Thursday, 22 June 2017

Pottery and Patchwork

I love it when things get finished! Laura went to collect the pots we decorated at the pottery a couple of weeks ago. They've been fired and look lovely now.

I'm so pleased with how the colours look against my kitchen tiles. The paints we used don't look like the finished article until they've been in the kiln, making colour selection as you apply the paint a bit of a guessing game. I hedged my bets and mixed two or three different ones.

The unglazed butter dish has gone from this........

To this. I don't think I could have had a better result considering I didn't have a spare tile for reference and just had to carry the colour in my head. Mind you, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and I just love my tiles so I suppose I do study them closely!

The heatwave this week has meant it was easier to sit and sew than to do anything that involved movement! At least I finished the hand quilting on my Rail Fence patchwork. The cushion is a nice, bright addition to one of our garden benches.

Just have to get on and finish the table cover quilt now!

Talk to you again soon - Linda x

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Portrait Shuffle

You may have noticed I'm blogging quite a lot at the moment - that's because I'm in painting mode and painting is so much quicker than quilting. I'd be keeping you waiting for an age if you wanted to see the finished quilting projects from tomorrow's DMTV video - of course they will be finished but not until I've got the painting bug out of my system!

Today I thought I'd have a change from plants and tackle a portrait. This homage to a favourite artist, Vincent Van Gogh, will be another canvas going to The Portrait Shuffle. Everybody knows his sunflower paintings but there's far more to him that that. Just take a look at the Van Gogh Museum in The Netherlands to see the full breadth of his oeuvre. I think his pencil drawings are a revelation.

I've used acrylic paints on one of the Portrait Shuffle's A5 box canvasses for this. Although I've used thickish paint, you can still see the weave of the canvas in this enlarged detail.

The subject matter has encouraged me to paint in a way that's quite unlike my usual style. I needed thick layers of paint to be able to scratch through with the wrong end of a paintbrush to try and get some swirly movement in the background. Normally I work with thin paint diluted with a glaze medium if I'm using acrylics. Quite interesting to try something different!

Bye for now - Linda x

Monday, 12 June 2017

Great Weather for Painting

Considering it's meant to be summer we've been having horribly wet and windy weather all week. Not good for many things but perfect for hunkering down in the studio with paper and paint. I painted most of the weekend although there were interruptions to the peace - a nearby airshow meant there were a few spectacular sightings of planes doing barrel rolls overhead. I ran out to watch every time I heard them approach - you couldn't miss them with such a huge wall of sound. Because of the clouds they had to fly really low to the ground. Gave me goosebumps!

I had a go at capturing the cactus flowers before they were gone for another year. It's a muddled and complex structure so I kept it simple with just one bloom and a few of the least ugly leaves. I had to include some body colour with the transparent watercolour so that I could place white petals over the dark background colour I'd already applied to the lower part of the page. I don't use gouache all that often because I'm not fond of its chalky character but it has its uses at times!

And the artichoke plants which are growing like triffids right now made a good subject for the adjoining page. I love mixing all those different values of green from just 2 blues and 2 yellows.

Looks like I've always been attracted to the same kinds of things. I found this forgotten watercolour in an old portfolio yesterday when I was searching for some more sheets of paper. It's dated August 1994 - nothing changes it seems!

Bye for now - Linda x

Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Mad Painting Frenzy Continues!

When you're in the mood for a bit of painting why fight it? My latest sketchbook which was meant to last all summer will be full in no time.

It's beginning to look really colourful as the inspiration from days out to National Trust properties and our own rather less grand garden takes hold.

These almost black lilies actually look quite sinister but I love their form. Although we don't have space for any more plants I couldn't resist buying them this week to add to the collection of colours we already have. They'll be going out to join the others in the garden as soon as it stops being quite so wet and windy. Today's weather is really wild - suitably dramatic for election day!

Our artichokes are looking quite magnificent and may have to feature next. We grow them for their statuesque size, their blue/green foliage and tiny blue flowers rather than for their culinary uses.

The alliums are gorgeous right now but may be a challenge too far for drawing and painting.

And to add to the confusion, my mother presented me with a very ugly cactus recently and it has surprised us all by blooming with five simply spectacular flowers. White flowers are tricky to paint but I probably won't be able to resist having a go before they fade.

