'Artists are gnostics, and practise what the priests think is long forgotten.' - Hugo Ball

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Badger Moonrise

Badger Moonrise © Sue Wookey

Here is the promised new painting in my Animals with the Moon series, a rising moon with a beautiful black and white striped badger amongst coppery beech leaves. He (or she, I haven't decided which yet!) has emerged with a very gentle and joyful expression, in that kindly and wise way that badgers have. As always, the animal has taken on its own life and personality as I've painted it.

The words around the border reflect the way that the Badger lives between two worlds - within the earth and underneath the moon - while bearing the colours of both on its coat:

From the black of the deep delved Earth,
to the silvered white of the round Moon rising
the Badger, dark and light, knows both Mothers
and walks in joy with them both. - Sue Wookey

Prints will be available from my Galley Hill Art website soon - with the pre-Christmas rush I'm a little behind making them! But I couldn't wait that long to post the painting. When I have the prints ready I will post the link here.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Healing Light

The Healing Light © Sue Wookey

With the days so short it's hard to find enough time to paint - just as I'm getting into it the sun disappears beneath the horizon and that's all that can be done for the day. I have a selection of daylight bulbs but it just isn't the same! Even so, I've been pretty busy and will soon be posting another 'animal and the moon' painting. In the meantime I have another new painting which is all about light - a bright blue orb of Healing Light, guarded by a circle of ancient standing stones. Beyond the circle you can also see the green of the forest with a starry sky above. This is another of those paintings that just came to me in a meditation, and I was struck by the beauty of the scene.

The words around the border are an old Irish Blessing and the wise words of that lover of nature and light, St Francis of Assisi:

May the blessing of Light be on you, Light without and Light within - Irish Blessing
All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle - St Francis of Assisi

The Healing Light is now available as a limited edition giclee print from my website at Galley Hill Art.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Cor Blok prints

 Cor at Return of the Ring in August this year

I mentioned in my blog about The Return of the Ring Event at Loughborough this year that the highlight for me was finally meeting Cor Blok and his wife. I've loved Cor Blok's Tolkien illustrations ever since I first came across them on the internet some years ago. For me, their minimalist style captured the emotional heart of the characters who journey through The Lord of the Rings. I was mesmerised by how much the artist could convey with simple shapes and the barest of details. To my frustration, there seemed to be very few of them - the covers of the first Dutch paperback editions from 1965, a Mumak here and a Witch King there. Since then more and more of them have become known through the efforts of Pieter Collier of the Tolkien Library. The results of all his hard work and research has brought us a book - A Tolkien Tapestry, two Tolkien calendars featuring Cor's illustrations, and now the opportunity to buy some beautifully produced ands signed limited edition art prints. I ordered mine - the wonderful Ents Marching on Isengard - at Loughborough and it arrived last week beautifully wrapped. Pieter has even taken care to reproduce the entire illustration so Cor's original captioning and notes can be seen under the mount. As I've coveted this painting for quite a while (the Holly Ent has red spiky arms and spiky feet!) I can't wait to get it framed and up on my wall. For Blok fans everywhere this is a little bit of bliss.

If you are new to his Tolkien work, you can discover more in this Interview Peter did with Cor Blok in 2010.

You can by Cor Blok prints at the Tolkien Library for €100 (£80) plus p&p. And, if you are feeling flush, you can also buy an original!

Photo © Sue Wookey
Artwork  © Cor Blok with thanks to the Tolkien Library

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Christmas Craft Fair

Time for some Christmas shopping! On Saturday 24th November I'll be setting up my stall at a Christmas Craft Fair at Icknield High School, Luton.
The Fair will run from 12pm - 4pm and I will have the usual mix of originals, prints and cards (including some Christmas ones!).

