Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Colour from the Season - unknown shrub green

As this was the second time I had purloined a cutting of this beautiful shrub (from a certain car park in Exeter), it would have felt criminal not to post it's colours here, just because I didn't know its name!

Perhaps it's fitting on the eve of a new year to post the colours and form of a plant I don't recognise and haven't been able to identify - though I'd love to find out if someone knows?

So here's to unknown horizons...
...and nature's evocative colours!

UPDATE 2/1/14 - Many thanks to Lesley, Joy and Mary for getting in touch while I was away for New Year to tell me that it's a Callistemon - more commonly known as Bottlebrush. See it in flower here and you can understand why!

The ink drawings. I drew each branch separately in my A3 'Moleskine' sketchbook, then scanned and pieced the branches back together digitally.

Photo detail for ID purposes...

...and VERY Happy New Year!

(drawn listening to the album 'Reflektor' by Arcade Fire)

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Colour from the Season - Walnut shell brown

I've been totally flattened by a flu-bug this week. The up-side of feeling so rough is that I have at least been spared much of the joy(!) of last minute Christmas shopping.

Ranking above all other nuts, Walnuts are one of natures top super-foods (more here), give the most sublime (and fast) natural dye colours (this and so much more on Jenny Dean's "Wild Colour" blog here) and, I've just discovered, a fabulous ink for using in dip pens (this is a lovely blog post on making it! here).

The top brown is the familiar colour of the outer shell, next the deep warm brown of the inner husk (and most like the dye-colour), third and fourth are the two-tone ochre yellows of the kernel. As a natural dye/ink it's the outer green husk which is used (not shown here).

So there you have it! in a nut shell...
Seasonally good wishes one and all...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Tray bien!

A preview peek at my Moorland Tray collection which will be launched in January by the Swedish company Ary Trays. Rabbits and Pheasants galore :)

This week I've been taking tray photos - I'd forgotten that taking photos of trays isn't that easy! If the light hits the trays at the wrong angle, they can look strangely inside out.

I don't have studio lights but I do have four large Velux skylights in my studio and a wall of north facing windows. The sky however has insistently stayed a dense grey for most of the week so at even the slightest hint of blue sky, I've downed tools on the illustration work I've been finishing off for Buckfast Abbey and leapt into action up and down a ladder, as the camera was suspended 8ft from the floor above our dining table from a Manfrotto tri-pod (no dining table in the house all week to boot) - the things we do for love!

Speaking of which, I'm heading off to Bristol shortly for a friend's birthday - we've known each other nearly 40 years!! Happy Birthday Marion X

Monday, 9 December 2013

Posy - Olive, Tulip, Hawthorn

I was a bit fed up when 'Feedburner' sent out an old post yesterday (all by itself) from July! I suspect that it was mischievous blogger goblins, teed off with all the jargon they have to deal with (if you write a blog yourself you'll know what I mean). Apologies for that.

So I thought I'd cheer myself up with a posy as it's been a while since my last - A flowery way to say love and peace with a little bit of hope thrown in for good measure...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook

Monday, 25 November 2013

Colour from the season - Chrysanthemum dusky orange

I recently bought a second hand book from a market book stall called 'Flowers in Art from East and West' Paul Hulton and Lawrence Smith, published by The Trustees of the British Museum, 1979.

I'd just started drawing these Spider Chrysanthemums, so to find, among the many plates in the book, one of a exquisite Japanese wood block print of Chrysanthemum ('General of Three Provinces?') was great timing.

It was I discovered one of a series of wood block prints from the book 'One Hundred Chrysanthemums' by the Japanese Artist Keika Hyakukiku first published in1893 (you can see the first volume of these prints here and the second volume here). There are only seventy-five prints in fact, as he died before completing the series, these are inspirational don't you think?

Masses of these imperial colours in my greenhouse at the moment and this variety is I believe called "Dusky Queen' - Here's the book...

