art, creative, Editorial, gallery, Inspiration, Local, Supporting Locals

Daring to enter Galleries

When you think of an Art Gallery, what images are conjured in your mind? A white washed, spacious room filled with hushed tones and knowing whispers? Perhaps a little classical music emanating from the background, huddles of smartly dressed folk discussing the composition and hidden meaning behind each piece?
Whatever the vision, its true to say that the humble art gallery – a building dedicated to embracing art and showcasing artists – has become something of a foreign world to the general public. When asked how many galleries or exhibitions friends of mine visit, the number (much to my dismay) is startlingly few. The consensus seems to be that galleries are becoming unfriendly, unfamiliar and unwelcoming to the passer by.. rather pitching themselves to a lofty few who, champagne in hand, speak of the avant garde nature of the pieces, of linear or neo expressionism and the emergence of the artist as one of the great idiosyncratic talents of contemporary art which, (oh to our delight!) sits starkly juxtaposed with the nearby turn of the century works.  *Sigh* My heart sinks when I think that galleries (thought I must stress not all galleries) have lost the interest and love of a large portion of the public. That said, there has recently been a movement in my home city of Swansea to promote art by means of edgy, towering banners strewn across buildings. Snappy slogans pushing its importance and advertising the latest exhibitions in and around the city centre. But is it working? Are the slogans enough to get the numbers through the doors? Enough to inspire anyone to buy originals or prints of the art they love?

Art is so important that everyone should feel motivated to visit their local gallery. I’m fortunate enough to know some fabulous galleries across South Wales and to have exhibited in many of them. Relaxed and bright environments that welcome the nervous window shopper with open and unpretentious arms.  Just like a museum, the work is there to behold, to inspire us and to maybe, just maybe, make us love it enough to buy it.. but this is by no means a pressure set upon anyone who steps foot inside. We may not all be able to afford the sometimes hefty price tags but that shouldn’t stop us from wandering around it’s walls, marvelling at the talent. What’s more, galleries should be a place that you feel you’d like to take your children to. Don’t get me wrong, like anywhere else children need to be well behaved so as to not damage any of the work, but they also need to experience art firsthand. Don’t attempt to baffle them or each other with complex theories or in depth descriptions of the artists thought process.. start simply by deciding whether or not you like a piece. Remember, it’s just as fine to dislike something as it is to love a painting. Then decide why it is you love or hate it. How does it make you feel? What do you think off the colours? What does it remind you of? You could even discuss what you think the artists were trying to say by painting the pieces, but please, PLEASE don’t get caught up in the la dee dah business of trying to sound like a professional art critic. Often the pleasure of standing in front of art is lost by too much fuss and contemplation. Keep it simple and remember that for most artists, all we want you to do is look, love and maybe be inspired to own a piece yourself.

Now get yourself to your local gallery, walk in boldly and be part of the varied and fabulously inspiring movement of art that this country is home to. Good luck! x

 

Adventure, art, beach, Coast, Cornwall, creative, Dream, Editorial, Eye Candy!, Harbour, I HEART, Inspiration, Nature, photograph, Polperro, Seaside

Changing Tides

The evolution of ones own art is a strange thing.

This past week I visited the beautiful seaside town of Polperro on the enchanting south coast of Cornwall. Having had no prior idea as to where I wanted to take the family for an ad hoc 6 night break, I trawled the web for images of pretty Cornish harbours, towns and villages before I finally stumbled across Polperro. Immediately I was captivated by it’s narrow cobbled streets, the whitewashed cottages that bowed over the crystal clear waters of the harbour and the phthalo blue skies overhead. ‘That’s it! It’s perfect! Let’s book it!’ I shouted ..and we did.  A week away in what turned out to be a tiny cottage sat so close to the waters edge that I could have helped moor a boat from the window. We packed and a few days later we set off on the 4 hour journey from our home on the edge of Gower.

When we arrived and finally squeezed the car through the narrow winding streets we had a little time to take it all in. The week brought traditional Cornish wind and rain (though being a hardy Welsh lass it’s not something I shy away from). We spent evenings in front of the wood fire, sat in the window overlooking the water and listening to the gentle chit chat of the moored trawlers as they rose and dipped in unison on an undulating tide. When the light returned I wandered, sketchbook in hand through the snaking streets looking for anything worthy of a 10 minute bit of inking.. there where few corners of this great fishing village escaped ‘the pen’.

