You Never Know…

Time to be honest….everyone is on a journey, everyone is going through ‘something’, ‘stuff’…but most of the time you would never know…and I am no exception…the last few years, at times, have been something of a slog; personal circumstances, serious family illness, both physical and mental, loss…there were times it felt as if I was wading through treacle…

One thing that kept me sane was getting outdoors, out in the landscape, time to just be, reflect…to get perspective…and that’s why this latest series of work really resonates with me…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Inspired by the landscape, using my favourite colours and materials… (Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink Sepia, Daniel Smith Watercolours Indigo, Winsor and Newton Granulation Fluid..)

Carolyn J Roberts artist

…incorporating collage material…(old sketches, old experimental monoprints, torn magazines, newspapers, sheet music…)..adding layers… in some ways, representative of my journey…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….and the addition of collaged words in my work is a new departure for me…but these are words that have helped me, reminded me, resonated with me…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

We all have ups and downs in our lives, but it feels good to have been able to produce work that is honest, a true reflection of me, out of some dark times….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist





‘We do not need anything or anyone but ourselves to validate our worth.

The stars still glow even if no one stops to praise it.

Rivers still continue to flow even if no one stops to praise it.

If no one recognises you, you must still continue to grow.

We are made of the same elements as these beautiful forms,

we are absolutely beautiful and tremendously strong,

just by being.

Remember this.’


I found this quote online but could not find the author…if you know, please let me know so I can acknowledge….. I find the words beautiful and the sentiment is a great reminder for me not to overthink, get too hung up…to keep growing…and boy have I needed reminding…

I have been struggling of late; lack of inspiration, lack of sales, loss of mojo…..all contributing to loss of self-confidence… The ‘just turn up in the studio and do something, anything’ strategy didn’t seem to work…I just ended up more frustrated and that, in turn,  became a vicious circle…. so I took time out; walking….

‘I go to nature

to be soothed

and healed

and to have

my sense

put in order.’

John Burroughs

….taking photographs, videos, reading….and slowly, along with the coming of Spring, I have begun to get back in the studio, making work, work that I am happy with, work that resonates with how I am feeling….

….and it’s just as well that I am making work again, because I have been accepted to participate in this year’s Belvoir Art Trail running over the weekend 3-6 May. I will be based at Blue Owl Art in Grantham, Lincolnshire where there is also a fantastic café and free parking…. I will be posting more information nearer the time so watch this space….and as always, it would be great to see some of you there!!

Acceptance onto the Trail has obviously spurred me on to prepare work, necessitating in an order to Jackson’s Art….consisting mainly of mountboard for this selection of mixed media I need to get ready….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….but I managed to sneak in one or two treats…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….. my preferred square Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook along with some Daniel Smith Indigo watercolour and a new shade – Daniel Smith Gray Titanium….

….and obviously any new colour requires experimentation…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….Gray Titanium is a warm grey with yellowish undertones; I can see it being very useful in my landscapes…. even though, with the addition of Winsor & Newton Granulation Fluid, it doesn’t granulate very much…

Several readers have asked what masking tape I use…and I have found the Kleenedge low tack masking tape good…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

…providing crisp, clean edges, lifting easily, and can be re-used, if only in my sketchbook…

I feel as if I am slowly awakening, finding my way, beginning to be inspired again, enjoying creating again….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist


‘To find your own way is to follow your bliss.

This involves analysis, watching yourself & seeing where real bliss is –

not the quick, little excitement but the real deep life-filling bliss.’

Joseph Campbell



On The Up…..Slowly…

‘The moods of a river change from hour to hour and day to day. It can be still and serene as a glassy mirror, reflecting the clouds that pass over it and the trees on it’s banks. Or, when a light breeze springs up, the surface of the river may be broken into little diamond lights reflecting the distant sun’ – Ernie Lyons

Recent rain has seen the river level rise, submerging ‘my’ patch of reeds…ripples and shimmers on the glassy mirror, noisy crows arguing in the tree tops, clatter of ladders, voices carried on the wind…changing moods…

Regular readers will know that I have been struggling, having a ‘creative block’, ‘lost my mojo’; call it what you will, it only served to heighten my self-doubt….but stepping away for a week, taking time out to reflect, read, think…get some perspective… I am slowly beginning to work my way out of the ‘low’ I had found myself in…

