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I began this new year wanting a fresh personal project to work on and wanting to *play* a bit in my work and just follow inspiration where it led me.

That feeling also coincided with a growing interest in being able to name the birds that frequent my garden and also the purchase of a pair of binoculars.

A few months later on and I have completed my very own book of garden birds.

I dug out a few of my favourite vintage bird books for both good information and great reference pictures.

And I studied up before I began painting each feathered friend. Once you’re not in education, its easy to forget the gains from reading up and learning.

Over some months, in and amongst other work and things going on, I compiled some illustrations of birds – the only pre-requisite being that I included only birds that I’ve seen in my garden. The Jay and the Woodpecker have stopped for a nosey but not often or for very long.

I once had the magical experience of actually watching momma Wren fledge her chicks out of the nest in our hedge and chase them down the garden willing them to fly for the first time.

I had already decided to bind these paintings into a book format and so I set up the pages with that in mind.

I decided to hand write all the information pages and keep the true handmade feel through and through. I painted an abstract leaf pattern for the cover and set to putting it all together with glue and waxed string.

And I’m delighted with it in so many ways – I can use my own work to reference and teach myself and there’s something so scrummy about a handmade book which also makes a perfect place to keep a body of work intact.

If you’d like to see all the birds and the films I made of making the book and the book itself, then head over to either Instagram here or Facebook here

I have completed a little body of work from my Hebrides trip this year. If you would like a piece they are all listed below in order of size, with prices and UK postage included – postage will be worked out for any sales abroad once you have emailed the destination.

Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk and I will send payment details ūüôā Thank you x

BALRANALD 10cm x 7.5 cm watercolour on watercolour board £15 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

FIELD 10cm x 7.5 cm watercolour on watercolour board £15 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

DUBH-LOCHAN 10cm x 7.5 cm watercolour on watercolour board £15 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

PORTREE, SKYE 6×4″ watercolour on watercolour paper ¬£20 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

THE BRAES, SKYE 6×4″ watercolour on watercolour paper ¬£20 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

AHMORE, UIST 6×4″ watercolour on watercolour paper ¬£20 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

LOCH MADDY. SOLD 6×4″ watercolour on watercolour paper ¬£20 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

LOCH MASSAIG. 6×4″ watercolour on watercolour paper ¬£20 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

SOUTH UIST 6×4″ watercolour on watercolour paper ¬£20 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

UIST INTERIOR 1 6×4″ watercolour on watercolour paper ¬£20 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

UP TO LOCH MAASAIG 6×4″ watercolour on watercolour paper ¬£20 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

SEILEBOST 10.5 x 27.5 cm. watercolour on watercolour paper £30 in UK p&p.
Please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk with the painting title as the email subject.

As the year draws to an end, I’ve found it has galvanised me to complete the body of paintings I have been working on ever since we visited The Hebrides back in April.

I have been steadily working away filling a sketchbook and creating ideas for future pattern designs in-between all the other things I also do. I find I like to nest a bit on my work before sharing it and now I find I have a lot to show.

The thing that caught my painters eye the most in The Hebrides were the patterns these little pieces of land make as they are cut through by waterways and creeks. I have enjoyed painting them over & over. I love the way the horizon blends in as the water is reflected in the sky 

I have also played around with granulating medium recently. This salt-marsh painting in Leverburgh was perfect for it. Granulating medium separates the pigment and binder allowing the colour to settle onto the surface of the paper making lots of texture,

I’m gearing up to have a little sale of some of these pieces – so watch this space if you’re interested, Claire x

I have been working my way through the wealth of inspiration I found since returning from our 3 week adventure around some of the islands of the Outer Hebrides.

There was so much colour, texture and mood to capture.

I did try to work on site but found either the rain or the cramped cab conditions in the camper van a real challenge.

So most of my work has been done from photographs and sketchy sketches back home in the studio where conditions can be controlled!

I loved the colour palette of the Uist islands the best from all the islands we visited (I did a little write up of that in a previous post somewhere) – peaty brown, pink and burgundy – yum.

The beaches are legendary and with good reason too.

Lots of cloud and sky with beautiful delicate hues and fluffly clouds. Sometimes the weather changes very quickly and so stormy indigo blue clouds can roll in very quickly.

All of which makes this watercolour painter very happy.

Made it!

Wow, that was a marathon adventure and like all good runners, towards then end I had to slow down rather than just stop and call it quits.

But like all things, its when you’re stretched and challenged that growth occurs.

The daily (or technically I should say sustained) practice of showing up to paint has indeed kept me creative and accountable for doing so.

And I have found that my muscle memory and my hand eye co-ordination has improved and that I’m as surprised as anyone when I can capture a plant in a few strokes of a brush and with a limited colour range.

In short, practice makes you better at looking and capturing.

Which shouldn’t surprise me really.

We know if we exercise that our muscles become stronger but probably don’t talk much in those terms of the process of practising creatively.

