Driven to Draw…blog update

The prospect of participating in The Big Draw exhibition at Blue Owl Art, (located at Grantham Tennis Club) from September through to December, has provided me with the impetus to get out and about and actually produce some drawings! The whole ethos of the event made me consider why I draw and I came to the conclusion that drawing is my way of visualising the world around me, as I’m sure it is for a lot of people. It is fundamental in the translation of my ideas and integral to my thinking, experimenting, playing and making. Drawing is, for me, the mainstay of my creativity.

For the exhibition, this body of work has been inspired by The National Forest. Covering an area of over 200 square miles, millions of trees have been planted over the last twenty years in an attempt to demonstrate the benefits of living and working within, and next to, a woodland environment. Living only a stone’s throw from the Forest, it is a place I regularly visit – not only for relaxation, but also for contemplation and inspiration. It is a magical place whatever the season, from it’s stark beauty in winter, verdant greens and bluebell carpets of spring leading to dappled glades in summer, to the brilliant reds and golds of autumn.

Whatever I am researching/working on, there always seems to be one particular component that catches my eye – fires my imagination if you like – and in this instance it is the silver birch trees within the Forest. Their trunks, spindly limbs reaching skywards that mature to majestic white columns, inviting and guiding you around the paths.

I have been busy trying to capture their essence, using charcoal and graphite – seemed appropriate somehow! As in all work, there are successes and failures, but the following works are the ones I am most pleased with and have therefore mounted and framed ready for the exhibition. (I know I need to take better photos!)

Winter BirchSilver Birch ISilver Birch IISilver Birch III


Silver Birch IV

Silver Birch V


Silver Birch Diptych I

Silver Birch Diptych II

Silver Birch TriptychFor now I am continuing to produce work; whether all of them will make it into the exhibition remains to be seen, but if nothing else I am really enjoying getting my hands covered in charcoal and experimenting (or should that be playing!)

Working towards my goals…blog update

As I said in my last post I found the Professional Creative Planning Workshop run by Creative Leicestershire to be a liberating experience. I had found myself at a crossroads, in a vicious circle if you like, where I was so desperate not to compromise all that I had learnt at Loughborough University, to focus solely on looking for/creating installation work, I almost felt that by producing watercolours and drawings I was in some way ‘letting the side down’. I had therefore put drawing/painting on the back burner so to speak whilst I looked for opportunities for the next installation. However, installations, whatever they comprise of, require funding and by not producing work of any kind raises the question of how I am to fund my art practice. The Workshop enabled me to see that the two areas of art do not have to be mutually exclusive – I can use one to fund the other (unless I am lucky enough to obtain funding from an external source for any installations).

To that end, I have again been experimenting with watercolours and also producing drawings that will, hopefully, be included in the Blue Owl Art exhibition in September – part of The Big Draw event.

Here are some of my drawings – some framed and ready to go – some still with work to be done!

Silver Birches Carolyn J RobertsSilver Birch Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J Roberts








Silver Birches II Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J Roberts






I enjoy the mixture of mediums and styles – I like to experiment with the marks I make!




Equally with the watercolours I am trying hard to produce loose, almost abstract landscapes, and, although I like to experiment, I am finding that at the moment my favourite colours are Winsor & Newton Indigo, Quinacridone Gold, Raw Umber, Violet, Prussian and Cerulean Blue!

Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J Roberts






Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J Roberts






Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsCarolyn J Roberts






Carolyn J RobertsThink I went a bit mad with the cling-film on this one!

So for now, it’s on with the drawings and working some of the watercolours up into paintings in order to sell them (thus achieving one of my goals) – in that way I can fund my practice and that’s surely all part and parcel of being a professional artist isn’t it?


Professional Creative Development Planning Workshop…blog update

This morning I attended a Professional Development Workshop organised by Creative Leicestershire. Led by Cathy Grindod, herself a practising poet and author, the workshop is intended to enable you to reflect upon where you are at present in your artistic career, where you would like to be and the steps you need to take to achieve your aims. Free to attend, I took the opportunity to participate in the workshop, not only because it provides a chance to network with other artists and professionals, but also because I felt I had reached a crossroads or stalemate following the end of my Connecting Threads exhibitions.

