It’s Okay…

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you,’ Anne Lamott

The four day Easter weekend has made me realise that I need to take some time; time to think, time to replenish the well…to pause…

‘S…l…o…w… it all down. Pause from your full calendar and long task list. Take a moment – or ten – to simply be. To remind yourself that this is life, right here and right now. To reacquaint yourself with your pulsing heart and your incredible body that allow you to do all that you do. To remember that life is precious and fragile and should be lived in love. To remind yourself that whatever is happening or wherever you find yourself in your journey, it is all as it is supposed to be.’

Walk the Earth – Nikki Banas

My ‘River Stories’ artworks have come to a natural hiatus, and I find that I need to look afresh and determine ways to move forward with my interpretation of this landscape – which takes time…and a disconnect…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…so forgive me, for this week’s blog I have cheated…the long read comes from my blog of a year ago… https://carolynjroberts.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/something-for-the-weekend-artistic-inspirations/ where I hope you might find the odd thing to inspire you… (Apologies, for some reason the link to Rachel Sudworth’s Instagram feed doesn’t work (why not, I know not…) so please click here to see her feed…

I don’t know how long this ‘disconnect’ will last, or what direction I will take…I just have to trust my ‘Compass’…

'Let your heart be your compass through the winding roads and twists and turns of life. Whenever you come to a crossroad, quiet down your outer world to listen to what your heart is saying. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right. If your heart is saying not to do something even without a reason, that is a reason not to do it. If something seems impossible but your heart says go for it, go for it. You may not always know where your heart is pointing you towards, but it is always guiding you in the right direction,' - Walk the Earth, Nikki Banas

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope you find some time to follow your compass…enjoy,

Take care,

Cx

P.S. “It’s okay to be a glowstick, sometimes we need to break before we shine,” Anon

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

or, if you can stand even more of my ramblings and musings, arty news, offers and the occasional extra video throw in, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…)

Walking…to Reconnect…

‘Occasionally we must disconnect to reconnect later on,’ – Dominic Riccitello

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Warmer weather has seen an increase in people enjoying the walk along the river; me, growing more anti-social as I get older, well, I headed for a different path, one with less ‘traffic’…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…one where I could switch off, disconnect, not think of anything, even if only for a few moments – just walk…

‘None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the path, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind. When you walk, the world has neither present nor future: nothing but the cycles of the mornings and evenings. Always the same thing to do all day: walk. But the walker who marvels while walking (the blue of the rocks in a July evening light, the silvery green of olive leaves at noon, the violet morning hills) has no past, no plan, no experience. He has within him the eternal child. While walking I am but a simple gaze.’

A Philosophy of Walking, Frederic Gros

And even though it was blustery, the sun playing hide and seek with the scudding clouds, it was good to walk, to just put one foot in front of the other and walk. The fresh green shoots shone in the sunlight, the blackthorn flowers, clusters of stars along the branches, and bird song, everywhere bird song. Even the lichen, from the green gold to the orange, had an extra zing.

In these constantly changing, unusual times, times when it’s difficult to keep up with the latest edict, times when stress and overwhelm threaten, it’s good to walk and simply enjoy the being. And once you have found your rhythm…

'Walking causes a repetitive, spontaneous poetry to rise naturally to the lips, words as simple as the sound of footsteps on the road,' A Philosophy of Walking, Frederic Gros

…there is something quietly meditative about the act of walking. And, after that initial period, that ‘getting into the rhythm’, that ‘settling’ moment, that long exhale, that disconnect, that’s when I start to observe, to see, and when thoughts and ideas come flooding into my mind. It could be odd words or phrases that relate to the landscape, it could be mental notes about colours or the way the breeze rustles through the trees, whisperings of life unnoticed. Or the way the birds flit from tree to tree, proclaiming loudly ‘here I am’…or the changing textures and surfaces underfoot. Slowly, I find my self connecting, or should that be re-connecting to my surroundings and to myself – ‘here I am, this is me, this is what’s important.’

