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.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Cold snaps

Today Cliff led a 15 mile walk for a local walking group, and I went along too; you can see the route here (the gap in the line between 13 and 14 miles is where I accidentally turned off the meter). Unlike a large area of the country we've had only a flurry of snow here but it's cold – very cold! Last night the temperature fell to -7C, brrrrr that's cold!

Here's a slide show of our day from dawn until dusk . . .

Photos taken on an iPhone using the Hipstamatic app, sorry there's no music but I had lined up an appropriately seasonal tune to get your toes tapping: Snowflake Boogie played by the wonderful Mr Jools Holland himself and sung by Edwin Starr (recorded in 2002 shortly before Starr died in 2003), it's on Youtube but I'm not sure whether you'll be able to view it.

Friday 26 November 2010

Meeting an artist and her tiger

Some of you will be readers of The Cottage Smallholder, if so you'll know that Fiona has been battling with ill health over the past year and her wonderful blog has become her window on the outside world and a necessary source of income. I got to know Fiona before her energy began to wane, she lives a short drive across the wiggly Suffolk/Cambs border; and as a treat before I faced major surgery, we had a fabulously fun day out at Audley End Estate a couple of summers back.

We've always wanted to go out on another jaunt together; two weeks ago I was pleased that Fiona felt she was well enough for a trip to Willingham Auctions. You can read more about what we got up to on Fiona's blog, but I can now reveal that one of the commission bids I left with the auctioneer was successful.

I'm now the owner of this etching . . .

Handwritten under the picture in pencil it reads:
State II Trial proof No 8. La Pursuite
Orovida 1917

So who was Orovida? I confess I hadn't heard of her, but as soon as I found out who she was I started to get excited . . .

Meet Orovida Camille-Pissarro, the only child of Lucien Pissarro and his English wife Esther, and Grand-daughter of Jacob-Abraham-Camille Pissarro. Yes, that's the French Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro!

Here's Orovida as she saw herself – in a self-portrait painted when she was 24 years old, you can see the portrait in the Pissarro family archive in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Orovida was born in Epping in Essex in 1893 and she was taught to paint in the French Impressionist style by her father Lucien and then in 1913 she became a pupil of Walter Sickert. She looks like a determined woman, doesn't she? Formidable perhaps? She turned her back on her family's heritage and became fascinated by the art of India, Persia and Japan; in her early 20s she dropped her family name and signed her art 'Orovida' and began to produce decorative and illustrative work. Her mother was worried about her daughter becoming artist with all the attached insecurity of income and wanted her to study music instead, but Orovida apparently persuaded her by studying etching which could lead to becoming an illustrator. Even though she was passionate about Eastern art she never travelled to Asia, all her inspiration came from museums and the animals in London Zoo, in particular she loved Mongolian horses and Indian tigers.

So, what a treat! I've stumbled upon one of Orovida's beloved tigers in an etching from 1917 when she was 23 and trying to walk her own path, leaving the weight of a famous father and artist mega-star grand-father behind.

Photograph of Orovida from the Stern Pissarro Gallery, London.

In her later years she returned to oil painting and painted colourful pictures of children and families as well as her beloved horses and cats – big and small. She died in 1968, I wonder what it was like to meet her? I'm very pleased to have met one of her prints.

The forecast for today . . .

. . . over to the tabby one in the studio –

it's a bit nippy out there this morning,
what's on the cards for the rest of the day?

Oh! how I wish I could snuggle down in a woolly blanket in a basket! But I've got to venture out into the big wide icy world (not snowy around here yet) I hope there are some nice things for me to discover today.

See you later!

Wednesday 24 November 2010

There's a parcel for you!

Isn't it a treat when a chirpy postman arrives at the door with a package – one that's been very carefully wrapped and addressed?

Mr Robin The Postman*

This has happened twice this week, they weren't delivered by a robin but by Derek, our usually chirpy village postman.

The first package was a complete surprise! It was from Terry, who some of you may know for The Hen Cam, a live window into the world of her hens (and rabbit). Those of you who pop over to Terry's web site will also know her goats Pip and Caper, and yes, there's a Goat Cam too! Terry had some of her photos of 'the boys' made into cards (available from her etsy shop) and she sent me a set to remind me of something I'd promised to do.

