Category Archives: Art

Tea & Tattle: Emma Block Discusses the Joy of Watercolour

Tea & Tattle: Emma Block Discusses the Joy of Watercolour

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle here.

This Tuesday on Tea & Tattle Podcast, I’m joined by the author and illustrator Emma Block, to discuss Emma’s fantastic new book, The Joy of Watercolour. Emma started getting work as a freelance illustrator when she was only 17, and she’s gone on to develop a fantastic business and works full-time as a freelance illustrator in London.

Emma Block

Emma regularly teaches sold out water-colouring workshops in the city; I’ve been to a few of them and had such a fun time learning the basics of water-colouring and brush lettering.  Over the years, Emma has collaborated with many notable brands and fashion influencers, who love her highly recognisable, soft and feminine illustration style.

In August, Emma published her first book, The Joy of Watercolour, which shares tips and painting projects to help people get started with water-colouring, or to take their illustration practice to the next level. It’s a beautiful book, and I’ve been having a lot of fun working through Emma’s guides for beginners.

In today’s discussion, Emma tells me about the inspiration behind her book, what she’s learnt from teaching water-colouring classes to 100s of people, how to find your own unique illustration style, and how she’s developed different strands to her work as a freelance illustrator over time. This is a brilliant listen for anyone who loves water-colouring, or who are keen to give it a go for the first time and develop their own creativity.

Tea & Tattle is also available to listen to on iTunes and stitcher.

St Jude’s ‘Nature Table’ Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields

St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields

I’m such a big fan of the artwork of both Emily Sutton and Angie Lewin, so I was very excited when I heard about the current exhibition of their work in collaboration with St Jude’s at the Town House in Spitalfields. The exhibition, ‘Nature Table,’ is on until 30th September, and I recommend seeing it as quickly as possible. Not only are the artworks spectacular to view in person, but the Town House in Spitalfields is a marvellous destination in itself.

The Town House is located on Fournier Street, a particularly beautiful and historic street in East London, featuring many original Huguenot houses dating from the early 1700s. The streets surrounding it, especially Wilkes Street and Princelet Street, are also well worth a stroll.  Be sure to bring your camera, as the area is instagram gold!

This was my first visit to Town House in Spitalfields, and I was amazed by how lovely it is. The shop is a treasure trove of carefully curated books, ceramics and other collectables. I loved the bookshelf stuffed with Persephone Books and all the beautiful autumnal displays in the shop.

Mum and I made our way through to the exhibition space at the back, and there were lucky enough to meet Angie Lewin in person. She was so lovely and friendly, and it was wonderful to be shown the artwork by one of the artists herself! There were so many gorgeous prints and originals, as well as new fabrics, on display by Angie and Emily. The exhibition is definitely a feast for the eyes, and I was especially taken with Emily Sutton’s new ‘Q is for Quince‘ print and Angie Lewin’s ‘The Gardener’s Arms‘ linocut. I wish I could have taken them home with me!

St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields

After enjoying looking at all the artworks, we decided it was time for a cup of tea and slice of cake. The Town House has a small kitchen downstairs and a seating area in their tiny garden:

The garden was rather damp after a recent downpour, so we decided to head down to the kitchen, which has a long wooden communal table that we were lucky enough to have to ourselves.

I don’t think I’ve ever sat in such a charming kitchen before! Vintage copper moulds hung around the oven and a large table in the middle of the room was crowded with a range of cakes and biscuits to tempt customers.  A cherry bakewell tart, fresh from the oven, was placed at the other end of our table to cool, its delicious aroma blending with the other baked goods in a way that made our mouths water.

St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields

I went for a pear and almond cake, which was moist and utterly delicious, along with a pot of tea, and my Mum chose a rose and cardamon cake that was also exceedingly tasty. We could have quite happily stayed in that snug place all afternoon, and now I’ve discovered such a charming spot, I’ll definitely be returning very soon!

Read more details of the ‘Nature Table’ exhibition here.

 

An Interview with Artist Yvonne Coomber (+ An Incredible Giveaway!)

yvonne coomber

An Exciting Art Collaboration

Listeners of Tea & Tattle Podcast may remember that earlier in the spring, the artist Yvonne  Coomber kindly let me pick out a print from her new collection as part of a collaboration with Miranda’s Notebook. I decided to send the print to my podcast co-host, Sophie, as a housewarming gift (I asked Sophie which print she’d like, and she chose this one, which was the one I would have selected for her myself – isn’t it lovely?).

Today, I’m so thrilled to say that Yvonne is giving away one of her new limited edition prints to a Miranda’s Notebook follower (you can enter the giveaway now through my instagram picture, or scroll to the bottom of this post for more details on how to win).

Yvonne Coomber’s Instagram Gathering

Pip Farm, the setting for Yvonne’s fabulous gathering.

Last week, I got the chance to meet Yvonne for the first time at a gathering she hosted near her hometown, Totnes. Yvonne brought together a group of floral loving instagrammers to celebrate her beautiful artwork in an idyllic stone farmhouse nestled deep in the Devonshire countryside. We chatted and laughed and photographed and feasted on cream teas and incredible spreads (whipped up by the fabulous Djamila Vogelsperger) for two days, and it was the most wonderful way to get to know a little more about Yvonne and her gorgeous art.

Pip Farm was filled with Yvonne’s prints, original paintings, cushions and lampshades, and jugs of flowers homegrown by the lovely Holly of Holly-Bee Flowers in Devon were placed on most available surfaces, so the farmhouse was filled with colour and life. It was hard to put my camera down!

An Artist Inspired by Flowers

I first came across Yvonne’s paintings when I stayed at the Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall, which showcased an impressive display of many of Yvonne’s artworks. Yvonne’s pieces are inspired by her love for nature, flowers and colour, so they certainly speak straight to my heart, and I was absolutely thrilled when I was asked to take part in Yvonne’s Instagram retreat.

Yvonne took us around her beautiful home on the outskirts of Totnes, as well as her gallery in the town’s centre, and we also got to see her incredible studio in the heart of the countryside. It was wonderful to see Yvonne’s original canvases up close, as she uses a lot of layered paint and thick strokes, and often a shimmering of glitter, that give her fields of wildflowers an incredible depth and vivacity.

An Interview With Yvonne Coomber

Yvonne Coomber in her studio

I managed to ask Yvonne a few questions about her artwork and creative process, and I was fascinated by her answers. I have a real soft spot for poppies too, so I was delighted when Yvonne mentioned them as her favourite flower!

MN: Would you tell me a little about yourself and your background? What inspired your love for art?

YC: My childhood was steeped in the psychedelia of the sixties and seventies; both fashion and culture were colourful and experimental with an inherent wildness. I think the influences of this period mixed with my rural upbringing between a farm in Berkshire and a cottage in Cork all contributed to my profound love of the untamed rainbow hues which are currently woven into each and every piece I create.

My father had a profound love of nature and my Irish mother has always tended a magnificent country garden. So as a girl my life was frequently saturated in flowers and beautiful places. In addition I have travelled widely in my life and the warmth and discovery of all of my journeys is ever present on my canvas. My five year training in Sussex provided me with an opportunity to master my painting practice.

MN: I love your beautiful florals and seaside landscapes. What do you find particularly inspiring about nature?

VC: I think the thing I find most inspiring about nature is its ability to constantly infuse beauty, whether that be on an uncultivated meadowland fizzing with rainbows of wildflowers in summertime, or a determined solitary flower pushing through gaps in concrete pavements. Also nature is deeply humbling with both its utter powerfulness and its silent peacefulness.

I also love nature as it constantly has the ability to reflect emotional landscapes. There is an unconditional quality in the natural world that allows me to simply be.

MN: We share a mutual passion for flowers, and I’m enjoying using the hashtag you started on Instagram (#wildforflowers). Do you have any favourite flowers to paint? I notice that the flowers in your work are generally always growing wild and free.

YC: I love the innocence, colour and easy harmony of wild meadowlands. The vast selection of native British flowers simply make my heart sing….from the white frothy foam of cow parsley through to the soft powder blue of harebells and the gently nodding purple spikes of foxgloves. The hedgerows and meadows of my home in the South Hams become a perfumed feast of ever-changing loveliness.

However, if asked to choose my favourite flower it would definitely be Poppies. My daughter is named after this fragile, strong crimson bloom and their easy bright beauty is almost always present in my work.

MN: You live in a beautiful part of Devon. What do you love best about your surrounding landscape?

YC: I love contrasts that exists here: the rugged coastline, the vast open moorlands and the kaleidoscopic tumbling hedgerows all deeply nourish my soul. My favourite place of all, however, is my studio which is nestled deep in Devon’s folds. Surrounded by woodland and flower speckled fields, to me it is paradise.

A cream tea in the garden just outside Yvonne’s studio – most definitely paradise!

MN: Would you describe your creative process? How do you go from a blank canvas to a finished artwork?

YC: The process before I even pick up a brush or mix oils is crucial to me. The dreaming of the painting is as important as the mark marking. My practice is a complete love affair and I bring all of me to the canvas. I pour both real and emotional landscapes onto the linen. It is a dance between intended and accidental marks with a desire to create beauty and joy. My practice feels a sacred place and the magic unfolds as I surrender to risk and the unknown. I am fascinated and enthralled by the process.

My work takes many months to create as it is a construction of many layers. The beginning is always quite ethereal and poetic and subsequently the marks become bolder and more defined. I use many different techniques and, like the nature that I paint, there is a harmony between order and chaos.

See Yvonne’s paintings and homeware products in her online shop.

MN: You have a flourishing business. What are your top tips for artists hoping to become commercially successful, as well as creatively fulfilled?

YC: I really do believe that following your heart unwaveringly has a force and power that allows magic to emerge. Believe in your dreams, because they are the gateways to success. That and a lot (!) of hard work. For anything to flourish you simply have to put the hours in with training, practice and dedication.

MN: I so appreciate the delight in colour that shines through your paintings. How do you use colour to communicate particular moods and emotions in your work?

YC: I work incredibly instinctively. I love how colours vibrate against one another and take on another unique quality because of the relationship created between them. The oils I use are my language and I communicate intuitively.

MN: Thank you so much for giving one of my readers the chance to win one of your gorgeous new prints. Would you tell me what inspired your latest collection, and do you have a particular favourite?

YC: My new collection is inspired by a deep desire to communicate happiness. I am aware that these are challenging times, and, whilst I acknowledge this, I also very consciously wanted to create work that celebrates love. I truly believe that love has the ability to transform everything both personally and globally. It is the key. This collection is drenched in love, and I have no favourite as they are all uniquely special.

Thank you so much again to Yvonne for taking the time to answer my questions! I was also so thrilled to receive my very own print,  one out of 10 special editions she did for everyone who came to the retreat in my (very large!) goodie bag. Isn’t it stunning? I love the vibrant colours and joyful strokes (I spy lots of poppies too!), which will always remind me of Yvonne’s incredibly kind, generous spirit and my fantastic stay in Devon.

~ Yvonne Coomber IG GIVEAWAY ~

I’m so delighted that one of my readers will get a chance to win a new unframed print by Yvonne Coomber. I’m hosting the giveaway through my Instagram account, so all you have to do is pop over to Instagram and:

1// Like this picture.

2// Comment by tagging a friend you think would love Yvonne’s work too.

3// Make sure you’re following both myself (@mirandasnotebook) and Yvonne (@yvonnecoomber).

PLEASE NOTE: The giveaway is for UK residents only, and the winner will get to pick any one of the prints marked NEW on Yvonne’s website (print will be given unframed).

The giveaway will END at 10pm (UK time) on Thursday 17th May, and I’ll announce the winner on Instagram on Friday 18th May.

Good luck! I can’t wait to see who the lucky winner is and which print they’ll choose.

~

Find Yvonne on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube

Check out Yvonne’s website at www.yvonnecoomber.com 

Yvonne is taking part in the Dulwich Open Studios in London this weekend (12th-13th May) and next (19th-20th May), so if you’re in the area, do pop along!

London Culture | From Omega to Charleston Exhibition

London Culture | From Omega to Charleston Exhibition

Last weekend, I strolled through the pretty streets of Holland Park (mercifully quiet for a sunny Saturday) to the Piano Nobile Gallery to see their exhibition, From Omega to Charleston. The exhibition explores the creative partnership between Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and shows some of the artwork they created from the years 1910-1934.

Vanessa Bell, sister to Virginia Woolf, was a prominent member of the Bloomsbury Group and a talented artist. The painter Duncan Grant was an important influence on her life and work, and they eventually lived together at Charleston, Vanessa’s home in East Sussex.

The Piano Nobile Gallery exhibition has brought together rarely seen works by Grant and Bell held in private collections, some pieces on loan from Charleston and a few items for sale (prices on request). The exhibition ends on Saturday, so I thought I’d share some highlights for those who won’t be able to make it (although if you are in the area, I highly encourage you to go!).

The gem of the show is the incredible display of the Famous Women Dinner Service that Bell and Grant produced in the early 1930s.

A whole wall in the gallery is hung with the 50 plates, depicting  famous women through the ages, such as Queen Victoria, Anna Pavlova, Greta Garbo and Jane Austen. Half of the plates were painted by Bell and half by Grant on Wedgwood creamware blanks.

Here are a few of my favourites:

 From Omega to Charleston

Aren’t they beautiful? The Famous Women Dinner Service was a joint project for Grant  and Bell, which they began in 1932, commissioned by the  director of the National Gallery, Kenneth Clark. When Clark died, his widow Nolwen de Janzé-Rice took the plates to France. After her death, the collection was sold at auction in Germany, and its whereabouts  remained unknown for years, until the plates were purchased by a private collector and returned to Britain. Now, the plates are available through Piano Nobile and are being publicly shown for the first time.

The collection is priced at a whopping £1million, but there is hope that Charleston will be able to acquire them, as the plates are being held on reserve to give Charleston a chance to raise funds. I do very much hope they will end up somewhere that the public will be able to view them.

Last weekend, I strolled through the pretty streets of Holland Park (mercifully quiet for a sunny Saturday) to the Piano Nobile Gallery to see their exhibition, From Omega to Charleston.

There were also several beautiful paintings by Bell and Grant on display, as well as different ceramics, painted furniture and an embroidered footstool.

I was delighted to get the chance to see this small, but fascinating exhibition, and now I want to plan another trip to Charleston!

~

Get in touch on instagram: @mirandasnotebook and @mirandasbookcase

T&T 59 | Johanna Basford Discusses the Mindful Art of Colouring

Johanna Basford Interview

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

Happy Tuesday! In today’s Tea & Tattle episode, I’m so delighted to be in conversation with the fabulous illustrator, Johanna Basford.

Johanna took the world by storm when her first adult colouring book, Secret Garden, was published in 2013. The book sold a million copies within the first year of publication, and since then, Johanna has gone from strength to strength, producing many more bestselling colouring books and being awarded an OBE in 2016.

Johanna Basford InterviewJohanna Basford in her studio in Scotland, photographed by Hayley Fraser

I love Johanna’s distinctive, hand-drawn ink illustrations, and I’ve collected several of her colouring books over the years.

In our chat together, I ask Johanna how she stays grounded when experiencing such tremendous success, and how she balances her busy working schedule with her family life. Johanna also gives some great tips on what pencils and techniques she likes to use for colouring in, and she shares the inspiration behind her latest book, Ivy and the Inky Butterfly, which charmingly combines storytelling with drawing.

‘Ivy and the Inky Butterfly’ by Johanna Basford. Stylist: Clare Nicolson. Photographer: Yeshen Venema. 

This is a brilliant episode for anyone who loves illustration and the mindful art of colouring, as well as being a truly inspiring success story showing how hard-work and passion really do pay off.

Listen to learn more about Johanna’s journey to success, as well as her latest book and colouring tips.

Christopher Brown’s London Pop Up

The other week, I popped along to Christopher Brown‘s pop-up shop, which is running until the end of November and is next to the fabulous Pentreath and Hall. I’ve long been an admirer of Christopher’s distinctive artwork, and his book, An Alphabet of Londonis a must for any fan of the city.

If you’re in need of some Christmas shopping inspiration, I definitely recommend visiting the pop-up. I picked up an adorable tea-towel (the one with the tipsy robins), and there were plenty of prints, ceramics, scarves, lamp shades, books, cushions and tote bags that would make excellent gifts as well. Afterwards, you could always drop by Persephone Books (just around the corner) for a few presents for any bibliophiles in your life too. And if you fancy a pick-me-up after all that shopping, I’d suggest a glass of wine at Noble Rot or the newly opened branch of La Fromagerie.

I was so pleased that Christopher kindly agreed to answer some questions about the inspiration behind the pop-up shop and his career. It was so fascinating to learn more about his friendship with Edward Bawden, as well as his creative inspiration and favourite London haunts.

***

MN: Would you tell me a little about yourself and your background? Did you always want to be an artist?

CB: I would encourage people to read about my childhood in An Alphabet of London.
Every child loves to draw to make pictures, and I was no exception. My father would sit me on his knee with a large sheet of paper on the table and draw the most intricate scenes. I would suggest a subject – usually a medieval battle scene!

My real ambition as a child was to be a History don at Oxford. Then I wanted to be an archeologist, and then a marine biologist. At school, my two best subjects were Art and History. I applied to both art school and university and was accepted to read History but went for Art – a choice I have never regretted. At art school, boys did graphics and girls did fashion and textiles. I spent time in the fashion and textile department, and, unknown to me, was offered a transfer, but was never told about it! Again, I don’t regret it; as a designer/illustrator, I can still apply myself to other forms of design.

MN: I know that you were an assistant to Edward Bawden. How much did he influence you as an artist?

CB: Greatly – from my first meeting with him in 1979 we got on well. He opened my eyes to not only working methods but books, art and drawing en plein air. We also shared a similar sense of humour, which, for me, is vital in friendship.

MN: What do you find particularly appealing about creating linocuts?

CB: The process – the planning, the cutting and because you’re working in reverse the end result is always a surprise. I’ve been doing it for a long time now, but it is still pleasurable, even if I moan sometimes. The sense of craft is also important. Though I would never describe myself as a great printmaker, the inking up and rolling under the press is still as enjoyable as when I first started.

MN: Who are some of your favourite artists?

CB: So many and many anonymous – Egyptian Art, Medieval illuminations and vernacular and folk art. Mr. Hockney has always been a favourite as has Jean Cocteau. Others include Morandi, Ben Shahn, Matisse, Fra Angelico, Herge, Giotto, Chardin, David Jones, Edward Burra, Edward Gorey…really the list is endless. Mr. Bawden is in there to of course!
There are also so many of my fellow illustrators I admire: Chris Corr, Jeff Fisher, Angela Barrett, Jonny Hannah, Paul Slater, Mick Brownfield, Pierre le Tan, Ian Beck….

MN: I love your pop-up shop in Bloomsbury. Would you tell be a bit about the concept behind it?

CB: It was Diana Parkin who had the idea. After over thirty years of chipping away on bits of lino I have so much work! The idea was to apply it to other materials to reimagine it. Working as an illustrator, too often one produces work that is so ephemeral
(apart from books), in that it’s been for magazines or periodicals that people generally don’t keep.

MN: Which are some of your favourite pieces in the shop?

CB: I suppose “Shadow Bunny” which was a little print I did for myself. My partner David Ivie  copied it on a plate for one of my Christmas presents. So really the little chap started the whole idea of my work on ceramics. My wallpaper “Albion” for St Jude’s has to have a mention as it was Simon and Angie Lewin who encouraged me to think big again.

MN: I love your book, An Alphabet of London. Which are some of your favourite London haunts?

CB: Anywhere by the river and my place of birth – Putney – rate highly. I love the Petrie Collection, the V&A and Ham House. Walking around my home city still inspires and surprises me.

MN: Would you tell me a little about the menswear course you teach at Central Saint Martins?

CB: I teach all years, and it is so inspiring. I have the greatest respect for fashion students and designers – gosh do they work hard! It is not illustration or drawing I teach – it’s about research, presentation, colour and proportion. Hopefully I can inspire then to think beyond the obvious.

MN: What advice would you give to young creatives starting out today?

CB: Don’t give up. Don’t force a style. Draw everyday. Read as much as possible. Look up when walking along a street. Be brave –  try something new. Be passionate about your work. Take advice; sometimes you won’t like what people say, but if you respect them, listen.

MN: Finally, what’s next for you? Are there any future projects or events coming up that you’re able to share?

CB: I am just about to start on designs for a scarf for a wonderful shop on Capri – Laboratorio. My book on England is still something I want to complete, and I have an idea for a book about my travels and friendship with Edward Bawden. It was good to see my Christmas packaging for Gail’s Bakery in their shops. Sometime soon my work will be seen in the Museum of London Docklands, which is exciting! All I hope is that I keep getting asked to do nice projects, make work for myself and have fun doing both.

***

Visit Christopher Brown’s pop-up shop at:
17a Rugby Street, WC1N 3QT
Open for the whole of November, Monday-Saturday 11am-6pm.

T&T 51 | Susan Owens and the Cultural History of Ghosts

Tea & Tattle Podcast, Episode 51 | Susan Owens and the Cultural History of Ghosts

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle podcast, I’m hosting a special episode that’s perfect for Halloween and is bound to get you in the mood for any spooky happenings tonight. The art historian Susan Owens has joined me for a fantastic conversation about Susan’s latest book, The Ghost: A Cultural History, which examines the significance of ghosts in British art, literature, film and folklore.

Tea & Tattle Podcast, Episode 51 | Susan Owens and the Cultural History of Ghosts

In today’s episode, Susan explains how moving to a Medieval house prompted her research into ghosts, and how people’s stories and artwork featuring ghosts offer an intriguing insight into the wider culture and politics of the times.

Tea & Tattle Podcast, Episode 51 | Susan Owens and the Cultural History of GhostsSusan Owens, photographed by Stephen Calloway

I questioned Susan about what she considers to be the earliest ghost stories, which famous literary ghost best represents its era, why seances became so popular in Victorian society, and so much more.

Listen to learn more about the cultural history of ghosts in Britain. 

P.S. don’t forget to subscribe to the Tea & Tattle newsletter for the latest episodes and exclusive news and recommendations from Sophie and me every week.

Creative Crush | Georgianna Lane Discusses Paris in Bloom

Georgianna Lane is one of the photographers I admire the most. I always eagerly anticipate her dreamy images of Paris and beautiful florals on my Instagram feed, and I find Georgianna’s use of light and visual story-telling extremely inspiring.

Georgianna’s work has been widely published in magazines, books, stationery and home decor products, and she’s the author of Paris in BloomAlthough originally from America, Georgianna has spent a great deal of time in Paris, and her photography shows how much creative inspiration she draws from the City of Light.

Miranda’s Notebook readers obviously know me rather well, as I received Paris in Bloom as a gift from the lovely Marion, a regular reader of the blog. It was the most perfect present, and I lingered over each exquisite page of the book as I read it (thanks again, Marion!)Not only does Paris in Bloom feature the most breath-taking photography of Paris and the show-stopping blooms Georgianna finds in the city, it’s also full of useful tips on flower styling and Parisian destinations.

Georgianna Lane

I was delighted when Georgianna agreed to answer some questions for an interview on Miranda’s Notebook. I asked her all about her favourite floral destinations in Paris, tips for photographing flowers, how she runs her own business and so much more. As I’m sure you’ll agree, Georgianna gives lots of fantastic advice in her answers, and now has me yearning for a trip to Paris next spring! I think it’s time to start planning….

***

MN: What first sparked your love for Paris and floral photography?

GL: My passion for both has been part of me for a long time. I’ve been traveling to Paris since I was a teenager and taking photographs well before that so it was a natural progression, given the beauty and romance of both subjects.

MN: How did your career as a photographer begin? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?

GL: Art and creativity were always present in our household when I was growing up. My mother was a musician, singer and painter and both my parents were avid photographers. We were encouraged to read, create and dream. I began writing and taking photographs at a very young age and have continued to do so always.

When I left corporate marketing as an Art Director at a literary agency over ten years ago, I decided to focus on my photography business which now includes my books, specialist stock image library, online shops, licensing and assignment work for major gardening and lifestyle magazines.

Floral photography is endlessly fascinating and always popular. However, it’s a crowded field so I dedicated myself to excelling technically and artistically.

I feel very thankful that I make a living in a creative field and am grateful that my upbringing celebrated beauty and art, as well as the practical aspects of life.

MN: What inspired you to photograph and write Paris in Bloom?

GL: I’ve been visiting Paris since I was a teenager and spending more and more time there over the last six years. My first visit at age fourteen with my Mom introduced me to the city’s parks and gardens and museums, especially those with the Impressionist painters. I loved that the city itself seemed very feminine and that flowers are such a strong influence on the design and architecture. I started working on the concepts for Paris in Bloom about four or five years ago and developed it from there.

MN: Where are your three favourite places to go in Paris to experience its best florals?

GL: I love the Jardin du Palais Royal, which has bright pink blooming magnolias in March and abundant roses throughout the summer, all set against elegant, formal architecture. Flower shops on the walking streets of Rue Cler and Rue Montorgueil always have colorful displays. And nothing surpasses the beautiful cherry blossoms at Notre Dame and around the Eiffel Tower in April.

MN: In Paris in Bloom, you mention how much you admire the Impressionist painters, and your gorgeous photos remind me of their dreamy, floral aesthetic. Is there a particular artist that inspires your work?

GL: I’ve always been very inspired by the Impressionists and the Pre-Raphaelite painters, as well as the great artists and designers of the Arts and Crafts movement, such as William Morris and Sir Edward Burne Jones. Naturally, Monet has been very influential. The romance and beauty of these artists evokes a sense of otherworldly beauty, places that exist on the edge of the imagination that just might be real.

I love romantic and beautiful works in any field and inspiration can be found in poetry, music and nature, too. The peacefulness and serenity of the natural world influences the creation of many of my images. I approach my photographs as if they were paintings, leaving out elements that are modern or distracting to create a scene that allows the viewer to visualize themselves in that location. I strive to create timeless, light-filled, dreamy images with a bit of a magical atmosphere and hope to transport the viewer to a tranquil and beautiful realm.

MN: Do you have a favourite flower to photograph?

GL: Roses are always a favorite, as well as peonies, dahlias, hellebores and narcissus. I also love hydrangea and grow many varieties myself. In spring I have tulips, daffodils, Lily of the Valley, lilacs, bleeding heart and many more beautiful blooms to photograph. In summer, it’s roses, hydrangea, clematis, lilies and poppies.

MN: Would you share some of your tips for photographing blooms?

GL: Absolutely! You can instantly improve much outdoor flower photography by avoiding shooting in harsh sunshine. The high contrast light creates dark shadows on the subject and burns out highlights so you lose the detail in a flower. A slightly overcast day is perfect, with soft, even light, that will illuminate the beauty of the flower and allow all its features to be seen.

If you can’t avoid the sun, you can block it with an umbrella or diffuser to soften the light. And you can always choose to shoot in early morning or early evening when the sun is low. Backlighting can be lovely and give flowers a glowing radiance but again, you have to ensure you don’t lose detail by overexposure. And I always recommend using a macro lens so that you can get very close to the flower and explore its structure and form.

Becoming good friends with your tripod will open up a world of possibilities for flower photography. Even if a photograph has a shallow depth of field for a dreamy quality, having one area of sharp focus, usually on the center of the flower, will give the viewer a focal point and entrance point to the image. To ensure tack sharpness, a tripod is vital.

MN: I know you split your time between Seattle, London and Paris. What are the qualities you appreciate most about these cities in terms of capturing them through photography?

GL: I’ve lived in all three cities and know them well. In London and Paris, I adore wandering and exploring the layers of architecture and history that present themselves. It’s a joy with always something new to discover and learn. As the US base for my business, in Seattle I tend to concentrate my work on our own large wooded property and garden and the flowers I’ve planted there over the years, many of which feature in my images.

I also collaborate with a number of the local flower farms on book and magazine projects so its a seasonal concentration during spring and summer, although I also spend some months during that time in Paris and in London as well. I travel extensively back and forth over the pond from February through June.

MN: As well as a renowned floral photographer, you’re a very successful business woman, running two online shops and founding a horticultural stock photography website. Which quality of your personality would you say has helped you most to succeed in business? Do you ever find it difficult to juggle the creative side of what you do alongside the business?

GL: Thanks so much! I’m very determined and once I set a goal for myself, I don’t quit easily. I think my persistence is a key trait. I truly believe that giving up on a dream is the only reason for failure. But you have to do the work. Dreaming doesn’t get it done. One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Edison: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” I’ve never been good at downtime and usually have many projects going at once.

It is challenging juggling both the creative and business side of my company. More and more my time is spent on marketing, social media, websites, etc. Fortunately, my husband is also full time on our business. In addition to being a marvelous photographer himself with his own successful career, he handles all the finances and travel logistics, which is a lifesaver. You cannot effectively do it alone and expect to expand.

MN: Finally, what’s next? Are there any upcoming projects that you’re able to share at the moment?

GL: I can definitely tell you that more books are coming, beginning in Spring 2018! I’m expanding product lines to include more stationery items, wall art and wearable art. And hope to launch workshops and online training next year. Thank you so much, Miranda!

***

Find Georgianna on Instagram as @georgiannalane and @aparisianmoment, Twitter, Etsy and Facebook. You can also see more of Georgianna’s products and photographs on her website. Paris in Bloom is available to purchase here. You can watch the trailer for the book, which is a visual treat and wonderfully soothing to the soul:

Don’t you think Georgianna’s photography is stunning? Thanks so much again to her for a wonderful interview and for her photographs that add a little more beauty to my days.

Note: all images in this post courtesy Georgianna Lane.

T&T | Exploring Great Britain With Alice Stevenson

Tea and Tattle Podcast | Exploring Great Britain With Alice Stevenson

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle, I’m in conversation with the London-based illustrator and author, Alice Stevenson. Alice has been a friend of mine ever since I first interviewed her a few years ago, but I’ve been an admirer of her work for much longer than that. Alice is an admirably prolific artist, producing numerous illustrations for book designs, special commissions, prints and cards. Alice is also the author of two books: Ways to Walk in London and the newly published Ways to See Great Britain.

In Ways to See Great Britain, Alice writes about her adventures travelling the UK, covering an impressive variety of places from the Orkney Islands to Plymouth. Her musings on the strange, the beautiful and the prosaic that she discovers are delightfully enhanced by Alice’s signature abstract sketches. With an impressive eye for detail, Alice shows you how to bring more intention to your wanderings; always seeking out the hidden treasures that are the rewards of the curious and observant explorer.

Tea and Tattle Podcast | Exploring Great Britain With Alice Stevenson

In our conversation, I asked Alice for her tips and recommendations for exploring the UK, as well as ways to look at your surroundings with a more creative eye. Alice also shared some of the highlights and disappointments from her trips, other books about the UK that inspire her and how her perspective on what it means to be British changed as she got to know her home country better.

Listen to hear great tips on exploring the UK and how to bring more creativity to your travels.  

Mark Hearld’s The Lumber Room, York Art Gallery

I mentioned in yesterday’s post how much I loved The Lumber Room exhibition at York Art Gallery. The exhibition is curated by one of my favourite artists, Mark Hearld, who lives in York with another favourite artist of mine, Emily Sutton. The Lumber Room was inspired by a short story Mark read by Saki when he was a teenager (you can read the story here, and I highly encourage you to do so; it’s a quick, but delightful, read).

“Since I heard Saki’s story I have always been intrigued by the idea of a locked room that contained treasures so wonderful they are beyond what your mind can imagine. In this exhibition I wanted to create the sense of excitement and wonder that you get when you discover the key to the room and see the “forbidden” objects for the first time.”  – Mark Hearld

Stepping into Mark Hearld’s exhibition is indeed like finding a wondrous room stuffed to the brim with intriguing and whimsical objects. The Lumber Room is filled with a wide range of artefacts: toys, ceramics, paintings, clothes and so much more, which perfectly capture the spirit of adventure and curiosity that permeate childhood. Everywhere you look something curious or beautiful catches your eye, encouraging you to stop and linger over every display. I took a childlike like pleasure in the vintage ice-cream stand, the old gloves and uniform jackets that made me want to play dress-up, and the wonderful lineup of rocking horses that were hard to resist stroking.

Mark apparently spent two years researching the objects and artwork included in the exhibition, and I thought his curation impeccable, offering a superb mix of the beautiful and the bizarre. This would be a fantastic exhibition for parents or teachers to take children, as it would be a brilliant stimulus for art and writing projects.

I’m a huge fan of Mark’s artwork, so I particularly enjoyed getting to see so many of his original paintings and ceramics as part of the exhibition, as well as many of the objects, colours, and styles that inspire his work. I’ve been to one of his and Emily’s studio tours in the past, which was also treasure trove of ceramics and paintings, and I remembered seeing some of his ceramic horses then too. Aren’t they exquisite?

After spending quite a bit of time in The Lumber Room, we made our way round the rest of York Art Gallery. I was so impressed by the large, comfy sofas and big desks throughout its rooms that visitors are allowed to use (the gallery does a great job at being interactive, which makes it an enjoyable place for children too).

As one entrance ticket allows you access to all exhibitions for the day, we also saw the current Albert Moore exhibition (on until October 2017). I thought it worth the cost of entrance fee just to see the glorious Midsummer painting. The incredible orange and green used in the picture can only be truly appreciated when seen in person, where the painting glows like a jewel amongst all the other works.

Midsummer, Albert Moore. Image via here.

It’s definitely worth taking time to explore York Art Gallery properly. There is a viewing balcony, from which you can look out over the gardens and surrounding buildings. We didn’t have time to pop into the cafe, but it’s run by the same people behind No.8 Bistro, where we enjoyed a fabulous brunch, so I’m sure it would be very good should you fancy a bite to eat or cup of tea.

The Lumber exhibition runs until 7th May, 2017; the Albert Moore exhibition is open until 1st October, 2017. At the time of writing, a standard adult entrance ticket to the Gallery is £6.81, and children under 16 go free with a paying adult. York Art Gallery is open everyday from 10am-5pm.

Are you a fan of Mark Hearld’s artwork too? Have you ever been to York Art Gallery?

P.S. – Look out for my York Travel Guide (Part 2), publishing in the next few days. You can read Part 1 here