Blog

Saving the lives of tiny beetles (or not)

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I have just got back from a painting trip on the coast around Flamborough Head. I spent 2 days painting at the cliffs at Bempton. Its an RSPB centre and at this time of year (June) there are thousands of sea birds residing on the cliffs to breed. It is an amazing spectacle. Painting in a popular place like that has its problems. The view points get very busy by around 10. 30 so I usually have to paint early or late, however the light is in my favour with the summer solstice close by. People with their scopes on big sticks try to muscle their way in to my view point (I am inevitably at the best slot) – it can end in paint scrapes – I have had a dog jump on to my palette and then jump all over me covering us both in paint!. Then there are the little insects landing on my palette. They get their paws stuck on the acrylic paint – these I try and rescue, but usually it ends in a fatality. Then there may be one face down in the fresh blob of white I just squeezed out but it is too late for them. I think I manage to save around 5% which is a worry. I can only hope that in years to come when they x ray my work to establish its authenticity they will see the bodies of tiny insects encapsulated in the paintings (like the grains of sand they found in Monet’s work!). Finally there’s paint on my clothes. I wander around looking more like a bag lady it’s just not worth looking smart to paint as I always get paint somewhere – as you can see by the photo, this is when I sat on ...

What do I do for kicks?

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Well I am enjoying playing with my teddies. Last year for the Tour de Yorkshire that came through Whitby, I made a hat with bikes on and sat two of my bears on them (actually had to hold them with elastic bands which they did moan about a bit). We watched the tour on the hill coming out of Ruswarp, all great fun. Well this year they are coming through Whitby again!! yay, so the bears insisted on team gear. So bang go my favourite pair of socks for their tops, and that pair of old cycling shorts were full of holes anyway. So I sat in the sun in my cute courtyard garden, in between guests for my open studio that I held after Easter. Love a bit of hand stitching, but they both have big bottoms so there had to be some adjustments there. Now I am using them to promote myself through social media, well I will try anything to get known round here!! If you are around whitby look out for me!!. You can follow me and the bears on Instagram hilary_thorpe artist Facebook HilaryThorpePaintings Twitter @ThorpeHilary. ...

Keeping out of the windy weather!

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I am not enjoying the windy weather. I have tried painting from my camper but it is not great in the wind! so I am in my studio and office. I am not enjoying the windy weather. After taking a large order for cards recently (I do offer generous discount for large orders!!) I realised I had not updated my website with the new images I have been using for cards based around Whitby so I have been busy doing this. It is not a small task, and frankly sitting in front of my computer for hours is not my idea of fun but it has to be done. One thing about being a ‘sole trader’ as such is you have to do all the jobs. It keeps me on my toes and makes life varied, but there are some jobs that I skirt round – updating my mail list is probably my least favourite but possibly my mail list these days is one of my most valuable assets! I do get a tremendous sense of satisfaction when all my efforts are rewarded with orders, sales and successful workshop days. My studio is a bit challenging in the more cooler days, and I have devised a system of curtains to section off my office space. I have dragged out my degree pieces from my textile degree – weaving was my specialism so I have two lovely hand woven blankets to use. My favourite one is in the background of the picture. This has sparked a rash of more textile orientated workshops and am also busy preparing for a weaving day in a primary school!! So I shall keep beavering away here, all cosy and hope that I can brave some painting in the camper with less wind and some nice ...

A week before Christmas

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A photo of my quirky idea for refreshments for my open studio this Christmas, Home made lemonade, cucumber sandwiches, mini bakewell tarts and coconut kisses…. and now I sit in my jauntily decorated studio, anticipating visitors. I have a few moments to reflect, and having finally invested in a smartphone (tho no sim card as yet…) am just wondering about the concept of promoting myself on the internet. I see I have not blogged on my website since October so that’s remiss of me and I think probably not doing my site any favours. I have been working on my tweeting (@ThorpeHilary) and it will be interesting to see if I get any visitors as a result of that. I have discovered many interesting things through twitter and facebook – in the art world and beyond. I hope to be at the Urban Sketchers convention in Manchester in the summer so that’s all because of twitter…. and there’s the ‘pinto rapido’ events in London Glasgow and Amsterdam where everyone gets together to paint outdoors on the Saturday then have a big selling exhibition on the Sunday I think I found that through twitter as well. So I am better informed, but are my efforts enriching other peoples lives!!?? Hmm my new years target I fear is to organise my social mediaring to be slightly less add hock. Note to self…. don’t forget to paint. Any body got any tips?. ...

