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Happy Yule – a card for you all

Happy Yule! It is now less that a week to Christmas, but for me, the most important date is the Winter Solstice (this year its on 21st December) where the days are their shortest in the Northern Hemisphere. From Tuesday , slowly at first then ever faster, the days get longer and longer until the Summer Solstice, and then the days retreat. These dark, bleak days are really brightened by seeing the sparkles of Christmas trees (Yule Trees) in everyone’s homes, and decorating our homes with greenery. As this festive period will be spent mainly at my desk working for the last few weeks on my Ma I have a beautiful vase of greenery – fir, holly, gold leaves and sparkly fir cones – so I feel very festive indeed!

My vase of greenery to brighten up my desk
My vase of greenery to brighten up my desk, complete with hanging robin

So, for you all, Happy Yule – and here is my card to you all…..  I designed it to look like a spread in a picturebook, so when the card is opened full you see the page and the text. It is based on the Earth being seen as a person, and as she goes to sleep to rest,  the animals wait patiently for her to wake once again.

Yule Card from Jane Sunbeam
Yule Card from Jane Sunbeam

I feel that I am now starting to understand the translucency and layering that can be achieved with watercolours – my anthem is still dilute, dilute and then dilute some more….

Watercolour underpainting
Watercolour underpainting

It’s a bit hard to see all the details, so here are a few…..

Sleeping Gaia
Sleeping Gaia
Jane Sunbeam detail
Animals waiting – can you spot the hedgehog playing on its back?
Jane Sunbeam detail2
Gaia and the owls
Jane Sunbeam det5
Owls and Squirrel
As she slept.....
As she slept…..

So, Happy Christmas, Yule and Solstice to you all. I hope you have a wonderful festive period, and as the Sun returns you enjoy great warmth in your hearts.

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My Catalogue page – Mermaid

Hello there! How time is still flying past….

I am still working away on a few projects as ‘ the end of the Ma. Today I want to share the image I created for the design for my  page for the Ma show catalogue. Initially I looked at all my images that I loved, but none sang out to me as ‘the one’. And as mermaids are close to my heart I decided to make a special image for this occasion – after all it was going to go out to some exciting places (publishers, our show, reviewers, past and current students).

I started, as I always do with a sketch, and then decided to bring her to life using watercolours (various makes but Daniel Smith in particular)….

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My mermaid with background

But I had made the background far too “heavy” – and the horizon too high, almost chopping her at the head. So I tried taking the background out, to leave room for my contact details….

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No background – but too plain?

But, rather like Goldilocks who was seeking the right chair, porridge  and bed, it was now “too plain”. Where was she gazing to? What was happening? Where was the drama or narrative? And so I created a second background to add in – and scanned on a couple of different settings…..

And then put them together….

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Final image, with lighter background and lower horizon

Now there is a narrative, and questions to draw the reader in. Where is she gazing?is the ship coming or leaving? I will never know whether this was the right image for the catalogue… but I believe it is.