Christmas Craft Fair
24 Nov 12pm-4pm
Icknield High School Riddy Lane
Luton LU3 2AH.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

High on Galley Hill

On Galley Hill © Sue Wookey

With all the rather manic preparations to exhibit at Open Studios and in the Crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields, I've only just realised that I haven't posted my two latest paintings, both showing the hill near my home, which featured in both the exhibitions. On Galley Hill shows the wind blown hill top with its leaning hawthorn trees, yellow rape (now you know how long ago I painted it!) and running hare. Beneath the chalky path the nodules of flint push their way up, reminding us of our past when they provided tools and fire sparks for our ancestors. The words around the painting were written by me and read:

Up high on the hill, the soft grass bending 
over nubbles of flint, dark fists pushing upwards 
under hawthorn tangles and a grey-snagged sky.
- SW 

 Galley Hill from the East © Sue Wookey

Galley Hill from the East shows the far side of the hill and one of my favourite walks. Following around the base of the hill you eventually reach the ancient Icknield Way, one of Britain's oldest trackways. Perhaps the hare is thinking of going there! The words around the border (also by me) read:

The old way and the winding way,
the overgrown way that the hare loves,
between the white chalk and the white elder
and the quiet hill rising.
- SW 

On Galley Hill and Galley Hill from the East are now available as limited edition giclee prints from my Galley Hill Art website.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Six In the Crypt

Our poster outside St Martin-in-the-Fields

Well - we've finally arrived! Our group, Art 6, hung our exhibition in the Crypt at St Martin-in-the-fields yesterday and although it was a lot of hard work it was really worth it to see it all up in such a wonderful setting. The Crypt Gallery has some lovely warm old brickwork and is beautifully lit. It has its own unique atmosphere and suitably impressive memorials to accompany the more modern work:

Christine's work with the ornate memorials

It was a 4.30am start for me and I must admit that at first I thought that I couldn't get anything to hang straight was because my brain was still curled up under a duvet while my body was up a ladder. But it was a combination of trying to hang two paintings off one wire (the swivel effect) and the meanderings of the ancient, crumbly brick walls. All my work is now wibbly wobbly with some paintings veering slightly to the left while others turn their backs on them and stare resolutely to the right. By 12pm, after a coffee, I'd almost managed to convince myself that it was charming in an eccentric sort of way. Almost.

my wibbly, wobbly paintings

The wave effect didn't seem to phase two lovely American ladies who arrived just after I finished hanging them and liked them all enough to buy several cards. It was great to chat to them and cheered me up no end. It felt like a great way to open the Exhibition after such a tiring start. I still spent most of the rest of my time there trying in vain to straighten everything but they had developed a life of their own. All I had to do was look at them to make them ping from the wall and lurch sideways. For someone obsessed with everything being straight it was a sort of torture-by-hanging-wire.

 Christine' work (foreground) with Ben and his photography
and Celia with her paintings in the background.

Never mind - by later in the day several of us had sold cards and some prints so we are very hopeful that this will be a success for all of us. If you are in the area it would be lovely to see you - we are all covering the exhibition as stewards and I will be there on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoon. I'll probably be still prodding my paintings.

 Pat takes the first stewarding duty

You can find our more about Art 6 and all our work here.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Art 6 - Gallery in the Crypt

I will be exhibiting from 1st - 7th October at the Crypt Gallery, St Martin in the Fields. This will be my first London Exhibition, so if you are in the area or commuting to and fro it would be lovely to see you. The Crypt Gallery is a wonderful space and the 6 of us sharing the venue are really looking forward to hanging our work there. There is also an award winning cafe, so who could resist? We will be stewarding the exhibition ourselves and I plan to be there on the Wednesday and Thursday from 10 - 6. As well as the work on the walls, there will be prints and cards from all the artists.

The exhibition will feature watercolours, prints, photography, acrylics and mixed media. To read more about the art6 artists, take a look at our art6 Blog.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Artscape Exhibition Open!

