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Thursday, 22 September 2022

Mourning and making

 


the dining room, transformed
© Teresa Newham

It's been a strange start to this year's #HertsOpenStudios.  The death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II two days before the event began cast a pall over our preparations; my parents married during her Coronation year so I grew up with the souvenirs they were given as wedding presents; and her portrait (the Annigoni one, without the crown) hung in my primary school hall.


my studio, transformed
© Teresa Newham

We weren't at all sure that anyone would come on the first Saturday; in the morning we sat and watched the proclamation of the new King on TV - this was, after all, history in the making - but we were delighted that a few visitors did appear throughout the day, lightening the mood.


every inch of space in use
© Teresa Newham

Sue and I have our usual set up in my studio and dining room, and this year I put a short film on my YouTube channel showing before and after pictures, as well as a video of the whole event for those who can't make it or would like to see what's on display before they decide to come along.


some of Sue's displays
© Teresa Newham

We've had a steady stream of visitors, and everyone has stayed for some time to chat over a cup of tea as well as look at the art.  Perhaps people are feeling more like talking this year; we've certainly had some interesting conversations.

lots of cards as well as exhibits
© Teresa Newham

For my demo I've been making books for sketching/notes/collage, inspired by a video from Handprinted UK which I first saw during lockdown.  This is the first chance I've had to put it into practice.  We're open again this Saturday, next Wednesday and on Saturday 1st October, so there's still time to see us - for full details of venue and opening times click here!


my demo - making sketchbooks
© Teresa Newham



Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Late Summer Hollyhocks

 


Late Summer Hollyhocks
reduction linocut by
Teresa Newham

I meant to spend August preparing for #HertsOpenStudios - but instead, I found myself playing hooky and indulging in some last-minute linocut printing.  Last summer, hollyhocks seemed to be everywhere I went, brightening up gardens from Cambridgeshire to Dorset and all points in between.


working up the design
© Teresa Newham

Once I'd started spotting them I couldn't stop - and the photos I took formed the basis of my design.  I decided to go for broke and cut the complete outline, trusting that the registration would work.  At this stage I only had the vaguest notion of how the printing would proceed.


cutting the outline
© Teresa Newham

I began with yellow for summer sunshine, then added blue sky at the top and some pink at the bottom, which looked red on top of the yellow and represents heat.  I used extender throughout, keeping all the layers thin so that they didn't take long to dry. 


printing early layers in the studio
© Teresa Newham

I hadn't planned for the flowers to be so pink, but while I was experimenting with colours this one appeared and I liked the way it popped against the background.  I added the dark red centres with my finger, which gave me a lot of control over the positioning on the petals.


getting the colours of the flowers right
© Teresa Newham

I assumed I would need two layers of green for the leaves, but when I came to assess the print after the first one, I realised that it was finished.  Just as well, because I was terribly behind with my Open Studios preparations and have only just caught up in time for this Saturday!


some of the finished prints
© Teresa Newham

#HertsOpenStudios runs from Saturday 10th September to Sunday 2nd October 2022.  I'll be sharing my studio with fellow artist Sue Wookey again this year - you can find full details of our venue and opening times here and an overview of the whole event here. With around 130 artists taking part throughout Hertfordshire, there really is something for everyone!


'Redwings in the Holly' and 'Late Summer Hollyhocks'
framed ready for Herts Open Studios
© Teresa Newham














Monday, 22 August 2022

Sketchbook started!

 

Coffee at Emilio's
pen & wash sketch by Teresa Newham


A chilly Spring is my excuse for not starting my Moleskin sketchbook (a Christmas present) until May.  Flags put up for the Jubilee caught my eye on an early walk to the local shops one morning.  I took several photos - the view I wanted involved standing on the zebra crossing so I couldn't do anything in situ - and worked up the sketch at home.


Southdown Jubilee
pen & wash sketch by Teresa Newham

Better weather encouraged me to try some plein air sketching in Rothamsted Park.  I chose a suitable bench, laid out my equipment, including an old watercolour palette, and got to work. To my surprise several people I knew came past, with one stopping to chat, which certainly got me over any shyness about painting in public!


the new fitness centre, Rothamsted Park
pen & wash sketch by Teresa Newham

It seemed like a good idea to make one sketch a week, and the next was a view down Station Road from the seats by the fountain outside Pizza Express in Harpenden.  I became so absorbed in the drawing that the sun came round and I had to beat a hasty retreat, adding the colour when I got home. People came and went, so I put one of them into the picture to liven up the scene.


view towards Station Road, Harpenden
pen & wash sketch by Teresa Newham

Was I being too optimistic when I took my sketchbook and pen to Childwickbury? I did find time to make a  line drawing of people enjoying refreshments in the seating area by the old stable block. It made for a restful interlude in between looking at all the art. I added the colour later and managed to restrict my palette, which looks effective.


the side of Childwickbury stable block 
pen & wash sketch by Teresa Newham

My favourite is one I made while sitting on a bench in the shade of the big tree outside Boots in the centre of Harpenden. It shows one of the snack vans and some of the customers.  Once again I got engrossed and had to finish it later because I ran out of time.  Since then, heatwaves, holidays and Covid have prevented me from doing any more.  But there's still time before Open Studios starts in September . . . 


detail from Coffee at Emilio's
© Teresa Newham





Friday, 5 August 2022

Waste not . . .

