Day 4 of VIRTUAL trip to Wales – Playful sketching at Tretower Court.

Playing is the name of the game today.     For this image I  took a throw away sketch and added the little lambs….This is a good way to warm up and at the same to use old sketches. 

For the lambs I used my sepia colour Tomboy Pen,  plus some Winsor & Newton Permanent White gouache – allowing some of the sketch beneath to show through.

Tombow Pen/watercolour/gouache – using old sketch as a ground 20200709_075228After meeting the group at The Dragon, I thought it would be a good idea to take a quick look at the High Street which is always bustling in the mornings.

By the way, after I lived with my cousin and the family for six wonderful months I rented a little flat next to the Dragon (43 High Street) where I was very happy for a year before moving to my cottage on Mill Street. .    Chris and Allan who then owned the Dragon allowed me to use the functions room to paint portraits of the locals.    It was the perfect set up.

When I walked from my cottage to the post office most days (this was before e mails) it took a long time, because there were so many people to greet and talk to including Dai the Post and Carl the Milk…..a real community. 

The High Street.  – always busy in the mornings.     3500 high street crickMike Cashell’s the family butcher is to the left..and in my estimation his meat and cheeses are as good as anywhere and the service is nothing short of fabulous.    One of my favourite Welsh cheeses is Y Fenni – it’s delicious.

117-0 cashells front

Hi Mike Cashell – lovely to see you:)cashells-master-butcherAs I mentioned at the beginning of this trip – when I lived here I was able to walk to the butcher, baker and candlestick maker…and it is still true today. 

I have spoken with friends during lock down…and have been told that all the shopkeepers were working together delivering food and anything else needed to the community. 

Before we get too involved with the shops we’ll pick up some goodies from Bookish – a lovely place for coffee, cake, lunch and browsing through their superb book range. bookishcake2-1024x684and then Gareth the taxi driver will take us by mini van to visit Tretower Court – about two miles from Crickhowell.tretower court

A late medieval defended house, possibly better than any other surviving example, it reflects the changes in fashion and taste of the wealthy landowners of Wales between 1300 and 1700.

The house is the direct successor of an earlier castle stronghold just 200 yards away.  Together they demonstrate the transition from castle to domestic residence, and thereby reflect important changes from a situation of warfare and defence in the Middle Ages, to one of more settled and peaceful times in later centuries. 

There is such a feeling of mystery in this part of the world.    A place steeped in legend and folklore.    When the mists fall over the valleys there is a sense of other worldliness…..

watercolour/gouache20200702_101603One of the other positive elements for artists in and around Crickhowell is that regardless of weather..there are plenty of places to paint inside – looking out...such as here at the Court.the courtI have given workshops within the house and the surrounding grounds many times….and particularly enjoy the shadow play and drama of the interiors.


imag3480Shakespeare productions are performed here during the summer months. tretowerThe walled garden is a lovely place to sit and sketch….often visited by beautiful chickens strutting their stuff.

garden tretower

Let’s begin with some warm up exercises.        The important thing is to not get stuck….be PLAYFUL.      

Throw some colour on paper – and let the paint do its own thing.   It is only paper….this will set the stage for your sketching.  In my mind warming up is one of the most important parts of the overall process.27788536_10156059179925396_5090428923930061989_o

Using yellow ochre I start with a quick sketch of the tower and then add colour into the NEGATIVE SPACE – the areas surrounding the subject.    It’s all very loose and spontaneous.   A sort of map.20200708_134356In this next frame I add more strength of colour to the trees and dark wall in front of the tower using Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna/Prussian Blue mix plus the Daniel Smith Underwater Green.    20200708_150241

Here I add more body to the sky.   After laying in a wash of blue I then bleed in  W & N Permanent White gouache for the clouds.    I then strengthen the colours throughout.

Remember this is playing.…sketching…don’t get stuck on trying to make everything perfect....Allow yourself and your brush to be free. 20200709_074833 Something that always occurs to me when I am visiting an ancient ruin is how man believed then, and still does that by building immensely thick walls he is protected…but ultimately the walls do crumble and only nature survives.

