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

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Doodles from a Mile High


The drinks trolley had passed and I had finished a glass of wine and a coffee. The sun had set so there was nothing of much interest to look at through the little window. So I turned to Brushes on the ipad.
After much random tapping of icons and nothing happening I got a coloured screen to appear and started to play. I have got a lot to learn and an instruction manual would help but I had a lot of fun with it and before long we were preparing to land at Heathrow.

A sampler

below A little bit of Madeira

Monday, 21 January 2013

In the Garden at Reids Palace

I had a third session painting in the garden and here is the finished painting. What a pleasure it was to be painting in this beautiful and peaceful garden. The giant leaves of the Strelitzia nicolai are silhouetted against the light and frame the view to Funchal and the steps down to the sea. There was the sound of the sea, the scents of the garden, a mild breeze and dappled sunshine which for me brings so much more to the experience of painting than working from a photo. I do work from my own photos and as I was in the place can bring some memories and imagination to the work. I very rarely work from other people's photos. It's nice to think that the paint from those washes dried in the warm Madeiran January sunshine especially as I am back home now and looking out of the window at a grey sky and half melted patches of snow.

  For this painting I used a block of Schollershammer hot pressed paper. This is convenient for working out doors as the block is rigid like a drawing board and the paper stretched to avoid cockling. It is very different from the paper I usually use as it is very highly sized so the paint skids over the surface and dries in puddles which makes some interesting effects. It has its pros and cons. Paint can be easily washed off to make alterations. However this can also happen when working in layers as I usually do when building up one wash over another. So it's best to mix the paint to the full strength from the start and use just one or two washes

The buffet lunch there was fantastic, much to be recommended.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

From Madeira

This is a first! I am blogging from Madeira on an ipad.
Today I have been to the gardens of Reids Palace Hotel to do some painting in the beautiful garden. It is sunny but also very windy. I started by doing a sketch and may make a painting of it. I got cold so moved to another spot and started something else, a view through some interesting foliage with a
 glimpse of the sea and Funchal beyond and  I am part way through the painting. The leaves that I have started painting are those of the giant bird of paradise, Strelitzia nicolai.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Reid's Palace Madeira

'Reids Palace' watercolour (c) Tessa Spanton

(The colours in the original painting are nicer. I'll take another photo when the weather is brighter, it's very grey in London today)

At last this painting is finished. It was the last of the sequence described below and was about 3/4 ready last January when it was time to come home. I have had a break over Christmas and decided to do some more work on it.

This building looks amazing, high up and rising up from the rocks where the sea is pounding below and looking like a pink confection against the backdrop of mountains.

 I chose roughly the same time each day, around 11 am, to work outside. First I made some sketches and a tonal study. I spent between 1/2 hour to an hour at a time. Much longer and the lighting had changed. It was sunny so the lighting of the building was good though some days so windy that my papers would have blown away if they hadn't been clipped down.

                         Reids Palace Maderia Aquarelle pencil (c) Tessa Spanton

The image above was done with a blue aquarelle pencil and a little water, inspired by the Portuguese azulejos. Very convenient when working outside as all you need is one blue aquarelle pencil and a small brush that can be filled with water like a fountain pen.

In a previous post I showed paintings that I had done of the other side of Reids. here