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Emily Sutton Paintings and cards

May 25, 2015

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I saw that Emily Sutton, who is featured regularly on Fishink Blog, has been busily painting away again. She’s a prolific artist, who’s work sings with the joy and passion that goes into each piece. You can feel how much she likes her ‘day job’ : )

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Emily seeks out the unusual. Whether it’s antiques, quirky houses or just painting wonderful scenes from around her own home.

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Time spent on the allotments.

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And her continuing love of old shop fronts and the disappearing face of the high street.

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It’s great that she’s preserved these beautiful scenes for us to view in another hundred years time.

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A range of inspiring 3d cards has been designed for Art Angels taken from her illustrations below.

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I’d love to see a cartoon series about the owners of the shops from this work : )

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Fabulous work as ever Emily, do keep us smiling : ) To view more of her work on Fishink Blog, simply type Emily Sutton into the search box on the right hand side. Happy discovering.

Vanessa Bowman Welcoming nature indoors

May 22, 2015

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Vanessa Bowman graduated from Winchester School of Art in 1993 with a First Class Honours degree in Printed Textile Design. During her time there she won the Eileen Bendall and the Sanderson prizes for drawing, and the Daler Rowney Young Artist award – for pastels exhibited in the Mall Galleries – two years running.

Each of Vanessa’s still lifes observes the simple beauty of everyday objects – a moment captured in time. A vase of garden flowers, a bowl of lemons (their acid yellow placed against the deep magenta plum), a striped shell – each is placed deliberately within the framework of the painting combining muted subtle colour with jewel-like accents.

Vanessa kindly answered some questions for Fishink Blog.

Can you tell me what inspires you to paint and who would you place amongst the artists who’s work inspires you or that you most admire ?

My inspiration to paint comes from all sorts of sources:- walking through the countryside where I live, hedgerows, my garden and plants that I grow, exhibitions, magazines – particularly for colour and pattern. Pinterest- to look at other artists work.

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My inspiration for objects comes from pottering round markets looking for 1950’s style objects which often have a pleasing shape, form or patterning. Artists that influence are colourists such as Anne Redpath, Mary Fedden, Rothko, also Elizabeth Blackadder, Winifred Nicholson and Italian Renaissance painters such as Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Giotto. I also like the Bloomsbury group of painters, in particular Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

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I love the way that familiar pots, cups and tablecloth patterns reappear in your work. Is there a reason behind this or just that you never tire of their shapes and surfaces ?

Familiarity of objects – they fit into the framework of a painting like each piece of a jigsaw. The spacial relationships of the objects that I choose are really important to the overall painting, and I often return to familiar shapes and motifs which fit the scheme.

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There seems to be a real history in paintings (dating back to the Egyptians) where the pots or containers are depicted as flattened. Can you tell me how you came to paint in this way ?

The style of paintings of the Italian Renaissance such as Piero della Francesca and Fra Angelico have always fascinated me in their naive modernity. The tilted perspective that I use in my work comes partly from a fresco at Assisi where the table tilts towards the viewer and the shapes of the vessels and plates are flattened and simplified with a resulting simplicity that immediately appealed to my sense of pattern and arrangement.

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Do you have any desires to paint in different styles, themes or mediums ? (Seascapes etc) How difficult is it for an artist such as yourself to not feel too trapped into an area or style of painting because that is perhaps what their audience expects or anticipates ?

Sometimes  I feel that I would like to develop my work into other areas and styles and to look at a different approach to painting.I would love to explore a path of pure abstraction and to develop responses to pure colour with a freer ,more painterly approach. It is difficult to break free from an established style which followers of your work, as well as commercial galleries, have come to expect from you as an artist. It is difficult to breakout of the constraints of your own style whilst continuing to please both galleries and customers alike.

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How much time do you devote to sketchbooks ? Do you use sketchbooks to work out the composition of your paintings ?

I use sketchbooks to develop ideas and to work out compositions and think on paper. It is useful too to refer back to previous work and to see paintings that have worked. I feel that drawing is the backbone of all work.

