Getting In The Mood…..(!!)…

There are days when I don’t feel like drawing, doodling or painting, and at times like this, there is a lot to be said for just getting in the studio and ‘doing,’ even if it’s just pottering – and, eventually something happens, even if it is only a tidy up…but even when I have ‘done something’ artistically speaking, it’s not usually my best….I definitely wasn’t ‘feeling it’ with this sheet…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

For me, I find my creativity works best when a combination of things come together…. my mood, environs, observations, images, words…space to reflect…find my rhythm…

Regular readers will know that a favourite place of mine to just ‘be’ is the river…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….I take a notebook to jot down any observations or thoughts…and when combined create poetry (of sorts….)…..

Cloudless blue,

Iced grass,

Mist rolling over the river’s surface,

Mirror’d sun, glinting,

Upended branch, drifting like a submarine’s periscope,

Crows flapping overhead, calling,

Glittering ribbons of quicksilver at the water’s edge,

Indignant moorhens, neighbourly disputes….

I find this ‘creativity’ enormously rewarding, and, although I wouldn’t call myself any sort of poet, these jottings create a ‘poetic’ diary of the river…..this one is my snapshot of a May day last year….and evokes memories of that day…sights, sounds, smells…

Dark, flowing river,

Ripples, slowly winding their way downstream,

Smaller ribbons forming a stationary pool within the ribbon,

Heron gliding in on arched wings,

Reeds, bending in the breeze,

Lily pads floating in circles, anchored,

Cow parsley swaying,

Swallows performing aerial acrobatics,

skimming the water.

Willow dipping her branches like a washerwoman,

Buttercups, lifting their goblets, drinking in the sun,

And always, the incessant chatter,

Swallows, swifts, house-martins,

Swooping criss-cross over the meadow,

And desire paths,

Worn flat by people – dog walkers, fishermen, children,

Hiding in the shadows, like a shoal of fish, lily pads,

Furled, waiting to uncurl,

As the heron performs another leisurely flypast…..

I find that by spending this time by the river, being outdoors, connecting to nature and the landscape, this ‘writing,’ puts me in a creative frame of mind before even contemplating making ‘artistic’ marks on paper….

And then there’s my studio ‘space’…it used to be the kitchen, but has now migrated to the smallest bedroom….and even though it’s far from perfect, it’s my ‘Space for the Spirit to breathe’ – Rainer Maria Rilke…

‘Gather and hoard your inspirations as you live,

then recapture them as needed in the studio’,

Nita Engle

Cards/artwork on show by: Lesley Birch, Peter M. Hicks, Jo Sheppard, Norman Ackroyd, Ray Ogden, Sue Vize, Lesley Lillywhite, Joan Eardley and Paul Talbot-Greaves

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Gathered inspirations and memories…..

Crolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

…. wall of quotes…..artwork by yours truly and Maryanne Hawes..

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….shelves of books, collection of sketchbooks….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….favourite materials….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….my notebooks filled with quotes, poetry, words…..

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….my studio,a room where I surround myself with objects, items, words and images that fill me with joy….

‘Here in a little lonely room I am master of the earth and sea,

And the planets come to me.’

Arthur Symons

I usually find that spending time outdoors, by having my ‘Space for the Spirit…’ lifts my mood and consequently enhances my creativity….resulting in work that I am happier with….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

‘Life isn’t about finding pieces of a puzzle.

It’s about creating and putting those exceptional  pieces together.’

Glen Van Dekken


What do you do to ‘get in the mood’? What helps your creativity flow?

The Unknown & ‘Happy Accidents’….

I knew it was going to be one of those days when I woke with the beginnings of a cluster migraine – which I have only suffered with since taking my rheumatoid arthritis medication….but, soldiering on, I went to my ‘studio’…

The feeling of ‘one of those days’ was compounded by my continuing efforts on this…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….I just wasn’t feeling it…. so in an attempt to shake things up, I tried collaging in my daily doodles…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….I cut random words and phrases out of magazines etc….ones that appeal to me, strike a chord…and this one ‘take a peek into the unknown’….just seemed appropriate….. and a happy accident, the colour combination of slate blue/grey and sepia, I just loved….so I got another sheet of paper….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….and I quite like the end result….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….so I am leaving it at that, finishing on a positive note…..and going for a lie down….

