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June 24th, 2020

“I am an aged artist still working – just. My tubes of paint had been left un opened and ignored following a year of unhealth and it seemed to me that the muse had departed .

And then I also felt that there were enough of my art works clogging up peoples’ walls . 

All in all it is easier to sit and read than to gather oneself up to work .

I had just , some weeks before , decided that I might do one more linocut wallpaper design .Then friends  stuck at home started being creative and , not to be outdone , I got out the paints and finished a design of houses taking inspiration from a lovely little book – ” How to look at Houses ” by Will Jones .  

It progressed slowly and was finished just as lockdown started . 

“Woodland Track” . pen on paper .  

The subject is houses without people except a few cyclists to draw it together . It is called “Home” but “Lockdown ” could very well be its title .

When Lockdown did start I noticed that people around had suddenly more time and there was a blossoming of creativity – knitting , woodwork , gardening , game making , inspired child care ; so not to be outdone I squeezed out some paint onto a piece of board , selected some brushes , a piece of thick paper in the absence of a bare canvas and set to . ” Flowers”  oil on canvas .

I then ordered some canvases and tubes of paint online and I was once more in business , swinging between euphoria and reality. “Still life in Lockdown”.

All negativity goes while I am painting   and satisfaction lasts till evening but then the cold grey light of morning has to be faced. “Flowers in lock down ”  oil on board .

I had really intended to be a painter but things happened differently.  ” View from the Garden,” oil on canvas. 

“A Corner of the Garden.” Oil on canvas.

I devised a way of printing wall paper with a large piece of lino printed on the floor , standing on the block to apply pressure .

[A hundred year old lithographic proofing press made things easier and the garage at the bottom of the garden became a studio.]

As a child my passion was for horses and so I drew horses and more horses and luckily horizons expanded at art school . At art school drawing was taught and composition , history of architecture , lettering , lino printing , lithography , book illustration , and more. .  “Barn in Middlesmoor” pen on paper . 

So my first subject 5 years later was Angelica , a plant in the cow parsley family that grew along the river wall . [this is the original lino block and a sample of the printed paper.]

It has marvellously straight stalks and a great variety of leaf forms . We didn’t have a proper garden but pram pushing round the local streets was inspiration enough  in the summer ,  and in the winter I had Richard Hatton’s Craftsmans Plant Book and Stella Ross Craig’s volumes of British Wild Flowers for information. [Shown here a later version of Angelica for sale via Hamilton and Weston Wallpapers.]

After several plant based designs I wanted to do a scenic one . Georgina Masson’s book on Italian Gardens gave me the idea and I made a drawing of an endless stair .

Then I chose a Tudor manor house ; how to choose from among castles , palaces , mansions , temples ,  terraces and upturned boats?  

The choice was made and then the characters that lived in this manor house demanded to be included and there was a story ( with a moral) .

Also Chiswick House . Houses are awfully difficult to put into repeat . I always needed some perspective but then the sky has to join with the ground all the time .

Spot patterns are so much easier so then there came Alphabet , Jugs , Flora and a pagoda .

This London river is a wonder that never palls .

It is subject for drawing and painting with Geese and swans and boats, changing water patterns and this absurd railway bridge .

But I have never been able to put it into repeat .

I do love painting : still life , flowers , portraits . Inspired by Russian icons I have done both a painting  – “St George and the Dragon, ”  oil on canvas).  

 – and a linocut  -“St George and the Dragon ,”  linocut .    

Also drawing anything and everything .

If only one had unlimited time and energy or were driven like Van Gogh , whom I love with undying love ,  there is so, so much in this beautiful world that can keep one working forever .

An ancient divine – Thomas Trahearn said that the first duty of man is to enjoy God’s good world .

I can , of course go on for ever but pictures are better to look at than words .  

The Making of Marthe Armitage, her illustrated book, is for sake with or without a hand-printed wallpaper dust wrapper:  https://marthearmitagebook

www.marthearmitage.co.uk   Marthe’s wallpaper and fabric printing website.

Martha’s grandson, Jacob Broadhurst, sells her framed linocuts including St George and the Dragon : maartprints.com

AND:- The first ever blog  – published in 2012  – on the bibeofbritishtaste: https://bibleofbritishtaste.com/the-best-hand-made-wallpaper-in-the-world-is-by-marthe-armitage

All pictures copyright bibleofbritishtaste or Marthe Armitage/ Hamilton Weston

Very grateful thanks to Marthe Armitage and her family

14 responses to “On drawing, painting pictures and designing a new wallpaper, by Marthe Armitage”

  1. Susanna White says:

    Inspirational, enduring works of art, I never tire of your wall paper

  2. Caroline says:

    A friend recommended that I look at this site, reinforcing why I consider her a special friend: this is uplifting and inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lesley Nott says:

    Such magical work. Thank you for showing us the wonderful paintings completed during lockdown. This has been a rare treat.

  4. Danielle says:

    This is lovely! Thank you for brightening my day!

  5. Mike says:

    Enchanting,really,words fail.

  6. KERRY STEVENS says:

    Inspiring, beautiful and just wonderful!

  7. Jenny Gouge says:

    Marvellous work and life, thank you.

  8. Asher Rozenberg says:

    She is a National Treasure and should be made a Dame!

  9. Penny le Roux says:

    Thank you for this gem of a post on a very special artist.

  10. Brenda Morgan-Klein says:

    What beautiful work and such an inspirational practice. Thank you.

  11. Adrianne Penny says:

    My Grandson counted 489 things on my walls and many chairs…I so related to your surroundings and was blessed by your talent…thank you

  12. Christine Shaw says:

    I went to your exhibition in Chiswick and a talk by you at the V&A. My friend Gillian Lee had told me about your work. I am delighted to have found this .

  13. Christabel Ames-Lewis says:

    Thrilled to have been led to this, Marthe, which I wouldn’t have found by myself. It’s mad e may day to see that you are continuiiong to wrok with paintings as well as the design of houses.

  14. kk says:

    I was sad after a day of teaching on Zoom and this beautiful article lifted me up. What an inspiring approach to art and life, and what ravishing work. Thank you

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