brrrr, cold and sitting by the fire – ramblings part three – a new chapter

There is nothing nicer than sitting down by the open fire, watching the logs ablaze, flames licking up the chimney and drinking a hot cup of tea and dreaming of spring when the bulbs, plants and trees start to push through the soil !! this time I am dreaming of what vegetables I am going to plant in my new garden and the riot of colours I can paint from the balcony.

Its been a busy day, packing, packing packing, oh how rewarding it is to sort out “stuff” creating a sense of order in our belongings. I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder, however, when one is a “maker” and an abundant one at that, there is so much creative “stuff” amassed that one just cannot throw it away. I bought some large zipped ikea bags and storage boxes and now have the items from my flat stored relatively neatly,, watercolours, gouache, inks, pastels, sketchbooks, paint brushes, print making gear, needle felting wool and tools, piles of old linens, buttons, ribbons and vintage florals. Embroidery threads, canvases and so on. Then there is the sewing patterns, stash of dress and trouser lengths and of course all my quilt making rulers, templates and boxes of fabric stash. Of course this is only about 10% of my “batterie des arts” ! I also have my art studios, two of them down the lane aside my home. Mostly tubes of oil in all sizes, canvases, paper, more brushes, Acrylics in large pots and tubes, glass pallets very large easal and the list goes on………….

Moving is an emotional rollercoaster for sure, pastures new is great, somewhere to spend this new chapter of my life, and it does really feel like a new life is about to begin and I am no spring chicken!. If any of you out there are concerned about getting older, please don’t fret, it is great. Yes there are changes in physiology as we age it goes without saying but I am a person who has embraced this process, accepted it and not made any attempt to alter my outward appearance in anyway and do not intend to ever . Yes I fell into the trap of dying my grey hair that appeared back in my late thirties, but at sixty I realised women didn’t naturally walk around with chestnut hair, the colour I had since a child looked so “blanket brown” and the constant chemicals being put on my hair every three weeks had left my hair lifeless and straw like. So at an amazing “Crone” ceremony I released my youth, let it die and fall away and embraced and stepped into the Wise Woman and I have never looked back. Immediately I stopped dying my hair, it took awhile but it was the best thing I ever did, I have been paid so many compliments and I would never change it nor do I hanker for the past. I might sometimes like a bit more vim and vigour around 4pm when I am flagging but I still have a passion for living, am very curious of everything around me and dare I say it, I have found peace of mind. I am content with myself and my life even though there are challenges in my family and of course in this world of ours but I seem to steer though it ok. So if you find acceptance of life and your surroundings, not hanker for what others have or compare yourself to others then there truly is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for sure !

Yikes this all sounds an amazing amount of art and making materials but I do have a lovely large area in my new home, the room is divided by a staircase coming up from ground floor, so one side is being devoted by sewing type making, fabrics and so on and the other all my painting and sketching stuff, my easals a desk for large screen mac and wonderful big armchair where I can take in the view of the rolling hills and sea in the background. So now my living space will have no art stuff and I only have to go up one flight of stairs into my studio space. The studio also has a balcony large enough for tables and chairs and a space to relax so roll on summer , I shall be taking my easal out there!!

Well , I have drunk my tea, now its back to sorting and packing !!

More soon, and Oh! if you have any packing tips or anything to make moving home go smoothly I would appreciate you letting me know, thanks in advance.

The Extraordinarium

“The Extraordinarium, a place, a home for extraodinary little beings to gather and where extraordinary things happen.

Herbert, he is an extraordinary little being, has seen many centuries come and go and has watched his beloved walled garden and the contents therein slowly decline. What was once a thriving country house, slowly fell into disrepair, the sons were called up to fight and never returned, the same went for all workers on the estate and slowly everything came to a halt. The owners died as much of a broken heart as old age and the house fell into total decline. Herbert of course always found something to eat from the rampant grasses, berries and seeds that grew wild everywhere but he yearned for the day when his beloved walled garden could be bought back to life

it came to him in a dream, he didn’t know it then, but this was to be the beginning of something quite extraordinary ! dream trees .”

I have started to put together the books for my little creatures, the characterful beings that are drawn to “The Extraordinarium”

the sketches below are ideas for the dream tree, a very rare specie. I am intending to make one, probably cut paper, shaped and curved to form three dimensional image just like my flowers and shoes, or a moulded paper clay that I can actually model and place in a perspex case. Early stages yet, but all my creatures are made and the individual stories are coming together. These will all be for sale, where I dont know or when, but soon

Inspired

Just back from Pembrokeshire my third visit this year. Just glorious weather, blue skies, rugged coastlines and foxgloves everywhere. So colourful, pink flowers everywhere and when looking closely in the hedgerows up the lane pretty wild orchids. Even bought a magnificent plate by Pembrokeshire ceramicist Jonathon Cox, large 40cms dia, lustre painted design depicting the local flora. Came home just so full of ideas !!

