The Book Collector

(photo from here)

I can’t help it. I love books. My husband dreads the day we ever have to move house as they are spread over all three floors of our house. I do have a kindle after a long period of resistance – this is kept strictly for books with oodles of text that I have to keep because I will want to read them time and time again.

  The glorious thing that I realised about moving over to the dark side of paperless paperback reading is that over a period of time, the lack of paperbacks on my shelves leads to more space devoted entirely to picture books – specifically Art Books (said with not a small amount of reverence).  Art Books are my addiction. They are to be leafed through in any spare moment, sat on the floor of my studio, page after page of images and text of paintings that I perhaps will never see in real life (although one can always dream), I peer at them closely to drink in every brushstroke and study the light and atmosphere of the artists I love.

The Book Collector

So in our three day break away to Northumberland last week it is not surprising that 2 whole, precious afternoons were spent in the haven that is Barter Books (just go to the page and wonder at the photos of all the gorgeous shelves and seating areas and log fire with sofa’s for reading).

The Book Collector

In truth, two afternoons were not nearly enough and I did not venture much past the Art and History sections but we shall go back someday. I was also quite restrained being on a budget but still managed to pick up these few favourites (excuse the photos, tis a dull and dreary day here) and I cannot wait to immerse myself in them.

They are (should you be interested)

Top photo left to right

Ana Maria Pacheco in the National Gallery

Scottish Art since 1900 – National Galleries of Scotland

Goya by Robert Hughes

Bottom photo clockwise from left

Oils by J M Parramon

Hang-ups – Essays on painting (mostly) by Simon Schama

Seven-Tenths by James Hamilton-Paterson (which fuels my other addiction to books about the sea)

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

I may try to blog about them as I read them along with some of the other art books I have.

I would also love to know what your favourite books are – especially books on Art!

PS we did venture further afield on our away-break including a trip to this magical place but all photos turned out badly so you would be better to view the website.

x x x

A New Adventure

Imagine… a weeklong creative retreat in a peaceful hideaway on the East Coast of Scotland. Stunning views, walks on the beach, time to learn, time to relax, time to create to your heart’s content. Days spent exploring the area and working in a bright and airy studio with spectacular views and then evenings by the fireside in the company of other students

Well I have been imagining and dreaming about this for a wee while and wondering how I could make it a reality. With my new’ish venture into teaching art classes I have been seeking new opportunities and one of those has always been the idea that I would like to teach at an art retreat some-day. A few weeks ago, I began thinking ‘so why don’t I just organise one myself’ and that is just what I did!

With the encouragement and support of a couple of friends the wheels were put in motion and the location (Gardenstown) and venue (cottages and art studio)  are booked, the dates set (October 2014), the theme imagined and many of the finer details settled …. and one more thing… all 10 places are sold out. Unbelievably. I dared not dream that there would be any interest at all far less sell out all 10 places practically overnight and even more amazingly without me having to publicise or advertise or to beg for folks to look – the interest was already there. If I was surprised by folks coming from Leicester, Cheshire and Oxford for my last day workshop I am absolutely bowled over by the fact that I have 6 ladies coming from over the pond from different areas of the US – all to come over to attend a week long art retreat taught by me. Unbelievable.

So now I am interested to know if this is something that any of my blog readers or fellow creatives would be interested in if I tentatively organised another version of this event for Spring 2015. It is something that I would love to do annually or perhaps more so.  If the idea of a week in a tiny harbour community creating and chatting and sharing is something you can imagine doing then let me know either here or via my workshop page.

You can find out about the retreat happening next year here.

So of the three exciting bits of upcoming news that I have been promising to tell you about, in terms of a timeline it is the furthest away but is the one that has been at the forefront of my mind in the last 2 weeks.

If you can imagine something you can make it real in some way and the things that only a few short years ago I thought were a dream are now ahead of me and closer than I ever thought possible.


Following a different path – workshops

A while ago I wrote this post on a decision that had been brewing for a while, a change of focus, a change of pace and a change of priorities and whilst I still miss sculpting, there are no regrets – only a different path to follow and a feeling that I am going in the right direction.

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For the last few years I have taught many workshops, all craft based – felt making, textiles, whimsical creatures but for some strange reason I always had something that held me back from teaching art classes – I can’t explain it, I get these wee notions and lack of confidence and I let my fears rule my head. Well times have changed and with a renewed sense of purpose so has come a new confidence and an increased sense of what I am capable of and what I would actually like to do with myself when I am not painting and drawing and working. So I while ago I took the plunge and advertised some art classes at the wonderful Focus Gallery in Nottingham.

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Last month was the first of a few monthly art workshops and I have to say I had an absolutely wonderful time. Students came from Leicestershire, Chester and Oxfordshire and we worked from a life model, creating large expressive pastel drawings. It was so much fun. It felt very natural to me and from the feedback I received it seems the students had a great experience (always paramount in my mind.) The photographs really are a testament to how hard everyone worked and how much they progressed during the course of the day but there are also some written testimonials to how the day went too.

So if you are within travelling distance of Nottingham and you would like to attend a course, I would love to see you there. All classes are booked here.

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Next blog post I will have some news of one of three exciting up coming events!

I also just wanted to say thank-you. I have had a flurry of new followers to this blog and blog comments which I am catching up on replying to. So thank you to all who read, follow and comment. Your interest is as ever very much appreciated.


Always learning….. colour painting

Colour mixing bible

So many new and upcoming exciting things to share but whilst I get my blog posting sorted here is a latest obsession of mine.

I have always painted by instinct really, just doing as I feel and getting to know what works by trial and error. But now that I am taking my painting a lot more seriously I am realising how much I have to learn.

One of the main things I am curious about is colour mixing – how different colours work, tinting strength, opacity, unusual and unexpected mixes, finding the best way of reaching a certain colour out of any number of paths.

So a few weeks ago I began this colour mixing bible – a moleskine (can’t think I would ever use anything else now) and every colour paint I have, mixing them in varying strengths with various tints just to see what happens. It is fascinating and I am learning so much! Two new pages everyday that I am in my studio – it is going to take a long time but I am having fun making new discoveries.