My Stretch of River….

We all need places to go…to think, chill, watch the world go by… My place is the stretch of the River Soar…only yards away…

Although the drone of the A6 is ever-present, my little piece of river seems a world away… for the most part, gently meandering its way through the countryside – although there are times it tries to get a little too close..

The changing seasons bring a different feel to the river…from early morning winter serenity….

…to now, mid-summer…with cotton wool clouds floating by and the swaying reeds and nettles echoing the flow of the water..

…I took my coffee with me this morning and just sat…watching, listening….saying hello to the occasional passers by..

…watching the ever-changing reflections and ripples on the surface of the water..

…watching a dragonfly dance across the grass, the swallows, swoop and dive, skimming the water, and a common tern (I think…) hover, then plunge… Listening to the chattering of the swallows, the ‘clap, clap’…silent glide of the pigeons, interspersed with the increasingly agitated call of the walker calling her dog…who was having far too much fun digging in the undergrowth…

Along the river bank, the nettles and bindweed tangle with the rusty seed heads..

…and signs of the approaching autumn mark the passing of time..

…my place, my stretch of river…

..where is your special place, the place you go to, to sit, think, chill, watch the world go by….?

A Creative Show & Tell Night….

Friday (28th July) night was ‘Show & Tell/ A Creative Talk Night’ hosted by Modern Painters, New Decorators (MPND). MPND started in February 2017 and is a not-for-profit organisation based in Loughborough, Leicestershire; art and community are at the forefront of their aims, one of which is to give artistic people the chance to come together for workshops, advice, talks, as well as provide artists with the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work.

The ‘Show & Tell Night’ is the second event they have staged, the first being their ‘Top Dollar Affordable Art Sale’ in June. Held at loc8me in Ashby Square, ‘Show & Tell’ brought together three guest speakers – all Loughborough based creatives working at both local and national levels.

The first was Chloe Hardisty who runs Cotton Clara; she designs, makes and sells colourful, bright, craft décor. On Instagram under the name cotton_clara as well as having an etsy shop, Chloe’s talk was about how she has finally taken the plunge and handed her notice in to go full time as a designer, maker and craft writer. Very honest in what she has sacrificed to get to this point, and making no bones about what a commitment the work entails, she then provided six tips that she had had to learn, sometimes, the hard way…. The one that really struck a chord for me was ‘just to start – forget about your perfectionist tendencies’ -(I got a nudge from my husband along with a knowing look at that point…)… Other tips included arranging a mentor/business advisor, developing your brand, saying yes to things as well as researching successful businesses, listening to creative podcasts and practice, practice, practice….

Second speakers were Kev and Gill, (apologies if incorrectly spelt) members of a consortium trying to regenerate (apologies for the pun) The Generator Building, Frederick Street, Loughborough. Originally owned by Loughborough College and now by Loughborough University, at present, the building stands empty, decaying…. The aim is to create an artistic and creative hub; a place that has workshops, studios, offices, café, exhibition space – a flexible space to provide maximum opportunities for the arts in Loughborough. This is the third time that an attempt has been made to gain funding for this – and the present climate of uncertainty doesn’t help – and both Kev and Gill were open about the hoops they have to jump through, the time and money it takes along with the frustrations…

It would be fantastic to have such a space in the town centre; there is such a vibrant art scene in the Charnwood area – Charnwood Arts being the local community arts and media organisation – and if this project came to fruition, it would be a real focus of attention where the multitude of artistic,creative people and endeavours could come together in one inspiring space….fingers crossed.

Last to speak was Liz Clark, Artistic Director of Turned On Its Head; Liz, along with Oksana Tyminska, created Turned On Its Head, a dance company specialising in creating creative movement and dance opportunities for young children and their families both in the community and theatre settings. The hearing loss of her young son, drove Liz, a dancer and choreographer, to look for alternative ways that he could engage with his surroundings. A workshop with Oksana lead to a light bulb moment and the rest is history as they say….

They now run workshops and classes in Loughborough, Leicester and Nottingham as well as performing their shows up and down the country, from the Drill Hall, Lincoln to the Barbican in London…

Question and answer sessions followed each speaker, and as the event was well attended, there were quite a few questions…..

The next event for MPND is the Sun Goddess Crouching exhibition, a solo show by Loughborough alumni Colette Griffin. The show opens on August 12th in Unit 33, Carillon Court, Shopping Centre, Loughborough….everyone welcome.

Modern Painters, New Decorators are on Facebook and Instagram (mpndprojects) – definitely worth a look!!


Drawing Inspiration…

Artists take their inspiration from many things; their surroundings, music, emotions, words…at the moment my inspiration seems to have deserted me…hopefully just temporarily…(not sure if this is just the ‘down’ after being on a high with the successes of the Exploring Place exhibition at Blue Owl Art..)

I have taken to mindlessly splashing ink and watercolour around in the hope that something will click…

….but I have to admit that although sometimes something pleasing appears on the paper, for the most part it is just that, mindless splashing…..

I am really looking forward to attending Caroline Chappell’s Abstracted Landscape course – hopefully a fresh take on my efforts and being with other like-minded people will give me a kick-start….

On the list of equipment is a request to bring along any favourite texts or poetry to do with the landscape….Now anyone who is kind enough to read this blog will know that I love words…and whilst my artistic efforts have me crying in my coffee so to speak, researching and finding books, text, poems and words is one thing that is giving me pleasure….

I love The Peak District in Derbyshire and have based several of my works on the area…these two are based on the Dark Peak..

