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I’m so happy to say that I’m going to start running Painting & Drawing Flowers at Winterbourne House & Gardens. This is a class that I have developed and run for a few years and now it has a new, super inspiring home.

What better place to find beautiful flowers, plants and leaves to draw and paint.

Just being in the grounds is going to be inspiring and we will work outside when we can and in the studio at other times.

It’s a class designed for everyone at whatever level of experience you may be – I’m a great believer in the emphasis being on enjoyment not output so just come along and have fun being creative.

The first block of classes is up for sale here each Tuesday from 10.30-12.30, June 6th – July 11th 2023. Then another block will run in October/November time.

£125 for all six 2 hour classes (inc your entry fee) come for coffee and leave for lunch and enjoy the garden all day.

We will use charcoal, pencil, watercolours, acrylics, chalk & oil pastels as we study plants in real life and works by past and contemporary artists.

And we’ve kept the course cost low by you supplying your own materials – you’ll mostly need to buy paper and I’ll have some bits available to use each week – it won’t be an extensive material list, promise.

You can book here.

I began this new year wanting a fresh personal project to work on and wanting to *play* a bit in my work and just follow inspiration where it led me.

That feeling also coincided with a growing interest in being able to name the birds that frequent my garden and also the purchase of a pair of binoculars.

A few months later on and I have completed my very own book of garden birds.

I dug out a few of my favourite vintage bird books for both good information and great reference pictures.

And I studied up before I began painting each feathered friend. Once you’re not in education, its easy to forget the gains from reading up and learning.

Over some months, in and amongst other work and things going on, I compiled some illustrations of birds – the only pre-requisite being that I included only birds that I’ve seen in my garden. The Jay and the Woodpecker have stopped for a nosey but not often or for very long.

I once had the magical experience of actually watching momma Wren fledge her chicks out of the nest in our hedge and chase them down the garden willing them to fly for the first time.

I had already decided to bind these paintings into a book format and so I set up the pages with that in mind.

I decided to hand write all the information pages and keep the true handmade feel through and through. I painted an abstract leaf pattern for the cover and set to putting it all together with glue and waxed string.

And I’m delighted with it in so many ways – I can use my own work to reference and teach myself and there’s something so scrummy about a handmade book which also makes a perfect place to keep a body of work intact.

If you’d like to see all the birds and the films I made of making the book and the book itself, then head over to either Instagram here or Facebook here

As a painter who also designs surface patterns for fabrics etc, I am always instinctively drawn to find the pattern in landcapes.

I’ve recently re-learnt the benefit of repeat drawing and painting the same scene using a variety of medias. In doing this the mind, eye and hand join forces to develop a language of mark-making to represent the landscape and as one makes more responses of the same scene, one begins to edit colours and marks too.

And for me, that’s where the ideas for future patterns begin to emerge.

It’s been a while since I’ve painted much. You have to be in the right emotional space to create like that. And not too busy with other things! But in recent weeks the Spring flowers have been calling me and I’ve pushed myself over the line and wet my brush.

Happy New Year. It’s been a busy start but I find being out teaching has a positive effect on the time I have at home to create my own work – better time management when there’s less of it to ‘waste’!

Early in 2019 we took a trip to SE Asia – Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. 3 years later and I am still sketch-booking away through all the visual reference I collected.

I have printed, sewn, drawn and painted a lot of work and now I’m pinning it all up to live with and waiting for another wave of inspiration to guide me as to what to make of it all next.

Finding time to create is a juggle when teaching creativity is my mainstay.

Being around students in itself is exciting and inspiring; watching them run with new concepts and dedicate their time to learning and evolving always rubs back off onto me.

So with term winding down I’ve found some spaces to attend to my own work.

And as the garden itself is less demanding in time during the Winter there was a synchronicity to using it as a muse.

The bare structure of the leaf-less plants inspired a pared down colour palette of black and white materials both to draw with and sew.

I walked from top to bottom of the garden, drawing for 2 mins here and there and created a long roll drawing which I then translated into applique, foiling and stitches (also in a long format)

With Midwinter passing yesterday and the Christmas holidays beginning tomorrow, now is a good time to take stock and plan what projects will be next.

