As One Sketchbook Closes…

‘Wind of Change’

‘A strange wind is coming from the west. It

smells of change. As it gently blows

my hair, I feel my unanswered questions fade.

I don’t remember them anymore. Their

answers don’t matter. A tickling feeling

over my face makes my bare skin come to

life when I know that it is my very soul

that is actually awaking from a long, deep

sleep. Wind of Change…now I know I had

been long waiting for you. I am ready,’



Carlyn J Roberts Artist


Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Just as the river meanders it’s way through the year, transitioning from quiet hibernation to brimming with life, lush with growth…I too, feel as if I am in a transition period…

Regular followers will know that I have been creating collages in a small sketchbook…which I have now filled…

Creating these collages has made me question my likes/dislikes…



Carolyn J Roberts Artist


Carolyn J Roberts Artist

(bottom collage image quote by Seamus Heaney .)  Beautiful words that conjure up magical landscapes…

I am trying to simplify my life, de-cluttering ( or trying to) the house, getting rid of ‘stuff/baggage’ that has been weighing me down, making my life lighter, more ‘spacious’ – both physically and mentally – and it is  the space around the work as much as anything, the monochromatic nature of the work, the mark-making that I am drawn to…and feel this is the direction I want to explore in my work…

‘It is what I was born for –

to look, to listen, to lose

myself inside this soft

world – to instruct

myself over and over…’

Mary Oliver


So I have lots of sketchbooks waiting to be filled…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist


Change of any description is scary; who knows where this exploration will lead, if any where but, as this saying goes…

‘If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies,’ – Anon.

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Another Art Exhibition…Negatives & Positives…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Another exhibition, another disappointing weekend sales wise…I won’t lie, I came home very downcast, again… However, time is a wonderful commodity for getting perspective….(the glass of wine helped as well…)

The exhibition was a new event, in a lovely village setting overlooking a reservoir – but apart from this one space, there were no other ‘draws’ to bring people in to the area, unlike art festivals, trails or open studios…I am also unsure how much promoting was done, apart from in the immediate locale, to encourage visitors from further afield…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Footfall over the weekend was intermittent and, although I realise you should never judge a book by its cover, the demography of the visitors was such that they were mostly drawn to the more representational artworks as opposed to my more expressive, abstract style…

That’s not to say it was all bad; I met some lovely people, and had interesting conversations and compliments about my work, and art in general… A few people asked if I ran workshops or did demos – I was asked the same question last year at the Melbourne Festival, Derbyshire – so perhaps this is something I should investigate e.g. workshop content (???), venue, materials provided or not, costs…

Once over my initial disappointment, I realise I can take positives away from this experience as well as pointers for future events; research venue/event/likely audience beforehand…(rather than just ‘be grateful’ someone ‘allowed’ me to exhibit) – think about whether my work will ‘fit’ within the criteria of the space/exhibition/alongside other artists work…? Who’s the target audience? Expected visitor numbers?

Other factors to consider are making certain I have a range of work; different sizes, mounted, unframed as well as framed…displayed creatively…as well as having space for sketchbooks, perhaps WIP…along with some information about who I am etc…where people can see my work i.e. future events and how they can follow me on social media or on my website….which brings me onto another point…

My present website is powered by Clikpic and if I am honest, not being the most tech savvy person, I find it difficult to navigate and create…plus it doesn’t allow for promo codes, for example if I wanted to run a sale… I have also thought for some time now that the images of the work need to be better…so I am considering redesigning my website using a different system e.g. Squarespace, WordPress…any advice would be appreciated, what platform do you use?

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

My positivity and determination is returning; I find myself looking for the sunshine –

‘Keep your face towards the sunshine

and shadows will fall behind you,’

Walt Whitman

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For now, it’s a case of onwards and upwards…



I’m sure I’m not alone in loving the landscapes of both the mountains and the coast; the soaring splendour of the peaks as opposed to the big skies, flatlands and somewhat bleak nature of some of our coastlines…Indeed, one of our favourite games of the ‘when we win the lottery’ scenario is deciding where we would move to…(a definite pipe dream as I rarely play the lottery…) But there’s something about these opposite landscapes, their elemental nature, that draws me to them both…Maybe it’s that realisation of how tiny and insignificant we are when in these landscapes, maybe it’s the feeling of isolation and wildness, that sense of freedom, or maybe it’s the contrasting shapes and colours….I just know that I could spend hours, days, months etc in both and never tire of looking…

….and ‘contrast’ is a word that aptly describes my work at the moment…I love mark making, getting my arm moving, flowing, gestural…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….and experimenting with loose watercolour and ink washes…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….but after my recent hiatus, I am returning to my creativity via my small, collage sketchbook… and finding that, in contrast to all the flowing, loose marks and washes, the collages I prefer are the more minimalist, starker pieces…

Carolyn J Roberts artist



Carolyn J Roberts artist

…and the latest…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…all straight lines, or circles, black and white…(with a hint of colour)..

