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

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Silk Painting Workshop with Sutton South Hello Group

The Sutton South Hello group meet every Thursday for art and craft porjects. There is also a social club on a Wednesday and a fitness group all providing a friendly and welcoming space were people can meet others living locally.  You can find more details here 

 I was invited along to show them how I make silk necklaces. The one we did is a good place to start. I have several other variations that I have devised as well as ear rings.

I9 women attended the spacious hall at Christchurch Sutton to get creative.
In the photo above I am about to drip silk paint colours from  droppers onto some predampened silk.
Everyone chose some colours and did the same. Pinks and mauves were a popular choice. I like the yellow and green ones with yellow spacer beads. The silks were dried using a hairdrier and ironed to fix the colour. The silk was then stictched to make a long tube that becomes both the covering for the beads and the ties for the necklace.

Five filler beads and 6 spacer beads alternate to form the necklace, the loose end form ribbons to tie the necklace when worn.

 The necklaces  tie at the back

The results were great so well done everyone!
Thanks too to the helpful young man who served us tea and cakes and tidied up at the end.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Pentle Bay, Tresco, Isles of Scilly

Pentle Bay, Tresco,  Isles of Scilly      Acrylic (c) Tessa Spanton

I am delighted that his painting has been selected for the Society of Women Artists 2019 exhibition
24th-29th September, at the Mall Galleries, London. More details here

I wanted to do a plein air painting on one of Tresco's beaches. I chose Pentle Bay, a beautiful long beach curving like a crescent at one end. It is fringed with white sand, shells and seaweed. I like it best when the tide is not too low. I found a cowrie shell as I walked along to chose a spot.
I usually use watercolour or pencil for plein air work and didn't have an easel so it was a bit of a challenge to avoid everything face palming into the sand! I did incorporate a bit of Tresco sand into the foreground and found that a few of the silvery particles of mica from the sand had found their way onto the painting.
This was followed by something delicious to eat and drink at the Ruin Beach Cafe at Old Grimsby. I will write about that in another post. Meanwhile more details here
I did some more tweaks on it at home and decided to frame it in time for submssion day at the Mall Galleries just a few days later.

 The frame is made with a hardwood moulding and appears a bit darker in this photo than in reality.

 Handing in is at the back of the Mall Galleries from Carlton House Terrace beyond the board and down some steep steps. Paintings are piled high so need to be in durable frames.
Then its back to Trafalgar Square to get a no 11 bus to Victoria.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Orange Polenta Cake

(Oops this should have gone on my food blog raspberryandchipotle.com )

250g butter
250g sugar
4 eggs beaten with 1 tbs milk
2 oranges
215g SR flour
125g polenta
2 tsp baking powder
greased tin 7x10 in or round 9 in

Juice of 2 oranges plus (2 tsp lemon juice optional)  100 ml
golden castor sugar 100 g
cardamom seeds (optional) 1/2 tsp ( it wasn't enough to notice so will try more another time)
A piece of orange rind (about 2in) and one of lemon rind
2 tbs water
Put these ingredients in a pan and boil and stir for 5 min. Strain before pouring over the cake. Chop the zest finely and put on the middle of the cake for decoration.

Cut the 2 oranges into quarters, put into a lidded dish with 2 tbs water and microwave for 7 min (power  800 )
Blitz the cooked oranges in a Thermomix or food processor
Add the butter and sugar and blitz again then the beaten eggs and another blitz.
Fold in the flour, polenta and baking powder. The mixture should look quite loose but don't be tempted to add more flour.

Cook at gas 3. Check after 45 min.  Mine needed another 10 min.
Remove from the tin after about 15 min. Carefully as its a bit fragile.
Place on a plate. Prick some holes in the top of the cake and pour the syrup over.

My recipe is based on this one from BBC Food
 I made some changes. In the comments section a couple of people thought the cake was a bit dry and one of them suggested boiling the oranges and using the whole fruits.
I added the lemon juice, zests and cardamom to the syrup. The cardamom idea came from a Jamie Oliver recipe.
The cake came out lovely and moist.

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.