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, 27 February 2010

The Burlinton Arcade

On my way to some more exhibitions in Cork Street I walked through the Burlington Arcade.

The Laduree shop window is all decked out for Valentine's Day. The well dressed windows along the arcade display clothes, pearls the size of gobstoppers and a window filled with Faberge treasures. The photo below shows the gorgeous Red Admiral egg made by Theo Faberge inspired by Carl Faberge's love of flower surprises. It is enamelled with a rich red and decorated with gold and silver leaves and seed pods of the Passion flower. The butterfly has 10 diamonds on it and has settled on an enamelled passion flower. Almost opposite Pehaligon's offers ribbons scented with Elixir, smells wonderful.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Monday Moodboard

Silvery greys with splashes of colour

I have recently joined the European Street Team on Etsy. To see what is in my Etsy shop click here coloursandtextures
On a Monday members of the team make up a moodboard on a theme featuring other members' work, this is the first one I have made. For more information about each of the items click on the links below.
Ciao bella Staroftheeast
karuski ingermaake
more moodboards by other members of the team at fleurfatale

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Seago Exhibition

A Hundred Years of Edward Seago at Home and Abroad
presented by The Taylor Gallery at The Gallery in Cork Street,
28 Cork Street, Mayfair, London
Free entry
Mon 15th -Sat 20th Feb 9.30-6.00 pm

I have only just heard about this exhibition and I am hoping to go there this week. I have seen Seago's work in books so I am looking forward to seeing originals.

There are around 60 watercolours and oils on show many of which have not been seen in public for 30 or40 years.
Seago was a self taught artist who painted landscapes and seascapes with big skies often of his native Norfolk or from his travels and journeys made in his boat. He also painted portraits, ballet, the circus and was an official war artist.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Tropical Flowers and Orchids at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Tropical Extravaganza 2010 'Dripping with colour' is on until March 7th. Impressive displays of orchids and other tropical plants are on show in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and in the Lily House. On Kew's website there is a time lapse video of one of the displays being built. Some of the displays are orchid covered pillars reaching towards the top of the glasshouse.
I went to this show on Wednesday after a good lunch at the Glasshouse restaurant, a favourite watering hole near Kew station.
It was a sunny and cold day but inside Kew's glasshouses it felt like summer. I find it an inspiring place to be for the colours of the flowers and the shapes of the tropical foliage especially as many of my silk paintings are close ups of flowers and foliage. I have sketched and painted at Kew on several occasions.

A display in the Kew shop at the Victoria gate entrance.

Orchid diplay in the Waterlily House and below are the reflections.

The next group of photos are all from the main display in the Princess of Wales Conservatory

The photo above shows orchids and the one below shows part of one of the orchid clad pillars.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Monet in London

Monet in London
‘ Monet’ at the Helly Nahmad Gallery, Cork Street, London W1
until Feb 26th Entry free


My Impressions

Cork Street is tucked away behind the Royal Academy on busy Piccadilly. What a treat to find a quiet oasis in busy London, some 20 paintings in the spacious setting of this private gallery and no crowds.
This made it possible to view the paintings from a distance as well as to get up close to study the brushstrokes and the complex way small quantities of different colours are placed next to one another to create the shimmering effects of light seen from further back. The area of water in ‘Le Palais de Contarini, Venice’ 1908 was made up of many horizontal lines of colour hatched together like tapestry wools. Colours including teal, pinky mauve, darks blues and greens, creams, garnet and brown.They are sensational compared with the sometimes pale and poor quality reproductions I have seen. An exciting thing about this exhibition though is that most of the paintings have not been exhibited in London before as they belonged to Monet’s family or have been in private collections.
Les Canotiers d’Argenteuil had not been shown publicly since 1873. (There is a photo of it on the FT review, titled ‘Sailing Boats, d’Argenteuil’ a link is at the top of this post)
In the original the red of the long rowing boat at the back caught my eye then I noticed little areas of this colour that took my eye on a journey around the canvas to the bills of the ducks at the front, to the sailboat, a building and round again to the rowing boat. Likewise with little touches of soft whites and creams. Canotiers translates as boatmen and to me the painting is more about the activity of the boatmen on the river than the boats themselves. I can imagine the rowers moving the boat through the water and the men at the front pottering around on the sailboat.
The painting that most fascinated me was ‘The Bank at Petit Gennevilliers’ 1875 (photo on FT link) Here vigorous brushmarks scud around the painting as dashes and spots of colours. Vibrant colours are repeated around the painting with lighter tones of the same colours in the sky.
The shaded area is made up of rich colours and the sky and water shimmer with light. Quirky figures punctuate the river bank.
‘Argenteuil Fin d’apres-midi’ 1872 is directly opposite and painted very differently the brush marks smoother and blended. It seems to be from an earlier era yet only 3 years separate them. It has a great feeling of calm. I like them both.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Silk Painting

Canna Durban silk painting
(c) the artist

I first bought a small plant of Canna Durban from the Hampton Court Palace flower show. That was several years ago and the plant has grown and spread and been shared with friends. I grow it in pots and so far it has coped with winter frosts and regrows in the Spring provided it is kept close to the house. I have done several paintings on silk of this flower. First I make several pencil drawings of the leaves and flowers at different stages and take some photos. I like the way the sun shines through the petals and the orange colour glows against the background of a beech hedge. Silk paints produce strong and vibrant colours and the silk itself lends a quality to the colour that I do not seem to be able to get on watercolour paper. Silk is ideal for painting flowers on as the silk fibres act like mini prisms that refract the light and give silk its petal like sheen.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Colours and Textures

I chose Colours and Textures as the name for this blog as I hope to write about some of my explorations with colours and textures. I paint in watercolour and sometimes acrylics and oil pastels. I enjoy working with textiles and painting on silk combines both. As well as silk paintings I make silk accessories eg scarves, necklaces and ties.
I have a shop on etsy called coloursandtextures where some of my work is for sale.
I enjoy reading blogs and hope to feature some of my favourite blogs here as well as work I admire made by other etsy sellers.