A week ago today we were soaking up the sunshine in Giverny, France, visiting Monet’s house and garden.

I think it’s a sign of ageing that I enjoy the nostalgia of a place such as this,

that and it’s cute, old world french-ness.

He lived here for forty-three years from 1883 to 1926 and I love theres still the sense that (however romantic and untrue it may be!) that he just sat here, or ate there…


The original house was very small and Monet enlarged it on both sides making it not very deep but very wide, which is kind of nice as there are now lots of windows all looking onto the garden.

The barn next to the house was adapted to become his studio although it was mostly for storage as he painted in the open air.

Above it’s the product of patience – below the reality! People everywhere.

Monet chose all the colours in the house and particularly wanted the blue kitchen to show through to the yellow dining room.

If you visit and happen to arrive when the queue to look around the house is small, then my advice is do it before the garden. We couldn’t resist the garden first and ended up with a long hot queue in the sun.

Hope you’ve enjoyed an armchair tour – here’s some fun facts I happened across if you want more 🙂

 

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This past weekend we nipped over to Normandy, France to visit Monet’s garden in Giverny.

It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for years and HB had a spontaneous moment of birthday gifting and made it happen.

I’d heard a lot before I went about how small it was, how many visitors crammed in to see it, how it was the wrong season for this and that…

Some of that may be true – here’s a ‘truth’ photo of the constant crowds getting the bridge shot!

But generally I found that most people seemed to be storming around as they only had limited time on their coach/cruise ship excursion and so if you just linger and wait a quiet spot does open up around you.

The planting is unbelievable – whether you’re a gardener or a painter (or neither!) you can’t fail to appreciate it.

The borders are planted up in great long swathes of tonal groups – all yellows, reds and oranges or pinks or a quiet harmony of all-white plants.

It’s hard to get a really good photo of that as you are only allowed to walk the perimeter paths and not actually in and through the garden.

To get to the water lilies you use an under-the-road tunnel as Monet bought a plot of land across the road from the house and garden and landscaped it.

It’s much quieter in both its planting and because of the tranquility that all the water brings.

You can also paint in the gardens after hours Mon – Fri (not the weekends) by buying an artists pass at the ticket booth on the day you want to paint – buy the ticket between 5/5.30pm and then wait for the gardens to close and go back in after 6pm till 8pm.

If you want details I think the press office was the best source of information (details here)

It’s also worth knowing I think, that even if you print out your e-ticket and take it with you still have to stand in queue to go through with all those buying their tickets at the door. We had  a false sense of security that we would get flagged through an express queue -no! so we were glad we’d gone early on in the day.

I’ll do a another post showing the house soon.

Here to talk roses! They’ve been brilliant this year until a few weeks back when we began this tropical weather we’re enjoying in the UK and a month in they’ve suffered from lack of water.

This week I’ve dedicated myself to trying to paint some before they’re completely passed it but they’ve wilted as fast as I can paint them.

A messy rose strewn desk is a lovely thing though.

So I’ve done what I can and I’m off to enjoy a g&t in the sun – happy weekend 🙂

On Saturday I had the pleasure to be back in Nottingham with the Spotted Dog Art Group.

They rose magnificently to the challenge of abstracting landscapes through colour and brushwork.


As you can see here from the landscape inspiration, use of colour and being able to see things differently were the keys to success.

And it didn’t matter what kind of landscape scene it was (above is industrial, below coastal) the artists successfully abstracted through colour changes and seeing in shapes.

Everyone kept their own artistic signature whilst all having the same input and ideas on how to start and develop their work into the non-representative and this is what I find endlessly fascinating and exciting about teaching and working alongside other artists.

I count myself lucky when work is such a pleasure – if I lived near Nottingham, I’d join in a heartbeat.

Until next year…

One of my favourite ways to work is with a gelatin plate for mono-printing.

The process itself is messy-fun and the result, although not always what you expected to get, is always something interesting and useable.

When we’d been to Amsterdam a few years back, I did a lots of gelatin plate printing of the cute houses found there.

You can make effective stencils by cutting photographs directly – the gloss coated paper is great for this kind of printing.

I like to sew and applique into these prints to add details, further colour and visual texture and interest. But you can print effectively onto paper or fabric and they are a great source for any printmaker, scrapbooker or artist who might like to print and use texture, pattern or imagery to paint with, collage with or work further into with textile treatments.

If that’s got your interest and you’re within reach of MAC Birmingham then I am running a gelatin plate printing class on Thursday June 21st – tickets here.

If not then have a ‘google’ and give it a go – it’s a lot of fun 🙂

 

 

This year has been a brilliant one for my Hellebores which have quadrupled in size.

I’ve been wanting to paint them for some time but couldn’t bring myself to cut any when there were only one or two flowers – but this year is quite different.

I’ve been playing around painting onto darker grounds than usual and I quite like it. It really helps those whites to stand out and it adds a little drama. These were both acrylics on tissue paper; the latter bringing a lovely dappled background which shone through the paint still.

I love a new discovery!

There is a very small but sweet exhibition of some of the Scottish Colourists work from The Fleming Collection on show at the Barber Institute atm.

Peploe      Green Sea, Iona

Peploe, Cadell, Fergusson and Hunter were four friends who shared the same ideas about colour and style and were inspired by French painters experimenting with capturing light through colour.

Cadell        Carnations

They were inspired by The Fauves (which is of course why I like their work) and they also favoured bright colours, unmixed pigments and strong solid colours.

They termed their use of colour and obvious brushstrokes as ‘Rhythm’ to explain the patterning and texture on the canvas.

Hunter            Peonies in a Chinese Vase

You can forget about places when you live near them and this trip reminded me that the Barber Institutes permanent collection is also worth a visit.

The Rhythm of Light exhibition is on till 13th May 2018.

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                                                       Muscari © Claire Leggett

The last few weeks have been very busy with HB’s 50th birthday celebrations and I had lots of kiddie classes to teach over the Easter break. However Spring flowers wait for no-one so as soon as these bloomed I made sure to grab some time to paint them. I’m glad I did – it turned out alright and was good for sanity and soul!

Just back from a few days away in Portugal – Lisbon and Sintra.

Here’s Lisbon looking moody (read that as bad weather) My umbrella, gloves and hat were the best things I packed.


When in Portugal you must partake of the Pastel de nata – a Portuguese egg tart pastry that it’s famous for.

And of course there are old and new tiled buildings everywhere.

Heaven for the pattern lover here!

This was my favourite tile and that’s no men feat because I probably photographed 50 plus!

And of course one must ride on and also photograph the ubiquitous old yellow tram.

We also went out to Sintra (an hour away from Lisbon) a lovely rich, old town bursting with old palaces and old mansions with beautiful gardens to explore. The stand-out place being this: The Pena Palace.

There are more (and different) photos over on my Instagram account  here if you enjoyed.

 

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Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of running an Expressive Watercolours workshop for Birmingham Carers in partnership with Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. 

A lovely group of ladies (it turned out, although that’s not a requirement!) enjoyed sometime playing with watercolour, salt, wax and gum resists.

I always love working with people and seeing the breath and individuality of the art each person has in them.

This group was a particular privilege to be with because of the respite it offered them from the caring work they do.

BMAG offer not only monthly session but tea and cake too – if you’re a carer living in Birmingham and want to access the service then I think here is a good starting point : forwardcarers.org.uk

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