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**

Up The Garden Path

Up The Garden Path (30x40cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

There is nothing quite like the sheer panic of forgetting someone’s birthday, more specifically a birthday card, to truly mark the occasion.

Luckily, an artist works well under stress. As someone so often used to the pressures of meeting deadlines for clients, she quickly make haste; She grabs her art supplies and throw them down onto her work surface with an anticipatory thud.

This is no regular client, and there has been no debrief in this instance. But with her husband as the recipient, she knows him well enough to paint something of his taste.

Using a piece of paper, easily folded into a card, the artist begins to plot her canvas just in time for this important day. In her mind, she fondly envisions the summer garden.

The buzzing bees and singing birds are an orchestra in this quiet corner of the countryside. The wild flowers grow with such a vigour, they often overstep into the pathway. This is the pathway which the artist’s husband will walk after the working day. Crunching gravel underfoot, the bright bulbs are thrust forward by the wind and kiss his feet. The artist imagines his pace quicken upon his excitement of seeing balloons, or a colourful banner in the archway perhaps; His mind is animated with what surprises may be awaiting behind the front door of their home.

The artist plays out this warm and happy scene inside her head as she paints. Almost as if the mental image has been scanned onto the paper, it is complete. The artist reviews the finished birthday card, with the long, overreaching stems of the flowers and the path seemingly built around them. With dots of sapphire and rouge to imitate their swaying, she leaves the darkened doorway, as the beautiful, ambiguous end of one’s journey up the garden path.

**Article continues on Page Two**

White Roses, Whispering Shadows

Whispering Shadows (30 x 30cm)

**Words by Amber L-J**

Occasionally, I have been allowed to see a magical world, which disappears as quickly as it arrives.

I am not able to predict when the light shines through the cluster of trees outside the landing window, and it’s beautiful outcome: a dramatic silhouette across the mauve wall. For a moment, the whispering shadows are able to speak, exclaim even, over the idyllic roses. For a moment, they seek desperately to come to the forefront; They no longer wish to be the understudy, but the main spectacle of my viewing.

I am astonished to discover a new element of these roses, purely by coincidence. I was once gifted these flowers: a timeless ritual and a kindness that will always be rewarded.

The amorous rose always speaks to someone special. The sentiment is then treasured for some time, as the flowers open themselves to us and reveal mother nature in her glory. I cup one of the roses to my nose, breathing in its pale, snowy petals.

Their purity proves to me the sincerest of intentions. I feel their loving and tranquil presence just steps from my bedroom, in the hallway.

I am also eager to get my timings right, and to see the theatrical shadows cast once more.

The pleasure of fresh flowers in my home is the gift which keeps on giving.

**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

Catching The Light: Childhood, Innocence, Memories

Catching The Light (57 x 56cm)

**Words written by Amber L-J**

“Before my colourful imagination was dulled by adult affairs, I had a boundless love for nature.

As a child, my dark hair was kept in two long plaits, snaking down my back. I often wore faded hand-me-downs, ripped to expose my notably grazed knees.

Regardless of the weather, my intrepid spirit meant so many adventures without ever leaving the parameters of our garden. I was an architect who constructed secret hideaways and code words between friends; A warrior that would ride Coco, our beloved spaniel, into battle; A dreamer that would fall into the flowerbeds and interpret the floating, clouds in the summer sky (much to my mother’s dismay).

As the seasons changed, our backyard was given a lease of life. For each new textured leaf and intricate petal, there was a choir of songbirds that would erupt in merriment. The newly flowering garden and I shared a mutual appreciation for the glorious weather, savouring the sunshine.

Much like Alice in Wonderland, I felt shrunken as I lay amongst the blossoming white roses. They, too, strived for a better view, growing exponentially towards the heavens.

I could spend hours looking upward, alone in my thoughts but never feeling alone amongst nature.

**Article continued on Page 2**

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.”

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