ConfusedIt’s all too easy when being reflective to concentrate on the negatives so it was useful to have to list your achievements to date and the times you were most happy in your artistic career – and to consider why. The subsequent exercises were designed to help you determine your own personal goals, and how you were going to achieve them; identifying any obstacles, what you need to overcome them and by setting realistic goals. To some of you this all might seem fairly obvious or just common sense, but sometimes it helps to have a fresh viewpoint, to have someone question what it is you really want. Suffice to say I have now set myself a list of goals (and dates by which I hope to have achieved them!) – I must pin this list up in the study so that I see them everyday!!

One of my stumbling blocks was that I was undecided as to what path my practice should take; do I concentrate on installations/sound etc or develop my drawings/painting? This course helped me to realise that the two do not have to be mutually exclusive – one can help the other. This realisation is hugely liberating – it’s almost as if I have given myself permission to do both without feeling guilty.

As I said, one of the reasons for attending the workshop was the opportunity to network – the chance to meet other artists, to acknowledge and discuss issues that are affecting you, and to know that you are not alone in doubting yourself – and today was no exception. Today’s group was a mixture of those of us just starting out on our careers and the more established artists. Cathy was very astute, asking just the right questions to focus the discussions. She also had some great words of wisdom such as ‘Never compare yourself to someone else’ and suggested that we keep a diary to note what we are doing and when, to keep a record of our progress and to see how far we have come!

If you do feel as if you have reached a crossroads, or are unsure as to how to push your artistic practice forward, then I would recommend attending this workshop. Creative Leicestershire are in the process of developing their autumn schedule so keep an eye out on their website for further details. I will definitely be looking to attend more of their events and workshops! Hopefully I will make more new friends to go with the ones I met today!

For now I need to concentrate on my drawings ready for an exhibition in September at Blue Owl Art, Grantham.

Carolyn J Roberts





Pulp – Loughborough University Fine Art Degree Show 2014…blog update

One year on from my own graduation I returned to Loughborough University’s Finals Show this weekend to see the culmination of 3 years work by the class of 2014 – where did that year go? Walking around those familiar studios it was great to see a wide variety of mediums and subject matter on show – a great advert for the range of opportunities the university has to offer. This diversity, ranging from abstract and figurative painting, photography, print-making, video work, sculpture, sound and installation plus a number of works in between, meant there is something for everyone to enjoy!

Sixty seven students are participating in the exhibition and below is a selection of works that caught my eye for one reason or another, but this is by no means an exhaustive list!

Chloe Allen’s work ‘Just South of Heaven’ is a series of mixed media pieces that focus on the nature of volcanic activity – the delicate nature of the work and the marks juxtaposing the violence of the eruption, the hardening magma, with the ephemerality of the ash clouds. It was the colours and marks, along with the delicacy of the work that drew me to it –

Chloe Allen - Just South of Heaven

as was the case with Alberta Pessao’s mixed media work in the Liminal Group exhibition. I liked the way that she had utilised the discarded oil paints of other students to make a whole micro-world of insects; the oil and turpentine fusing together to create the most wonderful organic shapes.

Alberta Pessao BichosArtists’ Victoria Margeson, and SoMin Kim have created art from the mundane. The shirts that Victoria wears to paint in have provided the subject for her work; her simple yet elegant drawings, with their crisp lines and soft marks capture the essence of the fabric whilst her obvious passion for the medium shines through in her oil paintings.

Victoria MargesonSoMin Kim’s work caught my eye because her use of cable ties to produce delicate sculptures reminded me of the conker installation my group produced in our very first weeks at university. The obsessive nature and intensity of labour required to produce the work brought all the memories flooding back – I think I got RSI from drilling all those holes in the conkers! It’s not the first time I have seen cable ties used in art and I’m sure it won’t be the last – they do connect to create delicate and fluid forms!

SoMin Kim

Also utilising material for a very different purpose to that which it is intended, and portraying how beautiful it can be is Hannah Bollard. Sculptural forms of dried glue drips doesn’t sound like everyone’s idea of Fine Art, but the black glue does provide the most elegant of marks – 3D drawing almost. Hannah’s work challenges us to look beyond the everyday – to see art in the most unlikely of places – to open our eyes.

Hannah BollardOf all the painters’ on show it was Sarah Wilson’s work that really caught my eye. Her ‘enquiry into the physicality and material possibilities of painting’ has produced the most wonderful abstract works; the marks and the colours hold your gaze and everytime I returned to look at them I saw something new – glorious!

