Summer stories

The title is my way of self-denying that I didn’t do a post in July ! I have been doing some painting, in particular a couple of commissions. One of them I delivered yesterday, only to realise today that I had forgotten to photograph it. Duh!

So here’s the other, which presented some difficulties, not least that it was a surprise present. I find secrecy in a little village like Moorlinch is tricky. Somebody is always going to spot you loitering with intent to paint in someone’s garden. That’s just the painting. Communication is also difficult when the intended (but unaware) recipient shares most forms of communication with the person who has asked you to do the painting so organising the project is problematic.

Anyway, here is Drysend Farm – an interesting name, and a very apt one as we saw in the floods of a few years ago when the vast lake on the Somerset Levels lapped a few metres away from this cottage:P1050791 cropped

Come into the Garden

I’m not a constant gardener. In fact my gardening career has been mainly aimed at reducing flowerbeds to grass and bushes to reduce the effort and time involved. And yet I love gardens and painting outdoors.

So I was gratified to find, a couple of weeks ago, three subjects in my garden just waiting to be painted for the Chandos Society of Artists Summer Exhibition currently showing at Hidestile Organic Farm at Goathurst near Bridgwater.

Let’s gloss over the fact that they were the only plants in flower : clematis, arum lilies and roses – they were all white so, even more satisfyingly, I could claim that they added up to a Theme of – er – White Flowers. All largely painted en plein air, too!

 

A new look

Thanks to the newest of the group of artists and makers I work with on the site here at Spring Farm we have a new, improved website – with added Stitching and Photography!

SAW 2017 is looming so before September we thought we should just haul the creased and crumpled Spring Farm Arts website out of the cupboard. Thanks to Pam Martin of http://somersetstitch.blogspot.co.uk/ we are freshly pressed and ready to greet you. So do visit https://springfarmarts.wordpress.com/

No pictures here this time but lots on the website!

In a rut

I spotted a striking view of some bare trees and buildings on my walk round ‘the lanes’. This is a triangle of about three and a half miles out towards the next village which had often provided satisfying if unspectacular images which change according to season.

I hadn’t really clocked this view before – maybe they’d just cut the hedges. It made me think of Rowland Hilder’s paintings .

It was a bit of a race before all the trees and hedges broke into leaf. So I picked a sunny morning and walked into the conveniently ungated field.

I then fell into my usual trap – or rather, rut. For me, the tractor-turning area just stole the show. Can’t resist mud and ruts!

P1050266 croppedIt was a bit of a race before all the trees and hedges broke into leaf. So I picked a sunny morning and walked into the conveniently ungated field.

I then fell into my usual trap – or rather, rut. For me, the tractor-turning area just stole the show. Can’t resist mud and ruts!

The Artist’s Companion

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That’s Gem. And.  Pedant Alert: that’s ‘s, not s’,  because I’m sure there are many other artists’ companions.

It was a stormy Sunday earlier this month when the neighbour’s Cherry plum tree was at its glorious, early blossoming best.

P1050123resized Gem seemed happy being a rubbish cat until I went out to grab a few rain-free minutes sketching. Then she decided to continue the basket theme.  Finally the rain did come so she pointedly lay on the doormat.

 

OK, I have a Cherry plum tree too so maybe I could draw through the bedroom window. I think Cherry plum trees are a local thing. They have quite small fruits a bit like…yes, a cross between a cherry and a plum – and quite big stones. My culinarily gifted neighbour makes a delicious cordial. I leave mine for the badgers and foxes.

So -rain outside and faithful Gem inside, with me. And the bed.

 

Finally I realised I could see most of my subject through a different window which I opened every time it stopped raining and finally finished the picture. Thanks for your help, Gem!

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How to avoid Cute

There should be a question mark somewhere in the title because I don’ profess to know how. Those last two adorable creature from the previous post illustrate that – they’re cute. And it’s not always what you want.

OK, in a greetings card. But take my sheep for instance – and there are a lot of them:

And there are loads more where they come from. Sometimes you want them to look – well, neutral…sheeplike and I find that really difficult.

