Strange Times

Over the last months I have been concentrating on decorative illumination inspired by Medieval manuscripts. For inspiration I have turned to my collection of books and exhibition catalogs that I have acquired over the years, after visiting museums, libraries and charity shops! During this pandemic it has not been possible to continue attending workshops or other events I would have enjoyed in more normal times and apart from dog walking, shopping and gardening there has been little to distract me from sitting at my desk and practicing.

I created this miniature using two gilding techniques, raised and flat gilding.
For the flat gilding I used miniatum and transfer gold leaf. The raised gilding was a new venture for me, for this I used Instacoll which I found much easier than gesso.

We are now being asked to wear a face mask when social distancing isn't possible. I have been having fun creating some designs using my artwork, these are now available to purchase in my Redbubble shop.
So far the owls have been the most popular! 


Home schooling

With so many parents now finding themselves at home with children I thought that some of you might like these sheets to print and colour? I am uploading at a high resolution in the hope that you might be able to print them onto A4 paper? I created them to give to schools and bookshops to accompany my book "White is the Moon". Stay safe everyone X


O is for Owl.

January and February are always something of a struggle for me; my energy and enthusiasm levels are low and hibernation seems like a pleasant notion. At last the days are getting longer and despite the cold and rain there are welcome signs of spring. We travelled down south through the Avon valley region and saw some rather alarming floods. Bradford-on-Avon was open as usual but the river was dangerously high. It was so lovely to see primroses growing in the ancient churchyard.

We had a trip to Llandudno in North Wales and visited The Owls Trust, primarily to see a White -faced Scops Owl in order to complete a commission. Despite the howling wind and cold I managed to photograph many of the owls and had a guided tour by a knowledgeable and friendly guide. The miniature painting was duly completed and delivered.

The Illuminated letter O shows another bird I met at the sanctuary; this time an Ashy Faced Barn Owl which is now endangered. The lettering style and decoration were inspired by historical illuminated letters, in particular those depicted in Owen Jones's Grammar Of Ornament. The border has been gilded in gold leaf, the rest is water-colour on hot press paper. It measures three inches square, and yes, I do need specs and a magnifying glass!


So this is Christmas...

As always, December arrives and as usual I am unprepared for the Christmas festivities. I tell myself there is plenty of time and then find myself running around like a headless turkey! Decorating the house was something of a challenge this year due to our new four legged friend and a squeaky toy has been bought, wrapped and hidden.

Most of this years artworks have been executed in watercolour but I have enjoyed returning to print making. The “Stellar Hare” relief print above has been proofed and this one is having some festive gold paint applied by hand. I printed a small edition and have sold several through my Etsy shop Acornmoon which is now closed until the New Year in order to give me time to enjoy friends and family gatherings.

At the end of November and into December I took part in the annual exhibition of The Royal Miniature Society at the Mall galleries in London. As a full member I was allowed to exhibit not only miniature but also some larger works. It was a very enjoyable event and a good time to meet up with friends and family visiting London.

I decided to use some of the images from my miniature paintings to produce a small collection of ceramic brooches and pendants, also available via my Etsy shop.

Welsh Border Life Magasine very kindly featured my artwork in their December edition.

Our granddaughter delighted us all by producing this very charming and detailed drawing of the nativity. She worked entirely unaided and I think it remarkable for a five year old to show such a great sense of design, not that I am in any way biased ;-)

I would like to thank all the people who have followed and supported my work throughout the year and I wish you all a Happy and Joyous Christmas.


Autumn News

Our big news is we have a puppy; he is a small but very lively Jack Russell of sorts. I say “of sorts” because he is very different to our dear departed Ted. He is black and tan with white paws and a bent tail and we love him, he has brought much joy into our lives. We have christened him Stanley. As soon as we were able we took him on a trip to The Lake District where we enjoyed a brief interlude of sunshine between the showers. He proved to be an enthusiastic walker and found many admirers in the dog walking community. I had forgotten how many people stop and talk if you have a dog!

