Monday, 22 December 2014

Posy - Ivy, Pine, Mistletoe

Seasons Greetings!

It's easy to get caught up with life and imagine that everything is going along ok for friends and family you haven't been in touch with for a while. This seasonal posy is for those who are having a difficult time this Christmas, with lots of love...

Very Happy Christmas and New Year 2015 - where does the time go?!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Screen-printing - Budgie Chrysanth Bespoke

It's a relief when a custom print is successful. It requires attention to detail as mistakes are expensive, both in terms of time and wasted fabric. I've just printed this Budgie Chrysanth panel (in fact it's still drying on the print table). Hard to see in these images taken in artificial light but it is pretty damn perfect! 

The customer saw my work earlier in the year at Selvedge Fair and phoned to ask if I could print a fabric panel to hang on the wall of her new kitchen, matching the colours in her blind (a Sanderson fabric (left)). Here's the printed colour swatch I sent her...

Once the colour was okayed, I sample printed to check number of squeegee pulls as this can vary hugely depending on the dye, type and weight of fabric etc. Very glad I did this, if I'd guessed I think I would have got it wrong...

There are fine details in areas of this design. Too many pulls with the squeegee, and the white of the Budgies eyes will fill in, however not enough pulls and other areas will not have enough print coverage, so it's tricky and had to be just right... 

Learning to stay away from my feet when I'm printing - Luna...

Monday, 8 December 2014

Screen-printing - Beech Table Runners

I've always believed you must design the things you like yourself (as far as possible) and would want to live with. I've never cared too much about fashion, my home style is a fairly eclectic mix of things I love, and things I don't have the discipline to get rid of! However the longer I live here, on the edge of Exmoor and the North Devon coast, inevitably the more it infiltrates my designs, the colours I'm using, and choice of materials.

I'm planning to print a large panel of the Beech as I think it will be uplifting to have branches of Beech inside my home (in fact i've always fancied living in a tree house), however in the meantime when asked to create some work for an exhibition, I decided to re-design the Beech for cushions (previously posted) and also a runner.

A two colour screen print - black outline and infil colour...

In the studio today - if the photo looks a bit overcast that's because the day was!

The (seasonal) leaf colours range here from late Autumn on Exmoor in the rain, through to Winter bleached out and frosted. I love all these colours but the darker Autumn brown is my favourite (and was a nightmare to achieve!).

Packed these up in a brief ray of sunshine last week.

In Springtime, I'll print Beech green.

In my online shop soon or email me.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Colour from the Season - Great Spotted Woodpecker red

The last two months have been busy, I've worked almost every day including weekends yet I have still fallen behind with deadlines, which is unusual. Honestly, I think I've been quite sad and maybe this has been the incentive to finally draw this beautiful Great Spotted Woodpecker that a friend gave me earlier this year (he's been in the freezer).

I drew two sketches, I liked aspects of both, the wings and feet of the first and the head of the second (below). The feathers are mainly soft neutrals, contrasting black and white spot patterned, and a dramatic red crown - I thought Constructivist colours...

The first sketch...

(spilled the ink)

and in every rare spare moment - I've been training Luna..!

'My Head is an Animal' by Of Monsters and Men (2011) is what I'm playing to death at the moment. This one's 'Slow and Steady'...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Hope Bourne Inspiration and Copper Beech

Last week I saw a film by the photographer Chris Chapman about the life of Hope Bourne, a gifted artist and writer who lived an extraordinary life on Exmoor. Her philosophy and take on life was both moving and uplifting... 

“Money as such is a useful invention, making commerce possible beyond the state of barter. A moderate amount is necessary to us all - but consider: of all the things you buy, that which you buy dearest of all is money. For money you sell the hours, the days of your life, which are the only true wealth you have. You sell the sunshine, the dawn and the dusk , the moon and the stars, the wind and the rain, the green fields and the flowers, the rivers and the sweet fresh air. You sell health and joy and freedom” 

― Hope L. Bourne

I've been selling the hours printing cushions. I wondered if Beech leaves, bronze foil and raw linen would be a interesting combination to evoke a sense of Copper Beech..?

I've had two lovely Q & A blog features about my work recently :

The first by Stacey Sheppard on her fab Interiors/design blog 'Design Sheppard' here

The second by Country Homes and Interiors on their Country Days Blog here

Friday, 7 November 2014

Colour from the Season - Owl Feather brown

I was given some feathers from a Tawny Owl some time ago (also a Woodpecker), however this is the first moment that I've felt in quite the right mood to draw them!

Serrated and fringed wing feathers and fluffy down feathers, make the Owls flight almost silent. The colours themselves are also quietly beautiful - late Autumnal maybe?

