Something for the Weekend…

‘…and the smooth waves grow sullen in the gloom
and wear their threatening purple; more and more
the plain of waters sways and seems to rise
convexly from its level of the shores;
and low dull thunder rolls along the beach…’

Augusta Davies Webster 

Mother Nature is a fickle, tantalising being…teasing us with hints of spring; the burgeoning warmth of the sun’s rays, the first longed for blossoms, the early chorus of birdsong…and then, in response to our temerity in thinking winter was sliding gently past, she sends storms to batter and pummel, to flood, to wash away…

A week’s break in Cornwall was sandwiched between Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis; imagined mornings or afternoons spent sketching by the sea (I don’t mind wrapping up against the cold…but gales and rain…!!) didn’t materialise…instead, interspersed between the rain and hailstorms, along with the odd burst of sunshine, were hasty walks along the coastal path, being mindful not to get too close to the edge, taking photographs and making mental notes of shapes and colours…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Wild winds and seas at Dinas Head were exhilarating, with spectacular waves crashing onto the rocks…but the strength of the wind made filming difficult…what you don’t get from the photo below is the power of the wind and sea, the spray and the noise…at times, just standing was problematical….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

The conditions brought to mind one of my favourite paintings, Snowstorm by JMW Turner…

See the source image

and this led me to other paintings depicting storms… such as Clearing Up – Coast of Sicily  by Andreas Achenbach…which depicts the most fantastic light…aren’t those waves fantastic?

Andreas Achenbach, Clearing up. Coast of Sicily, 1847

…and although this one by Friedrich is a ‘sea of fog’…it has that feel about it….

See the source image

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog – Caspar David Friedrich

I would love to say I was emulating Friedrich’s enigmatic pose, looking out over ‘the Sea’…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist…but in reality, I was just trying to stay upright…whilst taking in the views and colours….

The weather did mean that we spent quite a lot of time in cafes…and galleries…where I came across this fabulous book…’Sea and Shore Cornwall’ by Lisa Woollett

Not only is it full of the most wonderful photographs, it is also packed with fascinating facts, anecdotes and incidentals on, as the subtitle states, the common and the curious…

I never knew there was a system, the Forel-Ule scale, as used by oceanographers, to classify the colour of the sea…

A lover of language and words, there is a section on Cornish words and phrases…ba-wiggle (spider crab), piddifogger (sea anemone) and loor and howl for (moon and sun) along with towerthack (weather-beaten)…

And it wouldn’t be Cornwall without some reference to wrecking and smuggling…

‘Oh please Lord, let us pray for all on the sea; but if there’s got to be a wreck,

please send them to us,’

(18th century prayer ascribed to the Cornish)

A trip to a very wet St. Ives necessitated a visit to the Tate St. Ives…naturally…and a chance to see up close work by Cornish painter Peter Lanyon

It’s always fabulous to see Barbara Hepworth‘s work…

and a couple of others that caught my eye, although to be honest, there were lots, was Composition II by Sandra Blow...


and Portheras Grey by Paul Feiler

…both for their colour palette and textures…

My ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’ this week is Lisa McLinden

I was drawn to Lisa’s feed by the ethereal nature of her work…gentle washes of colour, darks merging into lights, hints of features in the landscape, shrouded in mists… And to say I have serious ‘studio envy’ is an understatement…more of which later….

LisaMcLindenArt             Lisa McLinden Art

An abstract expressionist painter, influenced by land and seascapes, Lisa divides her time between her home province of Ontario and the Newfoundland coast and the differing land/seascape provide the inspiration for her work.

The rich agricultural lands, dense forests and great lakes of Ontario form the basis of Lisa’s landscapes, with their palettes of green, umber and blues…whilst the wild Atlantic Ocean surrounding Newfoundland calls naturally for muted greys, shades of white…

Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art


Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art

I love the textures that Lisa achieves in her work, so was interested to hear about her process… Oil paints, graphite and oil pastels are her mediums of choice, although if the work calls for an atmospheric quality, she may paint base layers in acrylic paint, finishing the top layers in oils… Lisa finds this ‘provides the flexibility of painting washes in a quick dry medium for the underpainting, while giving the rich, saturated colour of oils on top layers’…with the added bonus that it helps speed up the drying time of the oils quite considerably…

Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art

Lisa’s all time favourite artist, and one of mine too as evidenced earlier in this post, is JMW Turner; she finds his seascapes in particular move her on ‘a visceral level’, finding it hard to express and quantify her feelings when viewing his work. Lisa also enjoys photography and names the late Vivian Maier amongst her favourites in this genre…particularly her use of unconventional subject matter…

