Durham Dales and Swaledales

Today was meant to be my first full day away from the office since March. Any such plans usually guarantee interruption by a client on the phone or a change in the weather. The latter dictated today’s proceedings and I was forced back indoors.

My recent ‘postcard’ project has been a stop-start affair. The handful of postcards I have managed to draw during short trips to the Durham Dales, have only demonstrated the need for a full day to explore and sketch.

Local farms have Swaledales as their fell stock and are a common subject, throughout my sketches – I now refer to the body of my work as such.

These hardy creatures are hefted to the land, meaning they know the limits of their grazing. Some of the lambs are sold, as store-lambs in the marts during autumn as there’s insufficient grazing available in the hills by late summer to bring the lambs into a finished condition. They are purchased by farmers with better land at lower attitudes and grown for meat production or breeding.

They endure some of the most inclement weather conditions in the country. I admire them for there diligence. My trick is to walk ahead and pause. After a few inquisitive minutes they resume feeding making good subjects.

If the conditions improve over the coming days, a walk up Cronkley Fell is on the cards

Swaledales

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20 Replies to “Durham Dales and Swaledales”

  1. I hope you get out and about soon. I was in Holwick last week. The local lambs were very playful – jumping on their mums and even running over cattle grids. The Strathmore Estate must breed tough ‘uns

  2. What I REALLY want to know though, is why don’t sheep shrink in the rain… 😉
    Another great sketch Keith, but isn’t it just typical how the weather always seems to mess with the odd occasions we should be out there making the best of it…

    1. The rain’s a cool wash, so the wool doesn’t shrink 🙂 Yes, it’s always the way with the weather. Today looks like a belter, but my window is now closed. Thanks again for your kind comments.

  3. I really am enjoying this postcard project and the swaledales are always a lovely subject. I do think they rather enjoy modeling for your pen and ink 😉 It really is a shame how the weather fails to cooperate… I hope it all clears up and you have some time to get out. I am looking forward to some cards of Cronkley Fell 🙂

    1. Well we have a lovely day today, but the children are off school on half-term, so no painting. Cronkley Fell is still down for Wednesday. Thanks again for your kind comments on my postcard project, I’ve even sold a few!

      1. Did you really! That is awesome. They’re so precious, if they were mine I’d have trouble selling them 🙂

  4. Keith, I love your sketch! For over 25 years I have read and reread the works of James Herriott. Your posts always remind of those books and the rugged, majestic country (and people) he describes.

  5. I love sheep. The ones in your sketch looked familiar and I wondered if they’re the ones that sometimes graze the local farmer’s pastures across the road from our house, but they’re not. Very pretty, Keith – I love your paintings and sketches. I hope you find the time that you want and need soon.

  6. You’re always so kind with your comments Val. I ‘m never sure if my posts make any sense other than to me. I’m often told my sketches don’t look like the real thing. I explain that it’s how I ‘think’ of the subject matter, rather than how I ‘see’ it. That could be an excuse for my limitations as an artist.

    1. Every artists sees and interprets their subjects differently. Very few people can understand the way an artist ‘sees’. Try not to worry about it, just do your own thing.

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