Evolution of a garden

Gosh, I last posted here is May. Apart from art trail 2018 has seen the creation of a new bigger garden in front of our house. Someone asked me why at our age we are making the garden bigger. The first practical reason is drainage, as there was far too much hard landscaping and  concrete  for a narrow  road with hardly any drains. The second is simply, I like gardens, but after digging the exposed patch over several times taking out at least half a ton of rocks and concrete that the digger missed, then doing it all over again to incorporate 7 bags of compost I was beginning to ask myself the same question,

The easiest way from there would have been to lay a lawn  which would give the drainage but I wanted a colourful patch buzzing with butterflies and bees so as well as the plants I had taken out last year I sent for more with the bee friendly label.

I ordered some in the depths of winter when the first spring catalogues came out and when the tiny things arrived I was assured they didn’t need pampering and could remain outside even in snowy weather. Humph! ‘The Beast from the East’ had other ideas so against  advice, I brought the poor things into our cool utility area.

We visited a garden centre in February for quite another reason but I couldn’t resist having a quick look at the plants outside. If you have never visited a garden centre in the depths of winter let me tell you its like a cross between the Marie Celeste and a pub with no beer. There was nobody there but the two of us wandering round an arctic waste with a few heavily discounted plants dotted here and there. In a recent gardening program someone said  he was a great fan of the “Half price half dead” way of buying plants. He would have approved of the four specimens I brought home, to be fair they were dormant. I put them outside too but took pity on them when the bad weather came, the result was an obstacle course to get to the washing machine but then who needs to wash in  winter?

Against  the odds all the plants have survived even after being planted out the day before ‘The Beast’ came back for a second rampage.

It has not been the best year for establishing a new garden  with severe frost and snow, then a cold wet spring followed by a Bank Holiday cloud burst which tested the new drainage system to the limit with several inches of water flowing onto the garden from the road and overflowing gutters, and finally a two month drought and heatwave but I LOVE it,

The new  buzzing garden has given both of us enormous pleasure and we often have breakfast and lunch out there with the bees. I like to think our neighbours love it too and judging by the passers by stopping to admire and compliment  I think they do.

Thats quite a ramble, now for the picture show.

…sometimes I just sits.

‘Sometimes I sits and thinks but sometimes i just sits’ to quote the converstaion of two old gents sitting on a park bench. That is very apt for me today as I am recovering from having 70 visitors coming to my house to view my paintings and studio over the bank holiday weekend.

I think I will do quite a lot just sitting in the sun today  though  I may mow the lawn before it becomes a hayfield.

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Trailing

Living in a quiet end of the road place by the sea has its advantages most of the time but at Art Trail time it can be a disadvantage. I confess I get a bit envious of those living in the buzzing  city of near by Chichester where there is a lot going on and many close venues to choose from but then I remember how lovely it was this morning to sit out on our new front garden having breakfast and feel the soft (today) breeze from the sea and I feel a lot better. Folk obviously don’t know what they are missing and there is a pub next door with lots of outside tables. But Hey, serendipity I shall enjoy sitting out in the glorious sunshine, a rare event on a Bank Holiday weekend.

5 days to go to Art Trail…busy busy

This morning the sun was out but there was a frost, is it really May?.  After yesterday’s continuous rain its a great day to get on with all those small but necessary tasks like making sure all pictures have D rings on the back for hanging, then there is painting the sides of new  canvases not to metion finishing off tasks in the garden.Tomorrow I tackle my studio?

I must tackle my messy studio!!

Art Trail prep on a miserable day

Time to get ready for the 2018 Chichester Art Trail. Its not until Saturday but anyone who has never taken part will not know how much there is to do. I just realised that although i have some nice new square cards I don’t have sleeves for them. No need to get wet, a quick trip to the Amazon has sorted that though  hope they come in time!

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Not long until Art Trail time

Its that time of year when everything needs doing – the lawn needs attention, the plants need feeding the garden needs tidying not to mention the house which is looking a bit dog eared after a really interesting winter weatherwise! In addition we have planted a new front garden  and the  plants need TLC. Add to this mix an impending Art Trail and things are about to get really hectic. Hey ho!

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‘Alder Tree’ Why did I start this!

When I started a series of paintings called canopy for my Hotham Park residency I thought it was a good idea until I started this. Its only just begun but I’m already thinking of painting it out and starting again or using the nice canvas for something different. It looks a mess right now and I’m not sure I’m using the right medium for it. I’m working in acrylics and I think I might be better with inks. I’m not one to give up easily so will give it another go. Watch this space!

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My moss

In one of the Swallows and Amazons books I read as a child an uncle entitles his book of memoirs  ‘Mixed Moss by a Rolling Stone’ alluding to the saying ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’. This has always tickled my fancy so I thought over the next few posts I would like to share some of my visual mixed moss.

The first is little painting which is slightly smaller than A4, by New Zealand artist Nathan Rose which was acquired when we in stayed in an artists village in the Napier area in 2004/5.

