Travelling with a sketchbook in Berkshire…

Here’s a photo of me sketching out a particularly beautiful scene in Berkshire. What I do is I use a very light pencil to create a brief outline of the scene before me – this helps me understand the perspective of the scene and see how everything fits together. Once I understand how to translate the scene into a painting, I go ahead and start painting.

As you can see in the photo, I’m wearing a jacket. It was the classic case of unpredictable British weather. When I put my jacket on in the house it looked quite cloudy outside, but of course it turned out to be a nice, hot, sunny day! In fact it was such a nice day that my paints started drying too quickly even though I was using paint retarder, which I always use when painting in the studio – you couldn’t make it up!

I’m not the biggest fan of textured paper. It sometimes creates an effect where the texture of the paper actually pokes through the landscape. Other artists like it but I find it a bit distracting, so I use heavy weight (350gsm) white acrylic paper that has a smooth surface.

While I was painting, something quite unexpected happened. A woman walked by and recognised me. It turned out I’d asked her for directions in the very same place the previous year! I remembered asking her and I was surprised she remembered what I looked like. I’d been taking loads of photos of the landscape surrounding me. I later painted these scenes and sold them as Christmas cards that winter.

The part of Berkshire I was painting is a particular area that is really dear to me. It’s a hidden gem, really. It’s a bit off the beaten track as it’s hidden away from the main road. You feel like you’re deep in the countryside, even though you’re not. The thing I love the most about this particular place is that it just sums up the English countryside. It just has that quintessential English essence that is too appealing for me not to paint it! You can see some quaint, little cottages and I decided to paint them in a winter setting with snow everywhere. The finished painting looked like something out of A Christmas Carol.

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