Archive for the Blog Archive Category

Small change- rich pickings

The weather is so strange at the moment. Within the last two weeks we have had everything from plenty of rain, warm sunshine, wind or mist to bitter cold, a dusting of snow and hard frost. My garden does not know what season it is. The snowdrops, primroses, daffodils, hellebores and crocus are all blooming but last week I was photographing the remaining honesty seed heads with a decorative crust of frost around each broken oval. I am very influenced by nature and as an artist I like to immerse myself in the season, gathering inspiration from it. I am finding it quite difficult to   feel spring like when it is clearly still winter. It is also hard to be properly wintry when the bees are out foraging and the squirrels are still out and about getting fatter by the minute!   We are all confused and it just doesn’t feel right.

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Today is a brown and grey January day and I found myself painting a bright autumn hedge! I needed some colour to lift my spirits and enjoyed pouring ink into vivid watercolour and breaking it up into granulated textures and broken patterns.   I went for a walk whilst it was drying. I like to get plenty of exercise as it helps loosen me up in order to loosen my paintings up! The break also ensured that I would leave the vulnerable washes alone at this critical stage and stop me fiddling with it!

I began the walk, picking my way through dreary puddles, past bare and dull hedgerows. It was hard to see anything of special interest. At the end of the lane where I always carry straight on into the field I suddenly had the thought to turn right instead. Not exactly a ground breaking moment but I found myself pondering why I had never gone this way before. It had simply never occurred to me. When I looked at the hedges  along this stretch of field I saw that its tapestry of twigs were a crumbly silver texture and crisscrossed with zigzags of gold lichen encrusted branches. Where bramble leaves flickered in the wind and turned their back to me they revealed that behind their usual disguise of boring green lay a pale silvered lining. These little light patches shone out from the hedge and waved to me.  Back along the other side of the meadow I followed the winding river edged with its tangles of willow . Their sinuous, bent and fallen trunks lay across the water like twisted bridges. Elbows and shoulders of branches hunched and fingered the river edge pointing to the sparkles in the water and the reflections of further trees and undergrowth.  By making a very slight change in my routine I had discovered riches. They had been there all along but I had never thought to explore that particular route.  A minor change had made me open my jaded eyes a bit wider and look at the world afresh.

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This small but rewarding diversion from my normal path made me wonder whether we could apply the same idea to our painting process. Personally, I am always questioning myself, searching for something new, something different, wondering whether I should head off in a completely new direction. Perhaps, after all, some simple change in the way we work or look at things would be sufficient? Perhaps there is something within our existing range of techniques and ideas that could be developed and explored in more depth, to find a subtly different emphasis and focus? Definitely food for thought. With those musings in mind I returned to my studio to look at my painting with fresh eyes. Still wet. Time to write a blog!


 

Bye Bye 2015

The sun has gone down for the last time in 2015.  Looking forward to the sun rising  into 2016. May the coming year make  all your dreams and wishes come true. HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!

 

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Happy Christmas Everyone!

Now the madness of my studio sale is over I want to say a big thankyou to everyone that supported me. It surpassed all my hopes and expectations.  My studio has been stripped  clean and I can’t wait now to fill it up again with new work.  A lot of you  have been asking what  I am planning to work on next and I have to say that at this point I have no idea!  It’s quite exciting. I feel open to all kinds of possibilities for new paint experiments but equally I am content to continue on my arty journey  without making  major changes if that is what feels right.  I  will have to see what happens!  I have also been having some exciting discussions about some new projects to explore next year.

But for now I am switching off for Christmas.  I have been looking for suitable photographs to post as a Christmas card. I have frosty hedgerows and snowy scenes from previous years but this year  has been so unseasonably warm they don’t seem suitable. So here is  one I took the other day of the evening sun glowing through the ivy in the hedge. I love the shapes of the little  ivy seedheads.  You will have to imagine this sprinkled with  glitter  and sparkly bits and gold borders- (or not!).  Have a wonderful Christmas and see you next year !

 

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Moon madness

Having almost emptied  all my  studio walls and browsers  of pictures I decided to clear out the contents of my plan chest.  It is always full of scraps of unresolved unfinished paintings and bits for collage work. I have created a satisfying heap for lighting the fire with but also discovered one or two hidden gems.

In my book ‘Experimental landscapes ‘ I featured a painting called ‘secret pond’ based on a little pool that is hidden behind a screen of undergrowth alongside my favourite woodland walk. It is not so secret as its presence is noisily advertised by  its population of wild ducks.  When I found a tangly watercolour background in my  plan chest hoard I immediately saw  that  I  could add  some light areas to create  another version of the pond with a moonlit shimmer between the stems and stalks. There may even be a few bats flying  around! I have added it to my online sale. The ‘Was’ price should really say ‘  What it would normally be’ as it is in fact a new piece.

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‘ Moonlit pond’ available from my online sale*

‘ The moon in the oak tree’ is a little piece I did some time ago.  I like the geometric, abstract quality of it. The random rectangular patterns at the bottom hint at the patterns in a stone wall or the patchwork shapes of a foreground field.   The little  dots in the tree  and circles in the foreground echo the  round glimmering moon. It has been hanging in my  house but it is time for a change- so out it goes- into my online sale!

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‘Moon in the oak tree’ available from my online sale*SOLD

I do like a sun or moon in a painting! It not only creates atmosphere but adds a focal point.  I discovered another experiment that  needed further work to make sense of it. It was featured in my ‘Experimental Landscape ‘ book and I called it ‘Standing stones’. I made the patterns and shapes  by experimenting with pieces of cellophane laid into the washes of ink and watercolour.  In the book it is a very wide shape which stretches across two pages. It makes an eye-catching spread for the book but as a painting I realised that it would look better cropped to a square. Also it needed a little something. A moon! I’m over the moon with it!  But hard luck- I’m keeping this one. Happy Christmas to Me! So selfish!

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‘Standing stones’

 

* My online sale  will now run until midnight December 13th.  However any orders placed after December 9th   may not  arrive  at some overseas destinations  before Christmas.


 

Last orders!

It has been an overwhelming couple of weeks. I can’t believe how many paintings have sold!   Some of the ‘sales ‘ you see in the high street feel slightly ‘grubby’ but I’m finding that seeing my studio empty is a really cleansing experience -plus a lot of people seem very happy with their bargains!   I am tidying everything up now and  have found one or two pictures lurking in the depths.  Four more  will be added very shortly to the online sale to join the few that are still available. The online sale will finish on December 10th. I have also added a few ‘oddments’ here ( but don’t let them hear me calling them that! – their mother loved them!)

 

‘ Autumn Birdsong’ would love a wall to hang on-  It’s a collage, pieced together to conjure all things Autumnal with semi abstract suggestions of leaves, stalks,  branches,  berries and textures.  I often see  the silhouette of a  bird perched on the branches outside my studio window so this one is very close to home.

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‘Autumn song’ collage  22cmx 31cm  image only

 

Here’s another watercolour collage  called ‘Autumn poem’. Again, it’s semi abstract  and it’s  all about looking close up at the magic of the hawthorn tree  with its jigsaw shaped leaves and rich  berries.

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‘Autumn poem’ watercolour collage 14cm x 19.5cm

 

I have one last painting left from ‘Experimental landscapes in watercolour’ book!.  It’s  called ‘Heat and dust’ and is a mixed media painting made after a visit to Morocco.  We saw this little white building  as the sun was going down on the  dusty, dusky landscape and I decided to include words  in the painting to  add to the  atmosphere.

 

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Heat and dust’ – mixed media. 20 x 20cm image only

 

This ‘ Little rose’ still needs somebody to love. I made it by rapidly drawing into the wet watercolour with Derwent ‘inktense sticks’ which are a kind of watersoluble crayon. I use them in my dvds.  I like the spontaneity of this sketch.  Loose , with a little bit of atmosphere and no fuss.

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Little rose 16.5cm x 14.5cm watercolour and inktense stick. SOLD

 

 

Please look at my online sale for a handful more.  Then- that’s it!  I’m exhausted!


 

 

 

ONLINE SALE

My online sale went online earlier today and things went a bit bonkers with a couple of paintings being snapped up  by different people all at  the same time!  The system decided not to play nicely although it has been sorted out now.Most embarrassing. I have contacted  all those concerned and do apologise most profusely again for your disappointment. So if you haven’t heard from me there is no need to worry- you were first in the queue!

