I’m exhibiting paintings and sculptures at an exhibition at Lancaster City Museum next month, alongside Fay Collins. Our work focuses on nature and wildlife and it’s relation with humans and the human environment. Most of my paintings are of landscapes very close to my home, the woodland alongside the River Wyre, and the Lune Estuary, as well as some from Scotland. This is partly because I love to depict places and subjects which I really know, and partly due to the constraints of combining creativity with a schedule imposed by a tiny tyrant who is nonetheless far too big for me to actually carry any distance. So all the places I have painted are places that can be reached with our trusty green off road buggy, I probably ought to have included it in at least one painting. Here are two of my new paintings which will be on show.
It was my Dad’s birthday recently and I wanted to make him a charming dragonfly sculpture, but somehow instead this Gothic horror style fly appeared! I’m not sure you could ever create something that is very delicate when you start with two horseshoes. Dad seemed quite pleased with Madge though.
I’d like to share a couple photos of my latest metal sculpture, a curlew. It is the first in a new series of sculptures of endangered British wildlife. (Sadly, this didn’t exactly narrow my options – finding species which aren’t endangered would be more difficult I think!) I’m at the start of exploring a new range of possibilities using water jet cutting. There are a few motivations, if you can say that, underlying this. Firstly my main focus for the last seven months has been my little baby boy. Any creative time is now limited to his nap time. By their nature, painting and welding are pretty difficult to reconcile with baby care, as no sooner have I got set up to go then its time to pack up again! My husband is an engineer and he suggested a while ago that I explore water jet cutting. The designs, like all my sculptures, originate from my sketchbook, but are then created as vector images on my computer. I was sceptical of the process initially because I am such a hands on person, I didn’t like the idea of ‘making’ in this fashion. However, to my surprise, I found that I really enjoyed it, I love the process of refining and perfecting the design. I’ve always appreciated the ‘less is more’ aesthetic, and I love how I can refine the shape down to its bare essence, something that I always try to achieve in my drawings. My inspiration for these sculptures, beyond a pile of sketchbooks full of animals and birds stretching back to since I was around 14 years old, are calligraphy, and Chinese brush painting, things I have always loved. In a truly surprising way I think I even prefer this process to hands on welding, because as a beginner welder, the reality never quite lives up to the idea in my head!
The lack of hands on whilst creating the design was compensated for by the process of scavenging for driftwood to use as bases. Our all terrain pram is surprisingly useful even on the mud of the Lune Estuary, and my new pocket saw fits nicely in the changing bag. Once I’d collected my first cutout curlew from the waterjet company, K-Cut in Morecambe (who are extremely helpful and I highly recommend), I then waited until my husband could do a baby shift before exploring the next fun stage – finishing off the steel. I buffed it all over, cleaned it, then tempered it by applying a black patina, composed of various noxious acids. I then applied a coat of acrylic clear sealer. In future I am very keen to explore some different methods of colouring steel. Obviously, allowing it to rust would be the simplest option, but I wanted to protect it at least somewhat from the elements. I experimented with tempering the metal by heating it with a gas torch, but I was concerned that I might actually burn through this sculpture, as it is such thin metal. I was however very happy with the effect of this patina, which is sold to blacken guns. It gives a similar effect to tempering with heat, but is quick and straightforward.
Anyway, enough rambling on, this post is no doubt badly written, but like everything else I do at the moment, it’s done in a hurry and it will have to do!
I’ve mainly been painting birds and woodland over the winter, I love both. Mainly I head to the coast to watch the birds and these paintings are from the Lune Estuary near where I live, and the barnacle geese from the Solway Firth in Galloway. The entire Svalbard population of barnacle geese overwinters on the Solway Firth and it is really worth a visit to see them.
The Scottish word for curlew is whaup. I was in my twenties before I knew that they were the same bird 🙂 Morecambe Bay is a wonderful place to see them and other wading birds.
Whaups, Morecambe Bay. Oil on canvas, 61 x 46 cm
Barnacle Geese, Solway Firth. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm.
Little Egret, Lune Estuary. Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm
I’ve enjoyed experimenting with wire sculpture since I was 15, when I crafted a trio of chickens out of chicken wire and photographed them amongst our flock of hens, as part of my Higher Art project. Over the last year I’ve started creating things using wire again, as well as dabbling in ceramics and various other things. I think sometimes its just very refreshing to do something in a different way, in this case, I feel like I am drawing in 3D, creating something pleasingly tangible.
I’m working on a couple of herons at the moment, as well as my old favourites the chickens. As always, the legs are the hard bit, but i’m making progress and am quite pleased with how these are coming along.
The herons are designed to be stood in a pond, should you so desire, I will post some pictures asap.
Headless Chicken. My studio has resembled a macabre nativity scene in the last week.
Creatures spilling out of my studio with my unimpressed dog in the background!
Silhouetted against a beautiful winter sunset -heron in progress.
Herons on sticks! No legs yet but I wanted to see how the bodies were looking.
Scartin in the leaves. I love how they develop a character.
I just thought I would share a couple of photos from this morning, I went to Conder Green on the Lune Estuary. Such a beautiful day that even the mud looked nice – reflecting the blue sky. I love the shapes carved by the tidal channels in the salt marsh and mud, and the birds are always fascinating. Today there were lots of redshank scurrying around busily, feeding before the tide covered up the mud. I think they were redshank anyway, they had red legs.
I’m planning a series of larger paintings from my accumulated sketchbooks of the Lune Estuary, I have dozens of sketches of birds and the river, I’d like to do something with them.
My Mighty Midget telescope and sketchbook
Wellies essential all year round in Lancashire
Conder Green. Glasson Dock in the background and a flock of oystercatcher and knot?) which rose from the opposite side of the river
Redshank feeding on the mud, incoming tide
Blue Mud! An acrylic study I painted from my watercolour sketch.
I’m currently showing my work at Pittenweem Arts Festival, in venue 82. Ovenstone 109 is a fledgling brewery and lovely new festival venue which opened this year – formerly a John Deere tractor showroom – (my siblings and I used to enjoy passing by!)
May and June are my favourite time of year. These watercolours are of gowans, lovely big daisies, which fill up the edges of our garden at this time of year, roses, and just the general joy and chaos of spring. I painted the deer at Leighton Moss, a nearby RSPB reserve. I’d gone with a group to sketch for the day and we were rewarded with seeing so many amazing birds and animals, an otter, marsh harrier, gorgeous young fluffy moorhens, and these red deer mother and young, who stepped out of the woods in front of our hide, like a scene from Bambi.
‘June Garden’, watercolour
A sketch from a lovely garden in Eskdale, watercolour
The artists who work at Halton Mill are having a group show which opens on Sunday 4th June. It was looking really good when I left yesterday, quite varied work including prints, drawings, costume design and paintings. I’m showing two paintings:
‘Ash Trees, Hutton Roof’ Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm
Borders Landscape (Clearfelling). Oil on paper, 23 x 18 cm
Here’s the poster with details of the exhibition and other events that are on.
I’ve been working on a few different things recently, and painting the canal has been one I’ve really enjoyed – probably more so than painting the back door, which has been another project. The door was easier though.
These are mixed media paintings in watercolour and acrylic paint. I live very near the Lancaster canal and spend a lot of time both canoeing along it and walking my dog, sometimes also canoeing with the dog, (as he prefers to be in the boat). I love the tranquility of the canal, and aimed to capture its ethereal beauty in my paintings.
These are all paintings of my local stretch of the canal, between Garstang and Lancaster, including my favourite bit which is the arm to Glasson Dock.