And we should, because it does work the same way.

I have thoroughly enjoyed naming the plants in my garden – many of which I have inherited from the previous owners or Mother Nature.

And I have a unexpected sense of satisfaction to have two books full of catalogued plant names.

But I am glad it’s finished now and as the season winds down I won’t have the challenge of finding something new to include.

With hindsight 100 was a lot and maybe 75 would have suited me just enough.

So when I calculated that there were only enough pages in the book for 96 I took that as a divine compromise ūüėČ

I have been falling and leaping my way through this #100dayproject of Painting Something From My Garden Everday.

It’s not quite been everyday in a daily sense – more like nothing some days and three things another.

But for the most part it’s become a regular practice and I’ve kept up…just.

Some days I accepted a less than polished finished piece in favour of doing something rather than nothing.

I’ve also embraced my garden weeds and found them to be pretty and deserving of a place in the final book.

I’ve developed a mix of approaches to method and media.

On some rainy days I was forced to complete the work inside and I found the results were far better than when I’m painting irl.

However the feeling of, the experience of painting outside is far greater and brought a greater deal of well-being that gets lost as soon as it becomes studio work.

And I have enjoyed playing again with coloured pencils, pastels and collages solutions to painting white flowers on white paper.

That’s about it for now as things reach the final stretch – thank you for reading.

On June 1st I decided I’d commit to doing a 100days project. There were a few reasons for this:

For Christmas I got given a seed advent calendar which has been a lot of fun but also a lot of work – 25 different kinds of annuals to grow has kept me on my toes in the greenhouse. But it also means I have a lot of lovely plants to enjoy.

I had also enjoyed my residency at Winterbourne H&G so much that I had decided to try and document my own garden in a similar matter. However as is often the case when things are at home, it seems harder to paint and draw in my own garden. I have found time to do some studies and textile work but it doesn’t document the changes as I’d hoped because I can’t keep up the frequency of work needed.

Lastly, I’m back working at MAC (hurrah) and when I’m focussing on delivery I often find my own creativity takes a backseat.

So for all those reasons I started 100days of drawing/painting something in my own garden.

It doesn’t need to be finished or good and it can be quick or slow and I’m also finding I automatically apply several styles to my work but I’m not over-thinking it – just doing it, noticing and letting it be whatever it is.

Here’s the first six days.

It’s been a little while since I’ve painted some small pieces and I generally always feel inspired when Spring brings us such lovely flowers to work with.

This Auricula was a lucky garden center find – they have been scarce for a few years; apparently growing conditions have not been good.

And this one is the product of my own endeavours in the garden, having cultivated a small Spring flower patch over the last few years. This year it’s been at it’s best with the addition last year of the Snakeskin Fritillary’s.

I’ve wanted to try and paint them for a while – they were deceptively difficult but I enjoyed the challenge. Now I’m looking forward to seeing what May brings to paint.

winterbourne_exhibiton-1
This week I hung an exhibition of my work at the Coach House Gallery which is at Winterbourne Botanical Gardens, Birmingham.

winterbourne_coach_house_exhibition

Winterbourne is part of the Birmingham University campus.

winterbourne_house

It’s an Edwardian Arts and Crafts house built for the family of¬†John Nettlefold in 1903.

It’s last owner bequeathed it to the University where it became the Botanical Gardens in 1944.

winterbourne_hot-house

It’s one of those magical places that has held onto the history of the past and simultaneously successfully embraced the future.

winterbourne_garden-room

And my colourful work has ushered Spring in a little earlier than Mother Nature (it’s trying to snow today)

winterbourne_coach_house_exhibition-1

Exhibition hanging takes patience and stamina (good step-ladder muscles!)

coach-house-gallery-case-3
One of the most fun things to do was fill the glass exhibition case.

coach-house-gallery-case

I have laid out sketchbooks, pattern design swatches, an old paint palette, some tubes of paint, brushes, pencils and design work that shows how I use my original paintings digitally.

coach-house-gallery-case-4

It was fun to set the scene.

winterbourne_coach_house_exhibition_me

And now I’m happily heading off to a restful weekend – there’s a¬†G & T with my name on it!

***

Exhibition is up until 12th March




IMG_7468

Hard to believe that I started this painting twenty days ago at the 2015 Patchings Festival as part of my demonstrating.

IMG_7445

I never find it easy to paint whilst being watched, but people love to see how you go about your work and it makes the event unique and is a great talking point. So I was slower than in normal studio conditions and I also set myself quite the challenge putting pink flowers on pink floral, throwing in some lace-work and tackling that composition from above.

claire_leggett_watercolour_painting

I didn’t get it finished at the festival so in-between travelling¬†up and down the country looking at University open days with¬†my youngest, I’ve been fiddling with this.

Red_Apples_Claire Leggett

Gonna call it done now; successes, flaws and all!

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