It seems counter-intuitive during this time of furloughs, lockdown and the like, but the first three months of this year have been super busy for me! (Not that I am complaining!!) But it is so easy just to keep on going, riding the wave…or whatever metaphor you choose, until suddenly, as you reach for the same brush or the same paint colour, you realise that you are in danger of producing ‘by rote’ – and, in creative terms, that’s never good. That’s why I find walking helps; to clear my mind, to quieten those voices that threaten to drown out your ‘What if I tried this? What would happen if I did this?’ curiosity. Disconnect in order to re-connect…

And even though my studio week has been filled with finishing the odd thing, taking photos of work to add to my website, packing up books and work to send off to their new owners, having taken some time out, I find plans and possibilities are beginning to percolate, little nuggets of ideas are starting to germinate; ideas that, at present, are vague, intangible…but are ever so slowly becoming more concrete…and that’s so exciting!!

'All the possibilities of your human destiny are asleep in your soul. You are here to realise and honour these possibilities. When love comes into your life, unrecognised dimensions of your destiny awaken and blossom and grow. Possibility is the secret heart of time,' Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, John O'Donohue

Thanks for stopping by!

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, enjoy,

Take care,

Cx

P.S. And to all of you who have sent messages such as this…thank you, it makes my heart sing!! (There are still a few books available on my website…)

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

or, if you can stand even more of my ramblings and musings, arty news, offers and the occasional extra video throw in, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…)

Spring…Breaks…

‘The beautiful spring came: and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also,’ – Harriet Ann Jacobs

Isn’t that the truth!!? Each season has its own beauty; winter’s crisp, cold mornings, glittering with ice diamonds, autumn, the ‘season of mist and mellow fruitfulness,’ and the heady days of summer, with their warm winds, and returning swallows, swooping low over the water. But there’s something about spring, with her lengthening days, increasing warmth…and all the promise held within the green shoots, buds and blossoms that endows such a sense of ‘hope’. And if ever we needed some hope, it’s now!!

The river landscape and the water continue to figure prominently, not just in my art, but in general. There is something so soothing about watching the reflections and ripples. Contemplating each shimmer and glimmer, each flicker and wink, each glittering light; momentary fragments played out on the water’s surface, a fleeting existence, then forever gone…a fluttering memory floating downstream.

'"Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?" That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.' - Herman Hesse

The river has settled to its more normal level after the winter floods; it’s still a muddy brown, swirling, small eddies forming around obstacles, floating debris, bridge supports…leaves circling, faster and faster, eventually disappearing beneath the surface before popping up again, thrown clear of the whirling to continue the journey downriver.

The swans continue their slow patrols, becoming increasingly territorial, flexing their wings and hissing their displeasure at all comers, much to the consternation of the ducks. Wisely the moorhens keep their distance; even the stately heron takes a circuitous route, detouring across the meadow rather than face a barrage of angry hisses and bill snapping.

Overhead, criss-crossing the meadow, an endless procession of pigeons. This increase in ‘traffic’ is discernible, and appears to be a two-tier system; the pigeons at low-level, crows, geese and the odd buzzard in the upper strata. Darting between the two, blackbird, the odd robin and sparrows, whilst in the undergrowth, amongst the tangle of brambles, a wren, hopping from one twining stem to another, beak filled with dried stalks.

'This is the sensory season. Trees are in leaf... It is a green world... Walk through an orchard and you can smell as well as feel the strength of the grass underfoot, new grass reaching tall toward the sun. Boughs naked only a little while ago, then bright and heady with bloom, now rustle with leaf and tingle with the strength of fruition. Listen, and you can almost hear the pulse of sap and the mysterious workings of chlorophyll. The air vibrates with bird song... All the senses tingle, alive with the season as the world itself is alive. Nothing is impossible at such a time.' - Hal Borland

While the signs of spring are everywhere, and a sense of urgency fills the air, inside, in my studio, I have reached a small hiatus.

  • Changing website platform (a huge Big Rock) – tick
  • Write second book and publish – tick
  • Send out newsletter – tick
  • Release River Stories collection – tick

Some paintings sold, and the two concertina sketchbooks flew out of the door! Equally sales of my new book ‘River Stories: Tales from the Riverbank’ have been fantastic – again a flurry of orders, so much so that I will soon have to put in another print order!

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy they are available on my website (available direct from the site for those in the UK. If you are overseas please contact me with regards to shipping.)

