Monday, 28 November 2016

First time in Fleetville



the gallery entrance inside the Fleetville Vintage Emporium
© Teresa Newham

Last week I made my first visit to Gallery 32, a new art collective which has been set up in the roofspace of the Fleetville Vintage Emporium by resident local artist Debbie Knight.  I'm one of the artists within the collective, and I was keen to see what was going on!


top of the stairs 1: art on the staircase
© Teresa Newham

Just climbing the staircase is a treat, as every inch of space has been utilised for contemporary art.  From the landing, the visitor gets a tantalising glimpse of even more:


top of the stairs 2: peeking into the gallery
© Teresa Newham

Once inside, there is a wonderful range of pieces large and small: canvases, framed items, glass and ceramics - something to entrance every art lover and suit the pocket of those who come to buy.


smaller works on the gallery shelves
© Teresa Newham

The gallery is a welcoming space with a distinct 'studio feel': there are canvases stacked against the walls at floor level, the odd browser, and vintage boxes used to display greetings cards. I found my two pieces on a cleverly-positioned gridwall which provides even more hanging space:


my work (alongside others) with the studio in the background
© Teresa Newham

Art lovers are welcome to take a look in Debbie's studio if one the artists is there - she had been working on this large canvas when I did my shift, and each of us will be taking the opportunity to make our own art when we are covering for her:


visitors are welcome to the studio if somebody's there!
© Teresa Newham

Of course, I couldn't resist taking a look round the emporium itself.  All sorts of different items are displayed, from books to clothes to furniture and ornaments:


the ground floor 1: some stalls in the Fleetville Vintage Emporium
© Teresa Newham

This stallholder had laid out their display to resemble a living room; there was a new delight round every corner.  So I'm sure I'll be coming away with something every time I do a stint at the gallery!


the ground floor 2: my favourite vintage stall
© Teresa Newham

Artists showing work at the Gallery32 collective currently include: Sandy Andrews, Sandra Berti, Jannah Britt-Green, Anne Hignell, Elspeth Keith, Debbie Knight, Judith Moule, Teresa Newham, Clive Patterson, Opal Seabrook, Graham Saunders, Morag Saunders, Linda Smith.  If you are a participating artist and would like your name displayed here, please let me know.  The Fleetville Vintage Emporium is open daily from 10am - 5.30 pm (Sundays and Bank Holidays 5pm) behind the site of the former Emporium premises at 221 Hatfield Road, St Albans AL1 4TB. 






Monday, 14 November 2016

Drawing in the dark - flamenco in Madrid


anticipation at Cafetin La Quimera
© Teresa Newham
Something must have got lost in translation, because we arrived too early. Would we mind visiting the bar across the road for half an hour?  As it turned out, we didn't mind at all; as complimentary plates of shrimp, patatas bravas, olives and potato salad arrived with our drinks, some of our group were tempted to spend the evening at the bar and not bother with the flamenco. . .

it starts with the song . . .
© Teresa Newham
Just as well we did go back to Cafetin La Quimera, however, because we were in for a treat.  The place was packed - mainly with locals, which was a good sign - and our table for sixteen was ranged along one wall.  Drinks, bread and olive oil were handed round, along with the best Spanish omelette of our trip.  Time for the show!

the dancing gets under way . . .
© Teresa Newham
Flamenco originates from the song, not the guitar or the dance:  so there was singing and clapping before the first dancer got to his feet.  As I don't eat meat I was ignoring the breaded chicken on the table but in any case I was too busy watching and listening to eat, taking the odd photo without missing anything that was going on.

. . . the atmosphere is intense . . .
© Teresa Newham
I was seated in a dark corner, and the rest of the party were now tucking into a meat stew, so I had the chance to make a couple of quick sketches. I drew the first two dancers with extra arms because their positions kept changing - resulting in the sort of thing that's referred to as 'lively' at life drawing classes!

.. . . and so are the performances!
© Teresa Newham
When the third dancer took the stage, he moved so quickly that I had to put the sketchbook down.  There was always the second half of the show for the opportunity to do some more sketches, I thought.  Meanwhile, it was time for some paella during the interval.  And at some point, I recall, there was a wonderful vegetable stew . . .

drawings made in the dark . . .
© Teresa Newham

I'd love to show you some photos and sketches of the rest of the evening.  But there aren't any, because I became completely engrossed in what was happening on stage. Sometimes it's better to be in the moment than to be recording it!

