Much as I enjoy the city life that comes with the MSc I'm currently undertaking, I sure do miss the countryside. Over the past few weeks of university I was really craving a trip where I could be immersed in nature once again so after finishing my final assignments, I had a great day in Glen Clova at weekend. A lovely way to spend part of Easter Weekend. I had hoped to hike up to Loch Brandy while there but I hadn't envisaged the temperatures would be so low for April so didn't have my warm jacket up from Edinburgh. The 'feels like' temperature was below 0C and it felt like that at ground level, let alone at the summit! (Even after having lived in this country most of my life, I still fail to understand it's weather.) In absence of the hike, I had more time to paint which suited me fine. I hadn't painted for around two weeks and was feeling art withdrawal symptoms! 

Here are some of my photos and sketches from the trip. Since it was so cold, and raining at some points, all sketching and painting was done from the comfort of inside the car but I eagerly await warmer summer days when I can go again and paint outside. 

This was done by a lay by en route to Glen Clova, with the Glen seen in the distance. Just while parked here, the light on the hills changed so dramatically a number of times. The changing light in landscapes is always a challenge to capture and adds to the enjoyment of painting. Nothing ever stays the same, it's always changing. 

I tried to capture the hills while the sun was illuminating the heather growing on them. 
Met this wee fella while I was painting. It's a pheasant which is quite a popular bird in these areas. I don't think I've seen as many in one day as I did at the weekend, there was a lot. Maybe they were all out looking for Easter eggs early?! Here's a closer up picture but I only had my phone on me so you'll have to put up with a low-res digital zoom. 
They're quite stately birds. It's sad they're hunted for game. 


It's ironic that I took two paint sets with me thinking it'd mean I'd have a cerulean blue somewhere but my plan was to no avail as there was practically every shade but the one I wanted! This is why most of my paintings are lacking in sky...

Here's some evidence of the changeability of the weather... Heavy rain then sun, then thick fog, then sun again, then clouds, then rain... Aah Scotland, the country that just won't make up it's mind!




Taking a little wander...


I love the silhouettes made by sun shining through trees. 


Daffodils are such great symbols of Spring, new life, and Easter. Just look at how vibrantly yellow they are. 

This burger was definitely called for, I usually have it after working up an appetite from the hike up to Loch Brandy but this time I found I could polish it off just as well. It's all made with local produce and is delicious every time. 


After refueling, my stomach(!), I did one final painting before the sun disappeared behind the mountains.  




End of the day and the end of my sketchbook as no blank pages remained. 

Here's one final photo

Oh, and I should say that I still have four exams and a dissertation to go, so by no means am I free from academic stress yet! The trip to Glen Clova and Easter Sunday with family was a welcome break but revising and dissertation-ing will fill a lot of my time from now on so I'll post when I can but can't promise it'll be very regular.

If you'd like to see what I'm up to in the interim, you can follow me on Twitter: @HCRart, Instagram: @HCRart, and on Facebook, at, you've guessed it, @HCRart! 
                      Midterm trip 


In the midst of semester 2 of my MSc, I had a one week break from lectures the other week (though with an assignment due Friday of said week, it didn't feel like much of a break(!) Still, I managed a trip to one of my favourite parts of Scotland after turning in the assignment - yay! 

I had been missing sketching from real life as it's been so cold in Edinburgh lately so not really practical to sketch outdoors. But the great thing about road trips is they involve lovely warm 'moving studios' (haha) so I can retreat to the warmth of the car to paint what's in front of me when it gets too chilly. 

The weather truly was Scottish weather on the day I was there as there was sun, clear blue skies, dark clouds, sleet, sun again, and rain all in one day. Got to love the variety... 

Anyway, here are some snaps from the Glencoe part of the day. This part of Scotland would usually have more snow in it at this time of year but it's not been a good winter snow-wise. Nothing can take away from the beauty and magnificence of the area though, snow or no-snow, the scale is something that you can only experience if you are actually there. Photos can never do it justice, so I definitely encourage you to visit if you get the opportunity! More photos to follow when I get a chance. 