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Vanessa’s landscapes observe the pattern and texture of the countryside around her home. She paints features left by the working of the land, punctuated by seasonal land marks – such as skeletons of trees in winter or hedgerow flowers in summer. Detailed foregrounds of vibrantly coloured berries or hips, delicate snowdrops or cow parsley lead the eye into an intimate portrait of the Dorset landscape.

Do you have any preference for painting still life over landscapes or do you vary it depending on the time of year or when you feel like a change of subject ?

I enjoy equally painting landscape and still life, each presenting different challenges. I often paint a landscape to have a change of scene from my still life painting, which I mostly paint. I am drawn to the same things in a landscape, with areas of semi- abstraction in the painting in say a hillside, alongside detail of the flowers in the hedgerow in the foreground. In winter there is the sparseness of the landscape with its skeleton trees alongside dashes of colour in berries and hips. I enjoy painting this when in the garden there are few flowers or plants to draw inspiration from.

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When you’re painting landscapes do you prefer to work from the real thing, photographs, sketches, memory or perhaps the imagination ? How important is it to you that your landscape is a real scene ?

When painting landscape I work into a sketchbook, sometimes from a photograph, but interpreting also from memory in order to pare down an image and get more of a sense of place or season, rather than a realistic representation.

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Where do you see your paintings going in the future ?

In the future I would like to develop more abstract work and explore the possibilities of oil paint further. At art school I painted in quite an expressive, painterly style and I would like to get explore that again- to look at the joy of simple colour, mark-making and texture.

Beautiful explosions of the countryside here, I love the feeling of nature spilling out of the frame into the room. Many thanks for your time and thoughts about your work Vanessa. I look forward to see which country lane you work may lead you to next !

Mid Week Mix and Fishinkblog on Instagram

May 20, 2015

Since about 2008, I’ve been collecting images from the internet that have caught my eye. Way back then, I wasn’t so diligent in keeping records as to where images came from, or who had painted, photographed, illustrated or indeed created the artwork in the image. So I apologise in advance for their lack of referencing, but to be honest, it was purely about seeing groups of imagery together, that for whatever reason, I enjoyed.

As I have managed to amass quite a few of these ‘collaged sheets’, I thought I would share them with you, in the hope that they may also provide some inspiration to you the readers, from their shape, colour, texture or out and out randomness : )

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Do let me know your thoughts and which images catch your eye for whatever reason.

Also I’d like to mention that I’ve just started an Instagram page for Fishink Blog.

The link is ( or you can click on the button on the right of my site.

It’s early days but I’ll be building up the collection every week, so if you lovely folk would like to follow me, or leave a comment or see more of my artwork, then please pop on over and check it out today. I’ll look forward to sharing more of my own illustration with you.

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Have a great Midweeker : )

Barbara Franc Sculpting Wildlife

May 18, 2015

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Talented Sculptor Barbara Franc combines her love of animals with her work in order to bring joy to everyone.

In the late 70’s, she attended Morley College of Art where she studied Life drawing under Maggi Hambling and John Bellany. In the late 80’s, she attended Richmond College to study Sculpture under Avril Vellacott, but the most influential of her mentors was Mary Orrom, an inspired and inspiring sculptor, based in Great Missenden, Bucks.

I caught up with Barbara and she kindly answered some questions for us.

What are your first memories of being an artist ?  

My own mother was very creative and she always kept hold of things like cardboard boxes and washing up bottles (in those days Blue Peter ‘makes’ always seemed to need a squeezy bottle.) So our house was always full of things that I could use for sticking, glueing and cutting up, but whatever I made, there was always an animal included somehow.

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How did you get interested in sculpture and particularly wire work ?

I have always preferred to work in 3D as my hands need to be actively involved. I started first with clay, either firing in my own gas kiln or having it cast into bronze. The technique I used involved making a wood and paper armature which would burn out during firing.

