Thursday, 13 July 2017

Another Year Older........

I had another birthday this week and celebrated it just how I like to, with family and friends and lots of good food. The champagne went down quite well too. You certainly need some kind of anaesthetic when you reach 66!

Although I always say please don't make a fuss, of course they do. And I'm so fortunate that they know exactly what I'll love.

How about this wonderful antique evening bag my mother found for me? My daughter Frances has her beady eyes on it so I'll have to make sure I get to use it at least once before she sneaks it away. With its gorgeous purple velvet lining it's just her style! By the way, Frances will be having a stall at the Suffolks Sunday Market in Cheltenham on July 30th. She'll have a selection of her gorgeous hand made items for sale and if you are in the area between 11am and 4pm I know she'd love to see you!

After the fun of the party we're back at work. This little garden posy is providing lots of inspiration for our latest project - are you joining in? Make sure to read the newsletter or click on the image in the sidebar of my blog to find out more about our Summer Stitch Along

Don't forget to let us see your work in the gallery - we love to see what you create!
Talk to you soon - Linda x

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

What the hard work is about.......

Summertime is when a walk up the garden path reveals the reason why 'He Who Gardens' perseveres every year against unpredictable weather, marauding rabbits, squirrels and pesky pigeons! 

We're spoilt for choice when it comes to dinner time. Will we have courgettes, broad beans or French beans tonight? Maybe all three and a salad with fresh chilli, wild rocket, mint and coriander for good measure!

No question about pudding - with all those raspberries and gooseberries today it has to be a crumble made using both and served with custard of course. Another reason why I'll never be thin!

With dinner taken care of I can return my thoughts to things creative. On one of our regular visits to my mom recently I photographed the lovely hexagon quilt she made for her guest bedroom. It was finished a couple of years ago and was no mean feat for someone who's now 89. It was English paper pieced using 1 inch hexagons.

I thought it looked so beautiful I couldn't resist starting a new quilt of my own. DMTV viewers will be able to see how that's going next week. I'm using a very different colour palette and the set of the hexagons won't be traditional like mom's lovely rosettes in a diamond arrangement. I'll explain all the inspiration that has influenced my choices in the video meanwhile I need to get back to tacking all those bits of fabric to the papers!

Bye for now - Linda x

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Sewing for me and for DMTV

Who could resist a few hours out in the workroom when, even on a dull day, it looks so appealing?

I know how lucky I am to have a little sanctuary out on the garden where I can forget the woes of the outside world. Some days I have to be prised out!

If you peep inside you can see I've been dressmaking today. I don't have any fabric shops nearby so I had a bit of a spend online at Minerva Crafts last week.

This is their very dark navy and white jacquard jersey. It only takes 1.5 metres to make yet another version of the relaxed dress from last autumn's Ottobre magazine.

The stripes are actually rows of knitted diamonds. I know I'll wear this a lot - all it needs to finish it is the for the hems to be turned. My daughter Frances says I should find a different pattern because this one is so well used it's beginning to look as though Laura and I wear a uniform. I might have to agree because I've made eight dresses between the two of us so far!

In life there must be balance so dragging myself away from my overlocker I've started a project which will be entirely hand sewn. You may wonder what Modigliani, Hans Memling and hexagons have in common. DMTV viewers will find out very shortly.

In the meantime I'm loving having some therapeutic hand stitching to keep me contented!

Bye for now - Linda x

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Pottery and Patchwork

I love it when things get finished! Laura went to collect the pots we decorated at the pottery a couple of weeks ago. They've been fired and look lovely now.

I'm so pleased with how the colours look against my kitchen tiles. The paints we used don't look like the finished article until they've been in the kiln, making colour selection as you apply the paint a bit of a guessing game. I hedged my bets and mixed two or three different ones.

The unglazed butter dish has gone from this........

To this. I don't think I could have had a better result considering I didn't have a spare tile for reference and just had to carry the colour in my head. Mind you, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and I just love my tiles so I suppose I do study them closely!

The heatwave this week has meant it was easier to sit and sew than to do anything that involved movement! At least I finished the hand quilting on my Rail Fence patchwork. The cushion is a nice, bright addition to one of our garden benches.

Just have to get on and finish the table cover quilt now!

Talk to you again soon - Linda x

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Portrait Shuffle

You may have noticed I'm blogging quite a lot at the moment - that's because I'm in painting mode and painting is so much quicker than quilting. I'd be keeping you waiting for an age if you wanted to see the finished quilting projects from tomorrow's DMTV video - of course they will be finished but not until I've got the painting bug out of my system!

Today I thought I'd have a change from plants and tackle a portrait. This homage to a favourite artist, Vincent Van Gogh, will be another canvas going to The Portrait Shuffle. Everybody knows his sunflower paintings but there's far more to him that that. Just take a look at the Van Gogh Museum in The Netherlands to see the full breadth of his oeuvre. I think his pencil drawings are a revelation.

