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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.


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!


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


Berry Birds © Claire Leggett

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.

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.


 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.

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.

Songbird © Claire Leggett

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.
In other words, be free, be yourself – how liberating!


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.


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!

In the Lilla Rodgers book that I talked about in my last post, I read about her theory that for every person on the planet there are 50 birds and that those 50 birds = 50 meaningful events that may take place in your life.
Most importantly you will probably only be able to name those 50 events when you are nearer the end of life and you look back to weigh the importance or strategic significance of things that have occured. Life will have mountains and valleys which can only be seen once the path has been walked.
I think this resonated with me and got me thinking about birds.
Lilla also talks a lot about staying creativley inspired, having fun and giving it 100% because she says that people buy art looking for an engaging moment, a connection; that they buy your joyful moment.
In her experience the busiest artists are having the most fun. Well that spurred me on to having fun and being busy at it.
I haven’t collaged and played without a plan for along time and it was good to jump off the merry-go-round to do so.
Marsh Wrens © Claire Leggett

Marsh Wrens © Claire Leggett


I read Lilla Rodgers book recently. Initially I’d held out because one can only take so much self-help!


I’ve done my share of online courses (really super-great and mediocre) and been easily susceptical to reading artist’s blogs and then buying in to the need to purchases their ebook or paperback.


Usually these purchases are the result of my search to find out How To Do It. i.e. how to be a success, sell some work, make some money. Some.


So as soon as I read the sub heading of Lilla Rodgers I Just Like to Make Things: Learn the Secrets to Making Money While Staying Passionate About Your Art and Craft, I was puzzled – surely there can’t actually be a book that tells you the secret to making money or we’d all buy it and live happily ever after.


So in the end curiosity got the better of me and I did buy it, happily read it from cover to cover and though sadly I did not have the secret to making money revealed, I did get my art soul spruced up in the process.

BT one

I’d have lapped this book up a couple of years ago but I’m further down the self-employment road now and the pot at end of the rainbow still seems just over the horizon.

BT in progress

But for now it reminds me to have fun with my art, be creative, take chances and do new things and that there is no quick route or fast track to success (and that’s from an agent’s mouth.) The overriding tenet of the book is to work hard, build good relationships, keep at it and create beautiful work.


It spurred me on to swapping watercolours for acrylics, paper for canvas and planned observational drawing for instinctive layering and imagery by chance.


And I’ve got to tell you I loved every second of making this work. I took it slowly, pondered but didn’t over think and reminded myself about the importance of staying open to new ways of working, hearing inspiration any where and seeing it everywhere.


Blue Tits © Claire Leggett


This little chap watched me bringing him and his friends to life.


He was hanging out at the Paris bird market when I snapped him. He looks like he was ‘papped’ with two guards on sentry duty!


I was painting a board of birds and other designs but these three fellas wanted to be kept together forever. So I had to erase the poor hunchbacked budgie from the corner (thank heaven for removable watercolour pigments) and paint in a background.

Three Little Birds© Claire Leggett

Three Little Birds
© Claire Leggett

I have been a creative powerhouse of late painting away left, right and centre. So in these last few days I have tried to focus on finishing off some of my first ideas. You may recall already seeing the little bird in pic 1. He’s been propped up for sometime tweeting to me ‘I am a nice little birdie – could you paint around me and make me the star of a painting?’


Not the first time a painting has talked to me! And although it’s not my favoured way of going about things I painted in a background around him and gave him a bowl of raspberries to share the stage with.

Raspberry Sneak                  © Claire Leggett

Raspberry Sneak © Claire Leggett

The title makes me laugh because all I could think about was William Morris’ famous Strawberry Thief so ‘Raspberry Sneak’ is a poor emulation! If anyone can think of a better title I am open to re-naming him…


This book is an amazing resource to have for stimulating ideas through doodling.


Remember this post ? Following my trip to Paris last year and the bird market, I have hundreds of photos for reference. Enjoying the memories and getting a dose of wanderlust.

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