All the acers have suffered terribly with the late frosts we had in May. Luckily I could find a few of the beautiful red ones without too much damage.

Not sure what to paint tomorrow but it's great to have lots of choices instead of none at all!

Bye for now - Linda x

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Painting Pottery Today

We've been promising ourselves a painting session at Apley Farm for some time and today was the day. Laura arranged it as a belated birthday treat for Mom's 89th! Laura and Amelie have been several times before but mom and I were first timers.

In the pottery shop there are lots of white blanks to choose from. I really needed a butter dish with a lid so was delighted to find this one. Once you start painting it's hard to stop (that might just be me and my obsessive nature), so even though it delayed our visit to the restaurant a bit (and we were hungry), I tackled a large plate too. If you saw yesterday's post you'll see where the fern idea came from.

You have to use your imagination when you choose the colours to use because they will change dramatically in the firing process, becoming much brighter and with a lovely shiny glaze.

Charlotte, the owner, has samples of the fired colours to help everyone choose the correct paints. I've attempted to mix a soft duck egg blue/green with dark terracotta edges.

The tiles in my kitchen have quite a variation of colour and also seem to change in different light conditions.

Both pieces will hopefully look OK against the wall tiles. We'll see if I've got anywhere near the colours after Charlotte completes the firing. Can't wait to see how they turn out - we may have discovered a new obsession!

Linda x

Monday, 5 June 2017

Nature as inspiration - summer

If you're interested to see how the latest sketchbook is coming along watch out for a DMTV video very soon.

In the meantime, here's a taster.

I'm aiming to make a record of local places I visit as well as special things I love in my own garden. This will keep me happily occupied all through the summer!

I love nothing more than creating arty stuff and know I'm really lucky to have two really talented daughters who feel exactly the same. Have you seen how Frances has added new items to her online shop at and how Laura and my granddaughter Amelie are transforming a boring white sofa on her instagram page?

Thanks for taking the time to see what our family are up to this wet and windy Monday!So much for flaming June!!

Love Linda x

Friday, 2 June 2017

Seeking Inspiration in Nature

We went for a lovely walk in the cool of the local woods a couple of days ago.

With the dappled sun peeping through the trees it seemed like the perfect place to be on a hot day.

And being near running water is always a pleasure even if it is just a trickle of a stream bubbling along gently at this time of year.

What you can't get from these photographs is the smell - the flowers of the wild garlic were going over but the scent was all pervasive. Great if you like garlic!

Made me think I should attempt to capture the sensations of the woods in a sketch or two.

So here's the first. I'm working in a zig zag sketchbook that has heavy watercolour paper.

This will be a perfect format for my plan to record the plants and flowers of the summer season as the book will unfurl to reveal its images much like my walk through the woods did!

Bye for now - Linda

Monday, 22 May 2017

Painting again today

I thought I'd better crack on and do a second painting of the Amaryllis today. I only had an hour to spare this afternoon but watercolour is so quick.

Even if you need to wait for one wash to dry before you can add the second, it only takes a few minutes when the weather is warm like today.

I'm breaking my own rules with this one - usually I say to use big brushes so you don't fiddle about too much but this painting is only small so I have resorted to finding out the tiny brushes I rarely use.
Even with tiny brushes, I can't get the fine detail of the pattern on the petals so the final lines were added with Inktense pencils before softening them slightly with a bit of clean water.

If I have any free time tomorrow I might tackle the fully opened blooms before they die on me. The plant is so top heavy now that all four flowers are open we've had to prop the stalk up against the arm of a chair!

Linda x

Sunday, 21 May 2017


I've been photographing this Amaryllis ever since the first bud appeared.

They are such huge plants -you can almost watch them growing.

I thought the flower would make a good subject for my printed sketchbook pages and it would be fun to record the daily changes as the buds opened. This is the first study. the paint is still wet as you can see! I thought it might be a good idea to continue the printed lines across to the righthand page to connect the print to the painting. I've just ruled them in place using a permanent pen.

This was one of the patchiest looking printed pages in the whole book so I thought I'd make more of the splodgy printed circles by enclosing them with more pen lines and giving them stalks to connect with the 'ground'. Not sure what they are meant to be but they do seem to balance the pages better I think.