Feels Like March…..

‘With rushing winds and gloomy skies,

the dark and stubborn Winter dies.’

Bayard Taylor

With all the gales we have been experiencing lately, the weather certainly feels more in keeping with mad March winds rather than February…and recent heavy rain has seen the river swell which…

Carolyn J Roberts artist River Soar

….combined with the cutting down of the reeds and rushes on the far bank, has seen it’s flow increase….

….sweeping away all the debris… well as the nest a pair of swans was constructing on a promontory of rushes…I tried taking their photo but I think they were so disgruntled at the destruction of their home, they paddled furiously after me, ”chuffing’ their annoyance…. I didn’t loiter….

This last week has seen me have a break from the usual studio routine…life has a habit of taking over at times…

I did however, manage to pop over to Blue Owl Art gallery last week for the opening of their new exhibition ‘Butterflies and Nets’ by artist Linda Holloway…. The work on show was a recognition of the altering and diverse state of mental health….

Mainly pen and ink, with additional watercolour and the odd oil painting for good measure, the work is an exploration of our human frailties and fragility…there were certainly pieces that I am sure we could all empathise with at times…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….unravelling minds portrayed with fine lines, figures caught in nets, lines representing neural pathways which sometimes break and need re-wiring…

….and memories, that recede with time, becoming more fragile…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artistCarolyn J Roberts artistCarolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

A timely exhibition, mental health is one of the issues of the 21st century; one that affects us all, either directly or indirectly…..and Linda has captured the complexities of the mind in her thought provoking, beautiful work. The exhibition runs until May and is well worth a visit…but do hurry…lots of red dots appeared during the evening!!

Hopefully, from tomorrow, my usual routine will resume…but for now, keep warm, be kind to each other and to yourself….

‘May your heart

always be kind

even though

the world out there

could shatter you

for being kind.

It is kindness that makes you brave.’

Najwa Zebian



Hibernating But Not Sleeping…

Despite the unpredictable weather, occasionally Mother Nature provides moments that fill you with joy as well as imbuing you with a sense of anticipation….

‘The light of winter is the poetry of patience’

(I love this quote but am unable to determine its author – any help would be appreciated)

The morning light, blue sky….the mist rolling along the surface of the river, the beauty of the trees, skeletons stretching their arms as if to salute the sun…

‘Winter crystalline flakes resting on ice-kissed trees’ – Dani Burtsfield

Carolyn J Roberts artist

For me, these winter months are a time for planning, setting goals, and, on those dull, dark days, not conducive to venturing outside, spending time experimenting with materials, reading, listening to podcasts, looking at art, discovering new artists….

Art is not created in a vacuum…

‘Art is not always about pretty things. It is about who we are, what happened to us and how our lives are affected’ – Elizabeth Broun

‘Artists have no choice but to express their lives’ – Anne Truitt

As an artist I am influenced by my life, my experiences, my surroundings, the landscapes I love, as well as by people, books and words, other artists…

                                                                         JMW Turner

                                                                         Edgar Degas

                                                               Norman Ackroyd

                                                             Monika Grzymala

                                                                    Beili Liu

….the list is endless….Tacita Dean, Richard Long, Kitty Sabatier, Joan Eardley, David Tress, Barbara Rae…I could go on….   and each artist inspires in different ways, whether that be colours, composition, marks…

….and regular readers can’t have failed to notice how much I love poetry and quotes…an avid reader, words never cease to inspire, evoke a memory…

‘The western glories fade and pass. The twilight deepens more and more.

A thin mist, like a breath on glass, veils shining stream and a distant shore;

And night is falling, still cool, on each broad marsh and silent pool.’

Extract from ‘Nightfall in the Fens’  by Ada Cambridge

….my childhood spent in the fenlands of Lincolnshire….

