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I’ve been sloshing pink, purple, blue and red around in the lovely square of spring sunshine coming through the window.

Claire_Leggett_Anemones_nib pen

And I’d forgotten about dip pens (or nib pens or whatever you wanna call them)


The light is failing now but here’s a camera pic anyway to show the finished thing.


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 😉

briar rose 3

Next door have a beautiful Briar Rose which hangs over into our garden.

briar rose 2

This year it is particularly beautiful, dripping with big clusters of flowers.

briar rose 1

I love the vibrant pink-red of the petals and how they pale by degrees into ballet-slipper pink.

briar rose 1

They are very satisfying for capturing in watercolours as they provide lots of opportunity to let colours bleed into one another.

briar rose 2

The peppering of stamens and pollen is the painting equivalent of popping a cherry on an iced cake.

rose bud


cyclamen close up

I think that this will be my last painting of this year.


And what a way to go… I don’t know why painting an already dying cyclamen occured to me as a good idea.

cyclamen set up

Nor why putting a pink cyclamen in front of a background pattern that’s the same colour would make for an easy time of painting.

cyclamen paint palette

Boy was that pink-that’s-red-with-violet hard to mix and match.

cyclamen being painted

But the prints were fun to paint, especially the Liberty fabric.

© Claire Leggett  Christmas Cyclamen

© Claire Leggett       Christmas Cyclamen

I braved the weather conditions this weekend to fight fallen leaves into the garden refuse bin.

One down side of living opposite a wood is the constant fall of leaves at this time of year. Our back garden has looked like a natural disaster took place with the sudden drop of leaves. And out the front, every time the front door is opened a small pile of leaves blows in.


Anyhow they are beautiful and it won’t last forever and the biggest bonus is being able to watch the trees change colour and shape from the warm comfort of my bed which overlooks the woods opposite.

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.

So day 2 of this painting began with the roses blocked in with colour in a race against time to capture the colours and shapes.
I love to use the wet-in-wet technique when I first block in the colour. I mix up and main three of four colours I see and then paint them in  simultaneously and let them bleed and run into each other. The beauty of gouache over acrylic is that I can ‘wake’ up that dried paint at any stage which is what I tend to do once it’s dried and I’m giving the petals a further wash of colour and some detailing.
It took me along time to paint around the roses and put in such a complicated background – thank heavens for audible!
I made the blue paler than it actually is, purposefully as I didn’t want to over-power the pink flower heads.
Finally on day 3 I painted in the leaves, vase and china bird. After 3 solid days it was exciting to be on the home run now and adding that pop of bright leaf-green got me excited to see the finished piece.
I think this painting has an old world quality about it mainly due to the style and colour of the rose which reminds me of 1950’s greetings cards. 

© Claire Leggett Roses

Back in March I went to hear my favourite painter Jean Martin talk about her work and methods. She happened to remark how she’d been given flowers for Mothers Day and that had cancelled any plans she may have had for the following day as she now had to capture them in paint before they died.

I know how she feels sometimes. We had friends over for dinner who came with wine (always good :)) and these three exquisite stems from the roses in their garden. A precious and utterly gorgeous gift. What a lovely way to have to rearrange plans because these were too good to miss.

But something was lacking once I’d drawn it out. I have a tendency to fill a space when I draw and these big frothy blooms filled the page easily, but I had a compositional gap – so I added this little china birdie. Spot the difference!

They are just such amazing old-fashioned blousy roses with such beautiful colours.

But what made these flowers so sublime was also what made them a killer to paint. I could see with every passing minute that they were changing shape and deepening in colour minutely.

The race was on so I had to work front to back (which always discombobulates me somewhat!) This was the finish at the end of day 1 – I’ll show you some more tomorrow.

I have just about caught the last of our Wallflowers before the rain battered the life out of them for good.

Some are a little bug-eaten but it doesn’t spoil the colours in any way.

And this is what I most love about Wallflowers, their ability to look absolutely beautiful in any conditions, in any place in the garden with the minimum fuss or care.

Such a humble garden beauty – just quietly getting along outlasting the big, blousy, show-offy tulips.

So far I have drawn and coloured-washed the shapes ready for all the layers and fiddly details.

What’s your day ahead look like?

Back in September of last year I had an idea to complete a page-a-month nature diary type sketchbook,

Thinking back I think I was inspired by my new surroundings having moved to a new home and garden and being really close to the woods.

But I’ve got to say that one year later I’m really glad that it’s done and dusted.

I stopped posting the pages up each month (which is why I’m catching up now) because I’d lost the love. I think I discovered that I’m not a sketchbook kinda girl, especially to a timetable.

If you want to see all twelve they are here.


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