I've used acrylic paints on one of the Portrait Shuffle's A5 box canvasses for this. Although I've used thickish paint, you can still see the weave of the canvas in this enlarged detail.

The subject matter has encouraged me to paint in a way that's quite unlike my usual style. I needed thick layers of paint to be able to scratch through with the wrong end of a paintbrush to try and get some swirly movement in the background. Normally I work with thin paint diluted with a glaze medium if I'm using acrylics. Quite interesting to try something different!

Bye for now - Linda x

Monday, 12 June 2017

Great Weather for Painting

Considering it's meant to be summer we've been having horribly wet and windy weather all week. Not good for many things but perfect for hunkering down in the studio with paper and paint. I painted most of the weekend although there were interruptions to the peace - a nearby airshow meant there were a few spectacular sightings of planes doing barrel rolls overhead. I ran out to watch every time I heard them approach - you couldn't miss them with such a huge wall of sound. Because of the clouds they had to fly really low to the ground. Gave me goosebumps!

I had a go at capturing the cactus flowers before they were gone for another year. It's a muddled and complex structure so I kept it simple with just one bloom and a few of the least ugly leaves. I had to include some body colour with the transparent watercolour so that I could place white petals over the dark background colour I'd already applied to the lower part of the page. I don't use gouache all that often because I'm not fond of its chalky character but it has its uses at times!

And the artichoke plants which are growing like triffids right now made a good subject for the adjoining page. I love mixing all those different values of green from just 2 blues and 2 yellows.

Looks like I've always been attracted to the same kinds of things. I found this forgotten watercolour in an old portfolio yesterday when I was searching for some more sheets of paper. It's dated August 1994 - nothing changes it seems!

Bye for now - Linda x

Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Mad Painting Frenzy Continues!

When you're in the mood for a bit of painting why fight it? My latest sketchbook which was meant to last all summer will be full in no time.

It's beginning to look really colourful as the inspiration from days out to National Trust properties and our own rather less grand garden takes hold.

These almost black lilies actually look quite sinister but I love their form. Although we don't have space for any more plants I couldn't resist buying them this week to add to the collection of colours we already have. They'll be going out to join the others in the garden as soon as it stops being quite so wet and windy. Today's weather is really wild - suitably dramatic for election day!

Our artichokes are looking quite magnificent and may have to feature next. We grow them for their statuesque size, their blue/green foliage and tiny blue flowers rather than for their culinary uses.

The alliums are gorgeous right now but may be a challenge too far for drawing and painting.

And to add to the confusion, my mother presented me with a very ugly cactus recently and it has surprised us all by blooming with five simply spectacular flowers. White flowers are tricky to paint but I probably won't be able to resist having a go before they fade.

All the acers have suffered terribly with the late frosts we had in May. Luckily I could find a few of the beautiful red ones without too much damage.

Not sure what to paint tomorrow but it's great to have lots of choices instead of none at all!

Bye for now - Linda x

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Painting Pottery Today

We've been promising ourselves a painting session at Apley Farm for some time and today was the day. Laura arranged it as a belated birthday treat for Mom's 89th! Laura and Amelie have been several times before but mom and I were first timers.

In the pottery shop there are lots of white blanks to choose from. I really needed a butter dish with a lid so was delighted to find this one. Once you start painting it's hard to stop (that might just be me and my obsessive nature), so even though it delayed our visit to the restaurant a bit (and we were hungry), I tackled a large plate too. If you saw yesterday's post you'll see where the fern idea came from.

You have to use your imagination when you choose the colours to use because they will change dramatically in the firing process, becoming much brighter and with a lovely shiny glaze.

Charlotte, the owner, has samples of the fired colours to help everyone choose the correct paints. I've attempted to mix a soft duck egg blue/green with dark terracotta edges.

The tiles in my kitchen have quite a variation of colour and also seem to change in different light conditions.

Both pieces will hopefully look OK against the wall tiles. We'll see if I've got anywhere near the colours after Charlotte completes the firing. Can't wait to see how they turn out - we may have discovered a new obsession!

Linda x

Monday, 5 June 2017

Nature as inspiration - summer

If you're interested to see how the latest sketchbook is coming along watch out for a DMTV video very soon.

In the meantime, here's a taster.

I'm aiming to make a record of local places I visit as well as special things I love in my own garden. This will keep me happily occupied all through the summer!

I love nothing more than creating arty stuff and know I'm really lucky to have two really talented daughters who feel exactly the same. Have you seen how Frances has added new items to her online shop at and how Laura and my granddaughter Amelie are transforming a boring white sofa on her instagram page?

Thanks for taking the time to see what our family are up to this wet and windy Monday!So much for flaming June!!

Love Linda x

Friday, 2 June 2017

Seeking Inspiration in Nature

We went for a lovely walk in the cool of the local woods a couple of days ago.

