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Croft Castle Revisited

Updated: Feb 12

I wrote recently, 5th February, about my aborted visit to Croft Castle when I was beaten by the weather and unable to finish the plain air watercolour. In fact I only got to the sketching stage, what a whimp !! .

Here is a small vignette of where I left off, vowing to return to complete the project. Well if you have been enduring the last five days of weather, you will know that the chances of producing anything in the outdoors, especially a water colour would be a pipe dream.

I also mentioned in that post that I had taken quite some time to decide on the location and composition. I had narrowed it down to a choice of two and finally decided on the location above. Well its been nagging at me ever since that the one I should have chosen was the first one. The entrance gate with the castle in the background.

Location of the second choice of artwork
Original Image of Croft Castle Entrance Gate

So having finished my last commission, Steve's Gretsch in charcoal it was nice to change media and produce a watercolour. What better one to do than the one shown here? I had to scratch the itch ! From a composition point of view and using the words of Ian Roberts, in my opinion, one of the modern masters of competition, this picture draws the viewer in through the gate and along the road to the castle in the distance. The centre point of interest known as the focal point. Incidentally if you are developing your artistic skills and haven't heard of Ian or watched one of his videos I can thoroughly recommend his book "Mastering Composition". To demonstrate the point I am making, of producing engaging paintings indeed any landscape type artwork, here is one of Ian's YouTube releases on the subject. Click Here

Now part of the National Trust, the Croft building has been on the Croft lands since 1085, but has gone through many redesigns and structural alterations by the various owners of the dynasty. Wikipedia covers the history of the various owners and significant landmark dates, if you interested to read more. The most significant date being 1957, not because it was the year I was born, In this year the castle was threatened with demolition following the destruction of eighteen other great houses in the county. The destruction of country houses in 20th-century Britain was gathering pace across the country and continued through the 1960s. Diana Uhlman (née Croft), the then incumbent was determined that Croft would not suffer the same fate. An endowment was raised by some members of the family before the National Trust would agree to take on the house and remaining estate. The castle opened to the public in 1960 after Michael, Lord Croft, had acquired paintings and furniture for display in the showrooms and his sister Diana established and funded the Croft Trust. The house is still occupied by members of the family.

Stage 1 - Sketch and working on the entrance gate.

To get to this stage required quite a bit of masking fluid. This was after about 4 hours work starting by laying in the sky first. The castle, the gate arch and certain spots in the trees were all masked before applying the sky, which had just been removed when this image was taken.

It was important to get the perspective right which meant taking time to reflect the line of the wall, mortar and stone work.

As you will see in the original image the walls required quite a lot of work to achieve the texture and stone/block shapes. By doing the entrance first, not the usual approach I would take, allowed me to judge the tone and hues of the castle, trees and grassland which I hope achieved the objective of drawing the viewer through the entrance and on to the focal point, the castle. The original image was taken on a pretty dull day so I have tried to make the artwork a little more bright

When set within a lilac border the painting will complement any study or library wall

This is one of the few original finished artworks I have released for sale and a limited number of A4 Giclée prints are available in the shop.

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