Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Memories from Cornwall

The weeks of the summer seem to have whizzed by, and yet they have been slow and happy too, melodious days with a holiday rythmn about them; carefree days full of ordinary and yet memorable moments.

My family and I went to Cornwall for the last week of the school holidays.  We stayed in a riverside cottage just outside Fowey.  It was a peaceful place of cool, clear green water, moored boats gently bobbing on the tide, of herons and egrets.  Here at night you could see so many stars, a sky full of glitter.  You could hear a robin sing and the splash of an oar.  It was a tonic to be so very quiet.

As ever on my travels to the coast, I am always soaking up my surroundings, unconciously taking notes of colour and shape, of light and shadow, of objects and places.  I store all these details away to use in future paintings.  I write down things that I don't wish to forget, fleeting feelings, a particular event and take photographs...many, many photographs for fear perhaps of forgetting this precious time in this special place too quickly.

The towns of Cornwall were bulging with tourists.  August is a busy month and traders plied their wares with enticing displays in shop windows that lured people in to spend their cash.  Tantalising, mouth watering scents from the restaurants drew hungry  crowds to the door to enquire after a table for that evening, a chance to enjoy an authentic seafood dish alongside a glass of crisp, cold white wine at a table which looked out over the harbour, out to the faraway coastline and the comforting blink of the lighthouse in the gathering dusk.

We managed to squeeze in a couple of beach days but unfortunately the weather was rather inclement and we alternated between summer dresses and waterproof coats and jumpers.  I took a swim in the chilly sea at Carbis Bay and joined my daughter in a spot of body boarding; riding the foamy white tipped waves into the sandy shore and laughing out loud because it reminded me of being 11, on the beach at Porth with my sister where we would spend hours riding our California King surfboards together.  We had to wear old t-shirts over our swimming costumes because the sand would give you a rash on your belly.  We forget these things as we grow up.  It's good to let yourself go, to be a child again.

So, home again and the little one (who seems not so little any longer in her grown up Junior school uniform) heads off to her new school.  Once again, all is silence.  I wander around my house and wonder what to do with myself...during the noise and fun of the holidays I have craved peace such as this to carve out some creative time, or just read a its here, I don't know what to do with it.  It's almost too much.

But routine gently enfolds us and we once again fall into it's familiar step like a well known waltz.  Noisy breakfasts and school runs give way to a few sacred hours in which I tentatively pick up my paints again, I unwrap a new canvas and begin.  As the days roll on I fall back into this comforting way of living again with surprising ease.  A cup of ginger tea to start my mornings work....the radio playing...a jar of clean water, the clink of the brush against the glass as I swirl away one shade of paint for another.

I finished this painting yesterday, it's called 'Over to Fowy' and is a big canvas - well, lets say its big for me, a soul who usually gravitates to working on small pieces.  At 50 x 50cm this is much bigger than much of my other work, but I am enjoying the freedom the bigger space brings.  I can afford to be more exuberant, make bigger strokes and experience a new way of painting that smaller work does not provide. 

So, my ginger tea awaits, and a jar of clean water sits next to my palette as I prepare to begin another large canvas, this time of Kynance Cove. 

Have a lovely day, and thanks for stopping by.
J x

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Summer Cottage

I found a rare afternoon by myself, when the little one was away at her friend's house for a play and I was left with a sudden space in my day to fill.  Not inclined to tackle the usual chores (which mysteriously manage to get happily ignored during the holidays) I moved towards my paints - such a while since I did any painting - and I ended up finishing this summer scene of a cottage and it's garden, bursting with colourful blooms.

I worked on Hahnemuhle paper using acrylic and collage.  With Six Music on in the background, the sun streaming through the window and a generous mug of green tea to hand, I had a rather lovely afternoon of it.  I sometimes forget the joys that working with paint brings, and after an absence it is always a delicious feeling to be squeezing out honey thick paint onto my palette, to dunk a brush into a jam jar of clean water, to make those first marks on the paper.

I think it would be nice to offer this image as prints, so look out on the website soon for these, as well as the original which will also be availalbe to purchase. 

See you soon,
J x

Friday, 1 August 2014

Loving Summer

The summer holidays are well underway here; warm and pleasant days interspersed with monsoonal downpours which leave a fresh, lingering scent that is irresistible and draws you outside to take big, happy lung-fulls.  I have been to Majorca for a week with my family, and I was deeply inspired by the turquoise of the crystal clear sea and the forever blue skies.  I was also lulled by a hot sun into dreamy slumbers by the waters edge where I let my imagination wind its own way gently towards future dreams and ideas.  It's a seductive pastime, to lie in the warmth with nothing but your thoughts to linger over.  I confess to feeling rather overwhelmed before we travelled, things have piled up this last year to make me question many facets of my life and business, yet I have come home feeling relaxed, soft and calmer than I have in weeks.

I feel a slow sense of possibility and optimism returning.  I realise there are certain things I need to stop doing in order to feel happier, and some things I need to do more of for the same reason.
It is easy to lose oneself in the daily grind, to forget our hopes and desires, to push them down and lose sight of them.  It's easy to get swamped by the visual tidal wave of talent on the internet, and inevitably begin the fatal game of comparison, which only serves to empty our souls and leave a sour feeling in our bellies. 

