Tuesday, 15 October 2019

fiery flowers for One Square Foot




August I ~ watercolour & salt
Teresa Newham

Back in August, I set out to paint a piece which had to measure exactly one foot square, including any framing, for an art exhibition* in Hitchin. As the exhibition was to take place in October, I had in mind something autumnal involving fallen leaves, perhaps with a touch of copper or gold printmaking ink.


brightly coloured initial washes & salt . . .
© Teresa Newham

My subconscious, however, had other ideas, and presented me with a palette so vividly Mediterranean that I had no idea what to do with it, until I took half of the initial washes off with damp kitchen paper and turned the whole thing upside down.


. . . dried, toned down & turned around
© Teresa Newham

I was making two paintings, in the hope that at least one of them would work.  I added in some trunks and foliage using Permanent Sap Green, to contrast with the Quinacridone Red, Transparent Yellow and Cobalt Turquoise of the base layer.


trunks and foliage taking shape
© Teresa Newham

The salt pattern suggested sunflowers, and I thought some white daisies would look good in the cool areas.  I made the flowers by painting the negative space around them - something I don't do much, but I'd been reading Anne Blockley's Watercolour Workshop and some of it must have stuck . . .


flowers emerging from the washes
© Teresa Newham

Going with the flow, I adjusted the paintings as I went, wondering where these fiery tones had some from. Then the penny dropped - they were the exact colours of the materials we'd been using at my amateur operatic group to make fairy costumes!


the finished paintings
© Teresa Newham
.
The pictures only came properly to life when I added the centres to the flowers. There's a rich glow to these pieces which I rather like.  I had no idea what to call them, so they've ended up as August I and August II.  I hope to do more like these - there are twelve months in the year, after all . . .


August II ~ watercolour & salt
Teresa Newham

*  The charity exhibition "100 Square Feet" in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association will run until 2nd November 2019 at The Art Nest, 4-5 West Alley, Hitchin SG5 1EG.





Monday, 30 September 2019

Demo-happy



Cross Farm
Inktense Pencil sketch by Teresa Newham

For this year's #HertsOpenStudios demonstrations, I was mostly working in Inktense Pencil, making sketches from photos on my iPad. Backlit on the screen, photos have a wonderful vibrancy which is often lost when they're printed out.


the Sunflower sketch taking shape
© Teresa Newham

It was a good opportunity to work up some of this summer's photos into something a little more - I'd been wondering whether the Cross Farm picture might make a good print, for example - and to experiment with different pencil techniques.


Sunflower
Inktense Pencil sketch by Teresa Newham


The beauty of these pencils is that they are easily set aside when visitors arrive - a must for an Open Studios event - and can be taken up again without losing your thread; I started the dahlias one afternoon and finished them three days later at the next session.


various stages of the Dahlias sketch
© Teresa Newham

A wide variety of colours can be made with just a few of the pencils, and I enjoyed straying from my usual palette and having some fun with them.  I particularly loved the contrast in the photo of the dahlias - the leaves really were that colour!


Dahlias
Inktense Pencil sketch by Teresa Newham

Some of the sketches were done more quickly than others, depending on who came in while I was making them; and the Hitchin Lavender picture took only an afternoon, because I wanted to get on with something else at the following session . . .


the lavender sketch, emerging
© Teresa Newham

I was tempted to make more sketches, but I'd used up all the remaining leaves of watercolour paper in the book; and my spare paper was well buried in the studio beneath the exhibits.  I didn't fancy trying to dig it out!


Hitchin Lavender
Inktense Pencil sketch by Teresa Newham

With Christmas not that far away, I decided to jolly up some plain gift tags, taking care not to get ink on the general public. It was by far the smallest piece of lino I'd ever worked with, but perfect for demonstrating the technique in a small space.


my smallest demo ever (!) . . .
© Teresa Newham

A huge thanks to all our lovely visitors who made this year's #HertsOpenStudios such a great fune, and to Sue Wookey for sharing a studio with me!


. . . resulted in these!
© Teresa Newham








Sunday, 15 September 2019

. . . . and breathe!



paintings, prints, cards in the dining room
© Teresa Newham


The last print is mounted and framed for display, the browsers are filled, the cards are neatly stacked in their racks.  Everything that should be ready is ready, and on display.  #HertsOpenStudios has begun!


my studio, crammed with stuff
© Teresa Newham

We can finally relax, breathe a little, and settle down to demonstrating watercolours (Sue) and Inktense pencil sketches (me, with some lino printing thrown in).


