Cheering up winter

Welcome January visitors, I hope your New Year has got off to a good start? We are still coming down to earth after a very eventful December which saw the marriage of our eldest son to his beautiful bride, we are still waiting to see the official photographs.

It has been very cold and bright here but now the skies have turned grey and gloomy. I have been making an effort to cheer up winter by walking, working, reading and knitting. How about you?

I got a brand new box of paints for my birthday last year and have only just got around to trying them out. I have to say that I am most impressed with the feel and intensity of these watercolours. 

One of my indulgences is to visit our local charity shops on the look out for ceramics. Many people around these parts have worked in what we call "The Pot Bank" that is Stoke-on-Trent. When the kilns were in operation people wanted to escape the smoke and pollution and so moved to our town, just the other side of the border. Not surprisingly our charity shops often throw up some real gems. The mid century hand decorated bowl is a recent acquisition, made by Poole Pottery and designed by Alfred Read, as far as I can tell, although I stand to be corrected. It is called PKT and on the base there is a mark Poole 186 followed by an X (I think that might be the decorators mark) and the letters PKT, above that there is another X. It has such a pleasing shape and I know I will enjoy filling it with flowers from my garden in the months to come. Meanwhile I am making do with some shop bought blooms; daffodils always look so bright and cheerful, now I need some hyacinths for their fragrance. 

The book "Long Live Great Bardfield" (pictured above), is one I bought from a lovely bookshop in London called Persephone Books. I love their distinctive grey covers and their brightly patterned endpapers and book marks. This one is about the life of Tirzah Garwood who became the wife of Eric Ravilious. Tirzah was a very accomplish artist and wood engraver who also decorated papers with the most amazing marbled patterns. She deserves to be better known as an artist in her own right, her memoirs are both fascinating and amusing.

The old Rowan knitting magazine was another charity shop find, it includes some timeless classics and so I have been knitting myself a cardigan. Maybe in another year or so I may finish as my knitting skills are very basic and leave much room for improvement! 

When the weather has allowed we have been walking, following footpaths along canals and old railway lines. It is on walks like these I really miss my little dog Ted, he always enjoyed walking with us, finding sticks and chasing ducks to no avail. 

I have been making more blank notebooks using some of my patterns as simple covers. This star pattern was one I produced to decorate the end pages of "Can it be True?". When I was working on this book I was inspired by mid century modern designs, perhaps that is what attracted me to the little Poole bowl and the Tirzah book?  I hope the coming year will provide lots of interesting content, we will see. In the meantime thanks once again for visiting and leaving your comments and words of encouragement, I truly appreciate it. 

PS, since writing this post I have been reliably informed that my Poole bowl was decorated by Gwen Haskins who worked at the pottery for many years.


Just in time!

Wishing you all a very Happy and Blessed Christmas, may your days be filled with joy.



We have all had enough doom and gloom for one month so I thought you might like to see some Autumnal colour. These are some of the things that have lifted my heart. To begin with a visit to Little Moreton Hall, a magnificent Tudor house close to my home, set amongst beech trees and surrounded by a moat. The older I get the more important these simple pleasures are to me.

I am writing this whilst waiting for an exhibition called "colour" to open. The Sunday opening times at The Fitzwilliam in Cambridge are from twelve noon so I am taking advantage of a quiet morning to catch up on updating my blog. I have heard good reports about this exhibition and I am looking forward to learning more about colour in medieval times and the work that went into creating paints and pigments.

Earlier this year I worked on a gilded painting and have been trying to create another version to offfer as a digital print. I managed to change some of the golds to reds and worked out a way to reproduce the illuminated effects. White Hart is now available as an open edition print in my Etsy shop.

I hope that your world is colour filled too!


No News November

November already and I have slowed down, almost to a halt but not quite. Despite some truly wonderful days with our family my spirits and productivity have been woefully low, possibly due to falling ill with some nasty lurgy. Now everything has turned wet and cold and gloomy.

We did manage a cheery day out to our nearby parkland with grandson George and enjoyed visiting the farm, this year they had. Ronald Dahl theme. Can you guess who lived in the Den?

I have been getting rather obsessed with hand carved stamps, their accessibility and usefulness intrigues me. Here are some examples I put together as demonstration pieces for a workshop I shall be running shortly. So far I have concentrated on paper but would be interested to hear from anyone who has stamped onto fabric, in particular which inks to use?