...and this is the image that captured my attention when I was leafing through the book in the market!! Painted in 1585 by Jacques Le Moyne de Morges it's called "A Young Daughter of the Picts'. The floral pattern is tattooed in a mirror repeat across her body!
(Interesting information about the image/painting in this article from 'The Independent' here).

Thinking of pattern - I'm really looking forward to the Selvedge (Textile) Winter Fair in the Kings Rd. London this coming Friday and Saturday!! 

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Hot off the Press! - Moorland Rabbit and Pheasant collection for Ary Trays

I can't begin to tell you how delighted I am to have designed a new tray collection for Ary Trays!

The samples will be arriving in my studio next week (and will be available from Ary in January) but in the meantime here's the very first photograph of the new collection taken in Sweden last week!

May I introduce...(drum roll)...Pheasant and of course his best mate Rabbit and some other Pheasant he met in a pub on Exmoor.

Designs in progress on the studio wall a few weeks ago...

Ary will be showing my Moorland Tray collection at Home (the definitive Homewares and accessories event), London 12th - 14th January 2014 - for more information contact Joakim Sohlberg.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Colour from the Season - Smoke Tree Leaf Red

Do you know Smoke Trees? So called after the summer flowering plumes which resemble clouds of smoke, but in the Autumn the leaves are fiery!

I wasn't sure how to tackle drawing these intensely colourful leaves and because of this, nearly stopped after the inked line drawing. I decided I'd scan the drawing so that even if I ruined the next part I had this, then relax, enjoy the (paint) journey and not take the outcome so seriously!

A sensual Autumnal palette of reds and golds..

Inspired to draw the leaves laid out in a sculptural row (as this is how they were given to me).

Colour was created in Bombay ink, Acrylic, pencil and lastly gloss varnish because
though its hard to see it here

the leaves have the appearance of burnished leather.

Links to the work of the two talented artists who kindly collected these leaves from their garden!
Helyne Jennings and Trevor Jennings...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Friday, 8 November 2013

'The Accomplisht Cook'...

...'or the Art and Mystery of Cookery' by ROBERT MAY published in London in 1685


"Bills of FARE for every Season in the Year; also how to set forth MEAT in order for that Service, as it was used before Hospitality left this Nation".

Designed last year for an exhibition at Dartington Food fair, this runner sets out extracts from... "The most Exact, or A-la-mode Ways of Carving and Serving"..."A Bill of Fare for Christmas Day, and how to set the Meat in order" (not for the faint hearted it has to be said!).

The Preserve recipes screen-printed on the linen napkins are for Gooseberries Green, Damsins, Cherries and Apricocks, (all of which I intend to attempt making one fine day).

Owing to popular demand - I've just put the design back onto screen and have been re-printing it this week onto fine natural hemstitch edged linen. Durable and fully wash-board and mangle friendly, I think even Robert May himself might have approved!

Favourite things: Accomplisht Cook table runner and napkins; Vintage 6 Pt Casserole by Pearson's of Chesterfield; Antiquated Sharpening Steel by Taylors of Sheffield; Rosehips; Sweet Chestnut and Sparrow feathers.

Accomplisht Cook table runner and napkins now for sale in my shop (here :)
'tis the season to be jolly and all that!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Colour from the Season - Yew Green

My studio is sited on the North wall of St. Mary Magdalene Churchyard and (as in so many Churchyards) there are Yew trees a stones throw from my studio. I've been thinking of documenting their quite unusual colours for a couple of years but a little put off by the fact that they are so poisonous!

The attractive glossy pink "berries" (aka modified female cones), would not look out of place in a packet of Dolly mixture and might be edible, but for the fact that the single seed within is as toxic as you can imagine! The spiky deep green foliage reaching up to the heavens is the most poisonous part of all.

I've brought together (wearing surgical gloves!) the colours of the berry, foliage and branch which are unusual and exceptional together as you can see here for yourself...

Yew colours - St. Mary Magdalene.

I'd rather like to live in a tree house, but perhaps not in this Yew in La Haye-de-Routot ..!