Today the flowers are fully open but I've got lots of photos to remind me of the stages in between as I start the next study!

Linda x

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew?

When you are used to working into small-scale sketchbooks like this one..........

it's easy to make a start and even to finish in a short session. This is still a work in progress. I'm using permanent pen together with Inktense pencils and wash - the wash is still wet so I've called for a coffee break. Once it's dry I can work back into the drawing to add some shadows and pattern. The reason I'm tackling a small page like this is probably because of what's facing me below!

I've had this enormous canvas since the Christmas before last. He Who Gardens thought it was an amusing gift! It's difficult to show the size in a photo but believe me when I tell you it's taller than I am. Until today it has lurked in its cardboard box BUT it will never get painted unless I get the wrapper off will it? Today was the day. We had to rearrange the furniture to even get it on the easel! It's a start at least - now all I have to do is summon up the courage to get the paints out!

Bye for now - Linda x
PS - I've only just posted and already I've had enquiries about the brush roll you can see in the picture above - It's made by my daughter Frances and available to buy at Max&Rosie 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Evelyn De Morgan

Rain kept us from outdoor chores this afternoon so we took advantage of the uncooperative weather for a quick visit to our closest National Trust property, Wightwick Manor.

We know the house well as it's only a ten minute drive from home but we'd read that, since our last visit, the Trust had converted the Malthouse into a gallery space. The inaugural exhibition features the paintings of Evelyn De Morgan and the ceramics of her husband William.

The exhibits are on loan from the De Morgan Collection and most of the paintings I've never seen before. Evelyn was one of the first women to attend the Slade School of Art but it seems the greatest influence on her work was that of her uncle, John Spencer Stanhope and of course Edward Burne-Jones of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Grey Sisters was painted around 1880.

The Grey Sisters - detail.

The Grey Sisters - detail.
Like Burne-Jones, the artist certainly loved a bit of drapery!

Many of the paintings displayed were concerned with sleep and death. This one is indeed called, Sleep and Death: children of the night. 1883.

Venus and Cupid painted in 1878.

I'm sure I've posted this image before when I saw it in exhibition a few years ago. Evelyn's Flora is reminiscent of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and his Primavera and it shows her love of Italian art - she made many trips to Florence where her uncle lived.

Here's a detail of Flora which I thought was exquisite!

But, perhaps surprisingly, my favourite piece was this study in charcoal and pencil on a humble sheet of brown paper. Drawn in 1906 it really shows what a brilliant draftswoman she was.

I have lots more photos and I suppose I should show some of the ceramics but this is in danger of becoming a lecture so I'll post them another time!

The visit was definitely a lovely way to pass a couple of hours - I'd encourage you to go and see the paintings for yourself if you can!

Linda x

Saturday, 13 May 2017


We spotted a bright green moth in the conservatory yesterday and assumed it was something very special and rare. Turns out it's actually common and can be found all over the UK.

I have it on good authority that it's only green for a short while when it first emerges - it turns pale and dull as it ages. That's my excuse for never have noticed one before now!

He was so beautifully patterned that I thought he'd be a perfect subject for my printed sketchbook. The print on this spread was fairly minimal - just the vertical black lines, some orange squares and a partial circle on the right hand page. The left page was blank. I've tried to match the colours using watercolour and oil pastel and I've added extra lines as well as drawing on three more circular shapes.

I've discovered he's called a Green Carpet Moth and I've recorded that fact, together with details of when and where we found him, by writing between two of the arcs.

Coincidentally we spotted another beautiful moth this morning. I should confess, it was 'He Who Gardens' who actually pointed him out to me. We were walking back from the market and I must have been in a dream. I'm sorry about the useless photo but he was perched so low down on somebody's car tyre and my old knees wouldn't let me get any closer to take the photo. I was bent double in the middle of a busy road and I was also nervous that the car owner might appear and question why I was paying his vehicle so much attention!

Moths aren't the easiest subjects to draw or paint but I enjoyed giving it a go this afternoon. He is, by the way, an Angle Shades Moth. Isn't that a peculiar name? I must do some more research!

Bye for now - Linda x