Multi-talented Lisa is no slouch when it comes to photography either…I love her muted close-up photographs, highlighting the beauty in the small, often overlooked details…

Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art


Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art


Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art

I am always interested in finding out what artists listen to when working, and for Lisa, music is an integral part of her life; ‘Music is an elixir for the soul and I’m so grateful for the joy it brings into my life.’ She names Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Derek & the Dominoes and John Fogerty as being at the top of her studio playlist…

I mentioned earlier that I had ‘studio envy’ when I saw images of Lisa’s studio; it’s just the sort of space I aspire to…light, bright, airy, white with the natural colours of nature…it looks such a calm space…

Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art


Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art

Lisa’s studio is on the upper floor of her home, a creative space to paint, teach and share special moments…although Lisa is the first to admit that her studio space wasn’t always so wonderful – her very first studio was a walk-in closet! She encourages people to try and create a space to work in, however small, and stands by the sentiment, ‘It’s not where you create but what you create that truly matters’…something I need to remember before the ‘studio envy’ gets too much…

Do go and take a look at Lisa’s Instagram feed; it’s full of the most fantastic images, not just of her work, studio or Luna the dog…but also of things that I find so appealing…such as torn canvases…

Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art

…or paper edges, jars of brushes, baskets of paints…go, go take a peek… By the way, she also has a website…where you can see more of Lisa’s wonderful work and imagery…

Lisa McLinden Art
Lisa McLinden Art

As ever, I would like to thank Lisa for taking the time to respond to my questions; it never fails to amaze me how generous fellow creatives are when approached by me, a random blogger, so a big shout out to all my ‘Instagram Artists of the Week’…thank you!!

We end where we began…water, water everywhere…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘The wind begun to rock the grass
With threatening tunes and low, –
He flung a menace at the earth,
A menace at the sky.

The leaves unhooked themselves from trees
And started all abroad;
The dust did scoop itself like hands
And throw away the road.

The wagons quickened on the streets,
The thunder hurried slow;
The lightning showed a yellow beak,
And then a livid claw.

The birds put up the bars to nests,
The cattle fled to barns;
There came one drop of giant rain,
And then, as if the hands

That held the dams had parted hold,
The waters wrecked the sky,
But overlooked my father’s house,
Just quartering a tree.’

A Thunderstorm – Emily Dickinson

(P.S. for the life of me I don’t know why the whole of this poem isn’t showing as centred – it is on my admin page….??)

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope you stay warm and dry…

Take care,


(If you would like to see work-in-progress please follow me on social media, or for more of my ramblings, offers plus maybe the odd, hitherto unseen video or two, please sign up, via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter…)

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Perfectionism & Pressure…Wrapped up in Imposter Syndrome…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Just because you feel lost

doesn’t mean that you are.

Sometimes you just have to relax,

breathe deep,

and trust the path you’re on,’

Lalah Delia

Last week was spent in Cornwall – not the ideal planning, sandwiched between Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis…but such is life. The hoped for periods of sitting sketching didn’t really materialise…but I took photos, looked, consigned colours, shapes and textures, plus the wildness of the coast – and the weather – to memory, anticipating that, on my return home, I would develop my ideas…

I have applied for an event in May; I already have a confirmed event in July, and I was foreseeing this ‘new work’ as forming a new collection… I began with such good intentions…choosing a colour palette…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…making tentative studies…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…even trying working on a larger scale…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…and that’s when my perfectionist tendencies kicked in, the old ‘Imposter Syndrome’…to be honest, this feeling has been with me since the beginning of the year… I feel as if I have been doing lots of doodles, experimentation say…(when does ‘experimenting’ become another word for ‘procrastination’…?) but not settling to any one thing, not really producing any ‘finished’ pieces… I was hoping that the trip to Cornwall would provide a focus – which it has…but I now have all these imagined works in my head…that don’t appear on the paper…and so the vicious circle begins…

I know this is common to many artists and lots has been written; I have read numerous blogs, articles and listened to podcasts all designed to help with the psychology of the issue… So I keep showing up, trying not to have fixed ideas in my head, just see where the work takes me…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Using different materials i.e. soft pastels in an effort to shake things up…in the interests of openness, here’s my not very successful attempt….(see, there I go again…)

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Now, before you think this is just a total whinge-fest, I know that I am my own harshest critic, with such aspirations of perfectionism that, in reality, I will never achieve, so…..

