Category Archives: England
I have just been lucky enough to have spent four and a half days at a workshop led by the great Australian Watercolour painter, Herman Pekel.
The workshop was held at The White House Hotel (stayatthewhitehouse.co.uk) at Sussex Farm near Burnham Market in North West Norfolk. The Hotel and the organisation of the workshop were superb and I would strongly recommend the Hotel for guests whether they be painters or not. The accommodation, food and the ambience of Sussex Farm are really fantastic and we all really enjoyed being there.
The workshop was run by Big Sky Art (bigskyartcourses.com) who are brilliant at organising the time there and the facilities at Sussex Barn are very good.
However the star was Herman Pekel who did many demonstrations indoor and out and is a complete inspiration to the watercolourist.
He is engaging , and easy to be with, and full of helpful advice and he puts enormous energy into the workshop.
His ability to see the key aspects of a scene for a watercolour are terrific and watching his demos before then attempting the same scene are very inspiring.
I wanted especially to try to paint bigger and bolder and to learn how the brush marks and tone are so important to the finished watercolour.
Can I turn it all into practice now that I am back in my studio? I hope so even if only some rubs off after this one workshop.
Big Sky Art arrange for dinners at the White House Hotel with Big Sky Art founder, Janie, and the workshop attendees ( who were all delightful) and the tutor. This is a great benefit to understanding composition, the painting process and the big issues, as well as being great fun!I
I have tried to be brief here and so here are some of the paintings that I managed to finish during the workshop. I would like to acknowledge Herman’s help in bringing them to a conclusion.
Obviously there are no originals by Herman on my Blog, but they were all quite brilliant.
I hope you like the look of them as they are for me a small step towards being a looser, more brush stroke driven artist.
Apart from everything else just being around North Norfolk is great, the countryside, towns and the shoreline are all very inspiring to an artist. No wonder so many great artists have been drawn to this area. Now Herman has been there too, with a band of keen followers and students!
I find the East Sussex town of Rye a favourite location for painting my watercolours.
I have done quite a lot and many have appeared on the blog over the years.
So here is another one,Rye from the marshes looking across to the harbour and town.
I hope you like it, it was fun to paint it!
If you are regular viewer of this site then my thanks for your continued visits, comments and likes.
If you are new here then you are most welcome and I hope you will find some watercolours that interest you.
It has been a busy year with a fair amount of travel to many lovely places and I hope that the Posts that have resulted from these travels have been of interest to you all.
Our visits to South Africa, Tenerife, France, Portugal, Devon and around our lovely County of Kent have given me many opportunities to paint and sketch, and to meet other artists too.
We hope to travel quite widely in the New Year and especially our planned Rhine river cruise at the end of the summer will take us to many new places in Europe and the opportunity to paint some watercolours as I go.
To end the Year I have included above this winter scene of Horsmonden in Kent, which I have just finished painting today. Although we haven’t had any snow as yet, it seems seasonal to paint a winters scene and to use it to wish everyone my Best Wishes for the Christmas holidays and the New Year.
I have a few ideas for posts in the New Year and so I hope before long to be posting again.
In the mean time, Happy Travelling!
The sun is shining ,the warmth of the Spring has suddenly brought on the Bluebells in the woods in Kent.
Some years the cow parsley masks the Bluebells but not this year, this is a great year for them.
Recently we visited a friend’s beautiful garden near Hawkhurst in Kent and by the pond in their garden was a lovely wood full of bluebells
i couldn’t resist having a go a painting them and here is the result. Bluebells have unique colours ranging from Blue to Violet which is quite a challenge, but no matter the accuracy the memory will remain of that beautiful scene.
As many of you know we also live to play golf and we are lucky that our golf course has woods with bluebells too.
So here is another painting from a year or two back with a scene on the course with bluebells in the woods.
If you do have a chance to get out into the countryside to see the bluebells then do try to go at this time, if not I hope you will enjoy my attempts to capture their beauty.
NB Some other watercolours can be seen on my shop sites at
Each year we go on a long weekend trip with some very good friends of long standing. Previously we have been to Ypres, Normandy and Amsterdam and in every location we have had really great weekends.
This year our trip was to York, and we all had a really good time in this very interesting City.
It coincided with some Birthday celebrations for me, a rather big number too!, which added to our fun there. (Thanks friends for the card presents and good wishes!)
It was great to celebrate with such good friends, but in amongst the sightseeing, eating , and drinking I have managed to produce 5 sketch book watercolours which I hope you will enjoy.
York is steeped in history and the City centre is dominated by the wonderful York Minster Cathedral. Nearly are little streets, in an area called The Shambles with excellent restaurants and cafes and shops too.
We visited the very good Jorvik centre with it “time traveller ride” back to the Viking settlement in York, and also the York Castle Museum which contains a reproduction of a street and houses and shops of the Victorian era and many other exhibits too.
We enjoyed the food tin York too and went to two very good restaurants which I have no hesitation in recommending. “Rustique” was outstanding as was “Little Italy”. The staff in both restaurants made our party of 8 very welcome indeed.
We stayed at The Grange Hotel and that was very good too.
So here are those small watercolours produced in between visits and meals over the weekend.
If you haven’t been to York then do so as it has so many great things to offer a visitor, many of which we didn’t manage to fit in on this trip, so we have many reasons to return.
If you do know York then I hope these watercolours will be a good reminder of this fascinating City.
