Issue #12: Jan / Feb, 2021

Dear Subscriber…

Hello and welcome to our 12th Newsletter! This is Ann’s partner, Gary: How are you all doing?

If you’re a regular here, you’ll know that I’ve been threatening/promising to finish uploading our ever-expanding range to Etsy?!

Unsurprisingly, that hasn’t gone according-to-plan!

Instead, I’ve spent the last few weeks on admin (read: tax return) and re-visiting a few of Ann’s older pieces, to see if they might suggest prints: so here we are!

Go on…

You see, when Ann was making the transition from 3D work into 2D, she used a variety of ready-primed & stretched canvases, in varying sizes (i.e. what was ‘on special offer’!). As a result, we’ve got a few ‘long-and-thin’ pieces, which don’t translate into what’s now become our regular print dimensions. 

I’m listening…

A long-standing collaboration with our printer has opened the door to a few innovations along the way: one being the ability to seamlessly ‘clone’ elements of a picture and thereby extend its size & proportions. Or, to put it another way: think of our digital copy as a tapestry. All we’re doing, is ‘invisibly joining’ it to a larger panel, to extend its area.

The results are AMAZING and totally convincing. As a result, we’re proud to show you FOUR such works today.

In addition, I’m also pleased to share a FIFTH image: that of a Lynx..

Shall we begin?

Hold on. What’s happened to the Fantasy work?

Glad you asked! We’ll have something AMAZING to show in the coming weeks, so think of this issue as a little housekeeping… A tying-up of loose-ends, before normal service is restored!


‘Lynx’

A few years ago, some friends of ours acquired a lonesome cabin in Sweden. They reported seeing Lynx tracks in the snow during their first Winter, so the idea of painting one as a house-warming gift came quickly.

At the time, we weren’t making prints, just a range of greeting cards. As a result, the original digital image was cropped to fit the dimensions of the cards we were then using, with much of the work’s energy & spirit, lost.

While we’re on the subject of things being lost, that’s what happened to the digital file soon after…

Happily, that original file has now been located, giving us the opportunity of re-visiting this stunning picture. On reflection, I think the original reasoning behind cropping it was correct. However, now that it fits our ‘Portrait’ format, the results look every bit as impressive as I hoped.

You can see how Ann’s distinctive ‘feathering’ technique was used here with each
strand of texture
carrying multiple
colours. It’s a technique that she’d use to great effect in later Hare paintings.

I love how the bold ‘tendrils of colour’ in the fur, give way to these delicate wisps of hair in the Lynx’s ears.

Look harder though, and the bolts of colour are still there.

More of those bold strands, but showing how Ann likes to add a sense of movement. Even the colours look acceptable here, which is part of her magic. It lifts the whole, into a work of art.

Yes, there’s understandable
menace here, but also an underlying gentleness. An acceptance of its place in the hierarchy. An undeniable beauty & grace that Ann captures admirably.


‘Badgers Trio’

At the time Ann painted Badgers Trio, we lived on the Wiltshire Downs. Those rolling chalk hills, both timeless and enigmatic, were a revelation to Ann – a native of the Stroud Valleys – and soon, her work began to exhibit echoes of that landscape.

‘Badgers Trio’ was one such piece. Inspired by an active Badger sett close-to-home, Ann set out to create a work inspired by those gently rolling hills and I think you can see that, in the way the Badgers flow into one another. A dramatic night-sky merely adds another layer of drama to the composition. But it could be so much more…

As I mentioned in the introduction to this Newsletter, Ann was painting onto awkwardly-sized canvases at this time and ‘Trio is no exception. As you can see, it’s rather squashed…

But a little digital pixie-dust has breathed new-life into the work. The work expands, along with our reading of it. Now the border between hills & sky have blurred, we can lose ourselves in the star-field.

It has become the accomplished work it always promised to be.

Some of those flowing ‘tendrils of colour’ once again; this time an experiment with blue-green tones.

Yet colour remains; Ann gave delicate, bright highlights to key areas such as the ears. You also get to see a little of the pen-work going on under the surface. An oft-overlooked technique, pen-work lends a sense of animation to pieces; a ‘frizzing’ around the periphery.

More highlights, on the Badger’s snouts… and the shadows they cast. Don’t they look like the natural folds of hills?

There’s a questing look in the expression worn by the first Badger, as though it’s seeking out something new. Something familiar.

Something hopeful.


‘Flamingo’

“Paint a Flamingo!” they said…

So Ann duly obliged, with a gentle, delicate study in watercolour. Kicking off a triptych of work featuring tall, slender birds, this Flamingo would turn-out merely to be the first time Ann painted the bird.

By contrast, this trio of birds would be the last time that she used watercolour.

A challenging medium at the best of times, watercolour is suited to fast-painting. To expressive ‘pléin-air’ works. To pieces that place few technical demands on the vision being pursued, beyond that of dealing in the here-and-now with the interplay of water with pigment. As Ann’s practice has evolved, so too has her style and the techniques of refinement and adjustment that that entails. Watercolour is a ‘hit or miss’ medium that rewards the impulse and punishes the afterthought.

Perhaps it was this very series, that led to Ann confirming first acrylic, then oils as her medium-of-choice…

So, to the Flamingo then. Impossibly-proportioned for our current print sizes, I cropped this one at a point suggesting the legs beyond & expanded the spread of those delicate background tones. The result works within the proportions we now use; showcasing the bird’s elegant neck and suggesting colours beyond the expected pinks…

In the previous work, Badgers Trio, I showed how Ann used pen-work to suggest ‘frizzing’ at the borders, to suggest a sense of movement, but the same is happening here really, with the blotchiness of the pigment as it pools at the borders.

With controlled tendrils of colour denied to Ann in this work, she instead opted for subtly contrasting blooms. Again, she is playing with our notion of colour, for while we all ‘know’ that Flamingoes are pink, we ‘forgive’ the varied
colourscape; accepting tones as mere variations of the source.

Here, you get a sense of one of watercolour’s key attributes: its translucency. Can you see how one broad swathe of pigment, has overlaid another, to create a denser field?


‘Japanese Crane’

A ‘Japanese Crane’…?

Ann was searching for a trio of tall & slender waterbirds and this elegant, imperious Crane fitted the bill.

As you can see, to get it to this stage, required a little judicious cropping and expansion of the VERY subtle background.

Once again, the pigment’s hard to control in this watercolour!

At least with this clutch of glossy, prominent tail-feathers, it was possible for Ann to put in some of her favoured swathes of colour.

I like the interplay here, between these bold feathers and the suggestion of light down on the legs.


‘Giant Egret’

More experiments!

For the last of these graceful waterbirds, Ann went with a Giant Egret.

Once more, I’ve had to crop the work and expand the background somewhat, but I think the essence of the Egret’s enigmatic spirit remains.

The Egret’s razor-sharp beak, used for spearing fish, turned out wonderfully.

Some delicate work here, as the wash of gentle pink stands against the dull grey-green background.

One last thing to note: those little blotches in the background? Salt crystals! When scattered onto the paper, they dry out the watercolour faster, thus concentrating the pigments into darker, richer highlights…


‘Work-in-Progress’

The Owl is taking shape…

More SOON!


Well, that’s it for now: thanks for having made it this far!

Until next time, Ann & I wish you well and we look forward to seeing & hearing more from you in the weeks to come!

Stay Safe and Here’s to Saturdays-to-Come in the Corn Hall!

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Ann paints animals wearing ornate armour & Gary unearths wonders with AI. We ship both Original Artworks and our superb Fine-Art Prints worldwide, from the Otherwurlde Studio, here in Wiltshire, Southern England.
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