Putting my watercolours and inks to one side, I decided to review all the doodles I have done over the past weeks and months…

Carlyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…and do you know…it turns out, there was quite a few works that I loved…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Some might only be small, possibly suitable for cards or the like…but then there are others…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist


Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…that might just have to take a trip to a framers…

This reviewing and critiquing made me take another look at my efforts from today…and, even though initially I was feeling totally despondent about the work, there is one that, in my head at least, captures the wildness…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

(apologies, not the best photo…but surprise, surprise, it’s raining here again, so it’s lights, shadows….standing on a chair to get an overhead shot, wobbles…)

It may not be perfect, but it has given me an idea, something to work on…

This is all part and parcel of my artistic rhythms, ups and downs, fallow times, ‘harvest’ times…and I am attempting to learn to live with it, to understand it, and not give way to those feelings of doubts, that we all have, to the pressure we put on ourselves…

Looking at the pile of work I have pulled out serves to show that the adage ‘just keep showing up, doing the work’ does pay off…and tomorrow I will try again… I am already thinking of larger sheets of paper, pools of watercolour and bigger implements to apply it with…

And, as an aside, writing and re-reading this post, seeing how much work I potentially have, has made me feel much better, more positive…thank you!

(If you would like to see more works in progress, follow me on social media, or for more of my ramblings and insights follow my blog, or sign up via the link opposite to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter where you will see further news, offers and maybe hitherto unseen videos…)

Carolyn J Roberts Artist


Something for the Weekend…

Imbolc, the festival marking the coming of spring, occurred on February 1st this year, so we are well on our way, closer to the spring equinox than the winter solstice…

‘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

Also known as Brigid’s Day, Imbolc is a pagan festival celebrating light and fertility, and marks the start of the agricultural year – the earth begins to warm, lambing starts….the promise of light and warmth…an awakening after winter’s slumber…

Regular readers of these ‘Something for the Weekend’ blogs will be aware of my ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’ feature; so far I have highlighted 18 artists/photographers/ceramicists…all of whom caught my attention through their use of colour, mark-making, textures, materials etc….

This week’s ‘artist’, photographer Sarah Drury, appealed to me, not just because of her beautiful images, but also because of the subject matter of some of the photos….

Now I have an admission to make…my very first love was horses, way before art and all things creative, I was your typical pony mad girl…and I was lucky enough to eventually have my own pony…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…his name was ‘Three Wishes’…and he was fantastic… Only four when we got him, we learnt together…through many trials and errors, highs and lows…but he taught me such a lot…! On leaving school, I trained as a riding instructor…before life changed…and I followed a different path…

But I still retain my love of all things equine which brings me back to Sarah’s feed…

Sarah Drury
Sarah Drury

Sarah began riding at the age of 3, owned her own pony at 13, and was lucky enough to keep said pony for a further 23 years! Childhood holidays were spent in the New Forest where the ponies roam free…

Now working in the veterinary industry, and with teenagers to minister to, Sarah’s time is limited; she has however, always loved photography, teaching herself the techniques and processes, and over the past 4 years begun to take it more seriously…

She spends a lot of time on and around Exmoor, home to another of our native pony breeds…

Sarah Drury
Exmoor Pony – Sarah Drury
Sarah Drury
Exmoor Pony – Sarah Drury

Sarah cites Carys Jones, Liz Uribe and Kisa Kavas as her favourite equine photographers and, having checked their websites out, I can see why; their images are stunning…

However, it’s not just horses that capture her heart…

Sarah Drury
Highland Cow on Exmoor – Sarah Drury

I love how well camouflaged the cow is…beautiful, muted colour palette…

Sarah loves wild landscapes, not only Exmoor, but also the coast  of Cornwall and the Scottish islands as well as Snowdonia…rugged terrains, moody, fast-changing weather…along with the gentler rolling Malvern Hills…

Sarah Drury
Malvern Hills – Sarah Drury

What I love about Sarah’s photographs, apart from the horses (!), is the muted, limited colour palettes and the way she captures both the beauty and atmosphere of the landscape as well as highlighting the often overlooked…

Sarah Drury
Morning Light – Sarah Drury
Sarah Drury
Sarah Drury

Sarah takes her inspiration from books such as Kathleen Jamie’s ‘Sightlines’…

Image result for kathleen jamie sightlines

…and landscape photographers Dan Cook and Daniel Alford…as well as Cath Waters, a Scottish artist and photographer…

Sarah Drury
Pendeen, Corwall – Sarah Drury
Sarah Drury
Snowdonia Sunset – Sarah Drury

Do check out Sarah’s Instagram feed – it’s not all horses, you’re sure to see something that speaks to your soul…

My choice of book this week might seem slightly strange but allow me to continue my indulgence, following on with the equine theme… My favourite books when I was a child were ‘The Silver Brumby’ series by Elyne Mitchell…( in fact I think I may still own the books, packed away in a box in the garage….)

