life and art

Daily Inspiration in my studio

My studio is a haven. Today I thought I would take you along on my journey, exploring my Aladdin's cave.

A little thing that I find helps to make my studio an inspiring place to work is to have work around me that reminds me of something I want to aim at. I noticed this week that currently I have several little postcards dotted around as well as books laid out on my table, that all serve to remind me of something.

Sue Dove makes some beautiful work with collage, textiles and mixed media. Looking at her work I am reminded that I need to stay playful


Moving along the windowsill I come to the work of Kenneth Spooner


 I look at this when I am starting to get too neat and tidy in my work so that I can encourage myself to get a bit of 'grittiness' into it. 

Just lately a favourite book has sat on my desk. It displays the work of Mary Fedden. I love the way her shapes are simplified, and as I look at her work I tell myself not to get too complicated and fussy.



As I sit at my desk I am also met by a very sunny little card, the reproduction of a work  by Emma Dunbar. 


In Emma's work I can see that accurately painted figurative elements can sit quite comfortably next to other parts that are painted more abstractly. 

The paintings of Paul Murray always wow me. I look at them to take in the inventive use of mark making laid over and mingled into painted colour areas. 


Just recently I have also been inspired by a couple of little library catalogues - the work of Daphne McClure


There is so much to learn from Daphne's work about finely balanced design and balance of light and dark areas.


The work of Mary Mabbutt serves as a little prompt to look carefully at the way I am using placements and saturations of colour.

I also always keep a postcard or two around of paintings by Masako Whitehouse.


The large areas of quiet in Masako's paintings encourage me to think of the balance between quiet and busy areas in my own.

So this is my current little treasure trove. Inspiring reminders that bring delight to my day and prompts to my thoughts. 

Walking in the right shoes

There are just so many great artists out there. I was able to enjoy the work of a few of them last week in Open Studios Cornwall. This is always such an inspiring and joyous thing to do and one that I would recommend. What stood out to me is just how different we all are. In the way artists organise their Studios, go about their work, their thought processes, to the finished artwork. It is such an enjoyable experience to witness the rich diversity of each firsthand. 

This week I listened to a very interesting talk (by Heidi Baker, a missionary in Mozambique). She was speaking about the importance of walking in your own shoes.

How boring Open Studios would be if everyone’s work looked the same, their studios were the same and their sketchbooks looked the same, and yet the danger of trying to walk in someone else’s shoes still exists. Their shoes might be very similar to our own or we might be trying to walk with shoes that are five sizes too big. Either way, it seems that the journey only gets really exciting, for the artist and the viewer, when we can be authentically ourselves. I am finding that as I begin to practise following my own way instead of trying to be anyone or everyone else I can see more clearly where I am and where I am going. Kenneth Spooner, at his open studio, gave me this advice, which I think is pretty good advice and worth passing on.............




What not to do when making a goal

Have you ever noticed that a lot of people have a dream but far fewer even attempt to reach for their dreams? Why not? In our dreamy state we like to think that our dreams will materialise, but how?


IMG_0623.JPG would be nice to think so!

Maybe like me you are one of those dreamers that would like to see their dream come into reality, and are willing to do something about it. To this end, I Have been thinking a lot about goals, both short term and long term. Goals that make the journey of the dream. I am making small steps into my dreams and decided a good goal would be to finish a painting every week. Why this goal? I will show you.




These are just some of the paintings that I have started but haven’t got around to finishing.  

What I discovered this week is that goals, if not reasonable, can sometimes get in the way of the steps to take rather than providing the way forward.  My goal turned out to be not an achievable one,- fine on previous weeks in making small paintings but not so when the painting was large and being ‘difficult.’ This, I found, made it easier to escape the studio altogether.

Other goals that have also stopped me in the past, I realised, have been things like saying I have to spend such and such amount of time in the studio, or I have to be in the studio by a certain time. These sort of goals tend to cause me to give up altogether on the times I can’t achieve them. Once I got a bit easier on myself and thought of a more achievable plan I was able to work happily in the studio again.

What problems do you encounter when making and achieving goals. I would love to hear from you to join in the discussion.

Setting Priorities

Have you ever begun a week with great intentions to achieve the world, live creatively and stay inspired, and then, well, life just gets in the way. The week just gone would normally have been one of those weeks. After writing my last blog I was fuelled with fresh vigour, lots of determination, and then, as so often happens, life happened. Usually at this point, when  things come and sabotage my finely tuned work schedule (or not so finely tuned as the case may be) I resign myself to being too busy this week with a promise to myself that next week I will be the true creative that I want to be.

