A very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Wishing you all a Blessed and Peaceful Christmas, I leave you with some images of a new miniature I have been working on, inspired by Medieval manuscripts.

The design is first worked in pencil

It is transferred onto a tea stained ground, the letter has been gilded with 24ct gold leaf.


Royal Miniature Society Exhibition 2017

I took part once again in this year's RMS annual exhibition at the Mall Gallery in London. This was my fourth time to exhibit with the Society and as an Associate Member I was allowed to enter six paintings.

Anyone can enter their miniature paintings or pieces of sculpture, the details of entry can be found on the Society's website. All entries have to be approved by the committee and it is always an anxious time waiting to see if your work has been accepted. You can enter up to five pieces as a non member, if you have all five pieces accepted in two consecutive years you can become a candidate. If the committee approves you can then become elected as an Associate Member. After a further three years you can apply to become a full member but this is by no means automatic. The Society also has members who are friends, people who may not be artists but who support the Society in other ways.

Many of the entries arrive in boxes by post, others are handed in by person, all of which involves a huge undertaking. Before I became a member I don't think I realised just how much work is involved in making the exhibition possible. Artworks have to be unwrapped, listed, judged and exhibited and all of this work is carried out by the members themselves who give up their time and energies to make it all happen. This year we helped at "hand in" day, unpacking precious artworks amidst mountains of bubble wrap, being careful not to miss any of the tiny entries in the process. It was both fun and enlightening to take part behind the scenes.

I was delighted to have sold four paintings at the exhibition, see below. All are watercolour; the owl has some additional gilding around the border in gold leaf.

The little portrait is our grandson; this is the first time I have entered a portrait. This was painted on vellum, another new departure from my familiar watercolour paper. Although the exhibition is now closed you can still see the exhibition and some of the award winning paintings on the society's website

The most coveted prize is The Gold Memorial Bowl which was won this year by an artist called Raoof Haghighi for his stunning portrait "Linda". I think I am correct in believing that this was the artist's very first and only entry to the exhibition which makes it a truly remarkable achievement. Many congratulations Raoof and to all the other award winners. If you are interested in learning more about the society please click this link.


Pattern and Friendship

Ravilious and Co The Pattern of Friendship

 It has taken a while to return to my long neglected blog so if you are still out there, thanks for visiting, I hope it was worth the wait!

To tell you the truth I have been rather down in the dumps, who wouldn't be with all the recent events happening in our world? As always it is family, good friends and art which have lifted my spirits and I was lucky enough to win this wonderful book over on Dovegreyreader's blog. If you love books and quilting this well established blog is well worth a visit.

Ravilious and Co - The Pattern of Friendship by Andy Friend is published by Thames and Hudson. Not only does the gorgeous book feature Ravilious's wonderful wood engravings and artworks but many decorative patterns created by himself and his circle of friends. Numerous designs created for Curwen are featured, some of which I have featured previously on this blog. I am particularly fond of the work of Enid Marx who was a distinguished designer of textiles and also a gifted artist and illustrator.

Patterned Paper bindings

I recently took part in a workshop run by the Society of Bookbinders and we had the opportunity to put to good use an assortment of patterned papers. The top two on the photograph feature my own designs, these easy to make stub bindings are simple but surprisingly useful. The bottom left is a coptic bound book; here I used a beautiful Florentine paper given to me by a dear friend. The bottom right uses another paper, also given to me by another kindred spirit. What lovely friends I have!

Ravilious and Enid Marx often created patterns which started life as wood engravings, some were inspired by artists of their day. In these two pieces I have started by making doodles on a piece of scraperboard, or scratchboard as my American friends would call it. I have then played around with repeat patterns to create two different designs, the top one has a tile repeat which reminds me of a kaleidoscope I used to love to play with as a child.

