Sketches from Devon and Cornwall

Joel and I spent two weeks in the Devon and Cornwall area of England recently. We had excellent weather for plein air sketching. Words can’t describe how inspiring I find the landscape in those parts. Lovely! That’s all I can say. I especially love Dartmoor National Park.

These sketches are available as prints in my Etsy shop.

This is a view of Dittisham, in the south of Devon. We took a tiny “ferry” boat to go over to Greenway from here (Agatha Christie’s summer home). I highly recommend the experience to everyone. It was a beautiful day, ideal for sketching. I was sitting in the churchyard while sketching this.

While in Devon, we stayed in Dartmoor National Park near Dunsford. We sketched this house, name the Olde Court Farm in Dunsford. The owners informed us the house is over 700 years old! That is madness to my Canadian ears. The owners were such lovely people, they served us mint tea (from her garden) and delicious cake while we were sketching! It does not get better than that.

Our AirBnB was across from the Teign River and these old stepping stones (the Old Stables on AirBnB, check it out). We decided to paint them one day. It was very relaxing to wake up to the sounds of running water. You could cross the stones to get to a network of walking paths on the other side.

This was sketched on a drizzly day in Lustleigh, in the Dartmoor Park. I like how much the cottage is leaning (not an exaggeration, I measured). I like what the rain did to the sky and pavement part of the sketch. There is a fantastic tea room next door, The Primrose Tea Room, where I had one of the best afternoon teas of my life.

This is a view from the harbour of Porthoustock in Cornwall. We started drawing this at around 7pm so it was pretty quiet there. Of all my sketches with boats in them, this is the only one that turned out. I’ve since given up drawing boats and put them in the same category as drawing cars, i.e. unpleasant things to draw.

Ah, the Tin Coast in Cornwall. Another great day for sketching. If you’ve watched Poldark like I have (and are mildly obsessed with it) then you will recognize these chimneys. They are all over the coast in this area of Cornwall. This was at the Levant Mine complex, an old tin mine ruin.

 

 

Plein air sketches from Ireland

Joel and I are back from a 3-week trip to Ireland. We rented a car and drove around the country as far north as Co. Sligo but didn’t have time to make it to Northern Ireland (there is a LOT to see in Ireland). It was fabulous! We saw and did so many things I can’t quite remember it all. When Joel and I roadtrip, we roadtrip hard. We had beautiful weather, a heat wave in fact, and only two days of rain…so it was perfect for sketching!

I feel like I need to say this somewhere and since I’m not active on social media, I’ll say it here: please don’t go on bus tours. Ireland’s tiny roads are literally clogged with massive tour buses who are dropping thousands people off at sites, turning them into circuses. Those sites are not meant to accommodate that many people at the same time. Go on a small tour with a van-full of people…not a giant tour bus. Or better yet, rent a car! You get a much more authentic experience than the pre-packaged tours. Driving on the other side of the road is not that hard, you get used to it.

And now on to the sketches:

The Superintendent’s Lodge in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Our first sketch of the trip.

The round tower at Glendalough Monastery in Co. Wicklow. There are hundreds of these thousand-year-old towers all around Ireland, many of them still standing like this one. You can’t go in because the door is 10 ft from the ground, so they would have needed a ladder to get in. Fun fact, I lost my nose ring in the long grass while sketching this (don’t ask).

Blarney Castle, Co. Cork. Jam-packed with American tourists, but worth seeing nonetheless. It’s a very picturesque ruin and the gardens are amazing.

Poulnabrone Dolmen in the Burren. I realized as I was sketching this that I’ve drawn it before…from a photo that my mother took on her trip to Ireland. Turns out it was the same dolmen. Hah.

The wreck of the Plassey on Innisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands. This massive ship was wrecked in the early 1960s and was washed ashore where it’s been deteriorating ever since. Joel and I sought it out because it was featured as an aerial view in the intro to Father Ted, one of my favourite tv shows.

We thought “we can’t leave Ireland without drawing one the famine cottages”. Most famine cottages are either in ruins or have been converted to animal enclosures; this one was being used as a shed. It was located on the road towards the Rosserk Priory in Co. Mayo.

I love this building so much. It used to be an Edwardian bathhouse that specialized in seaweed baths, but was abandoned 40 years ago because the tide was encroaching. I love that it was built to look like a sandcastle. Not to worry though, if you want a seaweed bath you can visit Enniskillen Bathhouse up the road in Enniscrone, another Edwardian-era bathhouse still in operation. Joel and I tried a seaweed and steam bath there and it is definitely an experience.

Sketches from Scotland

Joel and I recently returned from spending 3 weeks in Scotland. We saw many castles, mazes, big houses, puffins, weird and awesome landscapes, glens, highlands, rode horses, experienced volatile weather and rain. So. Much. Rain. Which is not at all conducive to outdoor sketching! Prior to our departure Joel and I had said we were going to sketch on this trip like it was our job; every other day. But due to rain, generally cold weather and midges (biting insects) we only managed half a dozen sketches! It was difficult to get a two-hour window without any of the aforementioned things to sit down and sketch.

I love how moody the landscape is in Scotland. I took many reference photos which you might see popping up in my work later on this year.

Here’s what we came up with:

scotland1_web

Doune Castle, where Monty Python & the Holy Grail and scenes from Outlander were filmed. A nice example of a restored 13th-century castle.

scotland2_web

Random house, just outside Pitlochrie.

scotland3_web

Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness. I’d say skip this one if you’re not into ruins crawling with tourists. We were told not to sit on the grass here…which did not please me.

 

scotland4_web

Lovely Tudor building in Peebles, in the Borders.

scotland5_web

The kitchen at Glaschoille House, in the Knoydart Peninsula. We were waiting to go back to the mainland after two days on horseback and had an hour to kill. Midges prevented me from sketching outdoors so here is the one and only indoor plein air sketch!

 

 

 

Sketches of Wales

I went to the UK when I had just graduated from high school in 2001 and have always wanted to return, so Joel and I decided this year to take a trip back there. We focused mainly on Wales (with a little Devon thrown in) and basically did a roadtrip around it.

I loved, loved, loved it.

There was endless inspiration for plein air sketching, and the only things standing in our way from sketching all day were a) time (we packed our itinerary) and b) weather (cold and sunny, a couple days of rain). We saw castles, manor houses, cliffs, moors, countless english gardens, B&Bs, sheep, sheep and more sheep, ponies, seaside villages, rolling hills, mountains, ancient forests, ancient towns, really ancient ruins (Roman ruins), amazing Victorian décor…the list goes on. I drank too much beer and had too many scones and am now vowing to find clotted (or Devonshire) cream in this part of the world so I can have  a “cream tea” at home (look it up).

If you are interested in seeing Joel’s- and you should be – head over to his blog

Thatched cottage and windy road near Chagford, in Dartmoor National Park

Chantal sketching

Ruins of Skenfrith Castle, Wales.

The beautiful village of Beddgelert, in northern Wales.

The view of Beddgelert we were sketching

Seaside village of Porthgain, Wales