The highlight of these past months involves another SEAW member – Penny Newman, as well as me.

A little history

Penny and I met nearly twelve years ago on a painting course and instantly became firm friends. After becoming friends, we visited an SEAW exhibition and we both decided to apply to become members. Both of us love to paint outdoors and we both enjoy walking so it was not long before we were spending days out together and then holidays too, armed with boots and brushes.

Lockdown shock

The first lockdown, last year, was a shock to the system.  I could not go beyond my four walls, so I found myself painting every corner of my garden plus views from my garden.

When I did go out to enjoy my local walks, it didn’t feel right to stop and sketch. Although I did take photos, and used them to paint a map of the features of one of my regular routes.

Walking miles and brush miles

As soon as regulations eased and things felt safer, Penny and I started to meet up again. Our first get together was on Roudham Heath. It felt like the middle of nowhere and, although we walked several miles, I recall only meeting one dog walker all day. Through the year we have discovered so many new and lovely places off the beaten track and have had a lot of practice at painting trees! We’ve explored a lot of heathland and forest and a lot of the Peddars Way. It would be interesting to work out how many miles we walked in 2020.  I certainly have the fattest sketchbook ever for the year!

We were also lucky enough to manage a holiday in Derbyshire in the Summer for a whole week.  We rented a cottage, drove there, cooked at home, walked and painted and were very proud of the fact that apart from accommodation, petrol and groceries, we spent the sum total of £3 (on a car park).

I was particularly drawn to the variety of stiles in the fields around the villages. Sketching them as a series was great fun.

At the time of writing this article,  we are again, unable to meet and paint outside.  Fortunately, technology has been an amazing help.  Penny and I have continued our weekly meetings via Zoom and are sharing photos and memories of past painting holidays.

Left: This is us in 2016 at the top of Mam Tor in the Peak District on a breezy day in October. Right: Here we are on a gloriously sunny day. August 2020.

Following on from the latest holiday, I have been inspired to paint from some of my recent stile sketches.

I currently have six small pictures on the go.   I am not great at painting indoors, so find if I keep switching between paintings, I’m less tempted to rush one.

I can’t say it always works!

I hope this inspires readers to appreciate their walks during lockdown – how about sharing your favourite routes in an illustrated map?