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Introducing an Exmoor Red Stag painting by Melody Hawtin

A Father’s Love a Red Stag painting

A Father’s Love is a painting of an Exmoor National Park Red Stag. These are the largest wild animals in Britain. These majestic animals roam freely in the hills just a short walk from where we live in Porlock.

The painting Melody is introducing is a Giclee print on canvas that she has enhanced with oil paint. The frame is a float frame in black with gold edge. The painting is available on our website, please follow this link to view.

We are just a week away from Easter Sunday and it seems an appropriate time for Melody to describe her painting and her thinking behind the painting.

Melody studied Art and Art History at Winchester School of Art. It is her love of Art History that permeates all of her paintings. On this occasion she is able to combine this with her love for her Christian faith in Jesus.

The talk is quite unscripted and unrehearsed and we are aware of a few mistakes. We felt in the interest of the spontaneity and flow that we would not redo the video. We hope you can agree that you are more likely to find a herd of deer than a flock and that the other mistakes just give us something to smile at.

You can find out more about Exmoor by following the link to the Exmoor National Park site. But, we both agree this is one of the least discovered gems in England. Exmoor has a beautiful coast and lovely landscape and is an ideal inspiration for an artist or photographer.

Melody hopes you enjoy her talk.

24ct Gold Leaf to Enhance your Original Painting

Applying 24ct Gold Leaf to an original painting or giclee print. In this video Melody is working on “Crossing The Channel With Angels”, this is a giclee print that she previously finished with oil paint and is now adding the gold leaf as per the original. These are brilliant techniques to take a giclee print to a new dimension. Follow this link to view the previous video where Melody painted over the giclee print with oil paint.

During the video Melody will be talking about her paintings and how she applies the gold leaf. Melody often uses gold leaf on her paintings and will describe how this is relevant to her work.

Applying the gold leaf

When is a Giclee print not a Giclee print

Today we join Melody as she hand paints a Giclee print on canvas

Welcome to Melody’s studio. Today Melody is hand finishing a Giclee print on canvas with oil paint. Please look out for our next vlog when Melody will be describing how she applies 24ct gold leaf to this painting. Today we join Melody, as a fly on the wall, we get to see how and where she works. Whether an original painting or, in this case a Giclee print on canvas, Melody works with her music in the background, and surrounded by her paints and many paintings. We hope you enjoy these videos and find them interesting and informative.

Join Melody in her studio

About Melody’s studio

Melody’s studio is in the centre of Porlock a working village in Exmoor National Park. We found the studio in an old Tannery, as you can see it has high ceilings and is much bigger than you can see here. Melody has many paintings on the walls, some in progress and some still wet, the smell of the oil adding to the atmosphere.

The studio is open most Saturday’s or by appointment. It is quite an experience visiting the studio.

The journey to Porlock brings you into Exmoor National Park, as you approach you can get a sense of what Melody paints and her inspiration. Exmoor is set on the coast overlooking the Bristol Channel towards Wales. Here the National Park merges with the sea, making this a unique setting for an artist.

We believe that this unique setting with it’s clear unpolluted air gives a special quality to the light. We know that artists in Cornwall, especially St Ives, talk about the light. Here on Exmoor we find a similar light, but perhaps a bit softer. Combined with the rich colours of the landscape, the gorse, heather and bracken, we find a richer spectrum of colours. Both Melody and husband David are inspired by these colours and are privileged to work here and to capture this in their work.

To see some of Melody’s work please view her paintings on this site, but Melody has more work in progress and much does not appear online.

To view more of Exmoor National Park please view the website.

Melody almost always paints with her Christian music in the background, this is the case with this video. We have not added a sound track and hope this is not a problem to the artists. Music: Mighty to Save by Hillsong; From the Inside Out by Hillsong; Here I am To Worship by Maranatha Praise Band, thank you for your inspiration.

Stretching a Giclee canvas print

Part 3 of 3 of stretching a Giclee canvas print I will be producing the finished canvas print. In Part 1 I covered printing and protecting your canvas print. In Part 2 I covered preparing the stretcher bars ready for stretching.

Now you have printed your Giclee print, prepared your stretcher bars and are ready for the final step. I always find the process, whether printing on paper or canvas an exciting process. Whether a photograph or a painting I find each step from viewing the image on a screen to holding up the finished product seems to add dignity to the image.

