Christmas is coming – again!

November has come and gone – not without artistic activity but it went unrecorded.

I’ve been busy having coasters made, featuring some of my paintings.

creative christmas 2

 

I’m a bit ambivalent about the point of coasters but having sold all my calendars I was looking for another product for our current event: Creative Christmas at Moorlinch.

Creative Christmas

So here we are, mince pies and wine at the ready, open for business!

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Foxed!

My (nearly) last job before Somerset Art Weeks in about 10 days time was to create my 2017 Christmas card. I usually choose and animal image and this time I wanted to have a Fox.

We occasionally get a fox visiting the garden and I had a few images from this year when she came leaping over the stream in search of the fallen cherry plums.P1060126

None of her poses was quite right though, so I had to resort to the internet for a bit of help. I finally decided I wanted to concentrate on quite a close-up view of the head, but not too centrally placed, with room to suggest a snowy setting.

There are some lovely painterly pictures of foxes around so I had to start again several times as I was happy with the pose but not the painting. I was also deperate to avoid anything ‘cute’ (see a previous blog on this subject) so I carried on with rather a ‘zombie’ look until I was happier:

So here is the end product: P1060791 crop 1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

2018 looming – aargh!

Is that the correct spelling? Anyway, when I decided to commit to producing a 2018 calendar in time for Somerset Art Weeks I made the usual mistake of assuming that I would easily find 12 suitable seasonal works among my Oeuvre (spelling doubts again…)

Then I soon realised my calendar was as full of holes as a colander  (spelling doubts now getting boring). So here are some of the new ones:

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

p1040295-resized

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!

P1050147 cropped

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!

 

 

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.