A Creative Show & Tell Night….

Friday (28th July) night was ‘Show & Tell/ A Creative Talk Night’ hosted by Modern Painters, New Decorators (MPND). MPND started in February 2017 and is a not-for-profit organisation based in Loughborough, Leicestershire; art and community are at the forefront of their aims, one of which is to give artistic people the chance to come together for workshops, advice, talks, as well as provide artists with the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work.

The ‘Show & Tell Night’ is the second event they have staged, the first being their ‘Top Dollar Affordable Art Sale’ in June. Held at loc8me in Ashby Square, ‘Show & Tell’ brought together three guest speakers – all Loughborough based creatives working at both local and national levels.

The first was Chloe Hardisty who runs Cotton Clara; she designs, makes and sells colourful, bright, craft décor. On Instagram under the name cotton_clara as well as having an etsy shop, Chloe’s talk was about how she has finally taken the plunge and handed her notice in to go full time as a designer, maker and craft writer. Very honest in what she has sacrificed to get to this point, and making no bones about what a commitment the work entails, she then provided six tips that she had had to learn, sometimes, the hard way…. The one that really struck a chord for me was ‘just to start – forget about your perfectionist tendencies’ -(I got a nudge from my husband along with a knowing look at that point…)… Other tips included arranging a mentor/business advisor, developing your brand, saying yes to things as well as researching successful businesses, listening to creative podcasts and practice, practice, practice….

Second speakers were Kev and Gill, (apologies if incorrectly spelt) members of a consortium trying to regenerate (apologies for the pun) The Generator Building, Frederick Street, Loughborough. Originally owned by Loughborough College and now by Loughborough University, at present, the building stands empty, decaying…. The aim is to create an artistic and creative hub; a place that has workshops, studios, offices, café, exhibition space – a flexible space to provide maximum opportunities for the arts in Loughborough. This is the third time that an attempt has been made to gain funding for this – and the present climate of uncertainty doesn’t help – and both Kev and Gill were open about the hoops they have to jump through, the time and money it takes along with the frustrations…

It would be fantastic to have such a space in the town centre; there is such a vibrant art scene in the Charnwood area – Charnwood Arts being the local community arts and media organisation – and if this project came to fruition, it would be a real focus of attention where the multitude of artistic,creative people and endeavours could come together in one inspiring space….fingers crossed.

Last to speak was Liz Clark, Artistic Director of Turned On Its Head; Liz, along with Oksana Tyminska, created Turned On Its Head, a dance company specialising in creating creative movement and dance opportunities for young children and their families both in the community and theatre settings. The hearing loss of her young son, drove Liz, a dancer and choreographer, to look for alternative ways that he could engage with his surroundings. A workshop with Oksana lead to a light bulb moment and the rest is history as they say….

They now run workshops and classes in Loughborough, Leicester and Nottingham as well as performing their shows up and down the country, from the Drill Hall, Lincoln to the Barbican in London…

Question and answer sessions followed each speaker, and as the event was well attended, there were quite a few questions…..

The next event for MPND is the Sun Goddess Crouching exhibition, a solo show by Loughborough alumni Colette Griffin. The show opens on August 12th in Unit 33, Carillon Court, Shopping Centre, Loughborough….everyone welcome.

Modern Painters, New Decorators are on Facebook and Instagram (mpndprojects) – definitely worth a look!!



