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

Monday, 30 March 2020

Opportunities for Art Making

 Lilies     black pen on paper
This is today's effort for Viral Art Club on instagram link here
 I drew negative shapes only. A fun visual work out but I did need tea and toast with marmalade after to refuel.

Since lockdown due to covid19 here in the UK some of my activities have switched online.
I cancelled the classes I teach and offered an online option or a refund. Most opted for online classes. I quickly set up a Dropbox folder  I made some demo videos, filmed by OH on my phone, complete with virtual biscuits for all. I added notes and photo reference. Students can post their work there, see each others and leave comments.
My Pilates tutor set up live online sessions on Zoom so I can continue with that.

                                          Seascapes 1 and 2    acrylic

                                          Cornish Pebbles  acrylic

Also I am doing the online Art2life Creative Visionary Programme. Above is my work from this week. Part of the brief is  to avoid midtones.
 I signed up for this 4 or 5 weeks ago before lockdown hoping I would be able to fit in the hours. I am pleased I did as I am able to spend more time on it than I would have done and I am finding it well worth doing. We get live calls and coaching sessions each week, lots of resources to draw upon, tasks and projects for each week and contact with a large community of people worldwide who are doing the course. Some are beginners, some are teachers and some have done the course before.
I look forward to the live sessions and seeing what art others there have been making.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Chihuli at Kew 2019

The Sun is a blown glass sculpture made in many parts. It looks splendid beside the lake outside the Palm House. The planting in the urns echoes the shapes.

Paint brushes

Here the shapes are echoed by the conifers.

                                         The Sapphire Star

  I like the way the sedums and blue grass are arranged in the shop, another echo of Chihuli shapes.

Below,  inside the Temperate House

                                           Inside the Waterlily House

                                         There was a lot more to see in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery.

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.