The change this week came from a talk (mentioned in the last post)  by Patricia from the design trust.

The little gem that was imparted in this talk went like this: 

A lecturer stood in front of his class with a jar full of big stones. He asked, ‘Is the jar full?’ Yes came the reply. Then he took some very small stones and poured them into the jar. ‘Is the jar full now?’ He asked. The students weren’t so sure about saying yes this time. Then he poured sand in the jar, and just as the students were thinking that the answer must be yes now, he poured in water. Then he asked the students what the point of this exercise was. Someone replied that it must be to make your days fuller, but he said, ‘No, not at all. The point is, to put your big stones in first.’ 

Pretty obvious right! But in a week where appointments abounded and the pressure was on, I was able to take all the little snippets of time that normally I don’t see and put ‘my big stones in place’ as I kept up a continuum of time in my studio. As a little reminder of this life lesson, I made a painting that borrows lots of the imagery from someone who I think is a master of painting pots and jars, Mary Fedden, putting my stones in the jar.

Enjoy a creative week. 



The journey of a creative person. Sharing the ups and downs, bumps and curves of life as a creative being.

I love the programmes, ‘A day in the life of....’ but often we see a glamorous view. I decided to challenge myself  to share instead, the difficulties as well as the breakthroughs of a life determined to not wander about aimlessly, or punch as if beating the air, but to make the most of the ability we are all given to be a creative person daily because that is who we are, and share it here. My hope is that this will encourage you to also live out your life in a way that makes goals of creativity and follows this path, long after the mood has worn off and the need for commitment to the goal seems shaky, just taking one step at a time.

I had better start by saying why this challenge to myself. Two night ago I went to a business talk where we had to talk about our dreams. I realised from voicing this that the goal between my dreams and what I am doing in my daily life that maybe would work towards this, are miles apart. 

So here I am with a dream. My dream is mainly focused around my life as an artist. Yours may be something completely different. Fill in the blank. It could be anything but do it creatively!  What will be my baby steps to walk in this; sustainable steps.

Today what I have to offer is a yummy breakfast. I didn’t think that I would be sharing a recipe for my first day of sharing a creative lifestyle, but maybe this is the lesson. There needs to be no compartmentalisation to creativity, and today this is how I choose to be creative.



When I was a child I used to love tapioca pudding.This pudding tastes like those little balls of tapioca that my Grandma made in her cosy, warming milk puddings, but without the milk and pretty healthy.

ingredients. I usually double the amounts stated below to have enough for 2-3 people.

Half tin of coconut milk

3 tblsp chia seeds

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tblsp porridge oats

1 tblsp linseeds

pinch of salt

Mix together in a pan and boil for a couple minutes until thickened and bubbly. Top with fruit and seeds. I usually use berries, but today used prunes and a satsuma. Also some seeds of pumpkin and sunflower. Great start to the day! 


Drawing Challenge

This week I have been enjoying some of the challenges set in the book 'Experimental Drawing' by Robert Kaupelis. One of  these was to make a drawing where all the elements of the drawing are cohesive and cant be removed without affecting the overall image.


'Pear in Mirror'

This little exercise made me think how in my art journey, as in my life, all the parts are necessary. In life, there can be some really rubbish and hard times and some really joy filled times, but as I look to tomorrow, embracing my today and building from my yesterday, all of it is taken and woven into the rich tapestry that is called my life.

In my art journey at the moment I am feeling a desire to change what I am doing a bit, perhaps go in new directions, but what I know is that wherever I arrive with it, that will only happen because of all the seemingly dead ends to which I have traveled, painting all the paintings that I have perhaps discarded, and places that have consumed me along the way. Excited for what's ahead! 

Nothing Is Wasted

The time had come this Summer to put down one paint brush and pick up another. After living in our home for 6 years it was time to transform the shabby interior.

What I didn't realise at the time is how much house decorating and actually, all of life feeds into art. (kind of knew it in theory, but not convinced in heart.) Far from being a separate activity that I might spend a certain amount of hours doing, I found my intentions of my art practice strengthened as I veered towards not only certain colours, but also layering, and oh my, what excitement in uncovering pieces of history, - much like the joy experienced in revealing previously painted areas of my paintings and finding unexpected colours and shapes.

This reiterates to me, what importance there is in all of the activities of life that surround art, daily things and rituals that bring joy and bring life that can be taken in to the act of painting. Far from being nuisance interruptions perhaps these other activities need to be embraced.

Some favourite corners