Alliums, by Sue England

by Sue England, Denmans Artist-in-Residence


Alliums 2, cropped






So now we’re heading for full blown summer – if only the weather felt the same!




After the magnolias, came the tulips and I was particularly drawn to the dark – almost black – flowers which ‘pinged’ so beautifully against the bluish green leaves. I deliberately changed the format of some canvases to explore different compositions, but I always seem to revert to a square, which is actually quite a difficult format. Working directly in the garden brings a different ‘feel’ to the paintings, more spontaneous and ‘loose’ and I managed to resist fiddling with that too much when back in the studio. But the wind didn’t help!

Evening Primrose

Of course, as the spring advanced, there was more and more to see. Colour and form dominate and as I’ve said before, it’s sometimes – no – always, difficult to isolate what it is that particularly grabs the interest on any particular day. More sketching, more note taking, more rejects!

I have now got quite a few ‘vistas’, so decided to really hone in on some detail and concentrate on shapes and overlapping forms. I took the advice of a fellow artist and have wrapped up and put out of sight some of the work from earlier in the year. It’s done; it’s of that time; and I’m NOT going to start toying with it.

Screen Print 1

Screen Print 2

I’ve produced two limited edition screen prints using the same elements but with different compositions and use of colour and may have time for another one. This was a good exercise in stepping away from one media and working within the restrictions of another. It gives breathing space and allows other ideas to develop. I am also playing with collage and want to develop that idea into small canvases which will be interchangeable and invite the viewer to make their own combinations by moving them around – watch this space, or better still, come and see the exhibition in the autumn. More information can be found here.


The developments around the gravel garden in front of the cottage and cleaning out of the pond have been interesting to watch, as has the felling of one of the beautiful oak trees. Fortunately, I had done a painting in the autumn featuring those particular trees.

I am at present working on two larger canvases (1 metre square – that’s big for me) and trying to concentrate on detail but in an ‘abstract’ way. I want the viewer to have to search through the image, to question what it is they are seeing. Does it matter which plant it is or if the colour is a ‘true’ representation? I just want you to respond to the image and how it makes you feel. Does it evoke memories, does it puzzle you, does it lighten your day or make you cross?! Hopefully I can create something that might evoke different responses and create a ‘conversation’ with the viewer.

There is a tutored workshop on 2 August which I will lead – a fun afternoon, I hope. Details and booking can be found here.

Well, back to the drawing board as they say. The exhibition is fast approaching and planning that takes up time. The space available, the shape and size of the paintings and how they might relate to each other – what to reject, what to include, titles, labels …you get the idea! But I will continue to paint and draw as late as I can. The project started on 1st September 2020 and I want it to be about the whole year.

June Drawing 4

Details of the exhibition and other events can be found here.

Sue is recording her experiences and observations about her work at Denmans and elsewhere on her blog and we will include further updates on the garden’s website blog as we approach the exhibition, A Year at Denmans Garden.

For more information on Sue go to @28sueengla0547


The exhibition and associated events are part of #CultureSpark2022, a creative season of events which celebrate the region’s cultural and artistic assets.