It was during this time that I realised something quite poignant about Polperro and subsequently, my own art. I had travelled to this famous harbour expecting to see unparalleled beauty. Clean white houses, boats lining the old stone walls, galleries and little back street cafes oozing with the smell of Cornish baked goods and coffee. What I had was a clutter of rusted boats dressed in chipped paint and weighed heavy with battered buoys, rope and chains, weather worn cottages and the smell of a closed fishing market on the breeze. Now don’t be mistaken in thinking that this is a negative description of Polperro – on the contrary – this is EXACTLY what it is I loved about the place. The working harbour that so many tourists frequent during the warm summer months is stripped bare come winter; a time when it’s true character breaks through. The result was a staggeringly beautiful place steeped in history, the cogs of which are turned by the hard working fishing folk who live there.

As I sat and sketched the broken boats, the empty holiday lets and listened to the seagulls overhead, something struck me..

The preconceived idea I had about ‘beauty’ (in a harbour sense) couldn’t have been further from the truth. I loved the gritty atmosphere I was presented with, the stained walls and the muted winter colours that saturated everything. It was only at that point that I realised the direction my work needed to move forward in. For years I’ve produced large vibrant pieces that oozed colour and are outlined by bold black acrylic. Don’t get me wrong, I love painting in this style and it reflects my personality..  but, seeing the gnarly beauty of a winter in Polperro made me realise that what I’d been searching for in my work was something a little less ‘pretty pretty’. Something less perfect in it’s colour and a little less picturesque. The sketches I inked during my stay are ready for this new phase of painting. This is by no means a new concept or idea, rather something I’ve been searching for, for sometime and what it took was a week submerged in that grainy atmosphere to realise it. Over the next few weeks the plan is to get this style out into the world. It will still be recognisable as my work, but with a stripped back feel, a lot more texture and a richer quality to each piece.

From the beginning of 2017 I really felt like there was going to be a change, something in the air told me that I’d be taken down new paths and the thought of that is an exciting one. Alongside a sketchbook primed with rough images and a camera filled with photographs of this remarkable place, I really am raring to go. All that’s left to do now is paint.

Rhiannon x

 

p.s – If you’re interested in seeing more images from my time in Polperro you can check out my Instagram account: @moogledoo and follow me on Twitter (@moogledoo) for updates. Enjoy!

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art, Bay Magazine, beach, Coast, creative, Editorial, Eye Candy!, Harbour, I HEART, Illustration, Inspiration, Local Magazine, magazine, photograph, Seaside, Supporting Locals, Wales

Have yourself a crafty little Christmas

Getting Crafty this Christmas

It’s that time of year again. The nights are dark and the fires have been lit (unless like me you rely on good old fashioned central heating). The woolly jumpers have been rescued from the depths of the wardrobe and the mince pies are already in abundance. It might be a hectic time of year but the festive season truly is a magical one. For me as an artist, Christmas really is the busiest time of year. Commissions, deadlines, projects and of course, looking after the family often mean that there’s little down time to pick up a book or to enjoy a little creativity outside of the usual working day. While the temptation is there to run to the nearest store or to log online in search for this years decorations, why not take a minute to consider making your own? *Gasp* ‘Make my own?!’ Yes, that’s right. There is nothing quite like getting the family around the table to create some traditional decorations for the home. Not only will it save you money (a major bonus), but it’ll give you a unique item that is completely personal (not to mention beautiful). With the millions of mass produced products available to us, this uniqueness really should strike a cord with you – it certainly does with me. Plus, the kids will love it and even if yours are grown and gone (or just far too cool to hang around painting Christmas decorations), I promise you it’s a worthwhile process that you’ll love to do on your own while listening to your favourite Christmas carols.

When we look at the history behind the Christmas decoration, a real sense of its significance soon becomes apparent. Whether you consider Christmas as a ‘Christian’ festival, look more towards the earlier ‘Yuletide’ (originally celebrated by the Germanic people) or even celebrate the Winter Solstice; the traditions are much the same. The practice of bringing greenery into the home has long been considered to herald back to the worship of the evergreen during the dark winter months, but as with so many customs, there are numerous notions as to their origins. A popular theory is that Saint Boniface was the first monks to bring the fir tree indoors because of its triangular shape and representation of the Holy Trinity. Once inside, the tree was decorated with simple white taper candles (which became more elaborate over the years.) Whatever the origins, it’s quite plain to see that the humble Christmas ornament still holds a strong traditional value to us.

When we consider that in ye olde days each household would have made their own decorations, it seems like a fantastic tradition to uphold. With that in mind, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to create a simple but eye catching piece of festive craft.

