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










Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Events!

 


Art for Ukraine exhibition at The Open Door Community Café, Berkhamsted
© Teresa Newham

Art exhibitions are everywhere! in late March I dropped off a couple of pictures and some cards at the Open Door Community Café in Berkahmsted for their Art for Ukraine exhibition in aid of  the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian appeal; the event was so successful that it was extended into May.


a young Ukrainian refugee contributed her own work
© Teresa Newham

I was able to take a look for myself at their Meet the Artist Session on the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend. At that point the exhibition had raised around £1500 but it has now ended. Any unsold pieces will be auctioned or made available online. 


musicians' eye view at Kimpton Art Show
© Teresa Newham

The first Kimpton Art Show since the pandemic was on that weekend, too - it was good to be part of it.  A huge variety of work including ceramics, glass and sculpture led to record sales.  The exhibition forms part of the Kimpton May Festival, and we spent a happy afternoon looking at the art and watching maypole dancing on the green as we ate a traditional cream tea.


every inch of space at the parish church used for the show
© Teresa Newham

I am still showing work at the Workhouse in Dunstable; their latest exhibition, Landscapes and Layers, runs until 4th June. Looking ahead, amongst other events I'll be taking part in Art on the Common in June and visiting Childwickbury Art Show in July so there's plenty going on - it's a great time for artists and art lovers alike!


my work for the Landscapes & Layers exhbition at The Workhouse, Dunstable
© Teresa Newham








Thursday, 28 April 2022

Redwings in the Holly



Redwings in the Holly
reduction linocut by Teresa Newham

I can't remember how long I've spent on this print - it seems like ages - but it is finally finished and I've had some great feedback about it already. Having struggled to get started, as described in an earlier post, I found it easier going once I was able to focus on the birds themselves.


intermediate neutral layer 
© Teresa Newham

I began this next phase with a layer of white plus a little added burnt umber, to counteract any ink from previous layers which had gone into the areas where the birds and berries would print.  This gave a rather spooky result but at least I could work out what the next step should be.


ghostly white birds suddenly appeared
© Teresa Newham


I wanted to print the red berries and the black eye, yellow beak and red markings on the birds in one layer.  This required partial inking on the bird bodies and adding very small areas of the other colours with a rubber-gloved finger. I was careful to wipe away any stray traces of colour which had wandered onto the rest of the lino.


trying to keep track of what I was doing
© Teresa Newham



The print was completely transformed.  The red made it come alive, and the effect was so striking that I could almost have dispensed with the final layer and kept things as they were.  There was a lot of love for it on Instagram even at this stage.


tempted to leave it right here
© Teresa Newham

For the final layer I cut away around the birds' speckled chests and inked up wet in wet with two shades of brown, again wiping everything clean around the areas I was printing.  The birds looked positively jaunty on the lino.


fine detail on the birds
© Teresa Newham

I'm pleased with the finished print - it might even find its way to the bi-annual Awagami International Mini Print exhibition in 2023. Several people have remarked that the finished print would make a good Christmas card, so I'll have to bear that in mind!


the finished print 
© Teresa Newham







Thursday, 14 April 2022

some colour for Easter

 

He is Risen II
jigsaw linocut Easter card
Teresa Newham

It's Holy Week, and this year our Easter promises to be more as it should be, with the whole choir singing together and no restrictions on the numbers of people attending Easter services.  Catholics are encouraged to make their Confession at Easter, which sounds a little scary but means that we bring to God anything we have done which we know to be wrong.  This act of bringing opens us up to receive His love, which is there for everybody, all the time, whether you believe in Him or not.

I have made a colourful Easter card this year using the jigsaw linocut method for the first time. The white cross represents the Crucifixion, but as Jesus has risen, he is not on the cross.  The blue sky stands for Heaven and eternal life and the golden flowers bring to mind the Resurrection, as do the green leaves of new growth. The blue and yellow also bring to mind the situation in Ukraine.

As we contemplate the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection, let us pray that all people might recognise God's love for them and that justice and peace might prevail wherever in the world there is conflict. 

Wishing you and yours every blessing at Easter and always.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

March madness

 


testing Japanese red carbon transfer  . . .
© Teresa Newham


March has been a disjointed, often chaotic month.  It began with a period of self isolation and a hospital all clear for me, closely followed by my husband going down with shingles; Lent has continued to challenge us, with COVID putting paid to a number of meetings and art time enjoyed on the hoof as the month has progressed.


