Tuesday, 14 September 2021

virtually ready

 

the Wensley Arts page on the HVA website


It's almost time. I've framed my pictures and sorted out ideas for the online themes. There is publicity on social media and the #HertsOpenStudios section of the HVA website is full of information about all the local artists who will be taking part. Here at what we are calling Wensley Arts until 10th October it just remains to put the physical exhibition in place.


my studio, not at all open at the moment . . . 
© Teresa Newham

Not that you'd guess from the state of my studio right now.  To those in the know, exhibitions aren't just about paintings or prints; they're about easels, browsers, tables, display boards, card racks, signage, and all the other paraphernalia necessary to show artwork off to its best advantage.


. . . and in need of a good tidy up as well as an exhibition
© Teresa Newham

During the next few days my studio and my dining room will (I hope) be transformed into an enticing display of artwork by me and my co-exhibitor Sue Wookey.  Many other artists across the county are preparing their own spaces, shared or otherwise, or getting ready to join in online.


the dining room, similarly unprepared
© Teresa Newham

The HVA have retained and refined elements from last year's virtual Open Studios for those who do not wish to open to the public at this time. Those of us who will be welcoming visitors face-to-face are also taking part in the daily themes on social media - which increases the workload but also increases the fun. I've really enjoyed gathering images and putting videos together.


working in the small amount of space I have
© Teresa Newham

As if that wasn't enough, I am taking part on the second day of Art on the Common, which is happening the first weekend of Open Studios.  I'm sharing our usual pitch with Hillary Taylor, whose own Open Studio will be in the pop-up shop opposite Harpenden Waitrose from 4 - 10th October.




While all this is going on, I also have a couple of pieces in the Colourways exhibition at The Workhouse Dunstable, which runs until 9th October.  It's a busy time for artists and art lovers alike!






Monday, 30 August 2021

Summer's Lease


 Summer's lease hath all too short a date . . .  - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18


Wildflower meadow, Cambridgeshire
© Teresa Newham

As summer draws to a close I'm taking a look back through my photos. I've been further afield than I remember, and you'd never know that the weather hasn't been that good: probably because I only get my camera out with real enthusiasm when it's sunny.  


wildlife at the Weald & Downland Museum, West Sussex
© Teresa Newham


In June, the wild flowers were out in force, thanks to a burst of warmth following a cold and protracted spring.  The wildlife photos were taken at the Weald & Downland Museum in early August. As for July, well, see my post about Childwickbury Arts Fair - it stands out as one of the few dry weekends we've had.


still life at the same museum
© Teresa Newham

I took the photo above in one of the museum's many reconstructed houses; I think this one was mediaeval.  I'd taken my DSLR with me and was delighted with this shot - I reckon it only needs a bunch of grapes and a dead pheasant to be reminiscent of a still life by a Dutch Master.


rowan berries in the lanes
© Teresa Newham

By mid month berries were appearing in the hedgerows and the chilly breeze showed all the signs of approaching autumn.  How could that be, I wondered, when we were still waiting for some proper summer sunshine?


Rosa Rugosa, Dorset
© Teresa Newham

Towards the Bank Holiday we spent a few sunny days in Dorset.  I liked this Rosa Rugosa so much, I'm trying to work out where I can put one in the garden.  The rosehips were enormous!  We were in the middle of farming country, surrounded by fields of sheep and cattle, and tractors pulling unfeasibly large loads of hay bales.


sheep, Dorset
© Teresa Newham

It wouldn't be right to finish this post without mentioning the hollyhocks, which have been absolutely everywhere this year. In every place I've been, including close to home, they've been blooming their socks off - so much so that I feel an artwork coming on. Maybe they've thrived on that dodgy weather? 


hollyhocks - everywhere!
© Teresa Newham







Saturday, 14 August 2021

Framing, fun and far-flung flights of fancy





bound for far-flung shores - my two entries for AIMPE
© Teresa Newham

 
The last few weeks have been busy and extremely enjoyable, as I'm preparing for #HertsOpenStudios while continuing with ventures and projects begun earlier in the year. At the start of July I sent off my two reduction linocut prints to the Awagami International Mini Print Exhibition. Given the situation in Japan at the moment, I was grateful to receive confirmation of their safe arrival within a week or so of posting.


other prints in the two editions, framed up
© Teresa Newham

After this I turned to framing my latest work for Open Studios: two more of the prints created for AIMPE and some small watercolours.  The little pink cordless drill I got last Christmas proved invaluable when tightening D-rings (and unscrewing them when necessary) - and now I've invested in some proper wire cutters rather than struggling to cut the picture wire with scissors. Should have done that years ago . . .