For me, the first three months of 2021 have been filled with painting, writing and technology, and now that I have achieved the above, it feels as if I have reached a point where I should say ‘and breathe…..’ So I have taken a little down time, but, as so often is the case, when I look to start creating again, I can hear that old familiar ‘what if you can’t do it anymore’ voice rattling around in my head. What to do? Well, I usually start with some no pressure doodling; random collage pieces, rubbings of white oil pastel followed by a variety of media including water soluble pencils, ink and watercolours…

I have no end goal in mind, just splodging and splashing around in ways that intuitively appeal to me. I have no expectations that these doodles will turn out to be masterpieces; they are just a way of getting started, moving my arm and body, overcoming any fear of ‘I can’t…’ Once dry, I might work a little more into them, and then have a look, see if anything appeals, anything that I can develop. If there is, good, if not, well, they just get added to my box of collage materials. The sole aim is to do something; make marks, scrapes, splatters and swooshes, to have fun…the rest will follow…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘The art of creating something new is more important than the result’ – Anon (any help with citation ?)

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

But this one (I just placed the mount on to see what it looked like) has sparked some new areas of investigation…so, definitely not going on the collage pile!

As ever, thanks for dropping by and coming on a wander with me, both along the riverbank, and in my studio,

I hope you found something of interest.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, enjoy,

Take care,

C

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

or, if you can stand even more of my ramblings and musings, arty news, offers and the occasional extra video throw in, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…)

Exploring…Water…

'And now I am a long brown grass
Fluttering like flame
I am a reed;
An old shell singing
For ever the same
A drift of sedge
A white, white stone
A bone
Until I pass
Into sand again,
And spin and blow
To and fro, to and fro...
In the fading light...,'
Katherine Mansfield

Water seems to be a constant theme flowing through my creativity at the moment. Last week I wrote about my sea-fever – that longing for the ocean, the roar of its waves, the taste of salt in the air. But, as we are still in the grip of lockdown here in the UK, the watery inspiration has to come from somewhere closer to home…

Created from 340 acres of old gravel workings along ‘my’ river, is a network of lakes, woodlands and nature reserves. Above is King Lear’s Lake, one of three lakes in the park; the sculpture is of the final scene in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Even on a chilly, blustery day with clouds scudding swiftly across the sky, it was good to get out and have a change of scenery, albeit some of the residents had a familiar look and sound to them…

This waterscape does however, include some new characters. Yes, there might be the usual swans and raucous ducks, plus a heron, standing aloof, watchful, before cranking up those huge wings to perform a fly-past low over the water’s surface… But in addition, two grebes swam by, movements synchronised like some Olympic swimming duo, and a group of tufted ducks, black and white plumage distinct against the glittering of the water. And they too, seemed to take their cues from each other; first one diving, followed by another and another and another…

The water’s surface, rippling in the wind, echoing the rustlings of the reeds, dancing, swaying…elegant in decay; the music of the waterscape…thank you M for this…

Even my reading this week has a watery theme…

Still only a few chapters in, and already my eyes are opened to new ways to explore and observe water, and not just in oceans or rivers, but even the tiniest of puddles; it’s a whole new language of ripple shadows, glide pools and riffles. Alongside this, is added in details of how Pacific islanders navigate their way across the largest ocean of them all. Exploration seems to be uppermost in my mind, as I also watched a documentary about Ferdinand Magellan and his expedition to find a route to the Spice Islands…

In my own small way, I have also been exploring new materials; continuing to experiment with the Wallace Seymour products I purchased via Janette Phillips

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Here I am using the marble dust ground, diluted with gum arabic and applied in a thin layer onto the 220 gsm Seawhite of Brighton cartridge paper, giving a toothy surface to work on. It’s so interesting seeing how my usual way working, using a lot of water, pigment and ink reacts with the ground when scraped across the paper with an old ‘store card’. Apologies, you can’t really see in the photo, this delicious muted palette of Daniel Smith Tiger’s Eye Genuine and Payne’s Grey, providing random patches of dark and light, and wonderful edges… As you might see though, the work is larger than usual, and I am keen to experiment further with the materials and scaling up, seeing where this goes, if anywhere…all the while trying to keep that same sense of freedom and spontaneity of mark making that I achieve in smaller work. I don’t know about water being the constant theme, I think exploration is running it a close second this week! But whether it’s water or exploration, or both…it’s a reminder to keep trying new things, seeing new places…discover new ways of looking and new ways of working….to retain an open mind…all the while remaining true to my instincts and to what’s important to me…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

'Something Else

To everything there is an antidote,
and if not an antidote,
a replacement,
and if not a replacement,
something else.