 


cards and offcuts from trial prints of Fence Cross Lane
© Teresa Newham

Every printmaker has spare prints which didn't make it into the edition for some reason.  I decided to turn some of mine into greetings cards. I took trial prints of my reduction linocut Fence, Cross Lane, cut out squares of the most interesting parts of the design and stuck them onto cream card blanks. The offcuts have potential too.


my first experiments with Japanese Woodblock put to good use
© Teresa Newham

The best of my first ever Japanese Woodblock print, an Acer Leaf design, are just the right size for cards, and make good use of something which was essentially an experiment with a technqiue brand new to me.  


revisiting the rainbow-rolled New Covenant
© Teresa Newham

I sold the last two cards of an older design, The New Covenant, at Art on the Common. I've printed more onto pre-cut squares of washi, along with some extras of the Sunflower for Ukraine card design. This gives a better result than printing directly onto the card blanks.


New Covenant and Sunflower for Ukraine card fronts drying
© Teresa Newham

I've also revamped an old linocut print of mine, Meadow Cranesbill, for which I  made a lot of impressions.  Some of these have become cards, this time on white blanks.  I can't tell in advance whether I should use white or cream blanks for the cards, I have to decide on the day and go with my instinct.


an old favourite trimmed down for cards
© Teresa Newham

White card blanks also seemed to go better with the snow on the cards I made from my trial prints of Redwings in the Holly.  It's so much better to use these for cards rather than throw them away, and it's something a little different to offer to our #HertsOpenStudios visitors in September!


trial prints of Redwings in the Holly turned into cards
© Teresa Newham







Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Mokuhanga mayhem

 


Skelligs Setting Sun
original Japanese Woodblock print
by Teresa Newham

 I've been continuing my exploration of Japanese Woodblock (mokuhanga), using the design for my Skelligs Golden Light linocut.  I reduced the size of the image to fit the blocks for this multi block process and cut four of them. I also cut the registration marks (kentou) with a chisel for the first time, and hoped they would fit.


adapting and cutting the design, including the kentou
© Teresa Newham


The trial prints on proof paper got me back into the swing of things, but I didn't like any of the colours, the birds didn't work and the blocks needed some tidying.  The registration on one of the blocks was slightly out but I was confident that I could correct that during printing, as long as I remembered . . . 


early colour trials
© Teresa Newham

The materials and method for Japanese woodblock are quite unlike anything else I have done, and even just thinking about how I might move forward with the design was useful.  The blocks can be used again and again with different colour combinations - the possibilities are endless.


studio set-up for Japanese Woodblock 
© Teresa Newham


I was far happier with my next attempt, and progressed to making prints on Shiramine Japanese washi paper from the Awagami Factory in Japan.  The paper was probably a little too wet, as the prints were softer than I'd intended, but as I was after a misty effect that didn't matter too much.


Skelligs Misty Blue
original Japanese Woodblock print
by Teresa Newham

I decided to make another version using just three of the blocks, and did two more colour trials.  One was a sunset based on one of my photos, and the other a more stormy scene reminiscent of my earlier linocut.  I preferred the sunset but when I posted the proof prints on social media my followers chose the storm as their favourite!


baren, inking brushes and colour mixes
© Teresa Newham


What else could I do but print them both? I managed this in the same print session, which was a challenge but also great fun.  Skelligs Stormy Skies is below, and Skelligs Setting Sun is at the top of this post.  Which one do you like the best?


Skelligs Stormy Skies
original Japanese Woodblock print
by Teresa Newham





Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Chatting at Childwickbury

 


the entrance to the Childwickbury stable block
© Teresa Newham

This year's Childwickbury Arts Fair was an ideal way to enjoy all kinds of art in an open air setting.  Everything was centred on the stable block as usual, with various groups of tents in front and behind containing work by a huge variety of artists and makers - over fifty in all.


Artists and art displays (clockwise from top left):
Jenny Wheatley, Ali Yanya, Polly Hobbs, Nagihan Seymour
© Teresa Newham

Some of those taking part were regulars - or at least, I had seen some of their work before; others were completely new to me.  I wandered around taking photos of the pieces which I particularly liked, and even managed to snap my own reflection in one of the sculptures..


