Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Ahem! could I have some attention please!!!!

Ahem!! Meee-ooooo!!

I know what, I'll get into the in-tray - that might make her stop looking at the computer screen and ask me what I want . . .

No? She's drawing pictures of switches and plugs - booooooring!

Time for plan B – shred the top sheet of paper!

Hee-hee!!!! That made her look!

"It's half past five! Isn't it time you served my supper?"

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Pudding memories

This is my Dad's Auntie Vera, in my memory she was notable for being skilled at crochet lace, taking fuchsia cuttings and making Christmas Puddings.

One year I decided I wanted to make a Christmas Pudding, so I asked my Dad if he could obtain 'the recipe' from Auntie Vera, and shortly afterwards I received this . . .

This is actually a photocopy (the original is somewhere safe), and as you can see it's seen a few baking sessions! The first time I followed the recipe, I started weighing out the ingredients and soon realised that this would make more than one pudding – many more!!! So I now make a third of the quantity and it makes one big pudding and a smaller one.

The puddings are cooking as I type this . . . they will be ready when 'The Archers' begins on Radio 4.

On Christmas Day, before breakfast, I'll put the bigger one in the slow cooker and leave it to cook until the end of Christmas Dinner. How do you serve yours? This has become a compromise, I now make a sweet white sauce flavoured with rum. In my family, the pudding would be served with ordinary custard plus a glug of brandy straight from the bottle which was passed around the table :-) Never, ever Brandy Butter – nasty posh stuff!

So, while the Christmas Puddings boil and become rich and moist and wonderful, here are some lovely colourful photos taken this morning in our greenhouse . . .

and garden . . .

For some reason I keep humming that tune that was played for the 'Vision On' gallery . . .

Dum de dum... dum dee dummm
Dum de dum dum... dee dee deeeee

Dum de dum dee dumdee dumdee dumdee . . .

You'll find it on YouTube if you care to look - I'm sorry but I can't do the links for you (the studio computer is saving it's strength to draw science diagrams!) And no, I'm not related to Tony Hart, but he was my hero when I was 7!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

. . . and after the Bazaar

On Friday I stepped out of my usual routine and drove down to Saffron Walden to rendez-vous with Carole at The Riverslade Gallery in Saffron Walden - I was to 'shadow' her for a day to learn how to look after the gallery for when it's my turn to be on duty. There was a lot to learn! We had an enjoyable day, after a quiet morning (I had time to learn about the till!) we had some enthusiastic customers in the afternoon and some good sales - so it was a successful day. With the gallery all packed up and left spick and span, I trudged through the dark lanes to my car and drove home trying hard to remember everything!

So then it was Saturday and the Christmas Bazaar - I'd iced the carrot cakes I'd made earlier in the week, on Friday evening, so once they were packed in cellophane bags I sped up to the village hall to deliver the cakes for the cake stall and teas and to bag a pitch my stall. Then it was back down the hill to home to pack all my stuff in the car, get it into the hall and my stall set up.

The time flew past and with everything set out the first customers were arriving through the door!

The hall ebbed and flowed with people, a first wave looked at all the stalls and considered without buying, there was a lull as most people tucked into the delicious cakes before a flurry of spending. All in all a pretty good day, even without record breaking sales. And it was fun to have two lovely neighbouring stallholders . . .

To one side was one of my neighbours from the village, Christina Friel with her stylish selection of new and vintage costume jewellery and accessories. Christina has a expert eye for what's in fashion, you can find her stall on Cambridge Market every Sunday.

And on the other side, the lovely Mrs P, aka Silverpebble with her array of shiny silver and bead jewellery. She was even beavering away behind her stall with her pliers and silver wire, creating a gorgeous oriental style pendant!

So, that was lots of fun and great to catch up with the gossip too! With all packed away, cars loaded up, we said goodbye and headed off into the dark blustery night. I'd just got everything in from the car to my studio when Cliff pointed to a note on the calendar "Church Flowers" - oops! I'd clean forgotten! That's the trouble with living in a small village, you get put on rotas! So on with the boots and mac, and torch and secateurs in hand I walked to the church, lucky I know where the light switches are! And lucky too that there had recently been a wedding and all that was needed was a bit of pruning and tweaking. Can I sit down now please?

This morning we woke early, Cliff was leading a walk of 15 miles and I loyally said I would join the group for the morning (9 miles). I could hear wind and rain outside :-(

But by the time I'd eaten my porridge the sky was cloudless and blue! Fingers crossed the forecast squally rain would be in the afternoon (when I'd be back home in the warm!). We strode out along the Devil's Dyke, squinting into the low winter sun and trying to avoid slipping on the treacherous wet exposed chalk. All was going splendidly! We saw a herd of over twenty Fallow Deer, including a couple of pure white ones - what a treat! But the sunshine didn't last - at around midday the heavens opened and the wind lashed us with gale force gusts soaking us in next to no time! I was a tiny bit relieved that I had opted out of walking in the afternoon and my car was at the lunch point for me to hop in and drive home! But it was a very good walk - if it had been dry I would have carried on to complete the full distance ;-)

There was something I had to do before getting out of my wet clothes and boots - tidy up the hen-house and collect the eggs . . . Oh!! that's not a hen . . .

Hope that you too had a good weekend! I'll be back soon, but I've one or two deadlines to meet this week, so no blogging until they are done.


Thursday, 19 November 2009

It's bizarre! It's bazaar!

It's been over a week since I last posted on here . . . this is going to be a quick update about what's happening in and around my studio . . .

