Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Too Hot - Roll On Autumn

We are in the middle of a very hot and humid period in the UK at the moment. People who live in VERY hot countries will wonder why the English complain about the mercury rising to the high eighties (31C), but we are not really used to it. My comfort zone is very small - 10C to 20C. The other point is the humidity. Our cloudy skies seem to attract it and it makes it very difficult to sleep...complaint over, now back to the art.

Below are my two latest watercolours. Very into colour at the moment - must be due to the summer.

In A Bright And Shining Land

Seen Once In A Dream

It was my nephew and his lovely wife's tenth anniversary the other day so I thought I would send them a watercolour illustration to mark the important occasion. The black lines don't appear on the card though. I enjoyed drawing this and I hope they received it safely. You may notice it is the same horse as above which is a copyright free one from one of my books.

When I was having a trawl through my old artwork the other day I found my very first piece of coloured pencil work which I must have done around 1990. I was trying to achieve a blended look and I think I partially succeeded. Not necessarily representative of wisteria but I quite like it.
I found a wonderful artist on Etsy the other day called Mariann Johansen-Ellis. She is a Danish artist and printmaker and her Etsy shop is called oneline and can be found here. I love her bright, illustrative style. Below are a linocut and two watercolours of hers. She has masses more to look at on Etsy and also her website here. If you click on "Printmaking Movies" on her website she gives interesting tutorials about about printmaking and etching. She must be a great tutor because her tutorials are very clear and succinct. I have tucked them away to watch with a cup of coffee (even though I don't etch). To top it all off she even has a blog here.

My Indian Doggy Bag
Mermaid's Song
Jester's Hall 11
I came across a painting by Dorset artist Sue Hardy the other day. I was very impressed with her beautiful soft colours and attention to detail and use of light. She uses a variety of media such as pastel, acrylic, watercolour and charcoal. Her subject matter is mainly of the animals and nature of the English countryside. She has some wonderful art on her website here. Don't forget to check out the archives too.

I have been tagged by Flora of Through The Round Window so here goes. Those of you who don't like tags skip the next bit.

What is your current obsession? At the moment I am watching the Youtube reruns of Hyacinth Bucket in the comedy Keeping Up Appearances. They are really silly and quite dated now but I find them so funny. Youtube's Norwegicus the Third has uploaded the whole series.

What are you listening to right now? Enya's Paint The Sky With Stars. I love all her music but this is my very favouritist one. Listen to it on Youtube here. By the way, have you ever tried opening two Youtube windows at the same time with the same song. You need to get one started a bit before the second and you can get a lovely effect.

What do you think of the person who tagged you? She is funny, cheerful, chatty, witty, loves her family and makes beautiful glass.
What is your favourite quote? Again so many, but one of my favourites is:

"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live" - Florence Whittemore

Do you admire anyone's style? I am not sure about style in a dressy kind of sense but overall I admire Queen Elizabeth 2 immensely. She has character, wisdom, sense of humour and a great sense of duty to the country. For the job she is doing, she is perfect.

Favourite movies? Well definitely the LOTR trilogy and especially the Return of the King which is my all time favourite. I also like Legend, Pan's Labyrinth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and the Spiderman films.

Favourite book? This is almost impossible considering I have about 10,000 favourites, but if I really had to chose one it would be Keiko Minami's Bonheur. It is the most gorgeous book of beautiful etchings and I never get tired of looking at it. And no, mine didn't cost anywhere near the prices of these on Amazon. They must be printed in gold.

Favourite fruit? I think I will go for apples with this one, although I like lots of different fruits. I like the Garden of Eden symbology.

Favourite smell? I have a very powerful sense of smell (not always a good thing) and it has to be Lily of the Valley, both the flower and the fragrance.

What do you look forward to when you come home after being away? Cuddle the cats, a cup of tea and check my emails etc in no particular order.

Which word do you overuse? Actually it is "actually" and of course "basically" gets a look in there too.

I tag the following blogs but don't worry if you don't like tagging - no

Joy at Jamjar
Shirley of Beadbag
Gillian of IHeartCrafts - Check out Gillians Giveaway on her blog

If you like these beautiful contemporary folk images of Olesja Serjantova you can find many more at her page here. is a huge Russian site of over 6,000 artists and over 189,000 artworks. Can you imagine that? I have posted some images from their site previously. I really admire the work of many Eastern European and Russian artists.

These delightful felt applique pictures are the work of Julia K Walton who has an Etsy shop called Fire Horse Textiles here and also has some beautiful examples of her felt work on Flickr here. I never can resist chickens.