Peaks & Patchings…blog update

It’s been a glorious weekend although the heatwave was tempered in the Peak District by a cool edge to the wind. This did not spoil our enjoyment; Derbyshire was clothed in luscious greens, billowing cow parsley, glades of wild garlic and hillsides of yellow flowering gorse. Add to this the sound of lambs, birds, the wonderment of watching a kestrel’s mastery of the very blustery conditions and you have a perfect day….with the addition of some very tasty provisions from a local farm shop!

imageimageimageimageEventually tearing ourselves away, we made our way to Gallerytop in Rowsley. Here, it was great to see the work of Chris Prout, an artist who’s work I have admired for a long time – and at last I got to see some ‘in the flesh’! Although my artistic skills are not in Chris’s league, we do have something in common – a love of Derbyshire & Wales! The work on display here came in a variety of sizes, from small squares, providing the viewer with tantalising glimpes of the Derbyshire countryside, hidden corners, overlooked areas, rich in layers, to a large scale sweeping vista lush with paint, awash with layers and textures – Derbyshire on a canvas! Some paintings had a muted palette, whilst others had richer colours, flecks, hints… There is a real sense of energy & passion in his work – wonderful!

I also liked the work of John Paul Cooke – his abstract works, rich in form, tone & texture, capture the spirit of the Peaks in all their various moods – from early morning mists, to mellow Autumn days. I loved his use of muted palettes! Richard Barrett’s work also captured my eye – the energy, layers & marks provide the viewer with a feel for the rich & varied tapestry that is Derbyshire!

Sunday saw us take a trip to the Patchings Festival at the Patchings Art Centre at Calverton, Nottingham. With slightly less wind, it was a gloriously sunny day. Crowds of people were treated to a veritable feast of artists, artists’ materials, demonstrations & a band to boot! It was really hard not to be like a child in a sweet shop in the materials tent….

I watched a mixed media demonstration by artist Robert Dutton. Based in Yorkshire, Robert’s work is very expressive, with strong marks and brush strokes – resolving to capture the ‘moment’ & the wonder & strength that is Yorkshire! A very enjoyable demonstration saw him start to portray the magnificent Malham Cove. With a variety of mediums & marks, tones & highlights his passion for painting, & the subject, really shone through – as did his encouragement for us all to be bold, let go & loosen up! You really emerged from the marquee itching to pick up your charcoal, pastel, paint…

In the artists’ tent was Carole Baker – I have been very fortunate to attend a couple of her workshops! She uses bold colours & textures to create evocative landscapes & is another very passionate artist who is generous with her tips & encouragement!

Sad to say I misssed Jean Haines, a watercolour artist, who’s work I also love! Her enthusiasm for watercolour really comes across in her work, books, dvds…. Vibrant colours, beautiful washes, great marks & her energy really brings the subjects to life! Maybe I will see you next year!

Also at the Festival were more craft based artists as well as photographers! I particularly liked the work of wildlife photographer Des Ong. The patience required to capture some of his images must be enormous! Again Des was another artist generous with his time, tips & stories – loved to hear how he got the 3 wild boar all in a row!

And just in case you tagged along as the non-artistic partner, along with the band, there was a marquee demonstration the Art of Bonsai – who knew there was so much to it & the price of some the trees… There was also a display of birds of prey – so beautiful!


imageimageAnd a gorilla to boot…


All in all, a very enjoyable day – definitely a date for next year’s calendar!

International Postcard Show update…blog update

The International Postcard Show 2015 at Surface Gallery, Nottingham draws to a close this Saturday, 14th February. They had a record number of submissions covering a wide range of mediums; everything from painting to photography, drawing and illustration, through to collage and text. There’s a great review of the Show by Megan Bonser on the gallery’s blog – I may be a little biased as she makes a lovely comment about my work with a feature photo!

It’s been great to be part of this exhibition – a chance to promote my work and connect with other artists. I’ve already been contacted by an artist regarding the possibility of a future collaboration!

Obviously it would be nice if my work, ‘Blue Rhapsody’, sold – there’s still time – contact the gallery if you are interested! However, even if they don’t sell, I am thrilled that I have been awarded one of the 20 Runner-Up prizes – woohoo!

