Monday, 19 May 2014

two weeks in May



Methodist Church Hall art & craft fair:
an early version of my table layout
© Teresa Newham
For the last two weeks I've been preparing for - and taking part in - two local art events; which has meant my feet have hardly touched the ground.  The first was one of the regular Art & Craft fairs at the Methodist Church Hall in Harpenden High Street; I was sharing the stage area with five other local members of Herts Visual Arts.

Methodist Church Hall art & craft fair:
photos by Bel Bluemel and oil painting by Fiona Gaskell
© Teresa Newham
The six of us were showing and selling a variety of watercolours, oils, prints, photos, drawings and ceramics; our steady stream of visitors had plenty of work to choose from!

Methodist Church Hall art & craft fair:
drawings by Hillary Taylor and ceramics by Elspeth Keith
© Teresa Newham
There was a huge selection of various craft items in the main part of the hall, ranging from the lovely cakes you can see below in the foreground, to copper ornaments, jazzy handbags, baby clothes, sewing accessories and more.  The fairs are eagerly anticipated by their regular clients, and there is always a lot of interest.

Methodist Church Hall art & craft fair: the view from the stage
© Teresa Newham
I had some excellent feedback and good sales; I'm looking forward to doing the next one on Saturday 5th July.   Other dates in the series are 20th September (which I'm missing due to Open Studios), 18th October and 8th November.

Methodist Church Hall art & craft fair:
Sue Wookey's watercolours, two of my pieces & my prints in the browser
© Teresa Newham

As soon as I recovered from the first event, it was time to get my exhibits ready for Art@StJohns - Facebook users can visit their page here.   This was an exhibition hosted by St John's church in Southdown; I'd visited their previous show three years ago and enjoyed it immensely.

Art@St Johns: my three framed exhibits
© Teresa Newham
As well as a variety of paintings and photos there was a selection of crafts, plus the opportunity for visitors to buy cards and bookmarks.

Art@St Johns: the cards & crafts corner
© Teresa Newham
I spent a happy - and extremely busy - Sunday afternoon stewarding and meeting some lovely people, while my husband took a good look round and enjoyed one of the excellent cream teas available - a thoroughly civilised touch - and along with many other exhibitors I had some very pleasing sales. All in all a successful and popular local event!

Art@St Johns: the view from the steward's table
© Teresa Newham
My next chance to meet more art lovers will be at Art on the Common in Harpenden - hope to see you there.  Fingers crossed for the weather . . .

Saturday 14th/ Sunday 15th June
Art on the Common
open air exhibition on Harpenden Common ~ the Saturday coincides with Harpenden Common Discovery Day. Something for everyone!
10am - 5pm (Sat)
11am - 5pm (Sun)


Saturday, 3 May 2014

into the woods

A recent reorganisation of my studio unearthed two blank canvases purchased last Autumn when I was planning to try out some acrylics on a larger scale than the mini designs I created at last year's Open Studios. So I laid them out on my bench, retrieved the acrylic brush starter set I'd bought at the same time, and printed out some reference photos, which I also uploaded to my digital photo frame:

two blank canvases, new brushes, reference photos
© Teresa Newham
Despite the damp and drizzle on Easter Sunday afternoon, we'd dragged the family out on a walk as far as the little wood and discovered to our joy that it was full of bluebells - blooming earlier than we might have expected, they spread as far as the eye could see.  I had my mobile phone with me and took a few snaps; they don't do justice to the scene because it was breathtakingly indescribable:

real English bluebells . . . .
© Teresa Newham
My cousin thought it might be a piece of ancient woodland; there was what looked like a ditch running round the edge of it, and what might have been the entrance to a badger sett.  When we first came across this wood a few months ago, I'd had a feeling it was special - perhaps I'd picked up on the age of it!  One of the trees had what looked remarkably like a face on the trunk:

. . . . as far as the eye could see!
© Teresa Newham
Although the day had been dull I wanted the paintings to convey my vivid first impressions of the bluebells, so I covered the canvases with an orange wash mixed from Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Red.  I was using what colours I had to hand:  the rest of the palette was Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green and Titanium White.

initial wash
© Teresa Newham

The next step was to block out some general areas of colour - I didn't necessarily intend to stick to them, but  had to start somewhere!  I haven't painted like this since I dabbled in oils as a child (a very long time ago), so I was feeling my way rather:

blocking out some colours
© Teresa Newham
I put in some trees at the back of the wood, added some blue for the bluebells, and then some more trees, using the same flat brush which had laid down the washes.  My instinct was to keep everything loose, to give a general impression of the scene.

background trees
© Teresa Newham
Once I added the large trees to the foreground, the paintings came together.  I didn't intend them to be a set - they don't match up exactly - but laid side by side they do give a sense of depth to the woodland, which reminds me how I felt when I was there.

the two painting side by side
© Teresa Newham

 Not bad for a first try of acrylics at this size, so now I have to decide whether to exhibit them or not, and if so, where!  If I do show them, there's also the question of how: although I painted the edges, these are not chunky canvases, and would probably look better with some kind of frame.

into the woods I
acrylic on canvas
© Teresa Newham 
The acrylics were a lot of fun to do - I loved the texture I was able to build into the paintings, and working in this medium reminded me how much I enjoyed using oils when I was young.  Although I prefer watercolour for certain subjects, I hope to do more on canvas from time to time!

into the woods II
acrylic on canvas
© Teresa Newham