Today’s Monday Moodboard is dedicated to cherry blossom for no other reason than I love it and gives me a sense of a little bit of magic at this time of year.
When you are busy and going about your business you can forget to look up, but it’s so important to do so as so much wonder can reveal itself, especially at springtime. Whether you are in the country or the city chances are you’ll see a tree that’s frothy with flowers. It is such a joy, particularly for me when it contrasts with a dark grey or stunning blue sky (you know me, always looking for colour combo inspiration).
Wanna know why I wasn’t posting for two weeks? Well, as well as prepping for workshops I was also off finding inspiration in Florence. I thought I’d give you some little snapshots/flavours of Florence that reignited my creativity.
I first visited Florence when I was an Art History student at the University of Essex. It was actually a compulsory part of the degree course (in those free education, pre-fee days) and it was a real eye opener for me academically and artistically.
The above image is of San Spirito – inside is a triumph of architecture, every time I visit I’m in awe of its almost minimalist elegance. I also love the fact that the church is unadorned on the outside, simply beautiful inside and out.
Touristy as it sounds I love the cathederal (Santa Maria del Fiore above) square with the bell tower, the Duomo etc. Although the facade is a bit bling I adore the sparkly marble and the ostentatious pomp of it although I’m sure the purists would disagree. To me the buildings seem to gleam in any weather.
The place that most inspired me on my initial visit was the Laurentian Library (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana) planned and built by Michelangelo. It was my mission this time to show Dr B. The library has been a source of inspiration for artists such as Rothko and film maker Orson Wells. It truly is break taking and iconic. The entrance I believe is ahead of its time, I genuinely think it’s the foundation of minimalism and Michelangelo’s finest work. My visit this year didn’t disappoint, it was more breath-taking than I remember.
Oh and don’t you love the floor in the library?
I also saw a new thing in Florence this visit (well a new old thing). The Brancacci Chapel was being restored when I visited originally and for some reason we didn’t make it there on my second visit so this was third time lucky. All I’m saying is I had a little cry when finally faced with it after spending uni lectures and reading so many books on it. Nothing could compare with actually experiencing it and at such close proximity too. The Brancacci Chapel is actually painted by three artists, originally Masolino and Masaccio then completed by Filiippino Lippi. This journey through the Renaissance painting was just what I needed to reinvigorate my art practice. Although my work isn’t obviously this kinda style, the whole visit, the architecture, the paintings, the stories behind every commission and fresco has spurred me on to explore some themes further and keep pushing.
Rich, warm and inspired by nature – this week’s moodboard is all autumn patterns and motifs.
I know we’re only in September but this change of season is very exciting for me. Autumn’s natural colour way is a source of inspiration in itself. Rich purples and reds, faded greens, soft creams and burnished bronzes make me feel warm as the colder weather creeps in. The motifs too – poppy heads, falling leaves and feathers, pine cones and woodland animals – are such rich pickings for illustrators and artists. I’ve blocked out a whole three days of drawing this week to dedicate myself to precisely these subjects… Watch this space!
I’ve many go-tos for inspiration and although you may not think it, mid-century modern design and illustration is one of my favourite sources. That’s why it’s made this week’s Monday Moodboard.
Although my drawing style is heavily influenced by classical botanical illustration, I actually came to it via the route of mid-century modern. How? Well, when you look inside the original mid-century homes, as well as all those gorgeous geo designs, amazing furniture, playful use of line and fearless colour combinations, there would always be a classic print or two hung on the wall, so I thought “if it’s good enough for them…”
Anyway this is one of my most loved periods for design and illustration I suppose it came from the fact that Dr B and I lived in mid-century apartments for the first 14 years together so we both became interested in this style in terms of design and architecture. For pure nostalgia value here are some pics of our old flat.
There is so much to find in mid-century modern design, which is why it is such a rich source of inspiration. I mean just look at the examples on the moodboard. It’s not all about Lucienne Day Calyx fabric (although I blatantly love that design and would have it in every room in the house if I was allowed) or Ercol furniture (although again I adore it and have a lovely 1960s original Ercol dining table and chairs in the kitchen). Design from this period can be ornate and playful and also simple, concise and elegant.
Why this week? I’m currently working on a poetry book for Dunlin Press, an indie publishing house run by me and Dr B. I wanted something that keyed into classic book cover design with a bit of an edge so I’ve been trawling the internet and my design books and the mid-century vibe seems to be the route to explore. I’m not saying our book will look anything like the above but whether you are designing a book cover, thinking about a fabric pattern or imagining a room scheme, in fact whatever creative endeavour you’re undertaking it’s good to have a starting point to kick start your work.
One of the best places to go for visual inspiration is the near-by Beth Chatto gardens. The succulent collection is a particular pull for me, especially as I go about my artistic work. Research is essential to my work and you’ll often find me with my phone or camera in hand, capturing images that interest and inspire me.
The gardens have is a wide variety of succulents. The way the gardeners display the plants all together is really impressive. The visual impact of these packed-in plants in such a range of naturally attractive colours look like a patten design in themselves.
Check out my succulent print at > my Folksy shop
Find out more about Beth Chatto Gardens > here