I found I became more interested in the actual armature making itself, as that is the basis of any successful piece. That then led to me playing with various gauges and types of wire, slowly evolving into the methods I use today.

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I’ve read that you weren’t allowed animals as a child, is this true and do you think this has influenced your chosen subject matter ?

Yes. I’ve read that online about me as well! It is total poppycock, no idea where that person fictitiously wrote that about me and I have asked for it to be removed but once online, always online it seems. A lesson in don’t always believe what is on the web.

I had a dog, cats, gerbils and rabbits as a child, and now have a dog and two cats plus when my daughter was at home we had 16 species of Stick insects (all needing different food plants) hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and the best one of all a Panther Chameleon. Oh I’ve also had two horses.
You might guess that my first career choice was to be a veterinarian, but I somehow ended up as the BBC’s first female Cameraman instead !

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Where do you source all the bits and pieces that go to make up your wonderful creations ?
I do find a lot of bits and pieces just lying around on the pavement or side of the road, I’m sorry to say. I will glance into a skip if I’m passing and also go to car boot sales and charity shops. All my friends know how excited I will be with an old car windscreen wiper or broken cutlery so they kindly save pieces for me. If I can’t use something I make sure it goes to be recycled.

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Where does the coloured metal come from that you (in particular) make the birds with ?

I have boxes and boxes of old decorative biscuit tins etc and I trawl through them to find the right colours that I need for a piece. Again, I have a lot of friends who hunt them out for me, especially on bin days !

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Aren’t these amazing, such characters.

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Have you ever wondered what your work would appear like in robotic form, or as a story book character ?

Yes, I was approached by an animation tutor to ask if he could collaborate on doing something on one of my birds with his students, but I just didn’t have the time. I have indeed made three special puppet characters that have a vague story sketched out for them but, yet again, haven’t found the time!

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Who (if anyone) would you say is an influence on your work, or who’s work you may just admire ?

Well I do think Picasso was one of the best sculptors ever, Elizabeth Frink and Nicola Hicks have been very important to me and there are tons and tons of artists whose work I love and admire, I wouldn’t know where to start. I do try to post about them on my Facebook page.

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I also have a lurcher, so I found your scruffy material dogs particularly endearing. Which animals do you enjoy making the most and why ?

I think I enjoy making the domesticated animals such as dogs and horses best, it’s probably because there is such a close and historical ink between them and man.

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What plans do you have for the future of your wiry creatures ?

Always to try and keep each piece fresh and individual, I have never really been one for making editions of sculpture, I like the idea that each piece is unique and that is what wire offers to me.

I love this image of a hare in progress and the studio shot of Barabara’s faithful fellow worker (perhaps a part time model also).

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Many thanks to Barbara for sharing her work and thoughts with us today. What a visual treat !

Tania Rollond Nature, geometry and ceramics

May 15, 2015

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Tania Rollond was born 1973, Esperance, Western Australia. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Design at Curtin University before discovering her passion for working with clay.

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She moved to Sydney to study Ceramics at the National Art School from 1997 to 2000, and then established her studio in the Southern Highlands of NSW, where she has been living and making work for solo and group exhibitions in Australia and overseas for the last decade. In 2011, Tania completed her Master of Fine Art (by Research) in Drawing at UNSW.

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In addition to her studio practice, she has been teaching since 2001. Her experience includes the University of NSW, TAFE and Sturt Craft Centre. She is currently a part-time Lecturer in Ceramics at the National Art School, Sydney, where she has worked since 2004

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Lovely to see her slip trailed vases and bowls, pictured here in their pre and post glazed stages.

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Considering the line and form is obviously a large part of Tania’s work.

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Nature plays another fundamental role.

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Fascinating to see how Tania’s drawings and paintings reflect her finished ceramics. Some forms (below) even appear to be midway between the drawing and painted stages of completion. Wonderful sense of line and movement.

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Elements of repeat pattern, nature and geometry are reiterated in different ways on a variety of shapes and ceramic forms.