Miniature Art Exhibition

This year I entered five of my miniature paintings into The Royal Society Of Miniature Painters Sculptors and Gravers Exhibition and was delighted to learn that they had all been accepted. 

We travelled down to London to see the exhibition at The Mall Galleries. Two of my paintings won awards. The little Jack Russell painting entitled "Millie's Garden" won the Elizabeth Meek Award and the border terrier painting "Beautiful Dreamer" was awarded a "Gold Memorial Bowl Honourable Mention".

The awards were presented by antiques expert Lennox Cato who will be familiar to anyone who watches The Antiques Roadshow. 

If you are in London do visit, there are some 700 or so miniatures on show including portraits, still life subjects and landscapes and miniature pieces of sculpture. You might even buy something special for a Christmas gift and the wonderful thing about investing in miniatures is you don't need too much room! 


Ruby Wedding

Tony and I recently celebrated our Ruby Wedding anniversary in Normandy with our family; just one of the reasons I have been very behind with my blog posts. It was wonderful to spend time with our nearest and dearest, the sun shone brightly and the sky and sea were bluer than blue.

When we had enough of the great outdoors we lazed about indoors in the very spacious farmhouse we rented. Our grandchildren George and Edie found a book in the local supermarket which had been illustrated by their uncle Patrick. Of course we had to bring it home with us, it inspired many new works of art.

One of the places we visited was the Christian Dior house and garden in Granville. This beautiful pink villa housed a collection of the designer's work alongside photographs of the famous women who have worn House of Dior creations.

There were dresses worn by Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, Jacqueline Kennedy to name but a few. There is something very personal and immediate about people's clothing, like seeing handwriting it evokes many sentiments. Viewing the exquisite Galliano creation worn by Diana, alongside the bag, shoes and jewels she wore, displayed next to her photograph made the experience very poignant. The tiny suits worn by Jackie and the sensuous black silk worn by Marilyn, such beautifully clothed women forever photographed and admired. I wonder how many of us would really like to choose their destinies?

When we returned I began a new series of animal portraits, this is little Millie who sometimes comes to stay. She and Ted were good companions and enjoyed walking together. People ask me why I haven't painted Ted, the answer is simple; every very time I look at his photograph my eyes fill with tears and I am finished! Maybe one day. The Anthony Browne book is one I have owned for some time, it is a little gem and worth rooting out if you love beautifully illustrated books. I decided to add some topiary details to my border, I hope Millie approves.

Another member of the pack, Ash the Weimaraner contemplating life.


White Hart Illumination, Silverpoint and a Winner!

Thanks to all of you who left comments in my last post and shared your thoughts on life long learning. As promised a winner has been chosen and the first name out of the hat is Weaver of Grass. I shall be posting a copy of The Dream Quilt to her in due course.

The weather here has been wonderful and warm, everything in the garden has grown and we have been kept busy with hedge clearing and other chores. We found time to visit our favourite garden in Wales. Bodnant garden is situated in the Welsh hills near to Llandudno, so a visit to one always entails a visit to the other. Bodnant has many different features including magnificent lawned terraces and lakes filled with water lilies, rose gardens and laburnum arches, but my favourite part is the woodland walk where magnificent Japanese Maples and Giant Redwood trees mingle with our native species, if you haven't yet visited you must put it on your wish list!

I finished a medieval inspired illuminated painting which I have called "White Hart". I made good use of some of the lovely new art materials purchased on my last trip to London. The fern areas are gold leaf and the tiny silver coloured dots are shell Palladium.

I have also been trying my hand at silverpoint drawing, using a tiny piece of silver wire and a thicker angled piece of silver set in a wooden holder. If you fancy having a try you need to either buy a piece of specially treated paper or you can prepare your paper using a ready made off white ground. I used one by C.Robertson and Co. All of these marvellous things can be bought from Cornelissen in London or online.

Silverpoint is a very subtle technique, similar to drawing in graphite but more even in tone. It produces pale grey marks which develop over time as the silver oxidises. Unlike graphite it will not easily erase and therefore is a more archival technique, one which was favoured by the old masters and now seems to be having something of a revival.

The White Hart painting is now with the gallery "Art of the Imagination" (Books Illustrated). The two silverpoint drawings are in my Etsy shop, see the link in my sidebar.

I hope the weather is being kind to you too, once again thank you so much for visiting my blog.