Sunday 26 March 2023

A Murmuration of Starlings

Recently, in the evenings, we have been treated to a mumuration of starlings as they come to roost on the tall poplars down by the river. They don't always stay there for that long, but they make a loud chattering as they settle down.
I'm not sure those branches look terribly strong!
Then all of a sudden, they swoop off again...
...and may or may not come back.  Unfortunately, we haven't seen the really amazing swooping shapes the mumuration makes, as the houses all get in the way, but we have seen smaller groups of birds as they come in to join the others.  There are lots of videos online, such as this one on Youtube here.  However, we have enjoyed seeing them over the last couple of weeks. 

Thursday 16 March 2023

Spring is just round the corner

Spring is almost here and the garden is starting to respond to the increasing light levels.  The camellias need to be featured as they are looking lovely at the moment. I was a bit concerned that the snow and overnight frosts would play havoc with the flowers, but so far they are all right.  Above is an unnamed one given to me by my Mum.
Camellia St Ewe is providing a lovely splash of colour down at the bottom of the garden... is Yoimachi, which has been flowering for ages.
Another unnamed camellia looking so pretty with its blush pink flowers. This is probably a japonica variety.

I planted this little trough of Tete a Tete narcissus last Autumn and they make me smile with their happy yellow flowers.
The colour contrasts well with the cool blue of this scilla.
My standard cherry Kojo-no-mai is also starting to flower.
Cardamine quinquefolia is also doing well - possibly making an attempt at border domination.  I keep meaning to dig some out, but in flower it is pretty and then it dies down again, so I forget to do it.
Hellebores in the garden are later than the potted ones.  This is Harvington Pink speckled.
This one is Harvington Pink Picotee.
Finally, just because I can, more camellias.  Well, when they flower, they should be celebrated, shouldn't they?
Spring is nearly here.  I have tulips in bud too, which is always exciting!

Thursday 9 March 2023

Wanderlust 2023 - Weeks One to Eight

This is my third year taking part in the year long art journaling course that is Wanderlust. This year's  course continues the focus on different media, starting with pastels.  There is always an introduction to the media and then an exploratory page.  We thought about a word (in my case, two words) for the year and then played with soft pastels, pastel crayons, watersoluble crayons, and oil pastels.
Week two was my absolute favourite and I really loved creating this abstract landscape, using soft pastels, white gesso and clear gesso. I hadn't really used pastels much, partly because they are a bit on the messy side and also because they have to be fixed.   However, as this technique used gesso to fix the pastel as I went along, I began to really enjoy the way the pastel worked and the effects that could be created.  
We then used baby oil with soft pastel to create a paint.  Soft pastel is a stick of pigment with very little binder, so adding a binder changed the pigment to 'paint'.  Using pastels like this gave a thick, bold line.  We also used pastel to paint in flowers which gave a delicate effect and dripped gesso over the pastel/oil mix, which resisted the gesso and again gave a different effect.
Using watersoluble crayons to create flowers was the following week's page. We cut out a window and then on the other side... 
...we created a night sky in acrylics with lots of splatters.
Colouring photographs was the next lesson, then setting the pastel with a mix of glue and water.  The photos did have that hand coloured look, although using a sponge to add the pastel meant I couldn't be that detailed.  These are all photos of my Granny's family.  The words I added were from The Secret Garden and seemed really appropriate for the different family members.
I enjoyed the process for this page, layering up over pastels and adding gesso.  
Abstract flowers over a pastel layered background was the focus for the final lesson using pastels.  My abstract flowers didn't look how I wanted them so I added collage over the top, which I was happier with.  Working with pastels has been a really good learning experience and I will use the techniques again.  I am sure I will revisit the abstract landscape from week two. 
Week eight was the start of a series called Artful Musings, where an artist discussed their inspiration. This artist talked about how they look to nature and so I created a page which said Winter into Spring to me and added in a quote about courage.  Snowdrops always have resilience so that created the focus.

On to the next seven weeks - all about pencils.   

Thursday 2 March 2023

Local Exhibitions

Last month we went to our local art gallery and museum to see some of the exhibitions on at the moment.  I was interested to see the watercolour exhibition, having had a little more experience of watercolours in my art journaling course last year.  David Remfry is a master of watercolours and I spent a long time looking at the picture which is on the poster above - called Anna. It was fascinating to see how he had used the paper and washes of colour to outline her face.  There were full length watercolours too and I haven't seen large scale works like that in this medium.  
We then headed to see the exhibition by Jeanette Killner, who was one of my teachers on the Foundation in Art and Design course I did.  She was the 2D tutor and encouraged me with my felt making.  Her own art involves aluminium drinks cans which she heats to bring out the rainbow-like colours.  Chris really liked the fish above, but that wasn't for sale.
All the work was based on nature.  We liked the enamelled flowers of the blackberry and the blackberries themselves, made using beads.
I loved the colours of 'Indian Summer'...'s a close up.
I was taken with the Wildflowers too...
...such a lot of work had gone in to creating these beautiful images.
She had even made a 'nature table' with a wire nest, metal feathers and leaves and a metal beetle in a jar.
This hanging piece was really impressive.
I called in to see this amazing Bronze Age pendant which was on loan from the British Museum. The decoration on it was beautiful and timeless - it looked as though it had been made yesterday.  It is lovely to be able to appreciate this wonderful exhibit, without having to travel to London! 
I really enjoyed seeing the exhibitions  and may well go back before they move on or close.