I hope you have enjoyed these quick sketches of great weekend in York.
Hastings in Sussex is a town steeped in history and a delightful place to visit.
The Fishing Industry was once a major activity in the Town and fishing boats still operate from there, and are still launched from the beach.
One historical feature of Hastings are the “Net Shops”, tall wooden buildings, now enjoying “Listed Status” on the Stade at Hastings.
To learn more about them try this web site ( hastingschronicles.net )which has lots of very interesting details about them, and photos too.
This first quick, 15 minute, sketch shows the Net Stores today with a typical Hastings fishing boat located next to them.
In the 1960’s and before the number of Fishing boats at Hastings was large and although there are a lot of boats there today they are fewer than once there were.
I particularly like the older style of boat which is ideal for my sort of watercolour. They had a particular hull design adapted to being launched from the beach. This painting is taken from a 1960’s photo and shows two fishing boats pulled up on the shingle beach from which they are launched.
RX73 was constructed in 1958 in Newhaven, named the ‘Young Flying Fish’ and is now retired as is RX77 named ‘Andina’ was constructed in Newhaven in 1957. Thanks to GH Clarke for this information, and also to Richard.O.Singleton for the original photograph upon which my watercolour is based.
Do visit Hastings, there is so much to see and do there.
About an hour from us here in Kent is the lovely old Town of Rye, which is in East Sussex.
Several hundred years ago it was nearer the sea but today it is a few miles inland with river access to the English Channel.
We love to walk round Rye’s quaint streets and buildings and enjoy afternoon tea or lunch there.
Thus it is no surprise that I seem to have painted quite a few watercolours of the Town and the area, some of which I have sold to other folk who also love the town of Rye.
So here are some of my watercolours for you to look at. If you haven’t visited Rye then do so in the future but if like us it is a place that you too enjoy then I hope these paintings will have good memories for you.
The skyline of Rye on it’s small hill fascinates me and the views, from a few different vantage points have been the subject of quite a few paintings.
Here are some.
The Town was once surrounded by a wall and the main entrance to the Town goes through the Landgate.
Here are two painting of that scene, one with some chap like me painting, and another on a snowy day. Unless you are up very early the scene today is spoilt by parked cars, but somehow I managed not to include them!
Inside the oldest part of Rye you will find Mermaid Street with the very old Mermaid Inn. Even if you are not staying there or eating at it do go in and look around. It is quite amazing and the sign outside says “Rebuilt in 1407”. This Inn, once a smugglers haunt is show in this next painting.
Walk down Mermaid street on the old cobbles and read the names of the houses, they too are very intesting.
Rye has an old Castle ,Ypres Tower, with a museum, and a fine Norman Church of St Mary’s. The keen visitor can go to the top of the Church Tower for fine views of the Town and the countryside.
Next to the Church is The Old Vicarage, a lovely old building next to the fascinating Graveyard. Around you are many old and delightful houses and nearby is Lamb house that Henry James once owned, and which can be visited on some days.
Here is The Old Vicarage
There is so much to see you may never leave, but if you do then drive out of the town towards Wichelsea which is another wonderful old Town to visit. On the way you can , if you feel energetic enough, walk to Camber Castle which is nowadays isolated in the fields near Rye. Built in the time of Henry VIII its ruins are interesting and afford more views back towards Rye, as seen in this painting.
The whole area of East Sussex is very interesting with big sandy beaches at Camber Sands and the Military Canal leading to Hythe, and awealth of history round every corner. I hope you will enjoy these paintings.
It is well know fact that we English people do love our gardens. Maybe its our generally pleasant, moderate climate, or just our love of things in an ordered way, but gardening is a big thing in the UK.
The Cottage border is just one of the things gardeners love to plant and we are lucky in the South East of England to have some very fine gardens to visit and enjoy. They provide the stimulus to improve our own gardens too, although their beauty is a bit beyond most home gardens.
Two amongst the very best in the South East of England are Great Dixter in E.ast Sussex and Sissinghurst in Kent.
Both can be visited throughout the year but in Summer they are really magnificent with wonderful planting and colours.
In each case there is also fine house to look around too but it is the Cottage Borders that are the really great thing about these gardens.
This post has only 2 paintings, one of Sissinghurst painted a couple of years ago and a new painting of Great Dixter.
I do hope you will like them and if you have the chance to visit either then do so!
Have a look at my site on http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours too!
Last week we had the pleasure of a visit from some very good friends from the USA. It was an opportunity to explore some places in the South East of England that they hadn’t visited before.
One of these was Scotney Castle, today a National Trust property quite near to us in the heart of Kent.
It has a fine Victorian house which itself it well worth visiting as it was lived in by the former owner until 2006 and has all the furnishings and items as it was at that time, a time capsule of two hundred years worth of the family’s history.
However the other jewel of Scotney Castle is the ruined castle situated on a small island in the middle of the lake at the heart of the estate. In spring the walk to the Castle and the surrounding area is bursting with Azaleas and Rhododendron bushes of all colours and fine perennial plants and trees.
It is painter’s paradise and has been the subject of my watercolours before.
This visit revealed some new aspects to me and so this watercolour shows both the Castle by the lake and the Victorian House on the hill above.
The second painting from last year shows another aspect of the Castle in spring time.
If you are in Kent do visit Scotney, it is a truly beautiful place.
I hope you enjoy this short post.