Terry has been trying to inspire me to produce some goat prints, the summer has slipped by and I still haven't tracked down suitable goat models to spent time sketching and getting to know their general goatiness – ideally they would be Nigerian Dwarf Goats like Pip and Caper but any small goat would do for starters. If you know anyone in or near south-west Suffolk who keeps goats and could allow me to visit with my sketch book and camera I'd be most grateful if you could put me in touch.

The second parcel, which arrived today, wasn't a surprise because I'd ordered some of Andy English's engraved Christmas cards from his (occasionally open) etsy shop. These aren't signed limited edition prints, but are printed by Andy from his original engraved woodblocks using one of his vintage presses (so they are the next best thing). Each year he designs a new Christmas card to send to friends, in subsequent years he uses these blocks to produce cards for sale, this year he has five designs – you can see some pictures of them on his blog. If you want to buy the work of a master wood engraver at an unbelievably bargain price rush over there before they sell out.

You can tell a lot about a person by the way the pack things and address the envelope; I used to work for a publisher and commission work form lots of different illustrators – it made my day much happier if I received a parcel that looked special from the moment it landed on my desk. And this padded envelop definitely looks as if it was packed by someone with patience and attention to detail, inside was a carefully wrapped pack of cards and a surprise – a little wood engraving of a pumpkin. Thank you Andy!

* detail from 'Mr Robin The Postman' a 1934 Christmas card which is available as an e-card to send from Liverpool Museums.

Monday 22 November 2010

Tidying up

As you may have noticed, I been tidying up around here. It all began when I started listing the LANDSCAPE EAST jewellery on etsy, I'd only three pieces remaining to be listed when I noticed that etsy allowed me to set my shop to operate in GB £s. Gosh! is that new or have I been missing something... whatever. The up-shot was, I no longer had a reason for my folksy shop (you see, I'd just opened it for people who would rather purchase in good old British money); in a moment of rash decisiveness I deleted Magic Cochin's folksy emporium 'ping!' and now we just have one shop with various departments for cards, jewellery, etc – Magic Cochin's single online department store is so much easier for me to manage.

Of course the 'ping!' had a knock-on effect . . . I had to tidy up all the links on my web site and on PPPs. This resulted in the creation of graphic buttons to the right.

If you've visited the 'i sketch my day' journal, you'll see that I haven't posted a sketch for three days . . . real life got in the way like it does sometimes, but if you hop over to Twitter you can read brief snippets of news from in and around the studio.

I'll be back very soon with a preview of the Withersfield Christmas Bazaar and I'll tell you about another exciting auction purchase.


PS: If you have looked at Magic Cochin's Emporium on etsy and found the prices are still in dollars, look at the bottom of the page in the left hand corner and you'll see, very small 'currency:...'. Change that to GB£ and you'll see the original prices that I set up, rather than the dollar exchange rate conversions.
If you want to view prices in another currency you can do that too. Remember that the prices in GB £s stay the same, but in other currencies including dollars, they will fluctuate with the international exchange rates.
C x

Tuesday 16 November 2010

All the fun of the fair

Two Christmas Fair's ticked off the list – so, how did they go?

The Linton Christmas Gift Market was a new event, so it was uncharted territory – I was surprised to be directed to behind the back of the main building to a portacabin classroom, the atmosphere was a little tense and not at all jolly and very cold (I now understand that unfortunately a number of stallholders hadn't turned up which had caused all sorts of problems for the organiser). On a happy note I was next door to a lovely lady selling brightly covered felt covered soap – her sales banter was a joy! – and next to her was Nicola, aka Lily Button, with her beautifully made upcycled bags and accessories. There was a steady trickle of customers and to my surprise one introduced herself as Chrissie of niminyfingers, wasn't that lovely! At the end of the day I had lost all feeling in my frozen toes; but, helped by one exceptional sale, my takings were quite respectable.