My art is a distillation of all my experiences, the inspirations…the work encapsulates my inspirations, emotions and memories…..whether that be the autumn fields, ploughed ready for their winter sleep…

Carolyn J roberts artist

Lines, Levels & Lapwing Cries

(Currently at Blue Owl Art Gallery)


…. or fields of golden barley, swaying in the breeze…

Field of Gold Carolyn J Roberets artist

Field of Gold

(Available on my website)

….or windswept days by the coast…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Stormy Harbour

(Available on my website)

As an artist, it is a great feeling when someone connects with one of your paintings because it conjures up memories of a place or a moment in time….and together, image and thought, brings joy…

‘…reeds and river, weaving the mist together…’

Michael McClintock


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Different Medium…Same Old Fears….

Inspired by my recent three day workshop with Lewis Noble at the St. John Street Gallery in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, I have been experimenting with acrylic paints….although I have a few acrylic paintings on my website, I am not very confident in its use…. I took the workshop because a)  I am an admirer of Lewis’s work and b) I thought it might encourage me to give the medium a more serious go…..

Having taped up a sheet of Cass Art mixed media paper – (quite heavy at 250gsm), I added initial layers of  paint with an old ‘credit’ card…

Carolyn J roberts artist

….for some reason I feel more confident with the card than using a brush – I tell myself it’s because I know I will make more mess with a brush and as I work in the back bedroom, that’s not an ideal prospect – really, it’s an excuse; in my head, if I produce ‘rubbish’ I can blame it on the card…whereas if I used a brush I would have no excuses…go figure…!!

Anyhow…on I went, adding more layers of paint – mainly Daler Rowney and Winsor & Newton…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

..until I reached this stage…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

I like working in a series like this, with the same palette; the thinking being, that by the time I reach the bottom right square, I will have loosened up enough so as to be painting more loosely, more intuitively, instead of concentrating on what I think I should be doing (whatever that is….)….and although these are just experimental, I usually end up with one or two efforts that I like…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

A new day, a fresh sheet of paper…. a slightly different palette…

Carolyn J Roberts artist….and all of a sudden I find myself relaxing, just having fun…and then I become aware that there are several of these small squares that I quite like – in fact, really like…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

…. and I find myself beginning to tighten up, thinking of all those ‘what ifs’, the same old fears…. so for now, I am going to leave this sheet and move on…try another…eventually I will get the hang of the medium, but I don’t think those ‘fears’ will ever go away completely…the trick is to acknowledge them….and try anyway…


(Apologies for the quality of some of the photos….it’s been difficult to get decent shots because of the dull weather….)

Fulfilling Intentions…..Or At Least Making A Start….

I have previously spoken about the solitary nature of being an artist working from home, devoid of company… That’s one thing I miss from university; just being able to wander around the art studios for a chat, constructive feedback or a coffee and discussion…. Yes, I get lots of support from lovely fellow artists on social media but nothing can beat the vibe and energy when creatives get together…. hence my intention to attend more workshops…and I have done quite well over the past couple of months…a Lesley Birch workshop last December and, just last week, a three day studio workshop with artist Lewis Noble

Carolyn J Roberts artist

The workshop was held at the St. John Street Gallery and Café in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Petra and Mark were very welcoming and accommodating hosts…and the food was delicious!! There were six of us taking the workshop; small enough numbers to ensure lots of one-to-one advice…but large enough to make the three days very enjoyable, learning from each other, chatting and making new friends…

The workshop was studio based – just as well with the changeable weather – and focussed on taking source material i.e. sketches made ‘in situ’/photos, developing these further before going on to begin creating more resolved pieces, although I hasten to add, there was no pressure to get as far as more developed pieces; if you were happy just to experiment with your sketches, then that was fine…

As I was working in acrylics, not a medium I am overly familiar with, the lack of expectation to produce resolved pieces definitely eased the pressure…

Here are some of the pieces I developed from my source material…

Carolyn J roberts artist

Carolyn J roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

It’s such a simple idea, but cropping your work, then tearing and collaging onto it does produce some unexpected results, providing more studies to work from…and placing them on a white page in your sketchbook really helps to see what you have…or not….

