Searching for Simplicity….Cont’d….

It’s been a bit of a stop/start couple of weeks – what with the ongoing family issues and preparations for the Melbourne Festival, Derbyshire on the 14th/15th September – my search for a simpler life as well as for more clarity in my artwork has taken somewhat of a backseat…such is life…

To-do lists, mounting, framing, pricing, cataloguing etc., let’s be honest, not the most glamourous side of being an artist…but all jobs that need doing…and it will all be worth it, fingers crossed…

However, even whilst making a prototype ‘book’ of my watercolour, charcoal and ink mark making studies…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

….the urge to splash ink, make marks and generally just experiment, was too strong…even if it was just a couple of pages in a sketchbook…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

It felt so good to be creative, experimenting…and to know that, when I finally have more time, I am conscious of the direction I want to go with my art….

(And by the way, regarding the prototype, I have decided to make the ‘covers’ out of heavyweight rough watercolour paper rather than mountboard…we shall see…)

If you want to keep up-to-date with my work in progress, please follow me on social media…or for more ramblings, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite…

In the meantime…..

‘Start where you are.

Use what you have.

Do what you can,’

Arthur Ashe

Sketchbooks…Part One

I have just spent a very cathartic couple of hours…clearing, sorting, cutting and sticking… Regular followers will know that I am going through somewhat of a transitional phase, part of which includes getting rid of ‘stuff’, both physically and mentally… De-cluttering is the order of the day so…

I am sure I am not alone in having a pile of reject artworks sitting in the corner of my work space; experimental pieces, offcuts of work, quick sketches, odd mark making exercises…at the time, they all served a purpose, now they just sit there, glaring sullenly at me from the corner, taking space…so, armed with my latest acquisition, a guillotine, I set to work…

Some went straight into the recycle bin…others were sliced and diced until I found a composition or a mark I liked, and duly stuck into a sketchbook…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I can’t tell you how good it felt, clearing out, sorting, saving the areas of work I liked for future reference…all in one sketchbook rather than just having a huge pile of ‘also rans’…even the slicing and dicing was therapeutic…there is something strangely satisfying about the ‘snap’ of the guillotine from one end to the other….or is that just me?

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist



Now I realise that this idea is not revolutionary, I haven’t re-invented the wheel or anything, and many of you will already do this – I’m just a late-comer to the party…. And I can see the benefit of it…not only am I de-cluttering, the process is making me assess and evaluate which bits of my practice I prefer; the mark making, the colour palette, the empty spaces…and clarifying these elements is all part of my artistic journey…speaking of which…I came across this poem by David Whyte recently, aptly called ‘The Journey’…

‘Above the mountains

the geese turn into

the light again


Painting their

black silhouettes

on an open sky


Sometimes everything

has to be

inscribed across

the heavens


so you can find

the one line

already written

inside you


Sometimes it takes

a great sky

to find that


first, bright

and indescribable

wedge of freedom

in your own heart


Sometimes with

the bones of the black

sticks left when the fire

has gone out


someone has written

something new

in the ashes of your life.


You are not leaving.

Even as the light fades quickly now,

you are arriving.’


Carolyn J Roberts Artist


This process  of clearing out, sorting through, pinpointing likes and dislikes, is just another step along my path…

What do you do with old work, experimental pieces….I would love to know!!

If you would like to keep up-to-date with what I am working on please follow me on social  media… I am also in the process of writing my August newsletter; have to admit it’s longer than usual, but it explains a little about the shift in my creative thinking…if you are interested in learning more, plus hearing other news, please sign up via the link opposiste…

Searching for Simplicity…..

I am of an age where I can look back and remember a time when there were no mobile phones, nothing called ‘the internet’, home computers were unheard of, cars still had chokes and vinyl followed by cassette tapes were the norm; having 24/7 access to news feeds, being ‘available’ to work 24/7, living life at what seems breakneck speed was inconceivable…. and before you all say that I am looking back through rose-tinted spectacles, I do also recall that it wasn’t all sweetness and light, and yes, some things have improved… But the notion of being ‘go, go, go’ all the time, living life ‘virtually’…is growing less appealing the older I get.

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

This idea of simplicity is perhaps one of the reasons I am intent on de-cluttering the house; getting rid of things I no longer use or want, items that don’t bring me joy….why am I keeping it? And I find, with less clutter, less ‘stuff’ I feel more settled…more ‘grounded’….and then there is the added bonus of the housework taking less time…

….and similarly, as I progress and assess my work, I find, more and more, I am searching for simplicity; simplicity of line and mark…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist Charcoal Drawings

I feel as if I am developing my distinctive style; atmospheric work, where the line and the mark as well as the white space of the paper is key… and just as this applies to my charcoal drawings, watercolour and ink and mixed media pieces…I am working to establish these elements in my acrylic experiments…

Whilst these initial endeavours have some interesting textures and marks…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist acrylic painting

Carolyn J Roberts Artist acrylic painting

….I somehow felt they were too ‘busy’, too much going on…I wanted to keep the work simpler, to exemplify, to give clarity to the elements that are important to me….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