Our Open Studios exhibition at Artscape in Harpenden is hung and, though I say so myself, looks fantastic! The space is now bigger and lighter, thanks to the team at Artscape and it was a pleasure to put all our stuff up in it, though it was almost a crime to tamper with its Zen-like whiteness. Teresa Newham is showing a mixture of watercolours, prints and photography, Hilary Taylor has photography and mixed media, Helen Brooks has back with us again this year with her woodcuts and Pauline Ashley is joining us to explain her ceramic and glass restoration work. I have a year's worth of new paintings on the wall, along with some black and white and colour photography as I thought it was about time I framed up some of my favourite shots. Here is a taster of a couple of them:

This is a very varied exhibition so we all hope you will come along and meet us if you are in the area. Full details are here and I hope to be at Artscape on both the Friday and Saturday afternoons to chat to people.

All photos © Sue Wookey

Monday, 27 August 2012

Herts Open Studios nearly here

Herts Open Studios runs throughout September and Harpenden members of the HVAF held our usual stall at  Harpenden Farmer's Market to promote the event. The stall looked wonderful and we had a huge amount of interest, although it was hard to concentrate with a stall near us cooking wonderful deli sausages and onions. By about 11.15 I was ravenous and finally succumbed to a 'full English breakfast sausage' about 12.30. Although we couldn't tempt people over with sizzling sausages a lot of people stopped by to ask about the event and it's good to know how many people in the area look forward to Open Studios each year.

To launch Open Studios there will be an exhibition of work from artists right across the County at Harpenden Public Halls this coming weekend (1st - 2nd September). Here is a taster of some of the work.

There will also be a small display of work by Harpenden artists in the Methodist Church Cafe. This is a taster exhibition which will run from 1st - 21st September. It's all happening in Harpenden!!!!

Don't forget that our own exhibition and Open Studios will be upstairs at Artscape in Southdown:

You can learn more about Open Studios and the HVAF here. You can also download the full brochure and visit artists at work right across the county here.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Return from 'Return of the Ring'

Gandalf the White © Sue Wookey

Well, I'm back! As Sam so neatly put it. Actually, I've been back from the Tolkien Society's Return of the Ring event for several days now, but life often gets in the way of blogging. So - was it the best party ever? Yup, I think it was. I loved every minute of it and if I'd managed more than 10 hours sleep over the four nights I was there, I would have loved it even more! But I spent the best part of Sunday looking for matchsticks to wedge my eyelids open.

It was great to take part in the Art Exhibition and nice to find myself in such a lovely catalogue - a wonderful book of Tolkien inspired art in itself. I've been waving it in front of everybody since I got back. 'Look... I've been ISBN'd!' Strange the little things that make you happy. I also really enjoyed spending time again with other artists that like venturing into Middle-earth - some old friends that I've exhibited with before and some new ones like Jenny Dolfen and Jay Johnstone, who both had a really successful time at their first Tolkien Art Show. Everyone has such a different approach to Tolkien's world and it made for a wonderful exhibition. But best of all, for me, was the chance to meet Cor Blok and his wife, and hear to hear him talk about his work. I admire his paintings so much because of how much emotion he can convey in just a few sweeps of his brush and with simple blocks of colour. He had some of his originals on display and it was a huge thrill to see them.

Along with some excellent speakers - especially Verlyn Flieger's challenge to see the influence of French 'aventure' in The Hobbit - we were treated to Charlie Ross's One Man Lord of the Rings, direct from the Edinburgh Festival. Honestly, I laughed so much it was hard to breathe and, given the difficult stage conditions he was performing in, a real tour de force. I have a horrible feeling that I will never be able to take the films seriously again. Actually I'm sure I'll never be able to watch Elrond without corpsing 'You shall be..... The Name of a Book'. 'You have my Hair.... and my Beard'.

Congratulations to the whole Return of the Ring team for working so hard and making sure everything ran smoothly. You bow to no one. Well, maybe except The Professor himself.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Return of the Ring

 Tom looks through the Ring © Sue Wookey

It's Tolkien time again. The Tolkien Society are throwing a hobbit of a party at their  Return of the Ring event in Loughborough and the festivities will include a huge Art Exhibition. I'll be taking all the usual suspects and will have a range of prints there for sale. As well as yours truly, there will be Ted Nasmith, Cor Blok, Anke Eissmann, Jay Johnstone, Ruth Lacon, Tor Fauskanger, Jenny Dolfen, Maike ‘LĂșthien’ Dulk. Cor Blok was featured in the last two Tolkien Calendars and it will be an amazing opportunity to see his work.

