"A cuppa" interview with artist Patricia Papps

The beautiful artwork featured below is the work of Patricia Papps

I have recently come across the rich and decorative work of Patricia Papps through my art dealer Books Illustrated. I was particularly drawn to this beautiful artwork and decided to invite Patricia around for "a cuppa" in order to get to know something more about this very gifted artist. I know you will love her work as much as I do, why not join us for a cuppa too?

Q1) How do you take your tea and in what kind of cup do you like it served?

I like my tea with only a little milk and quite strong. I sometimes have green tea which is very refreshing. I love flowers so china decorated with flowers, particularly wild flower designs are my favourite. They remind me of summer days while drinking a nice hot 'cuppa' in winter. I often use mugs for tea and my favourite mug has comical cats on it. I am mad about cats.

Q2) If you could choose anyone, past , present or future, who would be joining us for tea.

I think William Morris would make very interesting conversation as he had such a lively mind and he was interested in so many things. His work is a great inspiration to me. It is his wonderful harmony of design that really appeals to me. The German artist Sulamith Wolfing is also a huge inspiration. I really love looking at her mystical and lovely work. The pre-Raphaelites and the Symbolists have also influenced me and it would be difficult to choose just one to invite for a 'cuppa'. Perhaps Waterhouse as I love his beautiful ladies.

One the biggest influences on my work has to be the ancient Egyptians. I have been particular drawn to their art and have produced a range of paintings based on Egyptian myths. They did of course inspire a whole art movement in the West - Art Deco - the art and design of which particularly appeals to me. I don't think they drank tea in ancient Egypt! But it would be interesting to invite one of their talented anonymous artists of that era round for a 'cuppa' to find out how they trained and what their working methods were etc.

Medieval illuminated manuscripts are also a great source of inspiration for me. I love looking at all the detail in them. My 'Language of Flowers' paintings were very influenced by these so perhaps we could invite a Medieval artist monk round for tea and have a good chat about miniature painting and spiritual inspiration in art.

Q3) Tell me a little about your background in art and design.

I didn't start out initially as an artist as I lacked confidence in my work even though I loved drawing and designing. I took a secretarial course and worked as a secretary for a few years but realised I had made a big mistake as I wasn't at all happy. I went back to art school and attended the life drawing classes at the college to brush up my drawing. It was there I met my husband the illustrator and artist Andrew Skilleter who was also 'brushing up' his drawing. He was working as a freelance illustrator and he really encouraged me to develop my work and 'do my own thing'. He introduced me to commercial illustration which was something I knew very little about as most of my training had been in the 'fine' art area - oil painting and the like, which didn't suite my style of work at all. With Andrew's encouragement I got a folio together and went to see publishers in the days when one did walk around London and actually went and see art directors with a folio. It is very different today. I soon had commissions which was so exciting and fulfilling. That was quite a long time ago! I think my real training and learning about art and design has come with the work - there is nothing like a commission to focus the mind and create ideas and inspiration.

Q4) Where are you based and does it influence your work?

I live in the heart of the Dorset countryside, near Wareham, on the edge of Wareham Forest and we are surrounded by trees and countryside. It is very peaceful and beautiful, and very tranquil. We have only been here a couple of years and before that we lived in a busy town. I am more relaxed and focused out here I think and that is definitely have an effect on my creative work.

Q5) What have you been doing/working on today?

I am working on a fairy painting although the wings have become very impressive so I think it is becoming an angel. I love painting fairies and angels for they are such great scope for the imagination and as they are very involved with nature I can use my love of nature and wild flowers to decorate the paintings and illustrate special meanings for the fairy/angel.

I am also working on some ideas for a series of Celtic paintings focusing on Celtic Goddesses and heroines. I have so many ideas at the moment there are not enough hours in the day!

Q6) I hope that you have brought along something wonderful to show us, what is it?

Yes, a ball of wool! I am a knitting addict when I am not painting and I am fascinated by the texture and colours of natural yarns. This particular ball is from a rare breed of sheep, the Blueface Leicester, that is bred in the North of England. It is very soft and cosy and the natural colour of the sheep. It makes wonderful warm garments. The whole process I find wonderful from the spinning of the wool from these beautiful animals, and then the designing and knitting process of producing a garment or a knitted work of art. I love natural hand dyed yarns as the colours are so beautiful. Each ball or hank is unique with a blending of different shades of colour - they are a work of art in themselves!