. . . and coloured up when I got home
© Teresa Newham




Sunday, 30 October 2016

Art and eccentricity in Madrid

Half term found a group of us in Madrid, on a short break with a packed itinerary - Old Town, Cathedral, Royal Palace, the Prado; there was going to be lots of art.  Would the city turn out to have a whacky side, too, I wondered?


the bear and the strawberry tree - symbol of Madrid
© Teresa Newham
At the Puerta del Sol  we paused for photos by the statue of the bear and the strawberry tree - both symbols of the city which have featured on its' coat of arms for centuries.  Then it was off into the narrow streets of the Old Town, where we spotted this automaton moving above a watch shop:


the clockmaker plying his trade
© Teresa Newham
Art was everywhere on the streets in the Old Town, as well as in the museums and art galleries.  We had a good view in the glorious sunny weather, which showed the buildings off to their best advantage.

highly decorated buildings in Madrid Old Town
© Teresa Newham
In the Plaza Mayor we found official and unofficial statues, the latter being very keen to engage with us.  At least the official statues didn't move . . .

statues living and traditional in the Plaza Mayor
© Teresa Newham
The relatively modern Almudena Cathedral was a striking mixture of plain white walls and colourful works of art.  Luckily I remembered to point my camera at the ceiling, which was a work of art in itself!

stunning artwork on the ceiling of the cathedral
© Teresa Newham

Moving on, I spotted this model on a balcony near the old market. Who thought of putting it there? (I would like to thank them).  Why did they put it there - was it to find out which of us look up as well as around? When it rains, does she hold an umbrella?


a mannequin on a balcony
© Teresa Newham

In the part of the Royal Palace where photos are allowed, I was looking up again, at this very Spanish ceiling (while trying not to fall down the staircase at the same time).  This wasn't just Art - this was  Culture, with a capital C:

stunning artwork on the ceilings at the Royal Palace
© Teresa Newham

And I couldn't resist snapping these, which are shop mannequins and not the living statue variety, unfortunately.    Madrid may be a capital city, but you can't accuse it of taking itself too seriously!


street mannequins near the old town
© Teresa Newham







Saturday, 15 October 2016

the frog - revisited


the green frog
reduction linocut by Teresa Newham

As soon as I'd finished printing The Golden Frog, I knew I wanted to have another go at the subject.  I started planning it out during our last Herts Open Studios session - trying to make the markings more - well - frog-like, and eliminating some of the problems I'd encountered previously.

working out the design
© Teresa Newham
My stickiest issue was the background - I discarded the idea of leaves and tried boulders and pebbles, but I couldn't get it right.  Until one of our Open Studios visitors, browsing our charity bookstall, said: "Oh look, there are some frogs here, on lily pads".  So a glance at my own book would have given me the answer!

getting the first colour right . . .  or not!
© Teresa Newham
Once the white was cut I set out to print the first yellow layer.  That's right - yellow.  Except it didn't work out like that, because I mixed this lime green colour first, and fell in love with it.  The prints sat for a week on my clothes airer drying rack until I found time to move on.

first colour, printed & drying
© Teresa Newham
The next plate had to be a mid-green.  I hoped it would work, and tried to build some texture into the print when I cut the leaves out.  Because I was transferring the design plate by plate using a pencil, I kept getting confused, and was pretty apprehensive when I came to do the actual printing.

now for the second colour . . . .
© Teresa Newham
I needn't have worried - the two colours printed together worked well.  The markings were there, the white outline was there (on most of them anyway), and even on the odd print where the registration was slightly out, it didn't seem to matter.

. . . which looked encouraging!
© Teresa Newham
I repeated the process for the next (and what turned out to be final) colour - brown. I'd originally intended to print black onto the water and the pupil of the eye, but came to the conclusion I didn't need to - the brown and green are fine as they are.  So glad I had another go at this little fella!

the final print
© Teresa Newham




Thursday, 29 September 2016

the golden frog

the golden frog
reduction linocut by Teresa Newham

When my husband called to me that a frog had hopped out of the bushes while he was watering the garden, I grabbed my iPhone and hoped for the best.  I wasn't disappointed; our visitor obligingly posed for photos, even moving into a more accessible position for me to snap away.

the original photo
© Teresa Newham
I was looking for a demo subject for #HertsOpenStudios; and there he was.  The perfect opportunity to explore the ins and outs of making a reduction linocut with the new softcut lino I've been using this Summer!

creating the design
© Teresa Newham
With the design finalised, I realised that my usual method of tracing it onto the lino would only work up to a point.  I needed to ink over the tracing, in order to cut away the various colours successfully, but my usual waterproof pen would not work.  In the end, I looked on the internet and used a Sharpie, which seemed ideal.

transferring the design
© Teresa Newham
Unfortunately I soon realised that the Sharpie was coming off on my hands as I cut the white areas away; and sure enough, when I printed the yellow plate, the lines of the design printed along with it.  This didn't matter in the places which would be covered by brown or black ink, but careful cutting would be required to ensure that it didn't show on the yellow.

the first printing
© Teresa Newham
I decided to change the colour of some leaves at the bottom of the image from yellow to black to counteract this, but regretted it almost as soon as the brown plate was printed - somehow the picture had lost its balance.  What's more, the brown was simply too dark when contrasted with the yellow. Ironically, the complicated cut itself had gone well!

