Tag Archive: sketching day


IMG_0273Another excellent sketching day in Llanymynech. We spent the morning down around the Llanymynech Limeworks, exploring the Hoffman Kiln, the railway lines and the canal wharfs – in the sunshine, no less! Lunch at Underhill Farm, with tea, coffee and the warmth of the calving shed classroom provided as the sunshine dissolved into hail and sleet. With the return of the blue skies, we headed up the hill for the afternoon, enjoying the last of the day’s sunshine up in the quarry itself.

Good to get out into the landscape once more, and I think everyone found more than enough to hold their attention through the afternoon. I worked on about two dozen sketches, trying to work as quickly as possible. Rob and Chloe also sketched quickly, both working with pencil, shaping out the massed quarry cliffs in pools of graphite. Malcolm concentrated on landscape, getting a view down onto the Hoffman Kiln from the hill above. Diana was doing some great mixed-media sketches, working over potato-prints made earlier in the morning in her sketchbook; Gill even brought in moss and mud into her drawings of the quarry cliffs.

We also had a big idea session over lunch about the Art & Craft fair in May. As promised, I will write up all the ideas we had and post it a bit later on this week – give everyone a chance to see what other people are thinking of doing and maybe spark off more ideas.

Suggestions for next month’s sketching day include Bersham Woods near Wrexham, The Ceiriog Valley, or back to Chester or even Llanymynech again! Any other suggestions?

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Woodline at Underhill Farm

Wilf Thust has been working on ideas for exhibiting and teaching at Underhill Farm as part of the Underhill Farm Art and Wild Craft Fair in May. He’s just sent us the following:

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I offer to work with branches,
you might say with tree structures or with sticks
or simply with lines.
This involves drawing and planning but more so the working and thinking in
three dimensions.
The outcome is very open and unforeseeable.
I will exhibit parts of my WOODLINE as shown in the photos of the border of
our garden. This only acts as an inspiration.

Wilf is going to try and make our Sketching Day out in Llanymynech on March 17th

9657477-the-background-of-textured-of-wicker-basketry-light-yellow-colour-closeupThe Underhill Farm Art & Wild Craft Fair happening the first Bank Holiday in May (4,5,6) is now up as an “event” on Facebook. If you’re on Facebook, head over to the page to say if you’re going, and to keep up to date with news and details.

Anyone interested in taking part in the event should come along to our Inside Out Sketching Day on March 17th – we’ll be visiting the farm at lunchtime and having a look around the inside and outside exhibition spaces. And don’t forget to be thinking about demos and taster courses you might be interested in running during the May weekend.

December Sketching Day

Llanymynech Rocks, via Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust at http://www.montwt.co.uk/rocks.html

Wrap up warm! Our next sketching day is next Sunday, Dec. 2nd, at Llanymynech Rocks, by Underhill Farm in Pant.

We’ll meet at 11am in the carpark at the end of Underhill Lane and head up to the quarry for the day. It’ll almost certainly be cold, so come prepared. Steve and Irene will have the kitchen open, so there will be hot drinks at Underhill Farm during the day.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Simply a line going for a walk

Saturday in Llanarmon D.C. – sunshine and sketching!

          “Drawing is simply a line going for a walk.”

                                                                          Paul Klee

What better way to make the most of a day of glorious sunshine, than to collectively heed Paul Klee’s advice and take our lines… for a walk?

From Llanarmon D.C. to Hendre Quarry is about 2 1/4 miles country walk through river-side forests, across little streams, over bridges and through cattle fields.

Starting from the Tithebarn Studios, where Diana was invigilating the Tithebarn Studios Group exhibition for Helfa Gelf, a small group of us walked from the centre of the village, up the hill leading out of the village past the Church of St. Garmon, with its Bronze Age burial mound and 2,000-year old yew trees. Leaving the road, we turned down the footpath that lead past the Old Ty Coch Barn, and through the bluebell woods of Coed Fedw. From the woods, the path lead through a sun-dappled pasture to a short lane leading to the village of Tregeiriog. Over the bridge to the other side of the River Ceiriog, then turning right at the bus shelter, we followed the road up the hill, past the Old Tregeiriog Cemetery, and down towards Pontricket Farm. There we left the road, following the tiny lane with its nine-foot high hedges on either side, back over the river, and up past Farthing Farm and into the quarry.

