My Spoonflower Shop

My Spoonflower Shop
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2/13/2013

Winter Fox Trot



Despite several attempts to pretend spring has arrived, placing daffodils in vases and filling the house with the smell of hyacinths, winter still has us in its grip. As I type this, the snow is falling outside my window and the sky is a leaden grey. I don’t mind the snow so much but I hate the bitter cold winds and the gloom.

For the last couple of months I have been busy creating a new collection of designs for the various trade shows. I had a day walking around the Spring fair in Birmingham and enjoyed chatting to my agent, other artists and manufacturers, I even spotted a few of my own products which was gratifying. The show seemed much smaller than in previous years but still a great place to visit and trend spot.



In between days of incessant rain we have had some lovely bright sparkly days, blue skies and light. Heartwarming days that lift the spirits and make me want to paint. Nature is always the most inspiring of subjects and walking Ted in all weathers provides many opportunities to observe wildlife. I decided to start a new painting, trying to capture the colours of winter and the shapes and patterns of the fern stems, seed heads and dead grasses that appear beneath the melting snow. I love the repetition of natural forms, the details on the tree bark, the way the light gives a richness and warmth to a winter’s afternoon. I decided that the painting needed life so added a fox, a familiar sight around these parts and can sometimes be seen in the daylight.



I like to work on stretched Bockingford cold press paper, which allows the paint to be lifted when water is applied and then removed with a tissue. I first painted a wash over the entire piece and then worked on top, slowly adding the details to create the desired effect. I use tiny brush strokes applied with a series 7 Windsor and Newton Finest Sable brush. I used bleach, process white, gouache and white pencil to create the snow-covered areas and to pick out the details on the seed heads. As with all my work I never feel entirely happy, often adding bits, removing, changing and fiddling until a point is reached where I have to say enough is enough. It is not perfection but it is as good as I can make it and overall I am happy with the result. If you click on the images you will see more details and see how the work develops over time.



The final result can be seen here in my Etsy shop.I decided to call the painting "Winter Fox Trot"

16 comments:

Jules said...

Really interesting to hear how you approach a new work. Great photo of Ted having fun in the snow, bless him!

Jeri Landers said...

Oh, I do love that little Ted! Your work, as always is wonderful. I particularly love your trees. You have a way of making the bark so rich and natural. It is a lovely piece. Foxes are a familiar site hereabouts as well, but I do wish they would move on, my chicken family is dwindling.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

I loved seeing your progress and following how you got there.
You should be happy, it's really lovely! Keep warm Valerie. Being creative always warms my bones!

Julie Clay Illustration said...

Beautiful painting Valerie, your detail is just stunning and it looks so right to me. The trees are so lovely, do you use a photo or just make them up, they look perfect. Does it take you long to paint something like this? It's interesting that you use bleach! Thanks for sharing. :)

Frances said...

Valerie, your Fox Trot painting is so beautiful. Please do pass along good wishes to playful Ted who got you outdoors during this lovely stage of snowfall.

It's so interesting to see the various phases as the painting emerges from original wash to detailed balance between softness and details.

I'm interested that you use a cold press paper, and would love to know more about your used of bleach to bring back whites from that original wash's tint.

Your fox is a fine chap, with stealthy grace as he makes his own fine tracks across the snow. The tree trunk detailed texture is marvelous...how I also love painting such details.

Best wishes! xo

stutleytales.com said...

You turn out the most amazing work. It is just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing how you go about this. But the red squirrel is still my favourite :)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Beautiful picture Valerie - I went over to your shop to have a look. Have you ever done one of a hare?

Janet Friel said...

I love this painting and I really like seeing the different stages of development. I'm inspired to experiment with bleach now - do you dilute it first?

acornmoon said...

Some of you have asked about using bleach - I often use bleach in very small quantities on my work. It does not work with every kind of paint but seems to work with Dr Ph Martins water colour concentrate or thin washes of colour.

I apply it with an old mapping pen or an old brush. You need to experiment first as bleach can be very unforgiving. I make it a little thinner by adding a few drops of water. Needless to say it can eat through both so careful cleaning and rinsing is in order and be very careful not to spill it or get it on your skin!

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

It's lovely Valerie, and fascinating to see how it developed.

MILLY said...

Lovely to be inspired by the snow and your painting captures the scene. We had snow this week , then all disappeared with the rain and stormy night.
It must be fun spotting your own work on products at the show. Off to catch up on your posts.

Feathers said...

Thanks for sharing your fox in the snow painting. Rather looks like a Michigan scene to me.(smile) Also want to thank you for sharing your afternoon tea with Jeri. It was a delight, and I've enjoyed getting aquainted with her work through her blog. She is an unusual person who I would love to know personally. Give that little Ted a smooch for me-such a cutie!-Anita.

Clare Wassermann said...

I adore those seed heads at the front of the painting. Very beautiful

Terra said...

Your art work is lovely, and you have a creative job. Also, your dog is enjoying the day, isn't he?

Tammie Lee said...

I loved seeing this piece unfold and come to be, so charming. the details in the large tree are amazing. Thank you for sharing the things you used. It is a wonderful piece.

HayleySarah said...

Beautiful, thanks for the description, you are very talented :)