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’…



The Little Things….

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through

to illuminate a small field

for a while, and gone my way

and forgotten it. But that was the pearl

of great price, the one field that had

treasure in it. I realise now

that I must give all that I have

to possess it. Life is not hurrying


on to a receding future, nor hankering after

an imagined past. It is the turning

aside like Moses to the miracle

of the lit bush, to a brightness

that seemed as transitory as your youth

once, but it is the eternity that awaits you.

R.S. Thomas

 Although Thomas’s poem is concerned with how he saw God all around him, for me, it is that idea of standing and looking, particularly at the everyday things, the little things that often go overlooked, taking time to appreciate what I have, not always rushing to the next thing…. So reminiscent of  W.H. Davies’s work ‘Leisure’..

What is this life, if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this, if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

Continue reading “The Little Things….”

Learning to trust the process & enjoy the journey…


I don’t want this post to be a wallowing ‘Woe is me’ post but feel I have to fill in some of the background details so the above title becomes clear….

I have really struggled since graduating from Loughborough University to find direction in my art. Although it was stressful, I thoroughly enjoyed creating Connecting Threads, my final piece based on the canals and cotton mills of the Midlands.

Connecting Threads
Connecting Threads

A large scale installation that included sound, I found it difficult, for varying reasons, to pursue this genre of art once I had graduated. I therefore reverted to a medium which was more practical – drawing and painting; I even managed to sell two or three pieces.

Bowed But Not Broken
Bowed But Not Broken

Still, I found it difficult to define my style, subject matter and medium – I dabbled with pencil, ink, charcoal and watercolour…..nonetheless I felt lost, going from tightly drawn figurative pieces such as Bowed But Not Broken to looser interpretations of the Lincolnshire landscape and the West Wales Coast…

Fenland Memories
Fenland Memories
Cei Bach
Cei Bach

No longer in the bubble of university I felt alone, rudderless, doubting that I  would ever achieve my dreams. It’s now I have to admit to spending a lot of time on social media, procrastinating…..And it’s there that I came across the work of the self-proclaimed ‘watercolour addict’ Jean Haines. I must admit I enjoy using watercolours although I have had no formal training, which could be viewed as a good thing! Whilst I appreciate the skill of the more formal watercolour artists, I was drawn to Jean’s work because she paints in a loose manner, letting the pigment and water work together to create pieces full of life, light and energy. Suffice to say I was hooked and became a bit of a ‘Jean Haines’ addict ( or should that read stalker, in the nicest possible way I hope), reading her blog,  her books, looking at her dvds, watching her demonstrate at the Patchings Art Festival…

The icing on the cake – attending one of Jean’s workshops – came this August; an early birthday present from my very supportive husband. What is immediately evident on meeting Jean is her sheer passion for watercolour! The day was filled with brilliant demonstrations, one to one sessions, and fun and laughter all the way! Jean is a very generous teacher, spending time making everyone feel special..










imageThe above sunflower piece still requires further work, but I came away inspired…

Jean advocates starting each of your painting sessions playing with pigment to produce three individual washes to help you learn how the colours mix (or not) and I have been endeavouring to follow her advice and teachings. (I would add here, that I take no credit for the methods and subject matter – they are all Jean’s and Jean’s alone.)

imageI have practised the following exercises from her books and dvds…and posted the results, good or bad, on Twitter and Facebook..


As I said earlier, Jean is a very generous lady, and even though she is super busy and very much in demand, she always finds time to comment on my efforts, giving encouragement and suggesting ways to improve.

Initially I struggled, but gradually I have become more confident, trusting myself more and, from just being pleased when I managed to produce ‘something’, I have found myself seeing areas for improvement, and more importantly, knowing what needs to be done….

I shall endeavour to chart my progress in subsequent posts but suffice to say I am learning to trust the process and …yes I am enjoying it!



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




Carolyn J Robertsimage




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…



Extending the branch line…blog update

Yet more opportunites to network arose yesterday when I attended a Creative Leicestershire seminar, in association with Loughborough University Arts. The seminar was led by Jack J Hutchinson, artist, musician and journalist – to name a few of his talents! The seminar was a very relaxed and informal discussion about the different forms of social media, its various uses as well as advice on the dos and don’ts of this way of communication! Anyone who knows me will be aware that I am not considered the most social media savvy person on the planet, but as the seminar progressed it began to dawn on me that I knew more than I realised and wasn’t quite the novice that I had imagined!

Jack was a very informed, engaging speaker and his talk was peppered with funny, personal anecdotes about the perils of social media! He provided many useful hints and tips – I particularly liked the idea of pre-programming tweets in the run up to an exhibition – when you have so much else to organise it would be great to know that your PR machine is sorted! I shall definitely be investigating some of the websites and tools he mentioned.

The seminar was also useful in that it provided yet another opportunity for face-to-face networking. Two of the artists that I met at the EMVAN workshop, plus the workshop co-ordinator, were at the above event along with a familiar face from the uni! I also exchanged details with another artist and of course, I now follow Jack and Creative Leicestershire on Twitter!

In other news – I am now in the run-up to my exhibition of Connecting Threads at the Charnwood MuseumCharnwood Museum, Loughborough in Loughborough (5th April – 1st June), so am busy finalising last minute details – all the paperwork, organising vans, and scaffolds, checking the equipment etc. I have come to the conclusion that the sound equipment is a bit like Christmas tree lights – no matter how carefully I pack them away, there’s always one that doesn’t work when you get them out again – grrrrrrrrrrrr! It’s about now that I begin to panic and think I will never be ready and it won’t be installed on time – thank heavens for my patient ‘other half’ who always supports and reassures me! How do the rest of you keep calm in the countdown to the opening of an exhibition?

Oh well, on with the list-making and paperwork….

Connecting Threads