Stretching a Giclee canvas print

Giclee printing an exciting process for the artist or photographer

I remember the first print we produced, Melody and I kept looking at it, not believing this was a flat image. We kept coming back expecting to find that the image somehow had the texture of an original painting. I think part of this is the accuracy of the original image. I have always scanned paintings rather than photograph them. Scanning produces a very large image, sometimes approaching 1 gigabyte. The result of this process is that I have an image that is perfectly in focus, but more than that if I zoom into the image I can see all the swirls and colours that are in the original.

Future blogs and YouTube post

This giclee print is for a customer order and Melody will be transforming it to a mixed media painting. To be honest we never quite know what to call these paintings, they are more than a giclee print and with enough work become originals in their own right. I am currently videoing the process of applying oil paint. Once dry Melody will be applying 24ct gold leaf to bring the painting to life. Keep a look out for our next blog which will show Melody at work in her studio.

You may like to look at our YouTube channel, some relates to art or photography, other posts relate to events I have photographed in our village and some to our travels on Exmoor. I hope you find these interesting.

Assembling stretcher bars for your canvas print

In Part 2 of 3 I will be assembling stretcher bars for your canvas print. In this video I am using stretcher bars from Lion Pictures. I have used several manufacturers but find these to be readily available. I like these stretcher bars as they are well constructed to avoid warping.

The stretcher bars, although in metric, are sized in 2 inch steps. For Melody’s original paintings this is fine but for giclee prints you will need to size the canvas print according to the available sizes.

In part 1 I dealt with printing the canvas and protecting it with lacquer, if you have come to this video first it is well worth looking at this. In part 3, I will be stretching the canvas print to produce the finished picture ready to hang.

Assembling stretcher bars for a square print.

I started my journey in Giclee printing when Melody and I formed Melody Art in 2003. At that time the process was relatively new and it was quite rare for an artist to self publish. Using this form of printing, researching techniques and obtaining materials was much more difficult. Now the technique is known and used by many artists.

Over the years we have met many artists and have found many to be very helpful. Using YouTube and this blog is a great opportunity for me to equally helpful and free with the experience I have gained during this time. So, I hope you enjoy this article and find it helpful in your journey.

Melody Art Gallery Summer Exhibition

Summer 2021 at Melody Art Gallery will feature paintings by Melody, photography by David. Also featuring guitar music by Simon who will be playing on Saturdays during the summer. Melody will be painting in her studio which will also be open, her studio is close by to the gallery.

The gallery is situated in Porlock, a lovely working village in the heart of Exmoor National Park. This is a beautifully inspirational place for an artist and a lovely holiday destination. Exmoor National Park has abundant wildlife, is one of the only parks that extends down to the sea and is at the start of the South West Coast Path.

The gallery will be open on Saturdays and at other times we are available to meet you or by appointment in our studio / gallery. We can be contacted via email. Melody paints a variety of subjects which you can view on our website. We have many original paintings some of which are on the website and are added as time permits. We also offer Giclée prints on paper or canvas of many of Melody’s paintings. All pictures can be shipped within mainland UK at not cost, other locations are charged at cost price.

We do look forward to welcoming you to Porlock and hope that the paintings and photographs give you a glimpse of this stunning location.

Porlock in Exmoor National Park, Popup Saturday by David

Porlock, like everywhere in England has suffered a year of lockdowns due to COVID.  The good news is that the villagers have got together to form a recovery group to help encourage people back into this beautiful part of Exmoor National Park. This is popup Saturday 1, subsequent popups will be held on the first Saturday of the month through to the autumn.  My part in this is to photograph and video the events and hopefully if you are reading this encourage you to come along.

The first video leads us nicely into the flavour of the events, a bit of fun while supporting the local shops and businesses who have struggled and survived lockdown. The stalls, although not local traders are bringing a bit of something different to Porlock without directly competing with the shops.

Sarah Shorten is the founder of “Stacked Wonky”, more in future videos but in brief a theatrical group working in the community with children and many of the musicians in this blog. Sarah has been leading the work on this initiative, one of several to promote the village. Here she gives a brief summary of what she has been doing.

Apple juice, a model of a shepherds hut or even a full size shepherds hut and how about a bit of Accordion music to go with it.

Duncan McCanlis, chairman of Porlock recovery group shares his view of what he would like to achieve on behalf of the village.

Danny runs Freecycle in Porlock and tells us of his heart for the environment and how he can help the village achieve a greener footprint.

Good Vibe Veg, get involved grow vegetables and share the workload with others.

Giclée printing on canvas

Part 1 of 3 Giclée printing on canvas, in this example I am using a Canon printer, Hahnemuhle Artist Canvas, original Canon pigment inks.

