Take your pick of 30 themed art trails

30 Themes to celebrate our 30 years of Herts Open Studios, one theme featured on each of those 30 September days. 

Each theme page features a taster video introducing some of our Open Studios artists whose art/ practice relates to that theme. You can then immerse yourself in gallery and individual (artist) video explorations. Every journey is different - who knows what you will discover from the comfort of ... wherever you are.

We also have individually themed flipbooks - if you'd prefer to browse these instead, head to our Themed Art Trail Bookcase

With 30 Themes and just one Open Studios image per participating artist, we definitely recommend you explore individual Galleries to find out more about our artists and their work. Look out for the golden Open Studios fingerprints ...

Celebrating colour -  start this year’s Open Studios in glorious technicolour – bright, muted, complimentary, analogous, monochromatic, primary, secondary, tertiary, warm or cool – the full spectrum takes centre stage today.

Favourite things - see our artists’ personal selection from the abundance of their best-beloved moments, experiences, endeavours, places, objects, people and animals.  Perhaps they’re your favourite things too?

Sketchbook heaven - are sketchbooks diaries, aide-memoires, scrapbooks, functional planning tools?  Are they actual books, scraps of paper, or screen shots?  Do artists use them to record ideas or things/people/places observed, or to try out new techniques?  Look here to see work by those artists for whom sketchbooks are really important.

Let there be light - today we are shining a torch on the work of those artists who are especially interested in various aspects of light – illumination (natural and artificial), transparency, translucency, shades and hues, shadows and reflections.

It's all in the detail - small things are just as important as big things, and concentrating on minutiae needn’t be the devil in the detail.  Look today at our artists’ response to this theme in how they work, on what inspires them, and in their end products.

The shape of things - is a key feature of many works of art – what part does it play in creative output?  Simple, regular, asymmetric, whimsical, over-blown, or small and perfectly formed – they all have a place.

Heroes and Villains - see how our artists have responded to this theme and decide whether they have created heroes or villains, real or imaginary – the choice is yours, as well as theirs!

There's music in the air - not to be confused with The rhythm section (see Monday 14th).  Do artists listen to music while they work? Do they incorporate music in your work? Do they depict musical instruments, dancers, singers? Do they hear music in The natural world (see al o Sunday 27th)?  Have a look and see.

Metamorphosis - is all about change and transformation: from disparate raw materials to a finished piece – doesn’t have to be a sow’s ear to a silk purse, but it could be; from rough sketch to the final work; from one shape to another; from one mood/feeling/emotion to another through the creative process; it could also be a bit of Make do and mend (see also Tuesday 15th).

Looking out – looking in - extrospection (is that a word?) versus introspection; inside-out versus outside-in – it all depends on our artists’ viewpoint.  Look inside today’s flipbook and see what’s there.

Up the garden path - are our artists leading you up it?  Open the flipbook and see how they have interpreted today’s theme.  Are they showing what’s under their feet? Where the path is leading (or misleading) them? What they find when they get there – fairies, a bench, a water feature, a brick wall, a gate, or their workshop/studio?

Little gems - our artists’ interpretations range from details (see also It's all in the detail on the 5th), subject matter (and not just lettuces), artwork size, gem stones, special things the artists hold dear, to precious moments or precious objects.  And if small is not for you, watch out for Big and bold on the 13th.

Big and bold - take a look at our artists grasping the nettle (or paint pot, lump of clay or stone, piece of glass, or almost any other material) and making A STATEMENT.  If this is not your scene look instead at Little gems on the 12th.

The rhythm section - doesn’t just apply to music – see There's music in the air on the 8th for that.  Think of a regular movement or a pattern of movements (see also Playing with pattern on the 19th) – is this how today’s featured artists work?  How does rhythm feature in their finished pieces, do they respond to regular or irregular rhythms, and how do they express that?  Is their rhythm apparent to you?

Make do and mend - think of words beginning with ‘re’: reusing, recycling, repurposing, repairing … ; and don’t forget the up and overs: upcycling, overpainting; as well as patching and piecing, substituting, using found items.  See how our artists go about making do and mending.

Fantasy and fiction - let our artists take you to another world – one of their own making or that of someone else’s. They have been inspired by fairy tales and science fiction; created whimsical creatures, magical landscapes, fantasy characters, and futuristic entities.  Be beguiled!

Mixing it up - blend it, shake it, cut it, stir it, stick it, introduce something unexpected; or just try something completely different.  Our artists have done it all.  Open the book and see for yourself.

Home comforts - as simple as a cup of tea or a glass of wine; some comfy cushions, quilts or throws; flowers from the garden; a footstool or your slippers, a pet – the list is endless.  Pull up a chair and browse those artists who have chosen this theme.

Playing with pattern - if you need a prompt, here is a dictionary definition of ‘pattern’: an arrangement of repeated or corresponding parts, decorative motifs, etc.; a decorative design; a style; a plan or diagram used as a guide in making something; a model worthy of imitation; a representative sample. Go watch our artists at play!

Destinations - today’s theme has been interpreted in different ways: as the end point of a journey – physical, mental, or emotional; or as the purpose(s) for which things are intended.

Tools of the trade - are a constant fascination.  Today we are letting you see how artists use the whole gamut: brushes, paint, clay, wire, stone, scissors, plants, knives, pigments, wire, pencils, kilns, glass, yarn.

Let's go on an adventure - join our artists and take a trip, make discoveries, be intrepid.  Open the book and start today.

Lockdown life - challenge, an opportunity, a chance for reflection, or a flurry of creative activity – here we show you what it has meant for our artists.

Less is more - this could be along ‘small is beautiful’ lines; it could be about what artists take away/erase from what they are making; it could be a numbers game in limited editions; or reduction techniques in various media.  Look also at It's all in the detail on the 5th and Little gems on the 12th.

Toying with texture - if it’s tactile, it’s got texture; if it’s textured it wants to be touched. If you know what this means, this is the theme for you. But what about the use of texture in art that is not primarily meant to be touched – take a look and see.

Curiosities - today our artists are letting their imaginations run free, thinking about unusual/strange beings, places, objects, situations – natural and man-made; and some of them are showing off their ‘treasures’.  See also Fantasy and fiction on the 16th and, perhaps, Little gems on the 12th.

The natural world - is all around us.  Artists’ responses could be realistic depictions of life/nature or abstract expressions of our world and their feelings about it.  And perhaps in some cases natural forms are a starting point for Playing with pattern (see the 19th).

It's completely abstract - here is work that goes beyond a literal and representational depiction of a subject or idea.  Maybe it’s what artists produce when they detach themselves from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances, and embrace different interpretations and perspectives.  Why not see what you think?

It's in the eye of the beholder - or in other words ‘subjective perspective’! The field’s wide open on this one.  Need we say more – it’s over to you!

Past, present and future - are not just grammatical tenses! How do our artists respond creatively to the concept of the known past, the uncertain present (see also Lockdown life on the 23rd), and the unknown future (could be Fantasy and fiction on the 16th)?  Are these three separate sources of inspiration, or one continuum?  Take a look and you decide.