Latest from Cumbria - a walk from Seaththwaite, via Stockley bridge to Styhead Tarn and Sprinkling Tarn before returning via Grains Gill

Before heading to the main subject... while I was having breakfast (alongside Ullswater) two red squirrels ran at full speed along the top of the stone wall - amazing how something different instantly catches the eye - even though I've seen them before - not having the correct camera/lens at hand, also being in a bag, not switched on etc didn't help so was grateful to have got what I did... sadly many people that visit the Lake District never see these wonderful animals.

Having moved on and parked at the small village of Seathwaite on what was going to be a hot day. The above view shows the start and end route. The foreground path heads to Stockley Bridge - an old pack horse bridge - do a Google images search for 'stockley bridge seathwaite' will show that in more detail.

Having crossed the bridge my path leads up the steep flanks of Seaththwaite Fell heading up to meet the stone wall about 3/4 of the way up the right hand side. Closer to the top the path is near the top of Taylor Gill Force - and impressive waterfall but better viewed from the path on the other side. I with head around Seathwaite Fell, the main mountain in this view and come back via the valley (Grains Gill) on the left hand side having visited a number of Tarns on the trip.

View from near the top of the waterfall - the far distant mountains are on the other side of Keswick - more of them later

Having gained some height and time spent exploring Synhead Gill (to right) the land leveled out for a bit.

To the left is the lower slopes of Seathwaite Fell, distant view (left) is Scarfell and Lingmell with the lower slopes of Green and Great Gable to the right...

Synhead Tarn comes into view - still following the gill - main path to right

Now above the tarn on what is Syn Head - an important crossing of footpaths...

Looking in the other direction - Lingmell to the left while deep down in the valley is Wasdale Head - one of the walks up Scarfell is from Wasdale Head and comes up this valley and meets the corridor route (plus others at this point) - again see Google images 'corridor route scafell pike' which had images and maps...

More climbing, now between Styhead and Splinkling Tarn with the bulk of Great End coming into view

Moving around Sprinkling Tarn - being very hot the insects were out in force not that it stop some people heading for the water... for many on the walk from Seathwaite to Scarfell, they head around Great End - off to the left and around the right - 4 miles via the crows - a return walk of around 7-9 hours but then you think of Joss Naylor MBE (fell runner and sheep farmer) who did the top to bottom in 45 minutes plus at age 70, he ran 70 Lakeland fell tops, covering more than 50 miles and ascending more than 25,000 feet, in under 21 hours.

Height was about 2000ft at this time, not really that high, and when I think back to when I was young and walked up mountains up to 10000 in South Africa and Lesotho.

Now on the other side of Sprinkling Tarn looking towards the bulk of Green Gable (center) with Green Gable to right with Windy Gap in the middle...

Top of Ruddy Gill - heading back towards Grains Gill but lots of work on the way... In the distance is Derwent Water (plus Keswick) and beyond that the far distant mountains of Skiddaw, Lonscale Fell and Blencathra.

Some interesting gullies in Ruddy Gill backed by Great End.

More than it's far share of interesting little waterfalls on the way down, although on a hot day and after a dry spell not at their best... but then this same valley holds the UK record for the most rain at a single location in a 24 hour period - 314.4mm.

Total time over 9 hours with all the walking up and down gills (streams), walking around tarns etc, along with doing the reference gathering (sketches etc) side before heading to Keswick for food - Fish and Chips again before the long trip home.

The latest two oil paintings - Minehead, Somerset and Thornham, Norfolk

After having had a good few days of hot and sunny weather (temperature records broken in parts of the country), things changed with two days of intense thunder and lighting - some rumbles of thunder and lighting flashes going on for minutes - along with periods of very heavy rain. Thankfully all is quite at the moment...

Below are the latest oil paintings...

 Detail from "On the beach - Minehead", Minehead, Somerset.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021349

A warm summer afternoon, strangely not many people on the beach but I really liked the contrast between the foreground (simple light coloured sand with colourful notes) and the background (dark wood covered headland dotted with buildings). Part of the town of Minehead can be seen in the distance with the small harbour to the right hand side of the painting.

Detail from "Hazy Afternoon at Thornham", Thornham, Norfolk.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021348

A hazy but bright light provided the atmosphere for this afternoon view of two small boats moored in the small tidal creek at Thornham, North Norfolk coast. While it was low tide on this visit, on some high tides, most of the land below the background trees is under water - something to be aware of if you plan on leaving the car for a few hours...

Oil painting of boats at Southwold, Suffolk

Detail from "Sunlit River Blyth at Southwold", Southwold, Suffolk.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021347

The River Blyth, meets the North Sea just to the south of Southwold (Suffolk coast) and is tidal. The local fishermen have used these landing stages for years, selling their catch at the huts that line part of the Southwold side of the river. The long ropes hold the craft in position as the water level rises and falls - when I was on location it was falling hence the wet mud in the foreground. Further upstream on the Southwold side are some boat repair yards which cater for the sailing boats on both the Walberswick and Southwold side. A ferry takes people across the river or a bridge upstream allows access to both sides - a nice walk with ample subjects on route...