There will also be a chance to hear Ted Nasmith, Anke Eissmann, Jenny Dolfen and Ruth Lacon all talking about what it’s like to be a Tolkien artist.


Friday, 6 July 2012

Fox and Lunar Eclipse

Fox and Lunar Eclipse
© Sue Wookey
I've been a very busy bee and have yet another new painting! This is the third painting in my series of animal portraits (the others are Moon Horse and the Listening Hare) and this time the moon is shown entering a beautiful lunar eclipse, echoing the ruddy colour of the fox's coat. The fox is looking straight at us, challenging us to take the two quotes around the border to heart:

Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better - Einstein 
All animals except man know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it - Samuel Butler

Limited edition giclee prints are available from my website at Galley Hill Art. If any of you have your eye on the original Fox, he's already going to a good home!

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Cards now at Celtic Dawn


Good news for all of you in London who are looking for my cards. Celtic Dawn, a beautiful Celtic Jewellery and Craft Shop in the heart of Camden Lock, now has a stock of them!

Celtic Dawn specialises in the artistic legacy of Celtic Culture:
London's specialist retailer of Celtic Jewellery Arts, Crafts and Gifts has been extending a warm welcome to visitors from across the globe for more than eighteen years. An established favourite in the heart of the world-famous Camden Lock Market, we pride ourselves on having won a reputation for good quality and choice...
For centuries the ancient lore and culture of the Celts produced symbols, myths and customs so powerful that many have survived to intrigue and attract us right up to the present day.
Celtic Dawn
35 Middle Yard
Camden Lock Market
London NW1 8AL

Photo © Celtic Dawn

Friday, 22 June 2012

Four Elements

Four Elements
© Sue Wookey
This is a painting that I've had hanging around for ages before finally posting it here. As is often the case, there are some things that are not exactly as I envisaged them so I've been fiddling with it off and on to try and bring it to the point where I thought it worked and was complete. Very unusual for me as I usually finish things very quickly! I think I've finally got there. It's easy to be too hung up with your own paintings and forget that others see them differently and bring fresh eyes. Most people seem to really like the work so I'm coming round to liking it more too. My main worry was that it was too fussy, but the four elements are a complex subject and symbolically there was a lot I wanted to say about them. And my attempts to go down a more abstract route failed when I became obsessed with feathers, the exact shape of a salmon's body and how beautiful a stag's head is when seen face on (though I think Landseer got there first...). I really get carried away with these things.

So - the Four Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water are placed in the Four Directions they are most associated with, starting with the Hare (Earth) in the North, the Hawk (Air) in the East, the Stag (Fire) in the South and the Celtic Salmon of Wisdom (Water) in the West. I've also placed the symbols for the elements in the diagonals. Ether, or spirit, is usually placed in the centre, and here I've placed the sun/moon that I've put in several other paintings. For me it holds the Fire and Air, and the Earth and Water in balance.

The words around the painting read:

May Fire inspire and transform you
May Air purify you and set you free
May Earth uphold and sustain you
And may the blessing of Water make you wise.

- SW

Limited edition giclee prints are available from my website at Galley Hill Art.


Monday, 18 June 2012

Goodbye Gazebo...

Our gazebo before it was cut off in its prime 

Some people bungee jump or go white water rafting for their thrills. For artists it's Art on the Common and Gazebo Wrestling! Saturday we had weather. Lots of weather. The wind gusted, the rain came and went, and came and went again. And despite it all we managed to stick it out with our upper lips set to maximum stiffness. We spent quite a bit of the morning holding on to the gazebo and some moments were pretty alarming. Plan A (tables arranged neatly in a U shape inside the gazebo) never even happened. Plan B (above) lasted for about an hour, then we were on Plan C (human tent poles). We loved Plan C (not).

