Letting Go….

Three years study at Loughborough University culminated in Connecting Threads….an interactive installation piece based on the cotton mills and canals of the Midlands and Lancashire. I lived and breathed this piece for the best part of 2 years; researching, developing ideas, learning new skills…

It was later displayed at both Cromford Mills in Derbyshire and Charnwood Museum in Loughborough…

Connecting Threads

I loved this piece; I loved all the research, the history, the experimenting, the frustrations….and even though it has long since been dismantled and packed away, it still feels like mine…

On graduating, and without the back up and support of the university, the equipment, technology and skills of their technicians, I found it very difficult to carry on with this type of installation; funding was a big issue and it seemed to be the usual story of ‘needing a track record to get funding, but you need to create to get a track record’ – chicken and egg stuff….

So I returned to my first love of drawing, painting, mark making…I love making marks, experimenting with mediums, trying to imbue my work with a sense of energy along with my emotional response to a subject…. and I am starting to feel as if I am finding ‘my voice’. I am always surprised when someone else likes my voice too….. Slowly, very slowly, I am making a slight inroad into making my art pay for itself…and that means selling work…and therein lies a dilemma….

Some work I am happy to sell, but others, the ones I really love…. I find it such a wrench…

‘Bowed But Not Broken’ was one of the first pieces I sold through Blue Owl Art – I had an real emotional attachment to this one, having gone through some difficult times so it was hard to say goodbye to it…

‘Norfolk Memories’ was another work that I loved, along with ‘Cei Bach’…

….and again, it was hard to see them go…

Now, preparing for The Melbourne Festival, I am faced with the same dilemma…letting go of the work I don’t just like, but love….

How do you cope with letting go….?






Another Day, Another Medium…

A new day, a different medium…yesterday was experimenting with mono printing (I will keep trying with this…), today I am continuing to experiment with acrylics… Until very recently I worried about this flitting from one medium to another, worried that it would appear I hadn’t found my artistic voice, whatever that is, but I have come to realise this is all part of my make up… I have always been a ‘heart on my sleeve’ kind of person (my Mum always says that my face gives me away…whatever mood I am in…).  My work is all about my experiences of the landscape, my response to it….and my mood…which leads to my choice of medium…watercolour, ink, charcoal or acrylics…so I am learning, slowly, to let this particular hang-up go….

Anyway, onwards with today’s efforts…. (with apologies for the photos, it is very dull here today…)

I might start with a plan but that usually goes out of the window and the work becomes more of a reaction to the marks I make…


I do find working on several pieces stops me from fiddling…..



I even tried different sizes…

…definitely need more practise with the larger sizes…..

Anyhow, this is today’s progress….one or two might make the cut for the Melbourne Festival….

I should add that whilst painting I have been listening to artist Rebecca Crowell’s podcasts via  The Messy Studio…. not sure what my choice of episodes says about me… ‘Habits of Successful Artists,’ ‘Being Professional,’ ‘Finding Personal Voice’ and ‘Cleaning Up Your Mindset an Attitude’….

What do you like listening to whilst working?


Experimenting & Loosening Up…blog update

As someone who hardly lifted a paint brush during my time at uni, and even prior to that, wasn’t exactly known for painting, I have recently been spending my time attempting to get to grips with the medium. Even though it has a reputation for being difficult, I have chosen to work in watercolours – glutton and punishment spring to mind! I haven’t had any formal lessons in watercolour – I’m very much ‘going with the flow’! I’m sure watercolour purists would be horrified, and I’m probably breaking every rule in the book – but you know what they say about rules….

Using this medium, along with lots of water, has also provided me with an opportunity to ‘loosen up’ Sometimes I have a tendency to work ‘very tightly’, as in an earlier piece I did called ‘Bowed But Not Broken’ –

Bowed But Not BrokenI want my paintings to be more expressive, more about the paint and the marks – abstracted in a way, although still with a nod to the landscapes I love.

Initially I experimented in my sketchbook – the good old Seawhite!

imageimageimageimageI used Winsor & Newton Professional watercolours along with some Daniel Smith colours – both very good, worth paying that bit extra for! Eventually I could put it off no longer – I had to experiment on ‘proper’ paper! Although the saying is that a good workman should never blame his tools, I think this is definitely a case of ‘the better the paper, the better the result’! I therefore treated myself to a selection of watercolour papers from Jackson’s Art Supplies – highly recommended for their easy to use website and prompt service!

It’s been really interesting learning what the various papers can take! First off I tried Fabriano Artistico Extra White HOT press 140lb. Lovely smooth paper, the paint, along with a fair bit of water moved beautifully over the surface. Here, I should admit to not stretching the paper beforehand…I know, I know – rules… As well as using paint brushes, and here I’m admitting to a bit of hero-worshipping – I use Jean Haines Watercolour brushes (again, worth every penny!) I also use sticks, wooden coffee stirrers & old/unwanted plastic store cards. On this paper I was able to swirl and push the paint around very easily without damaging the surface.

imageimageAlthough the paper withstood quite a lot of water, it did buckle a little – perhaps a reminder to stretch it prior to use. However, I see they do the same paper in 300lb so I might order some of that next!

Next I tried the Bockingford NOT 250lb paper – an altogether different surface! This paper withstood a LOT of water but I found I couldn’t use the plastic card to move the paint around so much as I damaged the slightly rougher texture of the surface. Instead I used my brush along with a wooden stirrer (used very lightly) as well as tilting and turning the paper to create runs.

imageimageimageI was impressed with both papers and would be hard pressed to choose a favourite! Not so my choice of colours, I seem to have a thing for Payne’s Grey, Indigo, Raw Umber and Yellow Ochre – reminding me as they do of the North Norfolk coast in winter, and the autumnal fenland fields of my childhood.

I have yet to try the Arches Aquarelle 400lb sheet or the Two Rivers 300lb – mainly due to my lack of confidence in my ability and the cost… When I do pluck up the courage I will let you know how I get on!