Blue is one of my favourite colours. Spring arrives and for an artist there are so many joyful scenes to paint as nature springs to life after sleeping through the Winter.
As a landscape artist, after painting pink in all shades whilst capturing the amazing Blossom on Harrogate Stray, for two weeks I felt impelled to sit amongst the blue Bluebells and put paint to canvas.
I set off one day with this precise mission in mind. Armed with a rucksack containing acrylic paints and brushes, a painting table -which I use to rest my canvas on, a one metre long canvas and my Sheepdog Poppy to a wood near Harrogate. The sign said ‘keep dogs on a lead,’ however seeing the public footpath, Poppy and I strode forth through a very small field of cows, stupidly……as the cows started charging towards protecting their calves! Poppy and I ran, me with this huge canvas raising it in the air. We managed to get over a fence to safety with the cows, some with horns, trying to get through the gate. I have never been so frightened! Luckily a farmer came to my rescue. He was rather mad as he might be, but escorted me to safety and told me how to get to the woods another way with no cows.
We settled ourselves down for the day having carefully picked a place with young trees growing through the Bluebells. It was sheer bliss painting en plein air with the birds singing all around, so peaceful. I grabbed a twig and set to painting. I wanted to capture the almost ethereal scene and created a misty effect using lilacs and greys with a complimentary lemon green leaf colour. Then added the Bluebells which were almost purple. This is the result.
After a hard day’s painting Poppy happily meandered back to the car and drove home for a cup of tea.
You can see the finished painting in my studio in central Harrogate, the Dove Tree Art Studio.
Nature’s Flowers are a gift all to artists in all their colours, shapes and forms. I love capturing their essence using all sorts of water based paints and other mediums.
Chatting to some regular clients on my art courses in the studio, I discovered that although people like the idea of painting outside, they don’t like the idea of people looking over their shoulders and casting judgement. So I set to Social media and Twitter and asked the question, “does anyone have a private garden that my art clients could come and sit in?” Jo Banks of the Harrogate Garden and Flower School replied and said she had the perfect venue. What a find, Jo has a stunning garden in central Harrogate where she grows her own flowers and teaches gardening courses.
The date was set for our first course which took place 6th May. Eight clients booked to attend. Jo gave a lovely tour of her garden which included her playful Golden Retriever puppy.
I then did a demonstration in watercolours of a Tulip. We had such fun experimenting with colour, salt and other techniques accompanied with Jo’s delicious homemade cake and tea.
These are the results of the morning’s endeavours.
This course was such a success that we have planned a Summer workshop on 29th July. Join in the fun?
I get so excited when Spring is in the air and the Stray comes to life. First the Crocuses, then the simply stunning Cherry Blossom Trees come into full bloom in April.
For two weeks, in between icy cold winds coming from the Arctic, I ventured to the Stray and set up my equipment. As a Harrogate Artist, I am absolutely drawn to these iconic Harrogate trees, reminiscent of the trees you see in the Far East. There are two walkways on the Stray each one lined with many Cherry Blossom trees which form archways.
The pink blossom in all its shades is simply breath-taking and as an artist in love with colour it is a joy to behold.
I always take Poppy my Sheepdog with me when painting outside, she’s great company and a good guard dog. She will lie down next to me, or have a sniff nearby. She has really soft fur which people love to stroke.
A gentleman came up to me and said that “it’s disgusting that the whole Stray is dead”. The council’s groundsmen spray the roots of the trees so the grass doesn’t grow. Consequently there are no Hedgehogs, Bees and other wildlife. It’s true that I did not see one Bee, so why don’t they get the pollen from these abundant blossom. Just find out.
Another man told me he had raised the money to replant dozens of trees. Apparently after 60 years the Cherry trees just die. So since they were planted for the Queen’s Coronation, many are due to expire.
I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when, Simon Hulme, photographer for the Yorkshire Post passed me as I was painting. I had met him recently as he took the photos for the interior shots of our house for the Yorkshire Post. I was the only Painter on the Stray and he loved the painting I was creating and the fact I had Poppy the Sheepdog. So I balanced my pictures on the paste table I was using. The next thing was to get Poppy to pose which took about 5 minutes. Every time I got her to sit under my table and let go of her collar she would walk towards Simon! What do they say “don’t work with dogs and children” I muttered under my breath, don’t you want to be in the paper, to Poppy.
