RIVERPAINTINGS, Etappe 3 – from Elpershofen to Grossforst

JAGST hike&paint

My day began with a light lavender coloured sky and still we have the winter cold, but the weather is slowly reaching temperatures above zero and the snow begins to melt.  Anyway I ask myself, why on earth should I go out at this weather? The answer is clear: Because the sun is shining and it will be even warmer during the day and my addiction to paint outside is strong.

By car I stopped in Ilshofen for some provisions and had my coffee mug packed too. As I drove down towards Hessental, I saw many swans in the valley. Then I continued to drive to Elpershofen to park my car.

My plan was to start at Elpershofen, the place my last hike ended and walk towards Großforst. This might be interesting. There is an ostrich farm and I hope that the animals are out, but you never know…it is still winter. The hike will not be too far, so I will have enough time to sketch all day.

Wehr in Elpershofen

weir and part of Elpershofen village

The snow is melting. In the woods and in shady spots there is some and the river still has some icy parts.

My picnic blanket is very useful to sit and sketch to be sheltered against the cold and wet soil. Thanks to the sun, the paper dries much better and it feels more convenient than on my earlier trips this year. I was in good mood and used some pencils to be able to finish the watercolour faster. The car was still in reach so I stowed my first moist sketched paper away.

Then I started my hike to the right of Jagst river.

As I continued walking I saw the beautiful birches and the large old bridge dating from 1866 (renovated in 1957) behind me. Still it is sunny and it feels good to feel the sun on the skin. I follow the tiny street and cross a forest, where I saw a fox running close to the edge. What a beautiful animal. Too fast to sketch, but I made a pencil sketch out of imagination and coloured later. The river is to my left.

Fuchs am Waldrand

Next day after my encounter with the fox, I did several fox sketches. Here is one of them:

Fuchs im Winter

I reach Großforst and see that there are a few very sketchable houses, but the large animals I see at the edge of the village, first attracted my attention. As I sat down to sketch, just a female ostrich stayed unfrightened, the others fled, but came back after a while, very curios about what I was doing there. I just made a pencil sketch and then contiued my hike. Colouring would be done later, I thought, as it was beginning to get colder. The sun was already getting weaker. I was hungry as well.

High time for a hot coffee and my provisions. There is a bench right in front of the nice metal bridge. The bridge leads from Großforst to Kleinforst. But first the picknick. Hm, it was so good. Had a Pretzel with butter and the coffee was strong and hot. This point where I am now sitting, will be the start for my next hike&paint trip. For now it is the middle of my todays hike as you can see on the map.

Over fields and grass I made my way back to Elpershofen. Saw many birds like grey herons and different duck families. Nearly no cars, just three bikers on this hike and no hikers at all. The only flowers I saw were some little snowbells and a few crocusses in a garden, but that was it for the flora…anyway it shows that spring is just around the corner…

The temperatures are rising soon and it will be even more fun to sketch outside…hope I can soon carve out another hike&paint day soon….so stay tuned.

Elpershofen bis Jagsttalranch

RIVERPAINTINGS, Etappe 2 – from Hessenau to Elpershofen

JAGST hike&paint


My second adventure of the hike started on a lovely January morning.  It was quite cold that day, temperatures around zero and the trees in the forest where partly frozen in the morning.

The hike would be a round tour and lead me to Elpershofen, which is about 8 km all in all to get back to my starting point (round tour).

First I drove to the ancient ruins of a castle called Leofels which is right above my real start in Hessenau. I thought I would have a lot of  time to sketch but the weather made it more difficult for me this time. Actually it was so cold that my hands hurt while sketching, although I had gloves on… began this direct watercolour of the ancient walls and entrance to the ruin of castle Leofels. It did not really dry so I gave up in between and finished the contrasting dark tones in my studio.

Hessenau, Mühle

Then I drove down to Hessenau and parked my car where my last hike & paint Etappe ended and started my second one.

Began a pencil sketch of the mill in Hessenau, which was my todays starting point for the hike, but it was so cold, that I even did not begin to watercolour.  I packed the paper away to colour it later at home.

The mill building was nicely renovated and the winter trees had no foliage but a few dry leaves.

Had a short talk with a lady at Milch-Häusle and off I went. Took the way to the right side of the river direction Liebesdorf and it began to snow while I was walking.

Jagst river was very broad and the valley was not as steep as it was earlier. I had a wide view, although the snowfalls turned the landscape into grey-white.

As I reached Liebesdorf I had to cross another bridge which was a concrete one and sofore not worth sketching it.

Then the way to Elpershofen was not as nice as I thought because of the extreme traffic on the street but there was no nicer way where I could walk, so I followed the street.

My highlight: To my surprise the small restaurant was open to warm me up and I had a good warm late lunch and some time to relax  before going out into the cold again.

It did not snow any more and the sun came out. I made a fast sketch of the bridge in Elpershofen. No details, not many colours…

Jagstbrücke Elpershofen

The landscape was turned into a white wonderland.

There is also a weir in Elpershofen, where in summer people go swimming. In winter there is total quiet. Saw two white herons on my way back along the other side of the river and one fox!

From down here, I could see the castle ruin of Leofels high above the trees and knew that I would soon be back at Hessenau where the car was parked.

Elpershofen will be my next starting point for my hike&paint at Jagst river.

This time it was really beautiful, but sooo cold. Thought that I would sketch more, but it was impossible to do so. Most of the colour work was done in the studio this time, but the experience to be out at any weather is a great one.

bei Elpershofen

Did not need my picnic snacks this time, as I was lucky to find some restaurant for the lunch break. Going out to sketch in these weathers is a great experience, anyway I would prefer warmer weather…

Can’t wait for the next hike&paint adventure…

RIVERPAINTINGS – Jagst hike & paint continuation

JAGST hike & paint

Those who did not read my older blogposts might not know that I did several consecutive hikes along Jagst river from Crailsheim to Kirchberg in different steps some time ago.

