On my way back from morning dog walks, these winter tree silhouettes kept catching my eye. They are particularly beautiful in contrast with the orange field in the background.
I was out walking one day and these beautiful fallen leaves seemed just too wonderful to leave behind. I wanted to paint the background black as a contrast to the bright leaves.
Here’s a pen and wash study of a little squash I grew in the summer this year, I love that deep, dark green and the lighter verdigris veins that demarkate the segments.
I added a digital background to the version below as I thought the orange would contrast well with the green.
Back at the end of the 1970s, aged 10-11, I had a brilliant teacher for my last year of primary school; Janet Hall. She was a gentle, creative person with flowing hair, flowing skirts and clogs, and she lived on this boat. The Steam Tug Brent.
I’ve had the good fortune to have had enjoyed some excellent travel adventures but one of the best was during that last year of primary school. Mrs Hall arranged for our class to travel by boat (not the Brent!) from Maldon to Saint Osyth’s Priory. I still remember that exhilarating feeling of freedom as we skimmed across the water that dark grey morning with a hair whipping wind. Below – my school photo from around that time.
I got back in touch with Janet having returned to Essex after many years away. As luck would have it she was on the deck of the Brent as I walked on Maldon’s prom one day. Once Covid restrictions eased we met for a coffee and caught up on the intervening years.
Janet told me the story of the Brent’s rescue from the salvage yard in 1971, the years when she became the Hall family home through to the Steam Tug Brent Trust being set up in 2010 as a means of raising money and a voluntary workforce to conserve and restore this lovely old boat.
The Brent has achieved iconic status after 50 years in Maldon. To celebrate, a group exhibition of Brent related artworks was staged at St Mary’s Church Octagon in July 2021. The range, number and quality of pieces was really impressive; models, paintings on metal and board, watercolours, textile pieces, primary school submissions. Really lovely.
Circumstances, Covid and otherwise, have so far conspired to prevent me from getting on board on one of Brent’s open days. I’d love to have a really good look around, and of course it would be marvelous to see her fully restored and sailing under steam power again one day.
Back at the start of the first Covid lockdown in spring 2020 we were delighted and grateful to secure weekly fresh fruit and veg delivery from The Limes. It’s a lovely, local, family business in Burnham on Crouch.
Our closest supermarket is also in Burnham, and on my way there and back I’d pass The Limes, see their sign (perfectly functional but a bit rough and ready) and daydream about painting them a new one. Painting food is one of my passions afterall.
I made a Photoshop mockup incorporating some of the fruit and veg drawings from my sketchbooks and sent it to them with my proposal. They were really enthusiastic, suggested a couple of design changes which led to the final version below.
I got a full size (110 x 125 cm) copy printed in black and white and used it to trace the design onto both sides of the board after they had had a couple of coats of exterior gloss paint. Important to remember to flip the arrow on side two!
I worked from the bottom up, turning the board over after each section had dried to paint both sides to the same stage. I didn’t fancy completing one side then having to start from scratch on side two. Below – my supervisor does his quality control check.
I used One Shot sign painters’ enamel for the text and decorative parts. It’s a durable, high quality paint with a lovely, creamy consistency.
It’s also expensive, so I limited my order to six colours: white, lettering black, medium green, reflex blue, fire red and primrose yellow. I planned to mix all the shades I needed from them. You can see a colour chart I mixed using the red and yellow below.
My limited palette of colours worked perfectly until I got to the cherries. I just couldn’t get the shade I was after by mixing the fire red with reflex blue so I had to order a pot of kool [sic] crimson.
I worked slowly and steadily, averaging a couple of hours a day over three happy months. I enjoyed painting this sign so much and I hope that it shows in the finished product.
The good folks at The Limes are very happy. I’ll add some photos of the sign in situ once it’s been installed. In the meantime here’s my supervisor taking a well earned rest.
After many years admiring other people’s summer hollyhock displays I finally managed to grow some from seed this year. My Mum loves hollyhocks too, she had collected the seeds from some beautiful plants that were growing out of the concrete at the edge of a car park in town. I think the fact that such delicate but exuberant loveliness can thrive on apparently nothing adds to the wonder of the hollyhock. The name is also a bonus for a Hockey!
I noticed recently that my Mum’s bookmark had been well used into tattiness so I painted her a new hollyhock bookmark for her birthday.
Water resistant pen, watercolour paint, 300gsm watercolour paper.
Inspired by the deliciously beautiful photos on the Instagram feed of Mrs Salisbury’s Tea Room and Restaurant I decided to make an illustration. I do love to paint food…
…I also love to eat cake but alas I’ve still not had the chance to sample Mrs Salisbury’s delights – if they’re half as tasty as the look they’ll be well worth the wait. I can’t remember the last time I had a vol-au-vent.The home of Mrs Salisbury’s is a delightfully pink house on the corner of Bright’s Path and Maldon High Street and the stairs up from their front door are tiled in this lovely black and white pattern, so I wanted to incorporate that into the border design.
Catching the full moon, as it rises bulbous on a clear night is most uplifting.
It’s so large when it’s low that I can almost feel the weight of its pull. Being made of mostly water I probably can feel that pull…
This is the view over our neighbours’ garden through the evergreen border bushes, and while the pylon may not be conventionally beautiful there’s drama in the contrast of its strict geometry behind the softer silhouette of the branches.
Winter certainly has its consolations.
It’s easy to make excuses not to sketch: my shoulder hurts, the weather’s too hot, the weather’s too cold, too wet, too windy, it’s winter – I’m uninspired, there’s nothing to see…
Then I started to pay attention to how beautiful the sky can be as the winter sun sets behind skeletal trees. Its position slightly shifting everyday so that eventually it’s setting over the road and visible from my bedroom window, which has a radiator under it.
So with no discomfort excuses I succumbed to the urge to try and capture this lovely view. I drew the trees in water resistant pen at a leisurely pace and left my sketchbook on the windowsill with my brushes, a jar of water and my paint box so that the next time the sunset was dramatic I could quickly paint the watercolour wash over the top.
I repainted this version so that I could sell the painting without disfiguring my sketchbook and it’s now my plan to redraw the trees in preparation for a new attempt next time there’s drama in the sky.