Last weekend was the big one, The Mayor's Appeal Arts Fair in Saffron Walden Town Hall. I've had a stall at the two previous Arts Fairs and sales have been excellent – particularly at the Fund Raising Private View on the Friday evening. So it was with high hopes that I set up my stall . . .

The central area of the Town Hall is reserved for artists to show their framed pictures, two or three of the people who had expressed interest decided not to attend, so I was allowed to spread out onto two extra display panels for no extra fee.

Rachel had sent a package of more finished pieces in out LANDSCAPE EAST jewellery collection, I'd quickly made a display panel covered with some Sudbury silk I just happened to have in the studio – I liked how the wide black and brown stripes looked like a minimalist landscape.

What happened? Quiet is an understatement, I won't even try to analyse why and this isn't the place to do it. My takings for the whole weekend were just a little less than the Linton Market, and that was mostly thanks to a charming woman who visited twice on Saturday and then came back on Sunday to buy two prints (I can't tell you how much she cheered me up!).

On a positive note, there was a 'let's make the most of it' spirit among the stallholders and we spent a lot of time swapping ideas and getting to know each other which was very inspiring. Gary from Edwards & Todd in Museum Street, London (opposite the British Museum) called in to collect a bundle of unframed prints from me to restock his browsers – and he gave me one of his gallery's Christmas invitation cards which features my Deer sprang form the wood linocut.

I came away not at all down-hearted, in fact just the opposite – I had a list of things to get on with . . .

The LANDSACPE EAST jewellery is gradually being listed in the jewellery department of Magic Cochin's Emporium – the Anglesey Abbey Falling Oak Leaf earrings are there already :-) I think they are my favourite piece – I'd snap up a pair!

Prompted by Caroline on the neighbouring stall, I've started a visual journal, i sketch my day, drawn while I'm out walking, using various drawing apps and posted from my iPhone.

And, thanks to the amazingly skilled maker of decorative papers, Victoria Hall; I've some exciting new printmaking ideas to pursue.

One more Christmas event to go . . . The Withersfield Christmas Bazaar on Saturday 4th December 2 - 4.30pm. It's my local village event, there will be lots of friends there so it's for fun – do come along if you live nearby, worth it for the tea and cake ;-)


Wednesday 10 November 2010

New on my stall this weekend . . .

It's been a busy day . . . one of those days where everything seems to happen at once. Probably the most exciting thing that happened was the arrival of a 'special delivery' padded envelope from Rachel in Norfolk – it contained more finished designs in our LANDSCAPE EAST jewellery collection.

Luckily it has been a bright day, perfect for taking photos, so I've spent some time photographing all the pieces so I can put them in the silver jewellery department of Magic Cochins Emporium on etsy. I haven't selected and sized all the images yet and I need to make a little display panel for them at this weekend's Arts Fair in Saffron Walden Town Hall; but here's a taster . . .

Leaf Doodle pendant
etched sterling silver on a compact snake chain

Small Leaf Doodle long-wire earrings
etched sterling silver

Anglesey Abbey Falling Oak Leaves long-wire earrings
etched sterling silver

Anglesey Abbey Oak Leaf pendant
etched sterling silver on a compact snake chain

Flying Hare necklet
etched and oxidised sterling silver on an oxidised silver cable necklet

Rachel has described the etching technique she uses on her blog, you can see pictures of the leaf pendant and the hares being prepared for etching and actually in the acid bath.


Sunday 7 November 2010

Flowering in my garden today . . .

. . . no need for more words – just enjoy the flowers :-)

Music: "Dance me to the end of love" by Madeleine Peyroux

Thursday 4 November 2010

Tarragon's in charge

I thought it was about time I posted about the under-gardeners and their supervisor, Tarragon – who's now a very handsome chap indeed.

He takes his supervisory role very seriously, in fact I feel rather redundant as the girls are his under-gardeners now and not mine any more.

Tarragon has all sorts of moves to attract the attention of the ladies . . .

Nutmeg Spice is having a bad hair day, she's moulting and looks far from her best – I think she'd rather that Tarragon kept out of her way!

The senior under-gardeners, Sylvie (at the back) and Phoebe seem resigned to let him take charge, after all they are now four years old and that's about pension age in hen-years. They're looking in fine feather for elderly hens – and they still lay an egg every other day or so.

