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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.

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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…

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!

                                                       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!

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

 Protea_© Claire_Leggett

A little painting inspired by the beautiful South African Protea via my local Marks and Spencers!

Yesterday we had such luck with the weather shining down on the Mixed Media Collage Canvas workshop at Winterbourne House and Gardens.

The Old Tool Shed where the workshop was held, is always a vintage cutie in whatever weather but the gardens looked magnificent in the blazing sunshine.

We were able to go around the grounds and draw and then use these drawings as reference in the students painting.

This is Dawn hard at work and the Beehive piece she finished.

Lots of fun was had painting and layering the collage base.

It always amazes me the breadth of artistic vision people have to create something unique given that they all had the same input.

Many chose not to reference birds but had other good ideas for their pieces.

And everyone took home a ready to hang piece of art.

 (*Shauna, you’d gone before the photo was taken – sorry)

 

Angela, this one is just for you 🙂 Thanks for asking 😉

Some more snippets from the pages of my Fish Sketchbook (see previous post) showing bits of pattern exploration, a little painting, rust dying, block printing, collage, string printing, applique and free motion embroidery.

claire-leggett_mark-making_tagged

I’ve been Spring cleaning of late – you know all those little jobs that you put off but need resolving eventually. So I’ve cleared and filed my desktop…dating back two years! collated all my pattern designing files into one place which was a major task and I’m making inroads into clearing out iphoto.

pink_perch_75dpi_tagged_claire_leggett

Which has prompted me to show you what i’ve been working away at over the last few months alongside other painting and design work.

Every 3 months I get a new group investigating textiles at MAC and I like to have a theme to demonstrate the techniques to and to show how you can develop ideas along an idea.

I was inspired by all things fishy when we were in the South of France in the summer and so that was my theme with my last group.

tropical-fish-direct-dye-_-claire-leggett

Above is a demo of open screen direct dye printing – fish scale style.

It’s always good to play around in a sketch book and I generate so many samples that I find it helpful to theme them into a book.

Students seem to appreciate looking at them and getting their own ideas of what to do.

And I love looking at students sketchbooks – one of the best things about textiles is that there is always something new to try or a new way of seeing or applying a technique.

We use a wide range of approaches in Mixed Media Textiles at MAC Birmingham and so I set myself the task of including a piece of all those techniques into one final piece.

An underwater scene lent itself nicely to the many layers of textile applications.

Hope you had an enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend whatever you were doing x

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