All the paintings sold today (26th November), tomorrow and the weekend will be posted on Monday  30th November to avoid post  getting stuck in the system over the weekend and to allow time for me to go on a serious packaging hunt!  I hope that is ok.

 

There are still a few paintings left  that were featured on previous blog posts over the last month so email me on ann@annblockley.com if any of them are of interest.

However, my studio is looking seriously bare.. what have I done?! Better get painting!


 

My empty studio!

It’s been a crazy weekend with lots of people visiting my studio and walking out with happy smiles and paintings tucked under their arms!  ( the paintings that is-  not smiles under arms.. that would be a bit like the cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland- but I’m rambling! ) It was lovely meeting everyone . So many of you have become old friends and I always enjoy catching up with you.  By the end of the weekend a ridiculous number of paintings  had  gone.

My studio is not quite empty though-  I think I must be quite bonkers   as  the paintings  appear to have cloned themselves. Either that, or I do so much painting that there still seems to be quite a few here  in spite of waving goodbye to so many!  The plan is to  be a little sloooooweer in what I paint next year.

In the meantime,  I have become obsessed about clearing   my studio of all but a handful of my existing work so that there are no distractions.   As so many of you asked I am putting a collection of them online  so that you can buy one from anywhere at the push of a button. The ones on offer will all be quite small so that they can easily be posted but if you are looking for anything big let me know as there are  a very small number here- although the bigger ones do tend to be higher prices. The online sale should be  live from Wednesday 25th November and will finish December 11th .Until then- Here is a watercolour still waiting for a new home. Email  me at ann@annblockley.com if you would like it!

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‘Pink rose’ 33cm x 38 cm  SOLD!

During my studio exhibition  visitors were asking what direction my new work would be going in and I have to admit I have no idea! I am just looking forward to having a blank canvas – literally- and  seeing what happens.   Maybe it won’t change that much- I’m still in love with nature and all its tangles and textures. I still love the flow of watercolour so we will have to see where my experiments take me and like a meandering river perhaps I will wander full circle!


 

 

 

Going down a storm!

It’s been pretty blustery this week. I find it quite exhilarating. The windy weather makes me want to rush around getting things done.  Now it has all gone quiet and my studio is  all tidied up and ready  for my  special clearance sale this weekend.

Thanks so much to all of you that have been in contact with me over the last couple of weeks about posting paintings . I will get back to you with some images next week.  In the meantime,  I managed to photograph this teensy weensy painting  outside  at great risk of it being whisked over into the neighbour’s garden! It’s called ‘Whispering Wind’ and will be in the sale.  Hope to see you soon!

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‘Whispering Wind’ SOLD


 

 

 

 

Flower paintings

Here are a few of the flower paintings that will be for sale at my  studio clearance sale on November 21 and 22.  Some are big, some small,  some sketchy, some detailed, some  watercolour collage,  some  experimental mixed media and some floaty watercolours.   Some are new . Some are older. All of them  painted by yours truly.  Please look on  my events page for full information about the exhibition.

 

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Rose remembered– semi abstract watercolour.  One of my favourites! SOLD

 

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white rose– floaty watercolour- SOLD

 

 

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wild rose and elderflower – watercolour collage SOLD

 

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Time flies – reconstructed  watercolour with collage- still available. email ann@annblockley.com or go to online sale.

 

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lacy hogweed – reconstructed watercolour with mixed media and lacy collage SOLD

 

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white hollyhocks–  watercolour SOLD

 

 

 

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Ann’s hollyhocks– watercolour SOLD


 

Tree paintings for sale

The response to  the studio sale invitation I sent out  has been overwhelming. Quite a few of the paintings that I put on  my blog and events page have sold but  don’t worry- there are plenty more. Here are a few tree paintings that will be in the exhibition. I will be  finishing off putting sizes and their reduced sale  prices on Tomorrow ( 7th November) as have run out of time today!

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Autumn woodland- watercolour  SOLD

 

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Moody, misty trees-watercolour 22 x 30 cm SOLD

 

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Autumn colour- watercolour SOLD

 

 

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Tree textures- mixed media SOLD

 

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Tree of dreams-watercolour SOLD

 

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Faerie wood- watercolour SOLD

 

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windswept hawthorn-mixed media  SOLD

 

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Sunlit copse 27 x 31 SOLD

 

 

  Ann’s Christmas studio sale

The Studio, Church View, Todenham, Gloucestershire, GL56 9PF

November Saturday 21- Sunday 22 only

10.30am – 4.00pm


Autumn atmosphere

What a spectacular and magical weekend. This is Autumn at its best. I have been scurrying about like a wild creature gathering images so that I can hibernate in my studio this winter and feed off my store of ideas. Yesterday I visited Westonbirt Arboretum which is famous for its incredible colour. It was a glorious techicolour day with full sunshine and dazzling light. I arrived quite late in the afternoon as I like the low sun, long shadows and the warmer light.   The effect was truly atmospheric and subtle with light just catching the tops of the trees or piercing through their gaps. The maples on the other hand were ridiculously unsubtle shades of crimson and scarlet extremely intense. I felt I would want to tone them down in a painting but it was worth seeing and drinking in all that vibrancy.

The sun began to sink and the atmosphere changed. It was Halloween and you could feel a potent spell being cast. As I moved towards a clearing I saw a pale layer of mist appear over the ground with the scarlet trees emerging from the veil of white. A wave of mist curled its way through the valley between two steep sloping banks. I watched spellbound- the witching hour had begun!DSC_0128

Today I woke to sunshine mingled with mist and decided I had to get out again. My walk in a local woods was extraordinary. It was a golden, patterned wonderland . The fallen leaves covered the woodland floor but were also trapped in the nets of the tangled branches. Plenty of leaves still clung to the trees but the dark fretwork of branches was now visible .Other leaves slowly pirouetted to the ground flickering between dark and flashing light as the sun caught them.

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Long shadows were cast over the ground creating mysterious and alluring patterns. Shafts of sunlight wove their way through the trees. As I wandered along the winding path, bewitched by this woodland fantasy world I heard the rustling of a mystical creature in the undergrowth. Back to reality- it turned out to be Maisie, my terrier!

 

Later this week I will be posting some paintings of   trees that will be going in my studio sale. I will continue to post a selection of work until the exhibition begins.

 Studio SALE

The Studio, Church View, Todenham, Gloucestershire, GL56 9PF

November Saturday 21- Sunday 22 only

10.30am – 4.00pm


 

 

 

Studio sale

Here are a few of the pictures that will be included in my forthcoming studio sale. This is a random selection of a few of my own favourites  but  there will be lots more bargains! It is strange how we all have such diverse ideas of what we like in a painting. I am always amazed at what gets snapped up and  also what takes longer to find a home. You would never be able to predict it. Recently I sold one of my all time favourite paintings at a gallery. It had been featured in one of my books and  I  was really surprised that it had not gone sooner.Sometimes there will be a rush on a certain subject or colour- but if I replaced these with something similar they would be bound to ‘stick ‘ at a later exhibition! Although  I am reducing  prices for my Christmas sale it’s not because there is anything wrong with the pictures..they are just waiting for the right person to come along and sweep them off their feet! Most of the pictures have been painted this year with  only a few golden oldies and  some  very recent ‘showstoppers’! This exhibition is  a genuine  wish to have a clear out and start again- possibly doing something totally different. I’m a restless soul in my creative life and always moving onwards.

Please  contact me at ann@annblockley.com if you would like sizes of any of the pictures shown here or would like to  purchase one in advance of the exhibition. Also, if you are looking for a painting in  a particular colour, subject, size or price and I can give you an idea  of what I have .

 

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rosehips in the wood

 

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leafy carpet SOLD

 

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Poppyscape  SOLD

 

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Autumn woodland SOLD

 

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Wild hedgerow bank SOLD

 

  Ann’s Christmas studio sale

The Studio, Church View, Todenham, Gloucestershire, GL56 9PF

November Saturday 21- Sunday 22 only

10.30am – 4.00pm


 

 

 

 

Starling gazing

I sat in the garden this morning to eat my breakfast under the magnolia tree. The early sun was casting long dark shadows across the sparkling dewy lawn. It streamed through gaps in the heavy canopy of leaves directing all its force onto a clump of honesty seedheads to pick out and bleach one particular oval shape to dazzling white. Cobwebs swung horizontally from the delicate traceries of stems leading my eye to the ’piece de resistance’ in the garden at the moment- a collection of orange ‘Chinese lanterns’ with lime green leaves entangled with rich burgundy sedums and cosmos flowers in every shade of pink. Wow, what colour. Clashing combinations of hues like this give me ideas for paintings even if used within a different subject.

