The Fairy Barge

'The Fairy Barge' - painting in watercolour and gold leaf by Nancy Farmer
‘The Fairy Barge’ – painting in watercolour and gold leaf by Nancy Farmer

I have been doing a lot of painting and rather less updating of the blog lately, getting a collection of paintings together for my Ilminster Exhibition – ‘A Westcountry Bestiary’. Another one I finished early this year and have yet to show you is this: “The Fairy Barge”. Don’t ask where this odd little group sprang from, I couldn’t tell you, I simply started off with the idea of a barge (as in a flat-bottomed boat suitable for shallow waterways) travelling along the drainage ditches and rivers of The Levels. Of course they are not usually spotted, because they are fairy barges. Swans can see them though.

This is a royal barge, of course. As to the motives of the Fairy Queen and whether she is overly fond of swan feathers, I leave that to your judgement.

Painted in watercolour (mostly Prussian Blue), with a few details finished in gold leaf and shell gold. Shell gold, if you are wondering, is astonishingly expensive gold watercolour paint which is made entirely of pure gold, bound together with a little gum Arabic. I bought a quarter pan once, for I think about £40 our of sheer curiosity. I don’t think I’d buy it again, it is not really as impressive as its price tag, but I do get a certain satisfaction in using only real gold paint if I am mixing it with gold leaf as well. One day, when I run out, I may attempt to make more out of the left over dust and floaty bits from the gold leaf I have saved over the years.

The strange characters of the Fairy Barge
The strange characters of the Fairy Barge
The barge man
The barge man
The Fairy Queen
The Fairy Queen
The Fairy Queen's wings in gold leaf, and the worm she is offering to two slightly suspicious swans
The Fairy Queen’s wings in gold leaf, and the worm she is offering to two slightly suspicious swans
Shell gold, and fragments of gold leaf
Shell gold, and fragments of gold leaf
More pollarded willows
More pollarded willows


  1. Ohhh. Fun!
    I love that extra sparkle and shimmer of real gold. Wow.
    Sooo coool.

    1. Thanks! 🙂 love gold too, on artwork. I have some mica powder that looks fabulous but in my mind I know it’s not actually made of gold. I am such a materials snob 😉 (but then, I used to be a goldsmith!)

      1. Dang. A goldsmith? You’re just endlessly fascinating. That is neat!
        Oh the things I would have done differently if I had it to do over again. There are so many amazing creative things to get into. Art truly is a part of so much 🙂

        1. Haha! maybe not as impressive as it sounds – Not making my own designs and a lot of soldering and filing and sanding, but yes, it was gold, and platinum!. However if it makes you feel any better I feel the same like I might have done it differently a second time..

          1. …and Platinum??? Oh stop. Now you’re just bragging! Heh-heh 😉

            1. Haha, oh yes, and sometimes pink diamonds. Platinum is not bragging, pink diamonds are 😉 …but I was making someone else’s stuff, not my own designs, and to be honest I didn’t set the diamonds, I just sanded, filed and polished precious metal. My one regret was not spending about £1000 (wholesale price) on a TWO CARAT (!) diamond when i probably could have persuaded my boss to let me buy it at trade off his diamond dealer. The diamond was brown, the colour of a glass of dark rum, but sparkly 🙂 Two carats is huge, and it was not expensive (for a huge diamond), because of its colour, which made it an unusual curiosity rather than anything else. Unlikely to ever see one like that again and never get a chance to buy wholesale now anyway. But a thousand pounds was still quite a lot for a fancy sparkly toy 😀

  2. I hope the queen didn’t steal that worm from Medusa! Wonderful, love it! You are in a ‘blue’ period at the moment?

    1. Yes, it does seem to have been a blue period! Not with the current piece though, maybe it just ended. Curiously this is also my ‘Worms Period’ – worms in 3 pictures in a row too! 😀

  3. Very…ethereal. Of course, gathering swans’ feathers is a non-destructive process.. The worm, though…definitely committed. Beautiful picture.

  4. Reblogged this on The Hiding World and commented:
    You have a unique style. I like it.

    1. Thank you Denny! And especially thank you for the re-blogging 🙂

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