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Well I’m really stretching my artistic license painting spring flowers while there is snow on the ground!
It’s quite an antidote to the weather – I’d recommend it.
These flowers are so much fun to paint – all the bright colours, the sloshy watery paint bleeding colour into a nice heavy watercolour paper – yum!
I can feel a nice bright design coming along soon.
And once I completed that first painting, I still couldn’t stop and had to make a little line of flowers which would be nodding at me from the garden if all my plants weren’t decimated.
Hope you are surviving the snow where ever you are and that these remind you of what’s to come – eventually!
I have been working away in my own little greenhouse recently.
I spotted these Primula’s at a good price in an independent garden centre and had already seen an image online which had sparked the idea for plants in teacups.
It is such a joy to paint these bright, cheery spring flowers, not only are they relatively easy to paint but being surrounded by them all day is a lift to the spirits.
There was the difficult choice of which cup for which flower – I looked like a deranged gardener having an Alice in Wonderland-esque tea party!
I had to employ a unique ‘cup on cup on CD tower’ type arrangement to get the right view on it in order to paint it straight on. There were a few mis-haps but luckily Wedgwood bounces – ouch!
Here’s a little pic of my painting nest – note hot water bottle (saves having the heating on) and cup of tea dangerously close to water jug (wrong brush, in wrong liquid).
The finished piece is big (A1) cheery, bright and makes me smile. I hope you enjoy it too.
This morning I woke up feeling fragile after some sad news yesterday – the type of news that makes you feel grateful for your loved-ones, anxious about the fragility of life, the kind of news that makes you appreciate the smallest things…
I logged into my email account and was greeted unusually by loads of emails telling me my Facebook page was being ‘liked’. Jenny ,unprompted and not knowing of our sad state, had encouraged her followers to come on over to my page just because… It was a small ray of light today watching my ‘likes’ rise. It never ceases to amaze me how much community and encouragement can be found through like-minded spirits on the internet. Jenny - thank you for throwing out the invitation, thank you to all those who took up the call. It may have been a simple gesture from your end but your timing was exceptional and lifted my day. Thank you.x.
I’ve added a link to the left-hand side-bar if anyone else wants to connect. I will feel more accountable to keep it up to date and interesting now
There is nothing like a new year to bring about a sense of re-set even if a complete fresh start is not really needed.
Some years I don’t want to celebrate the passing of one year into another, some years I need the blank page/fresh start feeling that a new year can bring, some years I need to feel like I can write something new into existence.
This year I just wanted to spring clean and re-set my creative system.
So I spent two whole days last week removing all the old to-do lists, old inspiration material and old designs etc from my board and filing them away without a telling off from myself if they never came to anything – everything finds a time and place eventually, this I am learning.
Birds have been on my mind for a while now. I often find that I am percolating inspiration when I’m working on other things and collecting towards the beginning of a project.
And how! When I started filling up the board (which is huge) I found I didn’t have room for everything without taping stuff to the walls and hanging a mini-washing line up too.
I love it. It is a creative volcano of birdy inspiration.
My friend Dana had been painting birds just before Christmas. I was so taken with this Blue Jay and so delighted when he came to live with me here.
And what serendipity that he arrived in the mail on the day I was finishing my pinning up. She has such a talent – have a look in her shop if you’d like your own bird.
I also had a new teapot for Christmas and some new bird tiles and when I got out my collection of bird books I could see just how long I have been percolating this collection.
I’ll show the books on their own one day as this is already a photo heavy post and the books deserve to be seen close-up as the illustrations are beautiful.
And then as if to seal the deal, this weekend I opened my Country Living magazine to find even more inspiration in the form of this…
I could be here for some while!
Lately I have been as happy as a pig in muck, painting butterflies.
There is something about them that always catches my eye – whether it’s on fabric or stationary. And I was lucky enough recently to find both a vintage set of pinned butterflies and an old encyclopedia of butterflies and moths, so I’ve lots of reference materials.
When we were in Paris I saw these printed butterflies made into push-pins – gorgeous but pricey. So I decided it was something that I really could do myself.