. . . and finding the solution
© Teresa Newham

I did make some test prints to see why Japanese Red Carbon transferred to the first layer of the redwings print: it was because I used extender with the ink. A further test showed that this is solved by curing the carbon design for 24 hours, similar to other types of carbon. Luckily the two subsequent layers I've managed to do have covered the marks. I continue to wonder when - and how - this print will be finished.


the next layer of the redwings reduction linocut
© Teresa Newham

I spent an enjoyable morning helping out at The Workhouse Dunstable - Storm Eunice had put paid to my February session. There was plenty of new work to see both on the walls and on the shelves, and the changeover was about to happen for the new exhibition Spring Open 22, which runs from 30th March - 30th April. 


a morning at The Workhouse Dunstable
© Teresa Newham

Easter is fast approaching, and true to form while short of time, I've decided on a bit of an experiment for this year's Easter card.  I can't show you any more here as I don't want to spoil what I hope will be a lovely surprise.  I have no idea whether this experiment will work or what I shall do if it doesn't . . . 


something of an experiment
© Teresa Newham

I was glad to hear that The Open Door, the community and arts space and café in Berkhamsted, are having an exhibition from 4th - 24th April in aid of the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. I've put in two pieces which I hope will sell, and a number of greetings cards.  Appropriately enough several of these are paintings of sunflowers - I may no longer have the originals but hopefully the cards will be popular!


my pieces for Art for Ukraine
© Teresa Newham





Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Splendid Isolation

 


February I
watercolour & gouache
by Teresa Newham

I recently needed to self isolate ahead of a minor hospital procedure and I thought making art would take my mind off all the medical stuff.  I needed something self contained, relatively straightforward and above all absorbing.


inspiration from the studio window
© Teresa Newham

Back in February I'd taken some photos of snowdrops and hellebores in the garden, which contrasted with a dogwood behind them.  The flowers were still blooming - I could see them from the studio window - and seemed like an excellent subject for a couple of small watercolours.


adding salt to the very first layer of paint
© Teresa Newham

I started two paintings, laying down wet base washes and sprinking salt over them once they had dried to a gentle sheen. Left overnight, the salt revealed some wonderful patterns as it was removed, the crystals resembling the sugar crystals we used to put in coffee when I was a child.


setting out the composition
© Teresa Newham

Next, I laid out the composition, following the shapes suggested by the salt, adding the outlines and foliage of the bright band of hellebores across the centre of each painting and the snowdrops in the foreground.  I was no longer working from the photos but letting the needs of each painting dictate its progress.


letting the layers evolve
© Teresa Newham

I emphasised the flowers with white gouache, but the hellebores didn't really make any sense until I added their soft green centres. Then everything fell into place.  I still can't decide which of the two pieces I like the best!


February II
watercolour & gouache
by Teresa Newham






Monday, 28 February 2022

Changes & challenges

 


first cut with reference photo
© Teresa Newham

The longer days have encouraged me back into the studio to work on a reduction linocut that I initally sketched out last September, based on a photo taken almost exactly a year ago of some redwings sheltering from s snowstorm in our holly tree.


progressing through the first layer
© Teresa Newham

It's turning out to be a challenge. I kept changing my mind about where to put the snow, making the final revisions to the design on the lino.  The red carbon paper I used transferred to some of the prints - luckily in places which won't show - and I need to work out why.  I suspect it's either because I stained the lino or used extender.


studio set up for printing the first layer
© Teresa Newham

I started with twenty sheets of paper - four of which were ordinary Hosho for proofing and the rest were Awagami 80 gsm Hosho - only to discover that one of them had become marked, possibly while I was cutting the paper to size. So the print run for the first layer became nineteen.


inking up for the second layer
© Teresa Newham

The printing of the second mid green layer progressed smoothly until I started to get tired.  I had marked the back of each sheet up correctly for the registration device but still managed to place the sixteenth print so badly out of position that it went in the bin.  So now the run is eighteen . . .


some problems can be troubleshooted - others not so much . . .
© Teresa Newham

I've also realised that I haven't cut the twig that the lower bird is sitting on properly, so I will have to correct that when printing the other layers.  I do have a plan - let's hope it works, as I really don't want to have to start again!


ghostly birds on the second layer
© Teresa Newham




Monday, 14 February 2022

Just for fun

 

daffodils pen & wash sketch
by Teresa Newham

It's that time of year when the days start to get a little longer and I realise that I haven't done any watercolour painting for what seems like an age.  This year I decided to loosen up and have some fun with the flowers various generous friends had given me.