I like this work because Nathan has captured in his strange hybrid little figure a sense of excruciating shyness and embarrassment which draws out a sympathetic response from me bordering on fondness. I can’t view this painting without thinking of Nathan and wondering what he is doing now as all the lovely memories of my time as an artist resident in the Waiohiki Arts Village come flooding back.

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The next  item is two mounted  swatches of Henry Moore fabric which we framed in light oak. Moore is better known for his sculpture but he produced a number of textile designs which the Ascher company printed for him. My swatches are from two rolls reprinted from Ascher’s original blocks and used to refurbish Henry Moore’s House. With the left over fabric 50 mounted squares  of each were sold by Pallent House  Gallery where an exhibition of Moore’s textiles and sketch books was held. I couldn’t resist as they were reasonably priced and now I have two little bits of Henry to remind my of my student days when he was all the go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third Item  is a painting entitled Blue by artist Pat Bell  and bought as a birthday gift for my husband. I first met Pat on Flickr and friended her when I joined facebook. Pat has done a series of sheep paintings which have proved popular and blue is one of them, She also has a stream of wonderful abstacts based on stones and tangled landscapes.

Pats  website address is:  – www.pat-bell.com

Blue by Pat Bell

Fourth is a large Zambian pot used for brewing the local Chibuku beer in  villages. Real village pots have different shapes depending of their function. A beer pot always has two handles. Different members of the family had their particular shapes. This is a coil pot made without a wheel and I particularly like the charred patch where it was in the fire pit. The incised decoration has some of the ash from the fire rubbed into it. We didn’t bring much in the way of artifacts back with us from Zambia but this was well worth the effort.

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The 5th item is also from  Zambia and was sent to us out of the blue from someone who bought some of my paintings over 45 years ago whilst we lived there. She had searched for me on the internet and renewed contact and as she was downsizing thought we would like this little naive painting of St Anne’s church in Mazabuka where we lived. It was done by a local man  on a piece of ply using house paints.

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Number 6 is my indulgence and is a painting called ‘In All Directions’ by Fran Donovan, part of a series with same title. I went to a preview of Fran’s exhibition in the Russel Gallery in Bournmouth with my daughter and  fell in love with this colourful painting. Fran works in oils using raw pigments applied over a soft  ground  and the result has a wonderful glowing quality. This painting has elements of a wide landscape but only hinted at and the suggestion of an  upward path seems to lead one over a distanf hill top horizon. In the foreground hedgerow plants and a fence are just suggested. To me its very positive work and I love the bright orange.

Egged on  by my daughter I took the plunge and bought the 90x90cm painting and today it cheers me every day in my kitchen diner.

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Number 7 is a painting by Sussex artist Sue England entitled ‘Can you hear them, can you hear them coming through the vines?’ which is inspired by Sue’s visit to friend’s vineyard.

My husband and I bought this as a Christmas gift to ourselves last year as it reminded us of a walk amoung the vines in Cyprus many years ago but also because we like Sue’s work and fell in love with it.

Link to Sue’s website: http://www.sueengland.co.uk

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Getting into focus

After my grand rant in the last post I have girded up something or other and begun a new project in my studio as the only way to start is to start.

Last year I took a series of photos  looking up into the trees  in Hotham Park and my aim is to produce a series of fresh work based on these. As Artist in Residence for the Park   I’m always looking for new ways to represent it. Here is the first stage of the first painting and it was good to get going again.

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A new year.

2017 was  a very barren year for me as  my  creativity seemed to dry up. This was partly due to a sick husband who had several crisis during the year whilst waiting for a major lung operation. Before you jump to the conclusion that it was the NHS’s fault I must say some of the delay was due to infection resulting in deferrals. Much to our relief the operation finally took place on the 30th October at the Royal Brompton and Harefiled Hospital in London.

Apart from the stress of my husband’s illness I felt discouraged about my work wondering what I should try to do with the limited time I have left to me.

Each year I take part in the annual Chichester Art Trail and in 2017, for the first time in the eight years I have been in the trail, I did not sell enough work to recover my entrance fees. Visitor numbers were low as I am on the fringes of a very large trail and  will never be as high as those who are in the centre of things with other artists around. Its always good to cover expenses even if there is no profit involved and one doesn’t mind that so much if visitors take the trouble to come and have a look. I found myself wondering if it was worth all the effort of getting my stored paintings out, hanging them, turning my house into gallery and tidying my studio for people to see my working practice. I had almost decided to not to enter this year but my husband who has been through so much said how much he enjoyed the trail visitors coming so I will be doing the trail again this year.

This has made me try to reassess what I want to do. All my paintings are a result of something that I  have seen or an event that has touched me and  I don’t repeat myself. I have sold quite a number of paintings over the years but have generally resisted the temptation to ‘do it again’ because a particular thing has sold. Someone said that if you do that you are in danger of imitating yourself which seems a very wise saying.

I’m not sure where this is going to take me but I have made up my mind afresh that I must paint for me first resisting the afore temptation to paint for market

As my studio was becoming crowded I gave away  a number of my larger works this year  though I know I will soon fill the space with fresh work.

This has been a bit of a self indulgent rant, I don’t usually write so much and it will not be repeated.

Below is the last drawing in Hotham Park of 2017

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