Issue #25: August, 2022

Golden Delicious by Ann Richmond - An artwork of an armoured Donkey & Painted Wolves. Painted in the artist's unique style... Framing available.

Dear Subscriber…

I just don’t know where the time goes… Since the last Newsletter, we’ve enjoyed a very successful Marlborough Open Studios (thanks to all those who made it out to deep, dark Wiltshire!). Then a week to recover, before Ann got back to her labours…

It was time well-spent, too, as here we are, with not one, but TWO new paintings for your consideration!

What’s more, there’s another ‘coming in hot’ on the heels of this pair, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we’re back in-touch.

Good things are happening, so let’s get on with it!

Gary & Ann

Golden Delicious

Golden Delicious…

For years now, Ann has been thinking of painting a donkey…

Right back, before we got into our current pre-occupation, ‘a Donkey picture, please!’ was asked of us, more than once.

But inspiration (and time) never arrived together.

Then, a chance conversation with one of our collectors (hello, Peter!) revealed his favourite animal to be the ‘Painted’ Wild Dog of the African Savannah. Though we didn’t know it, a seed had been sown.

Again, nothing happened until one Saturday – as so often happens – we were enjoying one of our ‘quiet spells’ at the Craft Fair in Cirencester, when Ann began sketching. This is the result…

As you can see, all the elements are in-place here, but the scaling of the creatures is way-off, along with the overall composition. So a re-think & polish were needed…

Now, we were getting somewhere! In particular, Ann had to focus on the foreshortened angle of the Donkey’s snout, the resizing & repositioning of the bird (which changed from our familiar Toucan into a more colourful Hornbill) and the ‘direction of travel’ used for the dogs, in relation to the Donkey and each other…

Golden Delicious

Like all the best ideas, this one’s both simple, yet effective. The Donkey and the Hornbill riding on its back, have been joined in their wanderings by a trio of Wild Dogs.

They’re all in-search of sustenance and are delighted to have spotted one of the King’s ‘magical trees’ ahead. We’ve seen one of these trees before, in ‘Harvest For the King’. If you’re familiar with the work, you’ll remember that its crop was floating? Well, this tree sports a bountiful – yet improbable – crop of all varieties. There’s everything from Granny Smiths to – yes – a VERY Golden Delicious! Guided to this wondrous place by the balloons, that’s what the Dogs have seen. Impulsive as ever, they’re only interested in food for the body…

The wise old Donkey on the other hand, is hankering after something more… meaningful. That’s why he’s latched on to the mythical (and golden) ‘Apple of Wisdom’, dangling from the branch at the foot of our picture. It’s not the first time I’ve painted one of these before, either… I wonder if you’ve seen enough of the work to know?

Drawing inspiration from its importance within Greek Mythology, in the world of my imagination, the Golden Apple represents the source of knowledge. Of enlightenment, you might say. So, it’s little wonder that our old friend should be the one to have spotted it. Even the Hornbill is oblivious, having returned to his perch with something more edible!

I like the easy-going look on the Donkey’s face. So placid and accepting. It’s as though he always knew he’d find the apple one day… For when you stand in its light, it’s the prize that will shatter doubts, fears & illusions.

Keep looking! It might be right in-front of you…

Let’s begin with look at the Donkey himself, shall we?

Many reference photos were considered before Ann found ‘The One’. There was just something very appealing about this charming fellow.

The healthy, whiskery beard about his snout. The engaging look in his eyes. Those pert, pricked-up ears…

For this one, Ann chose a companion bird that offered more colour than the usual Toucans: a Hornbill seemed to fit the bill…

The Hornbill’s lemon-yellow chest plumage and multi-coloured beak gave greater contrast against the mauve skies. About his neck, he wears a golden chain of office and, being impatient, he’s already returned to his perch on the Donkey’s back, with one of the apples..!

Special mention too, for the details in the ‘petals’ of the Donkey’s saddle armour. In a nod to that style used in Night Mail, Ann has once again added individual animals to each petal: can you see what they are?

And so to the African Wild (‘Painted’) Dogs.

That they would appear one day, in one of Ann’s works, was always a possibility following her chat with Peter, but nothing gelled until that first sketch you see above.

Once the key theme & composition had been established, things progressed.

So, here is the ‘distant’ pair, trailing a little from the Donkey. One of them has the ribbons from a couple of balloons in his mouth. For those regular collectors familiar with the ‘deep details’ of the world we’re building, you’ll know that the appearance of a balloon, means that the Universe is ‘making magic happen…’

And so it is here: the Dogs just haven’t realised it!

On a purely selfish note I was struck by the hint of translucency at the edges of the balloons. Against that deep, indigo sky, I love their clarity & satisfying contrast.

