There is nothing like going out and painting and drawing in the open air. The experience is wonderful and today was no exception. Using a view finder is useful, making a thumbnail preliminary sketch is useful, taking photographs on a mobile phone is useful but the most useful thing to do is to look and take in the atmosphere as to where you are. The garden at Ardleigh House has so much to offer any artist: the trees, the lake, the foliage, all the plants growing around the lake, the miniature train track, the birds singing in the trees, the houses on the distance horizon, the very blue sky. It is a lot to consider when you are making a sketch to work from.

I choose to paint three trees, the usual advice for painting trees is: if it is an odd shaped tree avoid. The usual advice of course can always be ignored. I was rather intrigued by the tree in the centre of my composition that linked together all the other shapes that I could see. The most amazing point about today in the garden was the light, it poured through the treetops like golden honey, offering the sweet taste of summer, it bathed the garden in shafts of yellow, remember it was extremely hot, but the cool breeze from the lake made it a very pleasing environment to work within.

The sketch took around fifteen minutes and then we returned to the classroom to complete our paintings. I painted in the sky first, then the tree trunks in the foreground, and then used copious amounts of yellow to underpaint foliage, grass, distant tree trunks. I built this painting up in glazes, I mixed a vast amount of green colours, which was the basis of this lesson. I used a lemon yellow and ultramarine blue mix (base colour) and then added nearly every different colour I had in my paint box to make other greens. There was quite a lot of colour in the background, and this was useful to suggest 3D effect.

I used watercolour pencils for some of the plants around the lake behind the tree. I used small dots of pink to draw the eye to the back of the painting.

This was a wonderful way to spend a gorgeous summer afternoon.