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Here in no particular order of date painted or size, are the 12 paintings I have completed as part of my Artist in Residency at Winterbourne House and Gardens, Birmingham University.
I like to work in many styles as a response to what I’m seeing to paint.
Most are gouache watercolour layered up with texture and washes of colour. But there are also a couple of mixed media pieces with acrylic.
I started out with grand plans to document the seasons passing or the same plants at different points in time but actually I was quickly over whelmed by how much growing goes on and how much there was to document in so many valid ways.
In the end I opted for a simple formula – I painted whatever brought me joy, whenever, wherever it did.
This project has stretched and challenged my ability as an artist to capture landscape, light, the feel of a place and working to represent a lot of visual information even in smaller works.

Summer Border was one of those easy designs that came about when I least expected (or planned) for it.

When I remember back, I was feeling the need to just sit and paint quietly and re-balance my equilibrium. So I did just that, looking at reference photos I had taken I simply let the flowers fill the page.

There was just something that hit the spot about the flow of shapes and colours and after a minimal amount of cleaning and duplication of elements, I had it in technical repeat. You can see the repeat below.

It’s always fun to then play around with the background colour but I came full circle back to the original white as all the colours work on it and it keeps it fresh.

With the best will in the world there’s no way I could print this by hand using a screen – I shall use a digital printer to reproduce this when  it’s time to exhibit a length.

 

 

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My residency period at Winterbourne House & Gardens is coming to a close at the end of this month so I thought I’d catch this space up with some of the work I’ve completed.Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 14.35.22

There has been a wealth of inspiration – too much to do full justice to. I have had to pace myself and just do what presented itself in the moment.

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Sometimes that was scenery and sometimes individual plants.

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And it’s fed into the production of all sorts of outcomes which I’ll share here – textiles, printed and embroidered, paintings, pattern designs and two sketchbooks bursting with reference material. Videos of these are best seen on my Instagram pages-  one here on my Residency page http://www.instagram.com/artist_winterbournehg and one on my personal Instagram page instagram.com/claire_leggett –  both up at the top in the Hilights reel.

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How the time just flies by! There I was preparing a catch up blog post about my work as Artist-in-Residence at Winterbourne House and Gardens and then all of a sudden the weather has changed, the gardens developed and what I had to show you looks distinctly wintery!

This week has been glorious, unlike the preceeding two which rained on and off so much I couldn’t chance getting out to draw or paint without a small soaking. Consequently the gardens are thriving and growing. The Anthemis border looks absolutely stunning at the moment and is top of my list to work on given long enough to do so.

I spent a day drawing arounds the grounds on Monday (and looking at old maps in the archives) getting some visual reference for some print work I’m doing and also some embroidery.

Prior to that April brought a beautiful Flowering Japonica which grew all white and blossomy in a dark corner of the garden providing lots of contrast.

I’m spinning a lot of plates atm on a lot of projects and the only way I can move forward is to do a little on all fronts and wait for the bucket to fill! I’m working in bursts when time allows but importantly, enjoying all the variety. This week in preparation of teaching my MAC Birmingham students how to print in repeat, I drew on Mondays Foxglove studies and printed a nodding row of these lovely flowers.

And if you’re interested in stitching and embroidery, this lovely workshop at Winterbourne is on sale now and you can read about it here – it’d be lovely to meet you in real life 🙂

 

Our trip to Southern Asia earlier this year (here, here, here and here) was rich in visual and cultural inspiration.

I’ve honestly felt a little overwhelmed by how deep and far I could go into this vibrant feast of creative stimulus and output – whether to start with painting or stitch or print. And all the while I’m spinning the other plates of my self-employment as an artist: delivery/teaching and all the admin that it takes to run a small business. It can be distracting and actually difficult to get time to be creative some weeks.

So I just began. One day unceremoniously. Just where I was. No fanfare or special time set aside. I just started. I took off simply by doing a little each day – whatever I had time for.

As I teach screen-printing and mixed media textiles twice a week at MAC, I kicked off this intention by focusing my preparation for these classes on my Asia photos – and I have a lot to choose from as I took nearly 7000! inc duplicates for a better shot – you know? So to make that task less anxiety inducing, I split those into files: Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I currently haven’t got to the end of the 2.243 photos taken in Malaysia!