Tarragon has been particularly annoyed with me since the clocks went back on Saturday, I keep forgetting to serve the corn for supper (about an hour before bed time). You can tell he's annoyed because he gives me a special 'look' and makes a sound like air escaping from a party balloon. Yesterday evening when I checked that all was well in the hut before I soundly fastened the door, he gave me a sharp peck on the back of my left hand leaving a livid purple and red triangle!!!

This afternoon, I didn't forget . . .

He's certainly got all of us girls well trained!

Tuesday 2 November 2010

A new joint venture . . .

In September I received a message via etsy conversations, from another etsy seller – Corryvreckan (Norfolk based designer-maker Rachel Simpson). She invitated me to collaborate in designing a collection of jewellery that she would hand-craft in silver and other precious metals. I was surprised but curious . . . a collaboration was not something I'd considered but after exchanging emails and tweets, and having a brief chat, the more I thought Rachel's idea could work.

Last weekend I received a package in the post . . . a little box containing our first pair of Leaf Doodle stud earrings . . .

Rachel's acid etching technque has beautifully recreated my block printed Leaf Doodle design in silver . . .

The texture of the silver is like the hand carved blocks that I print from . . .

Rachel is already working on more pieces for our collection, which we've called LANDSCAPE EAST (Rachel already has a collection called SEASCAPE EAST which you can see here).

I'll show you more pieces soon – there will be dangly earrings and a pendant in the Leaf Doodle design as well as pieces based on the Oak Leaves from my Anglesey Abbey print, the Sleeping Hare and the Winter Thrushes.

LANDSCAPE EAST jewellery will be hand-crafted to order by Rachel in her studio in Norfolk, I'm taking orders via Magic Cochin's Emporium, or you contact me via my website. I'll have sample pieces for you to see on my stall at the Christmas Fairs – all the latest news here.

We hope you like the results of our joint venture, I'm looking forward to sharing more news about it soon. I'm also looking forward to wearing these Leaf Doodle earrings at my stall on Saturday.


Monday 1 November 2010

Colour therapy

November . . . the clocks went back at the weekend . . . we can't deny that the winter months are here.

I love winter walks, the bare fields and skeletal trees open up the views; animals and birds are more visible – running over the furrows and wheeling across the pale sky.

I like walking through woods and hearing the leaves falling onto the ground; the late afternoon sun, low in the sky, slants rays of flickering light between the tree trunks. We were lucky and saw deer bounding past, like a magic lantern show.

The leaves cling on to the oaks, colours just starting to turn from greens to ochres before they fall when the next frosts come. The meadows shine with an intense lush greeness.

I find that I work on my prints more intensely in winter; the images, gathered in my mind out in the winter landscape, come alive during the late afternoon dark cosiness in my studio.

I know that for many the winter months are difficult to endure without sunshine and bright vibrant colours – Emma of Silverpebble has blogged about this and has a remedy – she's created a place to pop into for a little colour therapy, a collection of beautiful vibrant images in her Splash of Colour flickr pool. She'd love lots more people to join in, so if you've some bright colourful photos you'd like to share, please add them to the collection. Or just have a cup of tea and browse through a colourful world.

On the subject of splashes of colour – there is one image that lifts my heart when I see it in the hedgerow on a sunny autumn day, a Field Maple in all it's buttery yellow-ochre glory against a bright blue sky.

Looking closely at the Field Maple leaves I noticed that some are peppered with tiny paprika-red galls.

Here's one of the images I added to Emma's Splash of Colour collection – apples that I helped my Mum to pick last Friday. They are Bramleys – yes really! The Bramley apples on our tree are mostly green, eventually getting a rosy cheeked blush just before we pick them. Our tree is in a cool Suffolk valley, in my Mum's garden her Bramley tree stands under a big Fenland sky – the sun shines on it from dawn to dusk and the apples glow the most vibrant of reds!

Apples that Snow White would not be able to resist! Sweet and juicy, just waiting to be baked and transformed into a fluffy soft delicious pudding!