Something for the Weekend…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘The River’s Tale’

‘Twenty Bridges from Tower to Kew –

Wanted to know what the River knew,

Twenty Bridges or twenty-two,

For they were young, and the Thames was old

And this is the tale that River told:-


“I walk my beat before London Town,

Five hours up and seven down.

Up I go till I end my run

At Tide-end-town, which is Teddington.

Down I come with the mud in my hands

And plaster it over the Maplin Sands……”

Rudyard Kipling


Another river, one with a richer history than ‘my’ small waterway; The Thames, lifeblood of London, with stories of seafarers and armadas, traders, tales of murder and mystery, mud-larkers and much, much more woven into its tidal waves…inspiration for poets, artists and musicians alike…

From James Abbott MacNeill Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Gold...

….to Ewan MacColl’s ode to a lost love in ‘Sweet Thames Softly Flow‘…

It’s always good to have a change of scenery, even if just for a short while; London is so very different from my ‘everyday life’…vibrant, bustling, dynamic…all the usual traits of big city living…so much to see, to do…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist                                                                      St.Paul’s Cathedral

Carolyn J Roberts Artist
The British Museum
Tate Modern
Fons Americanus – Kara Walker

Above video is a work by Peter Sedgley at the Tate Modern….

…and there’s the opportunity to reacquaint myself with an old favourite at The National Gallery...

Rembrandt, Self Portrait at The National Gallery
Rembrandt, Self Portrait at The National Gallery

Portraits aren’t usually my ‘thing’ but I love, love, love this one, and sat quite happily…as I say, reacquainting myself with the quality of Rembrandt’s work, the luminous nature of the face (my photo really doesn’t do it justice)…waiting for him to speak to me, to impart some nugget of wisdom…if I could have one portrait on my walls at home, this would be the one….Whose portrait would you love to have on your walls?

There’s also the chance to be part of history…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…watching the… Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…performance of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap‘, the world’s longest running play…. I cannot  possibly reveal ‘whodunnit’ as we are all sworn to secrecy…..

Arrivals and departures are part of each journey; one filled with anticipation, the other with a tinge of sadness….and St. Pancras Station, London has its share of artistic homages to these poignant moments…from Tracey Emin’s ‘I want my time with you’…

Tracey Emin

…to Paul Day‘s gigantic sculpture ‘The Meeting Place’…a 9 metre high bronze…evoking that sense of romance as the couple embrace under the giant clock…(remind you of something….?)

Paul Day, The Meeting Place

…with a relief around the base depicting images from the history of the train and the Tube network…

Paul Day

And no round up of the artwork on display at St. Pancras Station would be complete without Martin Jennings‘ statue of Sir John Betjeman, poet and long time admirer and advocate of Victorian architecture…(if you click on the link to Jennings’ website you can see a much clearer image than my poor attempt below…my excuse is, it was night, the lights were bright…shadows cast everywhere…)

Martin Jennings, Sir John Betjeman

Consisting of a 2.10 metre bronze sculpture on a Cumbrian slate disc inscribed with some lines from a poem by John Betjeman…

‘And in the shadowless unclouded glare,

Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where,

A misty sealine meets the wash of air…’


Where do you love to visit for some ‘big city’ inspiration?

The saying  ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is certainly appropriate for this week’s ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’…Rachel Cronin

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin Artist

Drawn to her Instagram feed by the expressive, loose quality of the work, the mark making plus her sketchbooks, it was when I read the ‘About‘ section on her website that the dots began to connect as to why I was so attracted to Rachel’s work; she loves  watercolour too, but she’s not a purist either, loving to combine the medium with ink, gouache and crayon…she follows the seasons too, and talks of fallow and fertile times…which, as those of you who follow me on social media will know, is something that resonates with me also…

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Rachel cites artists such as Kurt Jackson, Joan Eardley, David Tress, Barbara Rae, John Piper and Cy Twombly as her inspirations, although she acknowledges that it could be any number of different people – she is drawn to work that shares ‘a sense of unencumbered paint application and free mark making…’ which is something she strives to achieve in her own work.