The weather can be described a bizarre - between the storms and gale force winds, the sun shines and it's unseasonably warm. Around and about the colours in the landscape are sparking off lots of ideas for new prints.

But I have other things to do - at the top of the list is The Christmas Bazaar (details on my main website www.celiahart.co.uk - apologies for not putting the clickable links in my post, but my studio computer and blogger seem to be having a lovers' tiff!). I'm surrounded by baskets of stuff . . .

and lots of Winter Thrushes . . .

I know there will be lots of gorgeous things for sale - and the lovely blogger Silverpebble will be there too, with her very very special silver, beady treasures. The tea and cakes are guaranteed to be scrummy - treat yourself!

I've been freelance for over 18 years now (crikey!!!! that's a long time!) and I still can't get used to the ups and downs of the work-flow . . . when there is a lull I know I have to get on the phone or send out self-promotion leaflets, this won't take all day and I should fill the day with creative projects of my own - but my mind goes blank; as soon as I break-through the 'artist's block' the email pings into life and an artbrief arrives - urgent, urgent, urgent - but I've got other things scheduled in and prints half printed - I need to grow extra arms to cope with all the stuff and my studio looks like the autumn gale has blown through it!

Meanwhile, while my attention is elsewhere, the under-gardeners have been busying themselves with UGPs*. Cheekily they have decided to work right outside my studio's office window . . .

. . . yes, I can see you girls!

* unauthorised gardening projects

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Look what's in Country Living!

Do you read Country Living? I have to admit that I haven't bought a copy for over a year, but a few weeks ago I received an exciting email from Vanessa of Verandah in Norwich and I've been eagerly waiting for the December issue to be published. Yesterday one of my neighbours called in with her copy which had arrived by post - hurrah!

Because in the Emporium on page 18 is . . . one of my linocuts "The Hazel Arch" . . . there it is in the top right corner!

The caption says . . .

Ooops! they've relocated me to Norfolk, a near miss - Suffolk's not far away and Verandah is in Norwich which is in Norfolk, so I'll forgive them.

And here's the Hazel arch in real life, the leaves have yet to fall, and Nutmeg who posed for the original design is recreating the image - it's every Spice Girl's dream to appear in a glossy magazine ;-)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Winter thrushes in the Yew tree

Just outside my studio window is a vast ancient Yew tree - it's husband guards the entrance to our courtyard.

The male tree spreads its sturdy arms wide, he fills the air with his pale yellow dusty pollen in spring, then scatters the ground with spent rusty catkins. In autumn Tawny Owls converse from his high branches and in spring Cole Tits swing from his finger tips.

By contrast the female Yew stretches to the sky from an ancient coppiced stump. Bow-makers fall in love with her strong slender limbs. In autumn her branches are bejewelled with hundreds of thousands of soft red fruits and as the evenings get chilly and the first frosts still the leaves, she awaits the arrival of the winter thrushes.

I wait for them too, exciting the view from my window . . .

Song Thrushes use the topmost branches to perch and sing their exquisite repeated phrases; Mistle Thrushes raucously land on the swaying boughs and fill the air with their rattle-cry. From Scandinavia, Redwings arrive in the night and feast on the berries after their long journey south - and Fieldfares too with slate grey heads and rusty backs chattering and calling in the cold air.

The birds will arrive any day now - but today the Yew's lower branches are decorated with my festive Winter Thrushes . . .

They started life as quick sketches in my sketchbook . . .

and soon became carved lino blocks . . .

printed onto some lovely leafy paper, I soon had a flock of thrushes flying across the studio . . .

Some of the Winter Thrushes will soon be flying over to my Etsy shop - just as soon as the camera gets recharged ;-)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

And here's the plot . . .

A couple of years back I illustrated a series of GCSE History students' books for Folens Publishers; one was about Crime and Punishment, my brief - to draw all the grimy scenes of wicked deeds and gruesome retribution in a historically correct but "light-hearted" fashion. I kid you not! sometimes being an illustrator gets quite bizarre.

Here are three of the scenes from a crime relevant to this evening, as England skips with glee as the fireworks light up the sky and we re-enact burning a 17th century terrorist.

Here are some disgruntled gents hatching a plot over a pint . . .

and here are the plotters . . .

and here's the guy (sorry!) who drew the short straw . . .

"Hold it right there matey! you're nicked!"

Enjoy your sparkly whizzy bangy evening!


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Remembering and celebrating

This morning Cliff and I remembered Charlie. Charlie the cat lived with Cliff (and later, also with me) for over sixteen years, in five different houses and after a very happy life he passed away four years ago today.

As you can see, Charlie had bags of personality . . .

He was an out-doorsy, boysy, rough and tumble sort of cat, but in his retirement he sometimes spent a few hours with me in my studio sitting on my drawing board in the sunshine and that's when I painted his portrait - a Renaissance cat sitting next to his favourite plant - catmint.

Charlie could never really be described as a 'studio assistant', I think he saw himself as senior management! But my studio was so quiet and empty without Charlie checking up on me and we knew that there were cats and kittens out there needing new homes so in May the following year we adopted 'the ginger one' and his 'tabby sister' - the studio assistants.

As regualr readers of PPPs know, the studio assistants spend all day sleeping in baskets next to my desk, but when the light fades they stretch their furry catsuits and make it known that it's time for tea :-)

I know that many of you, like me, have a studio assistant or two (or many!) – mainly cats, (many ginger), some dogs. Today, in memory of Charlie, lets celebrate our studio assistants for their support, companionship and inspiration.