Sarah WilsonI had to include Michelle Onwurah’s work if only because it was a site-specific installation using…threads! Obviously a totally different concept lies behind this work – think nightmares and dark places – the work provides the viewer with the physical embodiment of such ‘dreams’. Difficult to negotiate, the angles create dark masses of thread that threaten to trap you in this netherworld.

Michelle OnwurahLeah Downing’s work combines science and art, and highlights our misconceptions regarding space and the cosmos. Inspired by the images form the Hubble telescope Leah uses photography, chemical reactions and manipulation to create landscapes – beautiful, romantic – yet false. The colours are amazing and the ethereal quality of the landscapes are beautiful – again, they are works that you can stand in front of for ages and see something new everytime.

Leah DowningThere was the inevitable, but nonetheless interesting work commenting on the digital age. Mark Cleary focusses on the image-saturated world we now live in and how it can be manipulated to miscommunicate events whilst James Poyser’s work comments on the ‘digital generation’ and how they communicate through the use of social media. Being a member of the pre-social media era, it does sadden me to see people sat at the same tables, focussed solely on their phones, i-pads, etc. Interesting, thought-provoking work.

Other work that caught my eye was Katherine Loudoun’s photographs and prints, Abigail Harris’s mesmerising video and Vanessa Lewis Jones’s Lines of Sight with its crisp, clean black and white imagery.

There was the almost now obligatory work commenting on the art education system. Mike Jones’s work did make me give a wry smile, remembering all the aims and objectives, boxes to tick…

As I said at the outset, these are only a few of the works that caught my eye – there were others, but that could be another post. I’ve tried to include as many links to the artists’ work as possible but failing that pop along and have a look – Pulp is open until 15th June (10am-5pm)..

All in all a great show – congratulation class of 2014 you’ve done it!

Patchings Arts Festival…blog update

Yesterday saw Peter and I visit the Patchings Art Festival at the Patchings Art Centre, Calverton, Nottinghamshire. Bathed in sunshine, under azure blue skies, the art on show here is of a very different nature to that I studied at Loughborough University. Indeed, and I’m probably going to be a little controversial here, I’m sure some art critics would categorise the art here as being that of the Sunday afternoon hobby painter kind. I, however, have a foot in both camps! Surely anything that stimulates you to take an interest in art, at whatever level, that inspires you to have a go, has got to be a good thing? Most of us began our artistic journey by drawing and painting what we saw around us – we didn’t start out producing sculptures, video work, paintings that have more to do with the materials than the subject, even, dare I say it, audio-visual installations! For some people, the work on show here is what pleases them, for others, it inspires them to go further on their artistic journey – suffice to say, if we all liked the same things, the world would be a very boring place! And if I could paint half as well as some of the talented artists here I would be very happy indeed! Anyway, ‘Debate of the Day’ over with (for now I’m sure!), onto the Festival!

Patchings FestivalThe glorious weather contributed to a great day, strolling around the marquees, eyeing up all the art materials… Got what I considered a bargain from the Two Rivers Paper Mill and met the lovely guys who make the paper – so enthusiastic, brilliant! Bought a squirrel mop head brush from Rosemary & Co that I can’t wait to try – (unfortunately sable was out of my price range!) and some Bockingford watercolour paper from Charlie Downs at the Yew Tree Studios! Also received some free samples of Bockingford paper when we went to the St. Cuthberts Mill Marquee to see a demonstration by Jean Haines – a very talented watercolour artist who paints in a wonderful loose way and very generously shared lots of her tips!

Although we had to pay a nominal fee to see Jean Haines, many of the other artists were doing free demos at their stands and were again, very generous in answering questions and giving tips! It was great to see the work in progress – not sure I would have the nerve! Andrew Geeson, another watercolour artist who paints in a very loose manner, gave a very amusing and informative demo, providing a great insight into how and why he works in this way!

Patchings FestivalPatchings Festival






The extremely warm weather made the marquees very hot at times – no doubt one of the reasons the Pimms stand was doing a roaring trade!! We had taken our own picnic (eaten sitting on the grass in the sunshine!) which was just as well because when we visited the refreshment tent later for a cup of tea, the chiller cabinets were empty – sold out of sandwiches and cold drinks! However, the art, artists, demos and the choir all made for a great atmosphere and a very enjoyable day!

Next week I am visiting the Loughborough University Degree Finals Show which will be very different but just as interesting!