After a stop into the pub at Cwmdu (pronounced Cumdee) for a little respite, it’s back home to clean up and then drinks and dinner at The Bear.    (a two minute walk from the dragon)


Here, over a good meal we can talk, laugh and enjoy one another’s company.

I love Jacob sheep – one features in the church panels.     On my daily walk to the canal I would pass a small holding where some lived and of course I would sketch them.

This bunch of Jacob sheep are quite amusing – they look like the best friends of Shaun the Sheep:)


Tomorrow is our last day….and so I will try to list all the places and things I didn’t have time to mention before and show some portraits of the people I painted when living in Crickhowell…AKA The Magical Town of Crickadoon.  

Sleep well

Lechyd da…..











22 thoughts on “Day 4 of VIRTUAL trip to Wales – Playful sketching at Tretower Court.

  1. Judith

    I can’t believe our trip is almost over! I’m enjoying the countryside, and I love the sheep. My attempts at sketching and painting them have been laughable, but I’ve enjoyed it all the same. My travel sketchbook is mostly loose colors and impressions. That’s all I’ve been able to capture right now. Watercolor sketching is still new to me, and I’m never quite sure where to begin. 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Judith. So glad that you have been on. this trip. FYI next week I will be showing some of the work done by a group who have come to my Portugal workshops. You might find that interesting and if you would like to send me one or two of your sketches, I will be happy to include. Janet 🙂

      1. Judith

        Thanks so much for the trip, and thanks for offering to include my work. At this point, my poor little sketches aren’t worthy of being seen. They’re mostly blobs of color. Well… I do have a few flowers I painted yesterday while we were “out and about” in Wales. I’ll send that one to you via Facebook messenger. Thanks again for inviting me along.

  2. Writing to Freedom

    Thanks for another fun tour and glimpse into your life as an artist and community member. I felt more alive and grounded when I walked everywhere. Maybe I’ll get back to that lifestyle.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      There is no question that we all feel more grounded and alive when we walk. I find that cars can get in the way of ‘living’ – plus we miss so much when sitting in a car. I hope you enjoy a lovely weekend. Janet X

  3. Sylvia Dixon

    Crickhowell looks amazing. Trying to play with colour but keep feeling the result ought to look like something!!

  4. Ka Malana -

    Another delightful day! I can wander through the whole of it! You really made me smile with your picture of sheep, and then your reference to Shaun the Sheep, which we love 🙂 this town has me dreaming of moving to a small town like this.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Ka….Glad the mention of Shaun the Sheep put a smile on your face. I love Wallace and Gromit. Someone gave me the whole box set for my 70th birthday:). I must say writing this blog about Wales has made me realise that maybe I need to end up there….one day at a time:)

      1. Ka Malana -

        Thank you. Thanks to your comment, I pushed myself to sketch my daughter, and I had a lot of fun 😃. I used the tombow for the first time. I have to learn how to blend them. I just dived right in. Lol. Didn’t study them first. This is good for me, very good. Pure enjoyment.

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Using a watercolour brush with clean water, you can pull out the Tombow marks so that they bleed/blend. You can PLAY with this technique. You can work off white paper, or paper you have painted a colour ground on. If you do that the ground has to dry completely. Remember 15 mins a day and with your daughter you have a built in model:)

  5. America On Coffee

    Hello dear Janet! I hope this Summer weather isn’t too hot for you. 🥵 The Dragon became quite a social and nifty for you Jan. Your paintings shown are just as quaint as the tv Mayberry show. When it comes to sketching and painting, I am wondering what I can come up with as I am not an artistic painter. I believe that I could come up with unique as if design if I painted while angry then while sad, while very happy and a painting when I relaxed. This would be interesting. Have a passioned-filled week Janet! 🍂💕🍂💕🍂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      We have just survived a real heatwave in the UK…the sort of weather we are not used to….now we have storms, rain (which is good) and cooler temperatures which is really good:). I would love to see what you paint based on your emotions…it would be very interesting. I have a good week ahead…painting and then on Friday I go to visit friends I have known since we were five years old! They are married and both artists, musicians and a writer and so it will be lovely to spend a few days with them. It will be my first trip since lock down…only about two hours away:). hope you have a lovely week. Janet XXX


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