Sculpture by Christian Funnell, Hazel Godfrey, Jankowski Weathervanes
(clockwise from top left)
© Teresa Newham

I always enjoy the colourful array of flowers and brightly dressed mannequins.  Childwickbury is a real lesson in how to present even quite boring information in an interesting way which makes you smile!


colourful Childwickbury flowers and mannequins
© Teresa Newham

I chatted to some of the artists who I knew or who I had met before, including Laura Boswell who was demonstrating lino cutting and kindly let me take a photo.  The printmakers' section is my favourite place at the fair - I love studying the various styles and techniques. In fact I'm looking forward to next year already . . .


printmakers including Tessa Pearson (top left) and Laura Boswell (top right)
© Teresa Newham










Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Uncommonly good

 


our usual pitch by the road sign
© Teresa Newham

It's not often you can say that an outdoor event is a success when the temperature plummets around ten degrees while you are setting up.  The fifty or so artists at last weekend's Art on the Common arrived in warm sunshine after the previous day's 30 degree heat; by lunchtime we were begging friends and family to fetch fleeces and hot drinks while we sheltered under our gazebos from the gusting rain.


potential buyers - before opening time
© Teresa Newham

The weather, however, did not deter visitors.  They were arriving before the event even opened - the usual strollers and dog walkers, and later in the day those coming to the Carnival; and plenty of art lovers among them. The Saturday can be slow, especially when it's raining; that simply didn't happen.  I was sharing a gazebo with Hillary Taylor, as usual, and it's fair to say we were pretty busy both days.


my display on Saturday morning - and in the afternoon . . . . 
© Teresa Newham

My sunflower prints and cards in aid of the  DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal proved popular from the start; the cards were sold out by Sunday lunchtime, and I will have to mount more prints before Open Studios.  Fifteen percent of all the AOC takings were going to Cancer Research, so hopefully we have raised a great deal for charity.


cards and card packs proved popular
© Teresa Newham

I remembered to bring my A-frame this year, with a couple of posters in it; even so, several people who were specifically looking for me confessed to walking straight past it. To be fair, there was a great deal  to look at so perhaps that's not surprising! And my Sum Up card machine turned out to be a real asset, being pressed into service for two-thirds of my takings.


the banner worked well
© Teresa Newham

Sunday was even better, as the weather was much kinder, and we took the opportunity to wander around and chat to other artists, many of whom had also made excellent sales.  Huge thanks to Hillary and both our other halves, who were invaluable, and to Richard Greenaway and his helpers from the Harpenden Photographic Society who organised the whole thing!


sunshine on the Sunday
© Teresa Newham








Wednesday, 8 June 2022

A Sunflower for Ukraine

 

A Sunflower for Ukraine
jigsaw linocut by Teresa Newham

Back in March I took part in an art exhibition to raise money for the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian appeal. I'd just printed my first ever jigsaw print - an Easter card - and it occurred to me that I could make another one to raise money for that appeal too.


planning the print - and the cards
© Teresa Newham

I drafted out my ideas almost immediately but as usual it took a while to bring them to fruition.  I wanted to use some of the pieces to make a greetings card, too, so that had to be worked out, and the cutting was more complicated than my first jigsaw.


fitting the pieces together
© Teresa Newham

The biggest challenge for me was the printing.  I needed five colours all at once, which meant space was at a premium, and I had grand ideas about a rainbow roll on the sunflower petals, which introduced a sixth colour.  This is visible on some, but not all, of the finished prints and cards.


printing a lot of colours at once
© Teresa Newham

The cards proved to be even more tricky, probably because I printed the design straight onto the card stock. I'll try a different paper if I need more cards and stick it on to the blanks!  They still look pretty impressive when laid out together.


the design adapted for the greetings cards
© Teresa Newham

The prints are now mounted for sale, and one is framed for display.  They'll be available at Art on the Common (details below), and I'll donate the commission which the organisers take for Cancer Research, so that neither charity misses out. Let's hope they raise some dosh!


the print mounted and framed in time for Art on the Common
© Teresa Newham


Art on the Common will take place Saturday 18th June 10am - 5pm and Sunday 19th June 11am - 5pm on Harpenden Common in front of the Park Hall AL5 2LX . 15% of all sales will go to Cancer Research.






Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Bluebells, Easter Sunday


 

Bluebells, Easter Sunday
original watercolour with salt by Teresa Newham


A chance photo on our usual Easter Sunday walk to the nearby bluebell woods provided the inspiration for this new watercolour, Bluebells, Easter Sunday.  Perhaps it was the angle of the sun, or the way the light fell through those particular trees, but the scene seemed especially mysterious and brooding.


the view which inspired the painting
© Teresa Newham

I started with a sheet of Arches Aquarelle 300lb, some very wet washes of Cobalt Blue, Permanent Sap Green and Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and a lot of sea salt.  Initially I thought I would need at least a Burnt Umber for the trees but I soon realised it would be better to restrict the palette to the three original colours.


wet washes and salt
© Teresa Newham

Once the salt was dry I blocked in the main areas of foliage and bluebells, adding some splashes of green to the background and letting the drips run down the paper to indicate where the trees in the background might be.  Guided by the salt patterns, I began to feel my way into the painting.


early experimental layers
© Teresa Newham

When it was time to paint the trees themselves I referred to the photo again, working from the back to the front of the painting, until the position of the trunks seemed about right. To challenge myself a little further I used a half inch flat brush throughout, enjoying the mark-making which emerged.


using the photo as reference for the trees
© Teresa Newham

Once I'd put the leaves on the trees I stood back to see what else needed doing.  Everything looked a bit bright and floaty but once I'd included some shadows, and the bluebells and overhanging leaves in the foreground, I felt that mysterious atmosphere which prompted me to make the painting in the first place!


adding shadows brought the painting together
© Teresa Newham