With the dappled sun peeping through the trees it seemed like the perfect place to be on a hot day.

And being near running water is always a pleasure even if it is just a trickle of a stream bubbling along gently at this time of year.

What you can't get from these photographs is the smell - the flowers of the wild garlic were going over but the scent was all pervasive. Great if you like garlic!

Made me think I should attempt to capture the sensations of the woods in a sketch or two.

So here's the first. I'm working in a zig zag sketchbook that has heavy watercolour paper.

This will be a perfect format for my plan to record the plants and flowers of the summer season as the book will unfurl to reveal its images much like my walk through the woods did!

Bye for now - Linda

Monday, 22 May 2017

Painting again today

I thought I'd better crack on and do a second painting of the Amaryllis today. I only had an hour to spare this afternoon but watercolour is so quick.

Even if you need to wait for one wash to dry before you can add the second, it only takes a few minutes when the weather is warm like today.

I'm breaking my own rules with this one - usually I say to use big brushes so you don't fiddle about too much but this painting is only small so I have resorted to finding out the tiny brushes I rarely use.
Even with tiny brushes, I can't get the fine detail of the pattern on the petals so the final lines were added with Inktense pencils before softening them slightly with a bit of clean water.

If I have any free time tomorrow I might tackle the fully opened blooms before they die on me. The plant is so top heavy now that all four flowers are open we've had to prop the stalk up against the arm of a chair!

Linda x

Sunday, 21 May 2017


I've been photographing this Amaryllis ever since the first bud appeared.

They are such huge plants -you can almost watch them growing.

I thought the flower would make a good subject for my printed sketchbook pages and it would be fun to record the daily changes as the buds opened. This is the first study. the paint is still wet as you can see! I thought it might be a good idea to continue the printed lines across to the righthand page to connect the print to the painting. I've just ruled them in place using a permanent pen.

This was one of the patchiest looking printed pages in the whole book so I thought I'd make more of the splodgy printed circles by enclosing them with more pen lines and giving them stalks to connect with the 'ground'. Not sure what they are meant to be but they do seem to balance the pages better I think.

Today the flowers are fully open but I've got lots of photos to remind me of the stages in between as I start the next study!

Linda x

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew?

When you are used to working into small-scale sketchbooks like this one..........

it's easy to make a start and even to finish in a short session. This is still a work in progress. I'm using permanent pen together with Inktense pencils and wash - the wash is still wet so I've called for a coffee break. Once it's dry I can work back into the drawing to add some shadows and pattern. The reason I'm tackling a small page like this is probably because of what's facing me below!

I've had this enormous canvas since the Christmas before last. He Who Gardens thought it was an amusing gift! It's difficult to show the size in a photo but believe me when I tell you it's taller than I am. Until today it has lurked in its cardboard box BUT it will never get painted unless I get the wrapper off will it? Today was the day. We had to rearrange the furniture to even get it on the easel! It's a start at least - now all I have to do is summon up the courage to get the paints out!

Bye for now - Linda x
PS - I've only just posted and already I've had enquiries about the brush roll you can see in the picture above - It's made by my daughter Frances and available to buy at Max&Rosie 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Evelyn De Morgan

Rain kept us from outdoor chores this afternoon so we took advantage of the uncooperative weather for a quick visit to our closest National Trust property, Wightwick Manor.

We know the house well as it's only a ten minute drive from home but we'd read that, since our last visit, the Trust had converted the Malthouse into a gallery space. The inaugural exhibition features the paintings of Evelyn De Morgan and the ceramics of her husband William.

The exhibits are on loan from the De Morgan Collection and most of the paintings I've never seen before. Evelyn was one of the first women to attend the Slade School of Art but it seems the greatest influence on her work was that of her uncle, John Spencer Stanhope and of course Edward Burne-Jones of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Grey Sisters was painted around 1880.

The Grey Sisters - detail.

The Grey Sisters - detail.
Like Burne-Jones, the artist certainly loved a bit of drapery!

Many of the paintings displayed were concerned with sleep and death. This one is indeed called, Sleep and Death: children of the night. 1883.

Venus and Cupid painted in 1878.

I'm sure I've posted this image before when I saw it in exhibition a few years ago. Evelyn's Flora is reminiscent of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and his Primavera and it shows her love of Italian art - she made many trips to Florence where her uncle lived.

Here's a detail of Flora which I thought was exquisite!

But, perhaps surprisingly, my favourite piece was this study in charcoal and pencil on a humble sheet of brown paper. Drawn in 1906 it really shows what a brilliant draftswoman she was.

I have lots more photos and I suppose I should show some of the ceramics but this is in danger of becoming a lecture so I'll post them another time!

The visit was definitely a lovely way to pass a couple of hours - I'd encourage you to go and see the paintings for yourself if you can!

Linda x