For everything lost
there is something other, 
something otherwise
to place in
our rising hope.

Even if just for the moment it takes
to draw our breath,
rise up from our tears,
griefs, failings,
whatever it is that has emptied the heart out.

To open our eyes again to life.

Yes to everything there is an answer,
or if not an answer,
another question searching,
and if not a question craving a solution,
then a peace.

A peace arriving quietly.
And a silence,
a silence, which is also an answer.
And an answer of such magnitude,
that we know ourselves held,

held.'
Ana Lisa de Jong
Living Tree Poetry

Ana Lisa kindly gave her permission to quote her poem here; if you would like to read more of her wonderful poetry, please check out her website Living Tree Poetry… The connections that I make via my art provide such delight…it certainly feels as if I am ‘held’ within a circle of creativity, generosity…and love…

As ever, thanks for dropping by and coming on a wander with me,

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, enjoy,

Take care,

C

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

or, if you can stand even more of my ramblings and musings, arty news, offers and the occasional extra video throw in, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…)

.

A Touch of Sea-Fever…

'The sea is like music.
It has all the dreams
of the soul
within itself
and sounds them over.'
Carl Jung

The weather has been its usual contrary self; a couple of blue sky days followed by grey sky after grey sky… But even the wall-to-wall grey can’t hide the fact that spring is just around the corner; the signs are everywhere. Willow trees have a burgeoning green/yellow aura around them, the meadows show a thickening of green shoots and there is more than a hint of urgency amongst the ducks, moorhens…and the normally serene swans. And out of my eye corner, whilst sitting very quietly, steaming mug of coffee in hand, I see a wren, darting amidst the tangle of blackberry stems…inconspicuous, unlike the blackbirds, perched in the trees, proclaiming loudly ‘watch out, watch out, keep away, keep away…’

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

But even though the river provides its usual escape for me, and with the increasing activity along its banks, more to observe, this week I find that I am filled with a longing to see the sea again… Over a year has past since I last tasted the salt air, felt the sea spray on my face…and listened to its song, the gentle lapping of tides, or wild waves, crashing onto the rocks; a different waterscape with different moods.

'We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature,' Walden: Or, Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau

The launch of my River Stories collection appears, in a way, to be a sort of conclusion, and I think this feeling, along with the ongoing lockdown restrictions, has unsettled me, hence the longing for some new pastures…

'At last he rose, and
twitched his mantle blue:
Tomorrow to fresh woods
and pastures new,'
John Milton

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Travelling to pastures new is still a way off yet, so, in an effort to shake off the ‘blues’, I treated myself to some new materials from the lovely Janette Phillips and her ‘Out of the Blue’ Indigo course…and have been indulging in a little experimentation…

…with the materials and paper format…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

This experimentation can lead to new ideas, and spark off new avenues for exploration, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that, until such time as we can travel again, this will stave off my ‘itchy feet’ syndrome!

Cei Bach Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order,’ John Burroughs

As ever, thanks for dropping by and walking with me along the river…

Enjoy your weekend,

Take care

C

P. S. My River Stories collection is only available, at present, to my newsletter subscribers. (After the 22nd March, any remaining works will be available to all on my website.) I have had some lovely comments about the series and sold some paintings…thank you !!

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

or, if you can stand even more of my ramblings and musings, arty news, offers and the occasional extra video throw in, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…)

Overcoming Everest…

‘Icy pillars of serenity, spun from airy mist, entered my quiet vision in echoes of worlds unknown,’ – The Rose and the Sword, Gina Marinello-Sweeney

The months pass, the seasons roll on…

'Spring drew on...and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps,' - Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

…and there is a sense of hope in the air. Not a Covid reference, although I am keeping my fingers crossed, but hope that spring is unfurling across the land. She teases us with skies of the brightest blue, the sun climbing ever higher, its warmth strengthening with each passing day. Birdsong echoes in the landscape…

