Wittenham Clumps – The Results Show!

Ok so two art fairs, some sweat and a few tears later, I’m finally ready to reveal the result of the Wittenham Clumps painting! It was all going so well and then I went a bit mad with the water when doing the sky and it became a painting of two halves….one that I was happy with and the other….oh dear 🙁 Fortunately I think the half that went well still makes a good composition on its own (one advantage with the panoramic format) and I was pretty pleased with it.

The thames from Wittenham Clumps

Wittenham Clumps Takes Shape

Today I’m going to start adding colour to this painting of the view north from Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire. From the clumps you get incredible, pretty much 360 degree panoramic views so I was spoilt for choice for a direction to draw from. It’s a wonderful place and I hope I can capture some of the essence of it in my silk painting. Apparently, I was told by a passer by, the clumps feature in pretty much every episode of Inspector Morse so I shall be looking carefully next time I dip into the archives for a fix of the inspector 🙂 Here’s how this painting has developed over the last few weeks from the initial drawing through to fully gutta’d silk – just to whet your appetite for the finished article….



Here’s the drawing I did on site at Wittenham Clumps

Half Gutta

Two sections of gutta done.

Half Gutta plus Fade Away

Fade away pen on the next bit.

Gutta Complete

Fully gutta’d and ready to add colour.

Stand and Deliver! Maidenhead Thicket

Cowslip Carpet
Cowslip Carpet, Maidenhead Thicket


So I’ve come back from a lovely holiday with renewed vigour and decided to finish a painting I started a little while ago. This painting has happened in stages. Back in the spring I was cycling through Maidenhead Thicket when I was astounded and delighted to see a complete carpet of cowslips in full flower. I’ve always loved to see these bright yellow jewels pop up in fields and hedgerows but have always thought of them as pretty rare which is why I was so amazed to see them at the Thicket in their thousands. Apparently they have been on the increase since councils changed their roadside and common management practices in the 1980s and I’m so glad they did! Anyway, back in the spring all I had time to do was stop and take some photos and do some sketches of the flowers when I got home. A couple of weeks ago I thought I would go back up there to draw and try to produce a finished work from my drawings. As I sat there in the peace and sunshine, it was very hard to believe that the Maidenhead Thicket area was once considered one of the most dangerous places in England, second only to areas such as Hounslow Heath, Shooters Hill and Finchley Common in London. For about 150 years from 1645 onwards, highwaymen flourished in the Thicket, taking advantage of the dense trees and vegetation to prey on the 90 coaches a day which passed through one of the busiest sections of road in the country. 90 coaches – wouldn’t it be lovely if only 90 cars a day travelled along the A4 every day now!

I’m certainly very glad that a new and very different wildflower army rules the area now. You can read more about the antics of the highwaymen at http://www.archaeologyinmarlow.org.uk/2011/01/short-lives-and-local-highwaymen/

Maidenhead and Me

On Saturday I was delighted to be awarded second prize in the inaugural ‘Maidenhead and Me’ art competition run by Maidenhead Civic Society. Artists were requested to produce work depicting what Maidenhead means to them. I love living in Maidenhead and one of the main reasons is that although I have all the amenities of city living on my doorstep including great transport links I can also walk from my house and be out in the country within a few minutes. I painted this view which shows the proximity of Maidenhead to the beautiful Berkshire countryside.

The prizes were presented by the Right Honourable Theresa May MP which was a special honour.

Art for Art’s Sake

I’m delighted that as of today a selection of my original silk paintings and limited edition prints are available to view (and purchase!) at the lovely ‘Art for Art’s Sake’ gallery in Twyford, Berkshire. Sue Leigh who runs the gallery has a wonderful selection of original paintings, prints, ceramics and glassware on display. Perfect if you are looking for a special gift (or to treat yourself 🙂 )


Take a Second Look Opens

‘Take a Second Look’ my very first solo show opened in Maidenhead on Tuesday. Lots of lovely friends and previous customers turned out to open it in style. Thanks so much to everyone for their support – it means a lot to me. Thanks too to the lovely Simon Earle Photography for the photographs.

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About Silk Painting

Silk Painting

I’m often asked about the process of creating a silk painting so here’s a brief description for those who are interested!

  1. First I draw the basic lines of my subject on paper, simplifying into areas where I want the colours on the silk to remain separate.
  2.  I then stretch a piece of silk onto a suitable sized wooden frame using a hammer and three-pin tacks.
  3. I then trace my drawing from the paper onto the silk using a special pen that fades away with time.
  4. The race is then on to apply gutta lines over my pen lines before they fade away (this usually happens within an hour or two). Gutta is a kind of rubbery paint, which I apply from a squeezy bottle with a nib attached. The gutta will prevent the coloured silk paint from running from one area of the silk to another.
  5. I then have to allow the gutta lines to completely dry before I can add any colour. This will take about 12 hours at room temperature but can be speeded up with the use of a hairdryer or heater.
  6. Once the gutta is dry I apply coloured silk paints to the areas of silk between the lines. The silk paint is very liquid, like ink. Whilst the colour is still wet I can use various techniques to alter the appearance of the paint: table salt or sea salt can be used to get speckled effects; water or alcohol can be applied to leave different kinds of marks; colours can be blended together. A hairdryer can be used to control the rate at which the paint dries and therefore how much it spreads.
  7. One all the colour has been applied and is dry, the painting is removed from the frame and ironed on a low heat to fix the colours.
  8.  I then stretch the finished painting onto a mount before framing.

Eh Voila!


124 Studios Pop Up Gallery

124 Studios LogoMy lovely friends at 124 Studios are opening a pop up gallery in the Nicholson’s Centre, Maidenhead for six weeks and they’ve invited me to be a guest artist. The gallery will be open from the 3rd October to the 9th November on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I’ll be showing my work there from the 3rd to the 5th October. As well as the 124 artists (see www.124studios.co.uk) there will be a new guest artist each week – so plenty to keep us visiting for the whole six weeks!

The gallery will be in the old ‘Game’ unit opposite Superdrug.

Painting to Hang in Parliament

I had a great day yesterday taking part in the inaugural Windsor ‘En Plein Air’ competition. We braved the heat of a beautiful sunny day to paint pictures on a theme of the 60th Anniversary of the Queen’s coronation at four different locations around Windsor town centre. I was delighted when after the judging took place my painting ‘Roll Out the Red, White and Blue Carpet’ was bought by Adam Afriyie MP for Windsor to hang in his parliamentary office. Thanks to Adam for his kind words and for presenting the prizes at the event.

Art on the Street – June 2013

The sun shone for the eight Art on the Street event on Saturday 15th June 2013 and Maidenhead town centre was packed with artists, musicians and visitors. The event had a real festival feel and it was a joy to spend the day manning my pitch next to my sister Ruth Archer who is also an artist. I particularly enjoyed watching visitors enjoying looking at the paintings and discussing art.

Maidenhead Advertiser Coverage of the Event
Sisters doing it together!

Popup Art Gallery Fills Empty Shop

Art on the Street have this afternoon been given the go-ahead to hang our first ‘Pop-Up Gallery’ in the Nicholson’s Centre next Friday. This is the first of three projects that we will be working on over the next month and will reside in Unit 30 of the centre (opposite King Street Market).

As you can see from the plan, our focus is very much on making the window look as effortlessly elegant and seamless as we possibly can, suspending artwork of many different sizes in the window in a ‘retail’ fashion.

We will also be incorporating Art on the Street branding in the form of window vinyls and hope to have night lighting in place so that you can still appreciate the beautiful artwork even after the centre closes.


Windsor Observer: Art fills the gap as pop-up shop takes top spot