 

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I looked upwards to look at the magnolia tree which is flushed with crimson berries. We have been watching the pods swell and burst over the last few months waiting for the annual visit of starlings. A small group of them was watching from the chimney top. These scouts finally plucked up courage to flitter over to the tree and thieve sample berries to check them for ripeness. Wings and shadows of wings flapped and fluttered through the shivering sunlit leaves. A fluster and a clatter and then they were gone. They make similar visits regularly until one day a huge flock of starlings will descend on the tree in a flurry and gobble every single berry within an hour. Every year is the same.

As we watched all this I couldn’t help thinking about the fact that this was my Monday morning and comparing it with what I imagined millions of other people have to do on a typical back to work day. I am sorry if this sounds smug- but it did make me realise how very lucky I am.

Yesterday, I spent time tidying and pruning the garden ready for the winter, cutting back, digging out and discarding in order to make room for an even more exciting collection of textures, colours and shapes next year. It made me think that I would also like to do this in my studio. It has been a fruitful year with lots of creative work made and sold. However, I am so prolific that I still have lots of good paintings in my studio.   I decided that I would have a sale of work and try to clear some space for new growth! I am planning to have a weekend where everything will be at silly prices and see what happens! It should be a ‘ win win’ situation – I will be able to spend  the proceeds on some fantastic new art materials and plants to create an even more inspiring garden and hopefully people will be thrilled to get a great bargain to keep or give as a special Christmas gift. Some empty studio walls would also be very motivating and maybe stop me frittering time in the garden –starling gazing!

 

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‘towards the distant trees’-watercolour 18cm x 18cm image size Was £265 Now £65 mounted

CHRISTMAS STUDIO SALE!

The Studio, Church View, Todenham, Gloucestershire, GL56 9PF

November 21-22 only

10.30am – 4.00pm

Contact ann@annblockley if you have any queries


 

Autumn Glory

I  am sorry that I have been so quiet for the past few weeks on my blog.  The days are never long enough and this autumn  has been so spectacular that I have been  too excited to sit at the computer! I have been making it a priority to get out into the sunny hedgerows and immerse myself in  all the inspirational subjects just waiting to be picked.

The other day  the light was just dazzling.   It picked out the edges of the teazels and danced on the cobwebs that  curled their way through the  seed-head tendrils. Further long silvery strands  of cobweb stretched between plants – tightropes for tiny spiders.

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The sunshine  simply pierced through gaps in the berry laden hedges creating infinite patterns and designs. I have never known  the hedges to be so full of colourful rosehips, blackberries, haws and sloes as well as long beaded necklaces of  bryony berries. All   this intermingled with leaves in every shape and  hue.  Spectacular.  The colours seem especially intense this year  and I am soaking it all up to store inside my soul to feed off through the monochrome of winter.

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I am planning  a series of  paint experiments  to try and capture some of the colourful semi abstract  patterns that I have seen in the hedges.I am also planning to do my blog more regularly  .. so please watch this space!

 

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detail from ‘Autumn berries’ by Ann Blockley


 

Exhibition tomorrow!

I am ready!  The studio gallery is stuffed with a ridiculous number of paintings from tinies to biggies.  I have to admit that it’s looking good.  I like what I’m painting the moment!!   So please come along and say hello. There’s a lovely breeze here today and it’s getting cooler so no excuses! The good news is the hollyhocks are starting to pop open , so now there are some hollyhocks both inside and outside the  exhibition. Don’t forget that the exhibition this year is at  Church View, Todenham, GL56 9PF and NOT at Bourton on the hill where I exhibited last year! ( back there next year).

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detail from ‘Flying home’  £275 framed


 

One week to go!

There is only one week  before my exhibition starts! I am feeling excited as I think it’s  a good collection this year that really reflects my life here in the countryside. My studio gallery is overflowing with images of trees and hedgerows, moons and magic,  wild birds and  flowers, rivers and mountains.. I could go on!  Here is  an unusual collage called ‘Autumn birdsong’.  It is totally unseasonal for a Summer exhibition as I  do love Autumn but there are summery pictures to be found here too with colourful wildflowers in the landscape.

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Autumn birdsong

The courtyard outside is also overflowing but with hollyhocks and other self seeded flowers all squabbling for space. The ‘granny’s bonnets’ have gone to seed. The big decision is whether to  deadhead these for the visitors or leave them for the seed heads that I love?! The  even bigger question is.. will the hollyhocks be out in time?  There is only a week to go so they had better get their act together!

 

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Hollyhocks outside last year


 

 

Countdown to my Summer exhibition!

I am counting the days to my Summer exhibition in the Cotswolds. Email invitations have been sent out to those of you that have subscribed to my website mewsletter and everyone else is also welcome to join me. I have just picked up a new collection of paintings from  my framers, including the one shown here.This features the river that meanders through the fields surrounding my home village , where  I walk each day. If you cannot make the exhibition because you live too far away or are too busy , I am  excited to announce that I have a brand new online exhibition section of my website. This is only a limited selection of work but they can all be shipped worldwide.

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watercolour. copyright Ann Blockley

 

Exhibition starting soon!

I am  currently getting ready for my summer exhibition which will be held this year in my  studio gallery in the Cotswolds.  It is the same with every exhibition- I never think that  I have enough paintings until, as if by magic, they all seem to appear. The way I work is to begin lots of  paintings  without finishing them.  When I get to the tricky stage of deciding how to proceed I move on to the next one!  I prop my unfinished work all around the studio so that they take me by surprise when I walk in or turn around. Then I will notice something that needs adjusting or see a new , possibly unexpected way to  develop the piece. Sometimes these final decisions take me months. However, when I am faced with a deadline  such as an exhibition, its is amazing how suddenly  it all becomes clear. A whole batch of pictures can be finished within a  couple of weeks.

Last week I completed a series of miniature works that  I am pleased with. If I kept them for myself I would hang them in groups.  In my home I have a few walls that are a hung with collections of small works in  different sizes and shapes  by  a variety of artists – there are none of mine though in these displays!  I  prefer to have other people’s work on my walls at home  and let my own go  off on their travels . Then I feel I can  move on with  my next ideas.  My latest little paintings are all semi abstract landscapes  mostly featuring birds, moons, suns and trees. They will be on sale at my studio only for about £150.

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I am trying out displays for my miniature watercolours on the ground . they have been photographed through glass.

This year I also have a lot of large watercolours. These include some of my country walls and rivers series  with trees and mountains thrown in for good luck. All these  feature my own interpretations of  nature’s textures and tangles. There will of course be  plenty of medium sized pictures too! Subjects this year include hedgerow,a variety of trees and flowers in the landscape,   wildflowers such as thistles and foxgloves- all the kind of things featured in my ‘Experimental landscape book’- with some garden flowers too .

Of shady woodland stream and sun kissed mountain

‘Of shady woodland stream and sun kissed mountain’

My studio gallery is definitely more studio than gallery at the moment. In fact it is chaos, with paintings everywhere  either waiting for mounts or frames or  finishing touches.  In two and a half weeks time, however, all will be transformed! I hope you  can come  and visit. If that is not possible there will soon be a  limited selection of original paintings from the exhibition for sale online.  More information about this to follow soon. If you  have subscribed to my newsletter you will be sent notification when these are available to view.

 Summer Exhibition

The Studio gallery, Church View, Todenham ,Gloucestershire,GL56 9PF  

July 4th – 11th  10am – 4.30 pm.( closed Monday 6th)

email ann@annblockley.com for further information


 

 

 

From festival to Exhibition

It is a busy  week with  the annual Patchings Art Festival near Nottingham  starting on Thursday and the Private View of the annual Society of Women Artist exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London on the same day. Unfortunately I cannot be in two places at once and  so I won’t be able to attend the private view this year. The exhibition is on until June 13th though so there will be plenty of time for me to go and view my own and all the other  paintings next week.   Here is one of my paintings that  will be on show in London.