Bearing in mind that along with the Christmas season comes an army of empty purses and wallets, I’m going to show you how to create a fabulous door hanging that utilises the materials our wonderful coastline offers us on a daily basis. Since we are blessed in Swansea with a Bay that stretches for miles, there’s a good chance that you’ll find everything you need to get creative.

Christmas Tree Driftwood Door Hanging.

As is perhaps typical of me, I like to steer away from the ‘regular’ and the ‘usual’, often opting for interesting and peculiar versions of our traditional decorations. Every year, I make and hang a wreath on my front door and crafty as it is, I’m a huge supporter of trying something new. So, this Christmas I’m going to be making a painted driftwood plaque and giving you a simple step by step guide on how to achieve your own. Go on! Dare to be different!

What you’ll need:

An old piece of driftwood. Any shape, any size – the gnarlier, the better!
Some acrylic paints (Navy, White and dark Green for this piece)
2 paintbrushes. A flat head paintbrush and a thin pointed one
Some string or ribbon
A drill (to make the holes for the string).
A pencil
PVA glue (optional)
Glitter – any colour but silver works best (optional)

Getting started

First thing’s first, get your woolly’s on and head down to the bay for an hour of beach combing. What you’re looking for is a piece of flat driftwood that you can paint a scene on. Don’t worry if it’s battered and broken, splintered or still has nails hanging out of it – it’ll all add to the rustic feel (just be careful it’s not too sharp or dangerous!).

Once you have your wood, make sure to pop it on the radiator overnight to dry it out before you start painting.

1. Mark out two holes, roughly about an inch or two from the top, which you’ll use as guides to drill through. If you haven’t got a drill to hand, or like me you’re banned from using your husbands power tools, you can always hammer a nail through the wood and take it out (leaving the hole) or do the same with a screw. If you don’t fancy your fingers chances with any of these, you can still make the plaque without the holes to lean in a corner (or to put inside a frame!).

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2. Get your navy paint out and daub it onto the driftwood. Start at one end and work your way to the other BUT, be sure not to paint it to the edges. Leaving a little wood around the outside gives it a beautiful framed effect. Once that’s done, leave it to dry. If you’re using acrylics, it wont take long before you can paint over it. Depending on the wood you have, you might end up having to use a few layers of paint to battle the absorption process.

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3. Using your trusty pencil, mark out a rough triangle where your tree will be.

4. Get out your lovely dark green paint! With a flat head paintbrush (or a fan brush if you’re feeling adventurous) start at the top and splodge a little paint where the highest most point of the tree will be. Underneath it, splodge on two more daubs of paint next to each other and continue down following the traditional pine tree shape. Your brush should be angled out and down towards the base of the tree, so you’ll have that lovely bow effect with the branches. You’re just keeping the brush at the same angle and layering up the foliage. This process isn’t neat, nor is it a fine art so don’t panic over every stroke and don’t try to make it look like a Michaelangelo. There aren’t many perfect tree’s out there, so the freer and more fluid your application, the better and more realistic your Christmas tree will begin to look!

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5. Drying time. Plonk your brush in some water to clean it and let the warm air do it’s magic. This is a good time to put the kettle on or pour yourself a glass of mulled wine (depending on the time of day you’re painting of course).

6. Take your dark Green paint and splurge a little onto a plate (don’t worry, it’s only acrylic, it’ll come off with warm water) and add a touch of white. Mix it until you have a lovely shade of green that’s noticeably lighter than the one you were previously painting with.

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7. Now for the highlights. Picking out SOME of the branches, daub a little of the light green throughout the tree. Follow the same lines as the branches you already have painted and keep it to the same angle. Trust your instincts here. If you feel an area needs a bit of highlighting, then go for it. There is no wrong way to do it, remember, tree’s are only perfect because of their imperfections! Once you’re happy with your tree, repeat step 5. (Perhaps substituting the wine for a biscuit if you’re especially quick at painting and still have a full glass!)

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8. Once the tree is dry and your brush is clean (and I mean CLEAN for this part), get out your snowy white paint. Using exactly the same method as before, dip your brush into the white and daub on some snow. Now think about this part because it requires a little more realism. Imagine where the snow would fall.. It’s not going to be close to the centre and it’ll be in beautiful thick dollops (depending on the amount of snow fall you decide upon) on the tops of most of the branches. Your branches should be angled out and down, so follow the same lines. Don’t forget that our tree is a 3D object so you’re going to want to add a little in the front. In an upside down ‘V’ shape, dab a little white paint in to give the effect of snow covered branches that are facing you..

