NGS Open Gardens – 20 Weeks until opening!

Yes, It is only January and it is very, very cold here in Warwickshire but I am already in gardening mode, having spent a full couple of days last week tidying up and pondering over what needs to be done between now and 10-11 June when I open my garden for the National Garden Scheme alongside Weston Village Group.

Some changes have been made since I last opened in 2015, and I will post photos and explain my reasoning behind ideas as I start to share my vision for this year’s event. Right now, my thoughts are on what the garden could look like, how I might achieve changes on a shoestring budget, and what could be moved where in order to gain best results with the space I have.  All will be revealed on this weekly gardening blog, together with a sprinkling of life at the allotment and my creative endeavours in the Studio.

Please stop by to see my progress and feel free to comment, advise or generally rally me along towards Open Gardens which is the second weekend of June this year.

Plant Labels are essential!

Cullen Skink Soup anyone?

St Abbs Views

No. 4 Gallery  is close to St Abbs, a beautiful fishing village famous for its diving on the East Coast not far from my cottage. Lovely Gallery showing works from artists in this region and beyond and a nice lady owner who recommended The Old School House, St Abbs Village for a bite – oh, Yes! She was right! It was excellent! Look it up on Trip Advisor and visit if you’re up this way. I can highly recommend Cullen Skink Soup , made with Smoked Haddock and Potatoes, served by a wee Scottish lady who engaged in conversation with every single person in the cafe – Starbucks, Costa and all the others need to get there and learn how to really do great customer service.  I felt valued and I will be back there soon!

Took some photos of the harbour and the sea to help with new paintings when I go back (tomorrow!). I didn’t really know what I was going to do when I came here two weeks ago, or what I would find to write on this blog. I imagined I would set up at easel in the cottage and paint, but I have been out every day exploring, taking photos, wandering around the coastline and I’ve learnt that its more important to experience the sights, the sounds, the smells of a place when you can, and then to go home and evaluate, take stock and consider the next step. There will be more of this blog, keep looking in if you have a moment to see what I am up to next. Thank you and, as the sign says ‘Haste Ye Back’!

Some special artists worthy of a mention today!

Enjoying comments from people following my blog and wanted to mention some other artists whose work you might enjoy.  Nicola Richards and I have shared Open Studios for a number of years. Her ceramics are very tactile, collectable pieces and her recently designed garden pots are original, frost-proof plant pots for the special people, places and plants in your life. You can buy Nicola’s work at her Garden Studio in Leamington Spa, or through some of the Galleries listed on her website.

Pauline Burbidge is one of the most exciting Quilt Artists or our time and her work is collected by many Public Art Galleries around the UK and in the USA.  Based in Allanton, Berwickshire and my lovely neighbour for the last couple of weeks, you can be sure that Pauline will give you a huge welcome if you come to her Open Studios this year.

Elaine Isaacs, Kenilworth Painter and one of my life-long friends, produces beautiful original paintings at very affordable prices, across a wide variety of subjects.  Elaine is as enthusiastic about the smallest priced piece as she is about some of her stunning large paintings, and always happy to consider commissions.

I have to mention Scott Robertson, the oil painter I met in Berwick the other day. Such an engaging artist who genuinely enjoys talking to visitors in his Gallery and explaining his work with absolutely no pressure to buy. When I have saved up the money, the oil painting describing the early evening light at Spittal will be on my wall in 2017! And me? Working on drawing figures and wanted to show you my latest acrylics on paper work featuring two ladies walking in the woods.

A walk in the woods – Bren Boardman


When Nothing Makes Sense

Today, I went to an art exhibition and felt nothing. I’m sure the work was very good, but I didn’t understand it, nor did I meet the artist and so I couldn’t find the key.  For me, there was no atmosphere, no music to awaken the senses, no-one to explain the passion behind the paintings.  I felt sad that I hadn’t engaged in the artist’s meaning for the making of this work.

Later, driving up the Borders, I could see the River Tweed looking magical in the early afternoon light. It totally captured me and, for no other reason than it looked so beautiful, I wanted to share it with you.  You had to be there to hear the sound of the river flowing, two ducks rising and water-wadding across to the far bank. Swans silently observing me from the shallows. A world on the river –  interrupted.

Nature is art – observing, feeling, engaging…. breathtakingly beautiful.

The River Tweed near Coldstream

Never ask an artist this question!

‘How long did it take you to do that?’. The one question artists never want to hear. Why? Because we spend hours and hours producing work that we don’t show anyone – our ugly ducklings of efforts – until finally, a piece of our creativity comes to fruition and we let the World see our ‘Swan’.  This particular work may have taken an hour, a day, several weeks or even months to produce, but time rarely equals price. If I were to tell you that I spent 1 hour making this little Lino Print, then I asked you to pay £xxx for it, you would laugh (unless I was Lowry!). But if I told you I had studied this technique all my life, that my work sold in the best Galleries in the Country and each Lino Cut took me months to do, you would probably expect to pay £xxx. Where am I going with all this? Having just spent the day messing on with a Lino Printing Set I got from Santa, and realising the results are not brilliant, that I will have to spend many hours learning and perfecting this new technique, I am telling myself that if I stick with it, I will one day be rewarded for my efforts. The photo is one I took of Holy Island (Lindisfarne) and the picture below it is my Lino Print work.