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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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.

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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!

But is it Art?

I’ve had a Guest staying for the last few days – Carson, a bouncy 15-month-old black Labrador who normally lives in London. The family have gone on holiday to America and Carson is savouring a new life in the country. I wanted to amuse my grandchildren by getting him to write a holiday diary. Instead I found facebook more convenient, and more fun.

But there’s been a hugely enjoyable side-effect of having to get up and go out first thing int he morning, now that Summer’s come.It has really stimulated the creative response: the light, the shadows, the skies, the wild flowers, the harvesting…quite mind blowing, and inspirational, if I ever get time to paint!

Camera quickly followed in the dogbag, after the poo-bags, lead, treats…then, inevitably a sketchpad and pen – followed next day by my glasses:couldn’t see what I was drawing and contact lenses too fiddly first thing.

Carson has become well-known in the village, thanks to his  posts on facebook. But – Animal Alert – I thought I’d repost some extracts here, along with my photos. Note – I didn’t say ‘my photography’. I know my place.. So if you can’t abide  Dogs (or Cats) bear with…or ignore. This dog is only for a holiday!

Day 1

Rural reflections from a Dog about Town: yesterday I arrived from Clapham to spend 3 weeks in the countryside while my lot have swanned off to California. First impressions: there are a lot of quite big fourlegged things around – who aren’t at all scared of me. There are some white me-sized things who I suspect are, if I was allowed to test my theory. There are also double the number of cats than I’m used to and I’m not supposed to chase them. There are no kids and the people are nice but really rather boring. One takes me for walks but at home they sit down a lot. My people left me with food and toys, including a chunk of Antler Horn, but when it comes to recycling I must say I much preferred the dead mouse that one of the cat things left under the table for me. Yours somewhat baffled, Carson.

Anne Farmer's photo.

 

 

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An irresistible and impossible view again

Last Sunday, I found myself at the top of ‘our’ hill. After some very Aprilish weather, it was a day of huge sapphire skies with luminous clouds – oh, and beneath the sky the flat patterned fields with the mauve smudge of hills on the horizon behind the Levels.

And there’s the difficulty : the view is panoramic, miles wide from side to side….and from my point of view, holding up a pencil to measure, a mere six inches or so from top to bottom.  This is about half the panorama!

I’ve attempted it may times –  two years ago, later in the year, I did some ‘extracts’:

So I don’t know really know if I can add anything else. But I’ve started, as Magnus Magnusson used to say… but will I finish?

So far I’ve done two small sketches:

They’re about 5″x 7″.

The next step…will be reported…in due course!

Slow March

The title conveys my pace of work, not the fact that March has been a slow month – au contraire, we’re nearly at the end of it and I have been silent all month!

I’ve been enjoying the local lanes and hedges, in that period where everything is twiggy and you can see much further than when all the greenery bursts forth.

I’ve been particularly inspired, again, by the work of Rowland Hilder who excels at that kind of low key winter landscape. We don’t have any of his beloved oasthouses in Somerset but we do have the hedges, lanes , bare trees and wheelruts.

This selection is based on the subtle, rather than spectacular glimpses that are seen  by the farmers, walkers, riders, cyclists and motorists who use the triangular network of lanes between Moorlinch, Stawell and Sutton Mallet. Beauty on our doorstep!

 

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This view looks beyond Sutton Mallets to the Quantock Hills.

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The maize stubble is wonderful for showing the shape of the contours – this is sketched just past Fursedown Farm.

More lovely hedges showing how the lane loops, between Tapmoor and Sutton Mallet Farm:

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