Monday, 27 May 2013

Hive of industry

From the title of this post you might think that I've been busy painting, but no, I haven't been particularly prolific. I'm really referring to the bees that nest in the roof space of my shed/studio every spring/summer. Each year I think they won't be back, and then around May it is rather disconcerting to hear them buzzing away just inches away above my head, just the other side of the tongue-and-groove pine panels. 

Their presence used to put me on edge so much that I found it difficult to concentrate on painting, and I didn't dare play any music in case the vibrations sent them into attack mode – or they're not fond of the Pet Shop Boys. But some research on the matter allayed my worst fears, because apparently they won't attack unless they think their nest is in real danger – and I don't plan on opening the loft hatch and prodding it with a stick. Anyway, as the bee population is under threat I am glad to offer a home to one swarm; it's the least I can do. 

Right, I've waxed on about bees for long enough; this is supposed to be a painting blog. Someone saw the 'Cows in Dorset' greeting card and commissioned a smaller version of the painting. I don't normally paint the same painting again, but I enjoyed painting the first one so much that I was only too pleased to create another version. So here it is, pretty similar to the original, and smaller. And the recipient seemed happy with the result, which is always a relief.

Cows in Dorset, Mark II. April 2013
Oil on board (25x40cm)
Copyright Karen Davies

Next, my then colleague (she has now retired), Lindsay FitzPatrick, showed my some fantastic close-up shots of a seagull she had taken while on holiday in Cornwall. She gave me a selection of them and suggested they'd make a good painting, so I gave it a go. Here's the work as it progressed.

charcoal sketch
block in main colours of sea and harbour
Start adding in more detail with smaller brush 
Seagull in Cornwall, May 2013
Oil on board. (30x20cm)

So, thank you Lindsay for giving me the photo: I won't show the photo because a) it's not mine to publish and b) you'll see that the painting doesn't do it justice. Ha!

What else is new in my studio? Well, I thought a new palette would inspire me, so after years of using disposable palette pads, I treated myself to a transparent perspex one. Here I am putting it to use for the first time:

My new see-through palette

Yes, I know, I could easily have gone into hand modelling. 

It was lovely to witness the splendid old magnolia tree that Stanley Spencer once painted at the Odney Club in Cookham, Berkshire. This beautiful property and grounds are owned by John Lewis and they open up the gardens once a year to the public. They also have a sculpture trail there too, with a wide range of pieces for sale. It's well worth a visit. And here is a picture of the magnolia tree:

Magnolia tree at Odney Club, Cookham.
Finally, good luck to everyone taking part in Art on the Street in Maidenhead on Saturday, 8th June. This event just gets bigger and bigger every year. 

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