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is the turn of the dog roses and cow parsley, each plant puts on a show lasting no more than a few weeks before it is superseded by another species.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 !!


December RMS news.

Earlier this month I took part in the Royal Miniature Society annual exhibition at The Mall Gallery in London. The exhibition is now online and you can view it here
I was thrilled to be awarded full membership (RMS) and received this wonderful news "Due to the exceptional quality and consistency of your work the President and Council members are delighted to grant you full membership".

Also included was a separate exhibition of portrait miniatures from The Granville Family Tree. I was commissioned to paint four miniatures, see below no 2,3, 9 and 10.
This was quite a difficult challenge for me, especially trying to capture the detail on the lace and embroidery details on the ladies dress. Each miniature was a copy of a much larger original painting and we were given a small copy for reference. As you can imagine these paintings have been disseminated over the centuries, it was the desire of present Mr Granville to have a way of exhibiting the family collection as a whole. The commission was carried out by various members of the society over several years and was a huge undertaking.

It was a great pleasure to be invited to a champagne reception hosted by Mr Granville and it was fun to meet the many family members and to hear their stories and memories of the original full sized paintings.

Despite the obvious difficulties I really enjoyed the challenge, sometimes it is good to work outside your comfort zone. It was a mixture of relief and pride to hear that all four paintings met with approval.


Autumn on the Welsh border

I have been busy painting new miniatures for submission into this year Royal Miniature Society show. As an associate member I am allowed to submit six miniatures. The sheep painting was inspired by an apple picking excursion to the home of a friend who has a beautiful orchard and farm on the Shropshire/Wales border.

The tiny water colour painting called "Hare Hill" was painted a few months ago.
The sheep painting was also painted in watercolour and has a gold leaf border.

As you can see my submissions this year vary in size, the rabbit and hare paintings are 3ins by 2.5 inches. The largest miniature features an owl and a pussycat and is entitled "They sailed away". It measures 4.5 ins by 4 ins. The portrait of my granddaughter is not for sale.

 If you are in London from 28th November until Sunday 9th December you are welcome to visit the exhibition at The Mall Galleries in London. If you are unable to visit the exhibition will be online and paintings and sculptures will be for available sale. Further details are available on the RMS website.


new work

I have been taking time out from painting my miniatures to do some black and white line drawings,

This study of a badger shows one of our native wild animals in its natural woodland setting. There are still a handful of these majestic creatures living in the countryside around my home, sadly they are being culled because they are being blamed for spreading bovine TB. 

There is something very calming and meditative about drawing in pen and ink; the play of positive and negative spaces together with the decorative nature of the work, helps to calm and still the mind.


May sunshine and flowers

After a long and dreary winter and a delayed spring, it seems that summer has taken us all by surprise. Now the days are long and lazy, the older I get the more I want to slow down and take time to smell the roses. 

This year I decided to introduce some lupins into my garden, after being inspired by the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. I have been careful to include some organic slug deterrents which I hope will be wildlife friendly but keep the slugs away. They are made from woollen pellets and are said to make an itchy and scratchy hostile environment for slugs and snails... we shall see!

Work has been focussed on creating images for Victoria Magazine, this month the theme was France and so I enjoyed painting summer garden images. You can find a new print of the garden cat in my Etsy shop Acornmoon, link in my sidebar.

It has been a time for long country walks, wild flower spotting and listening to bird song. The bluebells have been spectacular this year.

I even managed to complete a new miniature portrait of our granddaughter EdieRose. Watercolour on Kelmscott vellum. It was a labour of love!


Easter Blessings from Oxford

We visited Oxford recently to attend The Fine Press Book Fair. Although the event was out of town we had a few days to enjoy the city. The weather was cold but bright and there was definitely a touch of spring in the air.

We saw a Palm Sunday procession complete with donkey,

we admired the well kept gardens,

and found time to visit Pitt Rivers Museum where we found this display of decorated eggs.

Wherever you are I wish you all a Blessed Easter.