Hendre Quarry itself is a compact heritage landscape, full of old buildings, railway archaeology and evidence of the industries that once powered the Ceiriog valley. You follow the line of the old quarry tramway track down the hill to the entrance the quarry itself. The granite quarry is a truly impressive excavation into the hillside – totally hidden from view until you get down into it. From the quarry you can walk down past the crushing mill to the old gunpowder works, past the remains of the locomotive shed and the company offices. From the quarry, the Glyn Valley Tramway took the granite down to the Great Western Railway at Chirk and the Shropshire Union Canal at Gledrid (near where the roundabout is now).

Anyway, enough history – basically, this is all to hammer home that there’s tons of stuff to draw down at Hendre: ruined buildings, fantastic cliffs in the quarry, the rolling river with its ancient bridges – anything and everything an artist could wish for. Unfortunately, we’d started our walk a bit too late in the day to spend too much time at there this time – but we did have at least enough time to take some photos and some notes – and plan our return.

Anyone else fancy a day at Hendre Quarry before the summer vanishes completely? I’m happy to lead another walk down there – perhaps this time starting from Pandy (by Jan’s studio) so that we can spend more of our time sketching and painting. Now that we’re planning our “Ceiriog” exhibition at The Hand, it would give people interested in hanging works a chance to spend a day getting inspiration.

Great notebook meeting

Sketchbook – Mattias Adolfsson via behance.net

Nice relaxed notebook meeting this afternoon at The Willow. We took up a sunny set of sofas all afternoon, and it seemed like we managed to talk about almost everything – from tattoos to Peter Blake, from limited(?) edition prints to artists’ trading cards.

A laundry list of information to pass around to everyone this month:

  • Clive Wilson is now a trustee at The Qube, and would like to collect suggestions from all us Inside Out artists to pass onto the board. How could the Qube serve local artists better? What do we think about the exhibition space(s) at The Qube? What about the events they organise? Anything they could do better/differently?
  • Any ideas, pass them along to us via comment here and we’ll send them Clive’s way – or, Diana will be sending out a round-robin email as well.
  • Also, Jenny’s got a piece in the Qube’s Open Art Exhibition. They go on display Sept. 14th, so go along and catch the show – and vote for Jenny for the People’s Choice Award!
  • Speaking of exhibitions, Chloe’s fantastic portraits and landscapes are still up in the The Griffon on Albion Hill until the end of next week.
  • Still on the subject of exhibitions, after conversations with Martin and Gaynor at The Hand in Llanarmon D.C., we’re going to start “theming’ our hangings in the hotel Dining Room. We’re hoping that choosing local and regional themes will help boost sales and make the hangings seem more focused and coherent. For October through December, our theme will be “Ceiriog” – the river, the valley, the poet: interpret the theme as you wish. If anyone’s interested, drop your work by my studio in the Cambrian Buildings, or treat yourself to a trip down to Llanarmon and leave it with Diana in her Glandwr Studio. We’ll be selecting work at the end of September and we’ll discuss themes for 2013 next month too.
  • If you do fancy coming down to Llanarmon, this coming Saturday would be a good day: it’s the start of Helfa Gelf this coming weekend, and Diana, Rosie Davies and Rob Davies are exhibiting as the Thithebarn Studio Group in Llanarmon. So, to help kick the Helfa Gelf season off, we’re having a Sketching Day, this Saturday, Sept. 8th in Llanarmon D.C. Meet up at the Tithebarn Studios or The Hand at 11am. We’ll sketch in the Tithebarn gardens, plus we’ll venture up to the old barn below Ty Coch above the village.
  • And while you’re deciding on what to do this weekend, don’t forget that the Heritage Open Day events are happening all around Oswestry. Special shout out for the film showing of “Decasia” in the Llanymynech Lime Kilns on Sunday afternoon, and the exhibition of Neil Phillips’ 366 tee-shirts in Hermon Chapel in Oswestry. Plenty of other stuff happening all weekend – in fact, from tomorrow onwards.
  • Also open this weekend will be Underhill Farm in Pant. Steve and Irene are looking for artists interested in running workshops and courses at the farm. Stop by and have a word with them and have a look around their great set-up. They’ve got some really nice converted buildings perfect for a wide range of art and craft working/teaching. If you miss this weekend’s open day, we’ll be organising a winter sketching day down there at some point either before Christmas or in the New Year.

That’s it until next month. If we don’t see you at a sketching day or something through September, see you at our next Notebook Meeting at The Willow on the first Wednesday of October!

