The Bursting Buds of Spring

Bursting Buds (30x30cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

The moment I’ve been waiting for.

The squeaky wheels of my friends bikes down the street and then, ‘Are you coming out to play?’

In my worn denim, only on the arches of my feet do I reach the windowsill and pull myself on the seat. I look out onto our garden, hoping to see the bright and beautiful colours of Spring.

The yellow daffodils and tulips are the first to bloom, firmly rooted and drinking in the sunshine. I look over to the orange roses, my favourite flower, and noticed their buds are still closed. Today brings the possibility of change, of growth and opening.

I look back to the gravel pathway and notice two new bicycles strewn across carefreely. I rush down the hallway, catapulting myself down the stairs using the banister. My trainers are placed by the front door tactfully by mum, which I put on whilst sitting on the doorstep, greeting my friends. After a lengthy debate, we decide to play hide and seek. Without warning, one child puts his hands over his eyes and we quickly scatter, the overcrowded flowers brushing our legs.

I lean against the large, ancient oak tree, with my fingers feeling the grooved bark. I slide down the trunk, making myself as small as possible.

There is a unique silence of this Saturday afternoon, with only muted counting in the distance. It opens my ears to the blossoming garden, closed buds pending. The orange roses behind me finally burst open, causing my head to swivel. Their bold and fiery petals fascinate and draw admiration, specifically a childlike wonder.

**Article continues on Page Two**

The Rose-Red Gesture

Smudged Lipstick (30x30cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

It is a romantic deed rooted in our history.

Red roses are part of a universal language which expresses endearment.

In Western culture, they date back to Greek mythology with red roses growing from the tears of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.

In Eastern culture, roses are titled the ‘Queen of Flowers’ for their uplifting and medicinal powers.

These roses are nurtured and grown by humans, to be gifted and exchanged between humans. The deeper the shade of red, the deeper the commitment.

This was no special occasion, but rather felt like any other morning. I dozily walk down the stairs, but the sensory surprise awaiting quickly nudges me awake: my kitchen is in full bloom. An exotic, powerful scent reaches my nose before my eyes lay upon these flowers.

My blushing cheeks and upturned lips match the roses that were lovingly wrapped and tied with a sapphire bow. I lift them from the counter, their jade stems heavy in my arms, like a sleeping child. I stroke their velvet petals and am further enveloped by their scent.

The roses are an arresting colour, which demands to be seen and admired by those around them. As light enters from the kitchen window and I turn to face the sunrise, the colours of jade and scarlet are imprinted in my mind.

Whether they are invited to live in our homes, or in our gardens, the bright crimson colour and sweet fragrance draw us to them. I am always asked who the flowers were from, as if that person can be credited for the beauty of such a flower. Regardless of who bought the flowers, it is a reminder of simplicity in love and feeling.

**Article continued on Page 2**

Merriment from a Masked Invader

The Masked Invader: 47.6cm x 47.6cm

**Words by Amber L-J**

As I tend to my garden, I can make out the sound of mischievous scheming and clucking. The hens of my next-door neighbour, with their comical determination, are planning to infiltrate once more.

Their small size should not be underestimated, as these chickens are fierce, with a complete disregard of my attempts to keep the vegetable patch intact. It is a daily battle which occurs with clockwork precision.

Initially, they try to conceal themselves in the long grass. However, their clawed feet signal their presence, with their white and orange tail feathers peak over the top like sharks drawn to bait.

They near the end and realise that I have been watching them, arms crossed on the patio, with just a hint of a smile. Quickly, their subtle approach expires; They rush past me with such a brazen disregard, their eyes wide upon seeing the forbidden, emerald cabbage.

They peck at such speed, diminishing everything in sight before I am able to stop them in their tracks. It requires two people to herd these free spirits back to their home, with my neighbour and I laughing along the way.

However defiant, her chickens and their amusing antics are welcome in my garden.

**Article continued on Page 2**

The Great Advantages of Painting Later in Life

I knew I was a painter for many years before I started producing paintings at the age of forty-eight. Before that, I read all I could about painting & established a social media presence in preparation for what I knew was coming.

I thought about it, between a full time occupation of transporting & nurturing our three sons, spread over twenty years. My husband was completely immersed in building his own business. He left at 7am & returned at 7pm in time to say “goodnight” to them when they were young, and cook for us as they became older.

Once I started painting, the great advantage was that I knew myself & had a lot of pent up energy!

I enjoyed the process of it, & what it did for my state of mind, so much that I really wasn’t preoccupied with what other people wanted me to paint. I haven’t stopped painting since.

The Hen House (30x40cm)

From my wealth of work & life experience stored up (with feelings of anger, sadness and joy), I knew what I liked & disliked, following my own mind’s natural revelations. I created my own world where I was truly happy, & no one could touch me. I found that I could paint such joy from experiencing such sadness.

I also resolved the anxiety surrounding mortality within myself; My paintings will far outlive me &, having suffered the life changing experience of friends’ deaths, this was really important for me. When I paint, this is one of my main motivations.

Petals & Shadows (61 x 100cm)

I picked up from where I left off working in the fashion industry (‘pre-computers’), but having children had changed my view of the world; I felt protective, & the fashion industry seemed immoral to me now. I originally went into this vocation because my Dad was a knitwear man, before I knew myself better. But I’m glad I did it, because my experience all feeds in to my paintings now.

I tried out other people’s painting styles, experimented & evolved my own thoughts through failings until I found a unique artistic style that I wanted in my own house. I had looked for similar paintings & I couldn’t find them elsewhere.

My friends & family were, & still are, so supportive. They were also, frankly, surprised that there was more to me than they thought, which came out in my paintings. I’m really gobby when drunk but learnt from an early age, growing up as a little girl in the Sixties & Seventies, to keep my thoughts to myself. I am fairly quiet as an adult, as a listener, a reader, an observer. I tend to see the best in people, until crossed.

Whispering Shadows

Painting has helped me release & reveal myself, connect with kindness & like minded people, divert thoughts & anxieties of external beauty to channel internal beauty.

I will paint until I die. It is is an ageless occupation which makes sense of my entire life. The ground colour flickering throughout my paintings is my life weaving itself in, to make a whole of something that is fractured & sensitive.

Sophie Waiting

‘Tones of Velvet Bohemia’

IMG_6091

My second solo exhibition, ‘Tones of Velvet Bohemia’ will be taking place at The Alfred East Gallery in Kettering mid November for 4 weeks, so I am working hard towards that at the moment. There will be around 20 new paintings on the theme ‘Tones of Velvet Bohemia’ in a variety of different sizes – the challenge was to decide on the name for the exhibition before I’d done the paintings!!

Neutral Buoyancy

A moment in time – Foxton, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England

IMG_6425

A quick painting last week on paper of the canal close to my home – I wanted it to sparkle with light and the weather was dull so I had to use my imagination quite a bit!!

This painting is now framed and for sale in the ‘On Paper Exhibition’ at The Open Door Gallery on Church Street in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

Whispering Shadows

Whispering Shadows

I have a vase of artificial white roses in my hall – I’m not really a fan of artificial flowers but these were long stemmed and elegant with a papery randomness about their petals.

Occasionally – and I haven’t worked out how to predict it – a shaft of light comes from between the trees outside and casts this poignant shadow across the wall. It is so beautiful and unexpected and only lasts a short time. It’s like being allowed into a magical world for a moment and then just as quickly, it’s gone.

‘Neutral Buoyancy’

Neutral Buoyancy

‘Neutral buoyancy’……weightlessness, feeling suspended, neither sinking nor floating.

A state of calm & balance, focusing on your own breathing and mortality, allowing you to fly slowly in a mainly silent, multidimensional, cushioned world. If sound comes, it comes from all sides, muffled and unsure of direction.

The light above is golden, the depths below are terror and intrigue. Slow steady breaths dispelling the anxiety of silently entering an uninvited other world….

 

I learnt to scuba dive in December and the feeling was so extraordinary I came home
and painted it. The words above describe how I felt and what I painted. I thought the painting needed some explanation as it is a little different from my normal style but I also thought that you don’t have to be a scuba diver to recognise some of these thoughts & feelings. I would be very interested in any feedback on this painting, I did give myself free rein & was a little surprised at how it turned out! Please feel free to comment.

The Painting of ‘Mr Gilbert in his shop’

Image

‘Mr Gilbert in his shop’ Oil on canvas. 16 x 24 inches ( Approx )

Every September in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, independent shops/businesses & local artists collaborate to promote each other.

The artists ‘Open Studios’ takes place at the same time.

This is the 5th year of ‘Art Windows’ and we have 28 mainly independent shops displaying local artists work in their shop windows for the whole of September. It’s a great event with a chance to win fantastic donated prizes to anyone who picks up a leaflet in the shop and enters the draw. All you have to do is identify 10 shops & artists taking part.

This year, for the first time, a wonderfully traditional shop on the High Street, called ‘Frank Gilbert’s’, is taking part in ‘Art Windows’. I have wanted an excuse to paint Mr Gilbert, who works in the shop with his lovely wife, for as long as I have lived locally. I am told he is the son of the original ‘Frank Gilbert’ and his father would I’m sure have been proud. Every day Mr Gilbert brings out his wares – baskets of every shape & size, mats, mugs, you name it and places them carefully around his shop and onto the pavement.

Upon entering the shop it becomes obvious why he does this! The shop is full to bursting with everything a house, particularly a kitchen, could possibly need. You would imagine this would make for a bad tempered shop keeper but Mr Gilbert & his wife are the sweetest people and it’s a pleasure to buy from them. Whatever you’re after they have it there… somewhere!Image

Mr Gilbert in his shop’ in my studio during the painting process.

Image

‘Frank Gilbert’s’ on Market Harborough High Street.

Look out for ‘Mr Gilbert in his shop’ in ‘Frank Gilbert’s’ window during September 2013!