Tuesday, 14 May 2019

hail and arty

storms approaching Kimpton
© Teresa Newham

Given that the annual Kimpton Festival often takes place in a heatwave, it was something of a shock to spot such dramatic clouds as we drove over to take a look at this year's Art Show on the Bank Holiday Saturday at the beginning of May.

inside the parish church of SS Peter & Paul
© Teresa Newham

We arrived in a hailstorm, and made our way quickly into the church, where the exhibition had been set up in and around the pews as usual. The weather might have been cold and damp, but the welcome was warm . . .

poppy paintings to remember the dead of the two World Wars
© Teresa Newham

Every nook and cranny of the church had been used to good effect, with suitable unframed paintings and prints laid out on appropriate pews and benches, such as in front of the plaque commemorating those who had fallen in World War I and II.

plenty of pottery: ceramics by Kay Stratford
© Teresa Newham

I spotted some lovely ceramics, including these jars and animals by Kay Stratford on a sill in front of a stained glass window, and a selection of Opal Seabrook's funky glass creations contrasting with the solemnity of one of the side altars.

glass with a twist: Starburst Glass by Opal Seabrook
© Teresa Newham

My own exhibits were shown to good effect on a panel near the main altar.  I'd entered three watercolours and a linocut print of Clementine the chicken. I was delighted to learn later on that someone loved her enough to buy her.

my exhibits near the altar
© Teresa Newham

As we continued round the church, we came to a series of browsers positioned at the very front, to enable visitors to look at all the contents with ease.  There were plenty of people taking their time over the art - nobody was keen to venture back outside.

browsers galore at the front of the church
© Teresa Newham

We were serenaded by live music as we crossed to the far set of browsers - an excellent folk guitarist, with other musical delights scheduled throughout the afternoon.  Again, some lively pieces had been placed in the pews to make a colourful display.

colourful images laid out along the pews
© Teresa Newham

Finally we decided to brave the brief walk across to the Dacre Rooms for a cup of tea.  Outside, the weather was doing its best to convince us that it was really Spring, but, wrapped up in our waterproofs and scarves, we knew better!

the weather pretending it's a balmy Spring day
© Teresa Newham

Monday, 29 April 2019

Into the Light

Into the Light
watercolour by Teresa Newham

Much to my surprise, I found time during Lent to do another watercolour painting in which I used salt to create some special effects.  Only one attempt went in the bin this time - when will I learn not to wet the paper too thoroughly? - and I was able to get going with some interesting washes fairly quickly.

laying down various washes
© Teresa Newham

We'd recently made a trip to Kew Gardens - my first, as it happens - where the Cherry Tree walk must have made a huge impression on me, because it started, quite literally, to seep into the subject of this painting. Especially when I found myself holding the whole thing vertically to get that watercolour running . . .

the salt adding magic of its own
© Teresa Newham

When I decided that the painting was finished, I realised that it's a perfect description of how I've been feeling over the last few months.  And I'm pleased to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel!

the finished painting, still taped to the board
© Teresa Newham

Monday, 15 April 2019

the angel's message

He has risen, as He said
linocut Easter card by Teresa Newham

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, 
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord
descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning and his clothing white as snow.
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women:
"Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay."
Matthew 28: 1 - 6

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.  At Mass we commemorated with palm branches Christ's entry into Jerusalem, when the crowds cheered Him as their Messiah; then we listened to the story of His Passion and death upon the Cross, as the authorities sought to regain their influence by turning the crowds against Him.  This week is a time of quiet reflection, culminating in the three services of the Easter Triduum - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Saturday Vigil, when we celebrate His rising from the dead.

When reflecting on a Bible story we can mentally place ourselves within it, so as to gain deeper insight.  We walk to the tomb with the two Marys before sunrise. We are devastated - our friend, our Saviour, has just been put to death in the most horrible way, and all our hopes have been dashed. We are scared and apprehensive, but desparate to visit the tomb, to prepare His body with spices. Will we be able to persuade the guards to move the stone from the entrance so that we might go in?

And then the ground shakes and an angel appears, rolling away the stone and sitting on it. If we were scared before, we are terrified now! The guards fall unconscious to the ground with fright. The angel offers words of reassurance: Do not be afraid.  He has risen, as He said. Can we even begin to take this in, to understand what is happening? Bewilderment, then joy. Everything He told us has come true.

This is not simply a tale of something incredible which occurred centuries ago.  Christ can be born again in us every day, not simply at Easter.  We just have to be open to Him.  Do not be afraid.