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Pattern Repeat and Heart Fawn napkins

Batten down the hatches - stormy weather here!

The clocks went back last night and gaining an hour today, I went for an early morning walk at Simonsbath on Exmoor (pronounced Simmonsbath). Got totally drenched through, but exhilarating nonetheless as Exmoor is incredibly beautiful at this time of year. Then to the studio for a spot of screen-printing. It never feels like work whether it's Monday or Sunday and anyway I was dying to sample print my new napkins.

I had designed a simple repeat background using some of my notebook drawings selecting those that would balance well together as silhouettes, as for this design I wanted to create a single colour print - this was how I started...

(in case you didn't recognise them here they are in their full colour glory all from my notebook..!)

I then developed the design by mirroring and balancing the elements until I felt it worked well as a repeat pattern - now in perfect digital repeat...

I scaled down the design and placed it in a heart shape, carefully cutting around the pattern to keep an uneven edge. I then added the Fawn because it's Christmas!

They come in packs of two - screen printed on 100% natural linen. I love the fact that you don't see the heart shape until you open them fully...

'Heart Fawn' - designed with some of my best friends in mind...

A postcard from Simonsbath today, in the foreground Moorland Bracken and Chip dressed appropriately for the weather ...

'Heart Fawn' linen napkins are £26.50 for a pack of two. Screen-printed with love (!) the price includes UK postage (Please email me further details and for shipping costs for the rest of the world).
(Heart Rabbit and Pheasant coming soon!)

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Colour from the season - Sweet Chestnut brown

Kicking through the leaves every morning with Chip and it's beautiful! I love this time of year when the woods are becoming the colours of gold, bronze and rust.

Unbelievably vicious spikes on these Sweet Chestnut cases, the spikes face all directions making them painful to collect, dangerous to prize open but interesting and fun to draw.

My days are full up at the moment screen-printing, sending out orders, designing a new tray collection, illustrating for Buckfast Abbey as well as getting stock together for the Selvedge Winter Fair in a few weeks - all very exciting but little time for my notebook... So, I drew these chestnuts late in the evening on Saturday night (multi-tasking!) drinking a glass of wine and watching 'The Jane Austen Book Club'.

(and woke up on Sunday morning dreaming of Hedgehogs)

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Colour from the season - Cyclamen pink

Last week driving through the local countryside here in North Devon, I spotted a bank of naturalised Cyclamen. It was a narrow country lane, but just had to have a closer look. I pulled in at the next slightly wider space and put my hazard lights on. Suddenly the road became a major highway (Sod's law!) so had to race back and move the car (I did get a quick picture on my phone). Apologies if you were there - yes, held up for a bank of Cyclamen!

I often plant them (they always die). Fragrant to be close to, elegant in form as well as colour, (not stolen from the bank on this occasion by the way), heart shaped leaves and lovely to draw.

Car stopping pink and white in this Devon bank..!

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

My favourite things - Still life with Chris Taylor vase.

Another in 'A few of my favourite things series'...

A few months ago I went to the private view of an exhibition at White Moose gallery (in the North Devon market town, Barnstaple). As soon as I saw the latest work of the talented ceramicist Chris Taylor I knew I had to own a piece. Just like that - fell in love with it and this piece in particular.

In case it isn't obvious why this particular piece - it was the Indigo blue and copper glazing, the rose like repeat pattern, the creatively distressed erosion and controlled roughness of the finish. Take a closer look at Chris's ceramics here.

Also of course - as anyone who's met him will know, he's a thoroughly nice bloke.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Selvedge Winter Fair 2013

For the last few weeks I've been sourcing linen, ordering more screens and screen printing new colour-ways of some of my most popular designs and I'm really looking forward to exhibiting these at the Selvedge Winter Fair at the end of November.

Mr. Rabbit is looking very festive in screen printed bronze and Blackberry black

I take the photos of my work, my studio has good North light and so providing the day is bright enough I can (usually) take decent product shots using a tripod, that are good enough for press and other publicity. Below, Budgie and Chrysanth runner and Adams Pearmain apples.

