I’ve not been quite on the button with my Weekly Snaps since the Summer for some reason..I’ve been having to play catch up on a few weeks, this being another…anyway, here’s 2 weeks worth of them!
Today started off with the beauty of borlotti beans, which then moved on to greenhouse textures, conkers and crispy leaves on a bike ride…it’s always the things I don’t expect which inspire me so these are some photos of the thought process of today’s composition! See the version of this post with a moving still on Steller here
I am always, always surprised at how long it takes me to organise what seems like something very simple, and then always even more amazed when I think I’ve actually achieved it…but at least now there are tickets available for my Christmas Workshops in Brighton, even though at the moment it seems miles away!
I only have a small place here, therefore tickets are very limited, so if you miss out and would like me to run either a one to one or a small private workshop, please just ask and I can always try and sort something out.
This year’s Christmas workshops will be a little different from last year’s but you can have a look at this post from last December to get a feel for things…
I’m always inspired by textures, and love the juxtaposition of flowers against a naturally rough patina…most of the images are from today and the last week, although it prompted me to look back at, and include some others from over the last year…( aslo see if you can spot my Karl Blossfeldt inspired image )
See the Steller Story version here
This is a catch up of 2 weeks as I didn’t manage to share them last week…
See the Steller Story version here
I’ve been desperate for September to arrive so that I can talk about Autumn and the wonderful sense of change it brings: it’s smells, it’s colours, it’s light, it’s sounds, without feeling like I’m betraying Summer (…I’ve always felt a bit guilty that August is my least favourite month of the year! )
This morning I tried a new cycling route which was so beautiful; passing fields, flocks of little sparrows taking off from hedgerows, tractors in the distance, brown seed heads alongside greenery, a golden edge to the light and soft bird song…
The ride, with the season softly soaking up the countryside inspired me to create something at home… I had picked a couple of thistles and some of the brown seeds above ( I’m not sure what they are ), but I wanted to recreate the feeling with plants from my own garden… I got a bit distracted by tidying up my scruffy window boxes… I like them looking a bit wild, but they definitely needed a sort out, so I added succulents I’ve been growing in pots and some white cyclamen… …and so to the arrangement ( I had also found 3 conkers on the side of the road from my ride when I was nearly home )
Deciding where to go on holiday has never been my forté…I research things a bit, usually heavily relying on images, but then I always get a bit overwhelmed, suddenly convinced I don’t have a clue and just want a magic wand to be waved; all decisions made, rooms booked, flights sorted, and then when the time comes to basically be transported in a Star Trek like way to where it is I have to be in order to relax…( and it’s the pressure to relax that usually cripples me after about 3 days into a holiday! )
So this year, I was definitely enticed by some beautiful images that kept popping up of Hotel Monteverdi in Tuscany…I wanted that nature, the hills, the calm interiors…and of course a swimming pool and fantastic food!
We wanted to split the holiday between a short hotel break in the hills and renting the amazing Casa Guidi in Florence ( which you can see here ) and so we decided on Hotel Monteverdi in Castiglioncello del Trinoro and after a straightforward car journey from Florence airport we arrived at the beautiful village. The hotel is basically the entire village with a collection of stunning gardens and rooms, housed in original rustic buildings, overlooking the Val D’Orcia region of Tuscany towards Montepulciano and Siena.
There are loads of wine tasting and foodie type trips which you can go on, with amazing locations, but to be honest all I wanted to do was quietly read a book in a gorgeous garden, and really I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing hotel garden than this…it was personal, not too large, scented, shaded and very quiet… I’ve always been an early morning person; and the breakfasts at Monteverdi really were the best! Before the sun gets too hot, sitting on the terrace with coffee, orange juice, croissants, pecorino cheese, local salamis and perfectly boiled eggs was my idea of breakfast heaven!
I found the best bit of being in the hotel village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro was quietly mooching around and ‘investigating’, ( as my brother and I used to call it ); punctuating reading and dipping into the pool with short walks, listening to cicadas, watching little green lizards disappearing into walls, smelling the lavender, and just looking at everything…at the views, the textures, the colours, the plants. I find it really difficult to actually ‘stop’ and the practice of really seeing and sensing where I am always calms me down…
Although doing nothing was our priority, we did also drive out to Montepulciano, ( and Chiarentana en route where we tasted absolutely amazing olive oils ), as well as Sarteano, the traditional, local town only 10 minutes from the hotel where we also ate some evenings…
But one of the other wonderful things about this hotel is the space…it’s a village after all, and during peak season in Tuscany everywhere was crazy with people, but Casteglioncello del Trinoro isn’t at all…the village is a complete sanctuary from the bustle of Summer tourism… Apart from their fine dining restaurant there is also the lovely Enotica where you can have a quiet bite to eat, a glass of wine, wonderful cakes and ice creams, ( as well as daily wine tastings! )
And… they also have a Spa!
A spa session in the hot, late afternoon was such a treat, and the only time I have ever laid outside in a carved marble bath, water sprinkled with lavender from the gardens, listening to the cicadas…I think that this was probably the peak of my doing nothing and stopping… But it was the Tuscan sunsets which completely blew me away…I have never seen such wonderful purples and pinks descending over hills, every evening…it was absolutely incredible and like some sort of natural magic trick…
And then to be able to sit in the Oreade Resteraunt in the evening watching these sunsets was amazing.
I absolutely loved the restaurant, and the Maître D, Fabio, was brilliant, as was Simone…they were so helpful and always made our meals feel very personal. On our last night, after the amuse bouche, which were like delicate pieces of taste art, we shared such an incredible local steak, carved for us at the table, with locally sourced vegetables. In fact so much of the food is locally sourced including, obviously, wines and even their beers.
I’m usually predominantly a savoury person, but I have to say that the deserts here were some of the best I have ever tasted…it wasn’t just what they were, it was how they were put together; the combinations of tastes and textures, and their chocolate orange desert is something I would now demand as a last rite!
But, as I’ve said before, it was the pottering at Monteverdi which I really loved…the doing of nothing!
( I found an old Siamese cat there too! ) But one of the biggest treats of all was when Costanza, ( who puts together all the beautiful and very natural flower arrangements at the hotel ), brought me a box of hand picked fruit and flowers for me to ‘play’ with…this was the absolute highlight of my stay!
…and you can see what I created with this box on this post here
So at the end of the week, although we were excited about going on to stay in Florence for the last part of our holiday, it was also a bit of a wrench having to leave our Monteverdi sanctuary…
You can have a look at the Steller Story here and more about Hotel Monteverdi here
During our stay in Tuscany at Hotel Moneverdi, I got chatting to the lovely Costanza at the hotel who was responsible for all the exquisite floral arrangements at the hotel…she completely understood my love for colours, nature, flowers and fruits and the next day this box turned up from Costanza and the hotel…simply for me to play with!
You can see the Steller Story here
…and also a bit of Super 8
You can see the Steller Story version here
Sometimes abstract textures are all that my head wants…they’re simple, and for me very connected to feelings; looking at texture compositions is like an emotional injection rather than a slow release tablet…I’m inspired hugely by texture and strive to incorporate elements of my collected textures within my paintings…( I have another instagram account @outsidesense which is purely texture and more like my photographic sketchbook for my paintings )
You can see the Steller Story version here