framing small watercolours
© Teresa Newham

I then ordered some greetings cards from Redcliffe Imaging - which arrived promptly and beautifully printed, along with biodegradeable sleeves to wrap them in.  For sustainability reasons I don't really like wrapping cards, but they have to be protected against a lot of handling.  With marketing in mind, I got some smart new business cards and publicity postcards from Moo.


new greetings cards, business cards, postcards
© Teresa Newham


When I have had a spare afternoon or two, I've taken the opportunity to try out a calligraphy set which I was given.  Calligraphy is best done on a sloping surface, so I dug out my Mum's old easel to rest on.  It was fun to try something new. And I've made time to start reading Makoto Fujimura's excellent book Art and Faith, which was recommended to me.


Summer fun - calligraphy and art reading
© Teresa Newham

I've had work in two exhibitions at The Workhouse Dunstable during the last six weeks or so and I've enjoyed a couple of Friday mornings helping out there, too. The gallery is now closed until the beginning of September but I'm looking forward to showing more pieces there this Autumn.  In the meantime I have plenty still to do for Open Studios!


my work in two of the recent exhibitions at The Workhouse Dunstable
© Teresa Newham






Friday, 30 July 2021

Prepping and Painting

 




July I
original watercolour by Teresa Newham

My focus this July has been preparing for #HertsOpenStudios, which will run from 18th September to 10th October.  There have, however, been days when it has simply been too hot for framing or other prep; and that's when I turned to watercolour.


inspiration from my garden
© Teresa Newham

The flowers in my garden have been wonderful this Summer, thanks to abundant rain and hot sun.  The bright geraniums, lavender and marigolds prompted me to make some small July salt paintings.  It was worth playing about a bit with colours first, as not all the ones I thought I needed made the cut:


choosing colours 
© Teresa Newham

The thing about a salt painting is that you can't make it all at once - you lay down some washes, add the salt, and walk away until everything is completely dry.  I left these two overnight, although in the heat they were workable within a few hours.


salt working its magic on the initial washes
© Teresa Newham


As I built up the layers I experimented with ideas on the right hand piece and refined them on the left.  As usual, I now have one painting I like more than the other - the left hand one in this case, although it doesn't always work out like that.


July I and July II, finished, but still taped to the board
© Teresa Newham


A few days later, the cooler weather returned and I went back to my framing. I couldn't resist putting the new July painting into a frame to see how it looked. That's another piece for Open Studios!


July I - framed and ready to go
© Teresa Newham








Thursday, 15 July 2021

Art in the great outdoors



socially distanced in front of the stable block
© Teresa Newham

July kicked off to a great start with Childwickbury Arts Fair taking place just up the road.  This annual occasion was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but returned this Summer - an ideal event for these times, as so much of it takes place in the fresh air.


making the best use of outdoor space 
© Teresa Newham

The organisers made use of every inch of outdoor space: every marquee had one side open to the elements, and where artists were exhibiting in the farm buildings all the doors were wide open.  Everywhere was light, airy and welcoming.


arts and crafts al fresco or as near as . . .
© Teresa Newham

I enjoyed the printmakers' section so much that I forgot to take any photos; it was great to chat to the likes of Laura Boswell, Tom Mitchell, Sandra Daniel and Vicky Oldfield.  You could tell that all the exhibitors were thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to meet the public again.


demo of raku firing by Simon Eeles
© Teresa Newham


We caught up with old friends, sampled some excellent South African street food, and basked in the sun which had unexpectedly come out despite the gloomy forecast.  We even treated ourselves to an icecream, to round off an excellent day. It was a complete delight to be attending a proper art event!


flowers and mannequins - Childwickbury at its best!
© Teresa Newham







Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Fence, Cross Lane

 


Fence, Cross Lane
reduction linocut by Teresa Newham

Wherever there's a field, there's a fence; and that goes for the second of the two linocuts I'm about to send off to the Awagami International Print Exhibition in Japan. I had to race to meet the deadline for this second print, as I wanted it to be completely dry before I put it in the post (you can see the first print here).


test printing on paper from my Hosho pad
© Teresa Newham

The second print did not turn out as I had originally envisaged. As soon as I began to make test prints of the first layers, I was captivated by the way the fence and foliage seemed to emerge, almost of their own accord - so much so, that I started to take photos with a view to making a timelapse video.


mixing greens
© Teresa Newham

As the print took on a life of its own, I discarded my initial plans and took decisions based on the results of the previous print session.  I partially inked each layer and wiped some of the colour away, to avoid over-inking.  The centre of the print took on a sort of glow, which I was keen to keep if I possibly could.