Hilary demonstrates Plan C

An hour or so of bracing ourselves against the gale later, we were on Plan D - stop the gazebo leaving the dock like a ship in full sail by removing all the sides and letting the air through. Plan D worked very well for a while. We were even a little bit smug as gazebos collapsed and died all around us. Then.... disaster. Total failure of the back left side leg and suddenly our gazebo was crumpling like a hankie all over two nice customers. Very quickly we were on Plan E, trying to take the gazebo down against gale force winds. For a while it struggled like a giant canvas octopus. In the middle of all this there was a massive gust and our cards and prints took off in the wind. We didn't know whether to hold onto the gazebo, or let it take off for a burial in space and save our stock. Luckily some very kind passers by dropped everything and helped us. Finally we were on Plan F, sitting out in the intermittent rain (never very bad, thank goodness!) dabbing our cards with paper towels. It was very, very British. We even sold some stuff!

When I got home I had to dry everything out....

this is only part of it....

Sunday the weather was much better - the sun came out and there was a lot less wind. We could relax and enjoy ourselves as it was a beautiful day. But for some reason sold far fewer cards and prints! As large clouds kept rolling over, we kept most stuff displayed flat ready for Plan G (throwing plastic sheets over everything).

Our display without the gazebo

There we lots of people walking up and down and a fair bit of interest. Hopefully, even though sales were a bit disappointing, we have encouraged quite a few people to visit us at Open Studios. Saturday really was gruelling but I'm already thinking of next year and whether it's possible to take arting to new extremes and go completely gazeboless...

Looking busy

All photos © Sue Wookey

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Art on the Common, Harpenden

Just a reminder that I will be spending this Saturday and Sunday (16th-17th) braving the elements on Harpenden Common as part of the Art on the Common event. Please cross your fingers, pray, light candles and do a sun dance for fair weather because 15% of the proceeds go to Cancer Research UK and a good day is a good day for them! Also, I don't want to spend the day holding down the gazebo or trying to tie guy ropes while fending off drizzle (been there, done that...).

Sharing the gazebo and windcheater/suntan cream (delete as appropriate) will be fellow HVAF member Hilary Taylor. If you have been to our Open Studios at Artscape you will already be familiar with her work. We would love to see you again on the Common. If it's raining stair rods we will let you hide in our tent.

Saturday is also Discovery Day on the Common, so there will be plenty of fun including falconry and dancing dogs. If you have a dog with a waggy tail you could also take home a Waggiest Tail rosette ;-). Who could resist!


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Jubilee Art Day on Dunstable Downs

My stall looking very festive

Had a very chilly and windy day up on top of Dunstable Downs on Saturday as part of the National Trust Gateway Centre's 3 day Jubilee Celebrations. The Downs is the highest point in the South East and with an easterly wind whistling through the marquee entrance flaps it certainly felt like it! Welcome to the world of Extreme Arting! Members of the Artists Network Bedfordshire who organised it and took part deserve special Jubilee Medals for sticking it out and making the inside of the Marquee look so terrific under such difficult conditions. Everyone made a huge effort. It's a lot of work setting up stalls and hanging paintings. Add bunting strewing and balloon blowing into the mix and it's amazing it all got done in 3 hours!

I think those members of the public who struggled down the field to see us (against driving rain for quite a bit of the day...) also deserve a medal. It must have been interesting trying to focus on all the paintings while the breeze made them wobble about! Even though we had damp grass, even damper feet, chilly temperatures and wandering earwigs to contend with, we all enjoyed talking to visitors and also enjoyed each other's company. As a bonding experience it was second to none. Corporations pay huge amounts of money to send their staff out on stuff like this, lol. 

I have more Extreme Arting coming up at Harpenden Art on the Common on 16-17th June in aid of Cancer Research UK, so watch this space!

