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

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Carshalton Lavender

On Saturday I had a stand at the Carshalton Lavender Open weekend selling my paintings, prints, silk scarves and some jewellery. The weather stayed sunny and not too hot. One of the things I like best about this event is that I meet people who have come in previous years and a couple asked me to work on a commission which I will look forward to doing for them.
 Also there is no shortage of cupcakes! (see below)

above The Lavender Pickers Carshalton.
below part of my stand

above Pink lavender in the display garden behind my stand

Recipes for lavender shortbread and cookies are on my food blog

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Painting Outdoors Part 1

Click on the photos to get a larger version. 

The first photo shows what I usually take with me when I paint outdoors. If I have to walk any distance this is fairly light weight and compact and means that I will actually bring it even if I end up not painting. If I had to take a lot of heavy stuff I probably wouldn't paint outside very often.

 The little paint box is a very clever design and the star of the kit. It's been with me on planes and helicopters in carry on luggage. The water bottle only holds 35ml of water it might be worth packing it empty.
 Closed it is about palm sized and might even  fit in a pocket. Winsor and Newton's field box. I have had this one for a long time and it now contains my own selection of colours. It contains its own little water bottle that doubles up as a palette and a clip on water pot. It originally had a small reversible brush. That was convenient as it fitted into the box but for me too small. 

The pencil tin with the piano keys contains a pencil, a sharpener, some kitchen roll and at least one reversible brush made by Pro Arte. I have a round which is about size 10 or12. It has a very good point so can be used for details as well as washes. I also have a flat and a filbert. Being reversible they fit the tin and the tip of the brush is protected in its housing.

The clip file contains some sheets of A4 cartridge paper and 1/8th IMP watercolour paper.
I also bring a small bottle of water to drink and if I am out for longer a sun hat, sun cream and an RHS lightweight waterproof cape.

All this will fit into a tote or shoulder bag.

Sometimes the little folding fishing stool comes too. It was given to me by a friend and is more comfortable than it looks and much better than a folding 3 legged art stool that I bought.

Below is another kit I sometimes use.


This is a shoulder bag, again Winsor and Newton. It holds my field box and an 8x5 in watercolour pad which is really too small for me. it has lots of useful pockets and spaces for brushes and pencils.

It's been to the beach and to Monet's garden at Giverny where I did some little watercolour sketches but overall not had as much use as the combo above.
The water bottle is larger than the one in my first kit. I got stopped at Gatwick airport as I had forgotten to empty it. I didn't want lose it but didn't fancy drinking it as it had been in there some time. I had an empty drinking water bottle with me so the water was put in that and handed over instead.
The water pot folds flat and when full looks like a little handbag.

In my next post I will show you what I take when I want to work bigger than 1/8th IMP

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Silver Photogram

Cards made on the computer from a Silver Photogram of lavender, wild flowers and grasses

I recently went to an evening event called Elements at the Wellcome Collection in London.It was a fun evening of crafts, music, story telling and science, themed around gold, silver and bronze the elements used for the Olympic medals.

To make the silver photogram I chose some items from a vast array of things. These were laid on photographic paper in the dark room and beamed a torch at them for 5 seconds. This was fixed in various solutions. The end result was black and white. Later I scanned it and changed the background colour. To find out where silver comes in to this look here

I watched a sausage (yes a SAUSAGE as in sausage and chips!) being used as a battery, listened to saxophones, made a silver photogram, extruded some fine silver wire, watched a silversmith making amazing new things out of spoons and learnt about metal colloids in stained glass.

 I also watched pewter being cast in cuttlefish bone.
This was run by the Institute of Making and was very popular. Each time I went to have a look there was a queue and a table full of people hollowing out patterns in cuttlefish bone. Alas time ran out for having a go at doing that.

The Bronzo Dog Doo- Dah  Band performance made a fantastic conclusion to the evening, They  played Baroque music and Jazz  There were 3 saxophonists playing bronze instruments. Some parts were made of silver. A mouthpiece was exchanged for a gold one and the sound changed from a soft muted sound to a brilliant full bodied sound and for the finale we heard the sound of a beautiful sax plated with pink gold. Other metals we heard were from the snare drum and the whimsical sound of a jig composed for the occasion and played on a tin whistle. 

Below silversmith David Clarke cutting a bowl for a spoon. The handle was removed from another spoon and soldered to the new bowl to make a new design. We were invited to have a go.
Spoons have been creatively used in the delightful little jugs bottom left