Thursday, 9 June 2016

Anglesey 2016

What a lovely little break this painting holiday is!! 18 like minded people painting plein air on a beautiful island just off the coast of North Wales. Organised by the lovely Joanne Boon Thomas this isn't a tutored painting holiday, but a fun way to watch others paint, for Joanne to be able to relax and paint with her friends and for those of us who tend not to do much plein air an opportunity to practice some much needed skills and for some feedback from some of the best!!

As we did last time the very gloriously funny Polly Birchall and I travelled together and we have this rule that she has to be very nice to me for the whole trip as I am her passport back to England and she can be as rude as she likes once I drop her off in the car park for hubby to collect where I transfer responsibility back to him and somehow........ she seems to manage it!!

This little sketch was "guess who" on the first day when we arrived for drinkies at our hotel... I cut her head off actually on purpose, two reasons, faces are hard to paint and I'd seen enough of her cheeky face all day!! Ooops sorry Polly!!

We arrived at the lovely little village of Moelfre mid morning and went straight for refreshments and bacon sarnies and then made out way onto the beach. The weather at this point was lovely and held for a couple of hours and I decided to do some little rock sketches as I remember that was where I struggled last time. This was my favourite and I used the colour scheme later in the holiday too

The weather then really turned. with thunder and lightening so we simply had to retreat to the pub, nothing else for it but not before I did a very quick sketch trying to capture the stormy atmosphere

 Joanne dressed for the weather!!

The plan for the following day was a stop at the cottages in Church Bay, North of the Island moving on to Camaes Bay so after a hearty breakfast Polly and I set off with our trusty easels and made our way there. They are a painters dream and Joanne wanted to paint some dilapidated cottages which I must say I also had my eye on but I was also interested in a shack which were conveniences at one time and I started there..

The shed was both corrugated iron and wood and I tried to capture some of the textures and the ramshackle nature of it.

I then moved on to the cottages and as Joanne was finishing her painting and I set  up behind her giving her a fright when she turned round!! This was my favourite painting of the whole time and I used the palette similar to the one for the rocks as I liked it and think it worked well.

We then moved to Camaes Bay where I have been before. the weather here was warm but dull so not unpleasant painting conditions in fact quite good for painting. One reason for painting in Camaes Bay would be the boats and Joanne did an interesting painting where she decided to paint a dark dramatic sky with just a couple of boats. I was a bit overwhelmed by all the vessels sitting in the harbour and couldn't see just where I was going to make a painting so decide to have a walk round and see if there was any other inspiration. I took lots of photos and certainly have enough material if I ever wanted to run a session on how to paint boats and eventually set up in the harbour and did some boat studies...I drew a few and then lost where they were as the tide was going out quite rapidly (this was a problem I had last time at Red Wharf Bay... I spent so long on the bg, the tide had gone out before I could paint the boat and reflections... you might think I would have learned!!)

Anyway these are my little studies

A very useful exercise to observe the reflections in real life.

Our last day was a new venue to the group...the Hidden Gardens and what a find that was... so many painting opportunities we were spoiled for choice. Organising a trip like this needs careful consideration, things like access, loos, refreshments etc and Joanne makes sure that everyones' needs are met at all the venues she chooses, so a lot of work and effort behind the scenes to make sure the holiday runs smoothly and everyone can make the best of the opportunities.

Joanne had her eye on a wonderful cottage in the grounds but I had spied a waterfall in the leaflet and really wanted to find that. I wandered down through the gardens and came across it but it wasn't a very suitable place to paint, it was a little too far away but I managed to get some photos then clambered over some rocks to get some a bit closer so a good opportunity and with a bit of artistic license the waterfall was as near to what I have been looking to paint as I think I could find.

In the meantime I had spotted a large house behind the garden wall... lots of difficult perspective lines etc but I quite fancied having a go at it so this is a WIP and I will probably complete over the next few days

I think this image has some potential and I may well try again from the photo as it is a challenge trying to get all the roof lines correct and this was a quick drawing with a few wonky bits!! At one time I avoided anything which was difficult to draw, not because I couldn't draw it but because the minute I added the paint I would ruin it then have to start drawing again!! Thankfully those days seem behind me now and I do feel I have gained a lot from my plein air experience this year and am beginning to get a feel for it. I know Joanne does a lot of sketching in charcoal and ink, it really helps sort out a lot of problems before the painting and to then work from the sketches is the next best thing to working plein air and something I would also much prefer to do... my problem is the same old one, all I want to do is paint and I know she would be tearing her hair (or her) out with me reading this so I might have to make it a bit of a mid year resolution and try to do a bit more sketching!! Polly does a lot of Sketching with the Liverpool Urban Sketchers and is loving every minute in fact is preferring it to full painting at the moment... check out Polly's blog as she may also do a review of our time on Anglesey.

Ps What have I learned about painting en plein air this time? Well, the main thing is not to be a slave to the scene before you....we say it about photos why not about the scene in front of you so I tried to be a bit more adventurous with colour, moved a few bits and pieces, omitted lots (that one is really important) and to do more sketching.....


  1. What an interesting and entertaining blog. Reading it really brought the memories back. You have told the story really well. You have certainly improved your plein air work since our first Anglesey holiday 2 years ago. The ones you have done look really impressive when seen together, you must be very pleased. It's nice that I don't have to be pleasant with you anymore!!! But I won't be too nasty in case we go again. xx

    1. Best behaviour then Polly!! Yes I am pleased as I feel I have made progress this year.....I only liked one I did last trip, here's to the next adventure!!

  2. Great blog Judith. Sounds like a good time. Loved all of your sketches/paintings but especially loved the house behind the garden wall...just as it is.

  3. Great blog Judith. Sounds like a good time. Loved all of your sketches/paintings but especially loved the house behind the garden wall...just as it is.

  4. Loved reading about your painting holiday, especially since you were with Joanne (who I've followed for eons) and Polly who I also follow. Wonderful places to sketch and paint, and lovely results!

  5. I too love your blog!! Sounds like it was a blast!!


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