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Getting the band back together!

Meeting up with a few
of my class members

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It’s been so lovely to be able to be meeting up with a few of my class members over the past two weeks, getting the band back together! We visited Old Winchester Hill last week and Watership Down the week before. Social distancing and masks not withstanding, it seemed so much more effective teaching face to face!

At both locations, we were able to find a spot away from the main thoroughfare, keep our social distance but never-the-less chat. (Neanderthal Skull Facemask by Kirstin White, available at RedBubble!)

Meeting up with a few of my class members

Since lockdown, my beginners groups have been on hold, I am hoping that we may be able to resume again, perhaps around October (fingers crossed that there’ll be no second wave!). I have been sharing online inspiration and ideas with my more experienced students and have been so impressed with the beautiful and accomplished paintings that have been achieved.

Online, in June 2020, we took trees as our subject and discussed different way we might edit what we saw in life or in photographs. We thought about ways of developing an individual language of marks appropriate to trees. Additionally, we thought about how we were going to compose our pictures, in order that what we intended the viewer to notice, was made clear.

With these considerations in mind, everyone had a go at copying a work by Francis Towne (1739–1816). In fact, we looked for inspiration at the approaches taken by several different artists. Of these, contemporary artist, Melissa Scott- Miller was a favourite, admired both for her skilful handling of detail and her relatable subject matter.

Old Winchester Hill, Warnford.

A Big Summer Sky at Old Winchester Hill, Warnford (watercolour and gouache)
Artists watercolour painting at Old Winchester Hill

Beautiful Hampshire Downland

We are fortunate to be in this part of the world, with beautiful Hampshire downland on the doorstep. Old Winchester Hill is a 66.2-hectare (164-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Hampshire. It is a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I, and a National Nature Reserve. Part of it is a Scheduled Monument.

Old Winchester Hill gave us lots of scope for painting. Looking down onto trees, trees seen from a distance, deciduous and evergreen trees and trees in groups were all considered.

Overcast in the morning and bright in the afternoon, the changing weather meant that we had to work fast to record the different moods and also gave us that wonderful feeling of being in the moment.

The ever changing big sky at Old Winchester Hill made a good painting subject.

With sweeping views across the South Downs towards The New Forest, this made a lovely spot for meeting up with a few of my class members.

Watership Down, Kingsclere.

Meeting up with a few of my class members at Watership Down was a great success. Despite the threat of rain, we stayed dry and found a comfortable location from which to make individual trees the subject of our paintings. At the spot we chose, there were many characterful tree specimens to choose between.

Members of the watercolour painting group, meeting up at Watership Down
Majestic Beech Trees on Watership Down (watercolour)

As we all knew Richards Adams book, Watership Down and it was fun reminiscing about the story while painting in the spectacular setting of the novel.

A lovely walking area, once we had completed our painting session, I enjoyed a bit of a ramble with the dog.

Looking across Watership Down, near Newbury UK.

The group will share the pictures and sketches that they made on the spot, as well as photographs taken on the day, with group members who weren’t able to join us. We will use the material to inspire more finished indoor paintings, where careful washes and planned composition can be incorporated without interference by the wild outside!

All being well, we plan to continue these limited meet ups on a weekly basis. I’ll be organising painting sessions for bigger groups as soon as its safe to do so. Keep you posted!