Show Yourself

“Fleece Navidad” – Mona Majorowicz. Mona’s an American artist who does fantastically colourful portraits of farm animals. Her website’s well worth a visit: http://www.wildfacesgallery.com

What: Inside Out at Oswestry Show

When: Saturday, August 4th

The Inside Out Art Group has been offered some exhibition space at this year’s Oswestry Show, thanks to Louise Hudson at D.R.E. & Co. Accountants, Lower Brook St., Oswestry. We will be setting up a small selection of works, a couple of leaflet/postcard stands plus a video monitor with a slideshow next to their marquee.

This is a great opportunity for people to publicise their work. We’ve got a selection of (weatherproof) work ready, so all we need now from people is postcards and leaflets to put in the racks, plus images of your work to put in the slideshow. Slideshow images should be jpgs at least 1080 x 800 pixels (higher resolution welcome) of your work, of sketches, or of you at work. Please send no more than 10 images, as we want to give everyone a chance to have something in the slideshow. I need to have the images by July 25th – that gives you two weeks to make your selection and email them to me.

You can email the images to me or Diana, or leave a CD or memory stick at my studio in the Cambrian Studios Building. You can also drop off leaflets, postcards and flyers there as well, or bring them down to Llanarmon.

We’re also going to be holding a sketching day during the show on Saturday. Just turn up at the showgrounds (there’s a £3 entrance fee), find the Inside Out stall (look for the orange and blue balloons) and come and get an Inside Out Artists badge – this will entitle you to free tea and cake all day long (I’m kidding – it’s just to help publicise the group and get people heading over to our display!) I’ll have my camera attached to our video slideshow setup, so if you’re doing sketching throughout the day, I can take photographs of your drawings and put them immediately into the slideshow.

Look forward to seeing you all at the show!

Food for thought

Big Bo Peep – street performer, Oswestry Festival of Food and Drink.

Headed into Oswestry this lunchtime to catch the second day of the annual Oswestry Festival of Food and Drink. Got in around noon, just in time to sample everything the festival had to offer: vegetable samosas, turkish meatball pie, pork pie with leeks, Berriew cider, four different kinds of local blue cheeses and Stonehouse’s new Sunlander bitter. Bumped into loads of people, met some friends, picked up a few unexpected illustration jobs, and then sat with a glass of the Sunlander under the trees at the bottom of the Bailey and did a bit of people watching – and sketching.

There was a small crowd of kids with guitars playing to the crowds and a street performer that caught my eye: a woman dressed as little Bo Peep on stilts. Big Bo Peep? Anyway, she cut such a curious figure among the crowds that I felt like I just had to draw her. Does anyone know who she was? I half wondered if there were sheep on stilts wandering around the upper end of the Bailey!

I had such a good time drawing in the sunshine – it made me think: we should really have tried to organise a sketching day during the food festival. We talked back in March about doing some art on the streets in Oswestry – maybe next year’s food festival, or the Festival of the Word? I can’t help feeling that we’re missing a bit of a trick here. Perhaps we could get some of the students down from Glyndwr, too. Anyone got any interest in doing some festival street-art in 2013?

Sun and Sketching in Ruthin

Tea and sunshine in Ruthin.

Well, not all that much sketching, to be honest – we were all too confused by the big bright yellow thing in the sky! Who would have guessed that today would have turned out to be this nice?

Expecting the usual deluge, five of us headed up to Ruthin with a day planned that would keep us safely indoors, out of the cold and the pouring rain. However, the day did not go according to plan. Not at all. Suspicions that something might be wrong were first roused by the distinct lack of grey cloud overhead as we motored through Llangollen and over the Horseshoe Pass. Our worst fears were confirmed when we arrived at Ruthin Craft Centre and sat outside with teas and coffees, wondering what the increasingly blue, cloudless sky above portended. By the time we had finished wandering around two excellent exhibitions – Wendy Ramshaw’s gates and jewellery, and Richard La Trobe-Bateman’s bridges and chairs – not only was it not raining outside – it was bright and sunny… and warm. What was this? Was this the strange, unfamiliar thing we used to call… summer?

Undaunted by this unnerving turn of events, we boldly marched up through the centre of Ruthin to the Gaol – a quirky curiosity of a building: part social history time capsule, part architectural oddity. Inside and out, it was a treasure-trove of unusual and unexpected details, and we all spent two hours rambling through the museum and the yards, photographing, sketching, jotting notes. From there we wandered up the hill to the market cross, and then – at Julie’s suggestion – to Ruthin Castle for tea. The sun shone, the peacocks strutted on the lawn, and we braved the chaos of a wedding reception for tea, bara brith and welshcakes on the side lawn of the hotel.

