After my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis last year it has taken me a while to be able to pick up a brush or even feel like painting…but the medication is kicking in and I am beginning to feel more like my old self… however, after such a long time, it feels as if I am starting all over again… I had such a successful exhibition at Blue Owl Art last year and sold work via social media…now it’s back to square one…

I am trying not to feel too despondent and am looking at this time as an opportunity…to try new things and act on my ‘word for the year….Connections’…

Just as the river wends its way through the countryside, connecting the land –

I decided I needed to connect more…with fellow artists, (working at home can get lonely), with workshops, mentors, galleries and with my art materials, media and process..

It’s taking me a while to build up the nerve to contact possible mentors and galleries but I have made a start with the materials and process…tidying up my studio space…

…adding encouraging words..

…working in my sketchbook, experimenting with media…

…and on paper…

…making lines…

…adding ink, oil pastels and watercolours…

…think the above series should be called ‘Wild Weather’…

…not ground breaking…but I am starting to connect with materials and media…comforted by the words of Brenda Ueland –

‘So you see, imagination needs moodling –

long, inefficient, happy idling,

dawdling and puttering’…



Drawing Inspiration…

Artists take their inspiration from many things; their surroundings, music, emotions, words…at the moment my inspiration seems to have deserted me…hopefully just temporarily…(not sure if this is just the ‘down’ after being on a high with the successes of the Exploring Place exhibition at Blue Owl Art..)

I have taken to mindlessly splashing ink and watercolour around in the hope that something will click…

….but I have to admit that although sometimes something pleasing appears on the paper, for the most part it is just that, mindless splashing…..

I am really looking forward to attending Caroline Chappell’s Abstracted Landscape course – hopefully a fresh take on my efforts and being with other like-minded people will give me a kick-start….

On the list of equipment is a request to bring along any favourite texts or poetry to do with the landscape….Now anyone who is kind enough to read this blog will know that I love words…and whilst my artistic efforts have me crying in my coffee so to speak, researching and finding books, text, poems and words is one thing that is giving me pleasure….

I love The Peak District in Derbyshire and have based several of my works on the area…these two are based on the Dark Peak..

…and while researching I came across the Companion Stones Project…..a project created by Arts in the Peak, the Peak District National Park Authority and 18 poets and artists. The project is a contemporary response to the Guide Stoops of the Derbyshire moorland – the stoops were set up 300 yrs ago to guide travellers across the moorlands. Twelve modern stoops have been placed in the Park with inscriptions that encourage a dialogue between artist and audience, past and present… For all the details of the project click on the link above…

James Caruth is one of the poets who has contributed to this project; the following excerpt from his poem particularly resonates with me…

‘the old paths lost now

in the valley’s folds,

the fraught sky tethered to a stone.

This place is neither here nor there,

but set your hand on its gritty heart,

feel the earth’s cold pulse…’

Reading poetry is something I have grown to appreciate, but better than reading is hearing poetry being read, best of all being read by the author…and here on Soundcloud you can hear Caruth reading a selection of his work…

The project sounds really interesting; something that merits further investigation, and I wonder if this, along with the painting course, is what I need to fire up my imagination…

For now I will keep splashing around….

(above based on The Salt Cellar rock formation, Derwent Edge…)

Capturing The Essence…blog update

Sitting here in front of the computer, whilst outside the grey skies and raindrops envelop everything in a gloomy shroud, I can’t believe it’s only a few days since we returned from our holiday  – it feels like an age!! So to brighten my mood I have been looking at our holiday photos (wishing I was sitting with my coffee and apple cake at the Bar Illeta whilst admiring the view…)

Scrolling through the pictures got me to thinking about how images can capture (or not) the essence of a place; admittedly sound and smells along with taste also have their part to play e.g. to me, tapas is sitting in a little square in Palma with the Tapas del Dia por dos persons(?) and a cool drink whilst soaking in the atmosphere of the church on one side and the port on the other. Are you beginning to get the picture…..?

Whilst I am a sucker for the bigger picture, the mountains, the coastlines, the dales, moorlands…it’s also the little things that do as much to evoke the memories. Last year in Almeria, it was the windmills that stood out for me (admittedly not so little) whilst this year in Majorca, well see for yourself!

Ancient olive treeGroves of olive trees, their trunks all twisted and gnarled, the olives beginning to ripen…





Old doorwaysHoney coloured buildings with weathered doors and windows leading to cool interiors and shady courtyards…







Talking plantsAnd outside the honey coloured houses were luscious pots…





Even the bark had to get in on the show…Not sure what this tree was but it had the most beautiful patterns…







Iron MuleIron Mule








This Iron Mule in Estellencs had such an inquisitve look on it’s face I couldn’t help but smile….

And it wouldn’t be me without an old building or two –







on a blisteringly hot day we climbed (the book said it was classed as ‘easy’ – ha ha!) to the watchtower on a neighbouring headland. Because of Majorca’s position in the Mediterranean watchtowers were built on all the strategic headlands to ‘watch’ for invaders. Although not all of them have survived there are still a good few to explore…The honey coloured stone against the blue of the sky is a wonderful combination and the rough hewn stone adds another texture…



These are just a few of the things that for me capture the essence of our recent holiday…..

Capturing the essence of a place is something the following two artists do exceedingly well! And what makes their work even more special for me is that they both love South Wales, particularly Pembrokeshire, and North Norfolk, which along with the Yorkshire Dales, are two of my favourite places as well!