I was tempted into purchasing a couple of lovely items on Etsy this past week. The gocco print of the Nordic Blue Hares is by printmaker Dee Beale. She has a wonderful style and produces some lovely artwork. You can see more of her here at her blog and also at her Etsy shop here. The greetings card is by Freya who is an artist I have posted about previously. I love her style but didn't realise that she also produced greetings cards. Her Etsy shop is here and her website here.

Over the past years I have visited lots of artists studios who are in the Open Studios event. I think other countries have something very similar. Basically you check in your locality for which artists appear interesting and whose style you like and you can pay them a visit during a couple of weeks in the summer. The studios are dotted all over the country and maps are supplied with all the necessary details. I have a collection of over 120 of these and they are lovely to browse through in their own right. Most of the studio events are also online. I have brochures from all over the country here and all craft and art disciplines are represented.
This shows how the brochures are illustrated with lots of lovely open studios to visit. If you cannot visit, then often, if an artist catches your eye, you will find that they have either a website of their own or are represented by a gallery if you Google their name. You will need to click on this picture to see it clearly.

This is our local brochure.
One of the places I visited was the beautiful and ancient St. Dunstan's Parish Church at Monks Risborough. Parts of the building date back to 1150 although most of it is dated to 1470, which makes it the oldest recorded parish church in England. The lovely sandstone head sculpture that I posted about a little while ago is situated around the rear of the church on the wall. Every year the church is taken over for two weeks as a base for several artists during the Bucks Open Studios event. Just behind the door as I walked in was a very talented artist and illustrator called Christine Bass. I chatted to Christine for over an hour and during that time examined her lovely acrylic paintings, pored over her fascinating sketchbooks and bought a fair number of her greetings cards. Christine kindly gave me permission to illustrate her work and you can see her images below.

Her work caught my eye immediately due to its vividly coloured and graphic art style. I love the way she paints her trees for instance. She explained that one of her techniques is to collage tissue over the canvas which are then painted. This gives her work a extra dimensional quality. I think her art is beautifully contemporary and I wish her the best of luck with it in the future. She also gave me some very useful tips on acrylic painting which I have yet to try in earnest.

Christine has a blog here and if you go to the "older post" link at the bottom of each short page you will be able to see much more of her work and also her illustrations. It is well worth a visit. The other artists in the church were also very interesting and had some lovely work on display including linocut printmaking, handmade books (gorgeous), botanical art, stained glass, texiles and jewellery. A veritable feast of art in beautiful surroundings. In fact two of my favourite things together - churches and art. What more could I ask for?

From Sonning Common, Near Reading

Beacon Hill From Coombe Hill

Passion Flowers And Cardoon

Chilterns Winter Night

Pink Snow

Flowers At Queen's Park

Near Bledlow

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Favourite Mug for Mug Monday

Ooops - sorry it is late - but here is my favourite mug. It accompanies me on all my artistic journeys and coffee tastes great out of it. It is an Emma Bridgewater Tulips mug and was designed to support the National Gardens Scheme which is a charity whereby gardens are open to the public all over England. Little gardens, big gardens. Great fun if you are a garden inspector and want a little nose into other peoples properties...ha ha.

This is in response to a post by Weaver of Grass and Acornmoon who has a lovely list of other peoples' mugs. Go and have a look if you have a moment.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Summer Solstice

I am writing this today (Sunday) 21 June despite the date at the top. Just to confuse the issue I start posting on my blog on Fridays usually.

This pen and ink drawing took a long time to do and I am not too sure about it. I think it may be improved by painting the angel's dress, wings, her hair and the star. I will have to think about this one. The background is so strong that the angel's figure gets a bit lost.

Angel Creating Tree

I have come over all patriotic with this one. This is "Red and Blue Hens" and is an ink and watercolour painting which I did a little while ago. I have used these two hens in lots of things I have done in the past.
This is one of the very rare landscapes that I occasionally paint in watercolour. I find landscape painting very difficult and rarely get a result I am happy with. This one isn't too bad but the design is far too symmetrical.

This is a little watercolour sketch in response to the lovely, lush green trees that are around at the moment. Come the hot, dry summer we have been threatened with by the long range forecasters, they will be a lot less fresh looking.

The two images below are lovely etchings by talented printmaker Janis Goodman. She has a studio in Leeds as well as a very interesting website showcasing her etchings here.
I love this deliciously bright and summery image by Serena Hall. It is called "Five Terns On Southwold Beach. You can find lots of work by Serena at her gallery here.