The surrounding hills are also familiar, being an extension of the range glimpsed in The Dreamcatchers…

Ann had always envisaged the work in a square format. Therefore, it meant that the composition would have to be carefully planned, in-order to give every element space to breathe, but not detract from either each other or the overall narrative…

So we had the Donkey shown in a foreshortened angle and the Dog’s ‘master portrait’, nestled in the foliage at the bottom corner. We think it works, as from the Dog’s eager expression, it’s clear that he’s hankering after an apple. He hasn’t seen the main prize (as far as the Donkey’s concerned) simply because he’s not looking for it.

This is our story, then: the Wild Dogs see the apples as ‘food for the body’, whereas the Donkey only has eyes for the Golden Apple, knowing it to be ‘food for the soul’.

And here is the Golden Apple, itself. It uses a layer of Gold Leaf, that Ann originally chose to apply on the hottest day of the year… Unfortunately, that didn’t go too well, because the giant fan she uses on such occasions, blew the leaf about so much, it quickly became a non-starter! Even with the thing switched-off, things didn’t improve.

After the mess was cleaned-up, she tried again with some super-duper gold-leaf paint, but that just ended-up looking flat. We knew that, as far as photography went, the lustrous-sheen it’d need, just wouldn’t be possible.

So, another week passed before Ann had a third-time-lucky re-try with the leaf. This time, with all the doors & windows shut, things went better and to ensure a clean result, she applied a special varnish over the area to seal-it. Success!

Before we leave the work, I just wanted to showcase more of the amazingly detailed apple tree, with its many varieties. From memory, I think we’re looking here at a Braeburn, a Granny Smith & a Pink Lady! We have a few ropey-looking apple trees in our own garden, so Ann was able to closely observe the curling leaves, the mottled branches, etc.

Nothing beats having the references in your own backyard… Perhaps the next picture should feature a selection of recycling bins and a log-pile!

After a showing at the market on August 27th, we’ll be there EVERY SATURDAY in the run-up to Xmas…

His Frisking…

His Frisking…

Here’s something different!

I can’t tell you why I might be doing the odd wildlife piece in the future… Rest assured that all will be revealed in due course. So in the meantime, let’s celebrate the joyous energy of a leaping Hare!

For those long-standing collectors of ours that’ve been with us from the beginning, this one might ring a few bells. Why? Because it echoes what was for a spell, our most successful print: I Spied a Hare. Combining a poem of mine, with Ann’s work touched one or two heart-strings and brought many new fans into the fold.

But as ever, coming up with a sequel was never going to be easy; especially with how busy our lives have become… Until now!

This was Ann’s original attempt. Painted in acrylics – and at speed – the Hare was never finished, despite its initial appearance. Look harder and the rough edges – and wonky anatomy – are plain enough. Still, she WAS kind enough to leave me a little space in which to squeeze a poem..!

If I think back, things ground to a halt as I waited for inspiration to strike… And then it made its way over to the dreaded ‘unfinished pile of death’, from which abandoned pictures seldom emerge…

His Frisking…

But exceptions DO occur from time-to-time and in this case, it was my discovery of a beautiful poem by the 18th Century poet William Cowper that breathed new life into the work. The middle stanzas of ‘Epitaph On a Hare’ are particularly fitting to Ann’s painting:

His frisking was at evening hours,
For then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching showers,
Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round-rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle noons,
And every night at play.

The rest of Cowper’s poem is just as arresting & visual in its language & stylings. What’s more, I could make it fit the narrow space Ann had left…
Suddenly, we had the possibility of a new work!

This close-up of the head is a good place to start, I think. Once again, Ann has given us a beautiful eye, with a lively glint and surrounded by those delicate tufts of fur. The whiskers look good here, too.

For the re-painting, Ann chose to use oils, over the original acrylic. The richer pigments and thicker body of the oil paint, allowed the successful alterations to the Hare’s profile. Compare the shape of his head to the original draft, and much has changed!

Some of the detail on the front paws and how their mauves & purples, harmonise with the pale greens of the field. The Poppies look great too, having been over-painted along with everything else. Now, they sport richer colours & more contrasting shadows to add highlights throughout the work.

A view of the large tufted whirl on the Hare’s leg. Again, note the delicate, softly-blended mauves here. Such a tranquil effect, contrasting with the energy of the subject.

Another view, this time of the ornately-patterned tail, with its blue tones for added shadow.

A little of Cowper’s poem here, showing how we were able to find a pleasing balance between the letter-styling and the space available.


Well, that’s it for now: we hope you enjoyed this month’s Newsletter.

If you find yourself at a loose end and you’re able to visit us in Cirencester one Saturday, we’d love to see you!

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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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