Tuesday, 30 December 2014

the ones that got away . . .

As 2014 draws to a close I've been looking back through the photos I've taken this year. A few never made it to the blog for one reason or another - perhaps slightly out of focus or over-exposed, but interesting in their own right.  This picture of a blue geranium is just a random shot taken in my garden; it's one of my favourites and became a greetings card:

Blue Geranium
© Teresa Newham
 Earlier in the year I visited Sharpenhoe Clappers, near Luton, for the first time; in this next photo I've tried to capture the atmosphere there, which is very special.  Trees are so much more interesting in Winter and early Spring than in the Summer!

Sharpenhoe Clappers - March
© Teresa Newham

We found this ladybird basking in the May sunshine on the nettles by the railway line which runs near our house.  I like the contrast of red and green in this photo, which is, of course, entirely fortuitous. . . .

Ladybird on a nettle
© Teresa Newham
The cornflower was one of several species of wildflowers thriving on an uncut plot at our local allotments last Summer:

© Teresa Newham
My hydrangea bloomed this year for the first time since we moved here three years ago.  This shot was taken early one morning when the light was quite subtle:

© Teresa Newham
The butterfly photo was taken on a trip to Hinton Ampner, near Alresford in Hampshire, in the splendid gardens surrounding the house.

© Teresa Newham
The same visit produced this shot of an ancient and atmospheric tree in the churchyard of the parish church of All Saints, close by:

churchyard, Hinton Ampner
© Teresa Newham

This is a late-Summer photo of the strip of sunflowers which borders the lavender fields at Cadwell Farm, home of Hitchin Lavender. They are all resolutely looking away from the camera towards the sun!
Sunflowers, Hitchin Lavender
© Teresa Newham
The last photo - also taken at Hitchin Lavender - is an evening shot where again I've tried to capture the atmosphere of the place.  In late July and early August it really is a sea of blooms, and well worth a visit.

Hitchin Lavender
© Teresa Newham
When the weather's frosty outside it's good to remember sunnier times and look forward to those ahead.  I hope you've enjoyed this little retrospective as much as I have!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Gabriel's Message

hand-pulled linocut Christmas card
© Teresa Newham 2014

This year my Christmas card is based on Luke 1:26 - 38, where the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her she has been chosen to give birth to Jesus, an event known as the Annunciation. Inspiration came to me on the feast day of the Annunciation itself, which is 25th March;  and it took almost the whole nine months between then and Christmas for the cards to be cut and printed.

For know a blessed mother you shall be,
all generations praise continually,
your son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,'
most highly favoured lady: Gloria!

In this picture, the Angel Gabriel is handing Mary a lily -  a symbol of her purity.  She is holding out her hand to receive it, indicating her willingness to do God's will.  Thanks to Mary's 'yes', Jesus our Saviour  is able to come into the world.

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
'To me be as it pleases God,' she said,
'my soul shall laud and magnify God's holy name,'
most highly favoured lady: Gloria!

The carol known as Gabriel's Message, or The Angel Gabriel, tells the story of the Annunciation, and is one of my favourites.  The version we know today is based on a Basque Christmas carol and was translated by Sabine Baring-Gould (a name familiar to anyone who enjoys leafing through hymn books). You can listen to it by clicking on the first verse above.

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
in Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:
most highly favoured lady: Gloria!

Wishing you and your loved ones peace and joy this Christmas, and every blessing for the New Year.

Friday, 28 November 2014

self portraits at speed

It's an interesting exercise, drawing yourself.  The model is always available, and does what she's told; that's one of the reasons I tried it in the first place.  But the main aim was to have fun, and hopefully learn something along the way!   The first sketch was drawn standing in front of my bathroom mirror using Zig pens. It took about five minutes, and looked quite like me; an encouraging start . . .

 first thing in the morning!
© Teresa Newham
Not all the portraits turned out to be so accurate, but I wasn't too concerned about getting a likeness - the important thing was the practice.  The problem with staring at yourself in a mirror is exactly that - staring - and several goggle-eyed versions later I managed to produce the drawing below.  At least I'm not in my bathrobe this time:

properly dressed  . .  .
© Teresa Newham
My sole effort in pencil demonstrated another pitfall of self-portraiture: I'm looking fairly grim-faced here because I was concentrating so hard -  possibly because pencil is not my favourite medium.  It really wasn't as harrowing as you might think  . . .

my 'concentrating' face
© Teresa Newham
I had several trial runs with chalk pastel pencils before I produced anything I could share.  I took my time over this one - around half an hour.  Not quite in the spirit of producing a quick impression, but it's my favourite and arguably the closest to how I really look, although I have slimmed my face down a bit:

playing with pastels
© Teresa Newham
At this point the whole project ground to a halt because I developed pneumonia.  As a result I didn't touch a pen, pencil or brush for nearly two months, until a few days ago, when I dashed off the pen and wash below in about fifteen minutes. At this point I should reassure the squeamish that although I'm still recovering, I don't look quite this bad;  I could put the result down to my drawing being a bit rusty, or maybe I was just channeling how I felt about my recent illness . . .

speedy pen & wash - well, I have been ill . . . .!
© Teresa Newham
So I won't be putting myself forward for Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year just yet, but, as I thought, I've had lots of fun making these quick sketches, which is what it's all about.  I love playing!