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9. Now your snow scene is really coming together! You have a fabulous little fir and all that’s left to do is add some snowfall and a sweet quote at the top.

10. At the top of the wood, mark out with your pencil your favourite Christmas quote. ‘Let it snow’, ‘Happy Holiday’, ‘Christmas Wishes’ etc so on so forth. You could even have a welcome message on it if you intend on hanging it on the front door. Once that’s done, get your fine brush out and with the white paint, go over the message. Take your time on this so that you final piece looks nice and neat.

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11. What is your festive scene missing? Snowfall of course! Using the same fine brush, put a few blobs of snow here and there. Don’t plan this part out, let it run freely from your imagination! Let it dry and then read on..

12. You’re almost finished! If like me, you’ll look for any excuse to use glitter, now is your chance! You can either leave your plaque as it is for a beautiful festive hanging, OR, your can take your clean fine brush and dip it into some PVA glue and dab a little over the top of your snowflakes. Don’t worry, this stuff dries clear! Sprinkle your gorgeous glitter over the snowfall and leave to dry for 5 minutes. At this point, the glue wont be completely dry, but will have stuck your glitter to it. Pick your plaque up and turn it to the side and gently tap it on the table to remove the excess sparkle. Now for the tree!! Every happy Christmas tree must have glitter so following on from your previous glittery daubings, apply some PVA glue to the snowfall on your tree and sprinkle some on. Once again, wait a few minutes then tap off the excess.

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13. You’ll need to leave this dry for a while. Check the drying time on the back of the bottle as every glue is different.

14. Once your plaque is dry and looking fabulous, you can take your string and thread it through the holes. Do this from front to back and knot the ends so they don’t come through the holes.

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VOILA! Once beautiful, inexpensive and unique festive hanging for your home!

Merry Christmas!

Adventure, art, beach, Coast, creative, Dream, Editorial, Eye Candy!, Gower, Harbour, I HEART, Illustration, Inspiration, Local, Local Magazine, magazine, photograph, Supporting Locals, Wales

Creative Gower – Why Buy Art?

It’s a situation we all find ourselves in. There’s a birthday, anniversary or celebration looming. We’ve busy lives, have totally forgotten about it and now, it’s upon us! We indulge in a spot of hasty internet shopping or pop out and grab the closest affordable thing to us… But are we happy with it? Well, not really.
It happens time and time again where convenience shopping for presents is, well, just simply more convenient! We would all rather the simplicity that supermarket shopping brings us and yes, on the odd occasion that includes me too. Now it’s not something I’m particularly proud of especially when you consider that I spend my days trying to promote the benefits of shopping with local artists and craftsmen. So what if shopping was different? What if when we looked at the calendar and noticed it was dads birthday, that we went online and found a local artisan to do all the hard work? Why should we bother, especially when so many major companies offer speedy next day delivery and a wide range of products? Well,  other than doing your bit in this harsh economy to support and protect the local ‘creatives’ around you, you’re getting a unique and beautifully crafted piece that’s tailor made to your needs. Something bespoke. You’re telling your friends and family that you’ve really thought about the gift you bought them; an original work that was created by hand with care, consideration and oodles of talent.. Not a mass produced item that they may already have.

“When buying from an artist, you’re buying more than just an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of failures and experimentation. You’re buying days, weeks and months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You aren’t just buying a ‘thing’ – you’re buying a piece of heart, a piece of soul and a moment of someone’s life. Most importantly, you’re buying the artist more time to do something they’re passionate about.” ~ Rebekah Joy Platt

Lets take out the feel-good-do-good part of this equation and just look at how it benefits you. When you contact an artist or crafter you have a choice. You can buy an item that they’ve already created (great for a bit of last minute shopping and you’re still getting something that’s one of a kind) or you can commission them to produce a totally unique piece and usually, you can dictate the budget you’re working with. That’s it. You pick up the phone, have a chat about the product you’re hoping to achieve and voilà, they do all the hard work for you!
‘So let me get this straight’ you say… ‘I ring the artisan, tell them what I want and how much I can afford and they create, wrap and post it to me or the lucky person receiving it?!’ Well, yes! It’s as easy as that. No fuss, no hassle, no rush hour traffic to contend with. Simple.
Yet, for some reason, artists and craftsmen are constantly having to persuade people of their worth and convince them that the ‘art’ they produce (in all its forms) is a worthwhile purchase.

