"I am following Nature without being able to grasp her"
If you want innovation, beauty, local art, sculpture,
print-making, painting, drawing, collage or large scale artwork -
this art show has it all! Every year for over a century now, The
Town and County Art Society has put on fantastic and high quality
art shows. Hosted by The Northampton Museum and Art Gallery every
Autumn the county's most talented artists put their work on display
and share the products of their inspiration and perspiration
with the public.
This year I decided share with you, some of my favourites from
the exhibition. There is so much variety that I thought I would
focus on my passion for landscapes.
Brian Mutton is for me one of the most original artists in the
show. He has created this landscape which has a great sense of
depth due to the layered shapes he uses. What I found really
interesting was how the landscape appears to move as you peer into
it. This effect is helped by the shadows which are cast at the back
of the painting.
Memory, light, place and fleeting moments of beauty are a few
of the things which always draw me to this subject. When I see
paintings like those above I just want to be there immersed in the
elements and experiencing that connection to nature.
One thing I really enjoy is dappled light with a soft breeze
blowing the leaves and Colin Bradbury really captures that in his
painting at Delapre Abbey. As a local lad myself I have lots of
memories of this place going back to when I was a boy , I even
remember seeing a red squirrel back in the 70's!
Tove Valley - Autumn by John Wickham has another kind of light
of course but the perspective really gives me a sense of the
journey a river takes through a valley. It reminds me of the great
public footpaths in the county which I go walking on with my
Hot Summer days, birds singing, insects and rabbits are what
the next painting bring to mind. John Walton's lush and rich
painting, Overgrown Tree - Grounds of Roche Abbey, invites you to
imagine being enveloped by flowers and leaves to discover the
hidden shade of a sturdy old tree.
Print making is such a fascinating and engaging way to create
imagery. It always amazes me how many techniques their are in
print. I visited Sorrell Kinley's studio earlier this year where,
as always he enthusiastically explained and demonstrated his
techniques. This lino reduction of Lanyon Quiot- Zennor. West
Cornwall reminds us of our country's rich history and is also one
of my favourite parts of the country to visit. I have painted
Cornwall a few times myself.
This counties rich heritage is shown in 'Impressions of
Pitsford Water' by Claira Corfe. These gorgeous little etchings
have both texture and a dream-like quality to them. Again this work
brings back memories of walking, cycling and running around the
reservoir. I particularly enjoy the reflections on the water but
the sunsets here are often stunning.
Another local spot in Northampton near to where I work at
Northampton School For Girls is 'Bradlaugh Fields' made using
scraper board by John Urmson. I really like the foreground detail
and the butterfly but also the Church in the background which I can
see from my office. But, the couple walking the dog reminds me how
much I am looking forward to getting a puppy this year! Maybe a
cocka-poo or Westie ... not sure yet!
I couldn't resist posting my painting or a video of it below.
I was over the moon to have won the award for innovation from the
University of Northampton, the first award I have won exhibiting
with the Society. It will now be on display at Northampton School
for Girls in the theatre foyer, for children and parents or anyone
to enjoy on their next visit.
These paintings only scratch the surface of all the great work
at the show. I am looking forward to exhibiting again in the coming
shows this year. So, there will be more chances to see what
Northampton's talented creative's have to offer very soon.
See you at the next private view!
If you went to the annual exhibition this year, what were your
top artworks? Add your comments here....
Finally, if you liked this and would like to receive a free
downloadable greetings card please sign up to my
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is
Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Taking a "breather" and just letting yourself "be" is a
much under-rated but very basic human need. At certain times of
life, when reflecting on our frantic lives it's necessary to slow
right down and contemplate things for while. Reminding ourselves
that we live on a little blue and green planet in outer space , or
letting time and thoughts drift like a like a cloud can be a very
The last few years of my busy life as an artist and teacher
has brought me to the top of a hillside and I have found myself
having to slow down and looking back at the path I took. I have
kind of, sat down on a bench to look over the landscape to
Making my art, gardening, going for long walks and staring at
the stars at night provide me with inspiring and peaceful time
process the day. You have probably also noticed the proliferation
of colouring books for grown ups on the market recently. They
provide the same opportunity for a kind of escape from the busy
world. You can spend time chilling out by colouring detailed swirly
designs using psychedelic colours in order to find that Zen state
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.
Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Stepping
into Freedom: Rules of Monastic Practice for Novices
This is a very natural and quite meditative pass-time which
people seem to really need and are craving for these days.
Mindfulness, as it is called helps us to sit in a nice comfy chair
and watch the busy traffic of the day drive past us. It allows a
certain distance to be put between us and the hassle of the day -
we become observers rather than participants.
Last year, I had an exhibition of my art at the Leicester City
Methodist church. I took part in and helped to run a creative
retreat where I gave a talk about my work and then ran a practical
workshop. Participants were given a chance to try out my technique
of making paintings using words. They all made a design using
collaged text on a small wooden cross, a 'prayer cross'.
Usually I make my paintings alone in my studio, which gives me
time to be me. But on this occasion I was inspired by the way the
process of sharing materials, scissors, glue and ideas brought
people together, encouraged conversation, and helped us to relax.
We just felt ourselves.
At the Greenbelt festival last year, found this a great way to
meet people and relax when doing the same kind of activity. People
felt comfortable asking questions and chatting whilst
being creative together. The weather and location at the tranquil
Boughton House was also hot and sunny that day too, which always
Since, Greenbelt I have used this activity at our local
church in Irthlingborough with adults and children and plan to do
the same at Sunday school too. But whether its colouring, designing
, painting or making something else art has a wonderful quality
that connects us to our surroundings, each other and
The prayer crosses have become something that I enjoy
making at home in my studio, alongside my other projects. The
Inspiration come from the local nature reserve of Irthlingborough
lakes and meadows and the British countryside. The crosses have
developed from abstract designs into mini illustrations made using
prayers, bible quotes and poems.
If you would like to own your own illustrated prayer
cross visit my shop! You can also contact me if you have a specific
request for a Baptism, Christening or Confirmation or to decorate
you home. Email -
Some ideas that will help you be more mindful when making art
or colouring in!
Before you start - sit quietly
and notice how you are feeling for a short time. Notice how your
body feels are you comfortable or tense? Also are you stressed or
relaxed, sleepy or wired?
Physical Awareness -When you
have started colouring or drawing or focussing on your creative
activity and pay close attention to your actions. Notice how you
are physically moving, using your hands, picking up another colour,
how you hold a pencil, the direction in which you move a pen.
Colour - How do you make a
decision about the next colour you are going to use? Are you
choosing colours instinctively or does it take longer to pick the
right colour? Could you select colours that express how you feel in
Doodle - Most people have made
random doodles at some time or another. You don't need to be a
great artist to do it. I often start with a group of shapes or
boxes, then start colouring them in or repeating them. Try to focus
on your breathing or physical movements. Try, closing your eyes,
scribbling a few lines and then keep going by adding other