So if I was demonstrating cutting a screen-print stencil I based it on a motif from of a beautiful textile in the National Textile Museum in Kuala Lumpur or if I was making an example of free-machine embroidery for my Mixed Media Textiles class I referenced a drawing I’d done from a beautiful silk kimono.

Sometimes that was a basic quick line drawing, other times I had paints out to use. On some evenings I have doodled in front of the TV on my ipad pro – not that I’m especially proficient but it’s a great way to easily draw and digitalise your handwork.

It’s true what they say about ‘a little and often’ –  gradually my pile of Asia work is coming to life.

On Saturday 18th May 2019 The Tutors Exhibition  – at macbirmingham opens and in it will be one of my pattern design pieces and products – would you like to hear the story of how it came about?

I recently watched The Creative Brain on Netflix, which advocated the importance of open-ended play for creativity to blossom and this, is very much a story of that process too.

It all began with a painting I did one afternoon where I textured up a piece of watercolour paper with a lovely deckled edge and then overlaid white paint leaving the negative space to describe birds flying. And that was it – that piece of creativity sparked something else and off I went down that rabbit hole leaving this painting in the plan-chest drawer for a few months.

Then by a series of serendipitous events I found myself a member of the wonderful SteamhouseUK community where I get to play about with the most amazing array of machines and learn techniques and processes that have been invented since I was last in college.

Sublimation printing (or dye sublimation printing as it is sometimes also known) is the process of transferring images onto a fabric (or other substrate) using a heat-press to print the image. At macbirmingham we have a heat-press and we use disperse dyes to paint and print onto paper which can then be heat-pressed onto fabric (if you think that sounds fun come along to my Tues afternoon class and have a go!)

But I had never hoped to ever have access to using an actual Sublimation printer until now! In this case the disperse dyes are in the printer ink cartridges and the computer sends your image to print onto heat resistant paper in wide format.

At Steamhouse the heat-press can print onto fabric up to 175cm in width. The heat-press technique is also great for capturing textures in designs onto fabric. The Tutors show was coming up. All this got me thinking what could I make with the size of fabric that I could print to exhibit for the show?

One morning I woke up with the answer ringing clearly in my mind and it didn’t take long to make it a reality – I’m single-minded like that sometimes – use the Swifts painting to make a pattern and construct a kimono!

The pattern had to be cut down the back and re-seamed in order for all the pieces to fit one at a time into the heat-press for printing and the Swifts pattern was easy enough to put into technical repeat using Photoshop so that I could use the sublimation printer to print an all over repeating pattern.

After that it was a steady job to sew it all together nicely including a partial lining so it looked good hanging up for exhibition.

If you’re local and can make it to MAC to see the show ( – Tues – Sun, 11am – 5pm, First Floor Gallery) you’ll see that kimono hanging on the wall and who knows, after the exhibition is over I may even wear it 😉

Just popping in with a few catch-up pieces from my residency at Winterbourne House and Garden.

It’s been hard to catch a good time to be out painting because of the sudden changes in weather and temperature. One solution has been to work in miniature, although these paintings still take quite a time.

 

Everything is growing very fast and I’m trying my best to catch a little bit of it all as there’s no way I can do all of it justice. The Auriculas have long been a favourite of mine so it was nice to capture them.

This little guy had to be caught on canvas having visited me whilst sketching one day and had a good long proper chat and even hopped around the side of me as if to see what I was doing.

Still catching up my blog – back in January I re-introduced myself on Instagram after realising that even my old friends weren’t really sure what I do day-to-day. So here it is for any of you who’d like to know too 😉