…and while researching I came across the Companion Stones Project…..a project created by Arts in the Peak, the Peak District National Park Authority and 18 poets and artists. The project is a contemporary response to the Guide Stoops of the Derbyshire moorland – the stoops were set up 300 yrs ago to guide travellers across the moorlands. Twelve modern stoops have been placed in the Park with inscriptions that encourage a dialogue between artist and audience, past and present… For all the details of the project click on the link above…

James Caruth is one of the poets who has contributed to this project; the following excerpt from his poem particularly resonates with me…

‘the old paths lost now

in the valley’s folds,

the fraught sky tethered to a stone.

This place is neither here nor there,

but set your hand on its gritty heart,

feel the earth’s cold pulse…’

Reading poetry is something I have grown to appreciate, but better than reading is hearing poetry being read, best of all being read by the author…and here on Soundcloud you can hear Caruth reading a selection of his work…

The project sounds really interesting; something that merits further investigation, and I wonder if this, along with the painting course, is what I need to fire up my imagination…

For now I will keep splashing around….

(above based on The Salt Cellar rock formation, Derwent Edge…)

The Artist’s Curse…..

Spent the morning experimenting…..actually just playing, with no particular aims, or thought…

Using the sample paper I got from St.Cuthbert’s Mill at the Patchings Art Festival – a mixture of Saunders Waterford and Bockingford – I put the pigment directly onto the paper before adding water, ink, and in some cases, granulation fluid…with somewhat mixed results…

…perhaps that was to be expected as I definitely wasn’t feeling it …..

Even tried a colour I don’t usually use – Perylene Red – in an effort to get the creative juices flowing….not sure it worked….

Decided to take a closer look at one of the pieces….

…and thought that if I turned it on it’s side….

…I could potentially see honesty seed heads and teasels….so I did the fatal thing, the artist’s curse….and fiddled…

….you would think I would know by now – what can I say, I’m a slow learner …oh well back to playing….oh sorry, I mean experimenting…

Magic in the Water…

Despite living in central England I love the water….I really empathise with this quote by Loren Eiseley – ‘If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.’ (Although, I hasten to add, I also find magic in the mountains….) Whether it’s the sea, a lake, a river, stream, puddle, rivulet or ripple, there is something about water that draws me to it….

Just over 100yards from where I live is the River Soar and is a favourite place of mine to wander along, to sit awhile….

…to ponder and wonder….to such an extent that I am now reading Tristan Gooley’s book, ‘How To Read Water; Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea’..

Along with the physical properties of water, Gooley intertwines history, anthropology and his own experiences…am finding it fascinating…..

Water also plays a large part in my attempts at art….and I have spent the morning playing with my favourite Daniel Smith watercolours, lots of water, sepia ink and granulation fluid – something I had forgotten I had until Ann Blockley used it in her demo at Patchings Art Festival

I used Saunders Waterford 140lb NOT paper produced by St. Cuthbert’s Mill and Daniel Smith watercolours – Perylene Green, Lunar Blue, Blue Apatite Genuine, Moonglow and my favourite, Rich Gold Green…along with granulation fluid and a black watercolour pencil…and water!

The following three are my favourites – judiciously cropped and framed using Photoshop…

Not sure where this experimentation will lead to, if anywhere, but it’s fun…and, being a person who puts such pressure on myself to produce masterpieces every time I pick up a brush…having fun and enjoying my art is something I should concentrate on….the magic will come, hopefully!!

Watching Paint Dry……

One of those mornings where you are waiting for the telephone engineer….you know the sort…’they will be with you some time between 8.00am and 1.00pm’…. I find it hard to settle when I know that, at some point, I am going to be interrupted …so I decided to make myself some watercolour swatches a la artist Ken Hurd’s tip…a pick up/put down sort of task…

I have seen the square colour charts before but the idea of making swatches of the colours seemed a much easier way to choose colours and see which ones harmonised better…so obvious, makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it earlier…

I  used St.Cuthbert’s Mill  (I just can’t seem to get this link to work)Saunders Waterford 140lb NOT watercolour paper for the swatches, writing the make and shade on the back….

It’s also a useful way of making me see what watercolours I really have….if you are anything like me, you have some favourite shades that you use all the time, and then there the other tubes you bought on a whim and never seem to use for one reason or another…I might actually get round to using some of them now…..

….and guess what, the telephone engineer has just called to say he is running late, and he won’t be with me until later this afternoon……might just go and watch some more paint dry……

Patchings Art Festival….

Yesterday, Friday, saw myself and my other half take a trip to the Patchings Art Festival held at the Patchings Art Centre near Calverton, Nottinghamshire. Despite it being a cloudy, blustery day the marquees were full….

…there was music playing..

…and the sun did eventually make an appearance..

It was interesting wandering around the marquee where the artists had their stands and where some were doing demonstrations…..

Subjective as art is, there was obviously some work I preferred to others…. I particularly liked the approach and mixed media work of Ken Hurd…friendly guy and very generous with his tips and advice…. Claire Botterill was another artist whose work and techniques interested me.  I also watched Laura Boswell demonstrate her Japanese wood block printing… I particularly liked her linocut prints. Couldn’t figure out where I knew her name from until I read that she writes a regular column for the Artists and Illustrators magazine…I did purchase a couple of cards from her…as they say ‘every little helps…’

We also watched the Ann Blockley demonstration in the St. Cuthbert’s Mill ( I can’t seem to get the link to work here… their web address is Marquee…and very enjoyable and interesting it was too!!

There were also other exhibits/demonstrations going on around the ground for the long-suffering, not-so-art orientated partners including some beautiful bonsai trees..

..and glass-blowing..

..and an interesting Landscape Photography talk by RK Photographic

All in all….a good day….and, yes, I spent far too much….