Tessa Spanton SWA Artist, tutor, writer


Welcome to my blog.
This is where I write about some of the things that inspire my work,
news of exhibitions and works in progress

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Botanical Art Exhibition at Chenies Manor

ALSO AVAILABLE ONLINE after the close of the exhibition, please click here

The theme for this exhibition at Chenies Manor is the Healing Power of Plants and Flowers and their relationship with medicine and other pharmaceuticals.

 All proceeds from the sale of the paintings will go towards creating a very much needed easily accessible garden for the hospital, somewhere  patients, their friends and families, and hospital staff, can escape to from the hospital wards, if only for a while.

The core of Chenies Manor dates back to 1460 and was visited by Henry 8th and Elizabeth 1st with their courts.
Opening times for the house and beautiful garden are here When open they serve afternoon teas. 

  I have a lavender themed painting in this exhibition

The Lavender Sampler (c) Tessa Spanton

The garden

Through the courtyard into the beautiful romantic garden

Some of the artworks for sale and the plan for the garden to be built at the Harefield hospital.

“A pure and intense joy, a blessing, to feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair, to hear birds, to see, touch and fondle the living plants …. Some part of me came alive when I was taken into the garden, which had been starved, and died, perhaps without my knowing it.”
 Dr Oliver Sacks describing being wheeled into the garden from his hospital bed.

Cool jazz with cocktails and canapes

and a chilled out dog

 Here we are listening to a talk about the healing power of plants and their relationship with medicine and other pharmaceuticals as well as the therapeutic effects of being in a garden. I was both fascinated and inspired by this talk.

The physic garden at Chenies

A quiet corner with gentle drifts of flowers in soft colours

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Creative CAOS comes to Carshalton, Artists Open Studios

For more details visit the website here

 I will be at the Corner gallery all day on July 1st, I will have some of my original paintings, prints, and cards and will be painting there some of the time.

Gavin Mundy will be there on the same day offering to do quick portraits.

Squirrels Community Scrap Scheme will offer free workshops on both weekends to make art from recycled materials.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Silk Scarves on Instagram

I have just started using Instagram and have started by showing some new silk painted scarves that I have made.  Please click here to have a look 

I also run silk painting taster classes, private lessons or workshops.

The scarf above is hand painted and inspired by Paul Klee's painting Fire in the Evening.

The scarves below are hand dyed shibori. The silk length was twisted to make a rope twist structure before adding the colour.
One is a vibrant cobalt blue and for the other I used a black dye that makes subtle purpley greys as it travels along the damp silk.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Silk Kimono

Above the finished kimono, we all had fun modelling it.

 This kimono was made by the Surrey branch of the Guild of Silk Painters for the Guild of Silk Painters festival a few years ago. The background silk was painted on a large piece of silk then made up into a kimono and obi. The fish were painted on silk by each member of the group and appliqued to the kimono.

Details from the obi

above These are the fish I painted photographed and made into a card.

below everyone's fish ironed onto bondaweb and ready to be appliqued to the kimono.

Sunday, 1 January 2017


'Tiger' an original watercolour by Tessa Spanton

The photo above shows the painting in progress. I did a drawing first in pencil to get the position of the eyes as these are the focus of the painting. I then wet the large areas and painted under washes allowing the colours to blend on the paper.
I mixed a 'black' from the other colours and put this into some areas while still damp to get some soft edges and runs. When dry I built up layers of more colour some on damp paper and some on dry.
Working on damp paper can be unpredictable. Once I was happy with the result I then painted the eyes.
The fur was done using dry brush techniques. The whiskers were done with my new POSCA pen. It has a fine tip and is filled with white acrylic ink that gives good coverage, very useful. I also managed to get it to make some finer marks on top of the fur and the highlights on the eyes.
These pens are available in various colours and different versions. The one I used is from the Society of All Artists and is available mail order here

Thanks to Martyn Page for giving permission to use your photo.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Praia da Falésia Algarve

This was painted using Atelier slow drying acrylics on a canvas 100 x 75 cm.
 I found the slow drying properties of this paint really helpful when working on such a large scale.
 I also created some texture on the foreground rocks by incorporating some sand from the beach, held in place with Atelier's binder medium.
 In an earlier blogpost I wrote about 2 acrylics that I did of the colourful cliffs there. The view is from Portobay Falesia hotel up on the cliffs.
I used photos I took when staying at Olhos d'agua in the Algarve and bringing together some of my findings from earlier explorations in the form of sketches and watercolour studies that I did when there.
The painting was varnished using a satin finish.

 The photos below show different stages during the painting.

The big blank canvas

Under painting

close up: more work on the sea and a group of figures on the beach 

The finished painting is now on its way to a new home in time for Christmas.

#portobay #falesia #acrylics #original painting

Friday, 30 September 2016

Visions of Venice

Hélène Kuhn Ferruzzi with some of her lovely painted textiles at her bottega in Venice on a canal not far from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Dorsoduro-727, Calle della Chiesa, 30123, Venice

Just before my first visit to Venice in the Spring I saw an article in the Financial Times called Venice mills: fruit of the Loom 
As I paint on silks and love textiles I dreamed of visiting. 

On our last day in Venice we crossed the shimmering Grand Canal by traghetto, a gondola ferry, to the Dorsodouro area of Venice. 

We threaded our way along narrow canals and passageways, lingered at a sunlit square where artists painted to the gentle accompaniment of a baroque lute and made detours into some interesting shops 

.....until we finally found Hélène's bottega and were delighted to meet her, see her work and talk with her about what inspires her work. This was an encounter made possible by a shared love of painted textiles and one of the many highlights of the visit.

Hélène works on silk, cotton, linen and velvet and is inspired by the colours and patterns of Venice and her visits to the Alps. as well as block printing she paints the fabrics with geometric shapes, lines like the waves or ripples on the lagoon, bold calligraphic brushstrokes and gold embellishments.

Her works of abstract art become scarves or beautifully made jackets with little covered buttons and pin tucks or take the form of wall hangings or lampshades.

I would echo some poetic words from the FT article, the writer says

That Mandarin jacket lingers in my memory long after I leave the shop. Shall I buy it? Or shall I just bask in the warp and weft of this remarkable city?

When Yeats wrote of the ''heavens' embroided cloths enrought with silver and golden light'', he could have been thinking of Venice. 
Or in my case, Hélène's fabrics.

PS In reply to Marilee's question
I didn't buy the jacket but I did bask in the weft and warp of beautiful Venice for a little longer, on the Grand Canal then back over the lagoon to collect our cases from our hotel, the Molino Stucky on the island of Guidecca. We left by Alilaguna as sunset gave way to darkness then on to the bus station to be whisked through the darkness to the airport. On my case I had found a book about Venice, left for me as a gift from Constance, of customer relations at the hotel. What a lovely surprise, I was glued to it for most of the way back to Gatwick. Another story, maybe for another post.