Lightbulb Moments…

‘To be a true artist you have to play the way you feel – not the way

others think you should feel,’

Don Ellis


Usually, when a FB/Instagram memory pops up, it just serves to remind me that time is passing…occasionally however, a memory crops up that makes me take another look…

Norfolk Memories (Sold)

This one reminded me of a painting technique that I hadn’t experimented with in a long while… and, as my focus has been somewhat lacking of late…I thought I would go back and explore the process – with fresh eyes…

…and, as is often the case, no expectations produces some reasonable results…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I think I even have a new favourite colour…Daniel Smith Grey Titanium watercolour…it’s a mid-tone warm grey with slightly yellow undertones…which I think works well with my old favourite Daniel Smith Indigo watercolour…and a touch of Daniel Smith French Ochre and Daniel Smith Raw Umber…along with my very old favourite Daler Rowney FW Sepia Acrylic Ink – I love these colours…!!

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I belong to an artist group run by Alice Sheridan as well as a Facebook group run by Louise Fletcher – they also host the podcast ‘Artjuice’. I am also reading ‘Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers as well as listening to other podcasts…and a common theme running through these platforms etc has been the idea of doing what you love, being authentic, creating art that is true to yourself… and I know that in the past I have been guilty of creating work that I think others will love, work that doesn’t always feel authentic…

And ‘ping!’ – off went my lightbulb…I love this colour palette and effects, as much as I love mark making, so why do I persist in fighting what feels natural?

‘Happiness comes

when you believe in

what you’re doing,

know what you’re

doing, and love

what you’re doing,’

Brian Tracy

I have loved going into my ‘studio’, working on these, experimenting…exploring the colours, tones and effects I can create…why ever did I imagine that artists’ shouldn’t have a limited palette…?

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I have loved working on larger paper; it has felt liberating, splashing and swooshing paint about, apparently randomly – but with an element of control… Some pieces work, some don’t; sometimes cropping the piece produces small but interesting images…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I don’t know where this work will lead to, I don’t even know if people will like them; all I know is, I love creating them, I love the colour  palette and effects – it truly feels as if this is ‘my’ art, and this feeling is giving me the confidence to persist with this ‘voice’ along with the mark making…

‘Don’t aim for

success if you want it; just do

what you love

and believe in,

and it will come


David Frost

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

It’s such a joy going into the ‘studio’ knowing that there is work that I am looking forward to working on…


is when you hear a

knocking from your soul…

and you answer,’

Terri Guillemets

If you want to see more work-in-progress, please follow me on social media, or, for more of my ramblings, insights and art-related matters, please sign up via the link opposite to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter.

(This page contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of the links and then buy, I could receive a small percentage commission. I only recommend products that I use and love.)



Something for the Weekend…

‘All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks

Are life eternal: and in silence they

Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;

There’s nothing mortal in them; their decay

Is the green life of change; to pass away

And come again in blooms revivified…’

John Clare

A week of differing feelings, of differing colour palettes; from a muted one…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…to beautiful golden, glittering hues glinting on temporary waterworlds…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…the flowing swirls proving endlessly mesmerising…

A quiet week, one in which friends have been supportive, encouraging and inspirational…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…a week in which I have been focusing on what I can control, what’s important in my life and where I want my artistic journey to take me…and to that end I have been reading…
Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Never let it be said that to dream is

a waste of one’s time, for dreams are our

realities in waiting. In dreams,

we plant the seeds of our future.’


There is so much I aspire to in my artistic life; to keep on learning and developing my practice, and also exhibit more, be more involved in an art community, to run workshops…and it is my self-doubt, my ‘fear’ that is holding me back…hence this book… I haven’t finished it yet, but already it is raising interesting points and questions…

‘At the bottom of every one of your fears is simply the fear that you can’t handle whatever life may bring you.’

‘If everybody feels fear when approaching something totally new in life, yet so many are out there “Doing it” despite the fear, then we conclude that fear is not the problem.

‘The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.’