Mind is working overtime as usual, in my head I am creating so many things that my hand cannot write and sketch them down in my book quick enough. I dont know about you all out there, but my sketch book is full of notes, mindmaps as well as the obvious drawing stuff. I have many and variety of sizes and formats, landscape, square and portrait and I find it somewhat chaotic at times because I forget which one I have been working in and spend ages looking for the “right one”

My extraordinary creatures are coming to life, all their characters are beginning to take shape. Right now I have three more made waiting for their clothing, a goat with the most amazing set of horns, more dramatic than his friend the painter, he holds great presence and power. A delicate little whippet, definitely feminine and a seated hare. Talking of seats I purchased a beautiful little chair, you can see below two little friiends looking comfy.

I have also just taken delivery off a stack of vintage and linen off cuts, all 100% natural linen and very pleased with them indeed as some show obvious wear which I love. Have replenished my wool stocks, all natural colours and English and Welsh breads, even some Herdwick, the breed that Beatrix Potter bought back to life in the Lake District back in the early 1900’s, Its all very exciting as there is so much more that I am carrying out on this project, eventually everything will be for sale . These are one off totally handmade art creatures their clothes hand stitched and most have removable clothing, They are collectables suitable as family heirlooms. These are not toys as they delicate, needle felted wool over an aluminium wire armature, but I see them as story telling characters to inspire and ignite imagination and creativity in all ages.

Along side all this each character will eventually have handmade art story books to accompany them. The Narrative contains something really special and this item will be available as a paper sculpture

Please watch this space for further anouncements

I

The journey continues

It has been awhile since I posted.  My life has been full and packed with inspiring visits, projects, cliff walks and so on.

North Wales and the Lake district beckoned, visiting friends, coming together on really sacred lands and holding ceremony to visiting Beatrix Potter’s first cottage by Lake Windermere.  This cottage, its warmth and love really resonated with me, my desire to move away from my large spaces and tall ceilings to a simple home, intimate, full of my own creations and a space that will feed my soul and where I can end my days here.

This desire was strengthened yet again when I visited Pembrokeshire, everything just opened up and there was the cottage I have been dreaming in came into real life, after viewing it I came away absolutely blown away with its detail, it was as if I had been walking around it in my dreams and the universe had manifested it for me.

North Pembrokhire is wild and rugged, the flora and fauna excellent and  the views tremendous from the coastal path, lovely sleepy little villages, NO costa, NO Starbucks, NO chains, in fact not much at all but what I love about the farmhouse I stay in Northern Kefalonia is right here in Wales,  I dont like hot sun and I dont go t to greece to roast on the sandy beaches,  so in a way it has everyting.  The only difference is NO swimming Pool.  Guess I will come a fan of wild swimming, should keep me fit and healthy.

So we shall see what transpires, taking my daughter to view the property again after easter.

Here are a few image of what I have been getting up to and the last one, homage to my lovely mum, 27 years ago she passed on to the next life. Happy Mother’s Day

IMG_1779IMG_1692IMG_1578IMG_1610IMG_1640IMG_1750IMG_1772PFCA9618IMG_1683IMG_1848IMG_1912IMG_1881IMG_1999IMG_1954IMG_1943

A lot has happened since my last post

the last months since November have been packed full with all manner of things,  visit to Wales.  Fabulous lunch at The Greenhouse.   London museums and gallery visits, the Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy being one of the most inspirational I have seen in a long while.  Firle church and an evening of music, words, dance and ceremony with Carolyn Hilllyer to see in the solstiice, and on the solstice a wonderful evening organised by a good friend Ali, journeying to sounds of a Mongolian throat singer and gong bath.   Then of course Christmas and the handmade presents I usually do, this year it was books, hand made and hand bound.  A new skill learnt which I love the precision of the bindings themselves.  Sourdough breadmaking course at the Bicycle Bakery, which I made many tasty loaves   Then it was needle felting families of dreaming mice, each one had a prayer for manifesting peace and serenity in all areas of life and then a fabulous sleepy dreaming bunny, this has now grown into a rabbit figure which has conjured up clothes, characters and a book.  A fabulous christmas lunch of Haunch of Venison cooked to perfection by my daughter and an illuminated walk at Bedgebury which was quite spectacular All the while though there has been my daily practice, patterns and watercolour and collage.