See the source image

…set in the Snowy Mountains of Australia, the books tell the tale of the mighty stallion Thowra and his descendants, and I loved them, enthralled by the mysticism of the stories, the way the horses were part of the landscape….

What was your favourite childhood book?

Oh, and before you ask, yes, I watched all the tv programmes too; ‘White Horses,’ ‘Follyfoot,’ ‘The Adventures of Black Beauty’…and who can forget that opening/closing credit sequence…… (can see where Lloyds Bank got their inspiration from…)

And talking of inspiration…. horses and the landscape are Sarah’s inspirations, and I have often talked about how the landscape inspires me; for some people it’s the properties of the materials that inspires them…

Inspiration comes from a variety of sources…and this podcast,  ‘Where does inspiration come from?’ discusses this issue…

As stated in the podcast, some people find walking helps them find inspiration…

‘All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking,’

Friedrich Nietzsche

…and I love this quote by Rebecca Solnit:

‘Language is like a road, it cannot be perceived all

at once because it unfolds in time, whether heard or read.

This narrative or temporal element has made writing and walking

resemble each other.’

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope it inspires you…


Take care,


(If you would like to keep up-to-date with my work-in-progress please follow me on social media…

or for more of my musings, offers etc, please sign up via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter.)











Something for the Weekend…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,

Chaste Snow-drop,

venturous harbinger of Spring,

And pensive monitor of fleeting years!’

William Wordsworth

In the blink of an eye the week has gone…days are becoming perceptibly longer, dawn echoes with the sound of birdsong and ‘white angels’ herald the coming season…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

“Snow or Snowdrops”

Is it snow or snowdrops’ shimmer
Whitens thus the bladed grass,
With a faint aërial 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…’

Mathilde Blind

I can’t quite believe it, but this week’s ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’, Eileen Anderson, will be the 18th artist I have featured…18th !!!

Eileen lives in the Eden Valley, between the Lakeland Fells and the Northern Pennines; with their natural beauty and fast-changing, moody weather, these areas are a huge inspiration for Eileen…

Eileen Anderson
Eileen Anderson

It was the marks in Eileen’s work that first drew me to her feed…closely followed by the textures along with the pops of colour she injects… I also love the way that, although, there are aspects of the landscape and its features in the paintings, the work is, at times, heading towards abstraction…

Eileen Anderson
Eileen Anderson

Eileen uses a variety of mediums in her work; acrylic paints and inks along with drawing materials such as graphite, crayons as well collage…

Eileen Anderson
Eileen Anderson

On her ‘About’ page on her website, Eileen acknowledges that ‘By sketching frequently out in the field, hints of a real place might creep into a painting but the aim is always to create with freedom, to retain the energy of the brush marks and to enjoy the results of a more playful approach.’

Eileen Anderson
Eileen Anderson

I love the freedom of the mark making and the loose, expressive brushstrokes…capturing the rapidly changing light and moods of the landscape…

Eileen Anderson
Eileen Anderson

There is such a freedom in these initial layers, reminiscent of the wild nature of the fells…

I am always intrigued to learn where the magic happens – Eileen’s studio, in common with many artists (me included…!!) is her spare bedroom. I am also interested to learn what books artists enjoy reading; Eileen cites any book about the seascapes and landscapes of the artist Joan Eardley, and the ‘Simon Serrailler’  novels by Susan Hill as her favourites…

Eileen Anderson
Eileen Anderson

Eileen’s Instagram feed is peppered with images of work in progress; exploring and experimenting, as in the image above, with small collage and line compositions…. It’s the varying shapes, textures and marks that make her work so appealing…..

helm wind 40 x 40cm on board

Helm Wind – Eileen Anderson – 40cm x 40cm on board

Do check out Eileen’s Instagram feed and website…the variety of mark making, texture and brushmarks on offer is wonderful….

My book this week was a present to myself…a reward to recognise the relative (small) success of my Instagram Advent Calendar Sale…

‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy

It’s a beautiful book, full of the most wonderful drawings, captioned with words and sentiments…if any book could give you a hug, it’s this book…

It’s no secret that one of my favourite places/landscapes is the north Norfolk coast…but a landscape that has equal appeal is that of the North York Moors…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

a place of wild, windswept beauty, rapidly changing mood and light…a taste of which is provided in this short video….produced by The North York Moors National Park Authority. The Visitors Centre at Danby is always worth calling in to; not only is there a great café, but there is also a wonderful gallery space…I saw a wonderful exhibition by artist Peter M. Hicks

2a. Approaching storm Swaledale. ~ 140cm x 120 acrylics

Approaching Storm, Swaledale,’ Peter M Hicks (acrylics)

I hope you have found something to interest you in this blog, and remember, there has now been 18 ‘Instagram Artists of the Week’, so do look back at some of my previous post and check them out!!


Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…and as it’s the weekend, do get out and explore; go somewhere different, do something different – after reading my blog…..

Take care,


If you would like to see work in progress, more ‘ramblings’ and arty news, please follow me on social media or sign up, via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter…)


Something for the Weekend….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘January is here, with eyes that keenly glow,

A frost-mailed warrior

striding a shadowy steed of snow,’

Edgar Fawcett

The twinkling lights of the Christmas and New Year festivities seem but distant memories, and we are in that seemingly long haul through the wintery months, eagerly anticipating those first warmer rays of sunshine…

…but before we become too impatient for spring, let’s not overlook how beautiful this season can be; the crisp winter light, the delicate tracery of the naked branches, footprints in the snow and glittering, frosted jewels sparkling in the sunlight…

So many artists have been inspired to pay homage to this time of year…

Peter Doig, ‘Ski Jacket’ 1994

Peter Doig – Ski Jacket, 1994

….and you can find more examples in this article, ‘Six Winter Scenes in Art‘ on the Tate website… I also can’t resist adding in one of my favourite winter paintings…

Winter Landscape, Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich, 1774 – 1840 Winter Landscape c.1811 Oil on canvas, National Gallery

There is also something quite hypnotic about listening to the winter weather, especially if you are warm inside by a roaring fire, hot drink in hand…..

Hunkered down inside is also a great time to do a little reading and research, searching out new and inspiring ideas and artists…and speaking of artists, this week’s ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’ is Gray Jordan

Gray Jordan
Gray Jordan

I was drawn to her feed by the soft washes and hues of her work…and was even more fascinated when reading that Gray makes her own inks from foraged natural materials and pigments such as berries, turmeric and charcoal etc…

Living in Norfolk, Gray names Stiffkey Marsh and Holkham beach as her favourite places – incidentally, two of mine too – areas that feature strongly in her work.

                             Gray Jordan – ‘Stiffkey Horizon’ – Natural Inks on paper including oak gall, woad & privet

They are also great places for collecting objects; seashells, driftwood, seaweed – to hold in your hands, to connect us to the landscape and as a way of tapping into the beauty of the natural world, of harnessing its energy…something that Gray is particularly interested and you can read more about this on her website


Gray Jordan
Gray Jordan

After her experience in art education, which left her feeling lost because it told her that most of the artists, genres etc she loved were considered ‘low brow, boring and old-fashioned’, (something that resonates with my experiences also…), it took another twenty years before Gray felt able to become an artist… ‘I think it is that wonderful freeing up as you get a bit older and realise you’re not cool anyway so you can stop trying and that, anyhow, it is coolest to just love what you love and you don’t have to change the world to make a contribution.’ Gray now unashamedly names Whistler and Turner as two of her favourite artists, along with other creatives who use natural materials and make their own ink, particularly Jacqueline Callandine at Wild Creative…

Gray Jordan
Gray Jordan

Gray names ‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf as her favourite book and loves listening to Sigur Ros, an avant-garde Icelandic band, as the music transports her back to that particular landscape, another favourite place, one that also influences her work, as in the above image…

Gray Jordan – ‘Solstice Shore’ – Natural Inks on Paper including privet berry, oak gall and black walnut

As much as possible Gray loves to work outdoors, often ‘making her inks on a fire – or on bits picked out of the fire!’ She has access to a 4 acre field where fruit trees and a dye garden provide some of the raw materials required to make the inks… When the weather is too inclement, she does retreat to a field shelter or her kitchen floor…

Gray Jordan – ‘Holkham Saplings’ – Natural inks on paper including oak gall, woad & privet

Do take a look at Gray’s Instagram feed and website where you will find more examples of her lovely, evocative work…

…and I would like to thank Gray for kindly agreeing to answer my questions… it’s always very much appreciated!!

My work this week has been much as last, experimental, exploratory…trying to find my way… I am beginning to recognise my processes, my rhythms, my fallow times…and know that this period is often an indication of a shift or the development of an idea…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…where, if anywhere, this will lead to remains to be seen…but I am learning to ‘dance with failure’ – as stated by Lubaina Himid in this podcast, ‘The Art of Failure‘… a reminder that, in order to succeed, we have to be willing to ‘fail’…or as Thomas Edison said, ‘ I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,’ – something that, judging by my pile of ‘collage rejects’, I am well on my way to accumulating…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Don’t dismiss the elements. Water

soothes and heals.

Air refreshes and revives.

Earth grounds and holds.

Fire is a burning reminder

of our own will and

creative power.

Breathe them in.

Swallow their spells.