‘So often when we are discouraged, thinking that we are learning nothing from all our efforts, changes are really taking place within us.’ (Susan Jeffers)

As ever, altering one’s mindset is a work-in-progress; but already I sense changes… I shied away from demonstrating my creative process; I’m not sure what I thought would happen – the sky would fall in, people would laugh and question why I thought anyone would be interested in watching me (??) – but I took the plunge and began posting my time-lapse videos…a baby step, and one with control and a degree of anonymity I know…

…but the sky didn’t fall in and no-one laughed (well not yet anyways…); the response has been nothing but positive and encouraging…so much so, I have begun making plans for running a ‘Mark-Making’ or ‘Expressive Sketchbook’ workshop…

‘Notice how the trees do not cling

to their leaves. Fall is about releasing the old

to make way for the new,’


Inspiration comes from many sources, none more so than discovering art that you connect with…and this week’s ‘Instagram artist of the week’ is Kippi Leonard

Drawing on her 25 years as an interior designer, and taking her inspiration from the landscape; from the ocean to the desert, from rock formations in Borrega Springs to the mountains of California…Kippi looks to create work that reflects the calm she seeks in life…

Ocean Deserts by kipleeart
Ocean Deserts by Kippi Leonard

She is inspired by the works of American abstract expressionist Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) as well as the Chinese artist Mao Lizi (1950-) – in particular, their use of materials and colour to create complex layers that retain a degree of intention even though the application process has an apparent element of randomness…

Initially it was the colours in Kippi’s work that caught my eye – my favourite combinations… By custom mixing and then pouring inks directly onto the canvas she creates beautiful, luminous work that draws the eye around the piece, but has a wonderful calm, elegance to it…

31945345-04F1-44BC-A71A-07C036CD6EA4.jpg                                                                  Swim Home by Kippi Leonard – ink

Her mixed media work, by contrast, is more structured with a muted palette…(one that equally appeals to me…) and expressive lines…


Gravity No. 3 (is working against me) by Kippi Leonard – oil paint & Aquarel pencil

Although the titles are suggestive, there is a certain ambiguity which leaves the viewer open to their own interpretation… I think these are stunning…do go and visit her website…and Instagram feed…fluid, expressive, bold work…beautiful!!

I am making a conscious effort to listen to more art related ‘stuff’ and have therefore made it a mission to seek out new podcasts… and recently came across the website and podcast of Adelaide based abstract artist Laura Horn…covering all manner of art topics – from the creative side, through the psychology of art making, our fears and worries to the business side of things…there’s a whole catalogue of podcasts I have yet to listen to…however a favourite occupation of mine is procrastination…perhaps that’s why I was drawn to this episode…’Overcoming Procrastination & Self-Sabotage‘….

Apart from posting more time lapse videos, in my own practice I have been experimenting with different paper formats…narrow landscape/portrait orientation…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I am definitely encouraged by these experiments and will look to develop further…

I am also looking to update/re-do my website so have been considering what work to include on my site that best reflects where I am at present in my journey; the end result being that I have work that will probably be part of a ‘flash sale’ – so if that’s of interest, please follow me on social media, where you will also find details of work-in-progress, or, if you would like even more of my ramblings, art related ‘stuff’, insights and updates, please sign up via the link opposite to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter…

And, in a last nod to the week’s changing colour palette…a quote from the late Kyffin Williams:

‘I love the autumn

for the sense of melancholy

seems to strike my need for sadness.

There is a poetry in the dying of the year,

and mystery as well.’

Have a wonderful weekend…!!




Creativity…Inspirations, Imperfections…& All Points In-Between…

Grab a coffee…this is a long post…

It’s the start of another week….after the weekend before…a difficult, emotional weekend of family issues,..of accepting that certain things are out of my control…all I can control is my reaction and response…and that is definitely a work in progress…. I think it might take a while…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I would normally describe myself as an optimist with a healthy dose of realism and a touch of cynicism thrown in for good measure…however this situation has been ongoing for most of the year and has, up until now, left me feeling drained and somewhat discombobulated (what a fabulous word that is!!) and I know this has affected my creativity because my emotional state and my creativity are intertwined…but in accepting that I can only control my  actions, comes a modicum of ‘letting go’…

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have been on somewhat of a de-cluttering mission (house, art, life…) in recent months and I think this is as a direct result of all of the above…if I can’t control that situation, then I will control what I can, I will concentrate on what is important to me, for me… One of the things I find contrary is that, in my art, I love a loose, expressive style; fluid watercolours and inks, gestural marks… but away from the actual making of art…I detest disorder and mess…it makes me feel unsettled, unable to focus…hence the mission to de-clutter…do away with the superfluous…and in doing so, construct an environment and life, full of creativity…

…and in that vein, I recently came across this blog by Judy Shreve… and of particular interest is…

‘And I believe creative momentum must be cultivated. It’s not an automatic self-sustaining condition. It’s not about finding the time to be creative, but to actually live creatively. We all have full schedules and lots of responsibilities that take us away from our art making. I’m working on how to keep my creative momentum going whether I’m in my studio or not. Just because you have free time, doesn’t mean you are inspired enough to work.

