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Thursday 29th June 2017Three Years in Prudhoe for the Gallery

Three years ago, I picked up the keys to the gallery, then washeteria, and slept on the floor on a mattress. I celebrated with today's students and a bottle of Prosecco. Very happy with how those three years have gone - and grateful. May celebrate a little more tonight ...

Wednesday 31st May 2017Himalayan Blankets and Shawls from the Gaddi Tribe

I've been visiting people in this welcoming Himalayan community since living there in the 1980s and have now decided to sell blankets and shawls on their behalf from my Prudhoe gallery

I buy from one extended family in a small village, Noli, in the Dhualadhar region, who weave traditional designs from simple looms at home – not unlike clan tartans, I always think. Blankets and shawls are made from sheep the people have reared and wool they've spun, cleaned and woven themselves. 

Gaddi tribes were nomadic - now they settle in villages, but they still move with their livestock to pastures in upper hills during summer and to the foothills in chilly winters. The Gaddi use blankets for bedding, protection, and even as emergency makeshift tents when they're living in the hills with their sheep.  
The Noli villagers sell the woolen goods they create to live - an important supplement to their farming income. It was great to catch up with old friends I haven't seen for a number of years. Their hospitality was second to none. 

One large blanket takes two months to weave and I spent some time in their homes, seeing them work and even trying a little weaving myself (which I was absolutely useless at!). I've been visiting this region for many years and the warmth, generosity and hospitality of the local people has been very humbling. It is a tough, but beautiful region.

The blankets are large and very strong and warm - perfect for summer picnics, bedding and wrapping yourself up in when it's breezy or cold.

Gaddi people have great stamina, walking for miles in the hills with heavy loads on their backs, and visiting them involved lengthy trekking. Spending time with them again gave me an even deeper respect for these people, who survive in such tough conditions, yet are so gracious. 

Gaddi men and women use their shawls to protect their heads and bodies in cold weather. In this country, these strong shawls are also warm enough to serve as small picnic blankets, or to wrap around yourself as you sit outside on summer evenings when the sun goes down.

Thursday 23rd February 2017Painting Abandoned Dwellings - Hidden Treasures

 This blog relates to my painting 'Window' and explains some of the inspiration behind my work.

I'm so often inspired and amazed by what I find in long abandoned, crumbling cottages, farmhouses and barns. The photograph above features items left in an old farmhouse I explored in Huntshield Ford, between St John's Chapel and Daddry Shield in Weardale, which led to my painting 'Window', which you can see on the left. The brace of stuffed grouse surprised me most!


I have found whole cooker ranges, chairs and many personal objects intact in these long abandoned, derelict cottages and farmhouses. I always leave the contents exactly as I find them, and paint what I see, without any rearrangement at all.


It sometimes seems as if the family has just walked away...

Posted on February 23rd 2017 on 04:52pm

Thursday 09th February 2017Original Watercolours

This is an extract from my latest newsletter. Just email me on alison190656@hotmail.co.uk if you would like to receive the newsletters direct, or just browse the originals on this website.
To view the whole newsletter, copy and paste this link - http://us10.campaign-archive2.com/?u=6d36b88598cab0e03c2eca659&id=fef17f96ad
Paul Stangroom Watercolours
I have a small range of original paintings for sale in the gallery. I've been very busy working on a range of different commissions since autumn of last year and so have fewer originals for sale than I used to. Looking at the originals on the walls of the gallery, I realise that many of the subjects I choose feature the scarred or the damaged - such as the ravaged landscape of 'The End of the Line' (above, now more peaceful and healed) or the crumbling 'Wall Fell Farm.'

'Ruffside Farm,'is a derelict farm building (near the historic village of Blanchland and the Derwent Reservoir) that has long fascinated me.  It is currently being reroofed and renovated, I noticed the last time I was in the area. I like to see new life being breathed back into these forlorn and fragile places.

I used the painting of Grove Rake Mine for my small sign at the front of the gallery, because it reflects the history of Northumberland, as well as my own personal history, and is a painting that means a lot to me.

'Wall Fell Farm' caught my eye from the Military Road and I went to investigate it several times in different seasons before finally painting it as it looked one wet, stormy day when the light lit up the buildings in a way that seemed magical. I tried to capture that magic in this painting.