Sketching round Whitby

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I have been doing some sketching in the coastal villages Robin Hoods Bay and Staithes both near Whitby. They are very popular places for visitors and have a beach at low tide but this is usually covered at high. Staithes is well known for the ‘Staithes Group’ – a group of about 25 painters during the 19th century, inspired by French impressionists such as Monet, Cezane and Renoir the artists worked together in ‘plien air’. Staithes is seeing something of a revival artwise and there are several artists who now live and work there and a couple of galleries. Out of this has risen the Art and Heritage festival on the 12th/13th September. Many of the houses in the village open up their houses for artists to exhibit (or some take holiday cottages) I have been given the chance to exhibit at Roraima house – a b&b on Staithes Lane. I have spent several days round about Staithes, painting, and staying in my camper and have enjoyed getting to know the place but still have plenty to discover. The cleveland way passes through the village which is full of ‘ginnels’ and footpaths. There is a beck that runs down the valley in to the harbour where many small fishing boats moor up. Wonderful views can be seen along the coast either from the beach or up on the cliffs – so plenty of subjects to chose from. ...

It's true about the glass at Seaham

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I read an article a while ago about the town of Seaham up on the coast south of Newcastle. It was about a sea glass festival and talked about the lovely glass that you could find on the beach there due to a previous glass industry. I was intrigued, as, like many people, I love sea glass. So, I had been to Newcastle for a foodie fair and also a look round the galleries there (Biscuit Factory, Baltic). I decided to call in at Seaham on the way home. It was a thundery day, but in the shadow of a huge thunder cloud I had a quick beach comb. I discovered if I sat in the shingle and looked closely I could find quite a few tiny pieces, so the photo shows you just that. I enjoyed a good half hour collecting these tiny gems, and then had to retire to an Ice Cream parlour to shelter from the torrential thunder storm! will be going back there and stay longer next time!. ...

Work life balance

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I have got to that time of year where I could be working flat out, but I am trying to keep my work life balance in check (says she typing this on a Sunday evening). I am out and about painting quite a bit in this ‘summer’ weather, so doing stuff like blogs and social media posts and mail shots kind of take a back seat but I think they are rather important. I did this painting several weeks ago, I spent the night on Sandsend sea front and got up early to catch this fantastic silhouette of the pier. I am pretty pleased with it so had it made in to a print. I have been out sailing between Whitby and Scarborough this week-end in pretty mixed conditions. The views were beautiful and conditions not alway conducive to photography! I am now passed out in driving the Whitby Yacht Club launch and on Thursday was all set to paint the evening racing (had my sandwiches packed and everything) but it was cancelled as the swell was too big with not much wind…. still I did get a little guided tour up the river, thanks Stuart!. ...

Painting on the Cleveland Way

Cleveland Way

I have been getting out and about now the weather is warming up and painting. The other week I headed out to a location I had found on a previous walk near Cloughton (near Scarborough) It was on the Cleveland Way looking north along the coast. It was beautifully sunny but still a little hazy. I love it when things disappear off in to the distance getting ever paler and paler but I always find it a challenge to catch in paint. I have a small ruck sack with all my equipment in and to this I can strap my board which has paper already prepared (stuck with gum strip and sealed with diluted acrylic paint) To my board I strap my easel and tie it to stop it opening up! – its a heavy easel but this makes it a better platform to work on – not so unstable. I often hang my rucksack on the easel to keep it more secure (it can blow over if windy). I was pleased the view was as I remembered it, and it was a perfect day for it. I enjoyed meeting a few walkers whilst I painted – we were all pretty much in our own worlds but nice to share the beauty of the moment. One walker took this photo of me – Paddy Dillon who as it turned out writes walking guide books. ...

Two things to celebrate

I have finally finished working on my garage conversion and had a little opening ceremony where my Mum and Dad cut the ribbon to officially open my new studio. It is a lovely space and I am already enjoying working in it. I have my first workshop running on Wednesday so looking forward to that! At the same time as the studio was finished the weather has taken a turn for the better (on the whole) and so have also been out and about painting. I have to admit that a studio conversion an easier task compared to the challenge of taking on board this vast choice of subject that is North Yorkshire! I am gradually amassing a variety of choices of places to paint, but if I am honest I have not found my feet yet, but am trying to keep level headed. I am enjoying sketching in Whitby with my small sketchbook but have also ventured out on to the Cleveland way with full kit (and new walking boots). I am planning a train ride on the Whitby to Middlesborough line as I understand it is stunning and I have always enjoyed sketching from trains. I am also very close to catching some of the yellow rape seed fields in full flower and just have to find one with a coastal back drop – I could do with a drone to go scouting to find the perfect spot. So watch this space with some new work as it emerges!!. ...