Here in the Gower and Swansea we have a remarkable variety of talent. Whether it’s fine art or illustration, sculpture, glass works, jewellery, textiles, pottery or photography (to name but a few), we have it in abundance. I simply cannot stress enough how rich the community of local ‘creatives’ is, and it’s right on our doorstep at our disposal.
Speaking as an artist, I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to own an original piece of art. Something that inspires emotion, sparks memories or ideas and becomes a central point for positivity, pride and conversation. Paintings we see that we can’t forget. Paintings that draw us in and won’t let go. Whatever the reason behind it, we know we don’t buy art because of its practicality, we buy it because it speaks to the soul.

In an age of fleeting digital photographs, television advertisements and rolling billboards, there’s little visual stimulation quite like the permanence of painted art. An object that lingers and waits until you’ve finished looking – not something that flicks on, off or over before you’ve had a chance to compute. This is why we buy it.
Art for some is nothing more than a display of wealth or the process of adding a splash of well coordinated colour to a room. To others it’s a dream. It’s a framed conversation starter, an escape from reality and a chance to get lost. We all wish we owned an original piece of art, but few of us ever get the opportunity. In fact, few of us realise we can all own art, it just depends on how far we’re willing to venture into it. “Art is expensive” (I’ve heard this a thousand times) but it’s really the thought of art that is expensive – in reality, it doesn’t have to be. Though many people buy works with thousands on the price tag, most art is and will always be, affordable. Ok, ok, you may not be able to get yourself an original Botticelli (or I’d have a dozen all over the house) and its true that some art really does have a hefty value, but there are a million pieces out there by artists, crafters and designers that create because they can’t imagine doing anything else. Look for these people. Look for those who love what they do and know why they do it. It’s not for the money – that’s the ‘result’ – but for the simple reason that they need you to see, feel and be a part of their work just as much as they are. These people want you to be part of their journey and don’t ask you to re-mortgage your home to achieve it.
As an artist I strive to give people the chance to be part of this exact journey; to immerse themselves in the all encompassing creative process. I work and produce art that’s affordable, because it’s more important for me that everyone has the chance to buy, own and pass down a piece of art. Its an investment for the soul. I consider my works to be vibrant, bold, expressive and free, but like the multitude of arts and crafts that are produced on the Gower, what they inspire, is entirely up to you..

Rhiannon x

'Harbour Dreams'
‘Harbour Dreams’
art, creative, Editorial, Gower, Inspiration, Local, Local Magazine, magazine, photograph, Supporting Locals, Wales

Catch up with ‘Creative Gower’

As many of you who follow me on Facebook know, I’ve recently started writing for a magazine based in the Gower / Swansea. I write the new arts and crafts section and for those of you not local enough to get a copy of my articles, they’re all here for you to read. Just in case you’re interested :)

April / May issue:

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Creative Gower

With its staggering coastline, rolling farmlands, dramatic sunsets and wonderful variety of wildlife, the Gower has captured the minds of artists and creative folk throughout the ages. Designated as the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s little wonder that this pretty peninsula has been the inspiration for some of our literary greats and remains adored by walkers, surfers and sun seekers to this day.

But it’s not just the aesthetic side of the Gower that has captured the imagination. With dozens of ancient monuments ranging from burial chambers to hill forts and castles, the Gower’s heritage spans over tens of thousands of years. You need only a picnic, a map and a sense of adventure to enjoy the 70 sq miles of breathtaking scenery, history and wildlife that this place provides.

I have always wanted to live in the Gower. From an artists perspective it’s an inexhaustible source of inspiration and the perfect base for a family obsessed with the coast! Whatever the season, the Gower has always presented me with new colours, textures and natural forms of art which I use in my everyday work. A year ago, I finally made the move and now live a stones throw from the beaches I used to spend all my spare time on. Whether I’m walking the dog or setting up camp with my easel and coffee next to the shoreline, there’s always something to sketch, paint or photograph, so I’m never without a pencil and pad of paper.

For me, its the white washed cottages dotted throughout the landscape with the smell of wood fires on the air and the endless stone walled lanes that weave through quiet villages. Its the colourful fishing boats that bob quietly off shore and the sound of seagulls overhead. There’s aspects of the Gower in every piece of my work, whatever the commission. Since most of my paintings are based around the coast, the Gower Peninsula was the perfect place to settle.