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Beautiful work…. any thoughts readers ? Which piece would you like to own and why ?

Fishink New work for the Sale Arts Trail

May 13, 2015

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For those of you missing the Mid Week Mix, fear not, they will be returning soon. It’s just that I’ve got so much news to tell you lately, that they’ve been pushed further down the ‘post pile’, whilst the more recent news comes first !


I’ve been selected to exhibit my work in this year’s Sale Arts Trail and have started preparing new work to show. There will be a collection of 50+ local artists, across a range of different disciplines such as jewellery, ceramics, painting and illustration. The work is displayed in the Waterside Arts Centre as well as participating shops, cafes and businesses around Sale itself.

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I thought it would be fun to create some more simplistic pieces that allow the cut of the card to depict the shape of the animals, instead of using a surrounding line to do the same. I quite like the softer look… any thoughts ?

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This is my largest piece to date, approx 40 x 50 cms and is painted straight onto torn, collaged pieces of card, which allow splashes of texture and colour to peep through.

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Other work takes from the theme of pinned/ mounted butterflies, but in this case, rabbits and birds. The animals stand proud of the ground which gives depth and casts shadows within the illustrations too.

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I’m hoping to have a good range of hand made cards too, like the ones below

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More work available here. I’m available for commissions, so if you like my style and want something more personal creating, do get in touch. Be sure to put the 10th – 12th July in your diaries and come along to take part in the trail. It should be a great weekend.



Here’s a couple of inspired repeats taken from the collages.

Chris Cyprus at Woodend Mill, Mossley.

May 11, 2015

A couple of weeks ago now, we got out of the house and explored a part of the outskirts of Manchester that we had not been to previously. Meeting up with a friend who’s recently moved to Greenfields, we ambled along the canal side to Mossley. As you can see, it was a beautiful sunny day.

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I liked the two different arches here, the bridge and the land, one resting upon the other.

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Fortunately you can walk for miles along the canal side, whilst you admire the slowly changing scenery.

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At Woodend Mill, there was an open day, where a lot of the artists who work there, open their studio’s up to the public. Some are tucked away up in the rafters ! The mill has about 5 floors so it’s a pretty big place to walk around, although sadly not all of the studios were open.

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My favourite artist, who has a large studio space is Chris Cyprus.

Born in Gorton, Manchester in 1971, Chris then spent his early years growing up in Stockport. When he returned to his roots as an aspiring musician in his twenties to play at Bakers Vaults, Chris’s memories of being a young lad resurfaced: like “…being pushed along the cobbled streets while staring up in wonder at gigantic mill buildings.”

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Chris says “I now live in Mossley, Lancashire, at the foothills of the Pennines. While it feels completely different to the place of my childhood, it is the enduring community ties blended with my memories that inspire how I depict Northern Life.”

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A few years ago, Chris sought out his own allotment, when he saw in it, a different way of life. “It’s that sense of community you get in the Pennines, in the little surrounding villages. It’s that sense of belonging. The chit-chat in the chip shop and the passing conversation on the street market.”

To a large extent, all of Chris’s work is inspired by his view of northern life, though it is wider than that. It’s about capturing the way things were, when people looked out for each other, when everyday life brought people together.

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For me there is also a Beryl Cook side to Chris’s paintings. A humour in the work and that feeling of capturing a fleeting snapshot of the life that’s going on around us, or in some cases, that is sometimes passing us by.

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There are still elements of the big city amongst Chris’s work, like this one above from 2014 depicting Sinclair’s Oyster Bar in Manchester’s Shambles Square. From the city to the mills, there’s always that sense of community and life happening around you.

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I like these still life paintings depicting both inside and outside of the potting shed. His hazy sunlight and long shadows suggest the end to a hard day’s work on the allotment, or in Chris’s case at the easel !

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More about Chris in this video and on his site. Many thanks to Chris for sharing his words and work with us today.

Phew, a grand day out Gromit ! With all that walking, even the dog had to find a sunny spot and have a lie down afterwards !!

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