Wishing you and yours every blessing at Easter and always.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

screens and scribbles

playing with colour
iPhone drawing © Teresa Newham

I suppose it was inevitable.  The moment I put down the David Hockney art books my husband gave me for Christmas, with their pages and pages of drawings made on an iPhone and iPad, I reached for my own devices and started playing.

cartoon faces
iPhone drawings © Teresa Newham

Hockney's images are, of course, little masterpieces, often crudely drawn but always with a real sense of the subject.  My efforts are basically doodles made while working out how to use the Brushes app.

playing with layers
iPad drawings © Teresa Newham

I started with patterns and imaginary faces - cartoon-like line drawings or more considered layered images, as I tried to build volume and shading.  The thought of being able to dash off a quick sketch on my iPhone, any time, any place, anywhere, was exciting.

loving Vincent (night)
iPad drawing © Teresa Newham

Another Christmas present - a DVD of the amazing animated painted film Loving Vincent - had me doodling away in a rough approximation of the style of Vincent van Gogh.  I was surprised at how effective the daytime picture turned out to be, despite the speed with which I laid it down.

loving Vincent (day)
iPad drawing © Teresa Newham

More recently I've been following in Hockney's footsteps again, by dashing off quick interpretations of items round the house.  At some point I will get back to "proper" sketching, but for now the digital version has me hooked!

loving Hockney
iPad drawings © Teresa Newham

Friday, 15 March 2019

a backwards glance

watercolour of Sara Baras, 2008
© Teresa Newham

As the studio reorganisation continues, I've been looking through some old watercolours - some even older than this blog. The first piece, of the flamenco dancer Sara Baras, was made from a photo as a demo during my very first Open Studios, and includes some spectacular granulation.

watercolour sketch of a lily, 2007
© Teresa Newham

Next, I came across two paintings of lilies, made three years apart.  The first one is a quick sketch, drawing straight onto the paper with the paint, while I remember putting more work into the second one.  Years ago I would have told you that I preferred the sketch, but looking at them now I think the other one is my favourite.

lily, watercolour, 2010
© Teresa Newham

I love this red tulips picture because it includes two of my favourite vases - a cream Edwardian milk pitcher which still sits in the kitchen of my current home, and the small yellow glass jug which was my grandmother's, and which lives in my studio.

red tulips on the kitchen windowsill, 2010
© Teresa Newham

The snow scene was an experiment based around the idea that white is rarely just white.  Here, it's purple, green, yellow and blue.  It's another piece which I appreciate more now than I did when it was first painted.  But then I rarely like anything when I've just finished it - my favourite is always the next project . . .

a snow scene, 2010
© Teresa Newham

Finally, a painting made from a holiday photo.  I'd also made a quick watercolour sketch in situ, so the subject wasn't entirely new to me. I loved Rome, and the pines, so this brings back happy memories!

a view of Rome, 2008
© Teresa Newham

Thursday, 28 February 2019

From the archive drawer

three quirky images of County Kerry
© Teresa Newham

Recently I've re-organised the storage of my linocuts and photos, creating something of an archive in the process. It's been a useful and interesting exercise - not to mention an excellent displacement activity for artists' block - as well as a trip down memory lane.

early experiments with printmaking
© Teresa Newham

I'd forgotten the obsession with water and reflections which characterised some of my first attempts to move beyond taking holiday snaps; together with my love of quirky shots, water is still one of my favourite subjects.

obsessed by water
© Teresa Newham

My early linocuts were almost all reductions - ambitious, but I was swept away by my enthusiasm for the exciting medium I'd just discovered.  Looking back, I'm quite pleased with the results, although at the time I didn't think much of them, longing to run before I could walk.

a liking for squares
© Teresa Newham

If I took several photos of something, chances were I'd put them together in some kind of collection.  Who knew the centres of tulips could be so fascinating? or close-ups of seaweed? or different versions of the same shot, played about with?

multiple madness
© Teresa Newham

The linocuts in the archive drawer may be deceptive: often the archived version is a poor representative, the only one in the edition not good enough to sell. How I wish I'd kept some of the better ones back . . .

some not so perfect bird prints
© Teresa Newham

There are some treasures, though; happy memories and examples of photos and prints which were extremely popular in their time.  The ones shown here are all at least six years old, and it's good to see them get an airing again!

more of my most popular photos
© Teresa Newham

Thursday, 14 February 2019

brollies and blessings

the Basilica viewed from between the trees
© Teresa Newham

Once again I'd been looking forward to the annual Parish Pilgrimage to Lourdes for Our Lady's feast day (11th February).  The twelve of us travelled light, but  packed for every eventuality; Lourdes sits in the foothills of the Pyrenees with its own micro-climate, so waterproofs and good shoes are a must.