Sue is making use of every available surface
 © Teresa Newham

As usual we're offering our visitors coffee, tea and cake while they browse; many of the people who come to take a look have been before, and it's good to catch up with them, as well as making new friends.


room for demos and a charity sale
© Teresa Newham

I've even found room to display a couple of A4 sketchbooks - my regular one I use when working up paintings and linocut prints, and the visual diary I made last winter.  I hope people enjoy them!


my sketchbooks, getting an airing
© Teresa Newham







Saturday, 31 August 2019

Skelligs Golden Light





Skelligs Golden Light
reduction linocut series by Teresa Newham


August is the month when I usually prepare for #HertsOpenStudios - mounting, framing, sending out brochures and generally getting geared up to receive the general public.  This year, however, I've been somewhat distracted by the creation of a reduction linocut I've called Skelligs Golden Light.



the sketch and the photo which inspired it
© Teresa Newham


The photo I took inspiration from was blue, and I had in mind a range of blues from palest pale to dramatic dark, with a mysterious misty sky.  Yet I kept recalling that view of the Skelligs when the weather around the rocks is clearer than that where you're standing on the Kerry mainland.


the Skelligs, emerging
© Teresa Newham

I decided to lay down some yellow first, and then a light grey as a good contrast.  It worked - but I was using so much extender that the yellow showed through the clouds.  I wished I hadn't printed the yellow, but I had; and I wished I hadn't cut the clouds, but I had - so I would have to make the best of it!


using different colours on different parts of the print
© Teresa Newham

By the time I printed the mid grey, I was convinced I would have to mount this linocut so the clouds didn't show. Luckily the Skelligs themselves looked great . . .   on impulse I printed a thin layer of white ink over the clouds, just to see what would happen.


slowly the image became clearer
© Teresa Newham

A dark layer was needed for Little Skellig, and I wanted the foreground to be darker too.  After I'd printed up a couple I realised that adding some of that dark colour on the clouds would balance the picture.  Would a thin layer of ink with lots of extender print OK on the white?


when the plate could be an artwork in itself
© Teresa Newham

I wasn't convinced, but ploughed on anyway - sometimes you just have to keep going.  The plate itself looked a promising piece of artwork in its own right, and as I carried on, the results became more encouraging.


the finished prints laid out for inspection
© Teresa Newham

At this stage I still had most of the impressions I started with, but they won't all make the cut. The variations on the rest means that this will be a series rather than an edition. It's turned out far better than I expected when I was halfway through, and I've learned a lot in the process.  Better get back to my framing . . .


one of the finished prints
© Teresa Newham





Thursday, 15 August 2019

Harpenden Common, Midsummer




Harpenden Common, Midsummer
watercolour with gouache, Teresa Newham


This is the first figurative watercolour I've made in ages - inspired by two lovely ladies at Art on the Common who asked me when I was going to paint the Common again, and by some photos taken during the sunny weather at the end of June.


the photo which provided the inspiration
© Teresa Newham


I used Cobalt Blue, Permanent Sap Green, and for a change, Burnt Umber, which blended well with the blue to add some shape to the clouds.  These are the second lot of clouds I tried - the first attempt is on the back of the painting . . .


the urge to get something down on paper quickly
© Teresa Newham


I built up the piece in layers from the top down, delighted by some of the runbacks, which I incorporated into the landscape, and mindful of the need to balance out the tones - which I checked by taking black and white photos as the work progressed.


the painting takes shape
© Teresa Newham


The midsummer palette is quite restricted, so I ignored the yellow flowers in the photo and added in the white ones using gouache and a certain amount of scratching out.  I'm looking forward to sharing this picture with visitors to #HertsOpenStudios next month!


finishing touches
© Teresa Newham









Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Fields & Flowers, Kilkeaveragh




Fields & Flowers, Kilkeaveragh
reduction linocut by Teresa Newham

Our recent trip to County Kerry generated so many ideas that I thought I should make a start on at least one of them.  This reduction linocut is based on photos I took from our friends' living room window, and an Inktense pencil sketch I made of the same view.


source material: the sketch helped me see the potential
© Teresa Newham


I took some time over the design; the first draft was a little too graphic, and I altered the treatment of the clouds and the trees accordingly.  I set out to print just three colours, the first two overlapping as little as possible, so as to speed up the drying.


getting it right: refining the design
© Teresa Newham

For the first time in ages I was using traditional lino instead of softcut, and I had to adjust my cutting technique accordingly.  I soon got the hang of things again.  It's much easier now that I use a cutting mat - made of carpet gripper - instead of a bench hook.



