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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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!).

step-1

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.

step-2

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!

step-4

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.

step-6

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!)

step-7

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..

step-8

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.

step-10

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.

step-12

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.

step-14

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

Merry Christmas!

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’
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)