I started my journey in Giclée printing when Melody and I formed Melody Art in 2003. At that time the process was relatively new and it was quite rare for an artist to self publish using this form of printing, researching techniques and obtaining materials was much more difficult. Now the technique is known and used by many artists.

So what is a Giclée printing on canvas

We see many prints, allegedly Giclée prints, but it is a case of buyer be ware. Having an inkjet printer and sticking in a bit of copy paper does not produce a Giclée print. Firstly the printer is an inkjet printer like many everyday printers, the difference starts with the quality of the inks and papers used. The full definition of the process is covered by The Fine Art Trade Guild, although we are no longer members we do follow the guidelines they publish.

For me the process starts when the image is captured, I scan all our paintings, cameras were not sufficiently accurate back in 2003 and I still have issues with taking photographs of art work. Part of the scanning process is to produce an image that is colour calibrated and can be sent to a printer to produce consistent results.

The next stage is to have a printer that can accept colour profile information from Photoshop or any other high quality image package, and can also accept profile information relating to the paper or canvas being used. Our printers have always used pigment inks although dye based inks are used by some printers. Printers have changed over the years, the Canon printer I use has 12 colours, my previous printer had 7, both produced consistent prints with colours almost identical to the original.

The next choice is the paper or canvas type. I have for many years used Hahnemuhle papers, they have always been expensive but since Brexit have become even more expensive. There are now many sources of papers and canvas and it is worth looking at samples and choosing a surface that suits your particular style, we use etching paper and a matt canvas. The paper as defined in the process should be of a particular weight, off the top of my head the paper we use is about 200gsm (grams per square metre) and the canvas is 340gsm. In addition the papers are coated so that the ink is not absorbed into the paper. Should you try printing on ordinary copy paper you may be able turn up saturation on the colours to approach something like the original, but in truth the paper will be absorbing much of the ink and will be muting those colours.

The papers should be supplied with their own colour profiles ensuring that the print looks the same from one paper to the next, alternately one can have custom profiles produced that take into account the idiosyncrasies of your own printer.

The print shown in the video is “Purple Headed Mountain” and is a limited edition print of one of Melody’s paintings. The painting is of Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Exmoor National Park, and was painted when the hill was covered in heather and gorse.

In part 2 I’m going to be stretcher bars together.

A Journey up Porlock Hill Toll Road in my MGTF by David

A drive from Porlock up the scenic woodland toll road to the AA box at the top. This is a beautiful landmark route on Exmoor National Park, a must do while visiting. Built to provide work for soldiers returning from the Napoleonic war of 1840 and also to provide an easier route up Porlock Hill, the steepest A road in England. This is the journey up the hill, but don’t miss the journey down which is perhaps even better. The road is just over 4 miles long from Porlock and is used by walkers, runners, cyclists, it is closed occasionally as a rally stage and sometimes for vintage cars.

The Gardener’s Office at The Lost Gardens of Heligan – David

Two photos from our time exploring The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Taken at different times, but that is what is special about revisiting a location, it is almost new but each visit seems to make more and new connections and memories.

The first photo is of the gardeners office, in itself I may not have taken this although I am glad I did. This is a photo with a story and a very strong emotional connection. Towards the end of our stay I had half a day to wander the gardens on my own, in truth I find it very difficult to take photos with Melody or Monet following, I just don’t focus, ha! ha! couldn’t resist that.

At the time of this visit they were celebrating the First World War and the staff who had gone to fight and give their lives. As I arrived at the gardener’s office I found a large photograph outside with a write up of why this was there. The photo had belonged to the elder brother and had been on his wall until his death, he had survived the whole of the war and beyond, but his younger brother had not been so fortunate.

The photo and write up described how the younger brother arrived towards the end of the war and was a picture of him dressed in uniform and ready to depart. This young man, to the best of my memory, was under 5 feet tall, he had a back pack that would have weighed over 80 pounds and a rifle with bayonet attached that was so much taller than him that it was almost comical. He didn’t survive long and was never found.

So, as I entered the gardener’s office I was quite emotional, brought up on stories of the war that my grandfather told me. Perhaps it is a good thing to connect with a subject, not that you would have guessed the story from this photo.

The Gardener's Office in The Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Gardener’s Office

My other photo is close to this and I am trying to remember if it is the outside of the office, but I am not sure, I think not. We do love visiting Heligan, it is such an inspirational place and draws you in, as an engineer I love the Victorian ingenuity, no electric heaters or other modern answers, theirs were simple yet brilliant.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan - The outside of the gardene's office
Heligan Gardens – The outside of the gardener’s office