Carolyn J Robertsimage

Developing Inspiration?…blog update

Although social media comes in for a fair amount of criticism (and in some cases I feel it is entirely justified!) there is a positive side to it as well. Without it I wouldn’t have discovered all the amazing artists that I have, picked up lots of tips from artists who generously share their techniques, methods and general advice for us mere mortals trying to find our way, or learn about so many opportunites and exhibitions. It was only through social media that I learnt about the International Postcard Exhibition at the Surface Gallery, Nottingham. I submitted three ‘postcards’ for display

Carolyn J Robertsimageand whilst they might not win any awards or even sell, being part of an exhibition all helps with making connections and getting your name ‘out there’.

It was also on social media that I spotted an invite to contribute to an installation – part of the ‘Drop Me A Line’ exhibition by Michael Fairfax and Louise Baker at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon. Having seen examples, again on Twitter, as well as having a ‘bit of a thing for lines’ as anyone who was at uni with me will testify, I thought I would submit some work. My sketches of the Peak District and of the ‘cliffs’ along the Norfolk coast concentrating on the ‘anti-clines’ were my inspiration!

imageCarolyn J Roberts




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And here are the ones I submitted –

imageimageimageimageI like the strength of the line in the landscape – whilst also acknowledging the transient nature of the world around us. I had been playing around with this idea for a while, but felt like I needed more inspiration as I wasn’t totally sure about the direction I was going until, luck would have it, I watched ‘Countryfile’ on Sunday night, all about the bard of Scotland, Robbie Burns. It was the piece involving landscape photographer Colin Prior and his quote from Burns’ poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’ –

‘But pleasures are like poppies, spread,

You sieze the flower, its bloom is shed;

Or like the snow falls in the river,

A moment white – then melts forever,

Or like the borealis race,

That flit ere you can point their place,

Or like the rainbow’s lovely form,

Evanishing amid the storm,

Nae man can tether time or tide’


that really captured, in words, what I was trying to portray.

So, suitably inspired, I am now trying to develop these pieces further –

imageimageimageSo far I have used Bockingford Paper, indian ink and watercolour pencil in an attempt to show the contour lines and anticlines, but with the addition of tissue paper and washes to portray the transient nature of the landscape. I can see these developing into larger pieces….

Might even submit these to Blue Owl Art, Grantham, for their ‘Inpired by Nature’ exhibition – 30 April-31 August 2015 -will see how they evolve…



Exhibitions, exhibitions…blog update

Been a while since my last post what with Christmas and family illness, something had to give… Anyway, new year, new post and after a lean period as far as art is concerned, I have been attended launch parties for two exhibitions in as many days – you know that saying about buses…

Last night I went to the International Postcard Show 2015 at Surface Gallery, Nottingham. I had submitted three pieces of work –Carolyn J Robertsso went along to the opening night to see them in situ, as well as all the other ‘postcards’!

imageThe exhibition comprises of just over 300 pieces of original postcard sized art works by local, national and international artists. Categories included painting, drawing, digital works, graphic design and illustration, along with photography, craft, collage and pattern design.

Here’s a list of all the artists –

imageand here are some of my pictures of the work and event!

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageAs you can see there is a range of work on display – and for sale! Any postcard marked with a green dot is for sale at the very affordable price of £15! Pop along to Surface Gallery to see all the work and perhaps snap up an original piece of art at a bargain price!

Thursday evening saw me at Blue Owl Art, based at Grantham Tennis Club, Grantham, Lincolnshire for their exhibition – Photography: Art & Grantham In Focus Competition. Photography: Art exhibited work by Adrian Fretwell, Belinda Thomas, Janine Kilroe, Kayne Clarke, Stuart MacFarlane and Zebadak Heda (if I’ve left anyone out or not included a link I apologise..) The work on show explores hand-coloured images, sport, landscape and abstract photography. Here are some of my photos – apologies for the shadows etc…You need to pop along to the gallery to see the work at its best!


imageimageimageimageAnd my personal favourite is this one by Zabadak Heda – (no, I’m not just saying that G!)

imageIn tandem with this exhibition, the gallery also featured the Grantham In Focus Competition – all work submitted had to be taken within a 5 mile radius of Grantham, and a Tennis Category.

imageAs I said, apologies for the quality of my photos – still getting to grips with my ipad………

Well that’s a quick round up – now back to filling in submission forms – how I detest filling in the blurb bit about myself – might have a spot of lunch – I think that’s called procrastinating………….