    "Office" for the afternoon // Artist's paradise  


A rare photo from the other side of the of the camera... 



P.S Feel free to follow my artistic pursuits on social media (don't worry, it's all art / nature - no food pics or selfies, I have another account for that, well food, not, selfies, selfies aren't my thing. Food, however, mmmm, I love it!) Intrigued? Get in touch and I'll give you the account info. 

Have a great day 

Instagram: @HCRart
Twitter: @HCRart
Facebook: @HCR.art 




Apologies for neglecting the blog, I relocated to Edinburgh to start a MSc in Psychology of Mental Health in Autumn last year and it's been a very fast-paced, jam-packed course so far so I've not been blogging. I have, nonetheless, still been keeping up my artistic practice as I don't think I'd be coping with university otherwise! Art is my calm-zone. 

The city is wonderful for sketching in as it's got a whole load of Georgian buildings in New Town, sprinklings of modern architecture, and, my favourite part, the Old Town. The sketch I'm showing in this post is from a super cool part of the Old Town. It's this curved, colourful, split-level street off the Grassmarket. This street was actually, I believe, to have been the inspiration for J.K. Rowling's Diagon Alley in her Harry Potter books. I did the sketch at the weekend from a photo I took during the week on a better day. The weather at the weekend was heavy rain, just like today's weather actually. It's wind and rain - the joys of being inside on a day like this! 

Anyway, this is one of my Saturday sketches. I'll try to post more regularly from now on but can't promise anything as the days, weeks, and months just got by here. And as clichéd as that sounds, they really do. 



Here's a photo I took of my painting on location once the rain had gone off! 

You can follow my artistic pursuits more regularly by looking for @HCRart on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook 

💜
HCR 



On the many days I’m not out and about travelling through Scotland in search of scenes and views to paint, I paint subjects nearer hand such as flowers and plants in the garden or trees from woodlands nearby. I also paint from the extensive collection of photos I’ve taken on previous trips. 


During this past week I created some rough sketches and layout for a piece of art I’ll be submitting to an art exhibition open call soon. The inspiration for that painting came from coins and yet the subject is actually flowers! I’ll explain more in another post, once that art is finished. (Currently waiting on an order of Bristol board to be delivered to create the final piece.) Anyway, another piece of art I did was a watercolour painting of a scene just south of the Spittal of Glenshee. 

I took a few photos and used them as reference photos for the rolling hills and fields that made up the subject of my painting. As I always, personally, enjoy seeing how other artists work - they’re process, stages and work in progress shots, I thought I’d create this post to show how my paintings start out and then how they end up, including the stages that come in between. 

A few years ago when I did art passionately but not so seriously, I’d spend ages trying to sketch out things perfectly in pencil, erasing plenty of lead as I did so, in my attempt to create the best possible initial image from which to start. This frequently (1) took a lot of time and (2) ruined the surface of the watercolour paper (you’ll know exactly what I mean if you’ve done it yourself!) Now, though, I only really ever sketch with waterproof, pigmented, fineliner pens of, usually, very small nib. This forces me to get it right the first time and if I make an error, I just have to go with it. After working in pen for a while, it’s amazing how much you can make what seems at first like an irreparable mistake into a completely insignificant part of your overall artwork. 

Here is my ink sketch for the landscape. I used a ‘XS’ Faber Castell art pen for this. I’m not too fussy about brands, though, I use Staedtler and Micron too frequently. 



After the initial outlines were created I started blocking in a couple of pale washes over the whole sheet then started to build layer upon layer once each wash dried. 

For the sky I used a small amount of scrunched up kitchen roll to take way some of the blue paint to leave ‘negative’ white clouds. Natural sponges also work well. The only problem with mine is that they are currently so well tidied away in my studio, I may have forgotten exactly where I tidied them too... Paper is also good to use if you accidentally put paint where you didn’t mean to or add colour and then realise it is far darker than you expected it to be; simply blot the wet paint away as quickly as possible. 