 

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‘Lazy, hazy river’ is in the SWA exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London from June 5th-13th

 

I will be at Patchings doing demonstrations  on Thursday 4th  at 3pm in the St Cuthberts marquee using their Saunders Waterford paper. On Friday 5th my demonstration starts at 11am and on Saturday 6th I have been invited to be guest artist in my own tent where I will be demonstrating on and off throughout the day with paintings, prints,cards, books and dvds for sale.I am really looking forward to meeting  lots of arty folk.  I  am planning to  do  demonstrations  showing how I did some of the paintings in my ‘Experimental Landscapes in watercolour’ book, or at least elements of how they were approached.  I  always find it daunting  demonstrating my techniques as they are not a fail safe formula! So today I have been splashing paint around trying to loosen up and  decide what to paint with hundreds of people watching. Gulp.  No pressure!  I have a  rough plan  now but I have been known to go off on a wild tangent if something else takes my fancy! Here’s  a detail from today’s  experimenting. It will need working on to pull it together but it’s  a start.

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Stage 1 . Experimenting with textures

Click on this link for advance tickets to my demonstrations at Patchings. http://www.patchingsartcentre.co.uk/patchingsfestival/Patchings_Festival_Marquee.php

 For further information about the SWA exhibition visit: www.society-women-artists.org.uk   or look on my  website Events page.


 

 

My cottage garden

My garden is a paradise at the moment. When I returned from a two week trip away it welcomed me with its riot of colour, pattern and scent. I love sophisticated, schemed gardens with beds all in white or pastel hued. My own garden however, is not at all like that. Bright yellow sits next to pink and orange, blue and purple and everything is allowed to seed itself wherever it likes, creating natural and surprising combinations and compositions . There are cool quiet areas where green ferns and hostas mingle with white honesty but mostly it is a chaotic jumble. What I love about my garden is its three dimensional character. It is not just a flat patchwork of lawn and borders. There are trees,walls, hedges and archways for climbing plants to scramble through and little pathways that meander into secret corners. So many gardens are clipped and pruned and tidied up to control it whereas I prefer my flower beds to flow in the same way that I treat my paintings -with just a little structure and order and plenty of soft edges.

 

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In the corner of the vegetable plot a hawthorn tree is covered in deep crimson double petalled blossom. Rambling through this is a pale pink clematis which is also trying to sneak over the nearby lilac tree. The jazzy yellow laburnum tree is buzzing with bees. It is stunningly dramatic, especially in the evening when light pours through gaps in the dark branches. The old brick path leading to the beehive has been lined with bluebells and forget me nots. These have taken over from the hellebores which now hang their drooping seedheads waiting for the foxgloves and campanula to take their turn.

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In the vegetable plot behind my studio I am struggling to find produce amongst the sea of poppy seedlings, lupins, bronze fennel, purple tufted chives, sweet cicely and gigantic seedheads of angelica and lovage. Oh yes, wild strawberries – they are edible!

In front of my studio the gravelled courtyard is largely carpeted in multi coloured aquilega or columbines. By the time I have my   exhibition these will have been replaced by a jungle of hollyhocks. I hope they will be out in time.

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I am writing this whilst I wait for a painting to dry. I am working on some small and medium sized pieces for the exhibition over the next few weeks as I already have lots of large paintings ready to hang. The first stage of today’s work is just what I described earlier- a jumble of colour and pattern. I now have to go and take control and ‘tidy it up’ –just a bit. I suppose I will have to do the same with the garden at some point!

 

Ann’s exhibition is from July 4th-11th ( closed Monday)  10-4.30 in her studio gallery: Church View, Todenham, near Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 9PF. Full details can be found on the Events page of her website www.annblockley.com.


 

Seize the day.

I  feel slightly guilty  because I have been away again. This time on a special family holiday with my two sons to Vietnam and Cambodia.  Walking and cycling through villages, paddy fields and spectacular scenery; snorkelling through shoals of rainbow hued fish in coral reefs; quad biking past wallowing buffalo,  ancient temples and tiny, waving children; Sipping cocktails on  top of a  Hanoi skyscraper watching the sunset  fade  above and the lights of the city twinkle out below us.

I feel so lucky. My life has been so filled with wonderful experiences this year. Last year was not so great for me  with a series of wake up calls that made  me realise that you have to seize the day. So now this latest holiday is over  and I’m applying that  philosophy to my work. Any fresh ideas that I’m not quite sure about? Just go for it! What have we got to lose?! My  next exhibition in my own studio gallery is looming and I shall need to  paint 24 hours a day to fit in all my ideas!

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Me and my boys at the famous ‘Tomb Raider’ temple in Cambodia. It’s not often you see any of us up at 5am but it was worth it to have the whole , atmospheric and mysterious place to ourselves. Those tree and root patterns are sooo inspiring!

 

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I’m always on the look out for interesting viewpoints and I enjoyed these ‘upside down’ shadows in the grass of the exotic leaves and palms above.

 

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I loved the patterns, reflections and colours of this waterlily pond.

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Great to get some intelligent conversation! We stopped  here on  our quad bike tour. This is just the kind of subject I would have adored twenty years ago. I find it pleasing to reflect on how I have changed and developed in my thinking. I would have painted this incredible rustic gate and hairy pig in fine detail then. Now I prefer rough hog hair brushes to tiny sable ones (oops.. sorry piggy )

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Green , green and more green. Cycling through the paddy fields of the most beautiful place on earth.. Mai Chau in North Vietnam.

 

With thanks to the following:

Audley Travel : www.audleytravel.com.. Highly recommended!

A great tour guide I met on a quad bike trip http://www.itsjourneytime.net/

I also just  have to mention Shinta Mani Club hotel in Cambodia. Shinta Mani derives from Sanskrit, meaning “The gem that provides everything one desires.”

It is  the most wonderful place and lives up to its name. Sophisticated and contemporary but with the friendliest and most helpful staff ever.  www.shintamani.com

And a special thanks to Kevin for reminding me  I  need to get on with some painting!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring has sprung

Ok, it has been Spring for a while now but I have only just got round to a Springy blog. At this time of the year I can feel myself getting into a slight panic at the thought that everything is happening too fast and I cannot keep up! The garden and the countryside are changing every time I blink and it is all so exciting I have to make myself find time to sit at the computer and write about it. But here I am!

Not only is my own corner of the world been full of delights but have been whizzing round the country on lots of trips. I told you about my sketching jaunt to Derbyshire. One of the spring highlights there was the networks of stone walls patterning the fields and edging the lanes. Dazzling daffodils nestled beneath the walls. I am still making paintings of different walls in a variety of places and this idea is definitely one to add to my collection. I particularly liked the way the sunshine illuminated the flowers and bleached out the details and colour to simple abstract shining shapes.

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Derbyshire wall

 

I also went to North Wales earlier in the year. The ancient woodland surrounding the river which rushes through the secret valley where I stay is inspirational every time I go.   I see new things each time and on this occasion I was attracted to the tangles and crisscross patterns of the branches, through which you could see glimpses of the white of the stream or the salmon pink of the mountains and bracken behind.

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This spring I have been paying particular attention to the tender new growth of leaves which act like a shimmering veil with the bare bones of the branches still visible behind. My garden has been like a wedding party of confetti and lace with delicate magnolia flowers, white blossom on the silver pear and plum trees. The blossom not only covered the boughs but a playful wind scattered petals over the lawn and honesty filled flowerbeds turning the garden into a speckled ,dotted fairyland.

The blackthorn blossom was also lush this year beneath the rook trees. The white blossom was like clouds underneath the black tangle of branches. I took my sketch book and tried to capture it. I am not sure if the paint sketch did justice but I had a lovely morning sitting amongst the dandelions, gazing at the scene and sealing its information in my head. When I went back yesterday evening the blackthorn blossom was over but a different spell was being cast by a gang of rooks above the trees, fighting through a wild wind to get to their nests, wings stretched to their limits, swooping , swerving and gliding in the air.

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I am feeling virtuous as this week I also took myself off to a local bluebell wood with paints and pencils. I discovered a clearing at the centre of the wood where the bluebells were thick and plentiful. The blue clearing was edged with trees including some with pink and white blossom – all very pretty and difficult to resist. The challenge is to turn the scene into something a bit less pretty and a little more gritty. Now, how do I do this? Time to go and experiment!