So to keep this momentum, I practice my art making daily and I try and approach all my tasks as a chance for inspiration and renewal. If I can keep from being frustrated or annoyed about all the things that take me away from my work, I hope to notice more about the world around me. And that just might help, because I believe creativity must be a frame of mind – a way of looking and being in the world – not based on talent at all – just a way of being.  Then when I have studio time I’m already inspired!’ – Judy Shreve

In order to achieve the above requires a change of mindset on my part…up until now, art was one part of my life, kept mostly hidden away in the smallest bedroom, seemingly separate from the rest of my world…and yes, I will admit to being frustrated when other things required my time and energy…however, Shreve’s idea of approaching ‘all of her tasks as a chance for inspiration and renewal’ feels such a positive mindset that I am trying to change my way of thinking… Now I realise this is not going to happen overnight…but this idea of actually living more creatively, being more mindful about my creativity is very appealing…

As I mentioned earlier, I hate disorder, being in a mess; therefore part of creating, my ‘way of looking and being in the world,’ – (Judy Shreve) is about making space, having order…and, with help from my OH, we sorted and cleared my studio space…and whilst it may not look it, and whilst it may not still be exactly what I would like, it’s heaps better than it was…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…making it a place where I feel more settled and able to focus, a space to explore and experiment…spend creative time…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘A creative moment

is part of a longer

creative process which, in turn, is

part of a creative life,’

Tom Wujec

As previously stated, I have felt unsettled, unfocused and unproductive in my art (for the reasons above), even though I have participated in a couple of events, producing new work for both…I don’t feel as if I have developed a sustained, intentioned practice…but…

I have recently begun recording time lapse videos of my process…

…and even if the experiments aren’t successful every time…

…I can still find parts I like…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘There’s no need to be perfect

to inspire others. Let

people get inspired by how

you deal with your imperfections,’


And although far from perfect, these videos are serving dual purposes: on the one hand they are small steps on my way to running workshops; on the other, because of the interest generated and questions posed, they are forcing me to define what it is that interests me as well as my working processes…hopefully clarifying a way forward… Alongside developing my practice, I am also attempting to be more proactive in developing my on-line presence, growing an engaged audience…

As I said, these videos have already generated lots of interest and feedback…and are apparently inspiring artists and students alike. Adrian Homersham, who creates the most wonderful expressive landscapes, was inspired by my working processes to produce a series of rapid, abstract seascape triptychs in preparation for his workshops…

Seascape by Adrian Homersham
Seascape triptych by Adrian Homersham

I love the colour palette and energy in this; such great movement!!

I was also recently contacted by Francis Reynolds, a figurative artist who also attended Loughborough University, and now works as an art teacher alongside his own practice…apparently one of his students was inspired by my watercolour and ink work and wondered if I could give any advice or tips… Now I am a big believer in ‘giving’ – what you give out, you get back… I am always grateful for all the support, advice and encouragement that I receive on my artistic journey that I am more than happy to give what help I can…so duly obliged with some tips and advice…and I look forward to hearing of their progress!!

I won’t lie; this idea that I can be an inspiration has been such a boost for me at the moment, I am only human after all – I will try not to let it go to my head….!!

I said at the beginning that this post was a long read. I find writing a blog is much like keeping a diary; it provides a record for me as well as, at times such as this one, being a cathartic experience…and provides you, the reader, an insight into the person behind the artist…

Give me a day or two and normal service will no doubt be resumed…but if you would like to see more work-in-progress, please follow me on social media, or for even more ramblings, art matters and insights, sign up, via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter…

If you have got this far, thank you for taking the time and interest…it is very much appreciated!!



