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

Friday, 12 May 2017

Still Stitching

I never complain about how long it takes to stitch something by hand.

It's such a peaceful occupation - especially when the weather is kind and I can sit out in the garden and listen to the birds all around me as I sew.

This felted piece will be familiar to DMTV viewers as it featured in a recent video called 'Inspired by Boro'. It's going to be a bag and the finished thing will be available to subscribers just as soon as I can get it done. Although I'm working to a deadline this is too enjoyable to be called work!

I've also been having fun with more little canvasses destined for the Portrait Shuffle in the summer. This one's an appliqué. There's still time to join in if you fancy being part of the exhibition in August and know you'll be helping to raise money for Save the Children at the same time.

We're always busy prepping ideas for DMTV.  Here I've been doing a little of my favourite strip piecing. It's amazing what you can create from next to nothing in no time at all - very satisfying to create something attractive and useful from little scraps and I can't wait to start the quilting!
Down in Cheltenham my daughter Frances has been very busy refreshing the stock in her online shop Max&Rosie. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to visit her website and we hope you love your purchases! It's great to have a family collaboration like Fran's new venture. She designs and makes everything by hand using digitally printed fabrics produced by her sister Laura and brother in law Jamie at Fingerprint. How lucky I am to have such a talented family!

Must get back to some stitching now or that bag will never be ready in time!

Thanks for dropping by today - Love Linda x

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Painting Every Day

I can't be the only person who some days feels like I don't have a creative bone in my body or a thought in my head. I go into my workroom and do a bit of tidying and then I sharpen my pencils. Of course there's a limit to how many times you can sharpen your pencils. Here are mine with a few pens and brushes in my Max&Rosie brush roll - all perfectly ready for action. Sadly, lovely as they look, sharp pencils do not a drawing make - not on their own anyway. It's not about how much stuff you've got is it? It's all about applying yourself.

It would be easy to close the door on a newly tidied room and walk away but when inspiration hasn't been cooperating, I prefer to carry on regardless. The results may not be great works of art but it's all good practise. And while you're painting who knows what ideas will creep unbidden into your head?

I always have objects around me that I love and my watercolour paints fit that bill.

This morning I've sketched some of them with a waterproof pen and added a very light wash of paint. Actually hardly any paint at all - more like dirty water.

It's satisfying to create weight and volume to a sketchy outline with a bit of watery shadow.

So, even without a plan, I now have another interesting page in my sketchbook. What next I wonder?

Bye for now - Linda x

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Garden Inspiration

It's lovely having a great big garden except of course when it comes to gardening! Much as I love to loll about with a cold drink in the evening sunshine the work has to come first. He who gardens does nearly all the hard labour but at this time of year, when there's so much to do, I have to give a helping hand too.

It's been glorious weather for a few days so I haven't minded being out of doors. I'm something of a fine weather gardener but we're told we need our daily dose of vitamin D aren't we so I can kill two birds with one stone and think myself both healthy and virtuous. We've spent most of the weekend tidying away all the old growth from last year. The seedheads have provided food for the birds through the winter but they've done their bit now and the compost heap called.

We've lived here since 1988 so plenty of time for everything to become well established. One of my favourite things is the yew hedge which we planted in a snow storm a few years ago. People seem to think yew is slow growing but those little sticks have become a lovely 8 foot high wall of dark green with a doorway that leads through to a really tranquil gravel garden. Nowhere better to sit on a scorchingly hot April day.

Of course it's true what they say about all work and no play so, this afternoon when my back had told me it had had enough bending, I had an hour in the studio with my sketchbook. There aren't any roses in flower yet but the bushes are leafing up nicely and it won't be long before I can paint from life. In the meanwhile last year's photos will suffice.

I'm working in one of Laura's printed sketchbooks but today I chose to work on a blank page rather than one with existing colour and pattern. The white roses are very low key - the petals are pretty much untouched white paper with only the shadows placed to describe the form of a flower. I used a combination of coloured pencils, watercolour paint and soluble pen. Very enjoyable - now for that well earned gin and tonic and a loll in a deckchair to catch the last rays!

Bye for now - Linda x

Monday, 3 April 2017

Portrait Shuffle Fun!

The sun is out, the sky is blue........... and I am actually singing today. Luckily I don't have neighbours to worry about so I can do what I like!I have my iPod on full blast and I'm out in my garden studio painting. What could be more fun than that?

Don't laugh - it's only the first coat and I'm hoping she'll get better with another lick of paint tomorrow! The finished panel will be among the exhibits at the Portrait Shuffle exhibition next August. If you don't know about your chance to exhibit with the Through Our Hands artists at Festival of Quilts yet then please take a trip over to for all the info. We particularly welcome portraits involving fabric and thread because they'll be seen by thousands of quilters - so don't be put off if you don't mess around with paint like I do!