Anyway after about the tenth take, Simon managed to get the shot. Subsequently it appeared in the Yorkshire Post newspaper on Wednesday April 19th page 9. Apparently I was knocked off the front cover since Theresa May called the election that day!! I was so happy just to be in there. Poppy took such a great picture.
It has been a fabulous two weeks, I have enjoyed talking to lots of people some more than once. I have painted 5 canvases with acrylic paint just using a twig. Bluebells next……
I was contacted by Helen Suckling of Harrogate Tourist Information Centre to see if I would be interested in creating a front cover of Harrogate’s newest local magazine The Harrogate Review.
Helen had been approached by Editor Haigh Simpson to see if she knew an artist who could create a special front cover especially for the Tour de Yorkshire 2017. Of course I said and lots of drawing, measuring and paper cutting ensued.
It’s a miniature paper cut map depicting the route of Stage 2 of Tour de Yorkshire 2017. It starts in Tadcaster, famous for its bridge and brewery, then on to Knaresborough with its iconic bridge, Ripon with its cathedral, past Fountains Abbey, finishing in Harrogate on the Stray. It’s similar in style to the Grand Depart 2014 map and features of the famous cherry trees with hundreds of paper cut pink dots stuck on, the cyclists, people, dogs, together with iconic buildings on or adjacent to Parliament Street such as Bettys and the Royal Hall. It took days to complete. Prints are available, please contact for details.
Recently my work had featured in The Yorkshire Post. Sharon Dale, the Property and Interiors Editor had kindly featured my Tour de Yorkshire cut out wheel which I created when I was the Official artist for the Tour de Yorkshire in the Home Grown Section of the Saturday Magazine. Over Christmas 2016, she loved my Christmas cards which I had illustrated for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and featured one in the Home Grown Section of the magazine, saying it was her “favourite charity Christmas card”.
Sharon is always looking for interesting homes to feature in the Saturday Magazine and she told me once that artist’s homes generally make very interesting subjects which work well. I agreed to be featured and the date was set for January 2017.
I had my deadline, so hurriedly ensured that all the jigsaw pieces came together in our home…the front room had been upside down, being redecorated for about a year, so this gave me an incentive to finish it.
The day of the photo shoot arrived. Sharon arrived. She loved the colours and decor in our house particularly the kitchen and we had a long chat over coffee about my life, inspirations, interior style and so on. Sharon needed to get the background for the article first before Simon Hulme, The Yorkshire Post photographer arrived.
The ground floor is the most photogenic part of our house so this was featured. As you can see there is an explosion of colour throughout, it makes us all feel happy.
Sharon loved the kitchen. It was based on a retro theme and I was inspired to recreate a cupboard shape I had seen in America. Mark Wilkinson’s kitchen company helped plan the kitchen and make the cupboards. It was my husband Peter’s ideas to put our initials on the drawers of the tall cabinet at one end of the room.
Caryl Hallett, a local stained glass artist provided the blue glass for the star in our kitchen cabinet. I didn’t a want black work surface, preferring to source a light coloured one to reflect the light. The one installed has flecks of different coloured glass in, the perfect way to add colour to our kitchen.
The hall features one of my landscape paintings and a stunning window created by Caryl Hallett. The original frosted glass window had been in the door for 150 years, since the house was built. My son one day with a friend had been playing hockey with a golf ball and disaster happened…broken glass everywhere. So, I kept some of the glass. Meanwhile I had the idea of having my paper cut designs sandblasted onto the two panes of glass. I love the idea of bringing the outside in, so I laid down a design featuring the wildlife and countryside around here and had it sandblasted. Having chosen a turquoise glass, Caryl then cleverly put all the components together. I am reminded every day of nature and the fields and hedgerows around here.
The front room is an explosion of colour featuring floral Designer Guild curtains, purple and lime green sofas.
The photograph of me was taken in our garden. The sun came out for just a few seconds so Simon was able to take a backlit shot of Poppy, our dog and I.
I was thrilled with the article when it came out. Sharon’s imaginatively written article perfectly conveyed the essence of our house and my thoughts and inspirations as an artist. Simon’s photos were clear, colourful and stunning.
So many people I have met recently have seen the article and complimented me on it. The whole experience has been amazing.
As a follow up, Sharon rang me on 3rd March and said that the ‘i’ Newspaper was featuring the article. So it’s gone national now. Thanks so much Sharon and Simon.
