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, 24 December 2011

Candied figs

Candied figs Sikalaki Gliko

above: candied figs with ginger
below: ginger sugar

I have a fig tree that specialises in producing unripe figs. To be fair it has produced some ripe figs too. The figs from the first crop ripen well and are large. Those from the second crop are plentiful small and don't usually ripen. This year we had an usually warm April and October and the tree has produced a supply of ripe figs from July to November. We ate them fresh from the tree and I made fig chutney and fig jam too.
I picked the last few that hadn't ripened and this year found a recipe that requires unripe figs.
The recipe is for candied figs and comes from Mama's Taverna a Greek food blog.
Figs are preserved in this way in Greece and Turkey.
For the recipe follow the link above.
 I made some additions and I used less sugar. For the first batch I added lemon zest to the vanilla and cloves. For the second batch I added ginger and cloves. I made some ginger sugar by blitzing about 1 oz peeled root ginger with the sugar till the root ginger disappeared. It smelt wonderful.
I used this to make the syrup. We could taste the ginger well enough. Next time I will experiment with more, maybe double.
The recipe has several stages but each one doesn't take too long and the end product is well worth it.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Romantic Roses

This is the latest addition to my etsy shop here. I made this scarf from silk devore velvet It is lined with silk satin and has a 3in fringe.

It is also available from the Corner Gallery's Christmas exhibition, ( see previous post)

Monday, 28 November 2011

Art for Gifts at Christmas at the Corner Gallery

Switched on by Time and Leisure magazine editor CHRIS WOODS.

SAM FRANCES – city in lights installation.Thursday 1st December @ 7pm

Free gifts, reduced price gift tokens on the night. Mince pies, mulled wine and hot chestnuts. Christmas brass carol band.

Art for gifts at Christmas continues at the corner Gallery until 24th December
to find out more click here
I have a collection of paintings, silk scarves and pendants on show there.
The calendar in the photo below features paintings by John Stillman

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Work in Progress and Christmas Open Studio

Yesterday it was warm enough to work in the garden. I was working on this velvet scarf. It is double thickness and has beading. I needed to do the beading by hand so took it outside to do. I am glad I did as today is cold damp and grey.

It's finished and will be at the Open Studio. I am also making a matching bag and corsage.
The scarf is featured on Etsy Lush

Etsy Lush


with Tessa's silks, Helen's lampwork and jewellery, Jo's stained glass





colours-textures.blogspot.com  tiarahelen.blogspot.com  leadedline.com

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Exhibition News

The Dorking Group of Artists' annual exhibition at Denbies Wine Estate was held from Oct 6-9th. For some photos of the wine estate click here

The photo below shows part of the gallery area just above the main entrance. This part is a stunning taster that leads to the rest of the exhibition in the spacious Denbies suite.

Below, the Denbies Suite

Below is the screen with 5 of my lavender themed paintings.
The two silk paintings on the left sold at the Private View. I wrote a post about them here

Saturday, 27 August 2011

florum 2011

Strelitzia reginae painted on silk (c) Tessa Spanton

It's nearly time for the next florum exhibition (admission free)

It is held at the visitor centre at the Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve Details here

Several different artists are taking part, many of them professional artists or tutors and over recent years nearly £12000 for the work of the Wildlife centre has been raised from sales at the exhibitions.

I will have 7 silk paintings in this exhibition as well as giclees and cards.

Right next to the centre there is an enormous bee hotel, a wildlife garden, a bird hide with information about the birds and a lake as well as more extensive walks to other lakes and hides. Ideal for a family visit or for artists wanting to work en plein air!

It is a fitting place to exhibit flower paintings. The bee hotel a reminder of the interdependence of living things as so many plants depend on bees for pollination.

The visitor centre where the exhibition is shown has displays illustrating the prehistory and history of the site, the creation of the nature reserve, its habitats and the wildlife which they support.Visitors can handle all sorts of 'treasures' such as nests, feathers and thirty-thousand year old mammoth teeth.

10 - 17th September 2011 Open daily 10 - 5
Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Bradbourne Vale Road, Sevenoaks TN13 3DH

The Reserve is off the main A25 and is well signposted. Follow the track past the Riding Stables and bear left when it divides. Continue as far as the Wildlife Centre where there is ample free parking.