With memories of a windswept beach on the Scottish coast, I wanted to create work that captured that sense of ‘wildness’, the rush of the wind, the scudding clouds, the swirling sand, the seabirds’ spiralling flight…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I have tried to pare back this work to its simplest forms, trying the ‘less is more’ approach, and as with anything apparently simple, it is anything but… my work is intuitive, gestural and expressive, and in these works, the marks and line have to be more ‘considered’. The black ink marks especially required me to be definitive, positive with the stroke… I do feel though that I am making progress towards what I am aiming for….and importantly, I am enjoying playing, experimenting, learning…simplifying…

Carolyn J Roberets Artist


‘The ability to simplify means to eliminate

the unnecessary so that

the necessary may speak,’

Hans Hoffman


To keep up with more of my musings and ramblings, please follow me on social media or sign up to receive my monthly (is) newsletter via the link opposite…





Painting Challenges…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

This transition period is a time for me to relax, experiment, research…. and I recently read this article,  ‘Amateur vs Professional Artist: 7 Questions To Ask Yourself’‘  I could certainly identify myself in the opening paragraph: yes, I have been painting for a number of years, have participated in group shows, fairs, etc and yes, I have been lucky enough to have sold work…does that make me a professional artist? I began to doubt myself after reading that, although there are highly successful professional artists who use watercolour and/or paint landscapes, in some quarters, these are seen as the medium and subject of the amateur artist…oh dear what did that make me then…? Undaunted, and up for a challenge, I thought I had obviously better get to grips with acrylics…again….

‘Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.

The most certain way to

succeed is always to try

just one more time,’

Thomas Edison


Every so often I do have the occasional foray with the medium…this ‘in-between’ period seems the ideal time for me to have one more try – I am just a little stubborn by nature….

Early attempts were not encouraging…..

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Landscape is obviously very much in the fore front of my mind when I paint….so, on I go…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Results were slightly more abstract…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

….and cropping one of the bottom ones…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

….appeared reminiscent of a summer’s day by the reeds and river….okay, go with me on that one….

And I persist…I think I did mention the word stubborn…


Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberets Artist

I have no idea where these are going…but there are things I like about them….the textures..

Carolyn J Roberets Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

….scratching through the layers of paint… using a wipe to blend the ones I didn’t like to create a base for further work…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I have left them for today; they are still more landscape than what I had originally intended but I will look at them again tomorrow, add more to them….and then comes the moment when you remove the tape and see what you have…good or bad….probably bad, but you don’t learn if you don’t at least try….one more time…

I don’t look upon acrylics as a replacement for my watercolour, ink or charcoal works; more, another string to my bow…however, dire the tune… the present moment….

With regards to the remaining questions in the article; well, I do like to present my finished work in a professional manner, double mounted in the main, framed where I can…. I think I do have a style, a voice, marks that I like to make and use; my motivation is that I want to become the best artist I can be… Yes, I could be more active in my local art community but that doesn’t stop me from creating art…and I am definitely becoming more professional and business like in my approach ( I actually keep accounts now…..!!)…Whether that makes me a ‘professional’ artist, I don’t know….but I am definitely an artist…

Please follow me on social media for more updates and work in progress, and if you would like to sign up to my monthly(ish) newsletter for further insights, offers etc,  please use the link opposite…

Until tomorrow, and the next instalment…..

‘When there’s no experimenting

there’s no progress. Stop

experimenting and you go

backward. If anything goes

wrong, experiment until you get

to the very bottom of the


Thomas Edison



Clearing Out…

‘Move on. It’s just a

chapter in the past.

But don’t close the book’

Just turn the page.’


Regular followers of my blog will know that I am in a period of transition….moving on with my art practice…(you can read about the beginnings of this transition here…) debating where to go, what to do next….. Time out, away from day to day living, is great; a chance to breathe, stop, look, take stock…get fresh perspective….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist Yorkshire Dales

Carolyn J Roberts Artist Yorkshire Dales

….make plans…and a weekend spent in one of our most favourite places, the Yorkshire Dales, enabled me to do just that…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

So I have returned home with a plan, of sorts…more ideas of where I want to go, things I want to try in my practice and how I want to move my art business forward…I am not sure how all this will work out, how my work will develop…if my fledgling art business will succeed, but I have to give it a go….

I know I want to try working on a larger scale which requires more room than I have at present….and as we are not moving any time soon, this means a radical de-clutter of my present space…which means I will be clearing some of my older work by holding a sale on social media…During August I will be posting work for sale with 20% off my normal price…so if you’re interested in this, please keep following me on Instagram…

This sale is a small part of moving on…I have lots of ideas and things to try…but, as with all things, going forward is with baby steps, especially where some of the tecchie stuff is concerned…. I will be re-doing my website, but bear with me, it might take a little while…

Please follow me on social media or via my website (sign up link opposite) for work in progress, sale details and new works…..

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Some stories don’t

have a clear beginning,

middle, and end. Life

is about not knowing,

having to change,

taking the moment and

making the best of it,

without knowing what’s

going to happen next.

Delicious ambiguity,’

Gilda Radner