And everywhere, there are the unmistakable signs; bright green shoots scrambling through the soil, eager to feel that sunlight, early blossoms, confounding us with their ability to withstand most of the weather the retreating winter can throw at them, and trees, busy revealing their finery. The straw-coloured stems of reeds are giving way, the river bank is waking from its slumber… Slowly turning from grey to white, last year’s four remaining cygnets, paddle forlornly after their parents, who barely seem to acknowledge their presence, focused as they are on nest-building…future hopes pinned to this year’s clutch. Two pairs of moorhens have taken up residence, now engaged in a case of ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’, who can construct their nest first? And overhead, early dawn geese, heading off, their familiar sounds resounding over the landscape…onward, onward, onward…

'Hope'
'If you only carry one thing throughout your entire life,
let it be hope. Let it be hope that better thing are always ahead.
Let it be hope that you can get through even the toughest of times.
Let it be hope that you are stronger than any challenge that comes your way.
Let it be hope that you are exactly where you are meant to be
right now, and that you are on the path to where you
are meant to be...Because during these times, hope will be the
very thing that carries you through.'
Nikki Banas

I’m not quite sure that changing website platforms and rebuilding your site was what Nikki Banas had in mind when she refers to ‘any challenge that comes your way,’ but it certainly has been a big challenge for me. Not being a tech guru, and reading stories of glitches and delays, it wasn’t something I relished facing. It was becoming more of an ‘Everest’ rather than a ‘Scafell Pike’, (no offence to Scafell Pike, but you know what I mean). However, I knew it needed doing. But, by breaking it down into manageable steps, and with a lot of input from my really patient OH, last weekend saw the re-build and transfer complete. Yes, running a website is an ongoing thing, but swapping sites whilst retaining my domain, publishing and going live, that was the ‘big thing’, the rest, well, it doesn’t seem such a challenge now… And having succeeded with this, this hurdle that loomed so large, well, it gives me hope…much as the swans, geese, moorhens and even the raucous ducks look to the future, I just have a little more confidence, a little more hope that ‘I am on the path to where I am meant to be….’

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

New home page of my website….

And, alongside working on my website, I have been finalising details of my River Stories collection, ready for release very soon (initially to my newsletter subscribers). This series has become a labour of love; just as the river has provided me with a sense of balance, I found creating the artworks equally as soothing; I hope (there’s that word again), that you like them too!!

Above are some of the works that will be available…keep an eye out on my social media for more information, and if you have your eye on a particular piece, sign up to my newsletter to get early access….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

'If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a
blade of grass springing up in the fields, has the power to move you,
if the simple things of Nature have a message that you understand, rejoice,
for your soul is alive.'
Eleonora Duse

As ever, thanks for dropping by and walking with me along the river…

Enjoy your weekend,

Take care

C

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

or, if you can stand even more of my ramblings and musings, arty news, offers and the occasional extra video throw in, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…)

The Continuing Story….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

'Everywhere water is a thing of beauty, gleaming in the dewdrops; singing in the summer rain; shining in the ice-gems till the leaves all seem to turn to living jewels; spreading a golden veil over the setting sun; or a white gauze around the midnight moon.' - A Glass of Water, John Ballantine Gough

The changeable weather has produced a range of moods along the river. From sombre, grey shrouds haunted by ghosts, to chill winds, nipping and snapping at fingers and faces, to tantalising glimpses and hints of spring; patches of blue skies, sculpted by the sort of cotton wool clouds one associates with more temperate times.

'There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of Nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and Spring after Winter.' - Rachel Carson

Normally, I love the fact that we have the four seasons, enjoying the differences that each one brings; their own sense of being, their individual moods and beauty. From the abundance of summer, through the ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ of autumn, to winter’s variations on a theme…but I don’t think I have looked forward as much to spring as I am doing this year…

'More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out of the crabapple trees, more than the neighbour's almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving their cotton candy-coloured blossoms to the slate sky of Spring rains, it's the greening of the trees that really gets to me. When all the shock of white and taffy, the world's baubles and trinkets, leave the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath, the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin growing over whatever winter did to us, a return to the strange idea of continuous living despite the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then, I'll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I'll take it all.' - Instructions on Not Giving Up, Ada Limon

February seems to have been the longest month, but just the promise that warmer, longer days, with their twinkling jewels and accompanying melodies, are on their way, gives a scintilla of hope. And in the meantime, I blow a kiss to the solitary magpie, who is oblivious to my wishes, as he hops amongst the freshly emerging meadow grass, shooting angry stares at the bickering moorhens. The swans glide past, a slightly supercilious air in the tilt of their beaks…last year’s remaining four cygnets trailing in their wake. Already though, these parents are making plans for this coming year, unlike us; a nest site has been chosen, a bend in the river bank considered the ideal spot. Only yards from my favourite coffee haunt, I shall observe their success or failure with quiet interest.