There will be works in different media including watercolours, oils, mixed media, etchings, machine embroidery on painted silk, silk paintings, coloured pencils, jewellery etc. and different styles and subjects including botanical, floral and landscapes.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Rose pink and sky blue silk scarf

It's a lovely sunny afternoon today for photographing some silk scarves.
I made this one by a sort of shibori method that involved rolling and gathering the silk then painting on the dyes. I like the patterning that happened, never too sure what it will be like till it has been steamed to fix the dyes then unwrapped. A bit like a butterfly emerging from it's chrysalis.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Antique Rose and Peach Silk Necklace and Scarf

This necklace combines pure silk with wooden beads. It is made of a lightweight pure silk (Pongee5) and has been dyed using steam fix dyes. The colours I have used and the patterning achieved remind me of the patterning of butterfly wings.

I have used the Arashi technique to get the subtle patterning. Arashi is a type of Shibori that invloves twisting the silk then winding it tightly round a tube or pole before painting on the dyes. The colours are then steamed into the silk and the silk washed and ironed.. The colours are antique rose and a pale creamy peach.
The silk is ruched around compressed cotton beads and the necklace is light to wear.It is fastened by tying so is adjustable.
Length when tied is between 16-18in
silk beads 15mm

This necklace was made from the same piece of silk as this scarf below.
Both are available in my etsy shop

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Adventures with glass, silk and paper

I was invited by Helen of tiaratiara to join her for a creative craft extravaganza day and I have written about her in a previous post when I went to her for lessons in making lampwork beads.

Helen demonstrated glass bead making and papercrafts and offered ' have a go' sessions.
I ran 3 silk painting make and take classes; silk lavender bags, necklace and scarves.

Helen is making a cupcake bead and is applying white (glass) icing, she went on to put little pink dots on the icing. When finished the bead is threaded with silver wire with a red Swarovski crystal for the cherry on the top.

Silk necklaces painted and assembled during one of my make and take sessions.

These are the only 2 photos I took as the day was busy. In between I made some glass beads, stamped some labels and had a go on a Bigshot. To find out about that go to Helen's blog here
and if you scroll up from there you will find a recipe for the cake we had.
I am hoping the beads have survived the cooling process and if so will post photos later.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Pashley Manor, Exhibition of Paintings

When I submitted my paintings it was a sunny March day. I wrote about it here.
I have visited Pashley twice since then to see the exhibition and to draw in the gardens. Since March the garden has come alive with flowers. This is the most beautiful garden complemented by many interesting sculptures.
The paintings are on show in the Garden Room with the work of several other artists. The prints and cards are in the shop. The garden room is also where lunch and teas are served.
I went in June when the roses were at their peak and in July when more of the lilies were in flower. Both were glorious sunny days so most people were eating outside. When I went in June I took watercolours as well as a sketchbook. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the beauty of the garden and spent my time looking and absorbing rather than drawing and ended up leaving that for the next visit.
click here for opening times

Lunch and a break were welcome after drawing in the midday sun. Excellent, locally smoked trout with a variety of salads and some basil and orange mayonaise.

I was pleased to see one of my paintings guarding all that cake!

below, another sculpture so at home among the plants.

'On the Outside Looking in' I like this sculpture by Helen Sinclair. The lean figure is waiting outside the entrance to the restaurant. will she be tempted by the cake?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Trafalgar Square, London

I walked across Trafalgar Square on my way to the Mall Galleries to take my turn stewarding for the Society of Women Artists' exhibition. On the front of the National Gallery there was a section of living wall made from about 8000 plants and based on A Wheatfield with Cypresses painted by Van Gogh.
You can click on the images to make them larger.
I was amazed to see the size of it and the different textures together echoing the lively and textural brush marks of Van Gogh. The figures in the photo give a sense of scale.
For more information about how the wall was made click here

I was also wowed by the ship in a bottle that is the current occupant of the fourth plinth.
I walked around the square to see it from different angles and perspectives.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

'PURPLE HAZE' Exhibition at the Corner Gallery

Mayfield Lavender (c) Tessa Spanton SWA

'PURPLEHAZE' is an exhibition showing works by several artists at the Corner Gallery in Carshalton Beeches from Sun July 3rd- Sat 6th August.

This follows on from the successful exhibition 'Lavender Blue Dilly Dilly' held last November at the Corner Gallery.

I have several paintings, silk scarves, pendants with miniature paintings and cards in this exhibition. There are 2 lavender fields locally where I have worked en plein air, walked the dog and taken many photographs. For several years I have exhibited my work at the annual open days at Carshalton Lavender.

I completed 'Poppy in the Lavender' just in time for the launch day last Sunday and it is currently in the window. At the launch there was champagne with lavender biscuits made by Cocoa River a few doors away
Some of my paintings are on this wall, the top 2 are oils by John Stillman ( Wapping Group) and the watercolour mid left is by Margaret Eggleton.

Below are some of my silk scarves.

and cards by a selection of the artists.

The furniture is also for sale.