And I even began dabbling on paper, thinking of creating a small series…and these were even more on the minimalistic side…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I will continue with these and see how they develop…but will also continue with the watercolour and ink…maybe have another stab with acrylics…

I think as humans and artists we can appreciate differing landscapes and styles and ways of working, taking elements from each into our work to make it uniquely our own…

What differing things attract you…how do you incorporate them into your work?

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Mid-Year Review…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘The great gift of the energy of the Summer Solstice

is that it’s designed to move you

from one phase to the next

on your terms,’

Deborah King

Okay, okay, I know I’m late….Summer Solstice has been and gone…but only just, and it got me to thinking that before we get heading down the rabbit hole that is the year’s end, I should have a bit of a mid-year review…to check on those lofty goals (for goals read – pipe dreams) I set way back in January and see how far I have got to achieving them…(so apologies if this post is a bit wordier than my usual offerings)

Here are the goals;

  1. Make my art business self-supporting
  2. Participate in more events
  3. Join local art groups/build connections & networks
  4. Improve marketing/social media strategies/audiences/mailing list numbers
  5. Work on a larger scale

As with all goals I broke them down into what I thought were manageable/achievable steps…for example…

  1. Have limited time sales on social media to raise cash for materials etc
  2. Take part in 4-6 events/exhibitions
  3. increase mailing list by 100% and Instagram followers by 50%
  4. De-clutter studio to make more space so can work on a larger scale
  5. Apply to join two local groups



‘Whenever you feel overwhelmed by how much time and work

it will take to accomplish your goals,

take a moment to reflect on and appreciate

the progress you have already made.

Small wins here and there are to be cherished’,

Duncan Muguku

And how have I got on….?

  1. I have had two very successful limited time sales on Instagram, raising some much needed cash that enabled me to purchase some materials, (although nowhere near enough to be self-supporting)
  2. I have participated in one event already and have two more lined up (Thornton Exhibition, Leicestershire next weekend & the Melbourne Festival, Derbyshire in September) , with the potential for a fourth event towards the end of the year
  3. I have already increased my newsletter mailing list by more than 100% (although I did only start with 14…); still a work in progress as far as Instagram is concerned – increased followers by 25% – I have found that daily posts are almost a requirement, and after my recent hiatus the numbers dropped, so it’s a case of building them up again, onwards and upwards
  4. De-cluttering – what can I say – it’s another work in progress… Erring towards minimalism in the rest of the house, I find I like being surrounded by favourite objects, quotes and works in my ‘studio’ whilst I  find it difficult to get rid of art materials, even those I don’t use…something I don’t have a problem with elsewhere…go figure…
  5. I have applied and become a member of one local group, but as yet, have not really participated…lack of confidence, motivation… Later in the year there will be the opportunity to apply to join another society so we will see how that goes

So small steps, worth celebrating and cherishing…but, and this is where I know I am being hard on myself considering the recent family crises, there is still a long way to go…but this quote by Abraham Lincoln is worth writing out and pinning up in my studio…

‘I walk slowly,

but I never walk



I have come a long way, and have made definite strides this year, so it’s not all doom and gloom….roll on the next few months, let’s see what I can achieve…..



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Tentative Steps…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

‘Sun on my shoulders and wind at my back,

bound & determined to get back on track

to where the heart is…

where it’s been all along,’

Tim McGraw


Okay, so I might be stretching it a little this morning; the sun most definitely isn’t on my shoulders, nor is the wind at my back…but this week has seen me determined to get back on track after recent and still ongoing events…Without harping on, regular followers of my social media will know that family dramas have taken up most of my time and energy, leaving little space or inclination for creativity. However, the immediate crises have subsided slightly and I am making tentative steps back towards making art again…

Getting back in the studio was a major step…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

..and whilst it’s small and jumbled, it’s my space…and it was fabulous to go in there and be surrounded by all my favourite materials as well as some of my favourite objects..

It has been several weeks since I created any art or even picked up a pencil or a paintbrush, so I have been conscious of the need to be gentle with myself…to concentrate on just enjoying the feel of the materials, exploring and playing, with no expectations..

So I have been making small collages..

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

..getting back to the mono-printing – Instagram #100daychallenge

Carolyn J Roberts artist

..and while I need to brush up on the technique, it was great to just to get ink on my fingers…

Mark making is fundamental to my art and getting my arm moving, making gestural marks with the Art Graf, soluble pencils and ink was so liberating…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

All this experimenting and playing is really just to get me back into the habit of daily creating…and with the exhibition at Thornton coming up on 6/7 July as well as getting confirmation of my acceptance to participate in this year’s Melbourne Festival, Derbyshire in September, I need to get back in the swing of things…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist


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‘Finding your way doesn’t mean you know where you are going. It’s

knowing how to find your way back home that’s important,’

Clare Vanderpool


Slowly, I am finding my way home../

What’s That Saying……..?