adding the second colour
© Teresa Newham
I carried on regardless - I had to demonstrate something, after all - and the result isn't too bad;  it's not what I envisaged, however, and I'm sure I can improve on this.  For now he looks jolly enough, anyway . . . 

the finished print
© Teresa Newham








Tuesday, 13 September 2016

pictures, pictures, pictures . . . cake!

photographs and watercolours jostling for space
© Teresa Newham
With more than forty visitors through the door already, it's difficult to believe we're less than half way through this year's #HertsOpenStudios.  The teenager considering doing Art 'A' Level, the elderly woodworker, the printmaker from Northern Ireland, friends old and new: so many interesting conversations and excellent feedback! 

rediscovering my sketchbooks . . .
© Teresa Newham
This year I've put all my sketchbooks on show; some I'd forgotten I still had.  The little one below, for example, is three-quarters empty, and definitely worth keeping out once Open Studios is over. I can't quite remember why I put it away in the first place . . . 

. . . some of which are only part-full!
© Teresa Newham
Sue and I are opening on seven days during the event, which lasts until 25th September.  But it's not worth taking everything down in between; so effectively my long-suffering husband and I are living in a gallery for three weeks or so.  My studio is crammed with stuff, and the kitchen is full of cake, biscuits and crisps for our guests!

now . . . how do I get to those drawers?
© Teresa Newham
The dining room ornaments have been stashed away in the most unlikely nooks and crannies, to be replaced by all sorts of artworks, such as  Sue's photo of her hand, which is displayed to full advantage on the dresser, along with some of her other pieces:

my dresser, Sue's paintings and photos  . . .
© Teresa Newham
The display board is dismantled at the end of each session, which means putting away Sue's lovely paintings - I do like that tiger!  But at least we can get to the bureau behind it when we need to . . . 

. . . and her display board
© Teresa Newham
I'm really pleased with my new linocuts in their cream-coloured frames, and I've managed to put virtually all my greetings cards out on display.  Sue also has masses of cards, and a whole range of unframed original watercolours.  So there's plenty to see.

the new linocuts and a lot of greetings cards!
© Teresa Newham
Once again we're raising money for St Luke's Hospice in Kenton, who looked after my Dad so well during his final illness.  This year we're selling second-hand art books, some which were my Mum's and some of mine.  So if you know of any art lovers looking for books on watercolour, drawing or calligraphy, send them round - and let them eat cake!

books old and new - on sale for charity
© Teresa Newham

Details of our #HertsOpenStudios sessions are shown in the side panel of this blog.





Saturday, 27 August 2016

Slow with the pen, fast with the brush

So much for plein air . . . too hot - too cold  - too wet - too busy - no opportunity to get the sketchbook out - my excuses are endless!  Luckily, while leafing through some old art books one unsuitable afternoon recently, I was reminded that there is an alternative.


watercolour sketching from the invaluable iPad
© Teresa Newham

The book was Big Brush Watercolour by Ron Ranson, one of several I inherited from my mother.  Ron was a hugely popular artist and tutor in his day but I must admit I find the colours he used a bit dull.  And from the looks of her sketchbooks, so did Mum - she copied many of his pieces to improve her technique, but with a brighter palette.


R Stour at Sturminster Newton
© Teresa Newham

In this particular book Ron was encouraging his students to loosen up by using - you've guessed it - a big brush; one which makes detail impossible.  He recommended making simple tonal watercolour sketches to establish light, dark and mid-tones.  And had no problem with working from photos, even in a pre-digital age . . .


R. Stour at Sturminster Newton, pen sketch
© Teresa Newham



I'd just completed a pen sketch of the River Stour at Sturminster Newton, where we spent a few days at the beginning of August.  I'd loaded one of my photos onto the iPad, and worked slowly and meditatively, at the same time trying not to reproduce every single leaf or blade of grass.


R.Stour @ Stur, tonal watercolour sketch
© Teresa Newham

A watercolour sketch was the logical next step, in French Ultramarine with a one-inch brush - Ron's was a hake but he was working on much larger paper than A4!  He also advised using any old paper to free up his students from worrying about the result.


the River Ouse at Bedford
© Teresa Newham

I enjoyed this exercise so much I repeated it, basing my next go on a picture taken in Bedford a couple of weeks ago.  Drawing slowly paid off again, and the watercolour sketch which followed (in Permanent Sap Green) was a joy to do.  In fact, I think it took less time than the drawing . . .


Water's edge, Bedford -  pen sketch
© Teresa Newham
Ron, of course, wanted  his students to produce lively paintings using the tonal sketch as a guide, rather than slavishly copying a photo.  I don't know whether I'll work up either of these into actual paintings - but it might be fun to try!


Water's edge, Bedford - tonal watercolour sketch
© Teresa Newham