Term has just wrapped up on my Painting and Drawing Flowers course at mac birmingham.

Over 12 weeks I’ve guided the students through some foundational exercises on tone, understanding and mixing colours, using watercolours, acrylics, pastels, inks and much more.

We have played with salt and masking fluid to create floral effects.

And also mixed all the toys in our art-boxes together to create with mixed-media.

We usually have an artist to reference each week – a great master/mistress or contemporary artist- whoever has work that is most useful for us to study at the time.

It has been really rewarding watching the students build their skills and knowledge and find their unique ways towards their own painting style and choice.

Some were very botanically inspired and wanted watercolour lightness, while others found using paint more thickly a rewarding experience.

I support whatever the individual artists inclination is and help them progress from where they are.

What was common amongst them was an enjoyment of painting and drawing and having the dedicated time to sit down together to do it.

If it sounds like something you’d like too, then places are booking now for the new term start on January 10th 2022 – love to have you with us.

PS – in case it allays any fears.. we sit socially distanced, air the room and wear masks.

Made it!

Wow, that was a marathon adventure and like all good runners, towards then end I had to slow down rather than just stop and call it quits.

But like all things, its when you’re stretched and challenged that growth occurs.

The daily (or technically I should say sustained) practice of showing up to paint has indeed kept me creative and accountable for doing so.

And I have found that my muscle memory and my hand eye co-ordination has improved and that I’m as surprised as anyone when I can capture a plant in a few strokes of a brush and with a limited colour range.

In short, practice makes you better at looking and capturing.

Which shouldn’t surprise me really.

We know if we exercise that our muscles become stronger but probably don’t talk much in those terms of the process of practising creatively.

And we should, because it does work the same way.

I have thoroughly enjoyed naming the plants in my garden – many of which I have inherited from the previous owners or Mother Nature.

And I have a unexpected sense of satisfaction to have two books full of catalogued plant names.

But I am glad it’s finished now and as the season winds down I won’t have the challenge of finding something new to include.

With hindsight 100 was a lot and maybe 75 would have suited me just enough.

So when I calculated that there were only enough pages in the book for 96 I took that as a divine compromise 😉

I have been falling and leaping my way through this #100dayproject of Painting Something From My Garden Everday.

It’s not quite been everyday in a daily sense – more like nothing some days and three things another.

But for the most part it’s become a regular practice and I’ve kept up…just.

Some days I accepted a less than polished finished piece in favour of doing something rather than nothing.

I’ve also embraced my garden weeds and found them to be pretty and deserving of a place in the final book.

I’ve developed a mix of approaches to method and media.

On some rainy days I was forced to complete the work inside and I found the results were far better than when I’m painting irl.

However the feeling of, the experience of painting outside is far greater and brought a greater deal of well-being that gets lost as soon as it becomes studio work.

And I have enjoyed playing again with coloured pencils, pastels and collages solutions to painting white flowers on white paper.

That’s about it for now as things reach the final stretch – thank you for reading.

On June 1st I decided I’d commit to doing a 100days project. There were a few reasons for this:

For Christmas I got given a seed advent calendar which has been a lot of fun but also a lot of work – 25 different kinds of annuals to grow has kept me on my toes in the greenhouse. But it also means I have a lot of lovely plants to enjoy.

I had also enjoyed my residency at Winterbourne H&G so much that I had decided to try and document my own garden in a similar matter. However as is often the case when things are at home, it seems harder to paint and draw in my own garden. I have found time to do some studies and textile work but it doesn’t document the changes as I’d hoped because I can’t keep up the frequency of work needed.

Lastly, I’m back working at MAC (hurrah) and when I’m focussing on delivery I often find my own creativity takes a backseat.

So for all those reasons I started 100days of drawing/painting something in my own garden.

It doesn’t need to be finished or good and it can be quick or slow and I’m also finding I automatically apply several styles to my work but I’m not over-thinking it – just doing it, noticing and letting it be whatever it is.

Here’s the first six days.

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