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- Illustrating a Children's Book about Bees
A quick update Right at the beginning of January work started on a new book and I can't wait to post more about illustrating a children's book about bees and share some of the excitement with you! A new website (Saffron Wildlife Studio) has been set up where anyone can visit, especially if interested in bees, nature and children's educational nature books, wildlife and English countryside and gardens. So, as well as updating my own blog about art, kitchen gardens and garden wildlife, and adding to my blog pages here - and all the social media that goes with it - there will be lots to discover on my new website which I will be updating with Valerie Rhenius, bee expert, author and publisher. Illustrating a Children's Book about Bees Progress has been swiftly moving along since January and the book cover is almost ready to submit to The Bookseller Magazine for initial publication. But until the information can be released, along with lots of draft sketches and progress notes, here's a little taster of the style to be used in the book with an example of an apple blossom watercolour and ink sketch by Claire Murthy . Apple Blossom Illustration
- A New Year and a New Book
Read more about my first published book series for children, Robin RoseHip: A Bird's Tale, in the blog post below and check out the books available via the 'Books' drop-down menu, above. The last 2 books in the 6 book series will be published early this year and work on the illustrated version will follow-on. A New Year and a New Book Meanwhile, its a New Year and and New Book for 2023! I am currently working with bee expert and publisher, Valerie Rhenius, on an exciting project, creating another children's book, this time about a honey bee's adventures across the fields, in search of food - a special educational book for children that will hopefully also appeal to the adults who read the books, with beautiful illustrations in celebration of the National Honey Shows' centenary this year, to be launched October 2023. If you would like to follow us as we navigate our way through the creation of our new book, pop over to a new blog at Saffron Wildlife Studio for behind-the-scenes updates, information, observations and inspirations - and come say hi on social media: Blog: Saffron Wildlife Studio Facebook and Instagram @saffronwildlifestudio Twitter @saffronwildlife
- Dinosaur Art
Dinosaur art! I would never have imagined work as a wildlife artist would lead to exploring and sketching dinosaurs for children's art workshops at a prep school in a stunning countryside location. It was a joy to be back in a classroom the other week to run the art sessions courtesy of Berkeley Group for children who were enjoying their summer camp in Cranbrook. The theme of the workshop was dinosaurs and a host of activities were planned for the sessions using various materials to create some colourful collaborative art amongst the groups. Dinosaur art seems a million years away from the usual wildlife art - apart from having never met a dinosaur, it was surprisingly enjoyable painting them and their habitats from the imagination with just a few reference materials and natural props for inspiration - plus some artistic licence of course. It was an incredibly hot day that turned into a dramatic thunderstorm with steamy rain and flooding - perfect weather for some swamp-loving dinos! We managed to get outside for one of the group activities but were rained off for another one - still, every cloud has a silver lining ... birthday cake delivered to the art studio classroom made up for the downpour! The artwork produced by the student groups was super creative but my photos weren't so good as it was such a busy day! So here's one of the dinosaurs that I sketched, enlarged and used as the base for a large collage, with smaller copies for individual collage and/or colouring during the session or to take home along with their activity sheets, depending time and the students' preferences. I quickly added some digital colours to brighten it up this post and I'm looking forward to progressing this baby ankylosaurus further, along with a few of the other dinosaurs that I sketched. Can't wait - they're so cute - that's my kind of dinosaur! Cute or not - researching dinosaurs for the workshops was so interesting; from new names and anatomies to modern-day species - birds are living dinosaurs(!)...so there was a link to my usual wildlife art after all! More information about running an art workshop is over on my blog www.clairemurthy.co.uk.
- Book about a Bird : Children's Book
This month is all about birds, including a brand new book about a bird - for children of all ages. A spring clean is the perfect way to set the wheels in motion for the coming months – it clears out the old, tidies up the untidy, realigns the tracks and reignites the soul! It even allows time to work on an animal story about a bird, a children's book that I wrote a while back! In my last post I mentioned some good news was coming and, so, this is it. My first book is published – and I feel nothing but joy that it has been released from the ever-expanding gathering of notes, scribbles, poems and manuscripts that moves from box to bag, shelf to drawer, to wherever is considered safe - and back again. All about Robin! Robin RoseHip : Feathers and Fluff is the first in a series of 6 books. The first edition is text only (with a few digital pen sketches), with attention on its layout and style - perfect to listen to at bedtime or for added interest for more able readers. I'm looking forward to the second edition of the books which will be illustrated. This should be ready by the first half of 2023 (maybe a bit later...). The next few months are going to be quite busy – as well as progressing the books, the shop will be updated with the garden prints and wildlife greetings cards inspired by spring – hopefully there will be time to get the book illustrations well-underway, prepare and run a few art workshops and, by some miracle, maybe complete other paintings that I have in mind. If you would like to read more, here's the link to Feathers and Fluff book page. Here's the original watercolour sketch of Robin RoseHip - he's wearing his flower crown in this painting; what else would he wear as The Garden King!? The original painting was bought a few years ago as a gift for someone who loves robins - there isn't a more charming Robin than Rosehip!