We visited Buttermere, possibly one of the most beautiful lakes in Cumbria. The colours in the landscape were beginning to change and added a sense of warmth to the reflections in the water. I loved the woodland walks and found inspiration in the tiny ferns and mosses growing in the crevices in walls and trees. We spotted several moths and butterflies, berries and fungi, some of which made their way into my new painting “Moths and Moonshine”.

This year I will be submitting a couple of larger paintings into this years R.M.S, exhibition. You can see details of this over on my website. “Moths and Moonshine” is one of these larger works; it is watercolour with gold leaf inspired by our recent trip. The barn owl was one I met earlier; he was so tame I was able to take lots of photographs of him for reference.

Some of you may have noticed that I have reluctantly removed the comments section form my blog. I do genuinely miss the interaction with my blog friends but have found that I spend more time on other platforms like Instagram and my neglected blog was attracting too many spam posts. I do hope a few of you still find this space interesting enough to visit despite recent changes.


Rain and Wild Roses.

Anyone who has visited the UK recently will testify to the remarkable amount of rainfall we have had. Our "green and pleasant lands" rely on the rainfall but it would be good if it would fall only when we are sleeping!

I often get asked where I get my inspiration from, something every creative person must have been asked at some point. Some artists carry sketch books and make notes of inspiring subjects to refer to at a later date; to be honest I have never been able to work in a sketchbook. I find it too inhibiting, instead I prefer to surround myself with images, books, prints, photographs, objects from the natural world - all help in the creative process. By far the most inspiring thing for me to do is to simply walk and look. As I lead a fairly sedentary life I find that walking is essential and I gain great benefit from being surrounded by woodland, wild flowers, birdsong, insect life etc. Whenever I walk I try to take my little pocket sized camera with me. The painting of wild dog roses (above) was inspired by walking and observing a favourite footpath near my home in Cheshire. I probably took about fifty or so images of bees, trees, roses in order to create the painting back in my studio.

I am so fortunate to have a choice of footpaths close to my home. This one is a disused railway line once used to transport goods to the nearby potteries in Stoke-on-Trent. It is now maintained as a nature reserve, popular with walkers but also with the various wildlife that call it home. We have all kinds of native trees and wild flowers. At the moment it is the turn of the dog roses and cow parsley, each plant puts on a show lasting no more than a few weeks before it is superseded by another species. I think the transient nature adds to the attraction of the walk, each visit brings something new to see; a new birdsong to hear, a new insect to discover.

The beneficial effects of walking in nature is something that has been known for centuries by many different people. The Japanese call it "forest bathing", perhaps forest breathing would also be an apt description. The dictionary definition of "Inspire" is "the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something creative", perhaps it is no coincidence that there is a simpler definition- "an act of drawing in, especially of air into the lungs". So the next time you find that you are in need of inspiration, get your coat on, pick up your umbrella and breathe in the inspiration that nature so freely provides.

If you would like a copy of my wild roses print you can find it here in my Etsy shop Acornmoon.


Half drop pattern design tutorial. Making a seamless repeat.

I have been asked to explain my method of making a half drop seamless repeat. This is the way I was taught as a textile design student before computers existed and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

1, the first thing you need to do is to design the elements in your design and think about how you want them to appear. This design started with doodles.

2. Decide on the size of your repeat and the kind of repeat you want, this one is going to be half drop. This means that the design repeats at half way intervals to the side.

Mark registration corners on your layout paper using simple crosses. This will determine the size of repeat.

3. Trace a piece of your design making sure you mark the crosses at the corners.
Transfer the design onto your layout paper and repeat, matching up the crosses.

4. Begin to grow the design sideways to meet up with the repeat.
Now repeat your new area accordingly.

5. Now start to fill in the areas above to meet up with the repeat, and repeat!

6. Continue filling in all the gaps until you have a seamless repeat, keep going, nearly there!

7. Carry on until all the elements are joined. Now you have your final tracing, complete one full repeat in colour adding more details as required. 

8. Give yourself a round of applause! and repeat !!