In bloom

Our garden is looking flipping glorious right now. I love it when it suddenly bursts into flower. The lady who owned the house before us was obviously an incredible gardener because it’s basically wall to wall posy material.

I decided to trim these self-set aquilegias out of a hedge so I could actually see them. I shoved them haphazardly into a vase with some euphorbia and some other random bits and bobs and don’t they look beautiful? Yeah that cherry/thing/twig(?) looks a bit droopy but I love those colours.

While we were crawling about on the lawn, this Hawthorn shield bug introduced itself to us (that’s not my hand, btw. I have full sized hands). The lilac is full of them, they’re great. Have you ever had one land on you? BZZZzzz…Thwack! They’re so heavy and cumbersome, they’re ridiculous!

Other things that have happened this week and within the same colour scheme include meeting this fabulous tree, and purchasing some lovely new summer slippers. Mmm, snug.

And finally, the Bank Holiday this week means I’ve had time to sort out my printer settings, so prints and cards will be available very soon!

img_2917 copy
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Castles for Crows

Over owler tor

There’s something sublimely ethereal and satisfying about Autumn in the Peak District. To wander amongst the quiet and the heather and the stones, taking occasional shelter from the cold winds between the tors where the crows circle and caw-caw, while the clouds loom over, threatening to drench.

With my head fully recharged with imagery and daydreams of crow castles, I’ve been creating these illustrations in ProCreate (which is a great graphics app for the iPad if you’re in the market for one). I’ve got a few ideas for them, but if anyone happens to be writing some songs about crows or moorlands and needs some artwork for their album cover, please get in touch ;)

Tor with crows Tor with crows Moorland with crows

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

hueThe upland landscape of the Peak District National Park, with its dramatic grey tors, purple heathers and windswept greens, provides endless inspiration for me. When I’m not physically out there, breathing in its therapeutic air, I’m constantly revisiting it, often though the colours I surround myself with.

This post is a response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You
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The Week (Stanage Sketch)

Okay I was going to start writing a weekly blogpost of a Friday, informing you of all the Things That I Have Done, like anyone cares. But hey! Lucky for you, I’ve done b*gger all this week, just for a change. Not even anything remotely interesting. I was thinking earlier that I should probably try moving off the chair I have been sitting on for the last 48 hours and look away from the screen as my eyeballs are starting to fuse to it.

So, let’s see. I had a few days off work at the weekend, which was excellent. Again, I did nothing. But doing nothing on your days off is OK, right?

Oh, wait – on  Saturday I got itchy feet so went for a drive up to Stanage with the intention of going for a walk. However, it absolutely tipped it down with rain so I sat in the car with the window rolled down and drew for a bit. I saw curlews in flight and heard a sheep go baaa in it’s sleep. I then drove over to Hathersage and back, by which time the rain had eased off so went for a little walk over the moor. Someone had carved their initials into one of my favourite places which made me really sad, so I tried to uncarve it off, grr. Walked back through the woods, which haven’t been managed for the last 50 years, and now the council is trying to make up for it by clearing massive swathes of it. The result is sort of like a cross between Narnia and Glastonbury.

Snoring Sheep, before she fell asleep

We both had Monday off too, so we went to the cinema 3 times, THREE. We have these unlimited passes which means we can go to the cinema an UNLIMITED number of times (see what they did there) and *only* (ahem) pay £15 a month or something, which is great except if you only go three times in one day every 6 months (and you have to pay extra to see stuff in 3D as well, which is sort of cheeky), but anyway.

Oh, look so I did do something vaguely interesting. I don’t remember much about the films though, but let’s have a go:

  1. Green Lantern – Ryan Reynolds aka Maverick from Top Gun gets picked by a green blob of light to become an intergalactic spaceman who has the power to make anything from willpower, as long as it’s green.
  2. X-Men First Class – James McAvoy putting on a weird voice and touching his temples a lot. Explosions.
  3. Nandos – we had the chicken
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean 3?4? Who cares – Jack Sparrow, check. Some sort of quest for treasure, check. Lovejoy, check.
On the way to the cinema

Other stuff:

  • We went out for a lovely meal with my Dad for his beeday one night. Noms
  • I’ve started using Pinterest (click over there to follow me —–>)
  • I went to work, I rode on a bus, I listened to some Bright Eyes and some They Might Be Giants off of the 90s
  • I put *thumbs* on the bottom of my blog posts, look!
  • I noticed that the back of my shoes look like a surprised sloth:
<I still have this photo somewhere, let me know if you want to view it>
A bit more wrecking just for funs

Aaand that’s my week. What did you get up to? Anything nice?