 

Loosening up with sketches

I have just been to the peak district  for a few days to  join in a great workshop  with the artist, Lewis Noble.  It is really  stimulating and refreshing to listen to another artist’s views about  painting and the thought processes behind it, especially when it is someone whose work you admire. Lewis’s  gorgeous paintings  are totally different to my own style but I  love them and was particularly interested in his  working method.

We went out into the countryside to make sketches.The idea was to work quickly and loosely with the emphasis on markmarking and spontaneity. I tried react to what I saw by making marks which said something about what I felt, rather than closely scrutinise the subjects in front of me in order to recreate an accurate line drawing.I looked for simple ideas such as arrangements of colour or shapes, the patterns of trees  or light hitting a path. I made lots of simple sketches, starting with charcoal and moving on to paint, rather than labouring over one ‘finished’ drawing. It was all about enjoying the experience without too much analysis or soul searching and it was very liberating to work in that way.

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Quick charcoal sketch looking at the shape of the pathways.

 

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Acrylic sketch using a palette knife to apply colour

 

The concept that I enjoyed most was the idea of ‘borrowing’ colour from somewhere else in the whole panorama to add to the bit I was concentrating on. I discussed this thought in my book ‘Experimental Landscapes’, in a section where I explained about how to make colours in a dull landscape more interesting. Although this idea was not new to me it is always good to have one’s ideas reinforced by someone else. If nothing else, working en plein air really gives you fresh ideas for  using colour that  would be difficult to imagine and would be less meaningful if thought up in the studio.

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Quick colour doodle  transferring the mauve grey of the stone walls to the sky and modifying the green of the hillside.

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Moving rapidly on to another version of the same scene using some rusty reds seen within the grasses to make the very green hillside more exciting.

 

Back in the studio we had a ripping time tearing up our work . We cropped it and stuck it back down, sometimes in different positions to create more interesting compositions. Again , this kind of collage work is something I discuss in my books but it felt like a different experience doing it under someone elses guidance, using new materials.

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Quick landscape sketch, cropped and reassembled in the studio

 

I love Derbyshire because I have a family connection with it and have spent many holidays there since childhood. It was blissful to sit on a grassy hillside far above the river at Milldale, looking up to the craggy, wooded peaks surrounding us and paint. The crows were whirling  above the trees, the breeze was rustling through the grass and the sun was warm. This is what painting is all about… the actual experience. I have been working in my studio far too much recently and if you are not careful this can make you disconnected from the  essence of the subject . I am now resolved to get out far more often with my sketchpad in order to enrich both my paintings and my life.

The workshop I went on was with Lewis Noble at the St. John Gallery in Ashbourne.

www.stjohngalleryandcafe.co.uk


 

Experimental landscapes book orders

Reprints for  my ‘Experimental Landscapes’  have  just arrived in UK and will be with me very soon!   All outstanding pre-orders will be posted on Thursday  26th February. I am so sorry for the delays which have been totally beyond my control.  Thankyou for your patience if you are waiting for your copy and hopefully you will  think it has been worth waiting for!

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‘Spring Teasel in the wood’ from Experimental landscapes in watercolour book

 

Art and nature in India

When you look back on any experience you summons a whole collage of  thoughts and imagery in your head.  One of the things that inspired me most whilst I was away on a recent trip to India was the strong connection between some of the things I was seeing all around me and  the images that I saw in the paintings, architecture and   beautiful objects.  The activities of the  people at work, play and  worship were  all evident in the murals and paintings that  I viewed.  One  picture that stuck in my head was where the Maharaja had been spying on the court ladies whilst they  bathed in the lake . He stole their saris and hid them in  a nearby tree. Seeing things like this made me almost wish I was a different type of artist painting humorous or quirky scenes! However, my close encounters with nature whilst away reinforced where my interests really lie.

Everywhere we looked  was enriched by the presence of  wildlife. I am always drawn to nature. Monkeys and parrots in the trees.  A jewel of a kingfisher posing on a rock in the jungle river. Eagles gliding below us from the top of  temples, fortress walls and minarets.  Flocks of parakeets squabbling and playing at dusk. And above all- the peacocks everywhere from the  desert to the  palaces.

 

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One special evening we strolled through some  palace grounds  within a fortress setting.  For once in  this heavily populated land nobody  else  was there. We wandered into a tree filled courtyard  inside the ‘Palace of the lamps’. As dusk fell, the parapets darkened and the shapes of  many peacocks with glittering eyes perched up high blended into the decorative architecture.  Slowly, slowly, one by one, they lifted themselves into the air and flew with little grace to  roost in the nearby banyan tree.   They crooned  and rustled as they settled themselves in for the night.  Their dark shapes looked like strange fruit hanging  amongst the leaves. They were silhouetted by the thinnest sliver of a silver crescent moon  glimpsed through gaps in the laden branches.

 

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We visited the fortress at Jodphur and  some secret rooms in a palace in Bundi. The paintings at both places blew me away. I was thrilled to see images of the parakeets and monkeys and the peacocks in the trees   portrayed with infinite decorative detail  in stunning colours.  Gold leaf  added to the richness. When we  left the gallery area I was ecstatic to see a  tree outside  with leaf formations just like the stylised versions seen in some of the art! I discussed it excitedly with my non arty partner who grunted unenthusiastically about  the probably dusty and unexciting tree!   Undeterred I noted peacocks appearing in mosiacs, fretwork, carving, enamelled objects, architectural details in stone or marble. I loved it all. My favourites were the elephant seat in the shape of a peacock, a wedding screen and some  parrot headed daggers.  I was allowed to photograph some of them but my  snapshots do not do them justice.

 

Another highlight was a  countryside walk through a  wild garden which lead to the silent mirror of a lake. Beside the water  stood a grove of  silvery banyan trees. Their multiple trunks and dangling creeper- like root formations created pale , mysterious   goblin columns. I was reminded of this banyan  grove’ cathedral’ later  when we visited an exquisitely carved Jain temple  with ornate pillars .

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Now I am home and  have a thousand notes and sketches, photos and mental imagery to  sift through.  Often I do not act immediately on things I have seen or experienced but enjoy allowing my ideas to simmer and develop. Will I be painting peacocks and parrots, parapets and  palaces. I am not sure yet but I do know that  everything I have seen will be enriching  and influencing my future painting if only subconsciously.

 


 

 

The colours of India

I have just got back from a three week trip to India. I hesitate to call it a holiday as it  was certainly not relaxing- but it was an intense experience.  We travelled around Rahjastan and my main impression was a mixture of mayhem and magic.  It is chaotic, exotic, frantic,  manic and romantic. We saw  the extremes of filth and riches  with squalid streets lying next to ornate and fantastical palaces. It is a land of contrast.  Because it is a desert kingdom and because  we travelled before the monsoon, the land is dry and drab. At first my heart  sank as  we drove through endless vistas of scrubby, colourless landscape – bare and  bleak until I began to notice that the colour was found in the people themselves. Their fabulously bright turbans and saris acted as bright focal points against the neutral backdrop.  A brown and grey landscape  would be  lifted by the sudden flash of a florescent tangerine  or lime coloured turban. Even the poorest women working in the field or carrying buckets of concrete on their  head were  an inspiration with their bejewelled and braided , patterned and multi- hued clothes. I noted endless combinations  that  were  great lessons in how to make colour sing and  something I would ultimately hope to make use of in my paintings. I wouldn’t necessarily want to paint ‘people’ pictures but  I might use  elements of these creative colour  examples and focal points within a different subject altogether. I made  many notes such as juxtapositions of Permanent rose  next to Indian yellow and cobalt turquoise or similar luscious pigments next to rich purples and brown madders.

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The village and towns  showed me other kinds of colour combinations- more pastel, chalky and  subtly shaded. I noticed that often the  colours that people wore seemed to harmonise perfectly with their surroundings.  Do not be fooled by the photographs. They are carefully chosen snippets  in back streets  but  still surrounded by squalid piles of rubbish,  roaming pigs, barking dogs, cows, honking motorbikes and traffic that  assail every sense.

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We stayed overnight in the desert. Again the landscape was  mostly parched and faded.  A small girl with wild black hair  was wearing a  dazzling if shabby yellow frock  to which she clutched a tiny black goat. Colourful details like this captured my attention.  Later on we walked through the sand dunes at sunset  and the beige  land was magically transformed . I photographed into the sun to try and capture some of the atmosphere.  The glow faded as the sun  turned  a deeper orange and   lowered itself until the massive  clear-cut circle balanced precariously on the tip of a sand dune before  wobbling slowly  down behind it.  I did not want to spoil the moment by viewing it through a camera lens  but  the graphic image stays  vividly in my memory.

