Saturday, 27 February 2016

In the spirit of Beatrix Potter

This year Beatrix Potter would have been 150 years old. I hardly have to explain who she is because her stories and illustrations are well known around the world. A couple of summers ago we spent some time exploring the homes and landscape of Beatrix Potter, and had a lovely time. To see the gate in her garden that appeared in her illustrations and  to be in Hill Top and look out at the same unchanged views out of the windows....just wonderful.

A Scene from Beatrix Potter's series, "Peter Rabbit" © F. Warne & Co.

Her illustrations of animals wearing clothes are beautiful and inspirational. I was interested to find out if there were any more old illustrators of dressed animals. I found that one of the oldest books about a mouse was  Dorothy Kilner's Life and perambulation of a mouse, Published around 1790 although I don't know if the mouse wore clothes. I wonder if some of the first illustrations were of the wolf in clothes in Little Red Riding Hood. It feels as though we have seen animals in clothes forever but it could be a relatively recent idea. I've tried looking it up on the computer but haven't managed to find out nuch yet. There are gods in Egyptian times that have human bodies with animal heads but no one could call them cute. . In 1893 Beatrix potter illustrated her letter telling the story of Peter Rabbit, complete with little jacket. Tenniel had illustrated Alice in Wonderland with a beautifully dressed rabbit in 1865, so could his illustration have inspired the young Beatrix Potter?

 Giovanni Straparola (1480-1587)  wrote the fable of Puss in Boots
1695 handwritten page and illustration.

and Gustav Dore Illustrated it in the 1850's.
Puss in the animation film Shrek-so similar to Dore's Illustration.

Well..... I was inspired so I thought that I would try my hand at a few too. None of mine have been published and I painted them purely for my own pleasure, perhaps one day I might come up with a story to go with my local animal characters.
Mouse riding one of the elephant bollards outside St Peter's Church, Winchcombe. Apparently there isn't any link to elephants they were just the cheapest bollards at the time !

My otter family business...Stanway Water Mill.

My little Winchcombe mouse on the Cotswold trail, looking at the carved swan which unfortunately was stolen last year. My mice are mouse size and my Otters are human sized, perhaps not quite right but I'm in good company. Beatrix's animals varied too. 
There have been so many brilliant illustrations of talking animals over the years but I have to say, Beatrix Potter is one of my all time I'll raise a cup of tea and wish Beatrix Potter
 ' Happy Birthday '


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Bertie and Betty

Early Photograph
As I was adding some pictures to one of my Pinterest boards ,I came across the above photograph, Of course I just had to look into it to find out who they both were.
They were Bertie (Ethelbert White) and his wife Betty ( Elizabeth Crofton-Dodwell ).
Ethelbert White (1891-1972) was an artist, poster painter, wood engraver and illustrator and had attended St John's Wood Art School. I haven't found out very much about Betty except that she played the Lute.
 They collected folk songs while they travelled both abroad and in this country, with an 18th century cottage as one of their bases in Hampstead Grove, Campden. I've looked up this street on google maps, it might have been poor at one stage but it's a lovely tiny tree lined street, If I had to live in London then I wouldn't mind it one jot!
 This area actually has an interesting history. A philanthropist called Mrs Barnett bought a large farm and wanted to turn it into parks for everyone and an area of housing for everyone. She formed the Hampstead Tennant's association . She wanted the poor to live with more 'fortunate beings'. Sir Edward Lutyens was commissioned to design some of the buildings but he wasn't very complimentary of some of Mrs Barnetts ideas saying ' She was a nice woman, but proud of being a philistine-has no idea beyond a window box full of geraniums, calceolarias and lobelias over which you can see a goose on the green'   oops sounds like me, I have the geraniums on every windowsill and used to have geese! She sounded like a very good hearted woman that probably didn't really understand the true realities of life but still wanted to make life better for the poor. In her honour I'm definitely getting some calceolarias this year! Bertie and Betty might have know her because Mrs Barnett died in 1936 when Bertie would have been in his forties.

They also had a country Idyll ,another cottage in Amberley in Sussex......I'm just getting a little green eyed. They obviously had money but at least they chose a relatively simple way of life. They were married for over fifty years, singing ,playing music and travelling.
They had few possessions but were wealthy enough in later life to have their food delivered to them from Harrods. There are quite a few that live a wonderful boho life and have the comfort of having money in the bank. I love the life but have to earn every fortunes in the attic for me.....but that's OK.
Bertie and Betty were regular guests at the studio parties of Augustus John and Sir Alfred Munnings, who also admired the gypsy way of life. I wonder if any travellers went to any of the parties. I would love to have been there, I bet they had a great time. One of Augustus Johns parties to baptise his new studio space  in Chelsea, lasted from the first into the second week of July!...Now that's what I call a party.
Painting by Ethelbert White


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

An article in Cotswold Life

In a few days time an article about me written by Candia McKormack will be printed in the March Issue of Cotswold Life magazine. I have full faith in Candia ( she is a really lovely and very interesting lady) but I am slightly never know what they are going to write!
Candia is a really easy person to talk to so I think I did I wish I could remember what I talked about.....fingers crossed I didn't say anything that I shouldn't and Bill Treen is mentioned......I would have really liked to read the article before its published....
In the past I have been mentioned in quite a few articles and the majority have been great, but sometimes it's a bit odd. I'm not too worried about the photo...old enough to not be too bothered....(no I'm fibbing, I am old enough but I do want to look Ok.)....., BUT .... I do want my painting to shine and for people to understand and enjoy my painting.
In the past I've had just a few problems with articles.
The Echo printed a picture of me with a group of fairground horses. They were all in white primer but the article gave the impression that they were finished and it took me at least a day to paint each one white! completely wrong I was talking about the fancy scrolls and patterns that I would be painting.
My sister found another old article with a picture of me painting a gypsy wagon. The article was fine but a couple of evenings later a mini bus full of disabled children turned up at my home asking if they could use my horse for the children to have riding lessons....I felt dreadful having to explain that I didn't own a horse.
A more recent paper wrote an article about the restoration of a fairground Waltzer. I thought that I might have been asked about my links with the 1930's original painters Edwin Hall, Billy Hall and Fred Fowle,....but they hardly spoke to me....lovely photographs but just mentioned that I was painting away to my 'love of classical music'! That day I had Classic Fm on, but sometimes it's Radio 4 , sometimes Radio 2...usually whatever I feel like on the day....
.....So, fingers crossed I come across as a 'normal' person who has been self employed for thirty years, a single mum for fifteen of those years , and is someone who feels extremely lucky to have been able to make a living doing what I love.,and to have been able to support my son by myself......

Well Its out and on the shelves!
On the whole it is a lovely article, so tHank you Candia....but I would have made a few tiny changes, and some bits I would have preferred not to have been mentioned...and some bits I would have loved more...especially about my  Mum....who is brilliant, loves horses and art and craft and made me what I am today...Love you Mum xx


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