nothing daunts the pilgrim to Lourdes
© Teresa Newham

This year we had a mixture of sunshine and showers; and some torrential rain as we prayed the open air Stations of the Cross.  The hairdryer in my hotel room came in handy for drying my socks and boots and gloves.  The sturdy rain mac I bought in Lourdes on an early visit covered the rest of me . . .

photo opp at Our Lady's statue
© Teresa Newham

We had daily Mass and, on the feast day itself, joined around 20,000 fellow pilgrims for an international Mass and a blessing of the sick, both in several languages. We went to the baths and to confession, prayed at the grotto and lit candles for the many people who had asked us to pray for them.

a priest, some nuns, a bemused onlooker
© Teresa Newham

The schedule also allowed for shopping; there are all sorts of shops in Lourdes, some of which sell the most amazing tat, often alongside beautiful religious artefacts.  I learnt long ago not to write off any of them; you'll find something, whether it's cheap and cheerful or of real quality.

shops crowded with religious artefacts and . . .  a Christmas tree?
© Teresa Newham

Finally, there was the torchlight procession: hundreds of pilgrims with candles, singing and praying the rosary as they followed the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes around the domain.  Coachloads of pilgrims departed overnight or the next morning as the shops and hotels prepared to close until Easter.

Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!

the rain stayed away for the torchlight procession
© Teresa Newham

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

an Inktense experience

experiments with Inktense pencils
© Teresa Newham

My Christmas reading included several art books, one of which recommended the use of Derwent Inktense pencils to add definition to watercolour paintings.  Keen to try out something new, I ordered myself a set of twelve.

exploring colours and techniques
© Teresa Newham

When they arrived I tried out the colours and made a quick drawing onto damp paper, to give me an idea of how they could be used with watercolour.  I liked the vivid hues, and the fact that once dry, the colours were permanent. This had possibilities!

is it drawing or painting?
© Teresa Newham

To find out how else to use the pencils, I took a look at several videos on YouTube.  One artist was using a water brush to produce some wonderfully delicate designs. Didn't I have a water brush somewhere?

Inktense pencil sketch by Teresa Newham

I did indeed - one which has sat ignored in my studio for more than ten years, since I bought it for my first short course at Central St Martins.  Now, as it started to come into its own, I began to wonder why I'd never used it for anything before.

getting to grips with birdlife
© Teresa Newham

I drew from photos I'd taken on the iPad, sketching an outline before teasing the colour from the Inktense pencils.  I was a bit tentative with the orchid at first, only relaxing into the mark-making once I got the hang of the technique.

colour palette informed by technology
© Teresa Newham

By the time I made the pigeon drawing, I was a lot more confident.  I even used one of the photos I took for this blog as an inspiration for the colours on the fence.  The sketches were great fun to do and another way of keeping some regular drawing going!

Blue Pigeon
Intkense pencil sketch by Teresa Newham

Monday, 14 January 2019

New Year, new camera . . .

January sky
© Teresa Newham

There are times when any decision is better than no decision.  I've been dithering about replacing my old compact camera for a couple of years - so much so that all my recent photos have been taken on my iPhone.

Winter colour
© Teresa Newham

Choice was my problem - far too much of it. Another compact? A CSC? A digital DSLR? And which brand?  Would I have time to learn how to use a camera which required separate lenses? I pored over articles on the Which website and checked out models on Techradar, but still couldn't make up my mind.

© Teresa Newham

It was Sue who pointed out that I would be unlikely to cart a DSLR or  CSC around with its various lenses.  She also reminded me that it's difficult to go wrong with a Canon. So I took the plunge and ordered their Powershot SX730 HS.

into the sun
© Teresa Newham

It's been a joy starting to get to know the features of this camera.  I probably won't get around to using them all - the online manual runs to 190 pages - but the 40x optical zoom has already enabled me to snap wildlife in my garden through the studio window, resting the camera on a handily placed ornament.

through the window
© Teresa Newham

It's small and light enough to slip into a handbag but powerful enough to enable some really exciting shots - on a walk through the nearby lanes I managed to capture a squirrel as he made his way from tree to tree.

travelling squirrel
© Teresa Newham

I've tried my favourite into-the-sun shots, pics of the sky, flowers on macro, and learnt that if I am patient and keep following him with my camera, eventually I will get a decent shot of that robin - although it might not be so easy if I wasn't behind a window pane!

cheeky robin
© Teresa Newham

I've also discovered that the blackbirds in my garden are making work for me, intent as they are on grubbing through the decorative bark of the borders.  Presumably they're after insects or worms as they happily chuck chippings all over the path . . .

caught in the act
© Teresa Newham

There's still a lot to get used to - the file sizes are HUGE, which means I can crop right in as I have done with some of the images in this post.  Other than that, they haven't needed much editing. I'm enjoying photography again!

towering pines
© Teresa Newham