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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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Oh dear, well today isn’t Monday is it? Sorry about that – I’ve been off ill but I am here today with some fluorescent colours to put you in the mood for summer!

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This painting all began with a desire to play around with some new fluro acrylics. I did two bases – I’ll show the other another time because there’s already a tonne of photos here.

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I did give this a bit of thought before I began collaging onto it as I knew I wanted to put birds on a tree.

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I used my Basil Ede book for some bird reference.

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Then it began to get complicated as I painted in some leaves and flowers. I quite like the spontaneity of working like this but when it doesn’t work out as expected, the reworkings can become quite time-consuming, as was the case here.

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I played around forever with the balance of light and dark and when I look back now, I kind of like where it was at here but of course if you’re using acrylic there is no going back and so in the end all the fluro colours got covered.

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Blossom Birds © Claire Leggett

Funny thing  – I can’t remember when I last used red in a painting! Overall I’m happy with these spring birdies but it must have taken a week of too-ing and fro-ing to get it just right.

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And I love these little snippets of close up painting – the shiny bright gold dots….

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The layers of textures and dainty flowers.

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And I’m always a sucker for a pink blossom flower and/or a bird – it is Spring after all.

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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.

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 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
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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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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.
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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.
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I think this resonated with me and got me thinking about birds.
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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.
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In her experience the busiest artists are having the most fun. Well that spurred me on to having fun and being busy at it.
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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Blue Tits © Claire Leggett

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Back in January I covered my inspiration board in bird imagery and set to work. Four months later and I feel as if I have still hardly scratched the surface of what I wanted to achieve but I also need a bird break.

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But I wanted to share this book with you before I forget to as it is very inspiring and I think you’ll enjoy these images and might find ideas in them for yourselves – we all seem to enjoy designing and painting birds.

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One thing that attracts me about birds is the endless opportunity for colour and pattern in observing different plumage.

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Which is why a book on birds that aren’t native to the UK offers up such a treasure trove. This book was bought for a couple of pounds in a second-hand shop but if you’d like your own, new copy, then it’s only £308 from Amazon! Or a mere £10- £30 for a second-hand copy.

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I had wanted to capture the movement and interaction that birds bring and include that in pattern design too, which is where I’ll pick up after a break to do something a little different for a while. But it is defiantly a project that I’d like to return to later in the year.

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Love Birds © Claire Leggett

Love Birds © Claire Leggett

I’m-a spring cleaning around here. This painting has been finished with a tropical patterned background to show off these two little sweeties eyeing each other up!

There is nothing like a new year to bring about a sense of re-set even if a complete fresh start is not really needed.

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Some years I don’t want to celebrate the passing of one year into another, some years I need the blank page/fresh start feeling that a new year can bring, some years I need to feel like I can write something new into existence.

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This year I just wanted to spring clean and re-set my creative system.

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So I spent two whole days last week removing all the old to-do lists, old inspiration material and old designs etc from my board and filing them away without a telling off from myself if they never came to anything – everything finds a time and place eventually, this I am learning.

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Birds have been on my mind for a while now. I often find that I am percolating inspiration when I’m working on other things and collecting towards the beginning of a project.

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And how! When I started filling up the board (which is huge) I found I didn’t have room for everything without taping stuff to the walls and hanging a mini-washing line up too.

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I love it. It is a creative volcano of birdy inspiration.

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My friend Dana had been painting birds just before Christmas.  I was so taken with this Blue Jay and so delighted when he came to live with me here.

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And what serendipity that he arrived in the mail on the day I was finishing my pinning up. She has such a talent – have a look in her shop if you’d like your own bird.

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I also had a new teapot for Christmas and some new bird tiles and when I got out my collection of bird books I could see just how long I have been percolating this collection.

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I’ll show the books on their own one day as this is already a photo heavy post and the books deserve to be seen close-up as the illustrations are beautiful.

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And then as if to seal the deal, this weekend I opened my Country Living magazine to find even more inspiration in the form of this…

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I could be here for some while!

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On a Sunday the Flower Market becomes the Bird Market.

We weren’t sure whether to expect the best (alive) or the worst (some dead French culinary treats.)

But it was the most charming little market of twittering, fluffy, cheeping birds ever.

I was totally charmed by it all and if I could have, I would have bought a handful because they were so adorable and such lovely colours.

It looked like you could just turn up and sell any bird you may have. Groups of men stood round their cages, shaking hands and chatting.

It was quite a contrast; all these macho men selling these delicate little creatures!

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