Trials and….blog update

Been busy experimenting and trying out various papers in the hope of producing some work that I am happy with – and will consequently submit to the Surface Gallery in Nottingham for their Postcard Exhibition in January.

I found the 150gm white cartridge paper great if I wanted to use pieces of card to move the watercolour pigment around –

Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsI like khadi paper as it can take quite a lot of water, pigments etc but in this instance it didn’t produce the effect I was after –

Carolyn J Roberts


Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsI then tried Bockingford 10NOT (535gsm) paper produced by St. Cuthbert’s Mill, and with my trusty Jean Haines watercolour brushes came up with these washes –

Carolyn J Roberts

Below are the ones I am most happy with so will probably be submitting these – Carolyn J RobertsWhat do you think?

I have also been practising using my iPad for drawing using Procreate with the following mixed results –

Carolyn J Roberts

Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsI am still getting to grips with all the effects as you can probably tell!

Branching Out…blog update

If you have been following my blog you will be aware that in order to ‘regain my mojo’ I set myself some monthly goals – drawing exercises, visiting galleries, workshops…

Well so far, so good! Aiming to visit at least one exhibition a month, I have so far manged to visit ‘Uncommon Ground’ at the Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, the ‘Pop Art to Brit Art’ at the Lakeside, Nottingham, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and most recently, ‘Creating a Scene’ at The National Centre for Craft & Design in Sleaford – so I don’t feel I am doing too badly with this goal!

I only managed a whistlestop tour of ‘Creating a Scene’ – I was actually at ‘The Hub’ for a workshop but more on that later! This exhibition takes set design as its theme and is a collaboration of all the various disciplines involved in set production. Entering the space between the hanging ‘screens’ it certainly gave one the sense that you were about to set foot onto a stage just as the curtain is about to go up – the dimmed lighting, the expectant hush… the delicate tracery and images, the muted colours on the ‘screens’ really drew you in, just as the designers intended! It was fascinating to see the ideas come to life, from the original sketches, to more detailed designs, through to working models. Reminded me of the work involved in Connecting Threads – my original sketch, the maquette and the video animation – not that I am comparing myself to the artists (Richard Deacon, Derek Jarman, Bruce McClean to name drop a few..) involved in this exhibition, just some of the processes! Wish I had had longer to absorb more of the atmosphere…perhaps a return visit is in order – the exhibition is on until the 20th April.

Creating a SceneAs I mentioned earlier I was actually at The Hub to attend an Artists Development Workshop run by the East Midlands Visual Artist Network (EMVAN). Co-ordinator Elizabeth Hawley took us through a series of exercises and discussions intended to help us reflect upon; profile raising, working practices, networking and connectivity, knowledge sharing, resourcing a practice and markets and audiences. Whilst the exercises were useful in helping to pinpoint the areas I needed to focus on, what was really good was meeting up with other artists – networking in other words – something that I haven’t really been doing! It was great to learn that I am not alone in feeling lost… I came away from the workshop with renewed resolve to be more pro-active rather than re-active – even made a start, I bought a notebook to jot down all these websites I signed up to! I am even going to another workshop later this month – Unpicking Social Media at Loughborough – I might know what I am supposed to be doing with blogs, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter…

The exercises from The Drawing Book certainly helped me overcome my ‘white paper syndrome’, and following a renewed interest in the’great outdoors’ and trees in particular, I have begun drawing my own forest! Here are some of my efforts…

Carolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsCarolyn J RobertsFuture ideas involve working these drawings up into larger ones, paintings even – and what would be really great would be to produce some form of installation or intervention in an actual wood. Now there’s food for thought!