Working from my home studio, I get to enjoy this fabulous place on a daily basis. But it’s not just the scenery that gets the creative juices flowing. The people of the Gower are as diverse as their surroundings. For such a small area, this little peninsula contains hundreds of talented artisans from painters to photographers, potters, jewellers, sculptors and designers – the Gower really has them all! What’s more, with such a friendly and connected community, the range of local organised markets, fayres and craft stalls available throughout the year ensure that you’re never short of advice or inspiration to get you started.

So do you need to have a natural flair for art to enjoy arts or crafts? The simple answer is no. Time and time again I hear the same thing ‘I wish I was artistic, but I’m rubbish at art’. Perhaps you’ve used the line yourself? But, you couldn’t be more wrong. We all have an area of art that we’re good at. It’s not always the ability to paint photo-realistic pieces or carve a magnificent sculpture to rival Michaelangelo’s Pieta, but there are so many other areas of crafting that you could successfully indulge in.

Which craft is which?

If you’re having trouble finding the right creative craft for you, here’s a list of some of the things you can do or try for free over the spring and summer months,

Photography ~ You don’t have to spend a fortune on an expensive SLR camera these days, since most modern phones are equipped with a camera that’ll tackle the job. You don’t have to be a professional either as when you consider the beauty of the Gower, you certainly wont run out of breathtaking subjects to practice photographing. Use the weather for added drama or attempt a wildlife shot. You’ll be surprised with the results!

Print making ~ Though there are a number of products available on the market that would allow you to start printing on a budget, there’s also a number of great ways to start yourself off without spending a penny on cutting tools or lino blocks. You may think that potato printing is reserved for the kids but you couldn’t be more wrong! Cutting out a set of simple shapes into an old potato will give you a great base to start making your own wrapping paper, wall decorations or layered, colourful works of art! You don’t have to be a creative genius, just pop it in a frame and watch it brighten up your kitchen! If you’re all out of Welsh spuds, why not enjoy a walk on the beach or in the countryside and collect shells, flowers and leaves to paint and press onto paper for a more detailed effect.

Creative Window Hangings ~ Known for its white sandy beaches, the Gower is the perfect place to spend a few hours collecting sea glass. Tumbled and in a variety of beautiful colours these little ocean worn gems look fantastic strung up in the window or add a touch of beach chic to the room when collected in glass vases.

Rubbing’s – Armed with a pad of paper and a pack of coloured pencils, you can spend a Saturday wandering this perfect peninsula taking rubbing’s of tree bark, plaques, fences, shells or even headstones to produce a fabulous mix of designs. You could simply collect them or even use them as the basis for future print ideas.

Clay impressions ~ Clay impressions are a great way to start your journey into Home-made gifts! All you’ll need is some air dry clay (Which is relatively cheap and can be bought from most craft shops), some paint, some ribbon and a want for the great outdoors! Collect items such as cockle or periwinkle shells and press them into a rolled out sheet of clay (about a cm thick). You can then use a cookie cutter to cut the design out, leave to dry, paint and thread. These are super little personalised gifts that look great when hung up and can be as simple or complicated as you like. Just don’t forget to let the clay dry completely before painting and pop a little hole in it when wet to feed the ribbon through!

If all of these sound great, but a class is more to your liking (and a great opportunity to meet new people whilst learning new skills) why not try your hand at one of the following;

Glass working ~ A chance to embrace the inner magpie and indulge in all things shiny! Workshops are available at the Gower Heritage Centre.

Life Drawing or Creative Painting~ Study and draw the human form or learn to express yourself through the medium of paint. These classes are available at GOWER GROUP in Penclawdd.

The Gower’s creative community really is second to none, so whether you’re looking for home made gift ideas or a new hobby, you’ll find it here. Over the following months, you can hope to see interviews with Gower artisans, tutorials and news of up and coming craft events in your area. I’d also love to see your own creations so feel free to send me a photograph of your work via email and maybe I’ll get to include it in the next issues.

Rhiannon x

hello@moogledoo.com
http://www.moogledoo,com

beach, creative, Halloween, Inspiration, Nature, Samhain, Wales

Autumn Tricks and Treats

This is the time of year that really, REALLY gets me excited! Autumn – the changing colours, the stormy seas (great for surf) and even the darker nights. Yes folks, contrary to most peoples opinions about the early evenings, I think they’re fab! For one, the fire goes on, the duvet comes downstairs and I have an excuse (okay not a real excuse) to carb load with all those fabulously tasty casseroles, stews and hot pots! There really is nothing else like it. Add to that a generous helping of hot chocolate and your away!

