Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Layer love

I find something deeply satisfying in creating a piece of art made up from many layers, especially when some of those lying underneath didn't quite turn out as planned. It's a metaphor for persistence and knowing that most times, the more effort you put in, the better and more consistent the result.

There's something so much more interesting in peering deep into a project to investigate all the intricacies that hold the construction together - and how we learn from our mistakes!

I'm returning to my old love of portrait painting - Gritty Jane set up a challenge and naturally I am no more able to resist that than an open bar of chocolate. This is #3 inspired by the theme 'layers'. #1 and #2 below.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


I am trying to think of something to write about this flame-haired beauty. Maybe commenting on what she's holding in her hands as the beginnings to a story.

However, I am afraid that this evening the words won't come. All I can think about is the newly laundered sheets waiting on the bed next door, the fluffed up pillows and feathery duvet... Sigh, it's Saturday night and only just 11pm and all I want to do is snuggle down and sleep....

I do want to join in Sunday Sketches though... so here she is! I partly borrowed her from a couple of illustrations by the fantasy artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law from her instructional book 'Dreamscapes'.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The sharp end of autumn

At this time of year, when you wake up after a day of drizzle and drear to a bold blue sky, it would indeed be a sacrilege not to get yourself out in it.

I always forget how long autumn's colours can last. Don't we normally expect all the leaves to have fallen by now? Is Mother Earth giving us an extra treat this season?

After a quick workout this morning in front of the TV, while watching last night's recorded X-Factor (Rough Copy and Sam Bailey for the finals #justsaying), me and the boy donned our new wellies and scampered out into the sunshine. It was definitely a day to check out some woodland talent...

We scrunched through leaves and very carefully gathered sweet chestnuts. Some were quite shy and hid behind a prickly personality!

Whereas others were just natural show-offs.

A few passing buzzards treated us to an aerobatic display soaring high above the trees while calling out their presence. Unfortunately I was so entranced by the performance that I forgot I was carrying a camera and so we missed the photo opportunity - there's no rewind on this particular live show. As judges though we rated them incredibly highly though. Best group of the day!

I was much better at capturing nature's bounty that doesn't move... like these solo performers.

The outfits amazed, the leaves danced in perfect autumnal choreography and even the audience added their own style!

A grand performance from Mother Earth - she has my vote!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A mermaid's tale

Slippery things mermaids, not keen on having their photos taken though they are more than happy to pose to have their portrait painted.

This is Tess. She lives off the coast of Brighton and has been known to sneak into the Zap Club on the seafront for a quick boogie when the lights are low and the crowd too drunk to notice.

I saw her though - tripped over her tail.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Swimming with wings

Penguins are such fascinating birds - evolution in action - birds with wings that act as fins so they soar through the ocean's depths rather than float on thermals.

Dressed in their smart black jackets they are born entertainers too. There's something about a bit of cute that brings out the protectionist among us - another quirk of evolution?

I'm painting the subjects of the sea's realm this week for Moyra's journal in another collaborative project. There's something about working with others that brings out the joy in me so, Universe, can I just say... I'm putting it out there that...

If anyone has any creative projects they need some help with - I'm your gal! I'll write myself a creative sales pitch and post it here in the next day or so.

Sharing with Sunday Sketches. I have been away for far too long!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Venus favours the bold

Two years ago eight artists decided to share their art in a round robin art journal. Two years and two books later I've just finished the final pages in Tammy's journal which is now winging its way back to the southern US of A.

It has been an adventure! Every month an ever-growing art gallery has been dropping through my letterbox. Each parcel bursting with layers of paint, collage and above all love.

I know I wasn't the only one to struggle a little with these final pages. I'm not sure if it was the pressure of seeing all that amazing art that I felt I had to match, or just knowing that once this one went in the post we were all finished... I certainly don't want this collaboration to end. Shall we do another one next year ladies? Please say yes!

So, onto my pages... Tammy chose the colour theme of black, white & tan.

I started Venus before watching Lady GaGa doing her own interpretation in her undies on the X Factor at the weekend. Bonkers was the first adjective that came to mind - along with a healthy dose of respect for a woman who just does what she wants! You see, I do think a bit of bonkers is good for the soul!

