Friday, 11 March 2022

Black Squirrel

I've got very behind with blog posts recently as I've been so busy.  I've been working on some new designs and also experimenting with oil painting, which I'm really enjoying.  I'll begin by showing you this new card, which arrived today.  It features one of the melanistic black squirrel's that we have in our village of Milton, just north of Cambridge.

I've done a bit of research about them and they were first spotted in the wilds of Bedfordshire around 1912 and were believed to have been escapees from a private zoo, who had imported them as a curiosity from America.  They are in fact grey squirrels with a missing piece of DNA affecting their pigment gene.

They have gradually spread out as far as Cambridgeshire and we regularly have three visit our garden, now seeing them more frequently than the greys.  The card is a reproductions of my original drypoint print.  The texture of the fur was created using the à la poupée method, where one inks up the plate directly with the colour, almost like a mono-print.  The berries are chine collé; torn pieces of hand-coloured Japanese paper that adheres to the surface of the paper at the same time as printing.  The colour in the branches is straight forward watercolour!

Our village Post Office has been stocking my cards for almost a year now, so you can buy them there or directly from my shop.  Thanks to local photographer, David May, for the photo reference of the squirrel taken in Milton Country Park, which also featured on the cover of the Village View this month.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Ickworth House

At the end of September, I was really pleased to be contacted by the buyer at Ickworth House (NT), near Bury St Edmunds, about them stocking my designs.  We also discussed designing a bespoke card and coaster for them, as I have done for Anglesey Abbey, Wicken Fen and Houghton Mill.  So, in record time I delivered the finished product last week! See my Instagram highlights to see the full process.  They are also available from my website.

I am pleased to report that Wimpole Hall is hopefully placing an order soon and I am also working on a new design for them featuring their stunning walled garden.  So that will mean I am represented by all the National Trust shops in Cambridgeshire.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

September sketches

Swallow Cottage, Longtown

This year seems to be galloping by, apologies for no blog updates in September.  We had a lovely break celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary.  The first week was in Herefordshire. I even did some sketching as it was too hot to go out walking on some days.  The hill in the background is Offa's Dyke, which is the border with England and Wales. It was lovely to explore a part of the UK we hadn't visited before, with the added bonus of an Indian summer. A highlight was canoeing along the River Wye.  Our dog wasn't very impressed with going in a boat.

Shell Bay, Studland 

The second week, we stayed in Osmington Mills, Dorset, famous for the Smuggler's Inn, where we had two wonderful meals.  It was another lovely week with lots of walking. The Durdle Door coastal path walk was about 12 miles! We also visited Abbotsbury, Portland Bill, Weymouth and the stunning Studland Bay, overlooking Sandbanks in Poole.  

Friday, 13 August 2021

Bike Commission

I was really pleased to be asked to make these drypoint print 'portraits' of three bikes. The print was a surprise 50th birthday present for the husband of a customer.  They are his three favourite bikes; an orange Brompton, a fixed gear racer and LeMond in lemon and black.

I'm pleased to report that he loved them.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

It's a wrap!

My three weekends of Cambridge Open Studios are now over.  Thanks to everyone that visited, even in the rain and boiling hot weather. The new 'Sunlit Stipa' drypoint print went off to two new homes - the gold leaf was certainly eye-catching.

The framed Poppy Seed Heads (top left) and an unframed Silver Birch Trees (bottom left), also sold.

I also dug out a few oldies, such as this framed drypoint of 'Mangroves, Cape Tribulation', which was first printed in 2009.  It found a new home with a local photographer.  Several other prints and original paintings in the bargain browser also found people to love them.

A big hit were my new Oranges and Lemons tea towels.  Oranges in navy and Lemons in teal were the best sellers.  I will need to order more for my Christmas shows.

Footfall was definitely down this year, perhaps a number of reasons; no printed guide book combined with a hesitancy coming out when Covid levels are still quite high? My visitors were mostly from my mailing list or local to Milton, although there were quite a few that were new customers, which is always gratifying.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Cambridge Open Studios

It's that time of year again, my 26th consecutive year of Cambridge Open Studios. Its starts tomorrow and for a change I think I'm pretty much ready to go!  Just the table displays in the outside gazebo to set up in the morning and I'm all set.  It will be interesting to see how many visitors we have this year as there is no printed guide.  Instead we have an easy to use free app and the Milton studios have produced our own flyer.

I hope you will be able to come.  All Covid precautions are being taken, hand gel, QR codes, social distancing, one bubble at a time in the studio, mask wearing inside and plenty of outside undercover space too. 

Here is a handy map showing where the other studios are in the village and which weekends we are open:

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Haddenham Art Market

Last Saturday I had the pleasure taking part in my first public event for 18 months.  It was held at Haddenham Arts Centre, which has a lovely café, artists studios and a marquee with 15+ local makers showing their work.  It felt strange at first to be setting up my display; had I remembered to pack everything? Was anyone going to come? Did people still want to buy my work?

Meadow Hare and Wicken Fen Wind Pump

Anyway, it all turned out well.  I sold these two originals, as well as cards, coasters and tea towels. I spoke with many new customers, some returning ones and even an old school friend I haven't seen for 40 years - he was still recognisable even behind the face masks we had to wear inside.

Now it's time to start preparing for Cambridge Open Studios, which starts on 3rd July 2021.