Beautiful Florence

As well as being the perfect place to enjoy a risotto and an Aperol Spritz on a sunny evening (on one of those cute outside tables), Florence’s pretty streets are also home to some wonderful architecture, history and art!

One of the main places to visit would be the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as Il Duomo (Dome).

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This remarkable cathedral stands tall over the city and has the biggest brick dome in the world; it was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, who didn’t actually leave any blueprints or the design of the dome, so there is still a mystery of how the masterpiece was built.

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It was fascinating going into the Cathederal and going up into the dome. We went up flights of stairs into small doorways and walkways until we reached the viewing platform at the top. So naturally, we took lots of photos of the view, and this gorgeous photo was born:

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To get the best view of the city, take a wander up Piazzale Michelangelo’s  hill and watch the sunset from the big steps. You’ll see the stunning blue hills and mountains and how they contrast with the orange and peach buildings in the distance and the iconic dome, standing proud in the middle of it all. We spent the evening walking around, looking out at the pretty landscape and the apricot sky. Below, are some photos of the view at night:

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One of my favourite places in Florence is the Ponte Vecchio Bridge;  it is a medieval bridge that goes over the Arno River, and jewellery is sold along it behind beautiful old shop doors. During the day, the bridge is packed with people glancing at the sparkly items in shop windows and by night, when the shops are closed, people sit on the bridge walls and listen to a man playing his guitar in the warm evening street.

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Exploring this exquisite city was wonderful; I even loved little things like walking around with a banana gelato and spending the mornings sat outside a café with a custard croissant, soaking up the artsy atmosphere. Something about this place made me very happy. When we left, I felt delightfully inspired to write and paint my many photos I had taken during my time there.

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If you fancy a cute Italian break with stunning views and buildings, Florence is definitely the place to visit- you’ll get lost in its beauty.

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I also found a shop with my name on it!

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Below is a watercolour inspired by Florence’s incredible Dome. You can find more of my art work on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccafreemanartist/

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Collaborating with Cooking New Stories

Cooknst (Cooking New Stories) is a great place for those who enjoy cooking and all things to do with food and culture! It first started when three friends came together and since then, they have blossomed into a wonderful platform filled with foodie stories and experiences for us to enjoy!

‘We want to sprinkle our recipe and inspire others to connect by the love of food’

Last year I was really excited to be asked to collaborate with Cooknst by painting some food themed watercolours for their social media pages. Over the last few months, the founder, Daniela, has been giving me a range of fun and interesting topics and I have been painting something for each of them.

These are some of the themes:

Good morning

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A food that puzzles me is…

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Wishful thinking

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What I love most about winter is…

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Once I finish each painting, I send them over to Daniela, who has very kindly been posting my paintings onto their Facebook and Instagram pages, along with some lovely messages.

One of my favourite themes would be ‘A taste of Spring.’ As soon as this theme was mentioned to me, I instantly imagined a lots of vibrant, colourful fruit and vegetables and it inspired me to paint this piece:

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I also really enjoyed the theme ‘September favourite flavours,’ I chose to paint carrot and coriander soup because it made me think of starting to wrap up warm as it gets a bit colder. Its auburn colour reminds me of falling autumn leaves.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Cooking New stories and I’m looking forward to the next exciting topics!

Spend your evening with a nice hot cup of tea and have a scroll through their website:

http://cooknst.com/

Check out the Cooking New Stories Facebook Page here:

https://www.facebook.com/cooknst/

…and this is their food-filled Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/cooknst/?hl=en

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Porridge and Cornflake: The making of my little story

I’ve always wanted to write and illustrate my own book ever since I was little, so I thought it was about time I brought that idea to life. A lot of my inspiration has come from Beatrix Potter’s beautiful watercolours and Quentin Blake’s wonderfully sketchy drawings; I tried to take little specks of their styles, and blend them with some of my own.

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First of all, I needed to write a story; I spent a train journey to Lancaster jotting down the plot to the story on my phone, the tale was based on a real house with chickens and one of them was actually named Porridge. At home, I hand wrote pages of the story on A5 sheets of paper- I drew faint lines with a ruler so that my writing was a little straighter.

Then, I spent a few evenings creating watercolour illustrations for each page of writing.

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I enjoyed illustrating each page of writing, I felt that it brought the story to life more. One of my favourite illustrations would be the one where the chickens are being chased by the dog, I wanted to really show how scared the chickens were as they were being chased around the garden! Each painting took from around half an hour, to an hour to complete. I sketched the drawings out first and then added watercolour to them later on.

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Once I had finished the paintings, I took them into work, scanned them and edited them (I had some help from the wonderful James with the editing). I then created a PDF of my story in the order I wanted it to be in. I used an online printing company to turn my PDF into an actual little A5 landscape booklet; they sent me a selection of paper samples so that I could choose which ones I wanted to use for the pages of my book. After a few days of deciding, I had finally chosen to go with a glossy front cover and matt inside pages. I was then ready to order my books!

It was an exciting moment when my books arrived, It was so lovely seeing lots of copies of my book piled up in a cardboard box. Even though my story hadn’t been officially published, it’s the closest I’ve been to it… so far! I loved siting at the table, flicking through the fresh, glossy pages, whilst sipping on a rooibos tea.

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I enjoyed the whole process of making my little children’s’ book and I can’t wait to create another one.

A good friend of mine, Karis Lambert, has created a comic book recently and it’s filled with lots of fantastic illustrations:

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Have a little look at some more of her artwork here: https://www.facebook.com/KarisViola/

A Winter of Dog Painting

I love painting animals; over the last few years I have started to develop my style of painting more, focussing mainly on animals and nature. In particular, I have painted peoples dogs as commissions, which is something I have really enjoyed doing.  Last year, I was delighted to be asked by some dog owners to paint portraits of their pets so they can display them on the walls of their homes. I thought it was such a lovely idea, so I spent many frosty evenings in the dining room, painting different types of dogs: Westies, Collies, Cocker spaniels, I even painted our Labradoodle, Harvey!

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After work, I’d set up my paints, make a  cup of tea (in my llama mug) and then I’d spend the evening bringing photographs of pets to life the best way I know how: watercolour.

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What I like most about painting peoples dogs, is hearing their motive that goes with it. Some people simply want a little painting of their dog on their living room shelf to smile at, while others have different reasons:

  • The painting is for someone’s birthday, a family member who is very fond of their dog.
  • The painting is for their dog’s birthday (I’ve also painted a cat for a cat’s birthday!)
  • It is a token to remember and cherish a lost dog.
  • A moving home present.
  • A Christmas present (I spent a few evenings last year by the Christmas tree sketching dogs, whilst snacking on quality streets!)

The Westie became one of my most popular dogs to paint:

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When painting a dog, I usually start painting their eyes first, along with any other dark parts of their face. I have to make sure I bring out the dogs personality through their features and through their expression. I also have to make sure that I paint the dog’s fur correctly and the colours I use must be just like ones in the photo I’m painting from. It’s a lot of pressure getting the portrait right; you want the dog owner to look at it and really see their furry family member on that watercolour paper looking back at them!

For dogs with white fur, like the Westie, I blend purples and blues to create shadow and to make the strands of fur in their coats stand out. I often embellish each piece with a few paintbrush splats as a signature finishing touch!

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I have continued to paint other pets as commissions, including cats, ducklings and even tortoises! I love watching how the paintings seem to bring smiles to people’s faces- and that’s one of my favourite things about art.

If you haven’t already, feel free to check out my art page on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/rebeccafreemanartist/

I will be posting more articles on art soon!