Gallery of past work

Monday, 16 May 2016

Drawing Monday at Blakehill Farm Nature Reserve

Today was the second outing of our drawing group here in Wiltshire. We are planning (very informally) to meet once a month and each time to select a different venue in the area.

This time, in lovely warm spring sunshine, we went to BlakeHill Farm Nature Reserve near Cricklade. Following the unusual spring and the last 2 or 3 months of  unusually cold temperatures, there was unfortunately not as much growth in the meadows as we expected and the landscape was very green-dominant, However, we found a pleasant spot to sit and draw and produced several quick sketches of grasses and a large willow.

My plan for the afternoon was to experiment with some drawing equipment I've had for some time but which I've rarely used. I made several simple impressions of the grasses and drew the base of a large willow tree. With the predominance of green, this was an excellent opportunity to try out the range of greens available in each of the media (and to find them rather wanting in some cases!)

First of all, simple oil pastels ...

Then Cretacolour Aquastic water-soluble oil pastels that allowed me to wash over my drawing to produce an effect rather like watercolour. I felt that this lost some of the definition and spontaneity so I added some extra grass stalks with my sepia Pitt pen (rather too fine to show up well here).

For the last of these three, done in around two minutes, I used my Koh-I- Noor palette for increased strength of colour on a small study.

And lastly, I took a selection of drawing pencils (from B to 4B) and sketched the base of the large willow tree. 

This Nature Reserve is a former WW2 military airfield which is gradually being turned back into hay meadow and pasture. Hay is cut in July after the skylarks have nested and there is much work being done to return the meadows to wildlife rich habitat. As it says proudly on the website, 'On this one reserve, we are meeting more than 45% of the government's 10 year target for restoring hay meadow in England!'

It is a pleasant, if rather flat, expanse of grassland. It will be interesting to see how it develops as the haymeadow matures. On the notice board at the entrance was a chalk board onto which other visitors had written birds and other wildlife seen. I was delighted to see two mentions of a cuckoo. We haven't heard one of those here for a long, long time. It's good to know that they have been present in the area, even if in very reduced numbers. 


  1. un joli retour à la nature :))

    1. Merçi Elfi ... la nature verte en toutes ces nuances!

  2. What a great idea. And what lovely results you got. Bravo! And so exciting about the cuckoo! (You have inspired me to drag out some of my point in keeping them in 'museum-like' quality is there!!?? And, no excuses, I suppose one could find a spot simply at the bottom of one's garden....)

    1. We're a very small group of friends who know one another well so there is no self-consciousness about trying things out and having 'failures' so we can experiment happily.
      The bottom of the garden would certainly be a great place to start. The rest of our group have my garden sized up for a day of dodgy weather when shelter needs to be close at hand.


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