The river continues to provide balance; my daily walks along its banks affording me the time to notice all the diverse mood, the changing scenarios, the neighbourhood comings and goings, the tiny details…that bring the continuing story together in my mind and memory, and from there, into my work. And it is this ‘River Stories’ collection that is consuming me at present. Much as last week, there is still work to be mounted, named, added to my inventory, promoted…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…but even now, the story of my river, as I have come to think of it, still plays in my mind; I can’t help but experiment, to keep looking for fresh ways to depict the moods and sagas of this waterscape. The story isn’t over. Don’t give up…..

And one way I do this is by ‘destroying’ old work, work that doesn’t, in my opinion, say what I want it to say. Without much thought, I tear and collage pieces into a sketchbook, adding washes and marks intuitively…

What happens after all this? Well, that’s when the reviewing takes place, looking at what I have created, picking out the elements that I am drawn to…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Experimentation continues…all the while thinking of flow, edges…traits of the river….

And much as the water flows, and meanders, these ideas will trickle into my work…continuing my story…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘…the river sliding along its banks, darker now than the sky descending a last time to scatter its diamonds into these black waters that contain the day that passed, the night to come…’

The Mercy, Philip Levine

As ever, thanks for dropping by and walking with me along the river…

Enjoy your weekend,

Take care

C

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

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Rushing Waters, Rolling Mist…

'A river has a destination. It travels
the land, stopping at nothing.
A stream runs and races. It follows
the path of fate, singing its own song.
A pond snaps paparazzi photographs
in the glimmer of its ripples...'
KLR
'So never ask about the future,
Let the future remain always in the mist.
It should not be made clear. It should
always remain insecure. If it becomes secure,
it is no more the future...it is already past
and you will not enjoy living it.'
Osho

It has been one of those weeks. Some weeks are like the river, flowing, productive, seemingly on a roll; others are like the mist, gently drifting along, in their own sweet way. And then there are the weeks, where everything is much more stop/start with nothing in between – you know the weeks I am talking about.

A Big Rock that’s been weighing me down has now reached the final hurdle, but to me, it’s the most daunting, so I procrastinate. My River Stories collection of work needs titles, but it’s almost as if, having put all of my energy into the creating, the inspirational spark has momentarily flickered, the flame dimmed. Worse, I fear no-one will like the work. Added to this, I have a mentoring session to book, and even though I know this is designed to help me focus and move forward, I fear I will be found wanting… Other tasks await my attention, and although I have them scheduled in my Bullet Journal, it all still feels ‘bitty’ – like I said, it has been one of those weeks…

But, as ever, the constant of the river, has been a source of balance… Waters are receding, the banks re-emerging, footpaths are becoming passable again, albeit with a pair of wellies or stout walking boots. Days are growing longer, signs of Spring continue to unfurl, to blossom in hidden corners, shy, but determined nevertheless, to hold fast, even under the snow and ice of recent days. Birds grace the mornings with their song, growing more noticeable as the season progresses…and as I listen and watch the moorhens, diving in and out of the trailing branches, and the ducks, squabbling inevitably, dabbling this way and that amongst the stems and stands of reeds…searching for nest sites, I am reminded of previous years. Of how the swans had made their nest on a raft of yellow water-lilies, intertwined with added stems and branches, and the ducks similarly, amid the common and sweet-grass reeds that edge the river – only for both nests to be swept away in the swollen waters. And how, in the lives of these birds, and the natural world, there is never a sense of feeling sorry for their lot, of sitting wallowing… Building materials are gathered, nests are reconstructed and the cycle continues.

