We were at the beginning of my workshop painting in the Yorkshire Dales. We knew rain was forecast. We also knew we had two days of sunshiny conditions before the grey and drizzle set in. So although I really prefer to do a bit of prep work first, we grabbed hold of the two days of sunshine and got painting on location!
That’s the thing with plein air painting, you can’t control the weather! You can hope that the weather will be pleasant. You can plan. But on the day? You take what comes. I’ve had painting on location plans scuppered by a sudden storm. And get this, recently parts of Alberta, Canada had snow when it’s officially summer!
So you just never know!
Right, back to painting in the Yorkshire Dales.
We did indeed have two beautiful days at the start of our workshop!
On Day 1 we were at the incredibly beautiful Kilnsey Rock Trout Farm. (And while there, we discovered that the Crag was for sale. Two of our members were on Channel 5 news after being interviewed about it. You just never know what will happen when you paint en plein air!).
Day 2 took us to the fabulous Bolton Abbey, a stunning ruin overlooking the river.
As expected, the next day was overcast so we decided to paint close to home.
We headed down to paint the bridge over the River Wharfe just below the village of Grassington where we were based. Over the day, the view changed (of course!) but when we returned after lunch, the bridge was clearly reflected in the water! Wow.
Although the next day was a free day, we decided to take the non-raining opportunity before breakfast to paint at Linton Falls, just around the corner. I loved the commitment of some of my students. As it was a bit of a last minute decision, a couple of students didn’t receive the memo in time to join us.
The following day started with some glimpses of sunshine and although we knew that the forecast was for inclement weather, we were here to paint the Yorkshire Dales! So we pushed on and headed out to the wondrous Brimham Rocks, incredible formations created 100 million years ago, before the time of the dinosaurs!!
Some painting was managed but yup, eventually stormy dark clouds moved in and with them came the rain. We had no idea whether it would stop so decided to call it quits and head for the van and home to the hotel.
Finally, the next morning it was actually raining so we set up in the hotel dining room for a bit of instruction around thumbnails, the importance of pressure when it comes to pastel application, and the freedom that can come with doing colour studies!
That afternoon, as the rain had stopped, a few of us took a drive to Burnsall where we sketched by the river. And then we drove the backroads of the Yorkshire Dales back to our village.
Finally, on our last day, we ended with a glorious day of sunshine, perfect for our day outing to Five Rise Locks in Bingley. More than 200 years old, these locks are the steepest staircase of locks on the longest canal in the UK!
Watching the odd canal boat come and go was a pleasant distraction during painting time. I was happy that all my students stayed in the same place and that I didn’t have to go up and down the long, steep walking ramp! Mind you, with all the copious amounts of delicious food we ate, that might not have been a bad thing!
Painting in the Yorkshire Dales comes with unexpected weather. And all that adds to the experience of painting en plein air in this magnificent part of the UK. Mist and sunshine, grey clouds and clear skies, can all be part of the mix of painting here.
Always I remind students that painting on location is as much about the experience as it is about learning to see better, particularly values and colours and their relationships. The memories you have when looking at painting you’ve done en plein air are very different from those you have from a studio experience. You recall the sounds, smells, and all the things that happen, joyful or otherwise. Painting on location is about living and being in the environment fully.
As Jan Blencowe said, “To look, to see, to understand, to capture – however imperfectly – is to be part of the land in a way like no other.” And this is reason enough to get out and paint!
I hope this post will entice you to go painting in the Yorkshire Dales in spite of the unpredictable weather!! And, I also hope to see you on one of my upcoming painting holiday workshops. 😁
Until next time!