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On Saturday 7th May I’m running a lovely workshop at Winterbourne House & Gardens, Birmingham, where we will create little garden landscapes using heat reactive dyes, fabric markers and hand stitches. I’ve also booked wall to wall sunshine so we can fully enjoy the gardens 😉

If it sounds like something you’d like to do then please book here and I look forward to seeing you there.

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.

As I use my blog as a diary and also as a reminder, I’m taking the liberty of playing with chronology!

We took this break in Shropshire 2 months ago back in October but I never managed to write this in a timely fashion.

And I wanted to remember many of the good things about it and not the dark and winding lane we had to endure for 15 mins before we got anywhere from the house nor the brief visit from a rat in the floorboard cavity!

But this photo pretty much sums the rest up 🙂

The surrounding landscape was beautiful and made all the more so by moody, rainy weather some days.

And being surrounded by nature (and having slow days) makes me want to draw and paint which feels like a luxury.

As does breakfasts like these.

Lottie is getting on now (11+) and each holiday usually brings a limp or broken nail but she is undaunted by the repairs to her cruciate ligaments or her arthritis and so it’s a joy to see her dashing about the country while we’re enjoying it too.

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.

I am a third of the way through my #100daysproject of painting 100 things growing in my garden.

Any sustained effort on a project has highs and lows; I have had days of lag and disinterest, days where time is just too short and I fall behind and days of joy and peace found painting in quiet spots.

Mostly it’s been a good discipline. A bit too time consuming on some days.

But I’m loving having a little book recording my garden growing.

And above all it’s forced me to identify and name all the plants I’m recording which has been very enlightening and informative.

On with the next!

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.

The garden still has some treasures to be found worth painting – I have left flowers to go to seed so that there are interesting seed heads, the ornamental quince has fruited and the Marigolds soldier on regardless and all of these make lovely things to paint on this sunny day.

Just back from a lovely break surrounded by nature in West Wales.

We enjoyed lots of slow time – I love how waiting 10 mins for a kettle to boil on a gas stove really stops you in your tracks and makes you breathe.

We walked a lot – fields, beaches and nature reserves. Lottie enjoyed these to the utmost.

It was just an all round great embrace with nature, a change of pace and place.

Last week, we originally we had a weeks camping planned in Wales but they cancelled us at the last minute (campsite was a mud-slide) so we condensed our holiday into the only two days that Port Merion could accommodate us.

But what a lovely two days it was! 

Port Merion is is a village built in the style of an Italian village but in North Wales. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975.

It’s quirky, pretty, tucked away from the rest of the world and you can stay in the houses you see or the hotels. 

There is love and attention to architectural detail everywhere and that is matched by the abundant natural habitat and views – it’s an all round winner in my opinion. 

It’s one of my all time favourite places to visit.

We did all the walks – (coastal, woodland and ‘the other one’) marvelling at wild Bee-Orchids, the range of colour and type of naturally growing Hydrangeas and the size of the sea (high after a stormy night) and size of the sky (BIG skies).

You can read a fuller history here if you’re interested.

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