Artist of the Month for Sketch Social.

Posted by Ruth McIlroy on

Based in South Devon I am lucky to be able to enjoy landscape from the Moors to the sea following the river Dart and the seasons.

1.Dartmoor across to Yelverton (in banner) 2.Dartmoor across to Yelverton Pastel


My time is divided between being out in the landscape and back at my small studio. I value the importance of being out walking and sketching along the rivers and hills in South Devon throughout the year. A rendezvous with each of the Seasons as they come and go.I am sometimes wrapped up or conversely with a parasol.There are brief encounters with the passing, inquisitive walkers. The river like time continues to flow and is both a physical and metaphysical element in my work, flowing as she does from the moor to the sea.

4.(Swimming Platform) 5.(Endymion’s Rest) 6.(Blackpool Sands)


The studio is where I hold a variety of materials some natural, some unusual with which to express further my dialogue with the landscape.The shelves are lined with pots and boxes of things, some labelled some not.


En plein air sketches and drawings initiated using found materials that are supplemented with pencil charcoal and pastel.

7 and 8.(Winter at Sharpham Marsh)



Documenting views following the River Dart or stopping to note an enticing aspect along a walk is always initiated with mark making.On occasion I may make a small and transient “intervention” at a site.As I set to return to the studio, in to my bag will go mud,sap,feathers,twigs used as tools etc.

In the studio,I then review field sketches and gather materials to work with.I have been working into small sketches with soft pastels and the “key” of dried found pigment adds a richness of texture and tone.


Using natural materials to start and making tiny and transitory interventions on site creates a personal bond with the landscape.  (Intervention)




Working in the studio with pastels layering colours and working on composition I reference my sketches and any other images or materials from the site.I often choose to work with charcoal as it is a material that really does allow feelings to be expressed.

10.(Eleven trees at Dartington) 11.(Medlars at St Mary’s, Totnes) 




Being outside throughout the year does require dressing to brave the elements be it a Sou’wester or a parasol, comfort is key.

expressive landscapes natural pigments seasons selfportrait studio

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