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It’s been a great year for tulips in the garden.


I re-subscribed to a magazine and got some Sarah Raven bulbs as a freebie.


And they have been beautiful – big, blowsy flowers – interesting colours and shapes. Apricot Beauty was the first to fully flower last week.


It hurt A LOT to cut three of the nine stems to bring in and paint.

But here they are immortalised 🙂


© Claire Leggett     Apricot Beauty


Over the last two weeks I have been to-ing and fro-ing with this painting here. I have wanted to capture some snowdrops for a while but there is  such a short window between buying them and getting them painted that before you blink they’ve dried up.


I’ve also had these ‘snooty cats’ for a while now – a car boot sale find – they just appeal to me and I like their slightly haughty air.


The background was some off cuts of our bedroom wallpaper which I never tired of until this painting.


So I set this up fairly confidently that the colours and compositions were going to work and set to getting those snowdrops done quickly.


A few days solid painting and I’d finished…so I thought! I like to prop paintings up somewhere outside of the studio and live with them for a while – it gives a bit of perspective on the finished article and for good reason because as we lived with this, we could all see that those birds were really distracting. Back to the drawing board.


I carefully mopped them out and painted in using the background colours which were (luckily) still left on the palette – hurray for watercolours. Cue a bit more living with it and it still wasn’t clicking. i decided that the background paper, beautiful as it is, was just not the right pattern for this set up because it was fighting for attention.


So I took a radical step which took a few days of building up to, and masked the whole of the foreground and then washed the entire background out and began again.


Scary stuff! I can continue to recommend Peobe masking fluid is all I can say.


I should also say that the paper was stretched on a board so even though it got a good soaking, once it dried out, is was tight and flat again.


Then I painted in a plain grey background colour and masked in a simple, more regular pattern which I then painted over again for a two-tone finish. And I. was. sick.!


© Claire Leggett “Snooty Cats”

So here is the final metamorphosis of this painting. I’m moving on 😉

It’s done! All 84 x 59 cm of it. That’s a lot of paint. And time. And patience…

It’s been a gargantuan task – there is lots I love about it and some things I’d change but for now c’est finito (do you like my grasp of languages!)

Thanks for all your lovely comments about the New Leaf show – you guys are great at cheering me on – don’t ever stop! Especially as I have more good news to share later in the week 🙂

Back in May I painted three of the tulips I had grown in the garden. They were unexpectedly beautiful and I wanted to capture them before they died – and I didn’t have much time. So I bit the bullet and painted them but not in my usual fashion. I was right out of my comfort zone for many reasons. I like to build a still life and see how everything is going to work together before I begin. I like to paint from the back towards the front not the other way around and I don’t often paint anything as large as this which is A1.

It began well enough and has sat on the easel since May looking at me across the room and asking ‘Are you brave enough yet to finish me?’ And the answer has been no… until now.

I am finding it really difficult though!

I have built a set up around the same vase but with three (of the most awfully tacky) pretend roses in it to help the composition. But it’s just not the same as the living thing. And because I wanted this piece of be about Spring I am having to use some faux Forsythia.

The painting around is driving me to distraction – I have coated the tulips in matt acrylic varnish to protect them but even so I have drawn it out, painted over it to wash the background and am concentrating so hard on not losing the pencil lines or paint on the tulips that I think I might just blow a gasket soon!

Well enough of the grumbles and lets get back to plodding along! Hope you’re having a good week.

One of my very lovely commenters tipped me off to this lovely website –

Apart from being full of things I’d like to cook, I love the styling of the food and this one in particular gave me an idea for a still-life.

I love the colour of apricots but those gentle furry skins are hard to paint and contain every shade from red to palest yellow. Now that they are finished with it’s back to tartelette to find something to cook with them. Yum 🙂

© Claire Leggett         Apricots

I took a walk down the garden recently and was struck by how everything growing was either yellow or blue.

A self-made colour scheme – nice.

My macro lens did these flowers proud.

The structure of these petals and stamens is unbelievable.

Look how awesome the Forget-me-knot flowers are especially when you think that they grow like weeds.

Such petite perfectness.

I remembered a blue and white jug bought last year and never yet featured in a painting.


© Claire Leggett – Blue and Yellow

One of my favourite things to do when setting up a still life to paint, is to rifle through my fabric cupboard and try out different patterns and colours for possible backgrounds. Photographing them and seeing it tried out on screen somehow crystalises the choice for the front runner to go ahead and star in the show.

So lets play a little game this week… leave me a comment saying which background you would have chosen and lets see if great minds think alike and I’ll let you know what I went ahead and painted 🙂

I really love painting this pink PIP studio teacup because it has pattern in all the right places. I’m always on the lookout for cups with some decoration inside them as it helps break up what would otherwise be a large space of grey/white painting.

However, big, big fan aside, the rendering of the PIP bird always makes me smile because it is a little…non-plussed…dazed…is it alright to say a little camp?

I love to use masking fluid for the pattern on the saucer. It keeps those little white flowers a pure white with a pink wash over the top once it’s dried.

I paint that characterful little guy as truthfully as I can but try to tone his idiosyncrasies down just a tad.

He still looks puzzled though!

© Claire Leggett Pink PIP Teacup

The hand-made paper used for the background in this still life was crying out to be represented by a little old school sponge painting. So I cut a petal shape and got happy printing.

There were a lot of flowers to paint in this set up and I got a little tense trying to record them in their prime before they died.

Some lasted longer than others so I flitted about doing those who didn’t look like they’d last until day two.

“Garden Treasure’s” © Claire Leggett

The title came about really easily because to me this painting is a record of just that.

There is definitely a theme here this week! This time its real strawberries, painted not sewn.

These are some of the ‘trapped in camera’ photo’s that I’ve been waiting to rescue. I finished this piece some time ago and couldn’t write about it.

Which was just as well as this turned out to be strawberry week! Thanks to Eirlys (who was the designer behind the Mollie Makes fabric strawberries) for her enthusiasm over my strawberry making, thanks to Mollie Makes for popping me on their Face Book page and hi to all my new visitors – nice to meet you 🙂

© Claire Leggett "Summer Strawberries" 2011

So here is the finished piece which has been framed and is going into the new Summer show at Purple Gallery. If you live locally why not pop down to the opening this Sunday afternoon, have a drink and say hi.

All other details of my paintings and other artists showing can be found here.

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