Being without Chip was like life without colour, so last week I decided to look for a dog who was needing a home - and Luna moved in on Monday...

"There is always something left to love"

(Gabriel Garcia Marques,
100 Years of Solitude)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Colour from the season - Sweet Chestnut Leaf brown

It was 4th November 2010 that I first posted the colour of fallen Sweet Chestnut leaves and noted that they were the exact colour of our beautiful and foxy dog Chip. Twelve and a half years with us, my son Josse and I collected her as a tiny bundle from Ilfracombe Dogs Trust rescue centre in May 2002. I'm so sad that she died last Monday, I miss her terribly.

First chance last night to sketch these seasonal leaves which always remind me of her...

Waiting patiently for me outside the studio a few weeks ago...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Hot off the print table!

I'm happy to say that my textile screen-printing workshops are officially up and running!! The first two day workshop went as well as I could have possibly hoped, and was inspiring as well as creative!
Here are a few images…

It was an intensive two days and very productive!

Pinning down swatches…

Fascinating demonstration on the heat press..!

Theory and practice…


Keeping a record…

and then production..!

Abstract imagery…

as well as botanical..!

Using two silk screens onto furnishing linen/cotton, bleached and natural…

I really enjoyed having such lovely creative people working in the studio and everyone wants to continue!  Therefore coming soon, in addition to further introductory workshops in screen-printing and Photoshop, there will be specialist one day dye and print masterclasses and an ongoing (intermediate stage) print club…

For more info and booking visit

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Colour from the Season - Beech leaf rust

No doubt the woodland is wearing Autumn colours, but as the leaves start to turn and fall, I find myself at odds with the season and am working in the studio on a design which involves putting leaves back onto the branch.

A few years ago I drew a number of silhouettes of beech (and oak) branches and though I've used these for a number of designs, I always regretted not putting detail into the leaves and so had drawn some of the beech leaves separately with the thought of re-connecting them one day - well that day has come! It may have been easier to have begun again, but I'm enjoying the variation of working in a different way...

Although not quite finished - I thought I'd include here its seasonal colours in stripes for a change...

The reason I'm not out and about in the woodland and Moor this past week is because our beautiful dog Chip has become too ill to go out. She has been so much a part of my studio life for the past twelve and a half years that things just won't be the same without her...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Aerial Field Patterns

I've been away on a fabulous holiday to Crete. I didn't take a sketchbook or even a pen as I decided I should practice doing other things occasionally!

There's not much to recommend budget air travel except perhaps the incredible view of the land below and fields laid out like a vast patchwork quilt spread over the earth. On the return flight at a point somewhere between the Swiss Alps and France the view below looked like this! In between other work I've started making a note of these field patterns.

Rough patch...

The full picture...

a few miles later...

(It's not exact!)

Highlights of Crete included visiting Heraklion Archaeological museum (which houses the most extensive collection of Minoan Art in the world); The island of Spinalonga (read Victoria Hislop's account of the former leper colony on Spinalonga here); The remarkable guide who showed us around Knossos and brought the palace and Minoan culture to life; and last but not least the  hospitality and generosity of the Cretan/Greek people.

Back down to earth - welcome October! (belatedly).

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Colour from the season Shaggy Ink Cap - Black (and Mushroom Ink)

Last week I spent a few days camping on a woodland site. One of the many magical things I discovered was a small clump of Shaggy Ink Cap mushrooms (Coprinas comatus), which although fairly common, I hadn't seen before (perhaps because they only last a very short time). I decided to collect their ink and then draw them with it…

It's not difficult to make Mushroom Ink from Ink Cap's, I leaned how from the Natural History Museum (kids only!) website here.

First sighting - already past their best.

The following day and they're starting to drip.

Carpe Diem!

Mucky!! (edible too though I didn't sample)

A couple of days later - (Sieved) Shaggy Ink…

After drawing these mushrooms with their ink I can now report:
that it's fairly watery; slightly gritty; and smells strongly even when the ink dries, of wild fungi. I have no idea as to it's lightfastness or longevity but can highly recommend just for fun!!

lovely Vdub...

…from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Colour from the Season - Wild Honeysuckle Yellow

Drawing wild honeysuckle seemed a good way to hang onto something of the scent and colour of summer as it's turned a bit chilly here in Devon. Still flowering on Exmoor, as well as in my garden, I drew this in a hurried but fragrant moment in between re-printing Moorland Rabbit cushions...

"Echo the warm hues and rustic textures of the season with accessories in hewn wood, gleaming copper and rich berry shades"

as spotted in the Emporium pages in September's issue of Country Living magazine!
For sale in my online shop at

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.