Happy Father’s Day! Bryn Hughes

Not only is my pops a great Dad, he is also an incredibly talented artist. He’s currently down in That London reuniting and touring with “27 architects vintage Sheffield Uni 1963”, but to honour him on Father’s Day I’d like to share with you this interview, which was originally written in 2010 for UK Handmade Magazine.

MEET: Bryn Hughes

Please tell us what do you do and how you started

I draw and paint (in that order). I knew I was going to be an architect when I was just 10 years old, which is strange really since I was born in a small village in South Wales where my father was a coal miner and my mother a nurse.

After years of threatening to produce a sketchbook of buildings which inspire me to stop and look, the gift of a small box of watercolours from my eldest daughter in 2001 was the spark which led me to start sketching.

Were you taught to draw and paint?

I did Art at ‘A’ Level and a degree in Architecture but I was left to develop my own style, which was really good. The only formal advice I was given was how to put on an even watercolour wash over a large area and how to set up one and two point perspectives. I do love to buy books on watercolour techniques which I’m sure have influenced my style.

Tell us about how you work

I am always accompanied on my wanderings by my rucksack containing my box of watercolours, a 0.1 Pilot DR pen, sketchbook and a stool.

My personal technique is to sit facing a building and draw directly in pen, normally without pencil pre-drawing, onto rough A4 size watercolour paper. This method gives spontaneity since mistakes cannot be corrected and the adrenaline produced speeds up the whole process. Then, to keep the mood going at a fast pace, I immediately start watercolouring by painting in the dark windows. I find putting the first strokes of paint onto paper the scariest step so I always start in this way. I then continue with the rest of the watercolouring dropping in yellow ochre, ultramarine or magenta to give those “happy accidents” that mixing watercolour directly onto the paper can give. Working quickly and with a light touch gives a sense of immediacy and the best results.

What memorable responses have you have you had to your work?

The most memorable response was being invited by Buxton Museum & Art Gallery to give a one-man, seven-week long exhibition of my drawings. I will also never forget winning the Stephen Welsh Prize for Draughtsmanship at the University of Sheffield in 1965.

What is your favourite piece?

A fisherman’s cottage in Puerto Soller, Mallorca

What themes do you follow and where do you get your inspiration?

My usual subjects are frontages and facades of buildings. My draughtsman’s eye draws me into painting detail of shape, shadow and texture. I’m always amazed at how clever humankind is at creating buildings, works of art and works of use (I try not to dwell on its faults).

Favourite artists include Constable, Van Gogh, JMW Turner, John Singer Sergeant, Sturgeon, and the watercolourists John Blockley, David Bellamy, David Curtis and Nita Engle. I also just love the work of Ronald Searle and Quentin Blake. My favourite architects are Frank Lloyd Wright, James Stirling, C.R. Mackintosh, Peter Aldington and Richard Rogers. I admire the builders who work in all conditions to construct the edifices dreamt up by designers. I think modern architecture is going through a good period, designed by architects who are a small part of vast teams head by the accountants of modern construction – the quantity surveyors.

I’ve also recently discovered Urban Sketchers, which has inspired me to get out there and sketch, and I am really enjoying producing quick sketches on my new iPad.

Your work is extremely detailed – you must have a lot of patience. 

I think detail is a relative term. After practising mainly as an architectural draughtsman for the past 26 years, my work is not that detailed. I don’t have great patience – just a will of iron! My drawings nowadays are usually a fast sprint and not a marathon. The faster my pen moves the more satisfying the result.

What is your favourite or most inspirational place?

Venice. I would like to visit Seville/Cordoba area of Southern Spain. Castellon de la Plana (north of Valencia) is the place where I reinvented my drawing style in 2001, France has the most beautiful old villages but Spain has the colours.

You’ve just retired, congratulations! What are you excited about doing next?

Everything! I’m finally living my preferred lifestyle. Now I’ll have more time, I hope to use my weird imagination a bit more and increase my repertoire of artistic technique other than watercolours.

What’s your definition of the perfect day?

Waking up without the alarm clock, a quick burst of sketching/drawing, a speed walk or slow jog across the heather moors opposite our family home on the outskirts of Sheffield, then to end the day, a glass of red wine and meal with family and/or friends.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Don’t be an architect. But it was my ‘calling’ and I didn’t (still don’t) know any better!

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

My website

All images in this post Copyright Bryn Hughes