New natural linen and colour ways for my Twine table runners. Although available with an alternative plain edge these now have a beautiful hemstitched finish. 

They look even better in reality!

Positively gleaming in teal and bronze, Fawn cushion (12" x 24").

Selvedge Winter Fair takes place 29th - 30th November - organised by the fab design led textile magazine Selvedge. If you love textiles, I can guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Find more information about the Winter Fair here.

I look forward to seeing you there! 

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Colour from the season - Pine needle green

It's that time of year when the weather turns chilly and the concrete floor of my studio acts like a giant refrigerator, so for anyone else suffering from the cold, blocked up nose, or stuffy head, I thought it was timely to bring a few freshly cut Pine branches and their bang on trend colours to the notebook...

Just in case you are still feeling cold (or lonesome) this video of Laurel and Hardy singing 'Trail of the Lonesome Pine' works for me..!

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Colour from the season - Seaweed green

Every now and then I open a particular Photoshop file on my computer which contains layers of seaweed drawings (not dissimilar to the image below), because I find endless inspiration in the random piled up imagery that's very much like seaweed strewn on the shore. So when one day last week I was on the beach with Chip, I decided it was possibly as seasonal as it ever would be, to document a few of these intense sub marine hues in my notebook and share the pleasure of it.

Seaweed (aka Marine Algae) comes in all sorts of extraordinary natural forms and the three main colours are green, brown and red and of course shades of these.

The drawings were the motivation behind my 'Seaflower' fabric design. A surreal mix of Seaweed, Dahlias and Chrysanths.

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

VStripe Fabric

These are the first sample lengths of my new fabric design VStripe. They came back from the printers earlier this Summer, but this is the first opportunity I've had to photograph them. Here are a few photos taken in my studio this week.

The design inspiration came partly from the angular and geometric textile designs of the Weiner Werkst├Ątte from the 1920's and early 1930's. The Weiner Werkst├Ątte (Vienna Workshops) were set up as an association of artist-craftsmen (and women) making high quality products intended to stand apart from the mass produced merchandise available at the time. (this Thames and Hudson book is a brilliant visual as well as factual insight into this inspirational movement). I started the design originally to laser etch into cork tiles, only developing it into a design for fabric much later.

Colourway trials. Printed onto a heavyweight natural ie unbleached furnishing linen.

It was John Miles, tutor on my MA who suggested that I develop geometric fabrics as well as the botanical/floral collection - they can look pretty dramatic together and I often hang them side by side.

The design's called VStripe even though it still says Vertigo on the selvedge, which was its working file title...

Here's Milly (my mums dog), getting under my feet in the studio with Chip yesterday- two dogs are definitely double trouble!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Colour from the season - Chinese Lantern orange

Keeping a notebook of seasonal colours was I seem to recall, going to be for one year only, but then I discovered that it gave me a greater awareness of the plants and colours around me and kept me drawing regularly, which just in itself has to be good!

I've kept my blog closed to comments as I'm not at all thick skinned, can be easily put off, and can ponder far too long on emails, but thank you to those people who have contacted me, I've really enjoyed hearing from you! Quite unexpectedly it's also brought work my way - which has also been a great pleasure.

Walking Chip today I noted - Rowan berries going over, Spindle pods starting to ripen, Rosa Rugosa hips in full and seemingly never ending splendour, Acorns forming on the Oak, Blackberries ripening or ready to pick - all previous notebook pages and which remind me that another year's passing.

Just when I was wondering what could possibly grab my attention next, whamm! I spotted these fiery coloured Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkelengi) in the local market. They'd look great screen printed I decided, so that's how I've coloured them...

Looking pretty hot here in a 1950's Freeform Poole Pottery vase, the dog ('s bottom) is by the marvellous (and very collectable) ceramicist David Cleverly! see more of his work here

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.