Six in Twenty….

My name is Carolyn Roberts and I suffer with ‘white paper syndrome’…..

Talking to friends and fellow artists…(although I still find myself feeling extremely self-conscious when I refer to myself as an artist…but that’s a subject for another post..),  I know that I am not alone…Faced with that lovely sheet of white paper, or a beautiful new sketchbook – have just bought two Seawhite ones from Jacksons Art – I feel panic setting in and at times this paralyses me…I find myself procrastinating….one of the down sides of working from home is that it is easy to be side-tracked, there’s always a job that needs doing…

I am sure all artists have ways of overcoming this ‘syndrome’….Last year I was lucky enough to attend a Jean Haines workshop and she advocates various exercises to remedy this – see her blog/books/DVDs. There’s also all the warm up exercises when you attend life-drawing classes…..non-dominant hand, continuous line drawing, not looking at the paper, holding the charcoal or pencil at arms length…

From these experiences I have developed my own little warm up exercise for me to overcome that feeling of panic every time I go into my ‘studio’ …(back bedroom)…I set myself the task of producing six images on six pieces of paper in twenty minutes…. The paper is whatever scraps I have lying around and are of varying sizes, although not too big owing to the time constraints. The medium is whatever I have to hand, be that pencil, ink, charcoal, watercolour…. I consciously try not to have to have set images in mind…I’m just concentrating on getting marks on paper, getting the creative juices flowing, overcoming the fear….




I set myself a time limit, one day it was ‘Six in Ten Minutes’ as I had lots of tiny scraps of paper, and I find this time limit stops me from ‘faffing about’…and it also removes that pressure of thinking I have to create a masterpiece every time….the marks are spontaneous….and sometimes, just sometimes, I get some images that I quite like or I think are worth developing….


img_0091How do you begin your studio sessions? How do you overcome ‘white paper syndrome?’

…….That Is The Question….

While today’s ‘Six in Twenty’ were drying…



I used the time to tidy the studio (back bedroom between you and me)……size wise, the words swing, cat and around spring to mind…..

Anyway…I found some offcuts of mountboard so decided to try a different surface…..


After initial marks using charcoal and ink washes….I added hints of colour with watercolours…


….and now the question is….do I add any more…..

i think I will put it to one side whilst I procrastinate….

One Step Forward, Two Steps….

Whenever I have a break from my attempts at ‘art’ I always feel as if I am back to square one when I pick my brush up again…..such has been the case this week. Family visits/visiting meant my brushes have lain idle …not that I would swap family visits for anything!!!

So today I started with another ‘Six in Twenty’….only to find myself ‘faffing about’ on the first four meaning I had to rush the last two…








I find myself remembering what worked on previous occasions and I try to re-create those works….and therein lies the problem….when I try to deliberately re-create, the work loses all spontaneity…. Another lesson to remember….

I’ve also been trying different watercolour paper surfaces…


I don’t this one works as well as previous attempts….but I like the one below on smooth paper…


….I love all the ‘cauliflower’ blooms and marks….think I will call this one ‘ When Sky and Land Meet’….

Slow progress…hence the one step forward, two steps backwards..

Shades of….Grey…

it’s been a grey, dank day so far, although as I type the sun is trying to make an appearance; there’s even been the odd snowflake… the ‘Six in Twenty ‘ reflects the weather…..I have been attempting to improve my tonal work….


Using charcoal and inks, some studies were more successful than others, but that’s the point of experimentation….

I felt the following three merited further exploration….




So, on slightly heavier watercolour paper I tried….

img_0022img_0021I used a lot of water so it’s obvious the paper needs to be even heavier…

Not sure if these pieces are that successful but I’m enjoy the process….

A Hard Lesson to Master….

I am using my ‘Six in Twenty’ studies to experiment with different media – watercolour, inks, pastels etc as well using various implements to apply said media; brushes, wooden sticks, pegs, bits of twigs….you get the picture….

….these studies are done on old sketch book paper so I know the effects will be slightly different on heavier paper but I am learning nonetheless….

From today’s Six….

img_0009…I am learning what I like and what I feel works well….and more importantly, how I achieved these results….as in the following two studies…

img_0007img_0008…and the not so good, that hard lesson to master…..not fiddling…


I didn’t like the original washes….so I persisted in fiddling….and fiddling….until..too late… the study turned into a splodge…..

i will keep plugging away but I’ve a feeling this lesson is a hard one to master!!

Gathering Inspiration….

After a gloomy week, Saturday saw the sun make an appearance…leading to a walk around Burrough Hill, the ups and downs all part of an Iron Age fort….




….and these views inspired a few of my ‘Six in Twenty’ today ….


….quite liking the colour combination and minimalist feel to these…


img_0006…..I am also still drawn to the palette of Payne’s Grey, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue…

img_0003…..and, keeping with the theme of gathering inspiration…..a present to myself…


Haven’t fully digested these yet so will leave my thoughts for another time…

Progression….or just learning..

Still playing, this time with watercolour……

A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit Venice….a high tide took place and we had to walk on the raised boards…. One morning we rose before dawn, to visit the markets….well worth the early start….. And it was the watery light and colours that was in my mind with these studies….

The first two don’t work….



….but I feel with this last one that I am getting closer to what I have in my mind’s eye…


….not wonderful but definitely progression….