It was the print of Botticelli's version at the back of Tammy's journal that provided the inspiration for this piece - rather than the scallop shell bra.

I thought that Jennifer's quote was particularly appropriate for this project:

"You know when I feel inwardly beautiful? When I am with my girlfriends and we are having a Goddess Circle."

As Ovid said - Venus does indeed favour the bold as indeed does fortune and both have done Lady G a bit of good.

I'd been saving these pages for a while to collage with...

My tag to add to the collection...

Perfect colour scheme for this owl - plus a real owl feather.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

To dance

My blogging slipped into a stupor over the summer and I confess I'm struggling to return to it. A whole range of reasons and excuses are presenting themselves connected with burnout and fear that I just can't do it anymore - that nobody will want to read or comment. What if people don't like me anymore? What if I've been away too long and they've all moved on?

Then, I sat and thought about why I started this blog in the first place and it was never about gaining a readership - it was writing practice. And so, this evening these words shall flow across the page














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Sunday, 27 October 2013

To love beauty

This week I've been enjoying walks in the fresh air sucking up the autumnal beauty before it threatens to all blow away this evening when gales and rain are set to sweep the country.

Is it my imagination, or has this season been more beautiful than falls of the past? The leaves seem to have hung around for longer and really shown off their colours. Maybe it was the opportunity to spend a week away exploring ancient Britain and showing it off to those who were mainly not so familiar with these shores (the majority of the sisters I travelled with were from the US).

I've been back from my pilgrimage a couple of weeks but its memories cling on and I feel the friendships reaching out and little legacies taking a hold.

For example, this week I'm taking a course with Latisha, the Herb Mother and fellow pilgrim. We are learning the medicinal powers of herbs, or 'erbs as those from across the pond insist on pronouncing them... I am planning to brew up all manner of tinctures and salves, lotions and potions. Latisha is helping to connect us with the power of nature's offerings - a reminder that this stuff doesn't have to come ready packaged, that the skills of our ancestors are still relevant today. By actually touching the plants, getting their scent and oils on our fingers and building experience we are connecting. It feels good.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Anam cara

I have long known and shared that the day I rediscovered my love of art - around four years ago now - was like finding the piece of me that had long been missing. Art and being creative is as important to me as ever, if not more so, but in the past week I've done some reflecting and realised that the tribe of sisters I've connected with because of that creative outburst is the glue that holds this part of me together.

I've just returned from an eight day pilgrimage around just a handful of England's sacred sites with a powerful group of just some of these women - sisters in soul spirit. As I've learnt from previous retreats, the power of our sisters is truly a magical thing. There are women out there who you are meant to be with - who bring out your own beauty and share a little of their own soul with you. This is Anam Cara. Friendships are formed to last a lifetime, we connect with a bond that cannot be broken.

Fellow sister Stephanie shared this with us before we left:

In their book, The Archetype of Pilgrimage: Outer Action with Inner Meaning, Wallace and Jean Clift describe the various reasons for embarking on a pilgrimage: to answer a call to adventure (one of the first stages Joseph Campbell described in “The Hero’s Journey”); to experience a place of power; to hope and ask for healing or a miracle; to express a love of God or Goddess; to find or reclaim lost pieces of ourselves; to give thanks; to ask for forgiveness; to leave the routine of ordinary life and experience something new or numinous; and to prepare for death.

We each had our own reasons and purpose for being together - some were apparent before we embarked on the journey and others told us their story as we travelled. We are the weavers.

These ladies accepted me for both who I am and what I wish to be. Each of them taught me something unique and special.

Oh yes... and we ate cake...

And drank cider...

And then, on my return the magic and pull of the creative tribe kept on working. I stopped to visit Kat whose artwork and writing I have admired for years, who I've chatted with on the phone and whose art passes through my hands every month on our Magical Journal Journey with seven other sisters. At last we were able to meet in person and give the tightest squeeze of a hug. I have the last journal in our current journey waiting for my input. I'll write my emotional outpourings on this project in a separate post, but it is once again, Anam Cara.

I have so much more to share about my experiences in Avebury, Glastonbury and Cornwall (plus a few places in between) - please watch this space... In the meantime you can read the experiences of my sweet sisters on the pilgrimage here, here, here and here.


