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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!

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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!

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Back in August of last year we holidayed in Spain and I posted about it here. I love to travel to new places most particularly because of the new inspiration it brings for paintings and designs and I love to record it all.

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However I have analysed myself and realised that I take so many photos and document everything that the quantity of the following work can be too over whelming to begin, and so I don’t. And/or I leave to too long and the moment’s passed and the inspiration is stale and goes to waste.

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So I have been determined to change this pattern and have been working away at Spanish inspired things in between other work and commitments and I’d like to share and record it here. So seven months later here’s some of my holiday snaps and the work its inspired.

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We began with a week in Granada which in itself is a lovely city (can only vouch for the old part as we never went any further) It has all the old buildings and culture that you’d want plus a young beating heart  – it mixes the two well. I was also surprised to find all the same things in shops that we’d bartered for in Marrakesh but sold without the stress here!

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 Granada is very hilly and the payoff for a hike is the view. I happen to love a roof top view or one where the land looks thrown out like a patchwork quilt.

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 I used acrylics for this piece and was trying to match my joy of the place with my experience of painting it – sometimes I try too hard and loose the essence. So I layered it up letting colours show through and applied a Fauvist approach by turning up the saturated colours next to the cool ones.

View From Alhambra Cl_Up 4

I kept a painterly and patterned approach because that’s what I saw looking out over all those geometric shapes and loved every minute of making this because it was joyful to make once I’d released myself from any photorealistic necessity.

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Once I got going I couldn’t stop at one – I’ll show you the other one tomorrow.

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Who knew that painting over tinfoil could be such fun!

Beginnings

That’s what sketch book play is all about isn’t it? Those unexpected successes.

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I’m really happy with this little piece – I think it captures the feeling of a night in the Djemaa El-Fna (the main square in Marrakesh)

Djemaa El-Fna

It can be a bit of a stressful place with lots of locals out to get your money through one scam or another but it looks nice and twinkly!

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Here’s wishing you a happy Bank Holiday weekend 🙂

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It’s Moseley Arts market again tomorrow – was the last one really only four weeks ago?

claire leggett sm notebks wrapped

Time seems to have condensed itself recently, don’t know if the days just feel shorter because of it getting dark earlier or whether my expectations for what can be done in a day are too great!

claire leggett yellow notebk in prog

I have been in my painting cave this week re-stocking these hand painted notebooks. They are a labour of love, I’m not gonna lie, but the emphasis is defiantly on love.

claire leggett large notebooks

The painting of these really gets my creative juices flowing for other projects and I just love doing them. Plus I added a ‘belly wrap’ (get me) which just finishes them off nicely.

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9-3pm Alcester Road, Mosley, tomorrow 🙂

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Here’s the other mixed media piece that I began when I was having fun with fluorescent acrylics the other day.

Berry Birds © Claire Leggett

I’ve grown to love the little sparkles of gold or silver that show through once all the painting is complete. I’ve saved this tissue paper wrapping (coral with silver leaves) for years – do you do that too? have something you never want to use? But those fluorescents put me in the kind of mood to just use it anyway!

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I’m not rating this as one of my all time fave’s but you might like it 😉

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Berry Birds © Claire Leggett

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seemingly finished

It’s done and dusted now. What a slog though! When last seen the bird was close to being finished and I painted in the plant pot that the orchid was sitting in, sat back and thought ‘why would a potted orchid be sitting in a tree in what looks like a rainforest?’ – the narrative was all wrong. It had to go.

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after painting out parts

This hurt a bit. I had decided in my mind to do it but it was a few days before I could bring myself to. The gremlins were nagging ‘you’ll make it worse’ etc etc.

sketchbook_trials

 And then once I’d done it, I didn’t have a clear idea of what to do next. I could see the space created but wasn’t sure what to fill it with now. So I side-stepped the problem and spent a day painting foliage in my sketchbook just to see what came about. And sure enough a little leaf painted with a favourite paint brush appealed enough to create the look of ferns growing in the undergrowth.

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before ditsy flowers and butterflies

I felt like the bird needed a focal point so I added some butterflies and a white wash to knock them back a bit and here is Songbird all finished.

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Songbird © Claire Leggett

orchid_macro

Progress on this painting has come fast and slow – parts to hurry towards, things to slow down till they’re resolved – it’s challenging me!

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I always do this – buy a beautiful plant or bunch of flowers because it just has to be painted and then… don’t get round to it until it’s half dead. This beautiful orchid was a mere £2.50 and had to come home with me intended for another painting which just didn’t come together so there was no choice – it had to feature in this painting. But quick because it’s on it’s last legs.

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Although I couldn’t see where I was going with it I forged ahead having a lovely time painting this plant and watching all the lovely unexpected effects of painting over collaged papers. I’m learning to paint using weak mixes and layer up with thicker paint as I go. It means I can keep some of the effect of early layers showing through top painting.

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 I had been playing in my sketch book too as I went, trying out techniques and shapes before committing to the canvas. This seed head came about with a bit of printing from an old credit card and a stamp made from an eraser. I like it – it looks like fireworks in a way.

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I’ve blocked in a bird and begun painting in a tree with yellow leaves but I’m not convinced it’s quite right yet.

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It’s stood up staring at me while I tidy up and try to wrap the odd Christmas present while mulling the problem over. I think  the solution is emerging but I might have to be brave. Back with the finished article soon… I hope!

orchid+yellow_leaves

July 2013

Inspired by my own gardening, reading The Adorable Plot and the mini painting class I took with Jenny Muncaster, I spent an afternoon capturing some of my own garden.

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sweet peas, hollyhocks, marigolds, sweet williams and nepeta

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I’m not a big fan of acrylic paints because of the waxy feel and the irreversible nature of them once dry but I am determined to to try and see why other people favour them so I keep having a go from time to time.

July 2013

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purple sprouting broccoli with lovely acid yellow flowers

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I liked Jenny’s technique based approach and so I flicked, masked and dropped water to create textured effects and used painted papers to collage. It is such a fun way to work and makes me think that my normal approach to painting a still life might be a tad serious.

July 2013

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pea canes dripping with pods

I like these for feeling I associate with the creation of them.

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one

This is the last piece that I created fresh from reading Lilla Rodgers I Just Like to Make Things, in which she exhorts artists to:
be instinctive, don’t copy, adapt or second guess buyers – create what you would buy,
apply great design, drawing and colour,
hone your style and don’t be a copycat,
and make every square inch high quality, beautiful artwork.
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In other words, be free, be yourself – how liberating!

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By the end of reading the book I felt like it had been like meeting a charismatic, enthusiastic, warm person at a dinner party and wishing she was your friend and inspiration for ever so that you could keep her input and creative encouragement in your life.

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Green Magpies © Claire Leggett

 The book has clarified some of my thinking, sparked ideas and replenished my creative drive. My takeaways: smile, breathe, go slowly, try to enjoy every stage from beginner to over worked professional and turn up to work everyday and make beautiful art. Oh and that there are NO short cuts!

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