You can read the full Yorkshire Post article here
What a gem of a place! Originally this unique place was purely vaults to store valuables. The London Silver Vaults is now occupied with small shops selling beautiful silver as well as traditional vaults. I was initially contacted to see if I would be interested in designing the backdrops for three display cabinets in the entrance through a contact. What a surprise and a challenge as each one was to be 1.5m wide.
I had to draw the scenes to scale, so I ordered a huge roll of Fabriano paper and cut three large pieces of paper ready to draw on. The designs were to represent the genres of silver sold in the Vaults such as the Countryside and London. As you know I love adding quirky details to my designs and spent hours measuring and inserting interesting scenes within scenes.
The London scene was to be set in the Docklands in order to form an appropriate backdrop to the contemporary Silver. I added people in their flats, sitting, eating Christmas dinner playing or admiring their Christmas Tree.
I was then inspired to create a large country estate with a focal point of a Christmas tree and children gathered round. Deer, rabbits and foxes also appear in the scene. Finally I drew out all the windows and doors for a Berkeley Square paper cut which took me ages. In addition, I hand cut some Christmas trees, people and dogs and cats out to put behind the Windows.
I had my designs laser cut as time was of the essence, these huge designs would have taken months to hand cut and I had a tight deadline of a couple of weeks. So in November, I excitedly travelled to London to see my work unwrapped and to help install the laser cuts. Next followed an invite to a Champagne reception. I checked into Lily Langtree’s old house which is now a hotel, The Grand Royale, and spent the afternoon at Liberty’s. Here are the final paper cuts installed inside the cabinets, dressed with the various silver themes.
I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to have my work displayed in such a prestigious Company. Let’s see what 2017 brings…
It all started last year when I happened to be downstairs in my gallery and some customers popped in. They wished to buy a tree painting for a member of their family. I had my steel Angel of the North with copper wings on display. I was asked “How big can you make this? Can you make it 7’ wide?”
“Yes”, I replied. The man said his company would be in touch as they were opening a new branch in Sheffield. A few weeks later I got a phone call explaining the brief… and so it began.
I was asked to come up with different ideas for artwork for a new Virgin Money Lounge in Sheffield. The brief was specific and I had a week to come up with ideas of paintings and designs. The ideas were then presented to the decision makers in Virgin for final approval. I was thrilled when I finally received a phone call asking me to produce a 1.5m stainless steel wheel depicting antique and vintage cutlery produced in Sheffield.
Virgin were impressed with the Tour de Yorkshire cycling stainless steel wheel I had previously designed for the Tour de France 2014, the first Tour de Yorkshire 2015 and of course my Angel of the North.
I set about liasing with the manufacturer to produce the finished item which had to go through many processes. I wanted to replicate the sparkling lustre of brand new stainless steel cutlery. The type of steel developed in Sheffield so that the steel didn’t rust was called Staybright. To this end the manufacturer laser cut the design and then sent the item off to be polished, which took many days. Inspiration for the design came from the cutlery displays of old. It was usual in Sheffield to display cutlery in a group – often in a circle. I researched each knife, fork and spoon, copying the shapes of old. If you look closely there is even a penknife. So after about a year from conception, my manufactured completed design was ready for installation on site.
There are only 7 Virgin Money Lounges in the country: Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Norwich, Sheffield and two in London. The idea behind the concept is similar to a VIP lounge at an airport. They are luxurious places for Virgin account holders to use all facilities free of charge. The lounges are luxuriously furnished with stylish seating in leather and velvet. There is complementary refreshments and biscuits, free wifi and newspapers. There are banking facilities but they are discreet. Each lounge has its own features. In the Virgin Money Haymarket, a fuselage has been installed in the basement complete with airline seats. Sheffield is the first Virgin Money Lounge in Yorkshire and it doesn’t disappoint! The Lounge has 3 floors. There is a bowling alley, cinema and games room in the basement. A copy of a huge table that Richard Branson has on Necker Island is displayed upstairs alongside my stainless steel sculpture. What a thrill it is to see my artwork displayed for all to see on the walls of this amazing new concept in banking.
Mine is the only artwork in the building. As Nigel Reece said “It really is the focal point of the Lounge” Apparently the people of Sheffield love it and have their photos taken with it. I am so proud to have delivered a piece of artwork to which Sheffield has affinity with.
Have you ever been to Scotland in the Autumn?
I had never ventured to the West Coast of Scotland. This was a first.