Friday, 27 September 2013


Another month drifts by like the falling leaves and I have not returned to my blog. I seem to be all written out from the day job - there is after all, only so much time a girl can spend with her fingers attached to a keyboard.

Evenings are better spent getting sticky and paint spattered or, with my head in a book or, as has been the case for much of the past couple of months, lying on the sofa watching TV. Still, given that I've barely watched a couple of hours a week for years, a little couch potato behaviour every now and again is really no bad thing.

One regular event that I would never miss is the Magical Journal Journey. As our books make their final stops on their globe-trotting endeavour each becomes heavier and loaded with colour, texture and so much talent! I am blown away by the artworks bulging out of every cover and always have to spend at least a couple of days building up the courage to attempt my own humble addition.

These pages are from Kim's Red, Pink & Orange tango of delight!

I have been somewhat obsessed with the lotus of late - if it's not poppies or Goddesses then it's a lotus - my imagination likes to be fixated at present and who am I to argue. I'm hoping for a change in the wind soon though...

At least this page appears to be flower free. The glossies pouted at me and demanded to be included!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Deep Purple

There was a reassuring thump on the doormat and I smiled secretly to myself as I felt certain I knew what parcel would be waiting for me downstairs. The brown paper belied the contents which would burst forth in an explosion of rich and regal colour once I removed the wrapping.

As usual nothing did disappoint for was not this special delivery was another instalment in the Magical Journal Journey?

Stephanie's purple, gold, black and touches of blue green book bursts with beauty. The colour choice gives the impression of a Regal tome bursting with stories of brave Princesses and secret histories with a hint of magic thrown in for good measure.

Speaking of measure - every month the work just seems to get better and better as all of us in this group evolve our art. I like to think that it has something to do with this project. We are all feeding a little inspiration to each other as we imbue our creativity into every page.

Touching the art of my friends, seeing every brushstroke up close and personal provides a little peek into their artistic souls. Our circle grows in strength with every blob of colour, word and carefully chosen piece fixed into place with love.

These pages for Steph evolved themselves from wild backgrounds. They were joined by items from my stash - the one that threatens to take over the house! The peacock feather was a recent acquisition and is just the kind of thing I will hang onto for years without quite knowing what to do with it. So when this background formed I knew that the time to let go had come early! Mind you, sticking a peacock feather turned out to be quite the task!
Two more rounds will complete our journey for this year. I can't wait to see what arrives for me to play with next week!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Where have I been?

Oh I am such a busy girl these days that my poor blog has become much neglected. The trouble is that there are just way too many distractions. I've been spending hours on Facebook groups - tut tut! I've been painting, adventuring in other dimensions, writing a vampire story, learning, reading and today I've done some gardening (and am feeling a little worse for wear as the thorns and insects scored my skin with their displeasure at my disturbing their summertime slumbers with my hedge-trimmer, secateurs and digging implements!). I've also got to level 96 on Candy Crush, but really that's nothing to be proud of! Frankly there just aren't enough hours in the day for blogging too, and when I write for a living, sometimes it's just too much to think up fancy paragraphs when a sentence will usually suffice on Facebook!

I have to say that sometimes, as much as I love it, sometimes social media can just get a little bit too overwhelming! It's also expensive. All those music, art supply and book recommendations are costing me a fortune!

However, without it I would not be the social butterfly I am. How could I keep up with my worldwide tribes of like-minded artistic souls? Today I am sharing another collaboration art journal set of pages. The theme of the latest of these is The Goddess - she who is Mother to earth, nurture, love, growth. The Goddess has been appearing in my artwork with increasing regularity over the few weeks, so it was kismet that She should be with me this week.


A collaborative piece. An earlier artist(s) created the background and drew the figure. I coloured in her face.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Feathered inspiration

I managed to persuade my son to do some painting with me today. I even let him choose our subject matter - this rather resplendent yellow-billed turaco. Look at those feathers shimmering. His effort lasted around 60 seconds before he got bored - I took a bit more time with mine, but this was still a pretty quick study, so I thought I would share it with the Sunday Sketchers.

