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:

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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 :


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:




Val – my new Anchorwoman

The most exciting thing that’s happened on the Artistic front since I counted the SAW 2014 takings on Sunday and discovered I did quite a lot better than last year (phew, time for a main verb) was a ring on the door a couple of days ago. There stood Val, a SAW visitor from Bridgwater, who had noticedlast week that I had a beach instead of a front garden.

She threw open her car boot to reveal a treasury of marine bits and pieces: first and foremost this beautiful little anchor:



She had had the same idea as me many years ago but is now moving from a house to a flat. Would I give these a good home?



Well of course I would – and these:

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Lucky me! And Val has promised to drop off some bits of fishing net soo, Too.

On a side issue – I’m experimenting with a new camera which is very clever. More than a match for me…


Cezanne meets Van Gogh

Today…the penultinate day of Somerset Art Weeks 2014…I have been mainly playing about with fruit and flowers.

Despit my protestations of ‘I haven’y got time’ ‘It’s somerset Art Weeks’ and ‘I’m unproductive in the gardening department’ our Moorlinch Village Church Rota Organiser didn’t take no for an answer I. tried a final ‘The chuch will be locked by the time I’ve finished’ upon which she entrusted to my care this wonderful key:


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Result:I am required to produce ‘something’ to grace one of the Church windows and yet yield some saleable produce when it all gets taken down to the Ring O’ Bells for the Annual Harvest Festival Auction.

This year a certain Nancy Farmer is to be in charge of the gaveI and do her best to coax we villagers to cough up the loot for the stuff we provided in the first place. Yes I know, but it’s a tiny village and we have to make our own amusement.

So  in a series of two-minute bursts from the command centre of my gallery I’ve: dispatched my husband to Sainsbury’s for sunflowers;  grabbed a few apples from the tree;  raided my fruitbowl and vegetable rack; ferreted about in the cuboard that houses bins, oil store and bits and pieces we should have taken to the tip and found a suitable receptacle. Suitable, that is, once disguised with the aforementioned ivy.

Sunflowers – that worked for Van Gogh. And apples – well, hello, Cezanne! Can I get them to work with each other?

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No, the sunflowers were definitely keeping themselves aloof from the fruit. So without so much as a ‘back in five minutes’ Ileft the gallery and charged up the hill to a handy hedgerow whivh provided ivy flowers and berries. I think that did the trick :’ Vincent: meet Paul!’ But you may not agree!

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SAW 2014 Halfway House

So here we are, halfway through the Art Weeks. I remember someone a few years ago saying that when they went round the open studios, all the artists were at their computers, as I am now.

Actually I’m sure that’s a bit old hat, now, what with smartphones ( which I don’t use) and tablets ( which I do use). In fact I have done a bit of ‘proper’ art work, preparing a couple of collages for a local exhibition. Foolishly I forgot to photograph them and now they’ve gone. It isn’t that easy to throw yourself into a major project when you might have to stop at any minute, but you can use scissors and glue on a stop-start basis.

I’m also starting on a drawing on the theme of Poppies which I’ll try to record. The Poppy exhibition will be at Bridgwater Arts Centre as part of a First World War commemoration.

So – over the past eight days I’m very pleased to have sold eight paintings,some of them even to people I didn’t know!

Paintings I’m saying goodbye to:

My preview was well attended by my faithful friends (who are also often my customers) and I thank them very much.

Word on the street is that numbers are down this year, somewhat inexplicably, and I agree with that.  Certainly the marketing doesn’t seem to be reaching the parts of the visiting public it once did. A bit disappointing, considering we’ve heard it  from our leaders that business is booming again.

It’s a good opportunity to catch up on a few jobs too – I had a Kangeroo in my in-tray awaiting repair. All stitched up now, she (and her baby in the pouch) will be reunited with owner Max when we meet for a walking holiday soon. Max, at six,

Hop it! Kageroos with sticks

Hop it! Kageroos with sticks

thinks no walk is any fun without the acquisition of a stout stck. So I’ve provided the kangeroo and her Joey with their own sticks:




That’s what I feel I’m doing at the moment. Not literally in fact, but metaphorically  paints, brushes, palette, water pots are whizzing round my head. Yesterday was time to meet up again with Moorlinch Art Group, a delightful collection of women artists of a certain age. Not that we practise any age or gender discrimination, it just happens to look that way at the moment. We meet once a week in Moorlinch Church Hall. The surroundings are truly inspiring : ancient church, apple orchard with fully laden trees and sheep jostling over the windfalls, views way out over the Somerset Levels and a clear blue sky.Took the photo because it wouldn’t hurt to encourage a few more member, so I’ll put a little piece in a couple of local magazines.

Some members of Moorlinch Art Group

Some members of Moorlinch Art Group

Last week it was all Chandos Society stuff – another group which has me as Chairman, but never mind. OUr exploits are recorded on www.chandossociety.wordpress.com .We’ve recently opened one of our two exhibitions this year at Bridgwater Arts Centre.

Finally of course, there is Somerset Art Weeks with just over a week to go to my preview on 19 September. I’ve been spending time with my pictures, juggling them from wall to wall too.I’ve delivered all Nancy Farmer’s work and bits and pieces so now it’s just me and my work – scary!

Somerset Art Weeks 2014 – some pictures on the blog!

I’ve been creating a new page which I’ve called ‘Somerset Art Weeks 2014 collection’ as distinct from the Gallery page of previous paintings and drawings.

So far I’ve identified four themes I say ‘indentfied’ as if I’m making this fascinating study of someone else’s work, but the thing is, I get inspired by a subject, which usually leads me on to another one (often before I’ve got very far with the original one). Then, bingo, you look over the assembled stuff and you see how they group themselves together.

So far I have: field and meadow; house in the woods, animals and buildings. The titles are getting less poetic! Anyway they are to be found listed under the words Somerset Art Weeks 2014 collection on the black header bar.

Somerset Art Weeks 2014 – some pictures on the wall!

Not only do I have to decide how to display my new paintings for Somerset Art Weeks 2014 – I actually have to come to terms with a new gallery. Nancy Farmer (we’re related) has left me the Cider Barn Gallery at Spring Farm and gone home to The Old Farmhouse where she will be displaying her Somerset Art Weeks exhibition in her studio there – don’t think she’s given it a name.

In fact, though she may have left there are quite a few Nancy Farmer artefacts lurking. So for the moment I’ve pushed most of the stuff into the middle and made a start at hanging work on the wall.

I started with my Meadow and Fields pictures: scenes of field patterns seen from the hill above Moorlinch at harvest time, looking out over the Somerset Levels. You’d never guess this was a vast lake at the beginning of the year.

Meadows and fields was also the first theme I illustrated in my Gallery page, sharing the title of ‘ Somerset Art Weeks 2014 collection’. I’ve gone on to do a page called ‘House in the woods’, another of my 2014 themes.

The picture so far:

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And on the other wall:

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It’s a start!