There’s a certain sweet

comfort in knowing

that you belong to them all,’

Victoria Erickson

As ever, I hope you have found something to interest and inspire you…have a wonderful weekend!

Take care,


(If you would like even more of my ramblings and art inspired musings, or just news from my studio, please sign up, via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newletter…)

Something for the Weekend…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘The River’s Tale’

‘Twenty Bridges from Tower to Kew –

Wanted to know what the River knew,

Twenty Bridges or twenty-two,

For they were young, and the Thames was old

And this is the tale that River told:-


“I walk my beat before London Town,

Five hours up and seven down.

Up I go till I end my run

At Tide-end-town, which is Teddington.

Down I come with the mud in my hands

And plaster it over the Maplin Sands……”

Rudyard Kipling


Another river, one with a richer history than ‘my’ small waterway; The Thames, lifeblood of London, with stories of seafarers and armadas, traders, tales of murder and mystery, mud-larkers and much, much more woven into its tidal waves…inspiration for poets, artists and musicians alike…

From James Abbott MacNeill Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Gold...

….to Ewan MacColl’s ode to a lost love in ‘Sweet Thames Softly Flow‘…

It’s always good to have a change of scenery, even if just for a short while; London is so very different from my ‘everyday life’…vibrant, bustling, dynamic…all the usual traits of big city living…so much to see, to do…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist                                                                      St.Paul’s Cathedral

Carolyn J Roberts Artist
The British Museum
Tate Modern
Fons Americanus – Kara Walker

Above video is a work by Peter Sedgley at the Tate Modern….

…and there’s the opportunity to reacquaint myself with an old favourite at The National Gallery...

Rembrandt, Self Portrait at The National Gallery
Rembrandt, Self Portrait at The National Gallery

Portraits aren’t usually my ‘thing’ but I love, love, love this one, and sat quite happily…as I say, reacquainting myself with the quality of Rembrandt’s work, the luminous nature of the face (my photo really doesn’t do it justice)…waiting for him to speak to me, to impart some nugget of wisdom…if I could have one portrait on my walls at home, this would be the one….Whose portrait would you love to have on your walls?

There’s also the chance to be part of history…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…watching the… Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…performance of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap‘, the world’s longest running play…. I cannot  possibly reveal ‘whodunnit’ as we are all sworn to secrecy…..

Arrivals and departures are part of each journey; one filled with anticipation, the other with a tinge of sadness….and St. Pancras Station, London has its share of artistic homages to these poignant moments…from Tracey Emin’s ‘I want my time with you’…

Tracey Emin

…to Paul Day‘s gigantic sculpture ‘The Meeting Place’…a 9 metre high bronze…evoking that sense of romance as the couple embrace under the giant clock…(remind you of something….?)

Paul Day, The Meeting Place

…with a relief around the base depicting images from the history of the train and the Tube network…

Paul Day

And no round up of the artwork on display at St. Pancras Station would be complete without Martin Jennings‘ statue of Sir John Betjeman, poet and long time admirer and advocate of Victorian architecture…(if you click on the link to Jennings’ website you can see a much clearer image than my poor attempt below…my excuse is, it was night, the lights were bright…shadows cast everywhere…)

Martin Jennings, Sir John Betjeman

Consisting of a 2.10 metre bronze sculpture on a Cumbrian slate disc inscribed with some lines from a poem by John Betjeman…

‘And in the shadowless unclouded glare,

Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where,

A misty sealine meets the wash of air…’


Where do you love to visit for some ‘big city’ inspiration?

The saying  ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is certainly appropriate for this week’s ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’…Rachel Cronin

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin Artist

Drawn to her Instagram feed by the expressive, loose quality of the work, the mark making plus her sketchbooks, it was when I read the ‘About‘ section on her website that the dots began to connect as to why I was so attracted to Rachel’s work; she loves  watercolour too, but she’s not a purist either, loving to combine the medium with ink, gouache and crayon…she follows the seasons too, and talks of fallow and fertile times…which, as those of you who follow me on social media will know, is something that resonates with me also…

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Rachel cites artists such as Kurt Jackson, Joan Eardley, David Tress, Barbara Rae, John Piper and Cy Twombly as her inspirations, although she acknowledges that it could be any number of different people – she is drawn to work that shares ‘a sense of unencumbered paint application and free mark making…’ which is something she strives to achieve in her own work.