Something for the Weekend

‘And the sun took a step back,

the leaves lulled themselves to sleep

and Autumn was


Raquel Franco

Autumn, one of my favourite seasons, always has a slightly melancholic air to it…one last flourish of colour before nature settles down to sleep…but even in decay there is beauty and inspiration…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

There have been some simply stunning sunrises with the low sun, although a nuisance when driving, providing beautiful light…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Two sounds of Autumn are unmistakable…the

hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street…

by a gusty wind…and

the gabble of a flock of

migrating geese,’

Hal Borland

Such mornings are wonderful; a time to walk, to listen, to absorb the sights and sounds of nature… ‘An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day,’ Henry David Thoreau. I don’t know about you but I always feel better outside in the fresh air and the riverside is a great space to go for a walk;  it is also a fantastic place to sit with a coffee and plan the day ahead…definitely one of my go-to inspirational places…where do you go for inspiration?

Reading is a passion of mine; words are a constant source of inspiration…and a recently acquired book is….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

A favourite author of mine, having read the opening paragraph, I am looking forward to delving (!!) further…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

How evocative is that? Who are your favourite authors…which books inspire you?

Talking of books, albeit of a different ilk…I am looking forward to using these new 140mm square format travel sketchbooks from Seawhite of Brighton…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

The paper weight is 130gsm so should be perfect for sketching with pencil, ink…perhaps a little soluble graphite and watercolour… Hopefully I will get a chance to use them in the near future so will give feedback soon…

Although I have been on Instagram for a while now, shamefully I have only just figured out how to share other artists’ posts on my stories – technical dunce that I am – but I am making up for lost time…. I am really enjoying discovering new people to follow and to share their work…hence my ‘Instagram artist of the week’ feature… My ‘artist of the week’ this week is Maria Wigge . Along with posting beautiful images of the Swedish countryside, which only makes me want to visit even more, Maria creates the most beautiful abstract, almost dreamlike landscapes, as well as some with more representational elements. Working with acrylics and watercolours, applying layer upon layer and using wonderful hues and tones, she produces ethereal, atmospheric images, with a stillness to them, a calm quality…simply beautiful and definitely worth a look…by the way, I love this watercolour image on her Instagram feed…

Art by Maria Wigge
‘Waiting for You’ by Maria Wigge


‘Waiting for Aurora’ by Maria Wigge

Whilst I am working, or faffing as my OH says, I enjoy listening to podcasts; one of my favourites is ‘ArtJuice’.  Artists Alice Sheridan and Louise Fletcher discuss a range of topics; artistic matters, business strategies, helpful tips and advice, along with listener questions and inspirations, all interspersed with a generous amount of laughter… being an artist can be a lonely business but this podcast is just like having a get-together and a chat over a cup of coffee…go over to the podcast link on either of their websites and have a listen…if you like all things art-related you won’t be disappointed!

My own artwork has been inspired this week not so much by the art but by technology; I finally purchased a holder for my Ipad and have been experimenting with filming time lapse videos of my process…

Eventually, if I gather all my courage, I intend to run workshops, so being comfortable with demonstrating is a must; this is just a baby step on the way… Still a work-in-progress, the videos have made me focus on my process more than usual; partly because people have been asking questions about the materials and stages of the work…so I have to have the answers….but also, because being clear on my process, what I am interested in and trying to capture, will help to clarify the way forward…

And so another weekend approaches; I hope you have found something to interest you in this post…  And before I go…here is one more thought about Autumn…

‘I am made for Autumn. Summer and

I have a fickle relationship, but everything

about Autumn is perfect to me.

Woolly jumpers, scarves, thin first,

then thick, socks. The low

slanting light, the chill in my

fingers, those last warm

sunny days before the

rain and wind, The moody

hues and subdued palette

punctuated every now and again

by a brilliant orange,

scarlet or copper goodbye,’

Alys Fowler

Here’s wishing you a fabulous weekend !!


Should you wish to see more of my work-in-progress, please follow me on social media, or if you want more personal reflections, studio insights and general arty goodness, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter via the link opposite.











Lights, Camera, Action…

‘Creativity is inventing,

experimenting, growing, taking

risks, breaking rules, making

mistakes and having


Mary Lou Cook

This past week has been one of experimentation…trial and error…making lots of mistakes… I am continuing to explore acrylics…both in my sketchbook and on paper…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Admittedly the above is not the greatest photo…but I don’t think these work…part of the ‘making mistakes’….

‘persevere (verb) – to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement; continue steadfastly’

…not sure I continued ‘steadfastly’ but I did continue..