‘And this is what I learned, that the world’s otherness is an antidote to confusion – that standing within this otherness – the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields, or deep inside books – can re-dignify the worst-stung heart,’ – Blue Pastures, Mary Oliver

And slowly, oh so slowly, I look at my list, thinking all the while of the nests, washed downstream, and of the swans and waterfowl, taking stock, gathering, starting over. Progress is achingly slow, but it’s progress nonetheless…work is mounted, and titles dance, some with purpose, others tantalisingly, just out of reach, the mind struggling to grasp the wraithlike words.

Standing Sentry

Photographs are taken, uploaded. Planned website revamps face their last obstacle. Newsletters await writing, river photographs need selecting, ready to add to my new book project, expressive painting courses require planning, oh and that mentoring session needs booking. But I am remembering the swans…

‘Growth is not a steady, forward, upward progression. It is indeed a switchback trail; three steps forward, two back, one around the bushes, and a few simply standing, before another leap forward.’ – Dorothy Corkville Briggs

River Stories, Book One

…and much like the water, and, fingers crossed, the ducks, moorhens, swans and other residents of the riverside, I will get there…eventually; it might just take a little time. In the meantime I will have to roll with the weeks, whether they flow, drift…or seemingly stagnate, every day is progress. And all the while…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘There is a great good in returning to a landscape that has had an extraordinary meaning in one’s life. It happens that we return to such places in our minds irresistibly. There are certain villages and towns, mountains and plains that, having seen them, walked in them, lived in them, even for a day, we keep forever in the mind’s eye. They become indispensable to our well-being; they define us, and we say, I am who I am because I have been there, or there.’ – N. Scott Momaday

Thank you for dropping by,

Enjoy your weekend,

Take care,

Cx

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

or, if you can stand even more of my ramblings and musings, arty news, offers and the occasional extra video throw in, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…)

Remembered Earth…

‘Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience; to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder upon it, to dwell upon it.

He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it.

He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of the moon and the colours of the dawn and dusk.’ – N. Scott Momaday

'Here is the wind bending the reed westward,
The patch of morning on grey moraine...
I could tell of the splintered sun. I could
Articulate the night sky, had I words.'
N. Scott Momaday

This last year has seen life turned upside down, sideways…any which way you like apart from ‘normal’, if we even know what normal is these days… Now, well into ‘Lockdown No. ???, one thing is abundantly clear – we are all becoming very well acquainted with our local ‘neighbourhoods.’

I am lucky; I live a stone’s throw from this river, where I can walk along its banks, taking delight in its moods. I can watch the wildlife, the birds, the grasses and reeds, the brambles and hedgerows, the blackthorns aged with lichen…all dancing to the rhythm of the seasons… I have been a bystander watching the swans as they raised their brood…wondering what happened as six became four. I have listened to the endless squabbling of the moorhens, interrupted only by the increasingly raucous quacking from their neighbours. The sky has been filled with the evocative call of geese, the cawing of roosting crows, and the plaintive mewing of buzzards, lazily drifting upwards… on those far off early summer mornings. There are footprints in the mud, eerie calls in the night…traces of ghosts. And occasionally, just occasionally, if I am very lucky, there are glimpses of orange and blue, flashing along the river surface.

Yes, I am very lucky to live here and to be able ‘to concentrate my mind upon the remembered earth’ or should that be ‘river’? In all of its guises, be that swollen with rain, shrouded in rolling mist, covered with snow, sparkling with frost diamonds or suffused with golden morning hues, the river is a constant source of inspiration and I take joy in ‘the sounds that are made upon it…the creatures there and all the faintest motion of the wind, the glare of the moon and the colours of dawn and dusk’…(N. Scott Momaday)

Standing by the river, snow and wind swirling, watching the water’s flow and surface reflections, the flakes dissolving…the word that sprung to mind was ‘palimpsest’…

Palimpsest (n.) a manuscript or piece of writing on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing or something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form

…the water flows, life continues…traces are swept away, but the essence is written, re-written, constantly superimposed on earlier vignettes. And so it is with my ongoing ‘River Stories’ body of work. Moods, reflections, shadows…fuel my imagination, inspire memories…

And even though they may end up being covered, I like the idea of hidden layers, memories of what went before…so have been adding words before effacing them with pigment…and ‘painting’ new stories…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