When building up the painting, I find its best to work with decreasing volumes of water for each layer to really help to bring out the vibrancy of the paints. This is in addition to reducing the size of brush as I go. I’ll use a really small ‘0000’ brush at the end for the finer details. 




For the record, the brush above isn't the tiny one, it's another brush I was using. I used 3 in total, that one, a medium sized flat brush and the tiny '0000' brush. 


think that’s about it for my process in painting this scene from near Glenshee. Here is the finished painting. 


Some tips for watercolour painting:

• Use small bits of kitchen roll or toilet paper to quickly soak up any stray paint on your painting 
• Don’t stress if you make a mistake, try and keep going 
• Keep the mixing water clean 
• Keep your palette closest to the area of painting on which you are working (this avoids paint dripping from a loaded brush before you reach the area you’re wanting to paint)
• To paint darker areas let the previously painted area dry completely

If you’ve enjoyed this post or would like to see more of my art in future, be sure to follow me on social media! You can find me on Twitter and Instagram if you search for @HCRart. 
You can also find me on FB:www.facebook.com/hcr.art

Helen 

HCRart

A couple of weekends ago, I had a wonderfully productive trip to Glenshee. I only visited Glenshee for the first time a couple of years ago despite the fact it is not too far from where I live. Yet, ever since my first visit I have been back a number of times and it never fails to impress me. It is so seasonally variant with the colours, textures, and scenes of the area transforming depending upon the time of year. Here are some summer scenes. 




And here is a snowy vista from earlier this year, around February, for contrast. 


This is my favourite view at Glenshee. You can see an acrylic painting I painted of this view last year if you look in the portfolio on my website (www.hcrart.com). 

I have many a photo taken there, some make up my inspiration board areas in my studio, but in this post I’ll mainly share with you the photos I took in June. I have intended doing watercolour sketching while there a few times but up until this last trip, I ended up not doing it; opting to stick with my fineliner pen sketches instead. 

It was great finally allowing myself to add colour while there. For me, as an artist, adding colour to paper is so much fun, I feel like a child discovering colour for the first time! The fact a watercolour pan can produce such wondrous colour with the addition of water gives me much pleasure and layering it on the paper with each brushstroke seeing a picture come to life is a great feeling! 


I decided to go up to Braemar first and then work my way back down the road painting scenes as I saw them. I usually work the other way around, but it is always good to switch things up and approach things from a fresh perspective. (Plus, Braemar had a shop for me to buy some lunch to eat in between paintings. Food is something often on my mind and it’s important to fuel my creativity with energy from tasty food!) The photo below is of the first scene I painted. It is a view up the valley in the direction of Braemar, not too far south of the village itself. All of my paintings were done using a Winsor & Newton travel watercolour set and Cass Art brushes though I forgot to take a large brush for the sky so that is why all the skies in my sketches are left blank - oops!  




During the painting of this second view (below) I was reminded of the challenges a glen can make when painting - the constantly changing shadows due to moving clouds and mountains of significant height! I tried to just apply the basic colours as quickly as possible to give some idea of the textures and hues of the landscape and I’m pretty satisfied with the outcome. 



While I was painting a wee fly decided he wanted to explore my paper landscape... But he quickly realised he didn't fit in and flew away!


This third painting was done a little further up the road and conveys another view facing down towards the Spittal of Glenshee. 


My final painting is of my aforementioned favourite view in Glenshee. As I arrived there and for the first little while of painting, the sun was in the perfect position to illluminate the vastness of the valley. It clouded over later but by that time I had added most of the colour.    
Here is the finished painting along with some of the work in progress photos to give you an idea of my artistic process. 






So, that was my little painting trip to Glenshee; I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of scenes from the journey. 

Also, I am busy this summer with getting paintings created, finished and sent to various exhibitions I’m participating in or hoping to participate in. If you’d like to keep up to date with details of these exhibitions, keep an eye on my social media pages:

Twitter: @HCRart
Facebook: /hcr.art
Instagram: @HCRart

Have a great day,
HCR 



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