So I was genuinely delighted to see on the walls of the splendid gallery of Hauser and Wirth in Bruton, Somerset, an Elizabeth Frink drawing of a really…well,p1040850-resized not-cute sheep.  Ugly doesn’t come into it. It’s utterly and essentially a sheep

Now if that comes out underlined I didn’t mean it to – but it serves well. So I shall turn to this image when I feel the urge to make those eyelashes longer or give an almost-smile. Well I’ll try!

 

 

Christmas at Moorlinch

This was the name we Moorlinch Artists gave to a Christmas Art offering at the beginning of December. We were: Jenny Graham in her studio across the courtyard, Pam Martin of Somerset Stitch who has recently replaced Clio Graham, the Potter (and no relation to Jenny) who left us in the summer after 19 years to go North.

I was in my gallery next door to Pam, and Janey Ponting and Paul Lardner were giving glass-blowing experiences in the Glass workshop just up the yard, where you could produce one of these festive baubles.:20161107_105255_resized Viv's bauble picture 2.jpg

Finally Nancy Farmer (who is a relation) was at home just down the road. More adventurous than us, she had actually produced wrapping paper for sale. Followers of  her website http://www.nancyfarmer.net  will know that her passion for open water swimmimg is a big influence on her output:2016-11-07 09 23 31_etsy cropped.jpg

My own unusual attraction was to offer tastings of the 18-year old Brandy we’ve just had delivered, made from grapes harvested in 1998 when we were Moorlynch Vineyard – vine art rather than fine art, but it went down very well:

IMG_0578Christmas brandy.JPG

I didn’t really have much new work, but consolidated some earlier stuff in the form of calendars and Christmas cards  as shown at the top of this post. And a wonderful woman came in and bought four of the SAW works, all at once. A good couple of days!

 

Rearranging the Landscape

 

This week I made great steps towards completing a painting commissioned early this year: it was to be a retirement present and none of my existing pictures quite fitted the bill. So the intended recipient was given a free hand to come up with his own suggestions. Yep, already sounding challenging!

He did his homework thoroughly and enthusiastically, even down to producing a map showing where to leave the car to  walk to the chosen viewing spot. And as you walked along the (very muddy but picturesquely rutted) track, you got wonderful near, middle and far distant views.

But, just repeating that ‘as you walked along…’ , the elements the customer wanted could not all be observed when you actually stood still. As I wasn’t filming but painting it required some ingenuity to compose a satisfying picture with them all in: the track, the modern  ‘windmill’, Shapwick village, the woods and Glastonbury Tor.

p1040355-cropped

Back to a well-known problem: dealing with a view that is many times wider than it is high! There’s still a long way to go to the left before you see the windmill. And this isn’t even from the chosen viewpoint.

 

So these were the elements I dragged together and the general plan was approved:p1040393

I still took a lump out of the middle and reduced the size of the village. Finally:p1040625-cropped

And my (satisfied) customer said: The painting captures all the points we discussed and it takes the eye beautifully down the track to the middle and then the far distance. Job done.

Somerset Open Studios 2016

It’s not Somerset Arts Weeks now, it’s Somerset Open Studios. If you click on that title at the top of the website you’ll get a selection of the new work I’m showing, under the headings ‘Winter and Spring’ and ‘Summer’, for reasons which I hope will be obvious!

I’m very happy  to say that I’ve been so lackadaisical about keeping the website up to date that I’ve already sold Four pictures!

Somerset Art Weeks 2016

Yes, it’s that time of year again, and don’t ask me where the rest of it has gone. I had a great time with my canine visitor Carson, and it proved very creative, what with having to get up and out early, with camera, sketch pad and dog treats. But translating the experiences into actual pictures took time. Although I managed to continue to chronicle Carson’s adventures on facebook, not much of it made it onto WordPress.

I have a bit of an idea to get it all into a book, but with drawings rather than photos and I haven’t really had time to develop a drawn doggy character – except this one:  002

Still my local summer views certainly carry on well thematically from the earlier ones. The tracks and fields were in full summer glory and are on a new page in the gallery.

I’m putting some of my favorites here though:p1040066-croppedp1040086-croppedp1040092-croppedp1040106-cropped

 

I had a different challenge of getting more cards organised, including a new Christmas image, and this is the result:p1040112-cropped

Crickey – that’s the rest of the year anticipated!