I have been drawn to collecting feathers lately. My boyfriend fears that the men in white coats will be taking me away as I present yet another 'haul' from one of my nature forays. My gathering to date has been somewhat monochrome - we don't have many exotic birds round these parts - the best I can usually hope for is the iridescent shine of a magpie's tail feather. I found a particularly excellent specimen recently simply by looking up into the trees and asking very nicely - sure enough, a few steps back along the path already trod, there was one right there in the middle just waiting for me :)

Last week though, my feathered friends decided I needed a treat ... just look! (yeah, I know there are some leaves and a twig in there too!). Alongside the peacock feathers there's also one from a jay - can you spot it?

Monday, 22 July 2013

... in the woods today

At one with nature. Forest girl.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A magical journal journey

Taking Gemma's journal to Glastonbury seemed like the most natural thing in the world to do - for after all, has not this group of artistic ladies named their project 'magical journal journeys'?

And just look at the cover - dragon skin for sure!

So, I carried the book of magic up to the Tor and to the Chalice Well. At the Well it took a light shower in the healing spring water - luckily dragon skin is quite water resistant!

And then, back home and suitably inspired by feminine energy, I created a homage to Mother Earth in these two pages.

I feel a change in me, a shift in the currents. Something long dormant has woken, a spell broken by another... The urge to create is strong in this one...

(I'm also sharing these sketches with the Sunday Sketchers - I have long been absent from my friends there!)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Bossa nova

Just when you thought you might get a blog post that didn't reference Glastonbury, I sneak one in under a Latin American radar!

You see, the thing is, I'm doing another of these round robin journals and am working on Sue Richardson's bossa-nova-themed book. Sue is a jazz musician which I find terribly exciting and exotic. In fact, I was so inspired that I ended up buying a whole new album of jaunty tunes - but more on that in a moment. Let's first drift through the mists to the picture above....

Do you wonder sometimes how the universe conspires to set things in perfect alignment for you. I return from my trip to the fabled land with the magic of the Lady of the Lake and lyrics of Roxy Music floating on repeat through my conscious, only to find a journal with a distinctly up-beat Latin American feel - not a match to my mood at all... or was it?

For listen carefully to the smooth tones of Mr Ferry singing Avalon and you'll find words of a very serendipitous nature!

So, with one double-page spread under my belt I could have had done with it and moved onto my next project - but no! For you see, I am something of a fan of the Latin beat - I think I may have been Brazilian in a former life. I wanted to paint those rhythms after all and tap my brushes like drumsticks and dance the paint across the page. I thought a new iTunes purchase might help, so added to my overflowing hard drive a little bossa nova compilation for the Muse to dance to - and samba she did, swinging those hips and flicking her tresses bedecked with feathers and sequins (she's such a party girl!)

It's the music I remember from my Dad's vinyl collection (Wes Montgomery, Charlie Byrd, Stan Getz) - the kind I would scoff at as a New Romantic teenager but which I have come to love. A bit like olives I think - a taste one acquires as one grows older and we stop consuming the type of sugary substances that dull our taste buds.

So, tomorrow this journal goes in the post and I await the next.

\|I'm also posting Gemma's 'purple' journal - but that's a whole other blog post....

Until then...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Red & Yellow

The Summer of Colo(u)r hots up this week with a fiery combo of lush passion. And, as the season has finally arrived in the UK, it seems most perfectly fitting to splash the hues about a bit.

Layers of inks, gesso, collage and stamping. I may even write something in the gap later... who knows?!

These colours have been rather present on my palette lately. As part of the Make Art that Sells course I created some red & yellow wall art too - the colours of my Aries star sign.

My inspiration:

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Goddess of Avalon

Possibly one of the most ridiculous things I said over the weekend was when I announced in a somewhat startled fashion that my self portrait looked like me! She came from Tam's class at the Call of the Wild Soul retreat. It's not really a surprise that there is a resemblance - I did paint over a photograph of my own face after all!

My son, Mum and boyfriend on seeing it though all said that I am much prettier in real life. Bless 'em!

There is definitely essence of me in here though - from the floaty dress to the flowers in my hair. The piece is full of hidden symbolism as I honour my superpowers and accept that actually I have quite a few good qualities - not something we do very often!

And this lady above? Well, she's not me exactly. She is every woman. She is the Big Wild She, our inner Goddess. She is feminine intuition, she is nurture, she is powerful beyond your imagination! Thank you Erin Faith Allen for lighting the touch paper to bring her out of me :)

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