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Sketching in the Lake District

In the first of two articles, Ian Sidaway visits the Lake District to gather material for paintings. This month he reveals his travelling materials and sketching process

October in Cumbria can be a wet and dismal month, but on a recent trip the weather proved to be idyllic. Subject, frame of mind, pub choice – everything came together to give the perfect opportunity to fill (almost) a sketchbook full of drawings and another of watercolour sketches with ideas for future work.

The Lake District is one of those areas that has changed very little apart from the byways that were once tracks but are now often congested major roads linking the lakes and villages. But move away from the main roads, walk a short distance on any of the many paths and trails that run in all directions, and you are transported back in time, with only the occasional flash of brightly coloured all-weather wear or a designer dog, to bring you crashing back into the 21st century.

Autumn colours

It was late October and the foliage was turning from the dull tired greens of late summer into the bright gold, orange and deep cadmium yellows of autumn. The bracken on the fells and blankets of fallen leaves were the colour of copper and overhead bright, clear skies were dotted with slow moving cloud formations. The air smelt of the wood smoke that lay in long drifts through the trees in the valley bottoms, and the temperature was comfortable for walking for miles. The lakes were still, mirroring the surrounding hills, and surprisingly very few people were around; the roads were clear, all was calm.

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About The Artist

Be inspired to get out and about with your painting kit this summer with tips and advice on sketching and painting en plein air from top watercolour artists Amanda Hyatt, Geoff Hunt and Ian Sidaway. Jenny Wheatley shows how to use your location studies to create exciting compositions back at home, while in a the first of a new series Yael Maimon explains how to select the best format for a successful composition. Aldo Balding demonstrates how to paint a full-length portrait, Robert Brindley shows how to capture the spirit of Venice in watercolour, Barry Herniman reveals how to use acrylics the watercolour way. Plus we focus on the rules of painting, how to paint figures on the beach, learn from the painting style of Christopher Wood, how to choose the best colours for different skies, and how to cope with the challenge of working from poor photos. We've included plenty to inspire you this month, as well as information about what to see and do and competitions to enter with great prizes up for grabs!