Monday, 17 November 2014

painting the park

My favourite painting amongst those I've produced this year has to be Rothamsted Park.  Like much of my work, it started with a feeling and a photo, and took almost a year to bring about.  The photo was taken at ten to nine on a lovely early September morning in 2013.  In my previous life I would have been halfway to London on the train; yet here I was with sunlight streaming through the leaves and not a soul about.  I've taken many photos of the park since, but I'm most fond of this one, largely because of the way I felt when I took it.

initial photo of Rothamsted Park
© Teresa Newham

It was July this year before I got round to making anything from the photo; I started as usual with a couple of wet watercolour washes and let them dry more or less as they wanted, runbacks and all:

first washes
© Teresa Newham
I didn't want to stick too closely to the photo, so I added in some fairly random splodges of green and red to suggest where the grass and the path might be.

adding colour
© Teresa Newham
Now for the trees - to get the effect of sunlight I blocked these in using yellow and red first, and hinted at the first of the fallen leaves beneath them.

blocking in the trees
© Teresa Newham
The next step was to firm up the trunks of the trees and give them some leaves, without losing the effect of the sunlight.

trunks and leaves
© Teresa Newham

Finally I added the shadows at the base of the trees, which gave the painting the atmosphere I wanted!

Rothamsted Park - the finished watercolour
© Teresa Newham

This painting makes me smile every time I look at it; I've shown it at Herts Open Studios and the Harpenden Art Club's annual exhibition.  I hope it's had the same effect on everyone!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Another walk round the corner - August, September, October

So . . . having finished the photo diary of our walks across local fields, I find we are still taking the walks and I'm still taking photos.  Seems a shame not to share them!

the first field - August
© Teresa Newham
The August walk took us through fields of ripened wheat bordered by lush hedgerows.

the old oak - August
© Teresa Newham
Everything was waiting for harvest and the summer skies were full of fluffy white clouds:

the second field - August
© Teresa Newham
While the blackberries faded in the hedgerows, new berries were to be seen - heralding the Autumn soon to come.

first of the berries - August
© Teresa Newham
By September, everything in the first field had been cut down to stubble!

the first field - September
© Teresa Newham
The oak tree was still in full leaf at the far side of the field.

the old oak - September
© Teresa Newham
They were ploughing the second field; we could hear the tractor going back and forth as we took our walk, and the driver gave us a cheery wave!

the second field - September
© Teresa Newham
We spotted this tiny snail basking in the early Autumn sunshine - it was still quite warm:

snail on a fern - September
© Teresa Newham
October, and the first field is looking somewhat unkempt.  I wonder what the farmer will be doing with it next?

the first field - October
© Teresa Newham
The leaves on the old oak are thinning out - earlier than last year, I think.

the old oak - October
© Teresa Newham
The second field, all ploughed, with ferns and bracken collapsing at the entrance:

the second field - October
© Teresa Newham
And finally, deep in the ancient woodland at the far point of our walk, we found some fungi pushing up through the leaves:

fungi - October
© Teresa Newham

Thursday, 2 October 2014

pen & wash: Asters

So, #HertsOpenStudios 2014 is finally over! The feedback I've received this year has been "you really should make more pen & wash pieces", and my final demo piece was exactly that.

no asters were harmed in the making of this drawing!
© Teresa Newham
I brought some asters in from home and tried various ways of drawing them in pencil, until I was satisfied I had the right approach - quite graphic and not too detailed.  The essence of the aster, you might say!

adding more and more colour to the drawing
© Teresa Newham
I went over the drawing in pen, then coloured in the flowers, using a thinner wash to portray the lighter areas. I did the same with the stems in sap green, then added some of the pink to the stems, referring back to the original flowers all the time (I popped the flowers back into water as soon as I could, and they made it safely back to their vase at home with no ill effects).

asters - plain background
© Teresa Newham
One visitor, peering over my shoulder just after I'd painted the flowers, reckoned I could have finished the picture right then, and although I felt that was too early, I was tempted to leave well alone once the stems were completed.  But there was still one Open Studios session to go . . .

adding colour to the background
© Teresa Newham
In the end I decided to add a background, just to see what the effect would be, and after laying down a yellow wash with lots of water sloshing everywhere, I dropped in some of the original pink and green to add more interest and tie the various elements of the painting together.  I rather like the result, and have found a mount for it already!