- Studio Spring Clean
In keeping with this time of year, a big spring clean of the studio got underway over Easter. Work on new garden prints and wildlife greetings cards was put aside while the online shop layout was updated and a few more processes were set up. Other work that has been rumbling on in the background also started to take shape and I'm looking forward to sharing this news soon... More good news is that, despite quite a few dull days this year so far, it was lovely and sunny over Easter, which brought out the best of the garden blossom and increased the outdoor activities, some of which made it into the sketchbook; the garden birds, in particular, have been so busy preparing their nests with small twigs, leaves and whatever else they collect to make their little homes warm. Just this morning, a crow who doesn't live in the garden but does visit occasionally to steal the mealy worms from the bird table, was hardly able to take off with so many twigs in his beak.
- Stationery Inspired by Spring
Spring is the perfect motivation to get painting and create new garden prints, wildlife greetings cards and other beautiful stationery items! It's officially here this week with the equinox a few days ago but for a while it looked like it might not get here in time for the first day of spring. Pretty blossom is growing everywhere; the pink cherry petals are back along the verges, and there seems to be forsythia's bright and cheerful mini blooms in every garden. From the studio, the view is white blossom galore - a full tree of plum blossom just outside and, next to it, the blackthorn's delicate white flowers, all blooming-lovely! The abundance of blossom on the plum tree is attracting huge bumblebees, including the red-tailed bombus lapidarius bumblebee - a frequent and favourite visitor to the garden With the sun comes a few butterflies too - the yellow brimstone, red admiral and peacock butterflies have all greeted spring over the last few days and, with a little more sunshine, my wild honeybees will be back in action, tending the spring flowers and filling the air with their spring-time buzz. There's no better time to start thinking about the garden - it has been looking a bit sorry for itself over the past few months, so I will be tidying it up, adding a few more flowers for the bees, snacks for the wildlife and growing herbs, fruit and vegetables for the kitchen garden. Lovely things from the kitchen garden and wildlife patches to paint over the next few months and welcome inspiration for some more stationery, prints and greetings cards.
- Mother's Day and Spring Lambs
Despite a warm start to the New Year with some fairly mild days and a record-breaking warmest New Year's Day in the UK on the 1st of January 2022, the United Kingdom was plunged into the darkness from stormy skies, for a while. The storms eventually cleared and the weather became its usual mixture of cold stretches and more rain, then warmer days - that sounds a little like spring on its way, so fingers crossed for some uplifting early winter flowers - the snowdrops could be out soon and it's a great time to spot the garden birds before the leaves start appearing on the trees. So there's plenty to inspire some spring greetings cards over the next few weeks - after that I'll be looking forward to adding the new arrivals alongside the wildlife greetings cards and garden prints that are currently in the wildlife and nature stationery shop - hopefully, the spring lambs, ducklings and other sunshine joys are on their way, a timely reminder that Mother's Day has nearly arrived too.
- Garden Stationery
The Studio is open and I'm working as fast as I can to add new items. New garden stationery and prints, including flower, bird and bee greetings cards, are being added. Garden stationery latest updates about garden greetings cards and prints, wildlife paintings and other nature prints and paper products. Hope you enjoy my cheerful second video about the studio.
- Mouse Valentine's Cards
My mouse Valentine’s cards and other garden stationery is being updated daily! Valentine’s day is a joyful celebration of love and friendship that is enjoyed around the world, so it would have been a shame not to include some pretty garden greetings cards designs here that are also perfect as friendship cards! Sending a delightful card with a personalised, hand-written note is a wonderful way to show your appreciation for a special someone. This is my first collection of Valentine’s stationery available now, mainly featuring mice valentine’s cards and garden greetings cards with bee illustrations, which make perfect friendship cards for all! Discover my brand new bee stationery items and related garden greetings cards that will be added to the online stationery shop soon – I'm working as fast as I can, so please bear with me. Here's a little Valentine’s mouse, wearing red boots and carrying a red rose, from the popular Valentine’s Mice cards – this is one of my favourites - guaranteed to bring a smile to anyone who loves mice or cute illustrations! We’re looking forward to adding Mother’s Day cards over the next few weeks, and Easter stationery and prints – by then spring should be well and truly on its way, with the bees buzzing around the garden flowers and hopefully the first signs of the vegetable patch will be starting to come to life! Do visit again to see how we’re getting on or pop over to our Instagram feed - there's a link via our Social Media (top menu bar) for a quick view. #gardenstationery #valentinescards
- New Year's Eve Mice
All those crumbs left over from Christmas must have been enjoyed by the local mice as they returned just a few days later for the New Year celebrations and more festive nibbles! Here's a watercolour sketch of them having fun with the fireworks - to find out what else they're up to, including a few of their New Year's resolutions and what motivates them, why not pop over to my Instagram feed - there's link in the footer for a quick view. On the subject of new beginnings, more stock is being added and I'm excited to be finishing off the St Valentines Day card designs - they'll be in the shop over the next couple of weeks.
- Winter Wildlife Christmas Cards
Making my first few winter wildlife Christmas cards this year created a festive mood, along with enjoying some Christmassy music and too many mince pies; I left some crumbs out for the Christmas Mice to make sure they return next Christmas. Snow was thin on the ground in the South of England but my cards featured penguins, polar bears, reindeer, a fox and a snowman, all with snowy themes that built up a delightful atmosphere in the Studio - it almost became a Santa's Grotto. Here's my 2021 Christmas video.
- Bringing Art to your Heart
I'm almost there, there's stock in my wildlife, garden and countryside stationery shop - just prints at the moment but soon I'll add my new Christmas cards! Over the coming months I hope to get into the swing of posting some blog posts but in the meantime, here's my first video, sharing the beauty of nature as I see it.