Please join in and help us raise much needed funds for Save The Children. Annabel is busy sending out the canvases right now but the finished portraits don't need to arrive back with her until July.

Hope I don't sound as though I'm telling you what to do BUT after you've gone to the portrait page (and hopefully signed up to buy your pack!) you really should also check out my daughter Frances' website. She's added a collection of lined fabric cases perfect to hold sunglasses or mobile phones to her range this week and they are in great time for summer. I've got one already as she gave me mine as a Mothers' Day gift! What a good daughter!!

new glasses cases collection!

While I've been writing this my first coat of paint might have dried enough for the next layer - think I may go and do a bit more before dinner!
Bye for now, Linda x

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

What's the Portrait Thing All About?

The news will be out properly tomorrow but here's a glimpse of what I've been doing for a special happening in the Through Our Hands Gallery next summer at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK.

The theme for the TOH exhibition is Portraits. I've been working from a photo on my iPad.....

to make a self portrait using acrylics on a little A5 box canvas.

The exhibition will feature submissions from the affiliated, internationally recognised Through Our Hands artists but Laura and Annabel would like to invite you all to be a part of it too. To discover the hows and the whys please visit the portraitshuffle page and don't be worried if you don't paint, the portrait can be in any medium you choose, whether you love to stitch, appliqué, print or collage your subject. This is your opportunity to be a part of something big! And all profits will go to a really good cause - Save the Children. Can you imagine how wonderful a whole wall of portraits will look? How can you not join in?

Talk again soon - Linda x

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Portrait Painting and Rhubarb

We picked the first rhubarb of the year this morning.

I love it when it's new and tender pink. Of course, it grows like a triffid so the novelty of rhubarb for pudding every evening will soon wear off. When it gets older, if I can't give it away, I make chutney!

I spent most of the day in my studio attempting a portrait of a cat in acrylics.

I need to resolve the right cheek and tone down the colour of the fur before I'll be satisfied with him but it was good to be out in my studio with the door wide open to the garden and the birds singing in the sunshine. Every day we are reminded of what dangerous times we live in - I'm just pleased to have my painting to absorb me, keep me sane and make me happy. Hours just evaporate when I'm painting!

Last night's effort was a pencil drawing of an iris. This morning I added a watery wash of colour in the background. That sketchbook is beginning to fill up already.


While I was waiting for dinner to cook I popped back out to the studio and added a wash of transparent raw umber acrylic ink to the cat's fur.

So much better - why didn't I think of that before??

Talk again soon - Linda x

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sunflower Monoprint and Drawing

Some of the monoprints I made for a DMTV video a couple of days ago have ended up in my printed sketchbook. The deli paper adds very little bulk to the existing pages.

The reductive print on the left hand page had its background cut away and was then collaged down over one of the previously printed pages. I've pasted the complete orange monoprint down on the right but although I did add a bit of deep shadow to the centre of the flower, the page isn't complete yet as I also want to extend some circles across the binding.

Once the gel medium was dry I could sit with the sketchbook on my lap last night and, working with one of my watercolour paintings as a guide, I made a pencil drawing. I love the contrast of placing simple graphite pencil alongside the colour of paint.

Hoping to do more drawing tonight!

Linda x

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

DMTV Prep Time in the Studio and have you seen Fran's Website yet?

Recording our videos for DMTV is often the quickest part of the process - it's the advance prep that often takes up the time. Not that I'm complaining - there are worse ways to spend your days!

I've been stitching this monoprinted bird today. He's a springtime project soon to be a video.

And for a change of activity, in the evenings I like to do a bit of drawing. You may remember I showed the seedhead skeletons I found a few days ago - here's last night's quick sketch in pen.

When I'm struggling for inspiration nature always comes to the rescue. We made the most of a lovely day yesterday for a walk around the village, iPad in hand. You never know what photo opportunities may present themselves!

Just look at what we spotted low down in the hedge. It would be quite a feat for a human to attempt to construct such perfection but some little birds have managed it! Nice subject for a painting I think!

Speaking of perfection - have you seen my younger daughter's website yet? Everyone knows about Laura because we have worked together since she left university but you may not know I have two daughters. My younger daughter Frances is more of a newcomer to the creative world of textiles. She's made the big step of leaving her 'proper job' in advertising to set up her online shop, MaxandRosie. I am so proud of what she's doing! Her work is simply beautiful with such attention to detail.

Please take a minute to check out her beautiful website to see all the lovely things she has for sale, all made by her own fair hands. Frances has added lots of new products this week, including the brush roll you see above. If you're quick you may just be in time to order for Mothers' Day!

Thanks for dropping by today - Linda x