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!

 

 

Advertisements

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!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

.

Summer came today

…and that was timely because I attended Chandos Society of Artists  En Plein Air day at Steart Marshes,  at the mouth of The tidal River Parrett. This is a vast, atmospheric area where the Hinkley Point pylons have just started their hissing, crackling march across Somerset.

 

 

P1030632 Dry mud

No artwork worth displaying yet – just a couple of scribbles  and lots of photos and ideas. Some of the sights are enough to tempt the very deeply hidden abstract artist in me. This is the mud dried out on the edge of the channel.

There are many intriguing patterns here:

P1030635 The Grid

I walked over to the village of Combwich which presented itself almost as a french village in Champagne:

P1030638 Combwich Village

But, to stop me being fanciful, this is what I found – actual Glorious Mud!

P1030653 wet mud

And to complete the range of artistic possibilities, how about a bit of Sci-Fi with this Somerset Dalek?

P1030643 Combwich Dalek.jpg

To be continued….

 

 

 

May – just in time?

Just spotted the calendar (hi tech, me). So nearly failed to achieve my target of posting at least once a month.

I had to wait to publish my most recent work which is a painting of our local, the good old Ring O’Bells, Moorlinch. This was a wedding present for Trish and Clive the landlady and landlord, handed over at a wonderful party at the pub last Friday. I’m sure I was not alone in feeling I’d perhaps had too good a time on Saturday!  (Actually I typed ‘satyrday’. That sounds like the title for a Nancy Farmer http://www.nancyfarmer.net Painting so I must suggest it to her).

Anyway it was a while since last ‘did’ the pub and it was quite difficult to avoid being spotted, but I think I got away with it:

P1030425 Pub cropped

A couple of weeks back I finally decided ‘it is what it is’ , photographed my latest version of ‘The impossible View’  (as described in my April post) also known as ‘Looking out out over the Levels,’ and took it off the stretching board:

P1030438 cropped

I’m sure it won’t be the last time I’ll tackle this one!

I did discuss this project with a very sympathetic artist and her colleague who came to our Moorlinch Art Group and gave us a memorable workshop on creating sketchbooks: Sue Lewington and Jackie Hichens run excellent classes that really made us look differently on our sketchbooks   http://www.travellingartclassesandholidays.co.uk

I couldn’t resist buying one of their handmade sketchbooks and ‘christened’ it straight away:

P1030427
photo 4They brought masses of resources with them and we all got stuck in. Thanks Sheila Jones for organising!

 

 

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!