This is one of Poppy Treffrey's well known bags. Poppy is a Cornish textile artist who draws her designs and then transfers them to tea cosies, bags, pictures and lots of other items. Her subjects are often connnected to the coast where she lives and works in Penzance and Newlyn. Her website is here but her work can be found on many sites if you Google her name. A greeting card by Poppy Treffrey printed from one of her textile pictures.

I found these lovely, humorous images on Annlis Kruger's website here. She is a Swedish textile artist and her site is in Swedish. I found a rough translation and I think she creates her artwork by layering lots of thin fabrics, silks and yarns in lots of different shades and colours.

I have always been interested in the art of mosaic making. I have a small collection of books on the subject which I drool over from time to time. This is one of my favourites. Lots of lovely mosaic artists' galleries to browse. I think it is probably quite an expensive hobby though.

The three mosaics below are the work of internationally known mosaicist Sonia King. Sonia has won awards for her lovely work, including the one below here called Nebula Chroma. You can see more images of this mosaic on her website here. Her website is a really comprehensive look at galleries of her work, a large bibilography of mosaic books and lots of links to her fellow mosaicists. Definitely something to browse through with a cup of coffee.

Nebula Chroma
Primeval by Sonia King
Moon River by Sonia King
During the English summer, we have what is called "the cream tea" season.It started about twenty years ago when churches decided to raise money by providing afternoon tea and cakes for their parishoners. The cakes are made by parish volunteers and are of a very high standard. It is a very English thing to do and, judging by the popularity, most people love it. What could be nicer than taking tea and cakes in the countryside on a Sunday summer afternoon. If it happens to be wet you simply sit in the church and take in the architectural highlights and admire the stained glass whilst chatting to your friends. We visit two favourite churches locally and I have taken some photos of one of them below. It is the St. John The Baptist Church at The Lee village. The Lee is a quintessential English village which has been made famous by lots of scenes in the crime drama Midsomer Murders.

One of the approach lanes to The Lee village. Reminds me of the GK Chesterton poem about the "rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.

Part of The Lee churchyard is left untended in order to provide a wild life conservation area. This is something which is done in lots of churchyards today.

This beautifully quiet spot in The Lee Church graveyard is home to the remains of the Liberty family. Arthur Lasenby Liberty was the local Lord of the Manor and the founder of Liberty's of Regent Street which we all know and love.

This tiny fragment of stained glass is from the 1200's and is built into a much larger window. It is in its original place. Isn't it incredible that craftmanship surviving 800 years is still intact today. It is situated in the middle top of the window you can see in the photo below.

The Lee Old Church awaiting the 3pm cake connoisseurs. This is the original Old Church of the village and dates from about 1200 making it over 800 years old. It is made of chalk and is quite tiny inside but very atmospheric. It is still consecrated and services are held on occasion. The new church (Victorian) is situated a couple of hundred feet away.

The industrious and charming lady cakemakers of The Lee village. The faded paintings on the walls were discovered in 1965. (I did ask their permission to photograph them for my blog.) If you enlarge these two photos you will see with what delights they tempted the tired walker, exhausted cyclist or the would be professional cake eater.

The artwork below is all produced by artist and printmaker Holly Meade. Holly lives and works at her home studio in Maine, USA. She produces her beautiful images by woodblock and linocut and sometimes a combination of the two. She is also a well known childrens' book illustrator. If you go to Amazon and search for her name you will get a list of the books she has illustrated. On The Farm below is my favourite illustration. Never could resist a cockerel. My others are definitely those gorgeous angels. Her illustrations are full of energy and movement and she has a large repertoire of subject matter.

She has a wonderful website full of images like these at Reach Road Gallery which is both the name of her website and her B&M gallery. It is definitely worth a look, especially for that delightful fox image on the home page. The website is one of the easiest, simplest and most comprehensive layouts I have seen. Go and enjoy.....!

On The Farm woodblock illustration for book illustrated by Holly Meade.

Joy This Way And That Way

Woman Pretending To Be A Mermaid

Angel Of Hope Flying By
Crow In Snow
I Am My Beloved's And My Beloved Is Mine

We celebrated the Summer Solstice today with a lovely (exhausting) walk in the countryside around Bledlow in Bucks. (I will post some of the photos next week. ) The weather has been warm but breezy and everywhere is beautiful, shining green. Today is the first day of Summer and the wind is set fair for the next couple of months. I am hoping it is not toooo hot as I am a cool and misty person myself....!