the three reduction cuts, from one plate
© Teresa Newham

I traced the design onto the lino using carbon paper, and inked it with a pen. After making a few prints I discovered that the pen was transferring to the prints. So I cut away the clouds rather than wiping them, to prevent the pen transferring onto any more.


troubleshooting the sky
© Teresa Newham


I'd forgotten to wash away as much of the ink and carbon as I could before printing, so I did that after I'd printed the blue.  I used the prints where the pen was showing as trial runs for the green layers, to get the colours right - putting everything to good use!


the second printing: uneven marks add texture
© Teresa Newham


The result is a cheerful interpretation of the countryside around our friends' house on the Iveragh Peninsula.  It's not one of the obvious views of mountains or the sea, but it has a charm all its own.  And there will be more prints to come, I'm sure . . .


the finished print: only some will make it into the edition
© Teresa Newham







Monday, 15 July 2019

All the Fun of the Fair



the stable block at Childwickbury Manor
© Teresa Newham

The first weekend of July means only one thing to art lovers around here: the Childwickbury Arts Fair! This year it was magnificent as always. Blessed by excellent weather on the Friday, we spent a happy few hours taking a good look round and speaking to as many people as we could.


artists' demos in the painting tent
© Teresa Newham

First stop the painting tent - a huge marquee with a dozen artists showing and demonstrating their work. Those in the photos are (clockwise from top left) Penny German, Tina Balmer, Jenny Wheatley and Ali Yanya.  It's a lovely environment in which to chat to people about their work.


a variety of arts and crafts behind the stable block
© Teresa Newham

Behind the stable block we found more painters, ceramicists, woodworkers and a variety of crafts.  Many of those exhibiting are regulars - it was great to catch up with them again. The montage above shows work by Anne Barrell and the Eeles Pottery, Vince King wood carving and Oli Fowler screen printing.


 inside the stable block - glass artists & printmaker Laura Boswell
© Teresa Newham

The stable block itself housed nearly thirty artists specialising in everything from jewellery to candles.  The glass artists were here -  Opal Seabrook, Siddy Langley (top L & R) and Karen Davies (bottom L). Across the stable yard in the main printmaker's area we talked with Laura Boswell and Tom Mitchell.


some of the printmakers and their kit
© Teresa Newham

The organisers at Childwickbury take great care to ensure that everything is just right, with eye-catching, colourful and quirky corners, and plenty of space for visitors to chill out in while they eat their lunch or take a rest in the shade.  It's a great day out - put it in your diary for next year!


touches of colour everywhere
© Teresa Newham

NB if you can't wait until next Summer, don't forget the Childwickbury Christmas Market on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th November 2019 😉







Sunday, 30 June 2019

Kerry Sketchbook




Skellig afternoon
Inktense pencil sketch by Teresa Newham

It's hard to believe that just a month ago we were on holiday in County Kerry!  I took a watercolour sketchbook with me, along with my Inktense pencils and a waterbrush, determined to make the best of whatever the weather could throw at us.


the Skelligs from Valentia Island
© Teresa Newham

The notes say that the Skelligs sketch was made "on location".  In this case, that meant "sitting in the car" - it was breezy outside, and I made the most of the opportunity to spread out my equipment in the warm, while my husband had a little doze.


Ballinskelligs beach
Inktense pencil sketch by Teresa Newham


The following day at Ballinskelligs beach, the weather was changing all the time from moody clouds to sunshine and back again.  I sat on a rock to make this sketch , and only just made it safely back to the car before the heavens opened.


McCarthy Mor Castle, Ballinskelligs
© Teresa Newham


The Inktense pencils were perfect for holiday sketching; I was able to get outlines down quickly and fill in details afterwards, adding extra touches of colour as necessary.  Even in damp weather they dried promptly on the page, and the waterbrush was a joy to use.


Rossbeigh Beach
Inktense pencil sketch by Teresa Newham

At Rossbeigh Beach the tide was in, but it didn't matter, as a howling gale meant we had no desire to get out of the car.  I didn't do justice to the stunning scenery, but it's an excellent rendition of how I was feeling after two glasses of Guinness the night before.


clouds at Rossbeigh Beach
© Teresa Newham

My final sketch was done indoors, looking out of a window at the fields beyond.  Until you looked closely there didn't seem to be much going on, but I found quite a lot to put down on paper, especially when I imagined it from a different angle.


Millie's view
Inktense pencil sketch by Teresa Newham

We came away fully refreshed, with many happy memories, a bunch of souvenirs, a few sketches and a lot of photos -  so I suspect I'll be making some more Kerry-based artworks before too long!


the foot of the mountain
© Teresa Newham