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 March 2015

Gardens Illustrated – my April illustration

The April issue of Gardens Illustrated Magazine has been published, my copy arrived yesterday in the post. The final article in the magazine is always 'The Writer's Plot' by Frank Ronan, it's a coda to the magazine – an end piece, a slowing down, a final chord.

I thought that you'd like to see behind the scenes as I worked on my first illustration as a regular contributor to GI. I'm given about a month to work on the illustration, I have no idea what the subject of Frank's piece will be until it appears in my email inbox. It was only then that I realised it was about Frank's new garden in California!


The editor highlighted the sentence that will be printed larger and in italics under the illustration, also underlined were two latin plant names - Aloe barberae and A. polyphylla. I read Frank's words and looked up the plants on Google, I also found photographs of the other Aloes mentioned.


While I was thinking of compositions I made careful sketches of the Aloes, getting to know their beautiful sculptural shapes. I decided to concentrate on small specimens as pot plants on an English window sill in Winter. The wonderful huge Tree Aloe is depicted on a postcard pinned to the wall - California dreaming.


Once my rough had got the thumbs up from the Art Director, I could start work on the linocut.


The final size would be 90mm wide, the block is 190mm wide, I kept the lines bold as very fine textures would get lost when the illustration is reduced.

 The block

I've decided to print the GI illustrations in a single colour, different for each month. Aloes suggested to me a deep verdigris copper-green.



I needed just one clean crisp proof, hand burnished on smooth white Japanese Hosho, to scan for the final hi-res digital image (on the right, below). After scanning the original print, I adjust and edit the white background in Photoshop to make sure it is perfectly clean – this will mean that when printed, the background of my illustration will be the colour of the magazine page.

I will be printing a limited edition of this linocut, which will be available this Autumn.

I've already finished the illustration for the May magazine and have just started research for the June one. I can't tell you more about those until the magazines are published.


Thursday 26 March 2015

Whose badge is it anyway?

My previous blog post about the White Boars and White and Tudor Roses carved into the medieval screen in the church near my studio, sparked off an interesting conversation on Twitter about whether these may be the badges of Richard III. We decided probably not BUT the carvings are late 15th Century and they are most likely the badges of a powerful family.

A document was unearthed which suggested a link with the Vere family, the Earls of Oxford who also had a Boar as one of the Supporters (beasts holding the shield) of their Coat of Arms. The document also mentioned that "the de Vere Mullet" was depicted on the North Aisle roof. 

I went to look . . .

There it is! 
A five pointed star or 'Mullet' in heraldic terms, right over the North Aisle Altar.

Another sort of star with roses (?)

A lovely Tudor Rose

And an Eagle . . .

there are more Eagles on the screen I blogged about yesterday.

But it is on the Font that I found de Vere symbols aplenty!

A Mullet

A Rose
Red or White? I'm sure someone will know!

**update: apparently the de Vere family were on the Lancastrian side so the roses would be red**

The shields were once probably painted in the correct heraldic colours.

Another Mullet, this one is six pointed which might be an earlier version of the de Vere badge.

The de Vere family were hugely important landowners in the Stour Valley (now the Suffolk/Essex border) so is isn't surprising they put their mark on our village church.

I wondered if there was ever confusion about whose badge one was wearing, like football teams that wear the same colour strip . . . is that Richard's White Boar or the de Vere Blue Boar? Is he friend of foe? 

The danger of mistaking one star shaped badge for another was all too evident at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. The Earl of Oxford's army wearing the de Vere Mullet rode through the early morning mist towards their ally Warwick the Kingmaker's troops who mistook the white star badges for the 'Rose en Soleil' (a white rose with sun rays) badges of their enemy Edward IV! Earl Warwick's men charged, the Earl of Oxford fled, in the aftermath Warwick the Kingmaker was felled from his horse and killed and the house of Lancaster's demise was sealed  . . . the course of English history had changed for ever.
(more info here and here)

If you like history and solving puzzles I can recommend wandering in to a local church and then asking Twitter* to help with the research.


*Thank you to @manx_maid, @debmarson and @JonathanFoyle for pointing me towards the de Veres.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

The White Boar and the White Rose

You never know what you might find when you do some dusting or dig up a car park . . .

It was while helping to dust the screen in the church opposite my studio, that I noticed the carving of a wild boar painted white - it rang a bell deep in the dusty recesses of my memory.

The White Boar was the badge of Richard III 

Have you been following the discovery and this week's reburial of King Richard III aka the King in the Car Park?

I can imagine the historians and archaeologists involved in the project are getting very excited, as are thousands of others who are prepared to queue for hours to see the coffin in Leicester Cathedral. Richard has certainly put Leicester on the tourist map!

Back to The White Boar, there's some interesting information hereI wonder if our village church screen dates from Richard III's short reign 1483-5?

Richard of York (as he was known before he became Duke of Gloucester and then King) may have chosen for his badge a Boar as a pun on Eboracumthe Roman name for York. Another part of the church screen has a White Rose which was the badge of the Yorkists in the Wars of the Roses.

In the right hand corner of the same panel is a White and Red Rose . . . the Tudor Rose which became England's badge uniting houses of York and Lancashire when Henry VII defeated Richard III at Bosworth in 1485. Although a Tudor Rose is usually red with a white centre, so I wonder if the roses have always been painted in these colours or have they been changed over the years - or was the rose painted by a Yorkist reluctantly adding a red centre? The North Aisle of the church was built in the 1480s which also includes a Tudor Rose, was paid for by Robert Wyburgh, did he also install the screen? was he a supporter of Richard of York?
The screen has somehow survived the Reformation and the Civil War, and it may have been painted (repainted?) in the 18th century.


If it's not Richard's badge then whose is it?
Please pop over to the next blog post for an up date!


If you are interested in the background behind the story of Richard III and whether he was a villain or not, I can thoroughly recommend this book: 

I first read 'The Daughter of Time' when I was at school and still have my paperback copy. This week's ceremonial reburial of Richard's bones is an interesting epilogue to the story.


Saturday 14 March 2015

Purple Podded Peas blog is 8 years old ... really?!

Eight years ago today I wrote my first ever blog post, my intention was to keep a sort of diary of things going on in around my studio. And I think that's what it still does.

I've charted a my venture away from working on design and illustration  projects for publishers and into the realm of galleries and shops that now sell my own range of cards and prints. 

The inspiration for my work come from what I see around me. Walks in the local countryside, and sometimes adventures further afield, is where the patterns of the landscape and the wildlife that lives there make impressions in my mind, ideas to be worked on and blended together.

I hope I've inspired you to look at the countryside near where you live, to peep through hedges and watch the seasons change.

Coming soon on PPPs . . .

When I decided to concentrate on working in linocut or woodcut, I had a dream . . . something I was vaguely aiming towards – that I'd be asked to contribute a regular illustration in a 'nice' magazine, maybe one about the countryside or perhaps about gardening. 

Well, it's happened!

The April edition of Gardens Illustrated will include the first of my regular monthly illustrations for Frank Ronan's regular column which appears on the last page. I think April Gardens Illustrated will be for sale by next weekend, so I'll write more about working on the first illustration in the next blog post.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend