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 Hens of Homecoming

The Homecoming (30x30cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

Everyday, the hens come home to safety before dark.

I call for my hens in high whistling tones, bent down and patting my thighs eagerly. With a bucket of chicken feed in one hand, and a steaming camomile tea in the other, I wait on the pathway at the bottom of the meadow.

The yellow rose bush grows outward, distinguished from the verdant landscape. Reclining upon the railings of the fence, they welcome me back whilst refusing to be ignored. The warmth from their open petals cause my smile.

I soon see red feathers and orange beaks peak over the top of the hill. The chickens find happiness in their freedom to roam far in these fields, with the exception of feeding time.

These hens leave their haven and rush towards me. With the wind entangled in their feathers, thrust backward and creating resistance, some fall behind. However, a steady stream flows downward.

In the low sun, my squinting eyes make out dark shadows on the green pasture, with their legs strutting at such a speed they seem to disappear.

With their initial stealth achieved on the soft grass, the pitter patter of their claws is soon heard overlapping on the concrete path.

I scoop one of these hens in my arms, both of us making mutual noises of glee. Once she is placed down, I reach into the bucket.

I tentatively hold my hand out, with a pile of chicken feed cupped inside, to be gently pecked at by the hens at all directions, encircling me.

**Article continued on Page 2**

Braving the Bluebell Woods

Hens in The Bluebell Woods (50x50cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

Annually, the russet floor of the woodland is flooded with a sea of violet bluebells. In their most natural setting, they flourish and flower for humans and animals alike.

Where the woods thinned, a farm was awoken by the shrill crow of a small, white-feathered cockerel. The farmer sleepily approached the hen coop as the sun slowly climbed over the hills, bearing light on the locked door. Upon lifting the latch, the farmer was greeted excitedly by hungry hens. Once they were fed, the door was left open to endless possibilities before roosting at dusk.

On this day, one hen gingerly stepped onto the bluebell path. Inspired by one’s courage, the other hens trickled into the wood, clucking in low tones of caution. However, as they ventured further into the purple haze, the brood quickly fell silent.

The enchantment of the bluebell forest stole their voice, and caused the hens to pause in silent awe of their surroundings. The woodland air overwhelmed the senses with melodious bird calls and fragrant flowers.

As the hens continued, they could see an area in which the gleaming sunlight above was concealed by formidable, towering trees. Mistaking this as night-time, or risking danger ahead, many began to turn back. The first, brave hen marched to the edge, with only a few followers remaining. Looking at the path ahead, the hen glanced back to see the safety of the collective lingering behind her, unable to follow her into the darkness. Her unfledged desire to explore was quickly triumphed by the sensible majority.

Maybe tomorrow.

**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

Charismatic Chickens: The Most Exotic Hen House

The Most Exotic Hen House (60x60cm)

**Words written by Amber L-J**

“At my grandmother’s house, there was one rule: no one was to sit on the dark pink, velvet sofa.

It always looked so inviting, with deep, sunken cushions encased by wide, pleated arms. But this was more of an aspirational piece than one of comfort, reserved for the most sophisticated company. With no family or friends meeting this unachievable standard, it was as if my grandmother was expecting a visit from royalty that never came.

This being said, a flock of pure, white hens with crimson beaks were treated as loyal pets which roamed the estate freely. But even their presence was not welcome anywhere near my grandmother’s most prized possession, with the living room door closed at all times.

One day, when my grandmother was moving to a new house, the family helped move her furniture outside in preparation for the moving van. The chickens were to travel with us.

A home which held so many fond memories, I walked through each vacant room, with only faded pencil marks left in the kitchen to mark the youth and growth spurts of myself and my siblings. Over the years, the chickens’ claws had scraped along each floorboard, also leaving their mark.

On that crisp, summer morning, as we say our final goodbye, I twist the door handle. A sudden gust of wind outside rushes through the wild flowers, with speckled sunlight dancing on the red-clay, earthen brick walls. This force of nature means a dramatic thud of the door fully ajar.

Before my grandmother can react, the chickens seize their opportunity; they dash outside, at different speeds but with the same destination in mind.
The most exotic, and the most forbidden, hen house.

As my grandmother looks on in pure exasperation, the chickens burrow down happily on the sofa cushions, basking in the sunshine.”

**Article continued on Page 2**

I’m feeling elated!!!!

I’ve finished all 14 paintings for my first solo exhibition with 7 weeks to spare – such a great feeling as I can now paint for fun again! The pressure is off & I will more than likely produce better work that I will end up using instead but the feeling that I don’t have to is such a relief! I’ve been working day & night on it since the beginning of the year and now I’m going to go to the cinema, to a gallery or two, mooch round the shops & yes, eventually, do all the stuff that’s piled up on my desk! But for now I’m just going to enjoy feeling elated!

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‘Free range Lavender’ Acrylic on canvas 120cm x100cm
http://www.lisatimmerman.co.uk
My first solo exhibition, ‘Shades of an English Life’ will be on display for 3 months from July 4th 2014 at ‘The 78 Derngate Gallery’ in Northampton city centre, England.

Naming my first solo exhibition

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‘Beautiful Day’ Acrylic on canvas 40cm x 40cm

The ’78 Derngate’ Gallery have awarded me my first solo exhibition and wanted to know, for their advertising, what I’d be calling it. It runs from July 4th to September 28th this year in Northampton city centre.

Being new to this sort of thing I have agonised over this – and at the same time wondered if it is important at all?! I have swung from thinking, ” it really doesn’t matter, the paintings will speak for themselves” to, “it really does matter, the title could alienate people and put them off even wanting to view it!”

And so daily I have been coming up with, & noting down, different titles, trying to find a few words or a phrase that encapsulates this collection of 14 paintings that I have been working on day & night for the past 4 months.

I often paint roses but I also paint lavender, chickens and interiors – I paint my life, or at least the good bits, when the sunlight comes in and makes the mundane beautiful – for this exhibition I have even painted my kitchen sink.

So after making a final decision fifteen times, the deadline day arrived and I had to make the FINAL final decision. I sent over a jpeg of ‘Beautiful Day’ and asked them to call my exhibition, “Shades of an English Life”. I hope it doesn’t matter and at the same time I hope it makes people want to view it. Only time will tell.

“Shades of an English Life’ will be on display at ’78 Derngate’, Northampton from July 4th – Sept 28 2014 with a ‘Meet the Artist’ event on July 5th from 2pm-4pm. ( I, for one, will definitely be ready for a glass of wine.)

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‘Everything But’ Acrylic on canvas 40cm x 40cm

 

Painting Dreams

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‘Here Come The Girls.’  Acrylic on canvas. 2013

http://www.LisaTimmerman.co.uk

One of the greatest things ( of which there are many) of committing to being a painter as a full time profession is that in those first semi conscious moments of the day my subconscious mind is filled with work……images of paintings yet un-started. I can see them and I love them – the colours, the composition but most importantly the feeling of them is overwhelming. That is the challenge, to capture the joy of them.

 

When sitting down to paint them, the fear is overworking them, wasting time, over thinking it. They arrive so easily and confidently in my mind – if only my conscious mind was as confident!

 

2013 has been a good year for me. In my second year of painting I have sold 15 original paintings through ‘Open Studio‘, my website, my Facebook page & a privately organised ‘invite only‘ exhibition. My prices ( with my confidence) have doubled in a year and I have customers awaiting notification of new original work. 

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‘Roses in Oils’  Oil on canvas. 2013 

Having read ‘The Yellow House‘ by Martin Gayford about Van Gogh & Gauguin’s nine turbulent weeks in Arles as my starting point, I set out as a painter to fill my home with my paintings, being content to leave behind a body of work for my family with no expectations & only a desire to say ‘I woz ‘ere’! To sell 15 paintings, without the help of a gallery, in my second year has been an unexpected bonus to say the least.

 

In addition to this I have been awarded my first solo exhibition by ‘78 Derngate’ in Northampton city centre. Anyone who is familiar with this historic building renovated by Charles Rennie Mackintosh with its elegant art gallery attached will understand my excitement. I literally thought they’d made a mistake when I was chosen and I am honoured that they have such faith in me as an artist to give me this opportunity. They will be displaying my work – around 12 paintings for 3 months between July- Sept this year.

 

They will be exhibiting the dreams that I get onto canvas in the next few months as I currently have no paintings. In 20 weeks time I will have enough work to fill 78 Derngate & my own gallery in Foxton near Market Harborough for ‘Open Studios’ in September. Once I get going I’m very productive & have phases of putting my overalls on at 4 in the morning if I can’t sleep.

 

Ironically I haven’t been able to hang my own paintings on my walls at home but with the money I’ve earnt over the past 2 years I have been able to invest in the works of my contemporaries. This has given me so much pleasure and I now have beautiful original artwork by Janet Singer, Scott Bridgewood, Stephen Holmes, Kelly Gardner, Sheena Henderson & Imogen Skelley hanging alongside work previously bought from my mentor Paul Wright. My home is close to the way I imagined it being – filled with creativity, inspiration & character.

 

To me, it’s a strange world we live in, where a generation think nothing of spending hundreds of pounds on body art which will only deteriorate with time and finally decompose to nothing but may never consider buying a piece of art directly from an artist as acceptable value for money. 

   

Like most people, my life is compounded by the challenges of 21st Century living and life outside my paintings is not always a bed of roses but my home is now permanently enriched by the pleasure of owning other peoples original art. Their beauty & permanence is somehow reassuring.

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‘Sophie, Waiting.’  Acrylic on canvas. 2013

http://www.LisaTimmerman.co.uk

1981 Starting Art College

Gloria

‘Gloria’ Acrylic on Canvas  41 x 41 cms

Prince Charles & Lady Diana Spencer married, Margaret Thatcher & Ronald Reagan were in power, high unemployment, riots in Brixton, Liverpool, Leeds & Birmingham, a general feeling of distrust amongst young people of police & authority, Bob Marley died,  ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell was No1., Adam & The Ants were showing us how to dress and I was leaving school and starting art college.  Strange times. But I loved it.

In those days, going to art college was not about pass or fail, there was so much less stress, just enjoy what you’re doing, learn, explore, experiment and it was a relief to be with open minded people.

In the second week of the course they brought in a huge wire pen and dumped it and some chickens in the middle of the studio and said, “ By the end of the week we want you to have harnessed chickeness and we expect to see some great emotionally-charged drawings of chickeness” !!

As you may remember from ‘Artistic Seeds Are Sown’, I could draw you a chicken, riding a bike in a wetsuit but studying the real thing and trying to draw something that won’t keep still whilst all the time wondering what ‘chickeness’ is was an entirely new challenge!

By the end of the week I came away with some great and unexpected charcoal drawings of chickeness. The project was actually brilliant for loosening us all up and trying to get us to draw a feeling rather than an outline, it made us all more aware of mark-making rather than outline perfection. But by the end of the term I came away with the feeling that I wasn’t angry or disturbed enough to be an artist. At the time, that really seemed to be the requirement! I didn’t even try painting which of course I now regret.

I was so happy there though and I learnt a lot but we were there to make a decision about which area of the arts we were going to pursue. That was the whole point and like many things in my life, whilst trying my hardest to think of nothing but fun, the decision appeared in my mind, uninvited, from nowhere.

I was flying along on my bike on my way to college, the wind in my hair and my coat tails flapping behind me, enjoying the exhilaration and freedom I had for the first time in my life when my mind said to itself:

“ Fine art? Who are you kidding!?! Fashion & Textiles is who you are, it’s where you come from, Duh!! Why are you even considering anything else?”

And there lay the decision that affected the next 30 years of my life.

Funny that.

This weekend I hung these 2 recently finished paintings, ‘Gloria’ and ‘Pick ‘n’ Mix’, in my local town’s medical centre, Market Harborough. Although I live in the countryside now, have owned chickens and regularly have my neighbours chickens coming to eat my cabbages, I still think these paintings are strongly influenced by that week at Loughborough Art College searching for ‘chickeness’!!

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 ‘Pick ‘n’ Mix’. Acrylic on Canvas 92 x 71 cms