 

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In my next blog post I will tell you about some of the wonderful art, architecture and nature  I saw on my trip to India and how they seemed to relate to each other.


 

Experimental landscapes in watercolour reprints

I am sorry that my book, Experimental Landscapes in Watercolour, has been out of stock for so long. The publishers told me that one customer bought up the entire stock . It left all other suppliers and book shops out of stock (including myself) over Christmas and into  February. I have had lots of unhappy emails from people asking where they can find one. The good news is that two reprints are now  being made as there are so many back orders to fulfill.  A supply will be arriving at my studio on about February 19th.   I have not even got my own copy at the moment as I sold  it  by mistake before Christmas! I can’t wait to have my babies back  here again!

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back in stock very soon!


 

Step by step

Well.. two steps anyway. I thought I would show you a couple of stages of a painting I did last Autumn. It is one that I remembered to photograph before finishing it. I usually get so focused on the painting itself that I forget about  recording things in progress.  This painting began with lots of texture and mark making into wet washes;scribbles, rigger work,  splatters, ink and so on.  The birds were put in very loosely as dark shapes.  At this stage it is almost completely abstract.

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step one copyright Ann Blockley 2015

When all this was dry I worked over it with opaque gouache creating the shapes  of the birds out of the background by painting around them, covering over or softening  some of the marks. .  I suggested tiny details in the background to suggest brambles and blackberries but otherwise kept things  abstract without too much ‘tidying up’.

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step 2 copyright Ann Blockley 2015

There are some paintings on a  similar theme in ‘Experimental landscapes in watercolour’.. the book. This is currently being reprinted. I am hoping for copies in early February.    This will  probably be my last post until then ..when  I will fill you in on what I  have been doing during that time!


 

 

 

Happy New Year!

It is a new year and  a fresh start. I am looking forward to a year of experimenting and moving forward with my painting and hope that other painters reading this will  enjoy their own  new and creative journey. Thank you so much to everyone for all the feedback  and support last year. I have enjoyed reading your messages on facebook and emails sent through my website and email address. Keep in touch!  I have to admit that I  been very anti social over the last few weeks,  hibernating  and making paintings in my studio based on  subjects seen, experienced,sketched and photographed over the last year. I will show some of the  paintings very soon but in the meantime   I thought I would share some of my favourite moments  of 2014.  I did not go on any big trips away last year but often those precious sights  seen closer to home are just as special.    I have lots planned for 2015 and   can’t wait to get started. Have a wonderful New Year!

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ps. Maisie  Moo, my scruffy terrier, insisted on having her photo  included on this blog. She usually comes out with me  to look for painting subjects  and it was her new Year Resolution to have 15 seconds of fame!

 


 

Book

The good news is.. ‘Experimental Landscapes in watercolour’ book is a best seller. The bad news is.. it has sold out for Christmas! I  tried to order some from the publishers this morning only to discover that  they have just noticed that reprints will not be available until January in UK… too late for Father Christmas.  There are  some available in US and there is a chance they might be able to bring some back to UK. However, it is selling well there too so it looks unlikely that they will want to relinquish their stock!      I am so sorry if anyone is going to be disappointed. All I can say is..  how about the dvd instead!?

 

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Currently out of stock.. will keep you posted! ‘Watercolour textures’ and ‘Experimental Flowers’ books are both available.

‘Back to nature Tuesday’

At this time of year it is so easy to get drawn into the negative side of the build up to Christmas. The focus is so much on material things. We are almost made to feel guilty if we are not rushing around buying lots of ‘stuff’.However, I must admit that I did have a hectic weekend packing up dvds and books to send all over the world and it is lovely to take lots of orders. The danger is that it gets addictive. It would be easy to lose sight of the really meaningful things in life which for me is about creativity and connecting with nature.

I have been saving up the following images for a suitable moment and today feels right . Call it an antidote to the mania of so called ‘ Black Friday’. I call this ‘Back to nature Tuesday’! The painting here is one I did a few weeks ago when the hedgerows were still full of sunshine and shadows, butterflies and blackberries. The patterns of leaves were   a map of rich colour and mottled textures. Small spiders had woven their trail through this miniature hedgescape. The butterflies were cleverly camouflaged so that quivering leaf and fluttering wing were almost indistinguishable.

I began the piece in a really loose way just letting the paint run and allowing interesting ‘happenings’ to occur.   The less I think about the result at this stage the better the picture will be. There is a real danger of tightening up as soon as you try to stick too rigidly to the actual shapes of the subject.  Therefore at this stage everything is very abstract and merely suggests the subject through mark making , colour and texture.

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stage 1

At this stage in a painting I usually have to prop it up and look at it from all angles before proceeding. This can be a matter of days or sometimes even months of indecision. In this one I could see the butterfly almost immediately, kind of trying to struggle its way out of the painting. I kept adding a little bit of detail at a time to help it on its way but I had to be so careful. One false extra move from me and the magic would fly way. I kept as much of the original mark making as possible and was frugal with my additional workings.

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Stage 2..finding the butterfly and blackberries

 

The finished piece has the extra information of blackberries and leaves to give a context. However, although the picture does have a subject and is firmly based on sights seen on an Autumn day the real subject here is simply the joy of abstract mark making and nature.

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‘Butterfly , brambles and cobwebs’ copyright Ann Blockley 2014


 

Paintings for sale

I  am putting a few paintings on my blog  for you to look at and maybe  someone somewhere might like to find one in their Christmas stocking this year as they are all for sale.   The colours  will not be  entirely accurate due to the restrictions of my photographic  skills and your computer screen.    Please email on ann@annblockley.com for information about delivery costs, payment information or to see a better photo (potential purchasers only please). Framed paintings cannot be sent outside UK .. only mounted. Prices are in UK pounds .  You are entitled to a refund of the purchase price if not entirely happy with your picture  and it is returned  by you. All sizes below are the image size.  Please ask if you would like the page numbers of any other paintings for sale from ‘Experimental Landscapes in watercolour. book’ There are still a few available.

 

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Primrose bank and birdsong. Mounted. 44.5cm x 39cm £495

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‘On the banks of the river’ page 94 Experimental landscapes in watercolour’ 15cm x 32cm £260 mounted

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‘Poppy landscape’ 27cm x 26cm £395 framed (off white painted)

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‘Home to roost’ page 30 Experimental landscapes in watercolour’ 14cm x 31cm mounted £260

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Foxgloves in the wild 18cm x 14.5cm Page 20 ‘Experimental Landscapes in watercolour’ £195 framed (off white painted)


 

New DVD Further Information 2

I thought that those of you that have a copy of my latest film ‘Experimental Landscapes in watercolour’* might appreciate a list of  the colours and papers  used in some  of the demonstrations. Don’t forget that these are the colours I just chose to use that day. You could experiment with your own  variations and combinations of pigment. :

Autumn tree

Winsor and Newton: Pthalo Blue, Perylene Maroon,   Brown Madder, Quinacrodine Gold watercolour

Daniel Smith : Cascade Green watercolour

Paper: Saunders Waterford not (cold pressed)140lb

 

Country wall

Daniel Smith : Bloodstone genuine

Winsor and Newton: Cobalt Turquoise, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium yellow, French Ultramarine and Quinacrodine Gold, Perylene Maroon

Paper: Saunders Waterford rough 300lb

 

* available from my  Gallery shop to all destinations.

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Incidentally,  on the subject of materials, I have just realised that this winter’s catalogue from Jacksons Art Supplies has MY  messy palette and  box of paints on the front cover!

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New DVD delivery update

All orders for my new dvd ‘Experimental landscapes in Watercolour’ have been posted earlier this week. ( It’s now Friday 14th 2014) So if you have not yet received your copy it should be with you in the next few days, depending on where you are.  Thanks so much to everyone who has bought a copy and for the wonderful positive  feedback .  As a thank you I am going to post further information about the demonstrations in the dvd onto my blog with lists of colours used and so on.


 

DVD launch

I am almost ready for my dvd launch and Autumn exhibition here in my studio  gallery in the  Cotswolds. I have now  had time to watch the dvd  and see how everything has been edited and  I  think it gives you plenty of ideas and tips. So  thank you to  those of you that have placed orders from all over the world! They will be posted very shortly. I hope you will like it! When my exhibition has finished I am planning to write down even more practical information in my blog about the paintings featured in the dvd.