Being the visual platform that Instagram is, I was immediately attracted to Rachel’s colour palette and mark making…and I love this combination of two of my favourite shades, along with the marks and textures…

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Equally, in the work below, the soft tones contrasted with that bright splash of turquoise, the expressive marks… I find so appealing…

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Rachel is inspired by the gentle, rolling landscape of north Oxfordshire, in particular the northern tip of the Cotswolds, with its patchwork fields and bridleways, as well as the more rugged coastline of west Wales, e.g. Borth, with its long, wild beach punctuated at extreme low tide by the petrified tree stumps, Harlech and the Ynyslas nature reserve… She finds the contrasting landscapes equally inspiring, reminding her that ‘we are merely visitors here and that, if we stand still for a minute, the ancient past is only a footstep away’…and that her ‘painting process is a way of making that footstep’….what a beautiful, evocative description…..

In this work, the soft washes and hues transport me to a summer’s evening amongst the heather and bracken strewn hills…

Watercolour gold and purple.jpg

Rachel Cronin

And who doesn’t love a peek into an artist’s sketchbook…..? Talking of books, (a very loose link I admit…..)  Rachel admits to being a bit of a bookworm, with eclectic tastes and a host of ‘comfort reads’ including the Merrily Watkins novels of Phil Rickman, The Secret History  by Donna Tartt and The Rivers of London  books by Ben Aaranovitch. Too many art books to name her favourite, the one that Rachel says ‘keeps her grounded, keeps her thinking about her process and working through the many blocks’ she places in her own way is The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. Rachel finds the technique books by Ann Blockley, Linda Kemp and Cas Holmes great practical guides.

Sketchbook Landscape.jpg

Rachel Cronin

Rachel also works in mixed media, including acrylics, gouache and dry media. She states that she ‘could not be without her Inktense crayons or her Caran d’Ache wax crayons as she finds them fantastic for adding ‘pops of colour to any kind of painting’. Rachel also admits to having a ‘very special stick that came from a tree in the garden’ which she uses to scratch into her work, as well as for applying ink and paint – ‘it’s only a stick but I would be devastated to lose it’ – I know how she feels; I have certain tools that, although nothing out of the ordinary, are like putting a glove on, they feel just right in your grasp, and you know intuitively the kind of marks they make…

I love the soft, gentle feel to this work below…and I also love the way she has co-ordinated the image setting…an idea I might just have to try…

The Quiet of Winter (2018).jpg

Rachel Cronin

I am endlessly fascinated to see and hear about artists studios and Rachel’s is no exception; she works in her parents’ conservatory where, initially she attempted to keep the ‘mess’ to a minimum, but now admits to having things ‘spilling off the shelves’… She is an ‘advocate for using whatever space you have – you don’t need a big studio space, although that would be lovely and I wouldn’t turn it down.’ Rachel has ‘painted on a table in the living room, the kitchen and in the garden’…even on her bed, although she wouldn’t recommend this, discovering that indigo does not wash out of a white linen duvet cover….

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Do take a look at Rachel’s Instagram feed which is full of wonderful images of her work in progress, and her inspirations, along with her website…where you can see more of her finished works, plus a further peek into her sketchbook….

I would like to thank Rachel for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s very much appreciated!!

New art materials are always exciting and I can’t wait to experiment with the Art Graf graphite powder from L. Cornelissen & Son and the Nitram Liquid charcoal from Cass Art…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Something else that is inspiring me is my small collage sketchbook… along with lots of others it would appear from the viewing figures on Twitter…

So inspiring I have started another such sketchbook…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Back from the ‘Big Smoke’…my small river flows on, under rose-hued mornings, crisp with the crackle of frost…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist‘This morning the ground was sparkling

With thousands of gritty jewels

In the lowlight they were gleaming

Amongst the frosty icy pools…’

Elia Michael


I hope you have enjoyed this week’s post and have found some ideas to inspire you…and maybe have a change of scenery…if so, please let me know…

Enjoy your weekend,

Take care,



(If you would like to get up-to-date studio news, art info, offers and more of my ramblings please sign up, via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter.)





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