I painted them on really heavy weight watercolour paper and gave them a coat of acrylic varnish to keep them from smudging when they’re used.
Then I folded down each side of the body to lift the wings and make it look more realistic.
I bought some map pins with dark round heads and glued them through the painted butterflies.
And viola! I now have lovely pins on the noticeboard.
Today would normally have been my first day back in school teaching but this term heralds a whole new change of life for me.
It feels strange after so many years of a familiar rhythm. I’m sad not to have that catch-up chat with colleagues and sad to not to see the children but I’m also excited about my new future.
So while someone else has been doing playground duty, marking books and coping with school stress, I’ve been doing something altogether different today.
I have recently been a stylist for John who publishes How2Craft books. He is currently adding additional soaps to Make Your Own Soap by Joy James and he asked if I’d work as his stylist. Hell – yeah Dream job!
My job is to prep the photo’s ready for taking by making vignettes that suit the ingredients or style of the soap and hold the light (which might mean sitting on the toilet to do so!) and generally tweak and dust and fiddle so that the shots look fabulous.
And they do!
- So day 2 of this painting began with the roses blocked in with colour in a race against time to capture the colours and shapes.
- I love to use the wet-in-wet technique when I first block in the colour. I mix up and main three of four colours I see and then paint them in simultaneously and let them bleed and run into each other. The beauty of gouache over acrylic is that I can ‘wake’ up that dried paint at any stage which is what I tend to do once it’s dried and I’m giving the petals a further wash of colour and some detailing.
- It took me along time to paint around the roses and put in such a complicated background – thank heavens for audible!
- I made the blue paler than it actually is, purposefully as I didn’t want to over-power the pink flower heads.
- Finally on day 3 I painted in the leaves, vase and china bird. After 3 solid days it was exciting to be on the home run now and adding that pop of bright leaf-green got me excited to see the finished piece.
- I think this painting has an old world quality about it mainly due to the style and colour of the rose which reminds me of 1950′s greetings cards.
As I grow older my memory gets worse, so I found myself this afternoon going through the last year of photo’s muttering “Was that this year? Really?” The above photo says a lot of what this year has brought. It’s easy to forget once it’s passed, where you’ve been and the fear and risks taken, but to end the year with six paintings in two local shows has been my biggest dream come true this year.
I stuck to my painting day like it was real work (tongue is in cheek there) and made it a habit. Out of that came all this painting and creativity and peace and sanity. I kept going and found I’d built a body of work which I could call a portfolio. I finally learnt how to use Photoshop and found endless possibilities open up. I approached a new gallery and continued to have selections for an exisiting one.
It would also appear that I make a lot of cakes! Some for birthday’s other just because I feel like the world is the right way up if there is cake in the tin to be eaten.
We moved house after eleven long years in a beautiful house which saw us bring up our babies. It was a wrench. But we moved only five minutes away and I’ve never looked back. This house has space in abundance, the woods on hand like an extra garden and so many opportunities for decorating (tongue back in cheek). I’d even forgotten the garden furniture fiasco (six days to paint with the wrong paint). Then there is my studio space which is the cherry, and icing and sprinkles, on top of the cake.
The support and love of friends and family is hard to document here as not many want their pic’s on the web but you underscore everything I am and do. Even our pets play a big part – with one miracle guinea-pig surviving the death knoll of the vet.
There has been an abundance of sewing (a new quilt made) trying to crochet, learning to crochet and then actual real, useable crochet!
And then there’s you. Some of whom I feel I know because we exchange comments online, my friends and family and those of you who drop by anonymously. Thank you for enjoying my blog, or using it or being inspired by it.
I wish all of you a light-filled, peaceful New Year. Claire x
Here’s a little tour…
Room to have fake flowers, tins, stained glass and other still life props out to be enjoyed.
I don’t think this chair is staying as it’s needed else where but I’m going to look out for a replacement as it’s lovely to sit up there and dream.
Hope you enjoyed this picture tour, I know I’m the luckiest girl alive to have this space. Thanks for all the lovely comments this week.