Thursday 09th February 2017An Inspiring Weardale Farmhouse

I painted both 'Window' and 'Tree House' after discovering this derelict farmhouse in Weardale, near St John's Chapel - the two windows are upstairs. 'Treehouse' is the window on the farmhouse's left and 'Window' is on the right. You can see the photos I took originally of the farmhouse below in the collage, and the actual paintings above. 
If you look to the top of 'Window' you will see that it has its very own natural Velux feature! It's one of the watercolours that I enjoyed painting most. And I also like the poem that Noel Connor wrote to accompany 'Tree House' in 'In the Pause of Passing'.  I have copied a short extract below. If you look closely at the painting, you will see the details he is describing:
'...Jam jars on a window-sill
preserved in watercolour,
no more than berry-stains on paper,
a still life ripening
on his autumn easel.'

Tuesday 10th January 2017My Palette


I use a very limited palette and the colours are: Winsor Blue – both red and green shade, Winsor Lemon or Cadmium Yellow (pale) and Permanent Rose. This works well for me and most colours can be mixed from them. Other colours I may use are: Winsor and Newton Neutral Tint, Vandyke Brown, Sepia and Burnt Umber. I also use Rembrandt watercolours and Maimeri – they are very vibrant and great for bright, sunlit scenes.


Whatever brand of paint I use, I still stick to a limited palette. One of the teaching sessions I enjoy most is exploring the range and richness of shades that combining colours makes possible.


Posted on January 10th 2017 on 12:37pm

Sunday 08th January 2017Original Wallpaper Company and the Big Brother House

You never know what a new year will bring. Last month, I selected several of my paintings to be used by the Original Wallpaper Company as wall art. Another Original Wallpaper Company artist, pop artist Jacquie Boyd, has her work displayed right now in the 'Celebrity Big Brother' house.
I look forward to seeing my wallpaper in due course - and to seeing which houses it will live in in 2017. 

Posted on January 08th 2017 on 01:13pm

Thursday 15th December 2016 My Techniques

Visitors to the gallery are curious about how I collect and manage my ideas for my paintings and work on them, so I've decided to write a series of short blogs in response so that visitors to my website can read about different techniques.
This is the first - I hope it's of interest. 
Collecting Ideas 
I use a camera to record the various places I visit and it is a vital tool for the kind of paintings I produce. From this, I will produce a drawing – often on tracing paper as I find the paper surface can be damaged with rubbing out and this is only evident when the paint is applied. I work out the composition of the painting and then carefully trace it down. I will then do a detailed drawing of the scene in pencil before starting to paint it.




The washes are built up in delicate layers, starting with the largest and lightest areas first, then on to the smaller and darker parts of the painting. This process can take many weeks and sometimes months to do and the painting will only come off the drawing board when I am completely satisfied with it.




The application of many washes can soften the initial pencil drawing so I often have to strengthen it at certain stages of working on the painting. I may decide to use waterproof ink to make the lines sharp and clear. Sometimes I will use brown or sepia ink for the reeds and grasses or for the bare branches of trees.

Posted on December 15th 2016 on 10:40am

Thursday 03rd November 2016Stanley Burn Winter Show

I’m celebrating my first Christmas with the gallery open to the public by showing my new painting of Stanley Burn, Prudhoe. I am quite delighted at how things have gone so far, and as a direct result of opening the gallery, I have had my best year ever for selling my paintings, which has far exceeded my expectations.


Almost two centuries after Turner painted Prudhoe Castle and the Tyne River, I am releasing a new collection, led by a riverside Prudhoe scene of Stanley Burn, Prudhoe. I’m also considering painting a series of Stanley Burn watercolours in different seasons in the future.


The painting will be showing in the gallery alongside a Druridge Bay seascape; a watercolour of the North Pennines, ‘Green Door, Riddlehamhope,’ and a new Windows series print, ‘Cobwebs’. There is also has a range of prints, cards, calendars, posters, mugs and books displayed for sale, featuring my paintings - and several other original watercolours on show.


The gallery opened officially in March and I started working from there earlier. 2016 has been busy. I was invited to exhibit with the Royal Watercolour Society in London and sold my exhibition landscape. I was featured in a series of pieces on China Radio International and have been working on a range of interesting private commissions. Also, I teach painting in watercolour and oils to small groups of students in the gallery.


See the show in my gallery at 45, Front Street, Prudhoe – free entry, of course - from 28th November.

Posted on November 03rd 2016 on 10:46am

Tuesday 29th March 2016Feedback on Gallery Opening

Thank you to those of you who came along to my gallery opening at the weekend - I couldn't have asked for a better crowd of people and the atmosphere was fantastic. There was some lovely press coverage, including this interview with David Whetstone in the Journal newspaper.  http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/arts-culture-news/clean-sheets-fine-art-former-11098051 There was a great turnout of new and old friends, neighbours and art lovers (and the party went on until the small hours).  A fantastic day and night.

The gallery is now open Monday to Saturday.

Posted on March 29th 2016 on 03:05pm
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