 

The studio  has been hung with paintings and I am always surprised how many I seem to have  done! Recently I  felt inspired to do some new flower paintings . The weather has been so mild I have had hollyhocks and roses  outside my studio  even in November and I just had to put together some interpretations before they disappeared  for the winter.  They will be in the exhibition alongside  other flower pictures and lots of  experimental interpretations of landscapes  and trees. Full details about the DVD launch Exhibition are on the  Events page.

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‘Hollyhocks’ copyright Ann Blockley

 

 

The twilight hour

Here’s one for Hallowe’en. It is called the ‘Twilight hour’.

This miniature abstract painting began  life as a spontaneous colour experiment for  another painting. I like this experiment because it  is jewel like and decorative with an eerie mystical quality .Surely there are witches and spiders lurking somewhere  here! It was not planned as a finished painting but I believe it warrants being treated as such and have displayed it in a  little black box frame to make it feel like a precious artefact.

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The twilight hour’ 9 x 7 cm

The colours and materials used were: Cobalt blue, Quinacrodine Gold, Light turquoise, Quinacrodine magenta and Indian yellow watercolours. White gouache. Black ink and watercolour pencil. on Saunders waterford paper.

‘The twilight hour’ is featured in ‘Experimental landscapes in watercolour’ book and will be for sale at my  dvd launch / studio exhibition in Gloucestershire.  Full details about the exhibition are on the event page of my website – www.annblockley.com


 

 

Guess what arrived in the post?

A big fat parcel has just arrived!

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Its my advance copies of ‘Experimental landscapes in watercolour’ dvd!

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I haven’t watched it yet!  I’m in the middle of a painting at the moment.. waiting for  the first wash to dry. I will finish the painting then take a look at the dvd!  Feeling rather nervous over several important issues – for example- will my hair look ok  or will I look fat?! No seriously,  it will be interesting to see how it all looks on film and if there is anything I   forgot to say in the excitement of the moment I  am planning on a blog post after  the dvd launch  exhibition next weekend with a list of practical information  on materials and so on.


DVD launch exhibition

It  is almost time for ‘Experimental landscape in watercolour’ dvd launch exhibition!  This is being held in my own studio/gallery where the dvd was filmed  a few weeks ago.   The studio has been tidied up and  the walls and all available surfaces  decorated with paintings. Some are framed, some just mounted. There are a few  really large ‘show stoppers’  but they are  mainly  small to average sized works as my biggest paintings are  currently at galleries.  There are  both flower and landscape subjects. Prices mostly range between £100-£500.  I  also have some prints,  cards and ofcourse my books  and dvds . The dvd will be  available to view throughout the show.

It would be helpful if you could park in the Farriers pub car park or the Village hall car park if that is full.  I do not have a  card machine here  so cheque or cash only please if you think you might  buy something. Browsers will also be very welcome too though!

 

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‘Icy mountain tarn’ from Experimental landscapes in watercolour’ book. Available from my Autumn exhibition £395


 

 

From Winchester to Windrush

It is an exciting weekend! Two different exhibitions  are opening today featuring some of my paintings. The first is at The Minster Gallery in Winchester. 11 October- 8 November 2014. This exhibition is a varied collection of  contemporary paintings by selected members of the Society of women artists.  I am exhibiting three pictures. They are called ‘rosehips in the wood’,  ‘blackberry hedge’ and ‘Autumn tangles’ ( below). A very autumnal trio.

For further information visit: www.minstergallery.com Their address is: Minster Chambers, 3A Great Minster Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 9HA.

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Autumn tangles. Copyright Ann Blockley. For sale at the Minster Gallery, Winchester

 

The second exhibition  is closer to  my home at  The Windrush Gallery in Windrush. 11-20 October 2014. It is the annual exhibition of The Pure Watercolour Society which includes  wonderful watercolour artists such as David Curtis.  In recent years I have become more known for my experimental work often adding other mediums to my watercolour. However it depends on the subject and I still love the spontaneity of pure fresh watercolour. Therefore I was delighted when the gallery owner,  who is the  daughter of the late, great  watercolourist James Fletcher Watson, invited me to participate .

For many years there has  been a  rather heated debate  about the merits or otherwise of ‘unpure’ watercolour. By this I mean adding other ingredients and mediums to  traditional watercolour.  My father, John Blockley was very much at the forefront of this debate in the 1970s and onwards.  He learnt to paint watercolour in the traditional manner but  once he understood the ‘rules’,began to question and explore what would happen if he began to break them. The rest is history and  some ground breaking original watercolours emerged.  I grew up  in this world of  watercolour experimentation and perhaps it was inevitable that I too would  begin explorations of my own.  If the subject or mood seems fit, I will add collage, gouache, inks, pencilwork, anything that will build a  particular ‘look’.   Both of the Royal watercolour societies  define watercolour as being a ‘waterbased medium on a paper based surface’ and that definition suits me. Don’t get me wrong – I think pure watercolour  can be wonderful stuff and  this exhibition  proves that.For freshness and ‘flow’ you cannot beat it.  I just wonder why people get so upset about these ‘labels’ . There are good watercolours and bad just as there are good or bad paintings in  any other medium. As long as it  makes an authentic statement and  you are true to yourself , I believe that is all that matters.

Both exhibitions had their private views yesterday so I chose to go the nearest one!  It was really lovely meeting visitors and  the other artists and there was a fantastic ‘buzz’. Afterwards, Jo, the lovely gallery owner,  had generously made the artists a wonderful spread for us to tuck into . We continued our debates and I staggered home rather late!

Windrush House, Windrush, Nr Burford, OX18 4TU  www.jamesfletcherwatson.com

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Currently for sale at the Windrush Gallery, near Burford, Gloucestershire

 


 

 

 

A windy walk

I spent so long on the computer yesterday that  I was desperate to get out and stretch my legs.The weather was looking less than promising outside but I decided to go nevertheless and was glad I did. It was one of those days that could not make its mind up whether to rain or shine. There was a strong breeze and I could see the animals in the field  were alert,as if waiting for something to happen. The grasses were dancing and I noticed the shiny leaves on one of the trees shivering and  glimmering.   The pheasants were socialising in the middle of the country lane   as we approached but  soon clattered away into the undergrowth. I looked into the tangles by the path and noticed one bird cowering and watching me. For a moment I thought it was wounded-but no- it too  flew away clumsily. It was long enough  for me to absorb the intricate dappled disguise  of his feathers.  Further along the track I saw a white bird. It was an albino pheasant. It scuttled away   but  with no hope of camouflage in the colourful hedge. It  stood out starkly from a background of interwoven stems and stalks.  The red details on his tiny head added a rich focal point.

 

As I entered the field at the end of the lane the sky was darkening to a leaden blue. A silver birch tree gleamed  brightly against this backdrop, quite dazzling in its contrast. Suddenly the sun shone out and  a flamboyant rainbow  swerved down onto a silver birch, shimmering through the silvered foliage.  In the distance deep clouds faded to light on the horizon, broken by misty vertical streaks of  pewter  as the rain  descended. ‘A wet into wash  with confident broad downward sweeps of the brush  to an inky foreground’ , I thought to myself. Elsewhere, in contrast, pale  shafts of light pierced through the dark sky where the sun found  a space to sneak through.  A heron was flapping low over the field, half gliding and half flying.  As I watched, its mate appeared and the two birds played and cruised in the blustery layers of breeze.

Simple pleasures.

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‘Come rain or shine’ Copyright Ann Blockley. Featured in ‘Experimental landscapes’ book


 

 

Watercolour Brushes

I promised to tell you about the brushes I use to create my paintings. Firstly I want to say that  I am not a ‘materials junkie’. I don’t feel the need to get the latest brush or believe that the most expensive is necessarily   the best option. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that ‘if only’ you have a certain colour, medium, brush shape or brand of paper that all your painting problems will be resolved!   Having said that, brushes that shed hairs or do not have a lovely point  can certainly be discouraging so I wouldn’t go for the cheapest brands.  I am very hard on my brushes. I  get too involved in the painting process itself to remember to look after them properly therefore I don’t always feel I deserve fantastically expensive brushes!  I  have a mixture of  sable hair  for the finest work and synthetic/sable mixes for  broader areas or for images using  other mediums such as acrylic paint. If I am working on a gesso or collage surface I may use much cheaper acrylic style brushes which are more hard wearing. The pictures below are all ones  I use with actual watercolour painting.