Alstroemeria
watercolour by Teresa Newham

I had the urge to paint the Alstroemeria in a jug in my hallway one sunny afternoon; but the weather was gloomy when I managed to make the time, balancing my paintbox on a cupboard and the paper in my hand. The result was a little stiff so I kept adding water until the whole thing softened up.  Cropped, it might even warrant a frame . . .  


Alstroemeria - the cropped version
© Teresa Newham

The green and white bouquet was a gift in more ways than one, as I brought it into the studio a few days later to be the subject of my next watercolour sketch.  I used the same paintbox, which had itself been given to me some years ago by a neighbour.  It always presents a challenge because the colours are not my usual ones.


building up the Bouquet painting
© Teresa Newham

I built the image up in layers, then added in a background - although I rather like the unfinished version in the photo above.  Again, the finished painting looks better cropped, and I might well be putting it into a mount some time. 


Bouquet - watercolour, original and cropped
© Teresa Newham

The daffodils were a complete surprise, six bunches arriving in the post as a thank you. To paint them I decided to use pen and wash, which I haven't touched for several years. I resisted the temptation to add a background this time, and I think it works rather well. I've enjoyed making these flower sketches so much, I might have to do some more . . .


sketching daffodils in the dining room
© Teresa Newham




Monday, 31 January 2022

. . . time to reflect

 


July
© Teresa Newham

A look now at the other six photos in the calendar (see previous post).  The July and August pics were taken on a trip to the Weald & Downland Museum in West Sussex.  The geese were remarkably tame and a delight until they started pecking at my bag and trying to pick my husband's pocket . . . 


August
© Teresa Newham

The image I chose for September was of a hedge of Rosa Rugosa in the churchyard at Sturminster Newton, Dorset. There was a huge yew tree, but the roses and hips were what drew my attention. So much so that I'm hoping to make space to plant a similar hedge - or just a bush - in my own garden.


September
© Teresa Newham

For October, November and December I looked back through my photos from the previous year, and found this lichen (below) on some bark at the local golf course on a muddy walk in November 2020. It was too muddy to walk there again this past Autumn.


October
© Teresa Newham

The November image was one of those lucky accidents; the sun came out on what had been a rather indifferent afternoon and lit up the trees and the field at just the right moment as we took one of our regular walks in the local lanes.


November
© Teresa Newham

December's photo was a chance shot which neatly caught a Hertfordshire sunset in early Winter. The landscape was slowly becoming dormant; but as we know, all new growth begins in the dark and the sap rises again.  And now we are at the end of January, the lighter days are a sign that Spring is on its way!


December
© Teresa Newham







Saturday, 15 January 2022

Time to remember . . .

 


January
© Teresa Newham

January is a good time to share some of the images from the calendar I put together every year for family and friends.  Usually there's a mix of local photos and ones taken further afield, but for the second year running the pandemic has forced me to concentrate closer to home.


February
© Teresa Newham

The January pic was taken at a local golf course on my mobile phone during one of my daily walks - I love sunlight, shadows and trees - while February's close up of a hibernating ladybird came courtesy of my Canon EOS in the back garden. As the subject was asleep I had plenty of time to get the right shot.



March
© Teresa Newham

March and April are both mobile phone pictures snapped on walks - I spotted the catkins at the edge of the estate so the composition is angled to avoid including rooftops.  I came across the beautiful April scene while strolling in the local lanes.


April
© Teresa Newham


Unfortunately the weather has not been so kind last year as it was during the first lockdown, which meant I have not been able to take a longer walk as often as I would have liked.  The picture I chose for May is another one from the estate, carefully cropped to hide the fact that it's peeping over somebody's garden fence.


May
© Teresa Newham

June's poppies were just begging to be photographed at Millbridge Meadows in Gamlingay. A cheerful reminder of Summer, which is just what we need right now, and a good place to pause!


June
© Teresa Newham