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.
I 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.
I 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!
I 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.
I 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).
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.
Confidence 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