For those that want to sample the location via Google maps visit here (links to Google Maps - new page) and type (or copy) in IP18 6ND and press return, then move the orange figure onto the road alongside the river before moving around...

As is the case for many of my paintings it was the light that attracted me... it was then a case of finding the best position for a good composition and getting the reference material needed.

Art in Action - starts tomorrow Thursday and ends on Sunday

For those interested Art in Action starts tomorrow at Waterperry House and Gardens in Oxfordshire.

Lots to see and do and as can be seen from the website it's not just painting but the full range - see Art in Action for full details...

Should be great as the weather forecast is looking good.

A day visiting (plus some sketching) along the North Norfolk coast

This is belated report of a trip, with family, along the North Norfolk coast. For those readers from outside the UK, this trip was from Kings Lynn to Cromer (and back) with stops at Sandringham Estate (the Norfolk retreat of HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh) and Holkham Hall and Estate while visiting many of the small coastal villages on route.

The two sketches below are from Morston. Apart from the main base for boat trips(to see seals and Blakeney Point) for those with food and wine on their minds there's Morston Hall with Michelin Star Chef Galton Blackiston.

A rather rapid pencil sketch as the tide was coming in fast... get down the essentials before they move.

As can be seen in this slightly different view point, a few minutes later the incoming tide had moved the small boats. It's always interesting working to a deadline - speed and pressure... along with practice, working in the design and photography world has helped.

Sketch 2 was at low tide but the mud was still wet which added some interest. Again not a fully detailed drawing but enough to give me an idea that it'll work - other composition ideas also explored at the time. Doing a sketch, even a quick one (as time or other factors (weather/light) sometimes rule out anything longer) helps visual memory recall, along with a better understanding of the subject - which in turn leads to better painting...

Same view as the sketch, this one taken before starting the above sketch...

The village of Blakeney. The quay lined with a wide variety of boats backed by some interesting buildings. Lots of people enjoying the warm weather while others work...

Above and below are from the village of Brancaster Staithe. Some fishing still takes place, mussels, crabs etc which are sold at local shops or supply restaurants but is better known for sailing. The box on wheels is used for cleaning the mussels...

Above and below, while not everyone's idea of great subjects, more time was spent here that elsewhere. This is part of Kings Lynn docks and this small inlet was crammed full of fishing boats and combined with wonderful light made for some potential paintings. While it looks peaceful the noise from the shellfish plant on the other side was distracting - a contrast to the rest of the coast where the loudest things were the birds. The last time I saw the boat 'Zulu' (above) was at Southwold on the Suffolk coast some years ago.

Oil Painting of fishing boat being launched at Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Detail from "Morning Launch", Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021346

My first visit to Aldeburgh was back in 1984. Back then there were more of these wooden fishing boats on the beach, sadly the numbers have declined with the passing of time but a number of boats (old and new) still supply the fish huts that line the beach road.

This fisherman was single-handed launching this boat... the rope that can be seen going out from both the bow and stern passes a winch motor (the yellow circle) which slowly moved the boat into the sea - this allowed me the time (as always longer would have helped) I needed. The fisherman mean while was collecting the plastic runners (used to be wood) that the boat slides one. The beach is mostly shingle but at low tide more sand is exposed.

From Mall Galleries - Submit now to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition

Open exhibition - ROI call for entries

Founded in 1882, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) is the only national art society devoted exclusively to oil painting.

Acceptable media: Oils.
Acrylic is acceptable if it is framed as an oil, so as not to spoil the general appearance of the exhibition. Glazing or wide mounts between painting and frame, as in watercolours, are not acceptable.

Maximum of six works submitted. Maximum of four works selected. Work must have been completed within the last two years.
All works must be for sale. Minimum price: £300.

Submission fee:
£12 per work (or £6 for artists under 35)

Awards & Prizes:
Many prizes are available, including the Phyllis Roberts Award of £2,000 for a promising young painter, the Winsor & Newton Oil Painters Awards (for artists under 35 years of age), Winsor & Newton Awards to Non-Members and the Alan Gourley Memorial Award of £1,000.

Submit online here - this links to 'call for entries' page on Mall Galleries website where details of how to submit, registration forms etc can be found...

Deadline for ROI: 10 October, 12 noon

Are you an artist and under 35 years

Winsor & Newton Oil Painters Awards 2013 for artists aged 35 or under
More details of at

First Prize: £1,000 Winsor & Newton Fine Art Materials
Second Prize: £600 Winsor & Newton Fine Art Materials
Third Prize: £400 Winsor & Newton Fine Art Materials

Oil painting of Cornish Cliffs below Tintagel Castle

Detail from "North Cornwall Cliffs", Tintagel, Cornwall.
Oil. Alistair Butt © 2013 -
#AB 021345

This painting shows just part of the cliffs below Tintagel Castle, the reputed birth place of King Arthur.

For more information about the castle which is now run by English Heritage click here. Scroll down the page shows a box with 'gallery' images... the fourth one shows the cliffs and part of the castle but viewed from an slightly different angle (to the right)

More Marine Oil Paintings started

Some of the next group of marine paintings started - the above shows four of them with the line work done...

Above, the same four but now with the under painting done and ready for the further work.