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!

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!

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!

 

 

 

 

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:

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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:

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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!

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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January blues…reds…and yellows

It never pays to absent yourself from your blog for too long because while your back’s turned Word press comes up with some new editing wizardry to cause some brow-furrowing.

Anyway, enough of that. January has been unexpectedly busy (and profitable) on the Art beat, it turns out. I’ve had a couple of commissions, which I can’t talk about yet, and I’ve given my first workshop!

Just before Christmas I had a long, flattering and hence persuasive request to give a workshop to a local Art Group. Some members had visited my exhibition during Somerset Art Weeks and asked if I ever did such things and I replied that I didn’t – too scary, too difficult, too time consuming.

But this group has a very nice, friendly and encouraging organiser.  So this week on Wednesday I used my village Art group as guinea pigs and on Friday went out into the big wide world (well, Taunton) with my easel, paintings, paints, books, photocopies and tracing paper.

The group was interested in seeing and trying some of my painting techniques, so after discussion I decided to choose a simple image that offered lots of scope for messing about with paint rather than too many time-consuming problems of composition.

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I created a level playing field  – to be more accurate it was a snowy hillside with lots of hoof-marks – and provided everyone with an outline drawing to trace or re-draw. I thought they might be insulted at the prescriptiveness of the situation but most seemed happy to start from the same point. In true Blue Peter style I also provided a ‘step by step’ sheet prepared earlier to show  how I arrived at my result:

4 pony views

 

I explained and demonstrated that my method was to do as little palette mixing as possible, rather to let the paints (blue, red, yellow) combine on the paper and see what happened, starting with a bit of undefined background and foreground. Snow and snowy skies lend themselves to a lovely free, sloshy approach, and liberal use of a squirty bottle of water combined with kitchen paper (my two secret weapons!)

Later when everyone had got some paint on the paper I painted in some of the darks on the pony, adding burnt sienna to the mix.  I think they were quite surprised to see my palette at this stage as proof that you don’t need to do much stirring and mixing :

palette

The final stage was ‘finding’ a background in the swirls and lines that had emerged. But by then there were as many different versions of my original painting as there were artists in the room, which was exciting and gratifying too.  Here is a selection:

 

 

 

Within these five walls

…as I sit in my gallery for the Somerset Arts Weeks 2015 exhibition. The shape of the room and the different areas of paintings gives me at least five areas of work. As they’re in different media and styles they sometimes need to be kept well apart from each other.

Then there is the work of my colleague and friend Sheila Jones though on the whole her silk paintings harmonize pretty well  with my work.

So here I am surrounded by my ‘stuff’:

In the cider barn gallery, Spring Farm, Moorlinch

In the cider barn gallery, Spring Farm, Moorlinch

The ‘Field and Moor’ series has more then usually vibrant colours that sit happily with Sheila’s butterfly wing designs:

colourscape: scarves and pictures

colourscape: scarves and pictures

Even bolder, and definitely corralled on another wall are two collages and mixed media flower pictures: Holly hocks and Poppies, plus a painting of Sweet peas:

Hollyhocks, Poppies and Sweetpeas

Hollyhocks, Poppies and Sweetpeas

Sandwiched between  the two bright painting walls comes a restrained black and white collection, drawings made in Troutbeck, near Ambleside, in the Lake District:

By the postbox i, 2, and 3, and other buildings

By the postbox i, 2, and 3, and other buildings

Just a couple of walls to go: new work from ‘just around the corner’: barns at Spring Farm, and Swans and Pollarded Willows down on the Somerset levels:

Ferguson Tractor - 'Hidden Trasure' in the barn, assorted barns

Ferguson Tractor – ‘Hidden Trasure’ in the barn, assorted barns

Dancing Trees, Fishing nets ion la Rance, Quantock Ponies and Glastonbury Abbey

Dancing Trees, Fishing nets ion la Rance, Quantock Ponies and Glastonbury Abbey

And that’s it: walled in. Quite enjoyably, actually!