It slowly feels as if a new collection is coming together. I am busy creating work in a variety of formats; from the long landscape river narratives, to portraits of reeds and rushes…to small concertina sketchbooks, as well as toying with the idea of printing another book based on my paintings/photos/writings of the river…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

But for now, it’s time to hunker down; snow is falling, birds are hunched, sheltering…stems shivering, trembling…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…and all the while, the lone fisherman patrols the banks, grey shadow, beady eye, razor sharp bill, ghosts in the gloaming…

'A thousand hills, but no birds in flight,
Ten thousand paths, with no person's tracks.
A lonely boat, a straw-hatted old man,
Fishing alone in the cold river snow.'
Liu Zongyuan

However you’re spending your weekend, I hope you get a chance to ‘touch’ the landscape and listen to the ‘faintest motion of the wind’…

Take care,

Cx

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

or, if you can stand even more of my ramblings and musings, arty news, offers and the occasional extra video throw in, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…)

Glimmers of Light…

Snowdrops - Carolyn J Roberts Artist

'Is it snow or snowdrops' shimmer
Whitens thus the bladed grass,
With a faint aerial glimmer, -
Spring or Winter, which did pass?
For the sky is dim and tender
With an evanescent light,
And the fading fields are white,
White with snow or snowdrops, under
The fair firstling stars of night.

Little robin, softly, cheerly,
Piping on yon wintry bough,
Why have all the fields that pearly
Iridescence, knowest thou?
Did old Winter, grim and hoary,
Aim a parting dart at Spring
As she fled on azure wing,
Or did she with rainbow glory
In his face her snowdrops fling?
Mathilde Blind

I always think of February, with its Imbolc and Candlemas rituals, as bridging the gap between the seasons; yes, bad weather is still a possibility , but it feels as if Spring, with all its delights, is on its way… And nothing is more delightful than noticing those signs and hints…from the hardy snowdrop, angel-like in its purity, to hellebores, bowed under frost and snowfall, but blossoming all the same, and the catkins suspended from bare branches, fluttering gently in the breeze…like tiny lambs tails… And the birdsong, echoing through the trees, and along the riverbank…

Walks along the river have been somewhat curtailed of late; the rains, and recent snowfalls have added to the water levels, and the meadows and footpaths are still flooded – creating inland lakes populated by swans and geese, amongst others… And what is it about the sound of swans on the wing, and the geese in their skeins, calling, calling, that is so evocative….speaking of far-off lands that, confined as we are to our own restricted locale, makes them seem all the more poignant…

“‘Oh listen. Listen!’ A sound like a big crowd a good way off, excited and shouting, getting closer. We stand up and scan the empty sky. Suddenly there they are, the geese, a wavering V headed directly over hilltop, quite low, beating southward…talking as they pass. We stay quiet suspending our human conversation until their garulity fades and their wavering lines are invisible in the sky…”

Wallace Stegner

Even though, like last week, my daily walks have continued to be up the hill, away from the river, its moods, sights and sounds are never far from my mind, flowing into my work, like last week, into my concertina sketchbook and flooding out onto paper…

As with all things, some are more successful than others; there are images that I learn from, images I really think capture my interpretation of the river…and there are others that, well, I chalk up to experience and move on from… And those that I really like, well I get my long-suffering OH to cut and mount them for me…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Slowly, a new body of work is emerging; it has been a long time coming! I recognise that my creativity has cycles, its own ebbs and flows…so I tend not to worry too much if things sometimes dance to their own tune. I know that eventually, all the thoughts, memories…imaginings and inspirations will find their way to the surface…

‘So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing,’ – T. S. Eliot

…and in the meantime…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘The river rushes

to meet the trees

as they gather together

in the moonlight,

their leaves dressed

in slivers of silver.’

Christy Ann Martine

(Okay, so it’s sunlight and not moonlight, but you get the picture……)

Enjoy your weekend.. I hope it’s filled with glimmers of Spring,

Take care,

C

(If you would like to follow me on my art journey, and see behind the scenes images and works-in-progress please follow me on social media…

Instagram – www.instagram.com/carolynjrobertsartist

Twitter – www.twitter.com/CJRFineArtist

or take a look at my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk

or, if you can stand even more of my ramblings and musings, arty news, offers and the occasional extra video throw in, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…)