A couple of new purchases…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….and a dabble with materials I am not so familiar with…namely acrylics….no pressure, no expectations…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….definitely no expectations as I am no expert with acrylics; there is not enough contrast in tone or brushstroke and the composition – well suffice to say, not exactly what I was going for…but I had fun… for some reason, I always get in more of a mess with acrylics….but is just felt good to have paint splattered fingers…

So I have carried on mark making with graphite pencil, charcoal and Art Graf.. trying to get my arm moving, varying the tones and quality of the marks…but without overthinking…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

‘Rivers know this: there is no hurry.

We shall get there some day.’

A. A. Milne


Rhythmical Lows….

I feel drawn to the river. It’s gentle meanderings, constant flow, cycles of life in and at the water’s edge somehow anchor me, reminding me that life carries on regardless of what else is happening…….or not….

This last week I have felt strangely discombobulated, lost…I have been trying to square the fact that this 8 second video, quickly captured on my iPad…

….garnered over 1000 views, (huge for me), whilst, for the first time, I had no sales in my Instagram flash sale…Carolyn J Roberts artist

or any interest in my ‘Songs of Norfolk’ watercolour and ink series based on the north Norfolk coast.

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Now, I fully understand I only have a small social media following and an even smaller mailing list, so I can’t keep expecting sales from a limited audience…. I know I need to build on and develop ‘getting my work out there’/outlets/social  media/internet/website traffic…but, in my current ‘low’ mood,  I feel as if I have been plugging away and getting nowhere…even allowing for this being a slow burn… And so, I begin to question myself, doubt that I am ‘good enough’, wondering why I am bothering….self-doubt, imposter syndrome….questions and feelings that I am sure a lot of artists can empathise with…and even though I normally have quite a positive outlook, I begin to feel overwhelmed….

I try to paint, but with no clear direction just end up with a bigger pile of collage material…So I decided to take a week out, put my brushes etc. to one side and think, reflect….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Do I need sales to validate me…? Does having no sales mean my work is rubbish, isn’t ‘good enough’ – although who determines what is good enough? And if I don’t have confidence and faith in my work why should I expect others to? I have to admit here that the thought of paddling my canoe off down the river, drifting away, was very appealing…..however, I don’t possess a canoe….

So, after my week of reflection do I have all the answers….errrr….heck no!!  What has become apparent though is that although I haven’t used my paintbrushes, pencils etc. this week I have enjoyed creating these short videos, taking photos and writing/journalling….which has led me to conclude that being creative is part of who I am, that I would have to have some sort of creative outlet no matter what, in some form or other….and I have to admit here that, having had a week away from painting, I am itching to pick up my art materials and make marks….

I feel my work is developing and I am becoming more discerning;  producing more pieces that fulfil my intentions, that I have faith in. Does that mean I am more confident…in a word…no… I am still amazed when people wish to purchase my work, flabbergasted that they would consider hanging my painting in their homes…but I think I have to accept my diffidence; I don’t think that, at my age, my nature is going to miraculously alter…

I know, I know, I imagine you all shouting ‘Stop overthinking, just get on with it, just do it, keep on going…it will come…’ With my logical head on I hear you, I acknowledge this is all part and parcel of the highs and lows of the artistic life; having watched some TED talks and listened to podcasts, it is apparent that most artists, even established ones, have these doubts…

….and yes, I am aware that this post is in danger of becoming a bit of a wallowing ramble (it has taken me three days to write and I have deleted quite a lot….)…just to reassure, normal service will no doubt resume shortly…I have applied to two Art Trails (pushing me again out of my comfort zone) and am in the process of applying to another…I will continue to make work, post on social media, keep plugging away…slowly growing my audience….remembering all the while that Rome wasn’t built in a day….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

‘Reflection is a gift for your spirit. It nourishes your creative energies, by allowing deeper parts of who you are to come forth and be discovered. And as you embrace these discoveries about yourself, you become more fully aware of who you are and what your purpose is at this point along your journey recognising that your life is a wonder, and that you are connected to something greater than yourself which allows your spirit to blossom.’ Belle Bleue