GUEST ARTIST: Life Beyond Retirement

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of honeysuckle of Marches Country Lady

Hi, this is Marches Country Lady and it’s great to be talking to you and thank you to Charlie for giving me the opportunity to share this (visit my website here!). I guess I’m what people would term a hobby painter. I am a wife and grandmother living in the UK; on the border between England and Wales.

Doodlewash and watercolor painting by Marches Country Lady of flower and leaves first attemptI had not really picked up a pencil or paintbrush since leaving school nearly fifty years ago, but saw impending retirement from a busy job as a chance to do some stuff for “me”. As a child, I had always loved drawing and painting and, about a year before the due retirement date, I enrolled in a 2 day Botanical Painting course; something I had always liked the idea of and that was on my “bucket list”.

The tutor was a very enthusiastic teacher called Debbie De Vauden and that was it – I was hooked. I now do painting or sketching most days; anything and everything, but my first love is plants, wild and garden, and the wildlife and countryside around us. You can see the progression from the pink drooping shrub flower, done at that first weekend taster course, to my more recently executed pictures.

Doodlewash and watercolor painting by Marches Country Lady of Bee and flowersI have a very eclectic range of interests and a bit like a butterfly flit from one thing to another as the moment takes me and with watercolour have yet to settle on “a style”. I have dabbled with inks, gouache and wash and experiment all the time while on this “journey of discovery.” But my sketchbook, pencil and Winsor & Newton pocket paintbox are pretty well always to hand and are the great fall back position, especially when on the move. My “obsession” means I am looking forward to participating in World Watercolor Month during July. Roll on the challenge!

Doodlewash and watercolor painting by Marches Country Lady of view of brook, creekI keep various sketchbooks for different subjects. I have a beautiful Moleskine watercolour journal, given to me by my daughter, which is dedicated to “holiday sketches” like that of a stream recently executed on a walking weekend in Snowdonia. These pictures have far more meaning to me then a photograph of the same scene.

For my finished paintings I like to use the Goldline cold pressed studio water colour 200gsm paper; it has a nice smooth finish. But, for practice, reference pieces and quick sketching I will use any reasonable watercolour paper of at least 200gsm.

Doodlewash and watercolor of rhododendron by Marches Country LadyI have found my most satisfying botanical pictures start with a pencil sketch, to get the basic shape. I then go over that with waterproof fine line pen. My fine Pentel 0.05 is my usual choice. Then, gradually I build up the layers of watercolour. Wet on dry. Not wet in wet for this more exacting style of work. Good sable or sable/synthetic brushes are essential.

For quick sketches and illustrations I will use a looser style usually with the lightest of pencil sketches as a guide. I struggle with my eyesight (one of the joys of getting older!) and have bought a daylight bulb for the lamp by my desk which is a great help on darker days. I prefer to paint from life, from a specimen, but as this is not always possible and I will often resort to photos for reference or for inspiration on a winter evening.

After about a year of sticking paintings, drawing and sketchbooks into a box the question came of what to do with all this “art”, and I hit on the idea of a blog. I envisaged a modern version of Edith Holden’s “Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady”. (I hold great admiration for the amateur naturalist painters of the Victorian and Edwardian eras – for their skill in observation and recording).

Doodlewash and watercolor sketch of bird by Marches Country Lady

I hoped my journal would give people a bit of a giggle, but also engage them with the country living which is very important to me and which, I feel, has become distanced from the modern, urban way of life. Hence was born, “country garden illustrations” where you can follow the highs and lows of rural life, illustrated with my sketches and anecdotes.

Doodlewash and watercolor painting by Marches Country Lady of bunny cutouts and table with cakesConfidence in my work has come on leaps and bounds and I have had fun along the way. I now make most of my own greeting cards, I had my own design “BlueTit” Christmas cards professionally printed last year and I have had things like shopping bags made up to my design as gifts. Recently, I illustrated, wrote and self-published a little story book for my baby granddaughter about her favourite toy rabbit. Great fun!

Keep on keeping on…

Marches Country Lady

Join us for World Watercolor Month in July! Click here to learn more! 

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Featured Artists
  1. richardjh3 6 years ago

    I think you have displayed some wonderful pieces of art. Thanks for sharing. I also loved your story of how you got back into art after you have retired. Keep up the good work.

  2. memadtwo 6 years ago

    Wonderful work. I love the variety. I especially like the landscape with the stream. (K)

  3. quinn 6 years ago

    If that flower was your *first* attempt, I can see why you were inspired to keep on – beautiful!

  4. Melanie Clark Dorsey 6 years ago

    I’m checking out your blog! What a beautiful first attempt! I also love the stream.

  5. Yukari 6 years ago

    Beautiful pieces! Love the subtle colors and gentle brushstrokes. 😊

  6. M. L. Kappa 6 years ago

    Lovely work! Where are you posting for the worldwatercolormonth challenge?

  7. ann christina 6 years ago

    Wonderful paintings, so delicate and full of detail! 🌸💕

  8. marchescountrylady 6 years ago

    Thank you Ann, wc painting is great therapy!

  9. Cathe 6 years ago

    Wow I love your work and perspective on retirement! A breath of fresh air, elegant and rich! Thank you for sharing.

  10. marchescountrylady 6 years ago

    Thanks. Just look on it as the start of new chapter …… gone the days when granny sat by the fire to knit!

  11. Susan Feniak 6 years ago

    Beautiful art! Who says life ends at retirement? 😉 Thank you for sharing Charlie.

  12. Ellie 6 years ago

    Wonderful paintings! Thanks for sharing them!

  13. anna warren portfolio 6 years ago

    You had me with the honeysuckle! Lovely work. Its not retirement, a new career!

  14. artandmoondreams 6 years ago

    Beautiful paintings, love the transformation from one phase of life into another full of beauty and discovery. The botanical paintings are wonderful and the Blue Tit portrait is stunning. Great feature post, thank you for sharing.

  15. Jen 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your art and your story!

  16. jmnowak 6 years ago

    Love the whimsy of the greeting card…hope you do more of it. Beautiful work. Now following!

  17. Sandra Strait 4 years ago

    Your paintings are marvelous! Thank you for sharing your art and artistic process with us.

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