Grey But Not Dull………?



Oh the vagaries of a British summer….yesterday, the longest day, was hot and sticky and I was longing for a gentle breeze… twenty four hours later and it is much cooler under thick, grey cloud….

So much grey…made me reach for the charcoal…

I like working with sticks of charcoal; long sticks make unexpected marks that I try to develop without losing the spontaneity…



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‘…after hard rain, sawing the hillside in half

with its chain, or here

where water unbinds

hangs at the waterfall’s

face, and

just, for that one, stretched

white moment

becomes lace.’

(excerpt from The Beck by Simon Armitage)

As an artist (!) my work is all about translating what inspires me, what I see and how I feel into images, but I find myself increasingly drawn to words and the pictures they paint…..

(The above photograph is mine but the words are from Simon Armitage’s Stanza Stones)

Sweltering Summer Sketchbook Workshop…


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Saturday saw me, along with 10 other ladies, attend a super, if sweltering, Summer Sketchbook Workshop run by Helen Hallows at the Long Eaton Art Room.

First time I have been to the Art Room and I can’t tell you how lovely it was to have a space where you felt totally free to cut, glue, splash ink and paint around without worrying about any mess… different from the tiny back bedroom I have at home!

The Workshop was something different for me…not my usual style…but I like Helen’s work, her bold use of line and colour….as well as her art/life philosophy.. so I thought ..why not give it a go..!!

The Workshop concentrated on how and why we use (or not) sketchbooks, ways to overcome ‘New Sketchbook Syndrome’ and some drawing/mark-making/collaging techniques you could use for any subject, not just the still life set-ups in the Room..

I was familiar with some of the techniques….i.e. continuous line drawing, non-dominant hand drawing.. but Helen provided lots of other information, tips and ideas on how she prepares sketchbooks and how she utilises them…

Although the Workshop was pretty full on – Helen stated from the outset that she had a lot information and tasks to go through – I never felt particularly rushed…which was just as well considering the heat…

I did some pretty dreadful drawings in my newly prepped sketchbook…(in my defence they were non-dominant hand, continuous line-drawing not looking..)

…but Helen was full of advice and encouragement… something that’s hard to come by at home, on your own…

A variety of materials was provided and I really enjoyed using the stick and ink – again, this wasn’t new to me having worked with these on my Foundation Course at Grantham College – but that was many moons ago and it’s amazing how you forget these things…..

…and I finished the day with a rather bold take on the peppers….

…so not like me at all…but sometimes it does us good to have a change and try something different…

As far as Helen’s outlook on art and life….well it certainly made me think…and that’s a topic for another post…..

Would I recommend the Workshop – certainly – not only was it wonderful to spend time with some lovely, creative people, I came away with lots of ideas and a new found enthusiasm……and surely that’s the point of a workshop!!

It’s Just A Piece Of Paper…..Isn’t It?

Following on from yesterday’s post I am continuing to experiment… and because these pieces are just experimental I have been using scraps of paper, mostly torn pages from old sketchbooks….

It seems so wasteful to use expensive sheets of paper for experimental work; I should feel free to make marks, splash ink and watercolour around and not worry about the cost..

…but therein lies a problem….the paper is so thin it immediately soaks up the medium and I am therefore unable to push the inks etc around, leading to unsatisfactory results…

…even torn paper from being too enthusiastic with the plastic card or roller. Now, in my logical head, I know that I shouldn’t expect masterpieces, frameable work…these are just experiments after all…but if the surface I am using does not allow me to make expressive marks, move mediums around, then I have just got to overcome this voice in my head telling me not to be wasteful and use more expensive paper…even if I am just experimenting….

..and the proof of the pudding as they say…..the one below was done on heavier weight paper…and I quite like it…..

Taking Stock…..


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All the work for the Exploring Place exhibition at Blue Owl Art is wrapped and ready to go so now feels the right time for a little reflection, taking stock of my work and deciding what to do, where to go next…I am sure the desire to keep going forwards, to keep learning, is something common to all artists and I would be interested to hear what steps other artists take to move on…..

I decided to experiment still using ink, in both neat and diluted form, but applying and making the marks with a roller or card rather than brushes….

….as these are just experiments I used any old scraps of paper and I rapidly came to the conclusion that a smooth surface was better for this type of application – on the rough paper I just ended up scraping/spoiling the surface ….

Some of these efforts were obviously better than others but it’s all trial and error….


I came to the conclusion that I achieved much better results if I didn’t overthink things, just went with my intuition….

As well as experimenting, I have booked myself on some workshops, the first one takes place this coming Saturday – Helen Hallows Summer Sketchbook – I will let you know how I get on. I also booked myself a two day Abstracted Landscape workshop with Caroline Chappell and a life drawing session with Jo Sheppard – hopefully these will both motivate and inspire me, as well as give me the chance to meet other artists.

I also thought I might treat myself to one or two new materials so I am off to find the art catalogues for a browse…..

Don’t forget the PV for Exploring Place is 29th June 7 – 9 pm……you are all very welcome!!

The Final Countdown….


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Well, I am pleased to say that, after a couple of marathon mounting/framing sessions (huge thanks to my better half for all of his help with this), all the work for the Exploring Place exhibition at Blue Owl Art is packed and ready to go!!

I have tried to select work that I feel best depicts my emotional response to the countryside, whether that be The Dark Peaks of Derbyshire or the flat expanse of the North Norfolk coast. I am really happy with how they look…(and as long as I am happy with them that’s all that should matter…)

                                               ‘ Cei Bach’








‘Copsewood’                                                          ‘Tangled’


                                              ‘Dark Peak II & I’








‘Pingle’                                                             ‘Roughet



‘Windswept Sentry’

                                              ‘Boundary Tree’









‘Hawthorn I & II’


                                                 ‘Cow & Calf’



                                                ‘Norfolk Memories’

……but the doubts creep in – doubts that are common to most artists I should imagine….

Anyways, the PV is on 29th June at 7.00pm – you are all very welcome….would be lovely to see you there…..and the exhibition then runs until October!

(Apologies, wordpress seemed to have a mind of its own as regards lining up the titles  under the work….or perhaps it is more likely to be operator error….)