You could have spent the whole workshop working like this if you wanted – the whole ethos of the workshop was very relaxed, no pressure, more about the process rather than creating finished paintings…

….but I decided to give painting on boards a go – something I have not done before…. push myself out of my comfort zone…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

These are obviously experimental, early layers of paint…. and I think this is one of the things I have taken from the workshop….acrylics are flexible, initial marks and layers can be lost and found – unlike with watercolour and ink, where, although you have some leeway, initial marks, especially with ink, can be permanent….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

I had reached a stage with the one above where I didn’t like it, felt it was too ‘bitty’…so following Lewis’s advice, I applied a thin layer of white paint, then, using wet wipes, removed or rubbed the white paint off, making the piece feel more cohesive….. I have brought it home, to leave for a few days before taking another look and developing further. It may resolve into something, or it may not….but it doesn’t really matter….I have learnt such a lot about the medium and the process…

I think I have definitely developed more confidence in the use of acrylics; the ideas of building up layers, scratching back into them, making marks in the paint and working on boards are certainly processes I will be investigating further…..

I wouldn’t hesitate in attending another of Lewis’s workshops, probably one that involves sketching outdoors…and I will definitely visit the gallery again….and have a slice of delicious cake…




What’s In A Name…..?

Where the Wind Sings - Carolyn J Roberts artist

‘Where the Wind Sings’

I could have sold this piece twice over at the Melbourne Festival – as it was, it went to a lovely lady from North Wales…who loved it on first sight. She grew to love it even more when she read the title – ‘Where the Wind Sings’… I think that the title evoked memories of her favourite places, of being in the landscape…of that experience of sensing the wind singing and dancing it’s way along over the hills…

Although it is primarily about the artwork, the titles of my work are also important to me…just as a painting/print/sculpture etc can conjure up ideas, memories and feelings, words are as evocative…

Lines, Levels & Lapwing Cries - Carolyn J Roberts artist

Lines, Levels & Lapwing Cries

(Available through Blue Owl Art)

The above image is inspired by my childhood spent on a Lincolnshire farm; ploughed fields, furrows, ridges of potatoes…the call of the lapwing….and, in my head at least, the above title evokes those memories for me…

Whenever I create, whether that be just doodling, experimenting or working more seriously, I always have some thought, idea, emotion, or experience in mind, consciously or subconsciously… these studies were inspired by the tidal mudflats of the Menai Straits…

Carolyn J Roberts

….and ‘Field of Gold’ below (available on my website is again, inspired by my childhood and the fields of wheat and barley that surrounded me…

Field of Gold Carolyn J Roberets artist

I know, I know, the art should stand alone, say whatever the artist intended, that the viewer will be drawn to the work and the name is probably inconsequential, but for me, the art and title are intertwined, one complementing the other, working to create a piece that captures my interpretation and impression of ‘place’…

Inspiration comes from descriptive words I jot down in my notebook when in the landscape, from song lyrics, snippets, overheard comments, quotes and poetry;

‘Murmurous sedge stands sentinel

as jack snipe bubble in the fen

in feathered hauberks, crouched

near dawn. Flown, the rock doves

from barrow and cairn.

A masterpiece of wrens.’

Sequestrum – Susan Lynch

….or ‘…But the wind comes whispering in between…’ by Sara Teasdale…

or…’…bringing all things the bright dawn has scattered with its rain, dusk whirlwinds funnelling its grapevine slammed with snow’…World as Studio – Susan G Wooldridge…

The finished work will always dictate the title…but I always try to choose one that echoes the feeling of the piece…

…. and I have my thinking cap on at the moment, deciding on titles for a new, small series that I have been working on….here is a sneaky look at one of them…


Carolyn J Roberts artist


I will be adding them to my website soon…but am thinking of letting my email subscribers have first dibs….so if you want early notifications sign up using the link at the top right hand side of this page….