Highland Cattle

I can now ( I hope) reveal details of a commission I painted in January which was a surprise present and you can never be certain who’s going to see these things. Although mostly I’m certain it’s not many!

The required painting was of a highland cow and the request was passed on by my friend Sheila Jones who paints delicate atmospheric scenes on silk. But, as she says, she can’t do Hairy. She recalled a card design of mine which I forwarded to the potential customer:

Highland Cow version 2A

This Lady was in the Lake District and I took a couple of cards back to the farmer’s wife the year after I’d done the painting. Believe it or not, she recognised the subject from my painting – who says ‘seen one, seen them all’?

This was accepted as suitable credentials and I started some drawings (version one). Then I was asked to add a couple of calves. Now, I thought I had a photo of highland calves from a holiday in Scotland so I changed the format to landscape, added a couple and sent off the images for approval (version two):P1020846 highland cow cropped

I was a bit dismayed to read that the calves were not stocky or hairy enough – could I do anything about that? Watercolorists will realise the limited potential for change, particularly as I’d (over)confidently taken the paper off the stretching board. Sure enough, a photo of genuine highland calves (mine must have been cross-breds, maybe) revealed my error.

I brought the grass up higher to make the legs shorter and added quite a lot of hairy tufts and sent off version three.  There followed a tentative suggestion that the cow in the background might like to have horns too? I explained that it was intended to be a second calf which would not yet have grown horns.

I was thus spared a fourth version and I believe my customer went off happy with this:

P1020854 cropped

I’m reminded of a chef friend who used to say that the worst cooking job of all was that of a grill chef ‘because you invite the customer to tell you how to cook’. I think commissions are a bit like that – but hey –  The customer is always right!


The home straight

Well -that’s what it feel like, opening up the gallery for the Wednesday to Sunday finish to Somerset Arts Weeks 2015. Got a bit og a sense of deja vu, or rather deja ecrit as I’ve written this post once then lost it. I was trying to be clever, boasting that one of the things I’d occupied myself with in quiet times, and stuck with a laptop for company, was to open an Etsy shop. Then I tried to put in a link, thus: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtbyAnneFarmer Well, maybe that’s worked but I’m not risking it yet!

Other things I’ve done include updating my exhibition email list – tedious, there must be an easier way to do that – and buy shoes: that went well!

So back to SAW 2015: card sales have gone well. This is the 2015 Christmas card:Christmas 2015 version 2 cropped

This is a herdwick sheep, native of the Lake District. I love their teddy-bear faces, as if they’ve been embroidered!

I also busied myself with producing a drawing for the November issue of the Parish Magazine, mindful of the upcoming interest in the Staring activitis in these parts:

Room at the top: starlings on a pylon at Othery

Room at the top: starlings on a pylon at Othery

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!




Back on Dry Land?

It seems the Somerset Levels acquired fame while I was away in the parched arid Lake District.We always thought Moorlinch felt like a seaside village …DSCF4371

Although I didn’t get much painting done while we were away I managed to deliver some replacement work to the Troutback cafe:



…(on the left hand side of the window, among other locations) which was warm, wecoming and had masses of wonderful homemade cake.

I’m also pretty sure I’ve found the subject for my 2014 Christmas card:DSCF4465

All those gorgeous colours! I usually pick a white subject (sheep,geese, swans, pony, sheep, cattle, goats, ploar bears, oh and more sheep..) and see how many colours I can work in.

And there is one little mystery I’d like to solve:DSCF4511

Who were they?

Going to a drier part of the country: the Lake District

Or…Troutbeck again!

The Lake District is, truth to tell, probably wetter even than Somerset at this moment, but generally the water is where you expect it to be. My previous post gave some idea of the (apparently) 25 square miles of temporary lake around these parts.DSCF4392

There have also been complaints that these gates are padlocked when they shouldn’t be, thus making it difficult to walk through……??? Duh!  It’s good to complain!

Anyway, in anticipation of heading North, I’ve been drawing and painting from sketches and photos so that I can replace – and hopefully add to – the drawings that Gareth and Carly sold at Christmas from their new tearoom at the TroutbeckPost Office. Yes – both pictures sold! I was so pleased. So here are some of the fruits of my labour:

DSCF4402 resizedThis post seems to feature gates quite strongly. Ah -it’s a Gate Post, ha-ha!

DSCF4404 resized And I’ve also ventured into colour:

DSCF4412 cropped and resized

And finally headed for the hills:

From Troutbeck to Wansfell Pike

From Troutbeck to Wansfell Pike

I know I’ve done it before, but I just love this path.

We’ll be staying  not quite  as close to the Mortal Man, but nearer to the Queen’s Head! Cheers!

Return to Troutbeck

Getting ready for our second Lake District trip this year. Tomorrow we go back to Stamp Howe in Troutbeck – the third time we’ve stayed there with our daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren. So I have a bag packed to the brim with art materials. We’re not staying next door to an art shop this time, but we are within minutes of dozens of inspiring sights and sites – barns, hill, stones, sheep, cottages, farms….

And not forgetting we’re within a stone’s throw of the Mortal Man pub!

I did a lot of drawing when we were there two years ago:

 ' Till the cows come home, Troutbeck'

‘ Till the cows come home, Troutbeck’

These, the farmer told me, were Ling cattle , from one of the scottish islands, though I’m ashamed to say I don’t really know where.

Towards the fells, Troutbeck

Towards the fells, Troutbeck

Mind you, it’s not all work –  this is our first breakfast, two years ago, served by Josie:

Mmm - Cumberland sausages!

Mmm – Cumberland sausages!

Off to the Lake District

On Saturday I’m off on a bi-annual trip to renew acquaintance with the awe – and Art – inspiring Lake District. I tried once to create a ‘Society for Lake District painters who don’t live in the Lake District’ hoping in some small way to make up for the impossibility of ever belonging, on geographical as well as artistic grounds, to the Lake District Artists Society.

There must be loads of visiting painters who would be interested! Surely? How to reach them? I live in hopes that we could stage a sort of  exhibition or Salon des Refuses( That’s a French ‘e’ with an accent, nothing to do with rubbish!)

Here are a few previous efforts:

One of the marvellous old gateposts

One of the marvellous old gateposts

swan-and-ripples-ambleside resized

The track from Wansfell, near Troutbeck

The track from Wansfell, near Troutbeck

evening light, Grasmere

evening light, Grasmere