Tessa Spanton SWA Artist, tutor, writer


Welcome to my blog.
This is where I write about some of the things that inspire my work,
news of exhibitions and works in progress

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Iris Matinata

                               Iris Matinata (c) Tessa Spanton watercolour and acrylic

I got a tiny piece of rhizome of this iris from the Kent Group of the British Iris Society. It was about the size of a broad bean and took 4 or 5 years before flowering but well worth the wait.
I had to paint it and here it is.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Tulip Exotic Bird

I first saw this variety at Kew Gardens then  grew them in my garden. The petals are like the feathers of a bird. A splash of colour to brighten a Spring day.

 I painted this tulip on a beautiful medium weight crepe de chine mounted on a wooden frame. There was some gutta used as resist. The lovely thing about this silk is that the paint doesn't move as much as on a pongee 5 so is more like painting wet in wet with watercolour on a good quality paper, therefore there is less need for gutta lines. I was after a softer and more dreamy quality.

The finished painting is is stretched onto mount board and framed in a light hardwood frame with an antiue white mount. 

If you are a silk painting and have only used pongee 5 do try some different types of silk and let me know how you get on.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Jumpstart a drawing habit

click on the photos to enlarge

This was a project organised by Marion Boddy Evans, an artist on Skye, over on her blog and over the course of a year.
Marion has also produced a book for the whole year with the prompts and spaces for the drawings which can be bought from here so you can start it at any time.

It started in January 2018 with 31 Word Prompts to Jumpstart a Drawing Habit in 2018
details here 
There is a word prompt given for each day for the month. Each month the grid was available to print from the blog.
 I liked the idea that I could print it on ordinary paper, that it could be a quick doodle or a more detailed drawing and to aim to draw more days than not. So no pressure and easier to keep it up for the year.

A short time before this started I had visited a Angela Curror's Open Studio and was inspired by her tiny 1 in square detailed drawing done one a day over a year. She used a 1in sq viewfinder to home in on something to draw. I went with Elizabeth, another friend, She bought 2 handmade Japanese style books that Angelaa had made and gave one of them to me. We decided that we would both fill the books with little drawings using a viewfinder. I started the 2 projects at about the same tome. I had filled the book by the end of January and wrote about it in this post click here

At the end of each month we were invited to send Marion a photo of the month's drawings to go on her blog. I enjoyed seeing what other people had done, the different styles and different interpretations of some of the words. I particularly liked a January set done in ink and incorporating lettering.
I started with watercolour and a a touch of black ink from a fine tipped pen, as the months went by I used more ink lines and less colour and swapped the watercolour for coloured markers.
I started out doing one a day while on holiday. When I got back home I would miss a few days but enjoyed doing them as a group.

My grand daughter Amelie loves drawing and became interested. She was 6 at the time. I offered to print her a grid for the month but she said no she would make her own grid and choose her own words.

Later in the year she decided she would like a grid printing for her. I enjoyed seeing how she interpreted the words and how quickly she did them. Some of the words were new to her.

                               October 2018

She has now got a folder for the grids and other projects we have done.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

The Elegant Writer Pen

                                             Algarve Pines

 The black Elegant Writer pen by Speedball can be bought individually or as a set of 4 from SAA
It is a calligraphy pen with a chisel shaped tip, it can also be used as a drawing pen. Its best used on a cartridge or HP watercolour paper as its a bit scratchy though still doable on NOT watercolour paper.
The ink is watersoluble so if you touch the line with a wet brush the black ink diffuses into the water making washes of aqua grey and sometimes pink. Paint just one side of the line to get the wash to flow in the direction you want. Its a bit unpredictable but fun to do. Its also very portable. All you need to sketch on location is an Elegant Writer pen, a loaded water brush and a sketchbook.
If I don't like the effect I sometimes lighten the tone by painting over with some white acrylic ink.

You can find an example of a water brush here

It's possible to do similar with Quink permanent ink and a dip pen. The colours are generated by water and are a bluish grey and ochre.

Below the pen is used dry for calligraphy.

 Pen and waterbrush  2 different versions of the Untersberg Mountain from outside Bloberger Hof near Salzburg.

                               View over Salzburg

                                           Oasts at Finchcocks Kent  (with water and some colour)

 Nonsuch Mansion this one has made the most pink.


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Working with gold and silver leaf

above 'Silver'  mixed media

 I have been working with gold and silver leaf.  the image above is a monoprint done with an oil based ink. i have worked over it with some oil pastel and silver leaf. The silver gives flashes of light depending on the angle so is tricky to photograph.

 The images below are greetings cards. I prepared some pieces of watercolour doing the edges with a deckle edged ruler. Igot some ivy leaves in from the garden. I had intended to paint the ivy leaf with watercolour but with the time available would have probably only managed 1 or 2. So instead I ironed each leaf, glued them on and coated each one with PVA glue.
Having experimented with the cards I will do some flower or leaf paintings with gold or silver leaf backgrounds.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Highland Stoneware at Lochinver and Ullapool

above mosaic sofa at Highland Stoneware click here for more details

I like their Mug of the year here the design is Mussells on a bed of seaweed. They have used
local materials, the glaze effects on each shell done by brushing layers of colour over pure Ullapool Limestone. Highlights of Ledmore Quartz (gold) painted on the shell, and Stoer Beach Sand painted on as seaweed.

Highland Stoneware is a working pottery in the Highlands of Scotland there is one at Lochinver and another at Ullapool. Outside there are some amazing and large works. Some of the pieces used are from broken or faulty pieces but some were made specially for the projects. I particularly like the boat. it is sailing on a mosaic sea with fish. The fish are fish platters that are sold in the shop.
The mosaics were designed by Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably. The mosaic work was done by local people.
I like the sculptural use of things like teapot spouts, handles, lids and even half a jug.

Mosaic sofa at Lochinver with the top of Suilven in the background

above  in the car park...

 Above Mosaic boat at Ullapool

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Autumn Leaves

 Autumn Leaves  ( below) is the finished painting from my step by step tutorial published in the Nov issue of Leisure painter.

 The tutorial includes painting in layers glazing with transparent watercolours, use of masking fluid for veins as well as use of spattering, salt and clingfilm to create textures.

 It is inspired by the beautiful Autumn leaves locally.

 TIP They are lovely when freshly collected but soon shrivel up and lose their colour. I use my printer to scan or do a colour photocopy. See below.

Transparent layers of colour over yellow.

Paint splattered using an old toothbrush

masking fluid and layers of colour

The cling film is applied to the wet background wash and removed when dry or just damp.

The magazine is available from newsagents or as a back copy online  here or as a digital version from here

The cover above shows the finished painting from a watercolour landscape tutorial by Gwen Scott