 

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I use a selection of round brushes.  To create first washes and big backgrounds I use at least a size 16 and sable where possible. I have several brushes on the go, using a different one for separate colour mixes. This means I don’t have to keep washing my brush in between different colour sections of  the wash which wastes so  much precious paint.  I am miserly about that! I also use a smaller brush, say size  6-8 (it is not critical) for more detailed areas and very occasionally a really small one for a fine detail although the point of a rigger would do just aswell for this.

Flat brushes

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I do love my flat brushes!   I have all sizes from 2″  to 1/4″.  This has reminded me that I must get a bigger one too! I like the way you can create an ‘edgy’ wash and you can use the flat shape to paint around things in a more quirky, geometric way than  with round brushes.  You can also use the actual shape of the brush to create geometric shapes and lines either working in the direction of the  subject or at right angle to it    ( for example the trunk of a tree or fencepost).   These qualities  help create  a more unusual, less ‘pretty’ interpretation of the subject .  The brushes illustrated are synthetic. I prefer this to sable in a flat brush as they are  firmer and  you have more control.

 Other tools and brushes

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I have recently started using rigger brushes and can’t understand why I left it so long. I am now addicted!  They have to be good quality sable and I prefer the long, thin, most flexible ones.  Armed with these you can create wonderful fine lines- either straight or long and meandering. Perfect for flower stamens and for grasses and branches.  The photograph does not illustrate this but I also use quite firm stubby acrylic brushes sometimes. They are good for scumbling on layers of paint or lifting colour out of a wash.  I have also photographed my palette knife and scalpel. The palette knife is great for splattering dots of liquid paint, using  just the flexible tip.  I also use the edge to ‘draw’  lines with or drag pools of paint around.  The scalpel is for scraping damp watercolour away to create patches or lines of pale colour. I use its diagonal edge parallel with the paper to do this, not digging in.  There are other other ideas of how to use the scalpel on page 26 of my latest book ‘Experimental landscapes in watercolour’ . It is available from my website  shop:  www.annblockley.com

 


 

NEW WEBSITE

My long awaited new website is now up and running!  It has been designed to give me more flexibilty so that I can add  entries and  information more easily and regularly. The paintings featured on my old website were  all pictures that had sold . On the new site there is a ‘portfolio’ section  for your enjoyment showing a wide selection of images painted over the last couple of years. These are no longer available as originals. However, there is also a space for paintings for sale  in the ‘shop’ section .   I shall start adding pictures soon so watch this space!  There  will also be a some  lovely prints for sale printed on some sumptuous paper  that resembles watercolour paper.

I am hoping to add more frequent blog entries. Some of these will continue to be descriptive pieces about  my walks in the countryside and trips away  offering insights into how and where I get my ideas and  inspiration for painting subjects. The blog will also show images of paintings in progress or ones about to go off to various galleries with information about  my current activities .I  will undoubtedly  still include   a variety of random observations and miscellaneous ‘stuff’! I also  hope to include more  practical information for the painters amongst you. Perhaps supplementing the advice given in my books and dvds where space, time and content are inevitably restricted. Sometimes people ask me questions via email about techniques, materials and so on and  I share my answer on the blog, keeping the  identity of the  enquiry anonymous of course. One such query I received was requesting more information on what brushes I use. So my next blog will be looking at this subject.

www.annblockley.com

 

 

 

 


 

Exciting news!

I have just been talking to Townhouse films and am excited to announce that I will be filming a new dvd at the end of  September 2014.   This film will be a companion  to  my latest book ‘Experimental Landscapes in watercolour’. I will  tell you more about it  when I have planned the contents but am looking forward to playing with lots of exciting techniques and materials to make interpretations of nature and the landscape.


 

September

I love this time of year . It is harvest time and the colours of Autumn are gaining strength. Late summer sun is gilding the countryside and everywhere is  glimmering. The hedgerows are gleaming with berries and fruits.Strands of  bryony berries  light up the field edges with their traffic light colours. Clusters of purple blackberries tempt the eye. Trumpets of white bindweed shine out from the dark patterns of  foliage and woven branches.    Glimpses of chocolate brown cattle can be seen in gaps through the trees.Late afternoon sun has  decorated each of  them with a halo of gold. Some sheep  are also etched with a silvery  glow. There are hawthorn trees so laden with haws that it seems  the branches are rusted  and glittering.  Strands of cobwebs trace a lacy path between stalks of wild parsnip and teasels. The silky threads  catch the light. There is movement as tiny shimmering insects flit  in the shadows, illuminated by shafts of sunlight.Blackbirds  hop and hide in the cool hedge interior.   Near the pond the ducks are squabbling noisily. Young pheasants clatter awkwardly out of their secret hiding places. A heron glides serenely overhead and a  squadron of wild geese  announce their arrival. I can also see a buzzard  perched on a distant treetop branch surveying  the activity. What a day.  Last night the moon was a crescent of gold in a starlit sky,eerily immense.  This morning the fields were cloaked with layers of gauzy mist. It  is a magical month. I am back to painting with a passion.

 

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Society of women artist exhibition

Last week was the private view of the annual Society of women artist exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.   My heart always lifts when I walk in that gallery off the  splendid Mall. It is such a huge,light and airy space and  there is always a good feeling in the air. The gallery was packed. I walked round with some trepidation to find where my paintings were hung. There is always that dread that they will be in some dark forgotten corner or worse still not there at all! I was pleased to see them on the prominent back wall for all to see which meant I could  relax  and enjoy  the rest of exhibition.

The great thing about this society is that there are no restrictions on mediums or subject which means that there is tremendous variety.  I particularly  enjoyed seeing the marvelous  still lives by Patsy Whiting. Not  what I would normally go for but incredibly rich, potent and detailed and all, unbelievably, in colour pencil!  True talent sings out quite independently of style, subject or method and  is loud and clear when it exists .. but actually quite illusive.It is all about  having a visual ‘voice’. It was lovely to see one on my workshop students proudly hovering near her exhibit which she was thrilled to have had accepted and  great to catch up with other artist friends.  For me,  exhibiting in a society is all about the opportunity to  meet up with other artists  and I think it’s great that members and non members can all show in one space.

I decided to also visit the Summer  Exhibition at the Royal Academy and bumped into an old friend there too! Everyone loves to moan about the Summer  Exhibition and the silliness  (and prices!!!!!) of some of the exhibits.However, I must admit that I really enjoyed it. What I like is the freedom of a lot of the abstract work and there seemed to  be a lot of’ painterly ‘ paintings this year which  is the quality I admire most.  In the small Weston rooms there were some wonderful small images. I am always drawn to Norman Ackroyd’s atmospheric etchings and oh, Barbara Rae’s massive abstract landscape paintings.. to die for.  One of them on close inspection had an under layer of  photocopied seashells with sandy paint on top, gold and lots of turquoise. And I think I am experimental!  Back to the drawing board.

I have new paintings at Marine house Gallery in Beer this week, Here is one of them called ‘A tangle of Spring teasels’.

 

www.society-women-artists.org.uk

www.marinehouseatbeer.co.uk

www.royalacademy.org.uk


 

The books have arrived!

At last, stocks of my new book, ‘Experimental landscapes in watercolour’ have arrived. It has been reprinted in China but has taken ages to get here. All those people who placed orders at my exhibition will finally be receiving their copies. It has been very frustrating and I can only apologise for the delay which was completely out of my control. I am packaging them up this evening and they will be in the post first thing tomorrow morning ( Saturday 28th June). What a saga. Thank you for waiting and I really hope you enjoy the book when it gets to you.

 


Blog Book

I have just been told the news that I can have exclusive pre-publication  copies of ‘Experimental Landscapes in watercolour’ for my website in advance of the 3rd April publication date. Therefore I am now taking orders for signed copies  on the book page of my website. These will be posted out on March 20th!

Little house in the landscape is featured in ‘Experimental landscapes in watercolour’

Blog Painting

This painting is called ‘Wild woodland tapestry’ .. with lots of green in it for St Patrick’s Day! I think I spotted a leprechaun behind some of that tangly foreground!!

Favourite green of the day? Quinacrodine gold and French Ultramarine!


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