Carolyn J Roberts artist

…..’Man plans, God laughs’….

This saying seems to sum up the past couple of weeks…. After my experience at the Belvoir Art Trail and my subsequent blog post, I had a list of things to address – re-vamp website, look for ways to get my work ‘out there’ more, investigate the possibility of further mentoring, adding to my mailing list – lots of things to get my teeth into…. And then life throws you a curve ball….or two…and all plans and good intentions go out of the window…

….but some things are more important than art…at the moment all my time and energy is required elsewhere….but I do know that I will get back to my plans and creating again…

For now, to keep me strong, I go to my favourite place…


‘Taking time out each day to relax and renew is essential to living well,’ – Judith Hanson Lasater

So bear with me…hopefully, normal service will resume soon….

Taking Stock…

‘It’s not about your reflection,

it’s what you see beyond it….’

(not sure who wrote this…any help appreciated)


This week has been one of reflection, taking stock….asking questions…

Last Saturday I participated in the Belvoir Art Trail, setting up stall at Blue Owl Art gallery in Grantham…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

I managed to sell one painting and some cards – thank you so much to those who made purchases, you know who you are, and your support is very much appreciated… but I won’t lie, I was disappointed with how the day went – I wasn’t expecting crowds but the number of visitors was very small, with subsequently small sales and a general lack of interest…

The journey home was very quiet, with lots of ‘licking of wounds’, trying to shush the inner critic who was having a field day… ‘Nobody came because your work is c**p’, ‘Why did you think people would come to see you, who are you?’….’What are you doing?’… and all this inevitably leads to introspection…

‘Unless you learn to face

your own shadows,

you will continue to see them in others,

because the world outside of you

is a reflection of the world inside you.’


But with time comes perspective and a change in attitude…it was an Art Trail, important to me, yes….but in the grand scheme of things, well, let’s just say, it wasn’t a matter of life or death…

Yes, it made me question certain things, but my work wasn’t necessarily top of the list…

‘Creation leaves us exposed. Taking risks, solving problems, sharing ideas, making things you care about: this is scary work. So if you also feel uncomfortable and laid bare in your work, you are not alone. It’s a good sign; that tension means you are on the right track. It’s what doing the work you are supposed to do feels like.’

Meagan Fisher

Carolyn J Roberts

Follow Shadows, Chase the Sun

I am making work I really care about, empathise with; it is moving in the right direction, getting stronger…becoming more ‘authentic’  if you want to get all ‘arty farty’….so I don’t necessarily feel it needs a re-focus… What I do think needs a major shift in thinking is how I get my art ‘out there’, to a larger audience…what I am doing, or not, isn’t working as well as I would like….

‘Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again

and expecting different results,’

Albert Einstein

….so I need to change my ‘strategy’….

‘We cannot become what we want

by remaining what we are,’

Max Depree


I need to look for ways to get my work seen, not just on social media, but in ‘real life’ too – whether that be more events, festivals, trails, exhibitions – or in local places; galleries, cafes etc… this will entail some major ‘gritting of teeth’ from me; approaching people for this purpose is not my forte….I get a severe case of verbal diarrhoea and go an unbecoming shade of red….but I know that, if I want to achieve my goals, I need to get over myself…

‘A good half of the art of  living

is resilience,’

Alain de Botton

I also need to take a look at my website; my visitor numbers aren’t huge but even so, I haven’t had a single order, apart from one when I first launched it….so obviously something isn’t working….

I am researching other artists websites and social media outputs, finding ones I connect with and getting ideas, but I know I have been putting off making major changes in my online strategies because of the technology side of things; I either don’t know how to do things so have to rely on my extremely busy OH, or it takes me so long to implement the changes that I lose the will…..(and unfortunately, no, before you suggest it, I can’t afford to pay someone to do it for me…)

Another thing I need to get to grips with is building my mailing list and making sure there is fresh content, not just a rehash of the last months social media posts…

So, there’s just a few things to be getting on with…but as they say ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’… I just need to remember this:

‘Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success,’

Biz Stone

In the meantime, I have been continuing with the printing and collage work – at least I feel as if I am being creative while all this introspection is going on…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist


Creating these small works clears my head, allows time for processing and focussing…and when I need further clarity I go to one of my favourite places…

Carolyn J Roberts artist


‘It does good also to take walks out of doors,

that our spirits may be raised and refreshed

by the open air and fresh breeze….’


It would appear I have a lot to think about and to do…and will no doubt be keeping you regularly updated on progress…but in the meantime…

Looking Forward

‘There is a stirring in my soul; a restless, wild anticipation,

I am staring out into the horizon,

as far as I can.

I can’t see what’s beyond it – but I can feel it.’

Lang Leav

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