The beach as a canvas

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I am pleased to say that I am sitting in my (close to being finished) studio! – at my home made desk (still smelling of varnish!). I am still constructing a storage rack for my framed paintings and although I used a tape measure and spirit level it doesn’t quite look like it – so I think it will take on a character all of its own!. I have had a visitor to stay over the week-end, Eva Wolfram, a fellow artist but she is a bit different to me as she is a land artist. Eva has a lot of experience creating Labyrinths in all sorts of locations, particularly sandy beaches. So as Whitby has a great expanse of beach at low tide coupled with a view from the cliffs we set about on a beautifully sunny Sunday to create her ‘trinity labyrinth’ We had a couple of rakes and a plan to work from. I basically just followed orders! but as I do have a bit of artistic talent I took to the drawing out of the pattern well and it was hot work! There is no doubt that as the creation of the Labyrinth was close I felt a great boost of energy and well being! We had a fair bit of interest from passers by and encouraged people to walk it. A labyrinth takes you in and out as you follow the path, as opposed to a maze which you have to search to find your way out. The trinity pattern takes you round a three stage process (Father, Son, Holy Ghost), perhaps looking at a problem from three angles or reflection of three stages in your life. The many dogs out walking enjoyed the activity! but did not quite follow the rules! Eva and I ...

February News

Garage Conversion

I am pleased to say that I have been offered a venue for the Staithes Art and Heritage festival in September – this is becoming a very popular event with lots of artists taking over various houses and halls to show work, and this coupled with the magic of such a lovely place as Staithes, steeped in history, makes for a very enjoyable week-end (12th/13th). I have also been asked to put work in to ‘Coast Gallery’ at Burniston near Scarborough. So my first painting expeditions will be to gather work for that. The gallery has the most excellent and friendly tea room, which I can wholeheartedly recommend! My life is rather taken over at the moment with the conversion of my garage in to a studio. The photo shows the garage just before I stripped it out, then with new door. window and velux in the roof (north facing!) It’s exciting, but as I am getting involved with as much work as I am able, rather tiring. I am missing being creative, but looking forward to finally having all my arty stuff organised instead of stacked in boxes in my dining room! I am planning to start with a few classes and workshops when I am sorted and hope this will be around the end of March/Early April. If you have anything in your creative ventures that needs some input, then let me know and if it is something I can help you with then we might be able to programme it in to a workshop. I am enjoying continuing to get to know the region, and have been out walking with the ramblers (very friendly group from Scarborough). Their walks are around 10 miles so it’s keeping me fit!. ...

Exploring the East Coast

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I have been on a winter trip. Hopefully you know of my yacht and sailing club prints that I have done based around the Solent. Well, I have decided to do the same thing on the East Coast. So I have been photographing all the clubs, working between Burnham on Crouch and Lowestoft – and there are around 45 clubs, so I am going to have to do a bit of thinking to fit them all on to a tea towel print…. There have been clubs of all shapes and sizes, but this club, Stour Sailing Club wins my prize for the prettiest club. I did call in on the Isle of Wight to do a bit of business and catching up. I have agreed to show my work at the Garlic Farm Cafe in August so that will be an opportunity to keep things ticking over on the Island. I hope to be there at the end of July to do some new work. It is a bit strange with the run up to Christmas in a new town, but I am pleased to have been asked to join in with the Staithes Winterfest. There will be quite a few artists there so I am looking forward to meeting them all. ...

First Show in Whitby

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Well thanks to all who came to my show at the village hall in Lythe, Whitby. It was a successful event, with lots of visitors. I was encouraged that my marketing efforts had paid off. I did a lot of talking over the week end which is always the case at my shows. What really encouraged me was the reaction to my work by a new audience – the comments ‘lively’ ‘uplifting’ and ‘lots of character’ spring to mind, and if I could chose words to describe what I wanted to give people in my work then these would be pretty close I think! My one hour taster workshops seemed to really hit the spot, it was lovely to get such a positive response to introducing some techniques that people were keen to go away and develop. Now I am looking forward to getting out and about exploring the region rather more and continue with my sketching and painting. I hope to be involved with a group event in early December at Staithes. ...

Making Cards

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Its a week now to my show at the village hall at Lythe. I have been busy organising some new local themed greeting cards, it always take a while setting these up but when they are made and slipped in to that cellophane pocket and in a big pile it is a fantastic sense of achievement. I make most of my cards by printing the images on to photo paper, trimming, then glueing to card and hand writing a caption. I have got it down to a fine art! – my pen and water colour images I am now printing out directly on to card as I think it gives a better watercolour effect. (I get my card etc from ‘Craft Creations’ by the way) I have had some more images added to my website – a collection of work from Scotland. I now have to add some more paintings and cards myself but it is a job that I am prone to put off! I had some really fantastic comments about my site from a lady I met today who is going to do a piece about me in the Whitby Gazette – everything she said was exactly what I had tried to achieve so I was so pleased!! – Thanks Helen! Hope you like it too!!. ...

Exhibition preparation

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It’s starting to get cooler now but I am still getting out to do a bit of sketching preferably if the sun is shining! I am putting my energy in to sorting things for my show which will be at the village hall in Lythe. Its a lovely newly decorated hall, along the coast from Whitby, just up from Sandsend which is a beachfront village. I have been introducing myself to all sorts of people and artists in particular and been gladdened by their enthusiasm to help me – facebook and twitter seem to be getting my name out and about more and I have joined two facebook groups – Scarborough Arts Forum and Whitby Creates. Because of the aspect of Whitby which faces north, it is very different to painting the Solent. Early mornings and late afternoons are good for catching the coastline. I was lucky enough to be out sailing and the view to Whitby from the sea is lovely. Fortunately it looks like I will get access to a ‘work boat’ now I am a member of the yacht club! I managed a painting the other morning, after getting a bit organised and I sat at low tide to the east of the harbour. I looked along the coast past Whitby. With the sun on the cliffs it brought out fantastic colours (unfortunately all a bit grey with no sun!) and I did the painting that you see above, which I am pleased with. So that will be in the show together with a selection of work from my various trips in the last couple of years, and of course some Isle of Wight images! If you have contacts in this area then do let them know about my show!! (get more info on the events page). ...

Roads and Chevrons

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I quite like this time of year. Interesting weather and light, not too busy, and quite often mild enough to be outdoors. I have done some sketching this week as I continue to get to know the Whitby area. I visited the North York Moors visitors centre yesterday and the exhibition space they have there. I am going to get in touch with the gallery to see if they are interested in my work. I have decided to do a series of paintings based around the standing stones and ‘trods’ (paths) (especially as there is a ‘monks path’ outside my new house!) On the way back to whitby I drove on the road between Castleton and the A 171 again. There are a couple of views there that just do it for me and they both contain the black and white chevrons showing a sharp bend – I did a sketch yesterday and will have to go back to do some more. There is something about the starkness of it all, the black and white, the sky, the big open expanse, and the softness of the colours – difficult to explain. Me thinks this is why I paint and don’t write books. I am also planning an exhibition at the village hall in Lythe – it’s more of a showcase really, sort of saying, “look, I’m here and this is what I do!” So hope to have some dates to put on my callender very soon. ...

Moors painting day

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Horah! I have been out painting on the moors, near to the Fylingdales early warning system on ’Snood Hill’ I was out with the camper and it was a beautifully sunny day, slightly hazy so the far distance was very muted. I enjoyed trying to mix all the new colours and experimenting with painting on hardboard that has been coated with acrylic gesso (a chalky-like substance that give a pleasant ‘key’ to the surface) I seem to be fascinated by the juxtaposition of the near and far landscapes, the contrast in the colours and textures. On this day I painted mostly with brushes. Everything was a bit wobbly as I seem to have mislaid the rests for my easel in the move, so just had a board taped to the upright. I don’t seem to have packed very logically, though I am sure it seemed logical at the time!!! I shall be programming some more painting days over the next couple of weeks and the weather looks promising! This week end it is the Staithes Art Festival so I am looking forward to visiting that. ...

Sketching Folk!

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I was out and about during folk week in Whitby last week, and did this sketch of the members of ‘String Theory’ having a sing around in the Station Inn. My furniture arrived at the house in the middle of the week and so it’s been a bit busy. I am also working towards converting the garage for my new workshop, which is exciting. In the mean time I have started to work on my next t towel design, which may be ‘The Yacht and Sailing Clubs of the East Coast’ – trouble is I am in quandary – the Solent Tea towel had 35 images and so far I have 42 clubs in the running for the new one – oh how I love these little challenges – so smaller images? less clubs? and then there’s the map which will take up a fair bit of space – oh well (don’t hold your breath on this being finished any time too soon as I still have at least one more trip to take photographs!) I am looking forward to having a trip out in the camper to capture some of this vibrant purple heather on the moors – what a treat!. ...

More Exploring

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I thought I would show you a photograph for a change. I keep venturing out in to the countryside to get to know it more and this was a great discovery called ‘Whispering Dale’ which is North West of Scarborough. I am keeping my camper van at a friends farm until I move in to my new house which has a drive to accommodate it. So this has prompted me to explore the area a bit, as I have the odd night away from mum and dads where I am staying. I would love to say that I am out and about gaily painting! but I am busy at the moment getting a big selection of my prints ready to send off to Shorelines in Cowes on the Isle of Wight as they will be stocking most of my prints, which is great! If you are an artist and you are thinking in to getting in to prints then do get in touch as I can give you some advice! If I had started with the size of cellophane bag you can buy off the shelf, rather than the odd sizes of my paintings then life might have been easier!! still, my long thin custom-made bags (thank-you Fulcrum Films!) make long prints look great!! I am off away to Scotland for a big family gathering next week to celebrate my dads 90th. We are staying near the Kyle of Lochalsh. I will have my sketchbook with me! (I think thats about all that will fit in to the car!) so really looking forward to being back in Scotland. ...

Surfing at Saltburn

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Well, I had a couple of days out with the camper, getting to know the place a bit more. I had a great time at Saltburn, and braved the sea in my wetsuit with my body board. Enjoyed sketching on the cliff top near the ‘Cliff Tramway’ I also sketched out in the fields near Scarborough (my camper is being kept temporarily at a friends farm there) I did a bit of painting out on the moors near Denby, but not very successfully!!  there are some very spectacular colours around and my palette of paints is looking pretty different at the moment. I think the heather is on its way in to bloom, so best get my purples ready. I went down to Whitby pier last night to watch the yacht club race (7 boats!) and it was very light with a bit of a swell. However it was bright blue skies and so I saw some very painterly scenes, I will be back to paint there when I can get that organised (and the weather too!) – might have to join the throngs of folk eating fish and chips! or possibly take a fishing rod as there was a lot of Mackerel being caught! I sat and sketched the port hand beacon at the harbour entrance, working on a little set of 6 images about Whitby. ...

Getting to know Scarborough

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I have had a few visits to Scarborough – had a day looking at the Open Studio event with a great variety of work and locations. I had to explore the sea front and sat and had a hot chocolate at the Bay View Coffee House, watching the tide come right up to the harbour wall. Saw a yacht come in to the harbour, and a few fishing boats coming and going – nice to see a bit of boat activity! (I am easily pleased!!) I have a little sketchbook now that I keep in my handbag so sat and sketched the pier. I will be there again tomorrow sketching as my dad will be at the hospital having a minor op. I hope to have a couple of days out in the camper early next week to do a bit of painting!. ...

What no driftwood??

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I finally have my camper unpacked! (contents in the basement at mum and dad’s) so I had a little jaunt around my new stomping ground. It was the first week end of North Yorkshire open studios. Met some really friendly artists (some lovely locations!) I saw some views that took my breath away! but it is all so different to the Isle of Wight of course…. not sure where to start on the painting front. I walked down a very muddy path and steps down on to the beach at Port Mulgrave. How can I describe it? Several tin huts for fishermen. A motley collection of fishing boats both old and new. People collecting fossils, cockles and fishing. Used to be a pot ash mine there and still see signs of that. Very crumbly cliffs and shale/rocky beach. An old quay falling to bits. The sun came out and so I found a nice view to sketch sat on the tyre of an old trailer – could have just as easily been on the moon for the difference to my stomping grounds on the Island!! I found a few fossils – think I need to do some research here… but not one speck of driftwood!. ...

4 Hours in Leeds

I am on my way back to the Island from Whitby where I have been getting my temporary workshop a bit sorted. I have to collect my camper which is safely tucked away on a friends drive in Cowes. Been trying to guess some of the painters on show at the Leeds Art Gallery, and failing miserably, but being reminded of styles of painters such as Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash and Ivan Hitchins who are favourites of mine…does this thing have a spell check? – I fear not so appologies at this stage for bad spelling – will have to address that. They are shutting up the “Tile Cafe” here so better get on. London tonight and the Matisse Cutout exhibition before I head finally to the Island. ...