Issue #31: March / April, 2023

Dinner For One? by Ann Richmond - An artwork of an armoured (& hungry) Giant Panda with a Red Panda friend. Painted in the artist's unique style... Framing available.

Dear Subscriber…

How are you doing? I know it seems that just yesterday I was showing you our Great Leap Forward, but Ann seems to be on something of a roll at the moment, and this one just ‘sort of painted itself’: so here I am again!

I think you’re going to like Dinner For One? I know I do. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s now my firm favourite of the Collection so far. What do you think? Drop me a line and spill your thoughts!

In other news, we’ve been thinking of producing two new selection packs of blank greeting cards; one pack each of six mixed squares and six rectangles. We think this might prove a popular gift item, especially if we were to offer an attractively packaged option.

Trouble is, as the Collection has grown, it’s gotten harder to pick just six designs for each pack…

So, in the coming weeks, I shall be back in-touch with a poll for YOU – our Newsletter subscribers – to vote on the designs YOU’D like to see… Watch this space!

Okay, that’s enough rambling: Let’s get on with it!

Dinner For One?

With every new painting of Ann’s, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know where to begin with my description. But, given I have to start somewhere, let’s go with the Giant Panda himself, shall we?

The idea of including a panda in the ‘Carnival of Wonders’ had been on Ann’s mind for a while, but the challenge lay in finding the right setting as much as the references. Sometimes – as in the case of our recent tiger – ideas come more or less ‘fully-formed’. Others, such as this one, take their time in coming together. But when they do, often in a rush of creative inspiration, things feel giddy. I hope that, just by looking at the humorous details in this piece, you can sense a fair amount of that giddiness!

For a start, I LOVE the somewhat hangdog expression on our hero’s face. I’ve done a fair amount of long-distance walking in my time and I can TOTALLY relate to his sense of knackered exhaustion. The look of furrowed concentration as he contemplates his bamboo twig is perfect; it might be his last one, too: I can’t see anymore laying about, can you?

Aside from the panda’s delicate fur, I’m also struck by the quality of lighting in this close-up. How Ann’s managed to capture the contrast between the yellowy warmth from the firelight, contrasting with the blue highlights from the darkness beyond on his ears. Beautifully done, I think.

There are some marvellous details in the panda’s clothing & armour to share with you, but one that made me take notice was how ‘running repairs’ have had to be made to garments, the longer they’ve been away from ‘civilisation’. This delicate little patch isn’t the only one to be found…

In trying to find inspiration for the panda’s armour, Ann came up with a mix from both Chinese & Japanese classical styles. Here, for example, we see a beautifully sketched little wicker panel, and jewelled enamel brooch. I’ve also included a little of his fluffy tummy fur; it looks so real, that you want to plunge your hand in and tickle his belly!

In a close-up of his knee, you can see how cracked & dented the panda’s armour & uniform has become. Still looks amazing, though..!

Oh, and can you see the other darning patch?

Regular watchers and Collectors of The Carnival of Wonders will recognise the importance of the Fez in our world, for it represents a mark of ‘high importance’. So… While the Red Panda appears to be annoying our hero, with apparent demands for some of his bamboo dinner, he can’t be ignored forever!

I adore his little waggling tongue, and the look of determination in his eyes; especially the one magnified slightly by his monocle!

I also have a deep appreciation for this lovely cooking brazier, that’s just getting up-to-speed. Can you make out the little dragon on the side? We’re always getting asked whether we’d ever paint dragons & other traditional fantasy themes, so we like to put these little touches into the work, so that we can say – with hands on hearts – that, ‘Yes. We DO paint dragons!’

And so we come to what might be the true highlight of this painting!

We’ve had maps in previous artworks (most notably in Lost in a Good Book), but have you spotted that little whiff of smoke? A cinder has popped out of the brazier and just as the panda is contemplating another long day on the trail tomorrow, it’s slowly consuming the map RIGHT NOW!

It’s little touches like these that delight us as much as we know it does all of you. THIS is why we’re here…

I’ll close with this view of the panda’s leather bottle and his beautifully engraved & tooled helmet. Yes, it sports another dragon, and is covered in precious stones of amber, but I bet you didn’t notice the little ear-holes at first glance, did you? Or the little Pan-Pipe it sits upon?

So. Now we’re here at the end – and I’ve got you all in the right mood – let me reveal the BIG IDEA…!

Because if there’s a single underlying theme to Dinner For One?, then it’s the classic tale of envy and the consequences of negligence!

No, really…

See, the giant panda represents the hardworking and deserving individual who rations out his resources to leave something for the end of the day. Whereas the frivolous red panda, symbolises envy and the desire for what others possess. The burning map also serves as a warning that, even in moments of peace and contentment, dangers can arise if we are not vigilant. As usual in the work, we try to layer-in all sorts of meaning and truth to keep you thinking and guessing…

And there you were, just admiring the Pandas!

That’s why we feel this painting is so important and will resonate with so many of you: because for so many of us, this represents just one of the struggles we face in life… Especially at the moment!

Among final details to savour, I thought to give a special mention to the little Luna Moth. There might not be any balloons, bubbles or streamers in this one, but we thought it wouldn’t have been the right kind of deep, dark forest without one of these flitting about…

Oh. And have you spotted the eyes?

We’ll still be attending the Cirencester Craft Fair in 2023, but we’re going to try something a little different…

We’re going to see if we can attend on the THIRD and FOURTH Saturdays each and every month. For those who don’t know, the Fair’s charter prevents it from running if there’s a Fifth Saturday in a month, so don’t be caught out if you’re planning on coming at the last-minute…

We’re there on April 15th & 22nd, May 20th & 27th with more dates to be announced… We’ll be seeing you!


Pilgrim’s Rest…

Well, that’s it for now: we hope you enjoyed this month’s Newsletter. I’ll be sending out something ELSE quite soon: Stay Tuned!

If you find yourself at a loose end and you’re able to visit us in Cirencester’s Corn Hall 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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