But Autumn also heralds one of my favourite times of year – Halloween. Steeped in history, this ‘holiday’ really is one of the most misunderstood times of the year! We all love the pumpkin carving, the trick or treating children and the opportunity to throw a scary party with friends but how many of you know the real history behind this goulish night?

Originating from the old Celtic festival of Samhain (meaning Summers End) Halloween was a time of collecting in the harvest and coming together to remember the loved ones that have passed. So where has the ghostly imagery come from? It’s thought that Halloween is the time of the year when the veil between the world of the living and dead is at it’s thinnest. Believing that all manner of souls walked the earth on this night, people would dress their children up in goulish costumes to deter the mischievous spirits from inhabiting them. Cakes were baked and offered to the ancestors and turnips were carved (before the Americans introduced Pumpkins) to recreate the legend of Stingy Jack – a later Christian Irish tale of a miserable old man who tricked the devil and became banned from both heaven and hell. Being forced to wander the earth for eternity, the devil took pity on Jack and tossed him a burning ember. Jack hollowed out a turnip and placed the ember inside, carrying his primitively carved light across the lands. It’s from this that we have the name Jack O’Lantern.

There’s so much to do to celebrate Halloween. Between apple bobbing, drinking winter warm punch and handing out dollops of sweets to children, why not look to some of the more creative practices.. In the kitchen you could rustle up some traditional Samhain recipes like Colcannon or  toffee apples? Have a feast that really embodies the spirit of the night! Perhaps visit a place that’s full of history or take an Autumn walk and collect leaves to paint and make prints with the kids. If it’s spooktastic inspiration you seek, there’s lots out there too – check out the local haunted tourist spots, decorate the home with your freshly carved Jack O’Lanterns and get the imagination flowing by telling scary stories. When it comes down to it, you can’t avoid it so you may as well embrace it!

Whatever your beliefs about this time of year, you have to admit that it’s a time of change; the colours of the trees, the new seasonal vegetables and the fabulous energy of the winter storms.
Not everyone gets on well with the cold – especially after a long and warm summer, but it’s important to remember that variety truly is the spice of life and without it, those blissful sunshine months would become uninspiring and mundane. So this Autumn, why not embrace the changes that Autumn brings!

Have a fab Halloween!

Rhiannon x

Goulish fun!
Goulish fun!

 

 

art, beach, Coast, creative, Eye Candy!, Harbour, I HEART, Inspiration, Local, Nature, Penarth, Penarth Pier, photograph, Pier, Seaside, Wales

‘Snowy Pier’

My latest piece – ‘Snowy Pier’ was inspired by the fabulously and recently renovated Penarth Pier. The brand new silvery roof and domed arches remind me of those crisp and cool winter nights, while the snow capped spires take me back to times walking along the promenade with the stars glittering overhead and the black waves lapping against the harbour wall. In stark contrast to its cold metallic feel are the colourful fairy lights that dance along the pier, adding a delicate pop of warmth to the often dramatic ocean backdrop.
The length and winding walk to the Pier’s end are all aspects that I loved recreating and exaggerating! For me, there’s nothing better than painting a snow capped coastal scene against a rich blue winter sky! There’s so much to capture with a subject like Penarth Pier and it’s little wonder it remains so popular with tourists and locals alike. Having lived there for 7 years, I never tired of watching the seasons reflect on the pier and this winter will be no different. I may have moved away, but I’ll be quick stepping it back along those salty, sea-worn boards armed with woolly hat, scarf and camera before too much longer!

I guiltily admit too, (especially in October) that I do love the festive feel that this piece has!

This particular original painting is 20 x 29cm or 33 x 43cm framed and is available as an introductory offer for only £100! It won’t be available at this price for long though, soon it’ll return to it’s on-line price of £185 so if you’re interested, do get in touch asap by email; hello@moogledoo.com

Rhiannon x

'Snowy Pier'
‘Snowy Pier’
art, Cardiff, Cardiff Bay, Coast, Commission, creative, Harbour, Illustration, Inspiration, Local, Nature, Penarth, photograph

From Cardiff to Penarth & back again!

Its a lovely thing to be able to produce a painting for a customer. It’s a fabulous thing to have that painting given to their loved ones as a surprise present.