Chris Prout is based in Northamptonshire, and although he lives almost as far away from the coast as one can get in the UK, he loves the wild, emptiness of North Norfolk, the marshes and lonely cry of the curlew, as well as the rugged beauty of the Pembrokeshire coast. His wonderful  impressionistic works in acrylics, mixed media, inks and watercolours capture the essence of Norfolk; their watery skies, low horizons, muted colours and textures evoke such memories that I can almost hear the rustling of the reeds and the haunting birdsong. For a Leicestershire landlubber like me, his works are the next best thing to being there! Equally, his images of Wales’s rugged coast-line, although totally different in nature to Norfolk, again capture the sheer power and grit of the area. I can almost feel the wind in my face as I walk along the coastal path.

Chris Prout                  A Big Sky And Evening Walk In Silhouette, Chris Prout

Brynley Stallard is a new name to me (apologies Brynley!!) He lives and works in South Wales. Unlike Chris, Brynley captures the essence of the place in oils, loving the transparency of the medium. Almost abstract, his work strips nature down to its minimalist best. Etching and scraping into the layers of the paint, his work, to me, is all about the raw power of the ocean, the crashing waves, the moodiness (is that a proper word?) of the sea. Again, I can almost feel and taste the spray of the saltwater as I stand gazing out into the distance.

Brynley Stallard                           Port Eynon, 2014 Brynley Stallard

For me, any work that makes me feel as if I am actually standing in a particular place, drinking in the sights, sounds and smells, has definitely captured the essence and atmosphere – lovely work Chris and Brynley, you have certainly succeeded!!

Hope I’ve managed to acknowlege everything correctly and all the links work – apologies in advance if I haven’t! Really wish I had been able to get to Chris’s recent Open Studios but it clashed with our holidays – maybe next time Chris!!

Dare I admit to it – I have never painted in oils, and my experience with acrylics is very limited, so I am not sure how I would get on ‘capturing the essence’ of my recent holiday in those mediums……….

Drawing Near…blog update

Although the last few days have seen blue skies and sunshine there is definitely an autumnal feel to the early mornings. Sad as it may be to feel that 2014 is slipping away, I do love the changing seasons; blue skies, crisp brown leaves, and, just lately, we have been blessed with skeins of geese flying to and from their nesting/feeding grounds, honking loudly as they go!

The ‘drawing’ in of the evenings also means that the ‘Making A Mark’ exhibition at Blue Owl Art is ‘drawing’ closer – apols for the pun overload! The invites for the Private View are being sent out and the delivery and hanging of the work is in full swing!

Blue Owl Art Invite

I feel very honoured to have been asked to take part in this exhibition, one of eight artists showing their work as part of The Big Draw event. My work will hang alongside that of Steve Dargavel, Amir Ghazy-Noory, Linda Holloway, Barbara Karn, Mary Romer, Kate Robotham and Sam Smith – hoping I’ve got all the links to the correct sites (apols if I haven’t!) Have to admit to feeling more than a little apprehensive. My previous exhibitions have been big site-specific installations; this one feels much more intimate and personal.

Silver Birch TriptychSilver Birch I





The Private View is on the 19th September, 7-9pm at Blue Owl Art at the Grantham Tennis Club, Gonerby Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 8HU. The exhibition runs until mid-January 2015.


In other news – I was highly delighted to be selected as Creative Leicestershire‘s ‘Artist of the Week’ for this current week! An image of my work appears on the header of their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages!

Creative LeicestershireIn contrast to my charcoal drawings, I am, at present, really enjoying working with pastels and……colour(!) …something I haven’t done a lot of since my Foundation Course days!

AuchencairnI have now framed the view of Auchencairn – I will get around to taking a photo… Mmmm, I feel a series of pastel landscapes coming on…watch this space!

Professional Creative Development Planning Workshop…blog update

This morning I attended a Professional Development Workshop organised by Creative Leicestershire. Led by Cathy Grindod, herself a practising poet and author, the workshop is intended to enable you to reflect upon where you are at present in your artistic career, where you would like to be and the steps you need to take to achieve your aims. Free to attend, I took the opportunity to participate in the workshop, not only because it provides a chance to network with other artists and professionals, but also because I felt I had reached a crossroads or stalemate following the end of my Connecting Threads exhibitions.

ConfusedIt’s all too easy when being reflective to concentrate on the negatives so it was useful to have to list your achievements to date and the times you were most happy in your artistic career – and to consider why. The subsequent exercises were designed to help you determine your own personal goals, and how you were going to achieve them; identifying any obstacles, what you need to overcome them and by setting realistic goals. To some of you this all might seem fairly obvious or just common sense, but sometimes it helps to have a fresh viewpoint, to have someone question what it is you really want. Suffice to say I have now set myself a list of goals (and dates by which I hope to have achieved them!) – I must pin this list up in the study so that I see them everyday!!

One of my stumbling blocks was that I was undecided as to what path my practice should take; do I concentrate on installations/sound etc or develop my drawings/painting? This course helped me to realise that the two do not have to be mutually exclusive – one can help the other. This realisation is hugely liberating – it’s almost as if I have given myself permission to do both without feeling guilty.

As I said, one of the reasons for attending the workshop was the opportunity to network – the chance to meet other artists, to acknowledge and discuss issues that are affecting you, and to know that you are not alone in doubting yourself – and today was no exception. Today’s group was a mixture of those of us just starting out on our careers and the more established artists. Cathy was very astute, asking just the right questions to focus the discussions. She also had some great words of wisdom such as ‘Never compare yourself to someone else’ and suggested that we keep a diary to note what we are doing and when, to keep a record of our progress and to see how far we have come!

If you do feel as if you have reached a crossroads, or are unsure as to how to push your artistic practice forward, then I would recommend attending this workshop. Creative Leicestershire are in the process of developing their autumn schedule so keep an eye out on their website for further details. I will definitely be looking to attend more of their events and workshops! Hopefully I will make more new friends to go with the ones I met today!

For now I need to concentrate on my drawings ready for an exhibition in September at Blue Owl Art, Grantham.

Carolyn J Roberts