I know it's a cliche and I know I post similar photos this time every year but, don't the first signs of spring raise the spirits?
Our aconites are cheerful little things hiding down amongst last year's fallen leaves.
And the snowdrops are looking at their best. They're really beginning to spread at last.
They made a perfect subject for a quick watercolour sketch this afternoon.
I was in a hurry to start before the sun dropped too low in the sky for me to work by natural light and the only paper I could lay my hands on in haste was a block of postcards. I can't remember where they came from and I don't think I've ever used them before but they were lovely to work with - just the weight and texture I favour. What is it about watercolour? No matter how much I try to get to grips with other paints I always come back to watercolour!
This week Laura was doing a bit of a spring clean on our websites and she was about to delete this old blog when she noticed the stats. It seems that despite the fact it hasn't been updated in ten months, lots of people are finding it of interest. So much so that several thousand visitors view it each week and it's had almost a million hits since it started. WHAT!!! I'm incredulous at the numbers but happy that so many people continue to find it worth checking out. So much so that I've decided to resurrect it and will do my best to post here regularly from now on.
If you've been following my other blog over at www.lindakemshall.comor if you are a subscriber to our video workshops on DMTV, you'll know that I'm working into one of Laura's handmade, printed sketchbooks right now. I've been using all my favourite birds, moths and butterflies as inspiration and really enjoying finding homes for them amongst the existing colour and pattern Laura created on each page.
Rather than presenting a difficult challenge I'm surprised how easy it is to create interesting pages full of layered techniques.
My stencilled crows look perfectly at home on the printed circles Laura made don't they? I've added a few branches for them to perch on and suddenly the circles look just like oversized berries!
Thanks for reading today - I'll be back soon - Linda x
It's a long weekend holiday for us so obviously it's going to be cold, wet and windy. The weathermen are forecasting 20C by midweek but that's little consolation for all the poor folk who have proper jobs and will be back at their desks on Tuesday. Fortunately for us one day is much the same as another. We can take advantage of the sunshine when it appears and hunker down when it doesn't. Between the Saturday hail showers the sun shone and we whizzed round the local market. I found a selection of books for altering and at just £1 each I don't have to feel precious about transforming them.
This one caught my attention and as you can see I've already made a start blocking out the distracting background with a thin layer of gesso. I'll add a second coat and it'll give me a lovely surface for drawing.
The title of the book was the attraction, as much as the illustrations.
On reflection, the scientific textbook on rat dissection was less appealing. I bought that in haste.
The stall I often find treasures on is popular and you have to be quick to beat the competition. It's a bit of a scrum with elbows at the ready. I spotted the skeleton diagrams and thought they were interesting but only became aware of the rest of the contents when I got home. This one might stay on the shelf as a curio!
I've been thinking about the next exhibition for Through Our Hands. It's going to be about portraits and I've made copies of some of my drawings for an idea that's brewing. I don't want to work with the originals in case it all goes horribly wrong. The exhibition isn't until 2017 but it's no good putting the work off till the last minute as I usually do. This one is going to take some effort. I'll be putting those lovely, new pencils and graphite blocks to good use asap!
Hope you are having a good day.
Bye for now,
We woke to a sprinkling of snow again this morning - April has been very unpredictable weather wise. It doesn't seem to have deterred the wildlife though. We think these mallards are biding their time in the garden while the females are sitting tight on their eggs nearby.
I couldn't resist making a start on an oil painting, trying to capture the iridescence of the neck feathers. It's the only time I ever use viridian!
I have to wait for this initial layer to dry before I can add glazes and more detail.
Not everything was doing as well as the duck population sadly. I found this tiny chiff chaff in the garden. Not a mark on him but I suspect he'd flown into a window. They fly at great speed and don't stand a chance if they mistake glass for open space.
Tragic as any death of a beautiful creature is, I find it a great privilege to be able to study them in such detail. In fight they are so speedy it's impossible to see the colouring - they are just a brownish flash. He's actually quite olive green with cream and lemon yellow. You can see how diminutive he is cradled in the palm of my hand.
It's that time of year when we start thinking of our stomachs! After hours perusing seed catalogues, he who gardens has been laying chippings on the paths between the veggie beds. A final bit of weeding and we'll be ready for all the plants that are currently in the greenhouses.
The only thing we're eating from the plot right now is rhubarb. The makeshift bucket arrangement means those stems will be pink and tender for puddings. I use the coarser stuff in chutney.
Up in what we laughingly call, the woodland walk but what is really a neglected bit of the orchard, the bluebells are making a lovely show. Piles of rotting wood, weeds and nettles are good for insects and wildlife generally aren't they? That's our excuse anyway.
It's all very well spending time in the garden but I like to have some stitching on the go too. This week I've raided my scrap boxes and sorted out some cheery colours for a bit of piecing. DMTV subscribers will see what I'm up to in next week's video.
Of course all this activity does give you an appetite so a batch of gingerbread is just what we need with a nice cup of tea!