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I am discovering that, just as with the watercolour and inks, I like the white space around the medium…endeavouring to capture that feeling of walking along a windswept beach…I am keeping to a limited palette in order to prevent becoming overwhelmed with the choice of colours….and seem to be hung up on Titanium White, Mars Black and Yellow Ochre with the odd touch of Pthalo Turquoise…all Daler Rowney System 3 acrylics…

These are all very much a work-in-progress but I can feel my confidence growing…I am much positive when I make the initial marks, which is just as well, as if I’m not, and begin to ‘fiddle’, immediately I lose the freedom and spontaneity…

…and sometimes, something happens which is the total opposite of what I am trying to achieve….and I love it…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Exploration, experimenting, learning, making mistakes…all part of growing…

…and that’s definitely been the case when trying to film time lapse videos… Not being a technical whizz there has been a lot of fiddling about, trying to get the tripod and light in the right place, and remembering not to get my head in the way…but I made a start….and once I had done the first, a few more followed…



Watching the videos back, I suddenly became conscious of how much faffing about I do…or so it would appear when the process is speeded up! Nevertheless it’s all good practice, especially as I am considering running workshops and will have to get used to demonstrating….and all the out-takes do produce loads more collage materials…so nothing is wasted…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘It’s so much in me to want to keep

experimenting all the time. It’s just

inherent. Therefore I keep reaching for

instruments I don’t know

how to play, and then I become excited.

That gives me energy to want to make

new things, and it forces me to hear

things in new ways, which then can

only help to say things in new ways,’


Although I haven’t produced much work worthy of mounting, it has been interesting learning new techniques and getting to grips with technology, if only in a very rudimentary way…it is also helping me to clarify steps and directions I want to take in my artistic journey, and slowly, very slowly, my confidence is growing…

‘To grow and know

what one is growing towards – that

is the source of all strength and

confidence in life,’

James Baillie

If you want to keep up-to-date with all my latest works-in-progress, videos and general ramblings, please follow me on social media, or if you want more personal reflections, offers and art insights, please sign up using the link opposite to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter…

And one last thought…from a favourite author, Mary Oliver…

‘I Worried’


‘I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers

flow in the right direction, will the earth turn

as it was taught, and if not how shall

I correct it?


Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,

can I do better?


Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows

 can do it and I am, well,



Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,

am I going to get rheumatism,

lockjaw, dementia>


Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.

And I gave it up. And took my old body

and went out into the morning,

and sang.’








Something for the Weekend….

This is the first in a series of blogs about things that have inspired me…be that books, artists, music, materials, people…places…

Obviously, if you regularly follow my blog, you will know I have recently visited Valencia – a beautiful city, vibrant and colourful, with fabulous architecture, culture and food…inspiring…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

It is so easy on returning home, especially when the weather is less than kind, to suffer from post-holiday blues…but eventually the cloud breaks and we are rewarded with beautiful sunrises….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…and unexpected delights…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘For one minute, walk outside,

stand there, in silence,

look up at the sky,

and contemplate how amazing life is,’


Travelling provides the opportunity for reading – lots of sitting around waiting for flights etc – and at the moment I am reading Richard Mabey’s ‘A Brush with Nature: Reflections on the Natural World’. Part memoir, part nature journal, Mabey brings his unique insight to the wildlife and landscape that surrounds him.

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

With chapters on ‘Leaves’, ‘Wings’, ‘Tracks’…of particular interest to me was the chapter on ‘Images’ and ‘Art and Nature’;

‘Are we, at the deepest level, more merged with nature than we acknowledge? Is birdsong a kind of music, or music a kind of human-song? Were the first cave paintings more to do with hunting or thinking? At that very first moment in human art, it is hard to spot any difference between our imaginative and biological responses to nature. Perhaps it could be so again.’ Richard Mabey (2005)

A fascinating read, spanning over twenty five years, Mabey highlights both the details of nature as well as bigger issues such as climate change…very interesting!!

Alongside this book, I have also been inspired by the music and imagery of Erland Cooper, a Scottish multi-instrumentalist and producer. He explores the natural world of birds, the sea and the landscape in his music producing beautiful, haunting, hypnotic music…’Solan Goose‘ is a particular favourite…

One artist who has inspired me this week is Norfolk based Debbie Lyddon; using mixed media cloths, installations, sculpture and drawing, she explores the landscape and sense of place…I love her use of colour and line along with her use of language…fabulous…

Marshscape Collage Debbie Lyddon
Marshscape Collage Debbie Lyddon

My Instagram artist of the week is David Mankin

Examples of David Mankin’s work taken from his Instagram page…

David lives in Cornwall and is inspired by the landscape around him; I love his use of colour, mark making and gestural strokes that convey such a sense of freedom, rhythm and energy…stunning…