keeping track of complicated lino blocks
© Teresa Newham

I was terrified I might cut away the wrong bits of lino, and the more I cut away, the more difficult it was to keep track. The inking, too, became tricky - by the time I printed the berries and the final branches, I was using my entire work bench, two ink trays and a variety of rollers - some for rolling out the ink and others for applying it.


inking the final layer
© Teresa Newham


It was a relief to finally get the print finished; it has taken me on a journey which I had not expected but which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  I made the video too - you can see it here on my YouTube channel!


the finished print on Awagami Hosho 80gsm
© Teresa Newham



Monday, 14 June 2021

Welcome to The Workhouse

 


The Workhouse, Dunstable
© Teresa Newham

I recently spent a morning at The Workhouse in Dunstable, where I had a few linocuts hanging in their Print! exhibition.  Participating artists are encouraged to take a turn in helping out at the gallery, and I had great fun refreshing and rearranging the shelves.


a variety of work on display
© Teresa Newham

It was a good opportunity to take a closer look at the art on display, and there was plenty: in addition to the various types of printmaking there were paintings, textiles, glass and jewellery, as well as ceramics, sculpture and bookbinding. 


two of my linocuts on the wall L&R
© Teresa Newham

All the pieces are carefully displayed to their advantage, and a creative use of space ensures that every corner is filled. It's a great place for browsing art, cards and gifts, and for buying everything from a pretty face mask to a large sculpture - both of which went to new homes while I was there . . .


using all available space
© Teresa Newham

The next exhibition - Landscapes & Layers - has now opened and runs until Saturday 10th July.  I'm delighted that one of my watercolours - Bog Cotton - is featured on the poster, and I'm looking forward to another morning in the gallery on Friday 9th!


the poster for the next exhibition



Monday, 31 May 2021

designing out detail



finished design drawing for the second mini print
© Teresa Newham


I used to be decisive, but now I'm not so sure. Not if my experience so far with the second linocut miniprint for the Awagami International MiniPrint Exhibition  is anything to go by! I'd already decided to base the print on a photo taken last Autumn near the field which inspired the first of the two prints:


September, Cross Lane
© Teresa Newham

I spent a happy afternoon idly sketching the outlines of the fence, trunks and branches, trying to make sense of what was there and how I might incorporate that into the print itself.  I didn't develop my ideas any further at that stage, because I was concentrating on making the first print.


too many branches . . . 
© Teresa Newham

Now the deadline for confirming my entries is fast approaching, I feel the need to get on with number two even though nothing has to arrive in Japan until the end of July.  I was well into another drawing before it occurred to me that I couldn't possible include all that detail in a reduction linocut . . . 



. . . and too many leaves
© Teresa Newham


Although the photo which first appealed to me was landscape format, I quickly realised that the image would be best simplified for printing by turning it into portrait, and I developed the final sketch shown at the top of this post.


enhancing the transfer with sumi ink
© Teresa Newham

When I went over the image on the lino with sumi ink and a dip pen, to make it easier to see when cutting, it made some interesting marks of its own, which I tried to keep in when making the first cut.  I wiped off most of the ink before printing the first layer, to avoid it transferring to the paper.  Now all I have to do is work out the order for printing the rest of it . . . 


wiped and cut
© Teresa Newham








Saturday, 15 May 2021

Field, Cross Lane

 


Field, Cross Lane
reduction linocut by Teresa Newham

I've finished the first of the two reduction linocuts I'm planning to send to the Awagami International Mini Print Exhibition in Japan this summer.  Regular readers will know that this view is a favourite of mine - I take photos of it almost every time I pass by.


refining the design
© Teresa Newham


I sketched the original design for the print back in March, using an Inktense pencil sketch and a photo from a couple of years ago for reference.  Even so, I had to edit out some detail when I transferred the image to the lino with tracing paper.



cutting techniques
© Teresa Newham


I've learnt a lot about lino cutting techniques in the last twelve months, and put many of them into practice with this print: cutting fine detail, using an aisuki chisel to remove large flat areas, and cutting around watercolour marks for a more painterly feel.



the inking was a learning process
© Teresa Newham


The inking, too, was a revelation; I reined in my natural urge to slap the colour on and rolled out my layers as thinly as I could.  Extra pressure in the right places, and a gentle application of a little more ink where necessary, produced a far more nuanced result - and the layers dried quickly on the Awagami Hosho 80gsm paper. 


one of the finished prints will go to Japan
© Teresa Newham


Closer to home, I have five pieces in The Workhouse Dunstable Print 21 exhibition,  open 10am - 3pm Wednesday - Saturday until 5th June. As I haven't shown anything at a physical exhibition since the beginning of last year, I'm looking forward to spending a morning there meeting the public on Friday 4th June!