I love every season for their different qualities, but I always greet summer with a great deal of excitement, as creatively it’s such an inspirational time of year for me. The warmth and happiness of long, sunshine-filled days make the cloudy monochrome weeks of winter entirely worthwhile.
After the subdued palette of the colder months, spring and summer bring a kaleidoscope of colour to my beloved Devonshire landscape. It’s an annual joy for me to watch the wild, rugged moors and cliffs transformed by summer’s paintbrush into green panoramas speckled with the friendly faces of dog-eyed daisies and other wildflowers.
Here’s my list of what I find most inspirational about summer and how I truly relish these months:
I so enjoy spending time outdoors during the summer. I go for long walks along the South Devon coast and on Dartmoor with my husband Mike (he has a real skill for finding secret, untrodden paths that we love to explore). I also cherish my daily ambles alongside the River Dart, which runs so close to my home.
There’s an easiness and sweetness to summer living in the countryside that translates into my artwork, particularly my wildflower paintings. I work to capture that special golden quality of light that’s unique to summer, so that each piece of original flower art bursts with the vitality and zest for life that this bountiful season inspires in me.
My flowerscapes are filled with the beautiful blooms that carpet the fields surrounding my studio and come to life in my garden: buttercups, poppies, daisies, bluebells, wild roses and so many others. Summer is the season in which I spend the most time in my garden. My Mum is an incredible gardener – she gardens the way I paint – and she’s my inspiration for turning my small plot of land into a flower-filled haven.
I take a lot of pleasure in working my way through a pile of books in the summer. I recently finished Deborah Levy’s HotMilk and have also become completely captivated by Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels quartet.
Hot Milk transports the reader to the sun-drenched, arid coast of Southern Spain, where I lived in the Alpararaas with my daughter in her early years and tells the story of a complex mother-daughter relationship. Levy’s hypnotic prose lends a dreamlike quality to her tale, and scenes from the book are written with a poetic, almost painterly, quality; I loved the description of characters eating ‘purple dusty figs, the colour of twilight.’ This is a captivating book that will linger in your mind well past the end of the summer holidays.
The Neapolitan Novels would also make a fantastic addition to your summer reading pile. Ferrante’s seemingly effortless storytelling masterfully examines the complexity of human relationships, and I’m fascinated by her description of life in post-WW2 Naples. Working your way through the series is the perfect way to spend long afternoons sitting in the garden with a refreshing drink to hand.
Travelling is a wonderful source of inspiration for me, and this summer I’ve already enjoyed a long weekend in Amsterdam with Mike and am looking forward to camping excursions later in the season. Camping brings me closer to the land and strengthens my connection with nature, which is so special to me, and I have a lot of fun exploring more of the British countryside in this way.
I’m also greatly inspired by other cultures, so I always like travelling abroad, and there’s something about the Dutch way of life that I find particularly appealing. Our trip was partly in celebration of our 5th Wedding Anniversary, and Mike and I had an amazing time hanging out in the parks, eating in fantastic restaurants and exploring lots of galleries.
Port Eliot Festival
Summer is often full of art events, which is another reason why it’s such a joyful time of year for me. In August, I’m putting on a solo show at the Signet Gallery in London, and in July I’m showing works at The Imagianation Gallery in Bath (14th-28th July) and will be at the Port Eliot Festival (26th-29th July).
I always look forward to the Port Eliot Festival, which brings together an incredibly inspirational mix of British contemporary artists and has a fantastic lineup of events and workshops involving wellbeing, food, theatre, fashion and art. The festival takes place on the most gorgeous estate in Cornwall, and it’s definitely a highlight of my summer.
As usual I have an art stall at Port Eliot this year and will be showing some beautiful originals created for the festival, limited edition prints, and more. Do come and say hello if you’re in the area, as I’d love to meet you!