Oh and of course it was my 70th birthday last Friday.  I had a fabulous couple of days, so many lovely cards, flowers and messages.  A gift from daughter and her partner, one for  for each decade, so seven beautiful gifts including a poem that bought tears to my eyes.  I also spent a lovely evening and breakfast walk along the seafront at Hastings after a night at The Laindons which I thoroughly recommend.

What it is like being 70?  the best feeling in the world, freedom to do and be who you like, fabulous.

Here are a few glimpses of the past weeks

the way forward

Since my days have become my own to choose what i do, I have been experiencing elation !!  I just cannot believe why I continued to work for so long !!  as always I am trying to build a daily practice, but consistancy is not my forte and although I am managing to keep a flow of writing my daily pages and trying something creative most days, my oil painting seems to have diminished.  Think I am trying to do so many things including downsizing all my posessions, that in itself has been overwhelming.  “one room at a time ” is my motto and I am slowly getting thought it all.

At the moment the easiest thing to do is reach for my watercolours and gouache as I can just sit down and do something quickly without too much fuss.  Here are some of the outpouring.

Hopefully a more consistent approach from now on

I am now on a new journey, a journey where I can devote my time to a creative daily practice of my own.

My days of designing interiors are now over, cannot believe I ran my own successful company for so long.  My only sadness it that my mother died just weeks before it all began, she never saw me put my creative skills to good use,  I know she would have been so very happy for me.   There are many challenges in starting a business and the first few years were extremely tough, many times I was close to giving up but thankfully that strong will of  mine saw me through. My mums words “where there is a will there is way” constantly rang through my head.  I also also lived through the dawning of the digital age, apple mac was my first computer in the early 90’s with my first mobile phone and over the years the working practice of a designer became totally computer driven.  Out went the drawing boards  and the source library an in came drawing packages, illustrator, Cad and so on.  Together with a great team we have designed, procured and installed projects the length and breadth of the country.

Will I miss it all?  Right in this moment in time, I would say no definitely not, interior design sounds great but it comes with massive pressure, constant deadlines and right now I am so happy to leave it al behind.  Will I miss it in the future, who knows, possibly, but I know that my own creative skills have taken a back seat for so long thats its time now for this to be the main part of my day.

just a few of the ways I have been expressing myself of late.

IMG_9947IMG_0110IMG_9830IMG_9948IMG_0148IMG_0155IMG_0177IMG_9815IMG_0095IMG_9823IMG_0204IMG_9969IMG_9967IMG_E9986IMG_E9949IMG_9965

 

feeling free

 

Another large project (day job)  has at last come to fruition and with that comes the release of feeling I can breathe again, no pressure……..  and even closer to  my goal of giving it all up for good.

today in my studio I tried out mono printing for the first time.    What a great way to work, I love it and cannot wait to get back down there again today.  Experimenting with inks, acrylics, alcohol, cutting stencils and the excitement of pulling the print, revealing such unexpected results.  I am ,looking out for some good printmaking weekend courses, if anyone knows of any please let me know.

I am also working on a large piece, acrylic underpainting and now layering in oils.  Intertwined shapes, at first large and as each subsequent layer they are becoming smaller and more defined, colours changing all the time.  Sometimes clashing  and full of vigour, sometimes much quieter and more sombre.  Almost like a weather gauge of emotions.   A journey I am enjoying

IMG_E9940IMG_E9926IMG_E9929IMG_9942IMG_9944

Moel Hirradug

This painting of Moel Hirradug has had several lives, three different attempts, one all green, one multicoloured and this one I think I like the best.  Still feel the need to try again though, next time might be acrylics and pastel.  This one is oil and it shows the iron age fort that sits atop.  I have it on my friend’s authority that the view from the top is amazing, sadly I didnt even attempt it.  Far too hot.  The painting also depicts the parched earth, no rain now for 54 days.IMG_9614

Layers and patterns

I started a painting last week, creating a layer each day, no particular idea in mind just something to reflect my day.  Its interesting to see how the layers created started of fairly dark. cool colours and as each day went by the layers became brighter and warmer.   I felt today the painting complete, feeling red I started something else

Red ink, paint brush, calligraphy pen, scalpel, steel rule and matt medium.  Making various stripes of different thickness and angles I then cut into strips and repasted back in my sketch book.  Wished I had waterproof ink as they mat medium smudged the ted lines, but hey ho, I like the way it turned out.  Can see more experiments on the horizonLove the patterns that emerged

 

IMG_9593IMG_9592IMG_9591IMG_9600IMG_9598IMG_9595IMG_9596IMG_9599

 

A fruitful day

IMG_E9524

 

Or should I say a vegetable day?  my desire to keep painting seems strong at the moment.  Am I enjoying it, Yes, absolutely.   Am I pleased with the results, absolutely not !!  this is the perfectionist in me, its such a hard task master to have this running all the time.  Never ever feels good enough.  For years, nearly 30 years I have been an interior designer and its only been in last 2-3 years that I can say I am interior designer and not feel a fraud.  My creativity has taken many forms over the years, from drawing and watercolour sketches, to making things with my hands, cutting paper, clay work, collage, oil pastels, dry pastels, oil paint sticks but when it comes to painting, there is a lot of doubt that comes up.  Not Good Enough, is the foremost one and most times it hampers the start, so recently with the urge to pick up my paintbrushes, oil paint and so on and  keep painting is rather new to me.  Its normally paint one or two, dont like them and put paints away for a few months.

