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 6 November 2015

Making Winter brighter . . . and my illustration for November's Gardens Illustrated

It was back August that I received Frank Ronan's article for the November edition of Gardens Illustrated magazineFrank is writing about plants to enliven a winter garden, a subject that has been covered in many TV programmes, books and articles  . . . but interestingly he takes a different perspective - and it's one I'll share with you for the Making Winter blog hop organised by Emma aka Silverpebble - so if you crave ideas to brighten gloomy days, hop on over!

But first, I'll quickly tell you my inspiration for the composition of my illustration . . .

I had only a few days to come up with an idea for my linocut illustration, before I headed off for almost 3 weeks in the south of France. As usual, I sat down, carefully read Frank's words and looked up reference for all the plants he mentions - feathery yellow grasses, shiny red thorns, scented winter flowering shrubs, etc. But the editor had specifically requested "something atmospheric"

"you want to be drawn outdoors in the winter; to go and look for things and see and smell whether they are doing what they should"
Frank Ronan

I'd just visited the Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the much aclaimed exhibition of Eric Ravilious paintings and there were two that I'd spent a long time looking at, intrigued by how the subtle marks and textures  – they were full of light and atmosphere . . . 

"Interior at Furlongs"

 "Wet Afternoon"

The memory of these to Ravilious paintings was floating in the back of my mind as I worked on this linocut. And to continue the 'Bardfield Group' homage, when I needed a focus in the foreground I added a cat – in the spirit of all the cats that inhabit many of, Ravilious's friend, Edward Bawden's domestic pictures.

Re-reading Frank's thoughts in the gloom of an overcast and foggy November day this week, I decided to take his advice:

"the weather always seems so much worse from inside than it is when you emerge, so you might be stuck there until March were it not for a few judiciously placed things that can catch the momentary light and make you drop your work and draw you out"
Frank Ronan

From the bedroom window I'd spotted some vibrant pinky-gold leaves – outside they shone even brighter!
Miscanthus grass

I then saw some newly opened pink flowers and remembered that Su had given us some Nerine bulbs from her Mum's Norfolk garden – what a lovely surprise!

After being outside for a few minutes the light really did seem as brighter! A patch of vivid yellow drew me further into the garden - our small Witch Hazel bush's leaves had turned sulphur yellow edged with copper. Looking closely I could see lots of tiny round flower buds which will open early in the New Year and fill the air with their fragrance.

I hope I've convinced you to venture outside on even the dullest of days – it really does make winter brighter



  1. We are in Norfolk for the weekend and looking forward to some days outside... even if the weather is awful. It makes coming back to the cosy cottage all the more appealing. Another fabulous illustration

  2. Celia, i do like your outside/inside theme for the November Gardens Illustrated. How well you've captured the depth of the view!

    How beautiful is that Miscanthus Grass! Of course, it summons thoughts of block prints.

    It's funny weather over here in New York...daylight temperature still venturing up above 70 F. Roses still blooming. Last winter was sooo cold, this is perhaps more evidence of global climate change.

    I love the concept of Emma's winter blog hop, and will try to join in.

    Best wishes. xo

  3. I love how you drew on those gorgeous Ravilious pictures as inspiration for that design, the wet afternoon one was my favourite I think. Glad the nerines are brightening up your garden, they're such an interesting flower shape.

  4. A very inspiring post, wonderful to see where you draw your ideas from! I think the final result looks very cosy indeed, also reminds me of a particular scene from Beatrix Potter, another favourite inspiration of mine! Katie x


  5. Love your illustration. Absolutely perfect. And I do like the reminder to get outside. I am guilty of staying in when I should be out, even though I do get out a fair amount of time. I will remember this when I look out of the window on a grey day!

  6. Your illustration certainly fills the brief of being atmospheric and draws us into the picture just as Frank would have us drawn into the garden. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  7. Beautiful illustration! How interesting to see what inspired you. And thank you for reminding me to go out into my garden more.


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