The rules for my hike & paint project were to always start a new hike at about the same point, the last hike ended in order to get a full picture of the way westwards along Jagst river. In between I made stops and painted what was interesting to me, like fauna, flora, landscapes, panoramics, and above all the water of my home river: JAGST

Soon I will do a continuation of this hike & paint project, which I will call RIVERPAINTINGS.

My new starting point will be Kirchberg and I will walk towards Langenburg in several step. How many it will be I do not know yet. But I know that the interesting things will again be the change of seasons in my paintings and the things I experience on the way.

Have fun following my RIVERPAINTINGS journey and see the hidden treasures of my beloved Hohenlohe Region.

Bettina Ruppert


(the above photo shows a place called Eichenau, which you will find westwards after leaving Kirchberg along Jagst River.  There is a wonderful stone bridge by the weir. This painting was done last summer.)

Jagst hike & paint, Etappe 14

Jagst hike & paint, Etappe 14, autumn colours close to Kirchberg

Over late summer, new developments, some commission work and a few fantastic sketching events,  I somehow lost track of my beloved Jagst Project. Usually I am very much focused, but this time I let the project pause for a while, as this is a very personal thing and there is neither a deadline, nor an endpoint to it. 

Slough Bush

My todays idea is: Painting close to Kirchberg and getting down the fall colours on paper. My eye was caught by the colours of a slough bush first. This is what I was searching for. 

Here is a closer view/cutout of my first watercolour of the day:

Slough Bush cutout

A lot of small fruit on my large A3 paper. I was quite concentrated, but I need to move and hurry a bit to get another one done… on my way I collected lots of beautiful coloured leaves from the ground. Maybe I could use them later for a study.

I started another A3 watercolour, but did not get it totally done. Actually I sketched till I reached the point you see in my upper unfinished watercolour, before I got too cold.  I packed my stuff and the did the rest of watercolouring back at home, before I freeze to the bone. Below you can see the finished piece.

It was again too short a time and I enoyed very much sketching closer views. The outside temperature was the most challenging thing. Although I had a stool, blanket and very warm clothes, in the end you cannot deny that it is already fall.

Back in my studio I unpacked the leaves I had collected and ended the day with a leave study.


Somehow I underestimated the challenges of weather in fall, plus the days become a lot shorter. Need to adapt.

Material: A3, 300 g watercolour paper

Weather: Sunny, but very cold, about 6 ° Celsius, so without my blanket and my gloves I would not have made it…

Thoughts: The colourful surrounding inspired me to collect the very different shaped leaves and make a study out of them. From now on my trips will always be more far from home. Hope the sunny weather will last for some more weeks. Not sure yet if I will paint with snow and even lower temperatures…

Learning: Better begin earlier in the day, as it gets dark too soon.

Had a lot of solitary fun „in the woods“, but my aim for next time is to draw some landscapes as well. Cheers Bettina

Jagst hike & paint, Etappe 13

Kirchberg Panorama

JAGST hike & paint, Etappe 13, The city of Kirchberg

This summer is quite wet and cold and it was difficult to find a day of good weather in between the mostly rainy periods for my next painting adventure.

(In the meantime, I made the best of the situation and was busy working on a watercolour book which shows lots of plein-air watercolours, I painted during our official USk Hohenlohe outings. The book can be purchased through THIS LINK.)

Back to the next Etappe:

It was around midday that I arrived in Kirchberg and my plan was not to actually hike this time, but to explore the city of Kirchberg further. Being too close by the river is not quite a good idea anyway, as the soil is still muddy. Therefore I thought it was more clever to stroll through the city. My early afternoon began with a panoramic view in A3. The viewpoint and the paper format is different than the last panoramic sketch I did of Kirchberg (which was 20 x 40 cm).

After this one I continued towards the castle…

The early afternoon sun was shining brightly and I sat down in the castle Café and ordered an iced coffee. It felt like being on a holiday.

From my comfortable seat and table I could hear people talking about bike tours and how beautiful and unique the area of Hohenlohe is, while I sketched part of the castle building with the warm yellow sunshine on the castle walls. The plants in the patio made me feel like being in a mediterranean country.

Schloss Kirchberg

After my Café visit, with new energy, I made a quick sketch from the entrance towards the castle. Some of the roses are in their second bloom and the water fountain made for a sympathetic ensemble. It was getting late, and I was keen to sketch some more different views, so the pencil sketch had to suffice as a rough sketch and the watercolouring of that one was finished in the studio.

Then I did two more very fast and smaller A4 sketches:

One from the bridge towards the characteristic tower and the last one of the day of the slim funny old house on the way back to my parked car.  I did not even look any more at painting a sky into these sketches, as I was really done. A very productive day. In the end I got extremely tired and my eyes were sore from looking.



These two A4 sketches look large because of the paper format on the blog, but are half the size of the upper ones.

Small house Kirchberg
Needed a huge late evening meal as a good finish to this extreme and productive sketchday.
Material: A 3 in the beginning and A4 in the end for the fast sketches.
Duration: Nearly 8 hours
Weather:  Sunny and warm, a nice summer day…inmidst a long rainy period.
Thoughts: Had a great weekend and was very fit that day. During sketching I mostly felt relaxed and in the flow. The world is good.
Learning: With the second painting I am a bit ambivalent, as I like the left side, but I am not happy about the position of the tree in the middle.  I should have planned that better and the learning is to better think ahead.
Anyway I am looking forward to the next time, while I recover from that long day….;)