Painting is a great teacher, it brings up so much for me that I can now sit and watch and see exactly what is happening as it unfolds.  self doubt, conversations on size, whether to make it abstract or representational.  Then there is the conversation about the cost of oil paint these days, absolutely ridiculous prices and like everything else now we have these small artisan workshops making specialist paints that are even more costly.  One thing that has changed my painting though is Rosemary’s handmade brushes.  I had never heard of an Egbert brush before, but these together with large long flats are helping me obtain the brushstrokes that I desire.  To know they are handmade in Yorkshire make using them feel even better !

IMG_E9526

 

 

 

Faces and Cold Wax

IMG_9515Not working at the day job today so had time to relax, breakfast on the Pantiles then back for painting and trying out a new medium, new to me anyway.  Gamblin’s cold wax, its a mix of pure refined Beeswax and Gamsol, odourless mineral spirits.  Wonderful stuff and it makes the oil paint a thick butter consistency.  Thought I would try painting the South American woman’s face I tried a couple of week or so back and this time I am much happier.  It  has colour, the paints rich texture makes wonderful marks, using long flats and egbert brushes I managed to make  really nice painterly strokes,  even painting alla prima I could still, with a light touch flick a different colour over the first layer and create wonderful colour mixes and movement to the strokes.  Blending the colour to create a blurred outline is something I am always trying, this medium it just happened without really trying.  I used Rosemary Ivory brushes, long flats in sizes 6,10 and 12

colour at the jerwood

Friday a really sunny day and took myself of to Hastings and my usual ritual of brunch at the Jerwood Gallery.  Sitting outside on the terrace looking out to sea, the sun streaming down felt relaxed and far away from work related issues.    Great food, great view and of course the paintings which I always come away from feeling energised with all kinds of inspired thoughts and feelings

This time I came back with a fish, a fresh caught  sole for my dinner, amazing price of £2, together with some asparagus, home made hollandaise, plenty of lemon, delicious !!

Here are some colours I especially like, one of the them by Duncan Grant, all have some association with the local area and all the colour combination will have been absorbed like a sponge and then squeezed out into my next project.

 

IMG_9265IMG_9261IMG_E9272Version 2IMG_9263IMG_9259

Klimt, Kaffe und Kuchen

Klimt, Kaffe und Kuchen in that order.  This is how my long weekend in Vienna panned out.  The city made a great impact on my senses, although very humid and hot my daughter and I walked to all the shrines to the master painter Gustav Klimt.  I have seen many of his works ten years ago at the Tate Liverpool exhibition, but seeing the Beethoven frieze in situ within the Secession building in Vienna gave me goosebumps.  I think it’s not only the works of art, it’s the history, the art nouveau period, the lifestyle, the history of some of the paintings belonging to wealthy jewish families and then stolen by the Nazis.

The Kiss, or at least a copy of it was bought for me on the occasion of my second wedding anniversary, I fell in love it as did thousands of others at the time 1971.  I vowed then that one day I would visit Vienna, but I never though it would take me this long !!!  Seeing the Kiss in the flesh, I cannot say it was a disappointment far from it, but because I have seen it everywhere for years it had slightly lost its allure, it still was amazing to see his mark making up close, it was not as fine as I had imagined but standing back from it, exquisite, they all were, including some landscapes, especially those at the Leopold Museum.  This museum had a wondrous collection that we walked around for a long time, Picasso, Richter, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Munch and a small amount of Klimt’s sketches.  From what I understand a lot of them are being prepared for and exhibition in london later this year.

The Vienna Riding school and the amazing arena setting, tall ceilings, huge tall columns and chandeliers.  Horse and riders are so elegant.  The large parks and squares, large wide streets along with interesting winding lanes, the winter palace with its splendid arches and sculptures, this is a city to remember, I would love to go back

After all the walking, 1300 steps each day I felt I deserved a treat so it was a trip to a Viennese coffee-house for Kaffe und Kuchen and it didn’t fail to delight

Version 2

Version 2IMG_9171