Before I go I should mention an exhibition I took part in - The Annual Hillard Society of Miniature Paintings, in Wells, Somerset. The exhibition is now closed but you can visit it online here- Wells is a beautiful place to visit and was the birth place of the miniature artist Hilliard, hence the name. The exhibition takes place once a year in the Town Hall, it is always enjoyable and a good opportunity to make new friends in the miniature art world, both artists and collectors. There are also demonstrations by members who are always willing to share their knowledge.

I have been busy with new commissions, I loved working on this miniature version of an old Tudor portrait of a noble woman wearing the most exquisite patterned lace. I painted it in watercolour on a surface called polymin, this is a man made ivory substitute and the very devil to paint on! It does however have a lovely translucent quality and I have since learnt that it helps to dust with talcum powder first and then coat with a thin wash. (The painting is very small, three and a half inches across.)


Long live Manchester

I have no words to express my heartbreak and pride in our city of Manchester. A place so entwined in my life, a city of industry, hard work and creativity. The place I went to as a child for shopping trips, for new "rig outs" and visits to cinemas, theatres and restaurants. As a teenager, Manchester was all about discotheques and bright lights and the place I met the love of my life. Manchester, the place I studied art and lived for five years. Later, the place to visit family and friends, the city to take our children and now grandchildren to football matches, libraries, theatres, restaurants, street markets, festivals, galleries and shops.

Now Manchester is slowly coming to terms with the horror of an appalling and cowardly terrorist attack that has devastated so many young lives and families.

The bee has always been the symbol of the city and like the bee the people are slowly but surely working together and finding ways to rebuild their shattered lives with courage and tenacity. I am proud to say I stand by Manchester.


May loves blue!

I wish every child could take a walk in our bluebell woods in May! 

The paths wind their way beneath dappled green leaves and great tides of bluebells carpet the earth.

and in the gaps you will find forget-me-nots.

The top illustration is from my children's book "The Acorn's Story"
It is now available to buy as a print from my Etsy shop- Acornmoon.


Out and about in spring

My blog posts are getting less frequent, sometimes I wonder if this blog has run its course? So much has changed since I started blogging over the past nine years! However, I have made so many friends and connections over the years maybe I will go on a little longer.

We have been out and about quite a lot, making use of our rail cards we made a trip to see an exhibition of Bedtime Stories at The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh that featured my Dream Quilt. This was an actual quilt made to accompany the book of the same name. Silly me, I did not check to see if the Museum would be open but fortunately the lovely curator opened it especially for us! The exhibition is still on if you are in the area, it had a nice review in the April edition of British Patchwork and Quilting magazine.

We celebrated my husband's birthday in beautiful Powys Wales, we had the most wonderful weather and enjoyed strolling round the hotel grounds. Primroses and wood anemones carpeted the woodland floor, it was truly a most beautiful setting and one we hope to return to soon.

I have been busy working on new paintings, this time for The Hilliard Society's annual exhibition in Wells later this year.

We had the family to stay over Easter, lots of chocolate was consumed and a fair few bottles of wine too. I hope you enjoyed your Easter too. X


Arts and Crafts

This textile design has been based on a simple repeating pattern based around circles and was inspired by a visit to St Giles's church in Cheadle Staffordshire, designed by Pugin. I used one of my miniature paintings of a dragonfly resting on a water lily. The fabric will be available to purchase shortly and can be found in my Acornmoon Spoonflower shop, see links in the sidebar.

The hare badge is just one of many recent experiments and creations, using a badge making machine and images from my miniature paintings. These are now in my Acornmoon Etsy shop.

This lovely old Arts and Crafts house is just one of the many places we visited recently. Wightwick Manor is filled with William Morris furnishings, Rossetti paintings and many more splendid examples of decorative art of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The property is owned by The National Trust and is situated close to Wolverhampton.

William Morris took his inspiration from Medieval arts and crafts. This small piece of gilding is something I started at a calligraphy workshop, it too is inspired by an old illuminated manuscript. I have used transfer gold leaf applied to a base of PVA, this is a modern product but the principle is the same and I feel fairly certain that had it been around all those years ago the monks would have used it!


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.