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

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.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Oil Painting Books


Recently I read a post on Katherine Tyrells’s blog ‘Making a Mark’ asking readers ‘Which are the best books about oil painting?’ I was interested in the responses so I went and rummaged through my bookshelves to see what I had found useful.

100 Great Oil Painting Tips

Helen Douglas Cooper pub Batsford 1995

I find this a user friendly and practical little book that packs a lot of information between its covers. The tips come with useful illustrations making it easy to flip through and find the information without wading through acres of verbiage.

I think it would be useful for a complete beginner and for artists experienced in other media, the mystery of fat over lean is explained and how to transport a wet canvas.

To make it 101 great tips I would have added one about alkyds.

However Helen has produced several books since then including 100 Keys to Oil Painting so it may have been included in one of these.

This book is out of print but available second hand online.

Inspired by Light Ken Howard pub David and Charles

Mmmm and I am inspired by watching Ken Howard painting. This is one of my favourite books to return to again and again. I would suggest seeing the DVDs first.


Inspired by Light, Painting in Oils

A Vision of Venice in Oil

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJKG4siWPac trailer for Variations on a Theme

Oils Masterclass Learning from professional artists at work. Sally Bulgin Pub Harper Collins

This book starts with a chapter on techniques and materials then follows a series of 8 masterclasses with different artists.

I like the aim of this book which is to give insights into the range of different ways of painting in oils and inspiration for developing ones own visual language. It is not a ‘How to’ book in the sense of following a prescribed ‘step by step’ approach. Ken Howard works in oils and watercolours and in his masterclass the merging of techniques from both is discussed in the way he portrays light in oils.

Oils by Trevor Chamberlain ( Ron Ranson’s Painting School)

A good choice for beginners and improvers, the first section deals with the basics. Each area covered is followed up with ideas for practice. The second section looks at the elements of a painting again with plenty of examples of Trevor’s work and more practical tasks.

I have been painting with watercolours for around 25 years as well as acrylics and I paint on silk. In more recent years I have been to several inspiring and useful demonstrations and workshops in oil painting. William Davies past president of the Wapping Group inspired me at a local art group demonstration when he painted an exquisite little impressionist oil of a Venice scene. Workshops with Stuart Stanley and Stephen Hawkins were helpful and got me to start using a box of oil paints that I had been given on a town twinning visit to Gagny in France.