The moors and an upside down view

If you wander away from the Brontë’s house in Haworth, West Yorkshire, this is what you might see. It’s a view of a landscape that is so special that I have been dreaming of painting it for months. I can’t guarantee that if you go, Heathcliff’s ghost will be wandering there too, but I can be pretty sure that you might gasp at the drama of the clouds meeting the distant moors. I visited the area last July just before I returned home from Manchester, and although I didn’t sketch it at the time, I have been thinking about it a lot. I tried it as a small sketch in oil this week and will probably try it in watercolour too.


So far, in my weekly oil painting class we have been doing small studies. Mine are 7″ x 9″. Next week we’ll work on larger paintings. Another exercise we tried this week was painting using an upside down reference image. It’s a really interesting process because you have to look at shapes, values and colours, instead of mountains, trees and water. It was an exercise in restraint. I had to hold myself back from flipping the photo over to see what I was looking at, especially in the reflections. I ran out of time but here is what I was able to do in about 30 minutes.


And here is the scene when I turned it right side up. I think with a bit more time I could have made it work.


36 Comments on “The moors and an upside down view”

  1. Melanie says:

    I so love the moors, its one of the reasons I could never imagine leaving West Yorkshire. You’ve done an amazing job of capturing the place, I called my husband over to take a look and he recognised where it was instantly.


    • Melanie, how lucky you are to be able to see these views all the time. I really would love to travel back to the area so I can spend some time painting there. It’s one thing to try and do this from my photos but there is nothing like being there. I’m glad my little sketch did it justice.


  2. I was tutoring a Chinese student the other night and when she didn’t understand what ‘moor’ referred to in MacBeth, I had to google photos to show her (of course the image would have been different had we been discussing Othello!). My father was from ‘just o’er top’ from Haworth so the next day when your image came up on Instagram I recognized the moors right away. I was puzzled for a second because I don’t follow any oil painters … and not really surprised to see your name. My son gave me some W&N oil paint for a gift and he keeps asking me when I am going to use them — you are making me want to try now. I already blame you 😉 for making me switch from acrylic to watercolour. Aie aie aie…


    • Hi Lisa, That is a great story and I can see that you know the area well. Truly a special place. I think you have to try those paints your son gave you. If you know how to paint in acrylics, trying out oils should be easy. At least easier than it was for me, coming from watercolours. I think I will really enjoy experimenting more with oils during the winter months, on those cold days when I can’t get out in my car to sketch.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Louise says:

    Visiting the English countryside is high on my wish list. Your studies serve to reignite that longing. I follow ‘Rob Adams – A Painter’s Blog’ and will include the link if it is alright to do that. Your painting reminded me of his discussions of blocking in areas in muted colors. Looking forward to more of your oil paintings.

    There is also a wonderful program on YouTube called ‘Escape To The Country’. It is a real estate program where they take buyers to properties in various parts of England, Wales, or Scotland which match their dream of moving to the English countryside. While it focuses mainly on houses, there are many views of the exceptional English landscape as well as an in depth look at a particular local tradition in each episode. I watch it when I want to escape!

    Thanks for keeping the dream alive.


    • Hi Louise,

      Thanks so much for the link to Rob Adams. Really interesting stuff, both in words and pictures. I bookmarked it for further reading. I will have to look up “Escape to the Country” too. Before I went to Manchester, I watched both “Happy Valley” and “Last Tango in Halifax” on Netflix. Both were filmed in that area and gave me a great preview of what I would see. I you have Netflix, give them a try.
      Great to hear from you, as usual.



  4. Robyn France says:

    Absolutely love these–so evocative of that scene. Can’t wait to see the watercolor.


    • Thanks Robyn. I probably won’t have time to paint the watercolour until my teaching semester is over, but I look forward to painting it too. Hope it comes out well enough to post it.


  5. drawandshoot says:

    Just gorgeous, Shari!


  6. You do oils justice! Bold strokes, rich colors, great interpretations. Some of My current favorite contamporaries are on Daily Paintworks: Elena Katsyura, Helen Cooper, David Wasserman.
    You may get this message twice, wordpress had me change my password, it took me a while because they think my passwords are “weak”, gotta love computers. Luckinly, I worked with them my whole career, but I’m slowin’down, ya’ know?


    • Hi Laurie,
      Only one comment from you so something must be working well. The best thing about posting my oils is finding out about the favourite oil painters of everyone who comments here. Thanks for these. I will certainly have a look at these three painters!


  7. Jane Hannah says:

    Really love this Shari — oil suits you as well as watercolour — a great feat indeed!


  8. Shari’s work is inspiring. I especially am drawn to the simplified blocking out of the landscape forms. Thank you Jane for connecting us.


  9. Lee Warren says:

    Shari, I’m enjoying following this new path of yours. I’m encouraged as a I keep plowing away at watercolor. I’m currently in a weekly class that is helping me return to your Craftsy classes with more confidence. The first week of homework I took what I’d learned in class, with a different palette and tried again a landscape in your class. My teacher was quite surprised and loved it. I’ve been practicing too with your flowers on Pinterest. Thank you for making your work so available to all of us.

    I’m wondering if you’ve set a 2017 retreat/workshop calendar. I’ve shared your work with a number of new people lately as well as the Craftsy classes.

    Thank you, Lee

    Sent from my iPad



    • Hi Lee,
      Thanks so much for writing and for sharing my work! And so glad to hear the you’re liking what you’ve learned on Craftsy, and practicing it too. That makes me happy.
      I haven’t ever posted on Pinterest but my work gets pinned so often it seems as if I do.
      There’s no workshop schedule on my website yet. I haven’t decided what I am going to do yet. I make take a break from teaching this summer… I’ll decide in the new year.



  10. Joan T says:

    I don’t blame you for wanting to paint the scene of the moors! I like the idea of painting from an upside down photo. That way you see it differently not as landscape elements, but shapes.


  11. I love the richness of the colours you are using, they give such depth and solidity.


  12. Alison says:

    And I’ve been waiting months for this painting. Fantastic Shari, so dramatic.
    Thanks for sharing the upside down exercise also, very interesting.


  13. Susanne says:

    Wow Shari, you are a natural at oil painting! You wrote about the switch in thinking dark to light from light to dark, and here you’ve done it so beautifully! I love the dark masses and he light spots that come through the branches of the tree. It’s all so fresh and also solid, bold and nuanced all at once.


  14. Anne says:

    I love your upside down painting!


  15. divegroupie says:

    Shari, these are beautiful.


  16. Trevor Travis says:

    Shari, this painting is quite wonderful. You have that ability to really capture the mood of a place and have painted for all those who have loved and still love these moors. It has a real “Cathy come home,” atmosphere to it and is a landscape where dramas can take place. It is deeply felt and very impressive.


    • Trevor, I am so grateful that we had that day together and that you showed us this place. As you can see, I was very moved by what I saw. I hope I will do it justice when I turn this into a bigger painting. If not, I am just happy that my small painting didn’t turn out too badly.


  17. andre savard. says:

    Amazing what a good artist can do with oil and i little bit of feeling.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Cogratulation, I love it.


  18. Ivana Bowes says:

    What a great study of the Moors! I like the red/orange underpainting in particular, it really enhances the landscape colours. I was in the area just a few weeks ago and have done a couple of small watercolours since. There was so much to see and sketch there!
    Watercolour or oils you have a great eye!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s