourthotel.com  You can also see my website

David Bellamy – Drawing detail with a rigger

Jenny and I have just returned from Pembrokeshire, rather wind-battered, although the exciting seas did leave me quite exhilarated, with mighty Atlantic waves crashing into Linney Head and shooting up over the tops of 130-foot cliffs, dwarfing them in a wild expression of Nature’s power. Sketching in such conditions is challenging and one page of my sketchbook was torn, but with a veritable row of bulldog clips I managed to keep going and make the most of the stupendous seas.

The wave-splashes you see in this pic are fairly small – a mere 100 feet – compared to the really high ones, but I was rather engrossed in the sketching to watch everything. The mood and light was incredibly dramatic, and at times the sky was almost completely black with a thin sliver of light on the horizon. Anyway, make sure you have plenty of clips and elastic bands when you venture forth in these conditions!

While I was in Pembrokeshire I delivered some paintings to Art Matters in White Lion Street in Tenby, and they will be going on display in their exhibition on Saturday 22nd February. This detail from one of the paintings illustrates some fine detail drawn with a fine rigger brush. The trunks, gate and fence posts were rendered with a mixture of burnt umber and French ultramarine, but before I apply the paint to paper I ensure the rigger comes to a fine point by dragging it across some scrap paper and at the same time twirling it between first finger and thumb. You need to practice this technique of drawing with a fine brush as it takes some getting used to, but you might find it easier to first of all try drawing with a brush as fine as a rigger, but with shorter hairs.

If you visit the exhibition you’ll see that this painting is a little different from the detail part shown here. After scanning this I decided to include some chickens and a cockerel, as the building looked a little forlorn. Unfortunately I forgot to re-scan it! The gallery telephone number is 01834 843375. If you click on the link above you will reach their website with all their details.

In the meantime, enjoy your painting and I hope you will not be suffering from too much wind……