All photos © Sue Wookey


Saturday, 26 May 2012

Autumn Oak

Autumn Oak
© Sue Wookey
I've been very busy and have yet another new painting, Autumn Oak, which shows one of my favourite trees shedding its leaves at the end of Autumn, while the promise of new life is concealed within in the form of a acorn. The setting sun also circles a glimpse inside the mound where a fox is sleeping, nestled amongst the roots of the tree. I've always loved the way acorns look like little green eggs sitting in their own egg-cups, bursting with life, so the words around the painting read:

Autumn sees the falling of my crown, yet to spring's hope I life a thousand tiny cups to the light and, furled within, the secret of my entire Kingdom - SW 

Autumn Oak can be ordered as a limited edition giclee print from my website at Galley Hill Art.


Friday, 18 May 2012

Cosmic Tree of Life

Cosmic Tree of Life
© Sue Wookey
Another Tree of Life but this one has gone cosmic - I can't see that I'll ever stop painting them! Each one has been a series of developments from the Indian Tree of Life and Knowledge that I painted a few years ago, based on the simplified image of a 17th century Indian chola bronze tree of life. It was a shape I fell in love with and here it is again.

There are so many complex spiritual symbols and layers of meaning in this painting that I couldn't begin to describe them. I think it's better if I just let it speak for itself, hoping that others will discover them as they study it. Like a lot of my paintings, it went 'off piste' and took it's own course. Originally it was the other way up - which made more sense to me as I was painting it. Then I accidentally put it upside down to take stock of it and decided that I liked it much better that way! But to me it was still 'wrong' so I intended to keep it the way I originally painted it. A few days later, I was ready to put the writing around the border. I always start at the bottom. I really thought I'd put it the 'right' way up... until I'd finished, and then I realised that I had, indeed, done it upside down. I guess the painting was always meant to be that way, with the dark above emerging from the light below. Sometimes you just can't fight these things!

The words around the border are from the Chandogya Upanishad and read:

As great as the infinite space beyond is the space within the lotus of the heart,
Both heaven and earth are contained in that inner space,
Both fire and air, sun and moon, lightening and stars. 

Cosmic Tree of Life is available as a limited edition giclee print from my website Galley Hill Art.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Jubilee Art Day and MacMillan Summer Fair

On 2nd June I'll be taking part in a Jubilee Day Art Event at the Chiltern Gateway Centre on Dunstable Downs with fellow artists from the Artists Network Bedfordshire. As well as an exhibition and individual craft stalls, there will be demonstrations, a video about the ANB and a chance to talk to a wide range of local artists. Dunstable Downs is a spectacular location so this would be a great day out!

This coming Monday 14th May there is also a chance to support  MacMillan Cancer Support at their Fashion Show and Summer Fair at The Meadow Barn, Tewin Bury Farm, Hertford Road, Nr. Welwyn, Herts AL6 0JB. The Fair is open from 10.30 and I will have my stall set up for both before and after the show.

Friday, 13 April 2012

MacMillan Fashion Show and Summer Fair

I have another event on the horizon where I'll be setting up my stall with paintings, prints and cards. This time it is for a very worthy cause - a Fashion Show and Summer Fair to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support Herts.

This will be a fun event with a chance to see some Spring fashions (and update your wardrobe!) plus a variety of stalls to browse. The show is on Monday 14th May from 10.30am and is at The Meadow Barn, Tewin Bury Farm, Hertford Road, Nr. Welwyn, Herts AL6 0JB. Click on the poster above for further details!

Friday, 30 March 2012

The Listening Hare

The Listening Hare
© Sue Wookey
Here is a new painting for all you hare lovers (and I know that there are a lot of us!). The Listening Hare developed from a simple painting of a hare with the moon to a piece about the value of quietness and listening to the subtle flow of life all around us. Hares are always so alert, paying attention to the smallest sound and movement. I wanted to capture that alertness and also those moments of complete stillness which come between bursts of activity.

I've painted it as a companion piece to my Moon Horse (like the Moon Horse you can almost see the harvest moon shining through the hare's ears) and have put in a little hill figure of a hare. The words around the border were written by me to reflect the meaning of the painting:

Love silence and listen, as the hare does, to the quiet reaching upwards of the grass and the drum of the full moon rolling over the round hill.

The original of The Listening Hare has already sold, but the painting is available as a limited edition giclee print from my Galley Hill Art website.