Fourteen of us,including three House volunteers, we’re lucky enough to spend a day in the beautiful calm setting of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, sketching and watercolouring. We began in the servants hall, meeting Liz Ackerley, an accomplished urban sketcher to start learning a series of techniques.
I was a complete beginner, having last sketched at school forty years ago; next to me was an architect fully habituated to creating bewitching sketches.
Our first task was to sketch in charcoal – very freeing- and perhaps use our non dominant hand. Liz had chosen a variety of household items from around the servants hall, including candlestick, kettle, watering can and bonnet.
After sketching several of these we moved into the House to practice various techniques,and each found a favourite spot in one of the rooms in order to pencil sketch a vista. Liz was on hand with advice and feedback. I learnt some more about proportion and perspective by my mistakes! It was both engrossing and peaceful.
After a tasty lunch in the light airy tearoom, and a chance to chat with fellow artists, we returned to the servants hall for some teaching on applying watercolour. Liz’s technique is ‘ colour first’, using colours loosely applied, over which detailed sketching can take place. Liz made it look easy as we watched her at her easel. Then it was out turn to choose an armchair in the drawing room, a seat at Elizabeth’s writing desk, or Wiliam’s study chair in which to sit whilst sketching over our base of watercolours.
Again, time flew past ,each of us absorbed in our work. I chose the drawing room and managed to draw the piano- but unfortunately it appears to be flying over the carpet…note to self…must practice more!
A thoroughly enjoyable day whether you are a novice, expert or, like many participants, a keen amateur. There was an air of satisfaction as we packed up out pens and pencils, inks and watercolours at the end of the day.
A wonderful way to become intimately acquainted with this special House.
The next sketching workshop is on 7 August – when, weather permitting, sketchers can use the garden as well.
Nina Fedorski, Volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House