Being the visual platform that Instagram is, I was immediately attracted to Rachel’s colour palette and mark making…and I love this combination of two of my favourite shades, along with the marks and textures…

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Equally, in the work below, the soft tones contrasted with that bright splash of turquoise, the expressive marks… I find so appealing…

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Rachel is inspired by the gentle, rolling landscape of north Oxfordshire, in particular the northern tip of the Cotswolds, with its patchwork fields and bridleways, as well as the more rugged coastline of west Wales, e.g. Borth, with its long, wild beach punctuated at extreme low tide by the petrified tree stumps, Harlech and the Ynyslas nature reserve… She finds the contrasting landscapes equally inspiring, reminding her that ‘we are merely visitors here and that, if we stand still for a minute, the ancient past is only a footstep away’…and that her ‘painting process is a way of making that footstep’….what a beautiful, evocative description…..

In this work, the soft washes and hues transport me to a summer’s evening amongst the heather and bracken strewn hills…

Watercolour gold and purple.jpg

Rachel Cronin

And who doesn’t love a peek into an artist’s sketchbook…..? Talking of books, (a very loose link I admit…..)  Rachel admits to being a bit of a bookworm, with eclectic tastes and a host of ‘comfort reads’ including the Merrily Watkins novels of Phil Rickman, The Secret History  by Donna Tartt and The Rivers of London  books by Ben Aaranovitch. Too many art books to name her favourite, the one that Rachel says ‘keeps her grounded, keeps her thinking about her process and working through the many blocks’ she places in her own way is The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. Rachel finds the technique books by Ann Blockley, Linda Kemp and Cas Holmes great practical guides.

Sketchbook Landscape.jpg

Rachel Cronin

Rachel also works in mixed media, including acrylics, gouache and dry media. She states that she ‘could not be without her Inktense crayons or her Caran d’Ache wax crayons as she finds them fantastic for adding ‘pops of colour to any kind of painting’. Rachel also admits to having a ‘very special stick that came from a tree in the garden’ which she uses to scratch into her work, as well as for applying ink and paint – ‘it’s only a stick but I would be devastated to lose it’ – I know how she feels; I have certain tools that, although nothing out of the ordinary, are like putting a glove on, they feel just right in your grasp, and you know intuitively the kind of marks they make…

I love the soft, gentle feel to this work below…and I also love the way she has co-ordinated the image setting…an idea I might just have to try…

The Quiet of Winter (2018).jpg

Rachel Cronin

I am endlessly fascinated to see and hear about artists studios and Rachel’s is no exception; she works in her parents’ conservatory where, initially she attempted to keep the ‘mess’ to a minimum, but now admits to having things ‘spilling off the shelves’… She is an ‘advocate for using whatever space you have – you don’t need a big studio space, although that would be lovely and I wouldn’t turn it down.’ Rachel has ‘painted on a table in the living room, the kitchen and in the garden’…even on her bed, although she wouldn’t recommend this, discovering that indigo does not wash out of a white linen duvet cover….

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Do take a look at Rachel’s Instagram feed which is full of wonderful images of her work in progress, and her inspirations, along with her website…where you can see more of her finished works, plus a further peek into her sketchbook….

I would like to thank Rachel for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s very much appreciated!!

New art materials are always exciting and I can’t wait to experiment with the Art Graf graphite powder from L. Cornelissen & Son and the Nitram Liquid charcoal from Cass Art…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Something else that is inspiring me is my small collage sketchbook… along with lots of others it would appear from the viewing figures on Twitter…

So inspiring I have started another such sketchbook…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Back from the ‘Big Smoke’…my small river flows on, under rose-hued mornings, crisp with the crackle of frost…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist‘This morning the ground was sparkling

With thousands of gritty jewels

In the lowlight they were gleaming

Amongst the frosty icy pools…’

Elia Michael


I hope you have enjoyed this week’s post and have found some ideas to inspire you…and maybe have a change of scenery…if so, please let me know…

Enjoy your weekend,

Take care,



(If you would like to get up-to-date studio news, art info, offers and more of my ramblings please sign up, via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter.)





Something for the Weekend…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist


‘Bare branches of each tree

on this chilly January morn

look so cold so forlorn…

waiting for each who wait to see

new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,

like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,

buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.”

–  Nelda Hartmann,  January Morn

….and in the blink of an eye, here we are, more than halfway through January, with its usual mix of weather; dreary, dank days interspersed with mornings of the brightest blue…each highlighting the filigree fingers of bare trees…waiting for the magic…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Those of you who read my last ‘Something for the Weekend‘ post will have noticed the watery theme running through it…and one of my links this week continues this connection…(again, this is via BBC Radio so I am uncertain as to whether you will need to create an account/sign in…apologies)

A lot of my work is inspired by my love of the north Norfolk coast; when we lived in Lincolnshire, it was only a hop and a skip away, so was a place we often visited…a watery landscape; marshlands, sea lavender, geese, clinking of the boat rigging, big skies, tides…