In my own work, I have been inspired by the marks and tones I have been able to achieve using the Art Graf block…from the darks through to the more subtle shades of grey…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

It can be used wet or dry, producing great effects…I have also used a damp paper towel to drag the pigment across the page producing sweeping effects akin to rain or clouds…I might attempt to scale this work up…we shall see…it has been fun experimenting…

I hope you have enjoyed my quick round up of the people, places, things etc that have been inspiring me this week…and maybe you have found them interesting too…

And before I finish…a final thought for creatives everywhere;

‘To A Young Painter


Trust yourself. Your vision. Your hand.

And when your eyes wander in comparison,

close them.


When the world wants you to strategise,

do not apologise for letting your heart lead,

for letting your canvas bleed out

your questions and your fears,

all the desires that you clutch.

You can throw them into the world

like a great flying disc,

letting them land in light and shadow

and colours that surprise.

In images that do not apologise for their honesty.


Give yourself. Your vision. Your hand.

And when your eyes see what is true,

open them,’

Jen Lee


If you would like to see what goes on in my ‘studio’ and current work-in-progress please follow me on social media, or, if you would like more news, art issues, personal reflections, etc then please sign up via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter…

This page contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of the links and then buy, I could receive a small percentage commission. I only recommend products that I use and love.



An Artist’s Journey…

‘Travel is more than

the seeing of sights;

it is a change that

goes on, deep and

permanent, in

the ideas of living,’

Miriam Beard

A week ago I was in sunny Valencia, 30 degrees, blue skies, sunshine…and, even though we walked miles, it was a wonderful relaxing break…time spent with family, time to ‘be’, to think, to see….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Taking in the Silk Exchange, the Central Market, the museums…not to mention all the other fabulous buildings along with the vibrant atmosphere, culture….and food – definitely worth visiting….

….and then, it’s back to earth…with a bump…rain, rain and more rain…so much rain the river has overflowed…creating temporary pools on the meadow beyond…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

….and a thick blanket of cloud shrouds any chance of seeing blue skies…

And, as ever after a break, there is the inevitable catching up of household chores, washing, ironing, paperwork to sort….so getting back to the studio has been a slow process, not helped by the weather – a case of post-holiday blues…

However, rather than get down on myself for not immediately spending hours painting, for not instantly creating ‘masterpieces(?)’…I have been gentle with myself…choosing to continue working in my sketchbook with charcoal, Art Graf block and ink..

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

I have been reading – currently ‘A Brush with Nature: Reflections on the Natural World’ by Richard Mabey – listening to podcasts, namely ArtJuice with Alice Sheridan and Louise Fletcher, always worth a listen as they discuss artistic issues, life in general…along with insights into their practice.

I have also watched ‘Upstream‘,(available for the next 28 days on this link) a new film by Robert MacFarlane and directed by Rob Petit. Shot entirely from the air, the film follows the course of the River Dee in Scotland to its source in the Cairngorms, accompanied by an original score by composer Hauschka and a prose poem by MacFarlane. I realise that to some, the subject matter doesn’t appear that thrilling, but it is strangely hypnotic…in black and white, weaving recordings of the birds and creatures that live along the river with place-names, stories, creating a ‘songline’ that takes you, the viewer, on a journey…

At the start of the film is a quote by the Scottish writer Nan Shepherd (1893-1981); ‘One cannot know the rivers until one has seen them at their source; but this journey to the sources is not to be undertaken lightly. There are awakened also in oneself by the contact, elementals that are as  unpredictable as wind or snow,’ – The Living Mountain

And it struck me, as I watched the film, how Shepherd’s quote and a river’s journey could also be applied to my artistic journey; I began creating/painting in a particular way, but as I progressed there were unpredictable elements, new discoveries, ‘happy accidents’, that took me on another course, twists and turns, bends in the river…times when everything runs smoothly and it all flows, and others, when it feels as if I am negotiating the rapids…

‘And see the rivers how they run,

through woods and meads,

in shade and sun,

Sometimes swift, sometimes slow,

Wave succeeding wave, they go

A various journey to the deep…’

John Dyer

And through it all, the joy of creating…and I echo MacFarlane’s words in the film…’Here is where the heart fills….’ Yes, there are times when I struggle but I wouldn’t be without my art..

Carolyn J Roberts Artist


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