Thanks so much for joining us Patricia, I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future and hope that your work finds an appreciative audience. You can see more of Patricia's work here on her website.

If you are interested in purchasing her original artwork you will find it here at Books Illustrated


Calendar 2009 samples.

The first samples of my new calendars for 2009 arrived in the post which makes a welcome change from junk mail and bills. It's always exciting to receive the finished products after all the hard work is finished. Both calendars have been published by a British company called Judges and should be available in the United Kingdom shortly.

One of the calendars is a slimline type and the other is called "Pocket Notes" which is a wall calendar with a pocket to hold household items, dental appointments, invitations, etc. I think it will come in very useful, I hope you agree! The green card which you can see in the photograph is for display purposes only and lifts out to reveal a date chart. I don't know about you but I have only just got the hang of writing 2008 on my cheques, the years are speeding up I am sure.


Walking with Ted

As I have enjoyed visiting my guests' blogs and glimpsing everyday life in countries near and far, I thought you might like to join Ted and I on our morning walk. You will need your Wellington boots and a winter coat today as it's a bit chilly and damp under foot.

Within a stone's throw of our door lies a couple of fields of fallow land. The path you see in the photograph has been fashioned by feet; dogs, people, rabbits and foxes have all helped to keep the path closely cropped. The middle of the path is mainly grass and tiny clover leaves, on the margin the plants grow longer and more luxuriant; buttercups, clovers, vetches give way to ox-eye daisies, ragwort, thistles and grasses Every day is different, the fields team with life as the wild and diverse plant species attract many varieties of birds, animals and butterflies. The path reminds me of an embroidery and the field - a firework display, in the sense that one beautiful display is replaced by another spectacle throughout the year.

We often see toads and frogs, not today - we found huge, black slugs enjoying the damp grass. On the bindweed tiny banded snails clung onto the tendrils and leaves. One summer Ted came across a grass snake and adders have been spotted near the stream.

I don't normally take my camera with me which is just as well, everywhere I look there is something wonderful to photograph, very distracting and time consuming when there is work to be done!


July "Illuminations of Nature".

Click on the artwork to view.Pluck the fruit and taste the pleasure,
Youthful lordings, of delight;
Whilst occasion gives you seizure,
Feed your fancies and your sight:
After death, when you are gone,
Joy and pleasure is there none.

Thomas Lodge.

This is one of a series of twelve decorative watercolour panels from my collection called "Illuminations of Nature" originally created as a wall calendar. Inspired by poetry, illuminated manuscripts and botanical illustration.

I am not sure I agree altogether with the sentiments expressed by this Elizabethan poet. It reminds me of  "To his coy mistress" by Andrew Marvell , I imagine they were written to lead young ladies astray! 


The saga of the garden saggars.

I thought I would share with you a little bit of local history which will be familiar to any visitor from Stoke-on-Trent, sometimes referred to as "The Pot Bank". Over the course of the last ten years many of the world famous ceramic companies in our area have closed or relocated. A friend of ours, from one such pottery, gave us some old saggars - these are the rectangular containers, now acting as plant pots.

Believe it or not there was once such an occupation as "a saggar maker's bottom knocker". In case your wondering, a saggar is a special fireclay container for protecting pots during firing and a saggar maker was a skilled craftsman. Sometimes a lesser skilled person made the bottom part by placing the clay in a metal hoop and knocking it into shape, hence the name. ( you can read more about the history here.)

As you can see, they make rather nice containers for small plants such as sedums, alpines etc. Sadly, over the course of a dozen or so winters, the frost has taken its toll and I am now afraid to move them in case they fall apart all together. As you can see, my trusty garden helper has once again got in on the act, I have never known such a nosey dog!


The Nightingale

The sunrise wakes the lark to sing,
The moonrise wakes the nightingale.
Come darkness, moonrise, everything
That is so silent, sweet and pale,
Come, so ye wake the nightingale.

Christina Rossetti.

I have to confess I have never seen a Nightingale, let alone had the pleasure of hearing one sing in Berkeley Square but I live in hope, I find the idea so enchanting.

This design has been especially created to decorate a small card and enclosure. I took my inspiration for the structure of the enclosure from a Japanese design. I love the way the Japanese wrap objects, not in a tight hermetic seal but in a gentle, folded or wrapped parcel. This is the art of "gentle concealment" which is central to Japanese culture.

The more I learn about Japan, the more I want to visit that extraordinary country, it's next on my list after I have heard the Nightingale sing....