If – distracted by the unexpected appearance of the sun and the warm weather – we ambled and looked rather than sketched and drew, it was all still in the pursuit of a fantastic day. Ruthin is well worth another Inside Out sketching visit – a visit this time to draw and paint the narrow lanes and half-timbered buildings, the Victorian County buildings and the green vista of the hills beyond the town, the rose-shrouded ruins of the Castle. And if the weather closes in on us then, there’s always the Craft Centre and the Gaol!

The Week in Sketches

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I’m a whole week late posting these sketches from our Sketching Day in Chester last Saturday. The weather was perfect, and the city’s so full of interesting things to draw it was a real wrench to leave. I spent most of my time drawing the gargoyles and finials on the cathedral  roofline (glad I brought my glasses), but also nipped down into the basement of Spudulike to draw the remains of the Roman hypocaust underneath the restaurant! After three, the rain started to mizzle down and I went to the Grosvenor Museum to see if I could draw some of the Roman gravestones in the gallery, but it was too full of kids and tour groups (it was a Saturday, after all), so I didn’t get a chance. But it’s well worth remembering the Grosvenor as a venue for a cold wet winter mid-week afternoon for some excellent sketching.

So then this Saturday (yesterday), Al “Design by Alex” Johnson and I went up to Llangollen for a day’s drawing and painting. Again, we had fantastic weather – the mist that was hanging over Shropshire in the morning burned out of the Dee valley by ten, and the sky didn’t have a cloud in it. Llangollen was bustling as ever, so we headed to the Llangollen Railway station to see what was going on there. We drew from the station platform for about an hour and then were invited by one of the volunteer conductors to go to the work shed and draw in there. We introduced ourselves to Roger, the weekend foreman, who very kindly showed us the shed and left us to it for the rest of the morning.

The work shed is vast – and absolutely stuffed full of locomotives in various stages of repair and construction. They Llangollen Railway work shop turns out to be Llangollen’s second-largest employer, and has a full-time engineering staff of twelve. They’re actually building two completely new steam locomotives there, one of which – named the “Unknown Warrior” – will be on the rails for the 2018 centenary of the Armistice.

Anyway, there was tons of stuff to draw – engines in various stages of coming together and being taken apart, piles of huge tools and parts, lines of wheels, buckets of rivets, you name it. We had an absolutely fantastic morning, and broke for lunch – eating butties and lamb oggies sitting out on the rocks in the middle of the River Dee itself with a view down towards the Llangollen bridge. Quite frankly, a point of view that beats even the terrace of the Cornmill!

We went back to the work shed after lunch, and met up with Roger again, who this time said: “You do know there’s a yard as well?” So then he showed us the yard – another huge space beyond the work shed filled with wagons, carriages, diesel and steam engines out on tracks, either waiting to be worked on or waiting to head down onto the main track for one of the weekend runs.

Again, there was almost too much to draw – but we managed to fill up the rest of the day drawing and painting to our hearts’ content.

I cannot recommend the Llangollen work shed and yard to anyone who has a chance to get up there. Doesn’t matter whether you’re drawing, painting or taking photographs, the shed and yard is a huge source of inspiration. And if you’re not a train-y person, don’t let the train-iness of it all put you off: there’s just a ton of stuff to look at: buildings, textures, nature vs. man-made, shiny new vs. decay, people working, visitors to the railway, etc. etc. etc. It reminds me very much of the reasons why Diana and I suggested “The Way” project last year, and actually revived my interest in all those ideas once more.

Huge thanks must go to Roger the volunteer foreman, the workshed engineers, the station conductors and all the staff at the Llangollen Railway for being so enthusiastic and accommodating. They didn’t bat an eyelid when we asked if we could do some sketching there, and went out of their way to suggest places we might find interesting and arrange access.

If you do go up yourself, introduce yourself to the station conductors first, and see if it’s possible to get to the work sheds: if they’re having a particularly busy day, or if there’s a special event on (there’s a big steam/car/train thing at the end of April for example), they warned us that it might not be convenient or possible to sketch in the sheds. Also, while weekends are usually fairly quiet at the sheds, they sometimes have jobs on that need to be finished, and they said they wouldn’t want people wandering around while they’re welding or moving rolling stock around in the yard. So do check with the conductors and the workshed foreman first. Also, they ask that if you’re planning to use any of the images commercially, that you check with their office first.

No question about it: the Llangollen work shed and yard definitely goes straight into the Inside Out “Top 10 Sketching Venues” list! Al and I will be going back there again as soon as we can – maybe we’ll see you there!

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