Sketching at Bolam Lake, Northumberland

28 Jun 2018

It's been almost a month since we came home from our Portugal holiday. After finding my new sketching style, and becoming a little more confident in front of people, I had made a resolution to get out more and do more sketching. I did so for the first time today! It's been glorious these past few days and today was no exception.

I had a hair appointment, and from there I drove up to Bolam Lake in Northumberland. I took my watercolour sketch kit and a sketch pad as well in case I wanted to do any pencil sketches. I did a couple of sketches of the swans in pencil but I am learning that I prefer sketching in pen. I don't like the way the pencil gets blunt so quickly.

The first spot I picked was in the shade which was lovely on the heat front...but I wish I'd had some insect repellent. I felt like I was being bitten constantly. I was also using the perch stool for the first time. A little tricky to juggle the watercolours without having a table. I then walked round, along the boardwalk to the pheasant field. There were two people sitting on a bench under an interestingly shaped tree so I sat on the grass and started to draw. Fortunately I captured them first, as they left shortly after. It was scorchingly hot in the sun and I was very aware that I hadn't thought of putting any sun cream on! I had my floppy hat on though.

It does only take me about 20 minutes to complete a sketch so I removed myself to a bench in the shade further back in the field. I was just dating my two sketches when a lady came across the field up to me. She asked if I was drawing and explained that the bench was dedicated to her late sister. We chatted a bit and I showed her my pictures. I offered to move but she was happy to leave me be. When she had gone, I read the plaque again. Jackie Trout 1972-2017 She was born the same year as my brother-in-law.

I had my lunch and decided to sketch the view from the bench. I've called this "Jackie's View" and I'd like to maybe go back and paint a larger watercolour of the scene. I know for certain that I'll always think of Jackie and her sister when I visit, even though I don't know either of them.

So onward round the lake, I sketched another swan in pencil. Then I came round to the part which has been fenced off for years due to some biological disease. I noticed that the fences were down and it was accesible again. I went down to what must have been an old boat launch and painted across the water, looking at some trees jutting out. This was a very quick sketch as I was in full sun again and it was scorching! When I got back into the car, the temperature gauge said 27º!

A thoroughly enjoyable and peaceful few hours spent and I'm sure I'll make a couple of paintings from the sketches.


I’m one of Jackie’s friends (or Jax as we knew her). I haven’t managed to visit her bench yet so it’s lovely to see your picture of the view from it. I know her sister has already purchased a painting, I hope you have another or a print of it available.

Hi Mary, so glad that I could give you an idea of what the view looks like. It's extremely peaceful and lovely in the shade on a day as hot as it was that day! I believe you subscribed to my newsletter so I'll email you about a print. Gillian.


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