Hi friends, family and followers HNY! 🍾
I met an old friend who’d I’d lost touch with and it made me realise that these pictures here don’t fully describe my Work Life and so I’m starting a fresh year with one of those little Insta intro’s people do….
28 years ago I graduated in Textile Design specialising in Printed Textiles.
26 years ago I got my teaching qualification and began teaching Primary-aged kids with a specialism in kids with Additional Needs.
7 years ago I stepped out of the school classroom and into other places and spaces where I can teach people, work with kids and develop my own art practice.
👩🏻‍🎨 I’m an artist at heart and I love to paint. And print. And add colour to things. And meet people and share art and creativity and the good it brings.
📆I hardly have a typical week (which I love) but it might look like this:
🖼 I spend some of my time painting pictures to sell and until May 2020 I have the whole of Winterbourne House and Gardens @winterbournehg to inspire me as I am Artist in Residence there @artist_winterbournehg come and follow that account too if you like!
🌳🏢I work regularly @macbirmingham teaching Mixed Media Textiles on a Thurs night, Pattern-design/Screen-printing and Heat Transfer-printing on a Tues afternoon, running a Baby Creative class (messy/sensory play) and also the cutest Toddler Art Group. 👬👭
Then there’s work that comes in blocks such as delivering a whole range of multi-disciplinary workshops locally at places like @birmingham_mag and @winterbournehg for adults and children, working with local and national social enterprise groups developing skills with a group of refugees and offering paint-therapy for ShelterUK and I also take workshops and demonstrations on the road to art groups as far as my travelling time can take me.
🤫I design patterns commercially using any number of ways; print methods, stitch and all sorts of paint techniques and a local print agent takes them out to the textile fairs to sell them on my behalf. It’s secret work (copyright issues) and not often seen here.
📺 And of a night I still knit, weave, stitch and crochet in front of the telly because I love to.

Thank you for reading if you got this far x

I thought I’d just pop in today and update my blog on my first three weeks of residency at the University of Birmingham Winterbourne House and Gardens.

I have been blessed with great weather and tried to make the most of it by painting outside as much as possible.

I have a room on site to call my studio and it leads out onto a flat roof with a magnificent birds-eye view of the walled garden (you can see where in this photo below)

I threw myself in lock, stock and barrel with a huge painting which is taking many hours and many layers to bring to fruition. I find there is a magic to painting outside ‘en plein air’ – the way I perceive colours in the daylight is brighter and more vibrant and I can see other colours in the shadows as the light changes during the day. However good a photograph is it doesn’t beat reading real colours and textures from an actual scene in front of you.

That said I’m not a massive fan of painting at an easel, preferring a desk, and I feel that this piece is about ready for a finial bout of finish which I find easier to achieve at home in the studio on a table.

This was the first piece I finished – the Urban Veg Plot – started above on site and finished from photos. There is so much inspiration around I can barely keep up with all I want to do!

If you like, follow along in real-time on my Artist in Residence Instagram page – click here  -where I post more regularly.

I am absolutely delighted to share the news with you that I am Artist in Residence at the University of Birmingham Winterbourne House and Gardens until May 2020.

 Winterbourne House and Gardens was a charming family home built in 1904 in the Arts and Crafts style. The last family to live in it bequeathed it to the University of Birmingham who used it for accommodation, offices and to teach botany from. In 2006 it got a new lease of life and has gone on to become a Grade II Garden of National Importance and now the house has full museum status. It is a treasure hidden away in the center of urban Birmingham.

 I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to spend the next 18 months walking the public and private paths painting and drawing what I see. I am trying to ease into the project without giving myself too many restraints on what I make of it (painting, patterns, textile work) there is abundant inspiration – but for now I’m seeing where the work leads me by letting the grounds inspire what I do first .

And this was the first little plot that made my heart beat faster – this cute little shed hidden away from public access (unless you study with the RHS) It was used by the BBC for a gardening programme years ago.

Yesterday I sat in the sunshine and got most of this piece sketched in – the hardest part is always beginning, so that’s done now!

My residency will evolve to include all kinds of offerings at Winterbourne during the 18 months and finale with an exhibition in May 2020.

I will be sharing this journey on my new Artist in Residence (artist_winterbournehg)Instagram page : www.instagram.com/artist_winterbournehg/ 

 and also on my personal Instagram page: http://www.instagram.com/claire_leggett/and here on the blog

I’d love you to join with me in this exciting chapter; I will be working on site regularly – so please come up to the studio above the bookshop or say hello if you spot me around the grounds – below is my Artist Statement for good measure.

Claire Leggett Artist in Residence 2018 – 2020_Statement

 

 

 

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