The bluebells were stunning this year. In Loftus woods, some trees have been cleared and the flowers bloomed in the increased sunlight. In between commissions, while waiting for new blank canvases to arrive, I walked in the woods and was drawn to paint them again.

Loftus Bluebell Woods Sunset, 2022. oil paint on deep edge canvas, 50x100cm (approx 20×40″).

Brigantia Exhibition at Harlow Carr.

Tomorrow, 28 April, is the first day of Brigantia’s art & craft exhibition at the Bath House, RHS Harlow Carr, in Harrogate. The exhibition runs until the 29th May. I will not be there, but some of my work will be, including this most recent watercolour. It is the first time that I have painted with watercolour on canvas, and I’ve enjoyed the process. My friend Ailsa gave me some tulip bulbs in my darkest winter, a gift of hope. I planted them after all hope was lost, but every year those strange tulips rise up in their fiery red. They talk to me of bleak winters underground, and of the surge of Spring, of love and friendship.

It’s good to be busy. I’m working on the last set of artist’s impressions for the CPRE, and then in April, I’ll put my watercolours away for a while and start on a private commission in oils. In between, I should start to prepare for my first show this year: Brigantia’s exhibition at RHS Harlow Carr, which starts at the end of April. I’ll be able to accept new commissions in June. Meanwhile outside, there are signs of Spring. Let’s hope it’s a good one, without too much fear.

About trees, climate crisis, and my latest commissions.

Trees. Aren’t they simply wonderful? Planting trees seems to be one of the ways to combat our climate crisis, and it is certainly the most eco-friendly solution. I would love to have a forest, to sit within it and watch it grow… growing a little oak tree in a pot, as I do, that is nice, but not quite enough. Lacking the funds to purchase land and plant it with trees, I was wondering what I could do, then I saw that Seagull Gallery, in Filey, had joined a tree-planting scheme called Just One Tree; so I joined and pledged to donate so that a tree will be planted for every painting I sell. I joined in November, and started by donating for every painting I had sold in 2020 and 2021. (I was so grateful that so many of you decided to buy one of my paintings during the first two years of the pandemic: 46 paintings. So if you did, thank you. A tree was planted for every painting you bought!). Here’s the link:

I’ve been reading a fascinating book: Peter Wohlleben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees”. It is an interesting and easily read book, written by a German forester, which I would recommend to anyone who loves trees. Its relevance here is that, as you probably know, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and store it in their trunks. If the tree is burnt, the carbon is released, but if the wood is kept, the carbon stays captured; for example if the wood is made into the stretchers of a canvas! So if you have paintings stretched over a wooden frame, or of course anything else made out of wood, you are already helping the planet. (And if you want to know more about the idea of the “wood wide web”, do read “Entangled Life” by Merlin Sheldrake!)

Another way to combat the climate crisis is to diminish our energy consumption. That is easier said than done, but we must try. Using energy efficient machines and insulating our homes are a start. Shutting down polluting energy sources and adopting greener renewable energy is also part of the solution. In this context, I am delighted to have been commissioned to paint a series of artist’s impressions for Community Energy Vision documents being prepared by the CPRE. It feels good to be part of something good. Some people might remember the CPRE as ‘The Campaign to Protect Rural England’ – its previous name. It has worked for almost a century to support and promote the countryside. It is now called ‘the countryside charity’ and it is aware of our climate emergency. You can find more about it here:

The simple joy of ink and watercolour.
I’m really enjoying my latest commission. It combines my local landscape, environmental concerns and renewable energy, and has drawn me back into fine lines and watercolours.

Sometimes one hopes for a commission, and then three come at once. (But I’m not complaining!)
This does mean that I will be very busy until the end of March, which is nice.

Garden Chair II: Nasturtium Invasion

A black and white painting of a corner of my little garden. Nasturtium growing through and over a garden chair, near a low drystone wall.

I love nasturtium, its cheerful flowers in yellow, red and orange, its leaves and flowers that can be eaten in salads, its immature seeds that can be pickled as false capers, or left to drop on the ground so that the following Spring new plants will grow. A corner of my little garden in early Autumn…

I cannot remember painting exclusively in black and white. I usually start a painting in monochrome to establish the composition; I think of it as the structure, the bones of a painting, and therefore I like to use white over black. Often that underpainting is lost under the layers of colour, but in my last painting (Garden Chair: Rose, Tomato & Passiflora), I used transparent layers of oil colours so that the structure showed through. And so from that to this, a memory of Autumn as a response to the darkest and shortest days of the year.

a rose growing through a garden chair, with a tomato plant on the chair, and passiflora climbing up from below.

Thank you to all of you who bought one of my calendars (or more!). It has made a huge difference to me, as it has kept the wolf away from my door.

In case you forgot to order a copy, or you discover that no one bought you a calendar this year, I have 2 calendars left, and there are also a few copies at Wold Pottery gallery in Loftus, and at Inspired by gallery in Danby.
Thank you again for supporting an independent artist!

A4 Calendar. £12.50