The following work which is known as ‘Jess’s piece’ (since it was a private commission by a lovely lady called Jess – original right?!) was an anniversary present to her fiancé. She came to me with a list of places in and around Cardiff Bay that she felt meant a lot to her and her partner. The list was as long as my arm but beautifully thought through and proved to be a real pleasure to construct. Take a look at the list;

To Include:

~ Jess and her finance Ella
~ Their dog Cooper
~ Their beloved cars and vans
~The Welsh, Danish and Irish Flags
~The time and date of the proposal
~Their fab fold away bicycles
~Cardiff Bay and it’s main attractions (The Corn Exchange)
~The Norwegian Church
~Penarth Pier
~The Millennium Stadium

The list was hefty but gave me so much to work with. The end result proved to be a vibrant and bold rendition of Cardiff and Penarth’s finest buildings with a chance to add in some of my own ‘best loved’ details about the spots – the twisting Taff river, the fairy lights of the bay and Penarth’s winding pier walk. It really does go to show that you can get anything you want from a commission as long as the artist has an open mind and a willingness to see the importance of your requirements.

Thankfully, Ella was over the moon with the end result which (once framed) has taken pride of place in their living room. Super pleased!

So here you have it, the finished article, something I really am happy with!

*Don’t forget, if you have a commission in mind, just get in touch. Almost every budget is achievable – you simply have to ask! Why not get hold of me now at hello@moogledoo.com*

Rhiannon x

Jess's Piece
Jess’s Piece
Adventure, art, beach, Coast, Commission, creative, Eye Candy!, Harbour, I HEART, Inspiration, Local, Nature, photograph, Seaside, Tenby

Building Tenby South Beach

There are lots of stages that go into creating a finished piece and sometimes it’s great to see how things came to be. Though I do always try to photograph every motion of a painting, sometimes (okay okay, most of the time) I forget about the initial sketches and only remember half way through applying the paint! Nevertheless, here’s one of my latest commissions of Tenby South Beach; a beautiful stretch of coastline set in the heart of one of Britain’s most beautiful and iconic seaside harbour towns. Tenby – or ‘Dinbych Y Pysgod’ in Welsh (meaning Little fort of the fish) is a fabulous mix of architecture dowsed in the most wonderfully vibrant colours.  From its pink, blue and yellow sea front houses to its bobbing fishing boats, 13th century walls and romantic cobbled streets, Tenby is steeped in history, folk lore and mystery! A magical place to immerse yourself in and somewhere that’s inspired artists for generations!

Here’s a few images of how my own Tenby South Beach commission came to life (minus the original sketches – oops!).

Rhiannon x

Blocking in the colour (Copyright Rhiannon Thomas)
Blocking in the colour (Copyright Rhiannon Thomas)

 

Adding in the detail (Copyright Rhiannon Thomas)
Adding in the detail (Copyright Rhiannon Thomas)
The finished article! (Copyright Rhiannon Thomas)
The finished article! (Copyright Rhiannon Thomas)
Adventure, art, beach, Coast, creative, Harbour, Inspiration, Local, Nature, photograph

Pretty Porthgain

After a recent and fabulous 4 day break to the beautifully sunny Pembrokeshire, I was inspired to recreate one of the most prominent sites of the trip. Nestled along the Pembrokeshire coast between St Davids and Goodwick is the fabulous little village of Porthgain. The small, once commercial harbour exported slate from nearby quarries – an industrial heritage not easily forgotten with the presence of the now ruined lime kilns, crog lofts and pilot house. Yet for all of its historical significance, Porthgain is so much more than echoes of its past; with its breathtaking coastal walks and wealth of wildlife, this pretty little harbour is a welcomed sight for anyone wishing to escape from the chaos of daily life. I was only there for a few minutes – a quick drive in to get some photographs – but then, I’ve spent more time than I care to remember exploring the fishing villages of Pembrokeshire and Porthgain is an old friend of mine. While I pulled up in the usual spot to dash out of the car and take a quick snap of the sea, something caught my eye. It was nothing particularly unusual, but a single, colourfully painted fishing boat tilted on the sand. It looked almost lonely, as if it were sitting patiently waiting for the tide to return. The sun was glorious and the sea was a beautiful  powder blue. Against the harsh browns and the greens the little white house and blue boat looked so inviting. I just had to take a photo.

When I returned home, I set about painting it – though not in its sunshine glory but rather as I had imagined the little boat in my mind. Sitting or sleeping peacefully under a large crescent moon, waiting patiently for the morning.

Pieces painted like this are always the most fun. There’s something very natural and unique about the end result and it’s something that I absolutely love.

Rhiannon x

Porthgain Harbour, Pembrokeshire
Porthgain Harbour, Pembrokeshire
'Porthgain Night' ~ 17x21" Framed. Available to buy. £265
‘Porthgain Night’ ~ 17×21″ Framed. Available to buy.
£265