Wednesday, 15 April 2015

By the Sea

It was a tad last minute, but we decided to book a few days away in Norfolk, which coincided nicely with my family all being together in Suffolk at my sisters house, so a big get together was on the cards (which doesn't happen all that often due to the distance between us).

Our hotel was on the beautiful Norfolk Broads, and as soon as we arrived you could feel the tranquility of the place seep into your soul.  Relaxing by the water with a glass of chilled wine was a wonderful tonic that first evening, whilst watching the birds and the boats going about their slow, leisurely business.

Our first full day there was spent with my family, and we went to the beach at Gorleston, near Yarmouth.  A bracing walk was had, we spotted a seal and watched the boats on the horizon.  It was a slow and happy day that ended with a delicious meal at The Bell Inn, highly recommended if you are in the area visiting, it's a beautiful old building that is right on the waterside with a lovely garden to enjoy in the summer.

Those of you who follow my blog will perhaps already know that I am a landlocked soul, who frequently must be by the ocean.  Lucky for us, we dont live all that far from our pretty Yorkshire coastline and will sometimes just bob off for the day to get some of that fresh, salty sea air in our lungs.  It definitely clears the mind and refreshes the spirit.  There is something so calming when one is stood at the seashore with only the sounds of nature about you and the hiss of the foamy waves moving through the pebbles on the sand.

Our daughter enjoyed the freedom of the beach too, running along ahead of us with the wind streaming in her hair.  Oh to be seven years old, with not a care in the world!  Meanwhile, as we strolled at a slower pace, we enjoyed the bright shot of colour from a row of cheery beach huts and the sight of the old Southwold Pier.

So many lovely things to see, so many pops of colour and inspiration!

Walking about does create a bit of an appetite it must be said, especially when there is an icy gale blowing in off the North Sea and buffeting you about like a skittle.  Feeling most windswept and interesting we took ourselves off to a sheltered corner at the cafe on the boating lake, and some much needed refreshement.

I cannot begin to describe how delicious that lemon cake was, and the coffee was just lovely too!  Isn't it nice to find such a welcoming place, where the cakes are home baked and the view is just right and you're in a sunny corner sitting in a chair with many soft cushions?  I could happily have stayed there all day.

Alas, time got the better of us and we returned north to Yorkshire, where we began settling into our old routine again, albeit slowly and reluctantly.  School has started, and we begrudgingly set the alarm again.  I am now filling my days working on some new paintings, and enjoying the warmer days pottering in our little garden.

The cherry blossom had opened while we were away.  We planted this when I found out I was expecting our little girl, so the tree has grown along with her.  What a picture it is too, it's fragile, soft pink flowers attracting all manner of bees.  It's very nice to sit by the water, listening to the rush of the river over the stones and the hum of the bees above.  As I type this, the wind is sending swirls of blossom across the garden like confetti, it looks rather festive.  I like the fleeting beauty of the blossom though, a gentle reminder that nothing stays the same, everything is always changing, evolving, growing.

Just like us.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Slowly does it.

The school holidays are upon us, and my work has taken a bit of a back seat as we swap routine for slowly drifting and enjoying our time off.

I must admit, I do relish this bit of down time; a chance to unwind and recharge the batteries.  It's nice to move slowly through our days, take spontaneous trips out, to cook and bake, to wander and notice things that in the thick of daily life can be forgotten, or sidelined.

We have planted seeds and popped them in our little wooden growhouse.  Each day we are checking our swiss chard, beets, cosmos, agapanthus and sunflowers.  We vigilantly water them and open the door to let the rare rays of sun warm the trays.  We look forward to seeing the first tiny points of green peeking through the earth.

We have also been to Liverpool where we saw the Lusitania exhibition at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, and enjoyed wandering around Albert Dock, despite the perishing wind that blew in fiercely off the Mersey and froze us to the core! 

We took a detour to Crosby, to see 'Another Place', which consists of 100 cast iron sculptures which stand in the sand, by artist Anthony Gormley.  There was a storm on the horizon, chasing in a ferry into port, and as the sky darkened the silent statues were both eerie and mesmerising, especially those on the tideline who stood gazing blankly out to sea.

I like how the statues are affected by the elements, by the natural shift of the tides and the sand.  Some of them stand buried up to their knees, others are paddling in the shallows.  I would like very much to see them at high tide, when they are all but submerged by the sea.

Although I mentioned that work was slow, I am creating some small pieces for a local exhibition, which is a joint venture with the Hens Teeth art group and the Art House Cafe in Penistone and I'm very excited to be revealing some brand new pieces.

I'll share more details with you about this soon!

For now, a cuppa calls, my sketch book, a piece of embroidery hoop art, a new magazine, a nap in the sunshine....

Happy Easter all of you x

Monday, 23 March 2015

Painting St Ives

I was recently asked to paint St Ives, and as this is one of the most picturesque places in the UK, and also one of my favourite towns in Cornwall to visit, I was pleased to accept.

I first started by drawing the town on plain white paper, and then, after making a cuppa I came back and realised that I didnt like it.  I'd even started to add washes of colour but knew right away in that moment that it just wasnt going to pan out.

Someimes, taking a breather, stepping away for a while and then coming back can allow you to see your work with a fresh persective and things you didnt notice before, often become glaringly visible.

I painted a wash of Paynes Grey over the original drawing.  Yes, it's very dark but it works oh so well as a base colour!

Don't be frightened to scrap what you have started.  If it doesn't feel right, and you know you are heading in the wrong direction, you are certainly setting yourself up for a long hard slog, fraught with trouble and that gnawing feeling of 'its not looking how I want it to' if you continue.

Its a brave thing to paint over a drawing that has taken you a good half hour to rough out, but I urge you to follow your intuition.  Start again, paint over it, throw it away.  Sometimes, you just know that its the right thing to do.

I was very glad I followed my gut, because as I started to add colour to the dark background, the town magically started to come to life.

I use many different layers of acrylic colour to create a painting.  You need to be aiming for a bright picture, that shimmers with colour and light, yet retains depth.  It can be a slow process but worth it for the end result.

I simplified some of the buildings, but worked closely with several photographs and images I found online to make sure that Id been able to paint in the essence of the town.  I wanted to capture that feeling I get when I see St Ives for the first time.  It always takes my breath away, the cottages and houses that cluster around the edge of the harbour, fishing boats lolling on the pale sand, and the translucence of the water - so many shades of aquamarine, jade and turquoise, through to cobalt, denim and navy blue away on the horizon.  I thoroughly enjoy working with these colours and blending them together.  If you really study the sea, you will see just how many hues of one colour there actually is, and it's changing all the time as the sun and cloud move across it.  This is one reason why I find photographs so helpful to work from, a static image in this case can be very useful to refer to.

I am always aware of the seabirds too, the sky is always animated with the soaring shapes and screeching cries of gulls so it was imperative that I painted these in to lend atmosphere to the overall scene.

Here then is the finished painting, I hope you like it!  You can see as the painting progressed, more and more detail was added such as tiny windows to the cottages, a man walking his dog along the sands, and white waves breaking on the shore.  I have allowed certain parts of the painting to remain darker than others - you will notice that there is a little shadow in the sky, and this is the paynes grey that is shining through creating an appearance of cloud on the horizon. 

This image is away to a publisher now, which I'm very excited about!  Never a dull moment, I am now beginning another piece of work which I will share with you all very soon.

You are very welcome to follow my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts, where I share work in progress pictures and news of other things that I'm up to.  You will find all the relevant links in the sidebar here.
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