Stormy dusk

After another warm day on which heavy showers missed Ampleforth, clouds loomed heavy as dusk turned to darkness. This sketch was completed in near darkness, an interesting excercise in watercolour where judgement of water quantity and amount of paint are guess work because I cannot really see the result until I take my sketchbook indoors!

Stormy dusk, 23rd September- watercolour in sketchbook
Work in progress

Marsh Harrier over Cley Marshes

Today’s watercolour shows a Marsh Harrier from a low viewpoint at the end of a drainage ditch. The harrier appeared low over the reeds about 50 metres along the ditch, saw me then turned back out over the reedbed. The painting uses very fluid washes for the sky and the water. The reeds and the harrier by contrast are painted with thick watercolour almost dry brushed to give depth to the picture.

Marsh Harrier over Cley Marshes, North Norfolk


The most exciting sighting today was the appearance of a Hornet on the insect table. A superb insect inches from me as I sketched, I was struck by the rich colours and of course its size. It dwarfed the Common Wasps around it and they kept a respectful distance as it dominated the feeding area.

Hornet and Common Wasp on rotten banana
Butterflies and moths

Warm weather butterflies

The fallen apples continue to attract butterflies. Up to 7 Red Admirals at a time today with single Commas and Speckled Woods. Sitting sketching in the warm September sun smelling the fermenting fruit and watching these impressive strong flyers I marvel at the distances they will fly as they head towards the south coast then out over the English Channel to breed near the Mediterranean in October or November. They will then die. Knowing the weather is set to turn much colder this weekend I wonder whether it will be next year before I see this number of Red Admirals again? The Speckled Wood will hibernate and emerge next Spring to produce a new generation.

Watercolour sketch- Red Admiral on fallen apples
Speckled Wood feeding on 'sugar'
Speckled Wood
Butterflies and moths

More September Moths

A warm night with the temperature not dropping below 13 celsius. The Dark Sword Grass is an immigrant species from the Continent. This individual could be the offspring of an adult which came over to Britain in the spring or a fresh arrival from abroad. This perhaps likely as we have had a couple of very warm days with southerly winds. Stangely it left a considerable quantity of fluid on my hand! It smelt quite pleasant rather like caramel. The Red- line Quaker is a species which flies only between September and November. The Snout moth is very distinctive with delta wings and well, a snout!

Dark Sword Grass
Red- line Quaker
Snout moth

Twilight, 16th September

At 7.20pm with a light northerly breeze four House Martins came to roost in the nest on the front of our house. This is a small watercolour painted on the spot. Such postcard sized doodles I find to be great practise in handling the medium of watercolour. They are also useful reference with the date, time, temperature and weather conditions recorded. But above all I enjoy observing the sky.

7.20m looking south west, Ampleforth

Ampleforth at twilight

Twilight at Ampleforth, 15th September, 7.32pm- watercolour.

A watercolour painted in my sketchbook at 7.32pm.  Twilight looking west and the clouds are evaporating as the temperature drops. The trees have been rocked by westerly gale force gusts for the last two days, throwing apples and damsons onto the lawn. Damsons are ripening at last and I find myself wandering outside after each bout of painting to scrump them straight from the tree! With apples from the tree for pudding and the prospect of gathering wild mushrooms and later sweet chestnuts to roast on the fire this is a time of the year I relish.

Uncategorized, Work in progress

Holkham Bay, North Norfolk in March

Shorelarks at the eastern end of Holkham Bay, watercolour
Amongst the dunes, Holkham Bay
Looking towards Scolt Head from Holkham Bay

 I have spent more time painting for Birdscapes Gallery in Norfolk. These watercolours were painted from sketches made on a fine but windy day in March. The tide was very high when I arrived and I had to walk miles to find Shorelarks on the strandline. Once found I spent the rest of the morning with these delightful birds. Whilst the birds are special I am equally drawn to the beautiful habitat in which they feed, namely Holkham Bay. I sketched to the sound of Skylarks singing, waves breaking and the wind in the Marram Grass.