the finished piece, as it will be mounted
© Teresa Newham

A huge thank you  to the two hundred or so visitors who came to see our exhibition at Artscape and to meet us during our #HertsOpenStudios sessions - and to Gurmeet and his staff at Artscape in Harpenden for making it possible!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

cats, cows and conversation

Hillary, Sue & Pauline giving demonstrations at Artscape during #HertsOpenStudios
© Teresa Newham
What exactly do people think when they see our demonstrations for #HertsOpenStudios?  Do they wonder why the results don't look like the art on the walls?  we're always keen to discuss our work with visitors and they often have questions, so any demo needs to be easily interruptable; which rules out anything requiring deep concentration.


visitors - we like visitors!
© Teresa Newham

Sue uses watercolour sketches to plan out future paintings, Pauline demonstrates her restoration work, Judi shows how she prepares glass for firing (and then has to clear it away to take it home!), while Hillary weaves paper into textured sheets and baskets or colours  her graphics on a tablet.  I prefer to use the time to try out new media or practice my drawing skills.   And, if we're not chatting to visitors, we chat amongst ourselves.

animal crackers . . . my first cow
© Teresa Newham
- I took these lovely photos of cows near Redbournbury the other day, I'm going to try drawing one.  
- She's got a thing about cows, you know . . .
- Animals can be tricky things to portray.
- Yes, I once painted a sheep which looked more like a dog. Not sure about cows . . . 
- You need to discover what makes a cow a cow.  Its essential cow-ness.  Then your drawing will look like a cow.

And this advice worked - eventually I drew a cow which looked like a cow.  I usually avoid portraying animals, but, emboldened by the success of the cow, I decided to try a cat:

first attempt at a cat ~ in pencil
© Teresa Newham
Perhaps because I'm more familiar with cats than with cows, making these drawings felt more natural.  The pencil sketch took up one complete Open Studios session.  Next time I moved on to using chalk pastel pencils.  I've only just started using these regularly, and enjoyed exploring the various ways they could be used to express long and short fur.

second version of cat ~ chalk pastel pencil
© Teresa Newham
With half an hour left at the end, I dashed off the pen and wash sketch below.  Ironically this quick little drawing is my favourite - I like the way the colour has dried on her face - to me, it has the most character of the three.

ten-minute watercolour cat
© Teresa Newham
At the time of writing there are still four Open Studios sessions to come at Artscape: we'll be there between 1pm - 4.30pm on Friday 19th & Saturday 20th September, Friday 26th & Saturday 27th September at Artscape, 8 Southdown Industrial Estate, Marlborough Road (off Southdown Road), Harpenden AL5 1PW.  Our exhibition in the upstairs room is open during shop hours unless there is a class on. Do come along and see us if you can!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

All set at Artscape!

my linocuts, watercolours & photos
© Teresa Newham

Our exhibition at Artscape is finally open!  we spent most of Saturday in their upstairs room, hanging art on the walls and displaying pieces on tabletops, in a glass cabinet, and in browsers.  As usual I thought I wouldn't have much to exhibit; and as usual I had plenty - so much, in fact, that I thought I wouldn't be able to fit everything into my display:  framed and unframed linocuts, watercolours, acrylics and photos - plus cards, gift tags, and bookmarks.

Sue's watercolours
© Teresa Newham
Sue Wookey is showing her mystic watercolours inspired by nature, symbols, dreams and inner journeys: along with unframed originals, photos, prints & cards.  As you can see, she has two browsers of delights for visitors to look at!

some of Hillary's canvases and drawings
© Teresa Newham
Hillary Taylor's display includes her popular line drawings of local landmarks and her latest mixed media tapestries, some of which incorporate calligraphy.  She also has cards and smaller items available.

some of Judi's glass and Pauline's raku ceramics
© Teresa Newham
Judi Menges has some colourful glass bowls and wall art on display, along with glass jewellery and cards; while Pauline Ashley is showing her delicate raku pottery and some jolly ceramic frogs.  Pauline also undertakes amazing restoration work.

miscellaneous pieces
© Teresa Newham
The exhibition will run alongside Herts Open Studios, which starts this Saturday 6th September; you can find information about the whole event here.  At Artscape Arts we are running eight Open Studios sessions, during which you will have the opportunity to meet us and watch us at work.  And while you're in the area, why not drop in on some of the many other artists taking part in and around Harpenden? - see details below.  Hope to see you there!

Artscape Arts Exhibition  1st - 27th September 2014
Artscape, 8 Southdown Industrial Estate,
Marlborough Road (off Southdown Road)
Harpenden AL5 1PW
9.30pm - 4.30pm ~ not Sundays or during classes
we regret that the exhibition does not have wheelchair access
Artscape Arts Open Studios sessions:
Saturdays 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th ~ 1pm - 4.30 pm
Thursday 11th ~ 1pm - 8pm
Wednesday 17th ~ 1pm - 4.30 pm
Fridays 19th, 26th ~ 1pm - 4.30 pm

Download the Harpenden Art Trail brochure below for full details of participating artists in and around the Harpenden area: