Out and about: Children's Book Illustration Summer School at Anglia Ruskin

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a week long Children's Book Illustration summer school in Cambridge. A week away all by myself to be nothing but creative! 

The aim of the week wasn't to perfect illustration technique, but to create a dummy picture book that we presented to tutors and peers at the final crit (the ultimate 'storytime').  This would be a starting point for us to go away and create a finished book. 

It was an international affair with fellow students travelling from as far as Japan and Brazil just for the course (made my trip down the A1 seem a bit tame).

The week was a whirlwind as we were guided at speed through the process of creating a character, storyboarding and creating final roughs of our own story. This is something that would usually take months and was intensely challenging at times. Tutition was via one-to-one tutorials and created confidence-shattering lows when (inextricable) problems were exposed, and yippee-inducing highs as I found visual and narrative solutions and things fell into place.  The pace of progress was at times breathtaking and all 58 of us who attended came away with a very different story to the one we arrived with, and a totally new understanding of what makes a picturebook work.

Storyboarding and character developement - all at no-time-to-stop-and-procrastinate speed

Storyboarding and character developement - all at no-time-to-stop-and-procrastinate speed

The course was run by Pam Smy of Anglia Ruskin, who was ably assisted by Marta Altes (Author/illustrator of 'The King Cat', 'No!', 'My New Home' and 'My Grandpa'), Birgitta Sif ('Oliver' and 'Frances Dean'), Ness Wood (book designer who has worked with the greats) plus Dave Barrow and Natalie Eldred who are current MA students.  Their feedback was always insightful (and often cut deep!) and usually contradictory, leaving us, ultimately, to choose our own path. 

In addition to studio time, we were treated to lectures on different aspects of picture book production by the tutors and also a guest speech by Chris Haughton ('Oh No! George', 'A Bit Lost' and 'Shh! We Have a Plan').  

Chris Haughton delivering a lecture about his work

Chris Haughton delivering a lecture about his work

Some (!) of the books I brought home with me as souvenirs and inspiration.

Some (!) of the books I brought home with me as souvenirs and inspiration.

Did I see much of Cambridge? Nope - barely left the campus! 

All in all the week was intellectually exhausting, but incredibly rewarding. The range of stories (from the silly to incredibly profound) was fascinating and the inspiration from fellow students can't be underestimated. 

And I shall never look at a 'simple' picture book in the same way again!

(Wondering what my book was about? Ha ha, watch this space! One of the things we learned was not to give away our stories on social media ;))

A B&R London day out: swimming, sketching, eating

A balmy July day in the midst of a heatwave, we managed a rare cultural day together. First stop, after a proper tramp across Hampstead Heath where we met 'one of the infamous dog walkers' (her words) and a jogging Christopher Eccleston (who was very polite and provided directions even though we weren't actually shouting at him at the time, but each other), was the ladies pond. The enforced march by Rolfe meant we were suitably sticky and in need of a refreshing bathe. 

Straight in and what a delight! Fresh smells (and I'm not being euphamistic) beneath the willows and amongst the weeds. We were temporarily 'evacuated' as lightening lit up the distance  - there followed much confused attempts at understanding the 'science' behind such a policy - all present had clearly forgotton any secondary school science they ever had - mid-week outdoor swimming the preserve of arts graduates only?  We were much amused by the human instinct to get out of a pond (water!) to shelter from the rain (water!) under a tiny bit of awning. Personally I delighted in the rain (it was a HOT day) and was pleased to return to the water with the rain beating down around us, making tiny and evocative bubbles on the surface. You don't get that at the local leisure centre.

The idlyllic Ladies Pond in sunshine

The idlyllic Ladies Pond in sunshine

Evacuated swimmers, failing to see irony, huddle under awning to keep dry

Evacuated swimmers, failing to see irony, huddle under awning to keep dry

Pleased to see the geese followed the evacuation order too.

Pleased to see the geese followed the evacuation order too.

The skies brightened and were able to lunch on the banks and do a bit of sketching, trying to capture the lush surroundings of this little idyll. 

From Bloomfield's sketchbook

From Bloomfield's sketchbook

Sketch by Bloomfield
Bloomers sketching at the ponds

Bloomers sketching at the ponds

We had to drag ourselves from the banks as the day was slipping away.

 Next stop was the V&A Museum of Childhood, somewhere we've been meaning to visit for years. It's a shame it's such a nightmare to get to really as it's full of lovely stuff, more suited to nostalgic adults in our opinion than children wanting entertainment. I was rather enchanted by all the dolls houses, remembering how much I loved things with 'little bits' as a child, and there were lots of fabulous characters.

A 'hug of bears' from the Museum of Childhood. Very sweet!

A 'hug of bears' from the Museum of Childhood. Very sweet!

Look at the hams!

Look at the hams!

There's none of this modern nonsense about not terrifying the little ones.

There's none of this modern nonsense about not terrifying the little ones.

Royal memorabilia: love it, even if Di looks a little subdued.

Royal memorabilia: love it, even if Di looks a little subdued.

As ever we couldn't possibly bid farewell to each other without partaking in a big nosh-fest. We happily toasted our day at the wonderful Wahaca in Islington where there was much coo-ing about corn and slavering over cheese. 

Bloomers enjoying the spread

Bloomers enjoying the spread

Rolfe having a scoff

Rolfe having a scoff

Case Study: Chiara & Andrew's Wedding day

After creating Chiara & Andrew's wedding invitations earlier this year, they came back asking us to create accessories for the big day itself (which I had the pleasure in attending, in Umbria, at the beginning of this week).

See below for a run down of everything we designed and made for them, including place names and menus, table numbers, a bespoke guest book, and flip flops!

If you'd be interested in commissioning us to design something for your wedding day, whether it is a simple stamp or the full works, don't hesitate to get in touch at orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com, we love a wedding!

Table plan

Following on from the invite design, we liked the idea of something hanging from a tree, and chose a birch plywood so each 'postcard' would hang nicely. The design, recalling the original invites, was Gocco printed and then handfinished with acrylic paint, while the names were handwritten (at the last minute!).

Andrew & Chiara table plan

They looked quite stunning against the Umbrian backdrop and proved quite a talking point as people gathered to find their names (and catch them as they spun in the breeze!).

Andrew & Chiara table plan
Andrew & Chiara table plan

Table numbers

Living in sunny Sydney and marrying in scorching Umbria, both the bride and groom clearly love the sun, hence the the table numbers. These were handmade and painted using foam board and oak supports (actually rather amazing giant plant labels!).  Unknowingly, they perfectly matched the bride's shoes and bouquet (although I'm sure Chiara was more than aware)!

Andrew & Chiara table numbers (in the studio)
Andrew & Chiara table numbers (in situ)

Place names and menus

We liked the idea of something the guests would wear (rather than immediately discard) so figured that the place names should be tactile and three dimensional. The result, 130 individual wired canvas leaves attached to (Yorkshire) twigs. I was thrilled that guests recognised that this referred back to the invitations, and was more thrilled to see an addition to the bride's dress!  The menus used elements from the original invites.

Andrew & Chiara menu front
Andrew & Chiara menu back
Andrew & Chiara place name leaves
Andrew & Chiara place names and menu
Andrew & Chiara place name leaves (on the bride!)

Bespoke guest book

Because the newlyweds are doing a lot of travelling after the wedding - honeymoon and then eventually back to Australia - they asked from something small that they could take and read on the plane.  The resulting book is A5 in size and bound in dyed green leather. I took the fastening used on the invites as a closure and included the image of the Castello di Montignano (by Holly) on the front page. 

Andrew & Chiara guest book
Andrew & Chiara guest book
  Andrew & Chiara guest book

However, my favourite bit  is the endpapers which I designed especially using the suns from the tables (and from the Italian summer sky!) and the leaf motif and lime green from the invitations and menus.

 

And finally....Flip flops (or thongs, for the Aussie guests) 

I can't take any credit for the idea, which was all the bride and groom's own, but I did knock up a design for them. No excuse not to dance!

Andrew & Chiara flip flops!   

A day in the Typotetum

It's a rare thing that Bloomfield & Rolfe get together, living some 200 miles apart and with the commitments of little person, career, stamps and all the other extra-curricular things we like to do (but don't have time to blog about). So it was a delight when were set off in the blazing heat of mid-May (I made that up, it was the persisitant and freezing drizzle of mid-May) to learn about letterpress at Typoretum near Colchester.

And what fun we had! The inconspicuous purpose-built studio in Justin and Cecilia's garden was packed floor to ceiling with type and presses and ink (and amazing light fittings). Such was the excitement within I omitted to take a photo of the outside, but their set-up was like an episode of 'Relocation Relocation' made real (I'm allowed to romanticise, I'm insanely jealous).

drawers and drawers and drawers of type

drawers and drawers and drawers of type

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After a brief introduction from Justin were were allowed to get stuck in. There was a vast array of metal type available, but the lure and patina of the wood type was too much to resist and we both decided to set a poster.

After only a few minutes I was ready to go: always in a rush!

Jenny's Elbow inspired text

Jenny's Elbow inspired text

Holly's motivational text on the press (not to do with Nike at all she assured us. Hmmmm, is that a swoosh?)

Holly's motivational text on the press (not to do with Nike at all she assured us. Hmmmm, is that a swoosh?)

Rob helped me mix up this wonderful gradiation of ink which I, to be pretentious about it, call 'fresh morning light'. So I was ready to get printing.....

'Fresh morning light' on the rollers.... don't you want to eat it!

'Fresh morning light' on the rollers.... don't you want to eat it!

My type inked up... and that pesky uninked 'D' that caused so many problems.

My type inked up... and that pesky uninked 'D' that caused so many problems.

..... but, as is so often the case in my life, more haste and less speed was required and I can confirm that it's more difficult than it looks! All the attributes that make the wooden type so covetable, make it very difficult to print as it is worn and uneven through use. Many prints later I think I got something I will be able to frame.

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A big thank you to Justin and Rob for their help and patience and providing such an inspiring day and freedom to play with all their stuff, and to Cecilia too for the amazing home cooked lunch!

Bloomfield out and about: A little bit of Litho

This week has been a print frenzy for Bloomfield. After the inspiration of Small Town Ink I headed home to Leicester and enjoyed a great day learning photo plate lithography with (hugely knowledgable) Serena Smith at Leicester Print Workshop.

I've previously dipped my toes in the water with stone lithography (again with Serena), before realising the time involved and the 100 miles between me and a workshop with facilities made it pretty impractical to persue. Whereas working on a stone is a labour of love, photo plate provides instant gratification and results - you can knock up a plate in minutes and be printing very soon after. Most people in the class worked with photographic imagery, but I, hoping to replicate the wonderful textures of my previous lithographic adventures, did some quick drawings on film which I then exposed onto a plate. 

Serena inking up

Serena inking up

Ta da!

Ta da!

My arboreal themed plates!

My arboreal themed plates!

I'm thrilled with the results and inspired to return for a day soon to get an edition going. Just don't ask me to explain how lithography works... I still consider it some kind of dark magic.

Bloomfield out-and-about: Small Town Ink print day, Leeds

Just in from a great afternoon at the Small Town Ink print day at Leeds University, and writing an uncharacteristically prompt blog post while I have half an hour to spare.

It was aimed at students, designers and creatives who lack knowledge of real old fashioned print processes. There was an emphasis on letterpress with workshops where you could make your own print on some large galley proofing presses and small Adana-style presses (Richard Lawrence made derisory comments about the Adana, but the name of his press made of 'proper metal' escapes me*).

Both Print Project and Richard Lawrence  (print engineer "My kicks is getting ink to stick to paper") gave informative talks and had their presses set up for everyone to have a go. They were both a mine of information and it was great fun, I got my hands nice and dirty.  (A great warm up for the Letterpress course Rolfe and I are booked on next month!!).

There were also some tempting prints and zines for sale and I easily disposed of my designated £20. 

Richard Lawrence showing off a  precious Thom Yorke special edition sleeve he printed... only one was ever distributed to some lucky so-and-so who has remained anonymous.

Richard Lawrence showing off a  precious Thom Yorke special edition sleeve he printed... only one was ever distributed to some lucky so-and-so who has remained anonymous.

My first print.... which was, incidentally, nicked by someone when I left it to dry (students, bah). 2nd go wasn't as gloriously bright.

My first print.... which was, incidentally, nicked by someone when I left it to dry (students, bah). 2nd go wasn't as gloriously bright.

on the 'non'-Adana

on the 'non'-Adana

The actual Adana

The actual Adana

Nick from the Print Project

Nick from the Print Project

Richard Lawrence with an Artists book he printed

Richard Lawrence with an Artists book he printed

Lino and wooden type combo

Lino and wooden type combo

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* I've since worked out it was a Sigwalt.

Postcard Project: Bloomfield to Rolfe #6,7,8, 9 &10!

...although to be fair I think I have lost track and quite possibly missed a few. Still, Bloomers doesn't disappoint in the quantity stakes (or quality-of course!) but then - she was in the US of A and what they don't know about quantity you could write on the back of a postcard. Oh......er...

JBtoHR_US1

JBtoHR_US1

JBtoHR_US2

JBtoHR_US2

JBtoHR_US3

JBtoHR_US3

JBtoHR_US5

JBtoHR_US5

JBtoHR_US4

JBtoHR_US4

Bloomfield out and about: Hatch Show Print, Nashville, TN

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Having reached Nashville, I stumbled over this gem yesterday - Hatch Show Print - a fully functioning letterpress poster studio that's been going since 1879, and is still creating hand-inked, hand-printed show posters for big acts today (or for smaller ones, someone's wedding 'save-the-date' was on the press).

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The whole shop was a bit of a print-enthusiasts wet dream - ancient cabinets stuffed floor to ceiling with wood and metal type; archive posters pasted to the rafters. Special images are traditionally hand-carved in wood, or more commonly these days, lino (but wood is preferred by one of the main artists who says she gets a better line and ink saturation with wood).
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As this is the second chance letterpress discovery of this trip the world must be trying to tell me something!
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Bloomfield out and about: South through copper trees, fog, biscuits, grits and cornbread.

After the big lights of New York and the clean efficiency of DC we headed through Virginia and suddenly found ourselves in the south. The sudden change in accent as we checked into our first motel was so surprising I almost choked. We drove the Skyline drive through Shenandoah national park and were wowed by the views and the first tinges of fall.

20121009-211509.jpg Lucky we did because the next day on the Blue Ridge Parkway we had trouble seeing the road and had our own 'Deliverance' moment when the sat nav judged a steep unpaved single track covered picturesquely but perilously in fallen copper leaves to be the best route off the parkway - our Honda civic rental provided little reassurance.

20121009-211706.jpg We celebrated our survival with lunch at the Blue Ridge restaurant in Floyd, VA ('opposite the courthouse' seemed to be the address). No nonsense formica tables and huge portions of barbecue (basically pulled pork in BBQ sauce) served with 'slaw and cornbread followed by apple cobbler and a to-die-for pecan pie. The place was full of locals and several staff members who were off duty. I felt like I was in every novel set in the south I'd ever read.

Ever onwards, we spent the night in Boone, a real mountain town, and temperatures plummeted to near freezing. Dinner at the Hob Nob cafe was delicious.

Next stop Asheville, NC. Packed with art deco architecture, it's something of a cultural anomaly in the Appalachians. It's an arty place full of galleries and interesting shops and notably many people who have moved here for the scene.

20121009-212107.jpg We visited Woolworth Walk, an old Woolworths store now filled with local art and craft (of varying quality, but I loves these photo cards, especially as there were 5 or 6 for each letter)

20121009-211948.jpg and found this amazing book exchange where every second-hand tomb seemed hand-selected on the basis of its cover. Randomly you got a free ice-cream with every book purchase.

20121009-212232.jpg We also spent a significant portion of time in a humungous shoe shop where we started something of a debate between staff and customers about the best places for 'barbecue' in Asheville, Nashville and Memphis - everyone had an opinion!

And finally we ate at Tupelo Honey Cafe on unanimous recommendation from the staff and customers of Tops Shoes. The biscuits were amazing (although being served basically a scone, jam and honey as a starter is just weird) and I finally had grits - not sure I'll be revisiting them soon, probably the most misnamed food stuff ever, but I'm satisfied to have completed the holy trinity of southern carbs: grits, biscuits and cornbread.

To finish here's a little run down of what these foodstuffs actually are: Biscuits - basically a savoury scone, but perhaps a bit breadier. Grits - a bit like porridge or creamed wheat. Savoury slop really. Cornbread - the only one that is how it sounds. A dry-ish, course bread.

Bloomfield out and about: Jocks down the mall; George Bellows discovered; blue skies and afghan lamb chops

Next stop in the Bloomfield road trip was Washington DC. A day on the national mall in searing October heat allowed us to take in most if the main sights.
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The colours of autumn against a blue sky made the Capitol picture perfect
20121008-212539.jpg<br / A sight only improved by a butch* of jocks involved in some vigorous training wearing nothing but the skimpiest of shorts. *insert your own collective noun here.
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After close scrutiny I deduced they were a college football team or some such. Fine specimens and they knew it.
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We found time to pop into the National Museum of Art and an exhibition of George Bellows' paintings prints and sketches. I'd never come across him before. A contemporary of Edward Hopper, he had both a superb sense of colour and line, but also a documentary eye from his work as an illustrator, capturing life in early 20th century New York and Los Angeles with enormous energy whether it be underground boxing, elections, preachers or just street life.
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And also to the sculpture garden where this fabulous metal tree by Roxy Paine glinted in the sun amongst it's wooden cousins
20121008-213357.jpg We also made it over to Georgetown where I ate Afghan lamb chops with goats cheese quinoa and pomegranate maple jus - worthy of a mention as I'm still salivating at the thought of them now.

Bloomfield out and about: A Brooklyn Brownstone, a wedding on the Highline and other NYC fun

Bloomfield is stateside for two weeks so here is a brief report of our first stop in New York City, tying not to dwell too much on the eating, of which there has been much. We rented a Brooklyn brownstone with friends and it was home packed with quirks and original features. The main staircase subsided precariously to the left (but photos never seem to adequately capture); fireplaces were grand and age-worn; grates and floors were shabby but beautiful.

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20121007-222933.jpg We had great fun in FAO Schwarz recreating key scenes from Big on the big piano and with Zoltar himself.

20121007-222213.jpg On Tuesday we attended the wedding of Yee Mei and Stephen on the Highline (a reclaimed bit of elevated Manhatten railway that is now a peaceful and well landscaped park) and it POURED with rain - but the happy couple stayed in good humour and wedding pics with a flurry of umbrellas always look good!

Next day we headed for the institution of Katz's Deli (of When Harry met Sally fame) to overload on their corned beef sandwiches. As we were leaving we were surrounded by 3 New York Jewish ladies, one in her late 60s, the others mid 40s. The conversation went roughly like this and centred in baby Bloomfield (imagine it spoken at high speed with a strong NY accent - think Janice (Oh.My.God) from Friends. Isn't she gorgeous Look at those eyes She's smiling Such blue eyes Look at the shoes Oh, those shoes are so cute The shoes! She's adorable And her hair Just like her daddy's, look No mistake there Red hair, gorgeous She's a little leprauchaun A leprechaun - the green and the hair A little leprauchaun Isn't she good She's being so good You were never such a good baby, I never took you out to restaurants Maybe you were never such a good mother as this lady I walked away wishing I'd recorded the whole thing.

We also dropped into Washington Square where i managed a quick sketch

20121007-223759.jpg and stumbled upon the gem of Greenwich letterpress where I gawped a lot, spent a fair bit and made a mental note to learn how to do it.

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A sunny day at Chapel Allerton Festival

Bloomfield & Rolfe were thrilled to have a stall at Chapel Allerton festival on Saturday, in the heart of Bloomfield's 'hood'. After a week of fretting about the weather, as I watched the torrential rain bounce off the windows day after day, the sun got its act together and blazed all afternoon. Little Bloomfield was in tow, remaining unphased by the loud fairground music behind us (the same can't necessarily be said for her mum). Yes, that's a ride, not an industrial skip!

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All our products were on display and available to order. The undeniable hit were our new range of address stamps on their first outing (available now from www.bloomfieldandrolfe.com), and our range of wooden cards and postcards (soon to be available online). We also did a special souvenir Chapel Allerton hand-stamped card featuring the willow tree and old police station.

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The only downside of the day was that I didn't have time to have a proper look around, although the woodland theme occasionally came past in the form of a be-garlanded infant. I was pleased to see Stacey on the Scamp stall with their super-cute screen printed vests. And I did manage to scoff some pad thai from Sukhothai (yum) and a divine lavender macaroon from Crust & Crumb - a picture of this confection would have been apt here, but the pleasure of eating it was too much!

Bloomfield 'Out and About' - St Ives Sketchbook

I had a week camping in St Ives last week. Not much time for sketching, but managed a few scrawls at the harbour and in Barbara Hepworth's gorgeous garden - as Mr B commented, 'I'd make amazing art if I lived here'.... [caption id="attachment_323" align="alignnone" width="1024"]St Ives Harbour sketch Note the thieving seagull up above. They got not one, but two of our pasties in a single sitting.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_324" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Seagulls and boaters There's something pleasingly Edward Ardizzone about this page.[/caption]

St Ives harbour again

Towards Carbis Bay

[caption id="attachment_327" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Hepworth Garden Done standing, not daring to put my watercolours down on nearby sculpture for fear of reprimand.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_328" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Hepworth Garden I found a seat for this one. Such verdure![/caption]

The Bloomfield & Rolfe Postcard Project

Long before Bloomfield & Rolfe was even thought about, Bloomfield and Rolfe the people set about having an old fashioned correspondence. Real letters, stamps, and spittle to send the missives on their way. It may not be efficient, or particularly convenient, but getting something handwritten through the post, with texture and finger marks and crossings out, is a rare treat and can cheer the gloomiest spirits after a tech-saturated day. We've been lax of late. Blame baby Bloomfield and Rolfe's wedding prep. So we wanted a project that would compel us to get back on the snail-mail wagon, but encourage a bit of creativity along the way.

So, I am very pleased to announce the Bloomfield & Rolfe postcard project is officially open! There are no rules, or limits or deadlines. Just send each other a postcard approximately once a week. We can make our own or buy off the shelf or whatever else comes our way.

We'll post them up on the blog as they come...

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Project: From Russia with Love

June 2010 saw Bloomfield and Rolfe holiday in Russia. After taking in Moscow and St Petersburg we promised each other a piece of art inspired by the trip (we did the same after Sicily in 2003 to great success). As neither piece of art has yet materialised we've agreed to help things along with a deadline: we must both produce our artwork by 30th June when we have our Bloomfield & Rolfe summer meeting. Here are a few images from that trip - I was particularly taken with the folk-style illustration in rich colour palettes was a real dominant aesthetic. (I was surprised that there appears no book on the subject, in English at least).

[caption id="attachment_231" align="alignnone" width="300"] old postcard I picked up[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_233" align="alignnone" width="300"]big chicken Bought off the street from the artist in Moscow

Big cat
Another from the same artist[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_234" align="alignnone" width="770"] From The Cathedral of the Assumption in the Kremlin... All Russian Orthodox churches were stuffed with these sorts of panels which just made me think of comic strips.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_229" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Soviet posters[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_228" align="alignnone" width="1024"] found this one in a fish restaurant (of course!)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_230" align="alignnone" width="1024"] And just for fun.... what do you do outside Lenin's tomb? Jazz hands![/caption]

Bloomfield: Out and About at Temple Newsam

With all the glorious weather I enjoyed a couple of peaceful afternoons in the grounds of Temple Newsam, Leeds, this week. The Rhododendrons were in full bloom creating a riot of colour; even the trusty Hipstamatic failed to capture their magnificence, so I may return this week with my sketchbook and some bright felt tips. They formed a joyful backdrop to the peace of the lake and my most beloved weeping willows. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"]Lake iPad finger painting My first proper attempt at using an iPad as a sketchbook using the Brushes app a la Hockney. Great tool, but pretty useless in bright sunlight (I touched up in front of Eurovision last night).[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_196" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Rhodedendrons Rhodedendrons cheer the soul![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_197" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Weeping Willow - Temple Newsam I love weeping willows. I'm currently working on a new Ex Libris design incorporating this king of trees.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_198" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Sketchbook_260512 From my (old fashioned) sketchbook.[/caption]

Bloomfield: Saltaire Arts Trail 2012

The Family Bloomfield spent a lovely day out yesterday at the Saltaire Arts Trail. It was an inspiring combination of 'open house' exhibitions, activities and a makers fair in the Victoria Hall, with artists, creators and makers on hand to chat. Although I frequently visit Saltaire (I'm a fan of Salts Mill), this was the first time I'd really explored the streets of Titus Salt's model town; we had a map, but chose to wander and look out for the tell-tale red bunting which meant art was within. There was a great sense of community spirit and it was a pleasure to tread the cobbles, despite the unseasonable chill. With mini-Bloomfield in tow we didn't see everything, but got a good flavour. Here are my favourites - landscapes seem to predominate, it must have been the influence of Ilkley Moor, looming in the distance: James Bywood had some fantastic free-hand painterly screen prints of local scenes.

Brimham Rocks - James Bywood

Ian Swales combined my twin obsessions of wood and birds to create some beautiful sculptures out of found materials that were full of energy. I failed to take a picture, but his 'Pheasantly Surprised' sculpture is something I would have taken home with me if i'd had a spare £400. There was a rather fine ostrich too.

Ian Swales - bird

Catryn Henderson - I have to mention Cat as she's the reason we visited yesterday. She has a real way with paint and captures the mood of the Yorkshire landscape effortlessly. Of her new ones, these are my favourites...

[caption id="attachment_161" align="alignnone" width="300"]Path to Top Withins (Wuthering Heights) Path to Top Withins (Wuthering Heights)

View over Dentdale
View over Dentdale[/caption]

Sunlight On Closed Lids had some enviable designs and some of the best quality printing I've ever seen. I stood over Mr Bloomfield and suggested I might like a birthday card...

you light me up

Helen Hallows combines painting, collage and stitching to create colourful landscapes. She also had reproductions on ceramic tiles, and prints which she had hand-stitched so they were all unique, making even her reproductions utterly desirable objects that you want touch and feel. After seeing them I think I need to get my sewing machine out .

Helen Hallows_Sunrise Helen Hallows_Evening

A special last mention goes to Yvonne Carmichael and Andy Abbott who had created a 'Saltaire Cat map', including a spotting guide, likely locations and photos of each individual feline. An inspired piece of frippery.