We drove through stunning Scottish countryside, past Loch Lomond, west to the coast. The scenery changes suddenly as huge mountains loom on all sides with russet grassland covering their entirety. We took the windy road which Judi Dench and Daniel Craig took in Skyfall, the James Bond film through the magical ravine of Glencoe. It’s truly breathtaking. Any minute you just think that a majestic stag could appear, it would complete the scene.
Crossing the water by ferry at Ardgour to our destination, the clouds broke revealing shafts of bright white sunlight. So near to the Northern lights!
We stayed in my clients’ cottage in Strontian in a village on Loch Sunart with stunning views. In front of the cottage stood a copper coloured Beech Tree. A must to paint. With only one day forecast of good weather out of two, I arose early to start this acrylic landscape painting. Using a twig and delighting at the Autumn colours of yellow orange and red I set to work. I love complimentary colours and here the blue and purple add a zest to this painting.
Next I set up my artists table looking up the Loch on such a still clear day. Almost melting into the blues, I created a 1 metre canvas soaking up the atmosphere of this tranquil scene using acrylics and a pebble from the beach. As I painted I chatted to some of the locals. Apparently there are lots of Yorkshire people living in the village. I can see why…it’s absolutely glorious and peaceful. I was so engrossed in the painting, I never noticed the tide water lapping my feet. My clients were very happy with the result. Hope to paint in Scotland again soon.
Watch this space….
Following the success of the paper cut helicopter notelet, I was asked by The Yorkshire Air Ambulance to produce four Christmas card designs. The deadline was August. They were to be paintings incorporating YAA brand new helicopter.
So I started to gather ideas and find inspiration by visiting art galleries, looking at unusual, eye-catching vintage Christmas Cards. As you know I love detail, nature especially animals….any excuse! Four very different ideas came into my head.
The first ‘Helicopter Robin Trio‘ is of three fluffy Robins sitting on a holly branch looking up at the bright yellow Helicopter. I love depicting birds and for the Robins I used oil pastels. The rest of the painting is in gouache. I suppose it’s very rare to see three Robins sitting together but after all it’s Christmas and “peace to all men and birds!”
Helicopter Snowy Valley
Here I wanted to capture the atmosphere of the happy times we all have when its snowing. The scene is set in the Yorkshire Dales complete with flocks of sheep, dry stone walls and rolling hills. There is lots of activity in the snow, children throwing snowballs, children and adults making a snowman and sledging! Generally having fun, even a couple of dogs. This was painted in acrylic and gouache using twigs and paintbrushes. I love creating a misty effect spraying very thick watercolour paper first.
Helicopter Christmas Tree
I adore times gone by when life seemed so simple at Christmas. I remember getting a few wrapped up things for Christmas, no electronic games just presents you could unwrap and play with or wear! How I love the clothes of 1950s. Here I wanted to recreate a Christmas scene from that decade. So I illustrated this Christmas Card with a little girl and boy in their simple outfits, wearing festive hats, putting tin helicopters on the tree. No scene would be complete without the obligatory furry friends so enter Wilf the Beagle and Alf the cat. Painted in watercolour and gouache paint.
Helicopter Woodland Animals
Looking through the archive of Retro Christmas cards the inspiration for this illustrated scene came up. I love these colours, the helicopter seemed to naturally light up the tree with its lights. The little woodland animals, similar to my Woodland Wonder paper cut notelet I created especially for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, sit around curiously through the trees. A sprinkling of glitter brings the scene to life. Painted in watercolour.
I was so pleased to see my work printed onto Christmas cards, I thought the printing quality was superb! I am told by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance that certain designs are selling so fast, they have nearly run out….so order online via YAA website or pop in to my studio see website for opening hours.
All the original artwork is currently on display in my Harrogate Art Gallery, The Dove Tree Art Studio, Back Granville Road, just near the back of the theatre.
I am really pleased to be supporting the Yorkshire Air Ambulance again by creating two original artworks for them to hang in their headquarters. I was commissioned to commemorate the retirement of their two existing helicopters, Sash and Cems, before their replacement with brand new state-of-the-art Airbus helicopters.
‘We Thank You‘ is a paper cut featuring people waving, a landing pad saying “We Thank You” and minute hand-painted flowers and wildlife which took me tens of hours to complete.
‘Fly High‘ is a Gouache painting (thick watercolour) showing the two helicopters flying high over the Kilburn White Horse, an iconic landmark in Yorkshire.
The Yorkshire Air Ambulance has released these as limited edition prints of 250 of each artwork.