To walk amongst the pine trees of Majorca as the sun set behind the town I felt that I had finally reconnected with an important, and forgotten part of myself.  I stood on a rocky promontory and watched the line of a denim blue horizon become one with the fuzzy lavender sky as the evening light faded.  When we allow time for peace; inspiration and desire has a chance to blossom.  We can make space to let go of unrealised dreams to make way for the new.  We can take stock, fill our wells, let things go.

So, back home, back into the fray of a chaotic summer holiday - the children are home from school and normal life is seemingly tossed in the air and disregarded til the beginning of September.  But that's ok.  There's plenty of time for everything, and I've found that for now I am happy sketching ideas in my book, tearing out inspiring pictures from magazines for another day and making small plans.

One thing I have managed to do since coming home is to implement the beautiful new branding package my talented designer friend Angie Spurgeon has created for me.  My website and blog has long been due an overhaul, and she has captured the look I was after perfectly.

I hope you like it.

See you next time.
J x

Monday, 23 June 2014

What I've learned in MATS Bootcamp

 June assignment :: MATS Bootcamp

I've just completed a piece of work for the Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells (MATS) Bootcamp June assignment.  This month was rather good because the subject was wall art and the theme was ocean based.  Well, I think by now most of you know how much I love to create art around this subject matter! 

There are some really talented artists taking part on this course, and over the weeks, we have shared our sketches and ideas and final pieces on the Facebook class page, so there's this constant pool of amazing inspiration to immerse yourself in.  I love getting excited by other people's art - I love seeing something new that really lights me up and makes me ask questions like 'how did they do that? How did they create that effect?' and then go away and have a play, and see what I can come up with for myself.
Lilla has been a great teacher - she's shared so much with us and I love the insights we've had as her students into what works in the world of selling art.

As a student and artist, I get deeply curious about the materials people use to make art, and the techniques they apply to create something eye catching and incredible.  From taking this course I have felt myself naturally leaning towards adding more collaged elements into some of my work - it just seems to call to me right now and my last couple of pieces have included beautiful hand made art papers that I glue on and paint over.  I'm excited by these changes in my work, and I like where I'm headed. 

 New :: Winter themed art with collage papers

And before we go on, let me just say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with learning from other artists and crafts people!  I'm always thrilled to be offered the opportunity to learn!  I love discovering what materials a favourite artist likes to use, which paint brand they prefer, what paper or canvas they like.  I like to study their work and learn from them because when we're prepared to learn, we inevitabely grow.

Learning is about embracing new techniques and then allowing them to unfold in our own unique style.  You can give a whole class the same palette of paints, the same brushes and collage materials and give them all the same theme to work to - and each of those students will create something unique and amazing when they create from their soul, which is kind of like what happens in MATS except everyone brings something different to the table there, as a whole plethora of styles are presented in both digital and traditional formats.

Learing isn't the same as copying either - without learning, we wouldn't achieve much as human beings, and when we open ourselves up to learn from someone we admire, or who's at the top of their game we allow ourselves to grow and expand in ways we can't begin to imagine.  The trick is to apply the techniques in your own unique style!  Have a play and see what happens, don't be afraid to let your own style shine through.  It's all about having the confidence to try, to see where it takes you.  My Mum always said 'You're never too old to learn' and she's right! Humans are meant to evolve, we're not meant to stagnate at one level - we need to keep moving, keep absorbing, keep seeing and thinking and dreaming.  Access the very heart of yourself and make sure you keep moving on the path that makes you feel alive, the one that allows your spirit to shine.  Be who you are - because its true that everyone else is already taken.

I'm really happy that I had the opportunity to take this course.  I'm already working on some new art to send to publishing companies for licensing based on what I've learned from Lilla, and hopefully this will be a great starting point for lots more new art to come!
I'll see you again soon,
J x

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Colourful Circles

A trip to the antiques quarter in Sheffield last week ended up with a rather exciting aquisition being made.  For a while now I've been waiting to find a nice stool for my small kitchen - it's too tiny for tables and chairs and sometimes when I'm cooking and folks are over for food I think to myself, 'well, it would be nice for them if they had somewhere to sit and natter while I stir and chop things!' and just last week I stumbled upon a little gem that was just the job.

Tucked away under a great big farmhouse table in a muddle of vintage kitchenalia, the little stool waited.  It had been painted a soft sage green, which, by some serendipitous miracle is the same shade as my kitchen cupboards so it rather felt like it was all meant to be, me finding this stool.  It's a rather smart stool too, hailing from Sweden, and has a broad circular seat of generous proportions, and nicely turned legs (it sounds like a rather lovely lady, doesn't it?). 

But something was needed that little something extra to make it well and truly fit into our colourful little house.  So I made it a little seat cover.

I used Rico Cotton DK to make the cover in random colours, most of which were leftovers from a cushion I made some time ago.  This is a pretty reasonably priced yarn, and good to work with in that it doesn't split too much.  There's also a great range of bright colours available too.  The pattern is just a simple circle pattern which I found in the Happy Hooker crochet book, but I'm sure you can find this method online too.  To secure the cover I just began to decrease the rows once I was sure the top was adequately covered and it seemed to turn out ok and fitted quite well (even though the decreasing part was very much a wing it and see sort of process).

I'm now making a slouchy summer hat, using this beautiful yarn from Begere de France here in a stunning summery turquoise blue, called Oxygene. 

Thanks so much for stopping by, see you again soon.
J x

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