Norfolk Memories Carolyn J Roberts ArtistNorfolk Memories – Carolyn J Roberts

The BBC Radio programme – ‘Art of Now, episode; The Tide of the Staithe’ relates both the beauty and danger of this stretch of coastline…in the programme Kevin Crossley-Holland brings a taste of what this landscape offers – from the sand dunes, salt marshes, shimmering creeks, wind song and bird cries through to the people who live and work alongside the time-clock that is the tides…with their tales of the hazardous nature of the coast, as well as the delights… A truly evocative programme that conveys a sense of what I find so inspiring…

Someone who is equally inspired by the landscape that surrounds her is this week’s ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’ Cheryl Ann Williams

Cheryl Ann Williams

I was drawn to Cheryl’s feed by her colour palette, mark making and use of collage…all things close to my own heart…

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                    Cheryl Ann Williams

What’s not to love – favourite indigo, rich green gold, turquoise, mono-printing, collage and torn edges…?

Cheryl generously agreed to answer some questions from me – a random Instagrammer – so I am very appreciative, thank you!!

Cheryl lives in the Clun Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty on the Welsh borders, a land of rolling uplands and river valleys, ancient earthworks and drovers’ pathways…. She states on her website that her work ‘is inspired by the Welsh border landscape of her home and aims to capture her experience of walking in its beauty.’ Coincidentally, her current project focuses on a stretch of river around five miles from the Welsh border – a lady after my own heart, we have much in common…

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                    Cheryl Ann Williams

I find this colour palette so fresh and vibrant and love the marks she makes by dragging through the acrylic paint….

Cheryl lists Richard Diebenkorn as one of her favourite artists, indeed, there is a quote by Diebenkorn on her website – ‘Appreciate the conflict between abstraction and reality.’ Alongside Diebenkorn, she also cites Willem de Kooning as another influence, particularly with regard to his application of paint, and Pierre Bonnard and Barbara Rae for their handling of colour. Exhibitions by Ivon Hitchens and Elizabeth Cummings have also inspired Cheryl to experiment further with her work, both in terms of composition and abstraction.

                                                                                              ‘Restless Edge 1’ – acrylic on canvas

Cheryl Ann Williams

Like me, Cheryl loves to read (as I say, so much in common…) and has a large collection of art books. She is currently reading ‘Ninth Street Woment’ by Mary  Gabriel- the story of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth century abstract painting, not as muses, but as artists…Cheryl says that, although huge, it is very good – another one to add to my list!

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                   Cheryl Ann Williams

Cheryl uses sketchbooks for a variety of purposes, she admits to having several on the go; pocket-sized ones she takes out on her walks, project books where she develops her ideas, random ones for playing and larger ones for life-drawing. I love this image of one of her sketchbooks – mark making, textures, experiments and the useful notion of using paint sample cards to test colour combinations…

I always love a peek into artists’ studios…

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                    Cheryl Ann Williams

I too, have Ikea shelving, but I must admit to having ‘plan chest’ envy on seeing Cheryl’s – I think I will have to trawl around the second hand stores!

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                    Cheryl Ann Williams

Cheryl works in a variety of mediums – mainly acrylics or oils for large canvas pieces – but she also loves Daniel Smith watercolours (!!!) on rough watercolour paper, especially the way they granulate. She is also exploring the properties of some  recently acquired Liquid Charcoal – something I am keen to try!

‘Feel the Beat’ – acrylic on board – Cheryl Ann Williams

Along with her use of colours, textures and mark making, I find Cheryl’s work has a lyrical quality to it, redolent of the rolling landscape she loves so much – so do take a look at her Instagram page or visit her website for more information!!

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Promise of Spring’

“The sky is dark and sullen

The trees look so forlorn

The days are short, a chill sets in

A winter day is born.

I yearn for spring so long ago

A day spent in the park

Among the blooming daffodil

The wren and meadowlark.

I long for gentle days of rain

A warm breeze in the air

The fragrance of a lilac tree

A day so ever fair.

Beneath the dead decaying leaves

A bud does wait anew

To reach its arms up to the sky

When winter days are through.

Beyond the bitter winds that blow

A breeze awaits to greet

To bring in sun-kissed goldenrod

And tender grass so sweet.

Just as the winter fades away

To this one hope I cling

Our God who brings the winter wind

Will surely bring the spring.”

Marilyn Ferguson

Anticipation is growing of the coming Spring but it is important not to overlook the beauty that can be found in the apparent ‘dormant winter’….small, perfectly formed jewels, often unnoticed, but always shining….

Carolyn J Roberts


Thank you for reading; I hope you found something to interest and inspire you!

Enjoy the weekend,

Take care,


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