Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to come and visit the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee during North East Open Studios last month (October already, how did that happen?!). It is always lovely to catch up with old friends and to meet new folk. Many interesting conversations were had, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback about my new work was very much appreciated. It turns out that lots of you are very fond of the colour blue!
I often find myself listening more than talking, during NEOS, which suits me fine as I am more naturally a listener than a talker. And so it was that I came away enriched by Shipping Forecast related stories; the lady who had the "Sailing By" tune played at her seafaring father's funeral, the friend who came to hate geography lessons at school, because they were made to transcribe the shipping forecast as it was broadcast, and she could never keep up. Another visitor who lamented listening to the midnight broadcast, as it meant that, once again, she could not sleep.
There were other stories too - an older gentleman who had been a cabin boy on a boat which sailed up and down the west coast of Scotland in the 1960's, who recognised the view of the Torridon mountains from Gairloch, in one of my paintings. He told me what his weekly wages were, and that beer in those days was 6d a pint (not that he was drinking it at 16, of course...). I love this sparking of memories which my work can produce; that recognition of a place, or a time, or a feeling. To me, that's one of the best parts of NEOS.
A word that I heard many time during the week about my Shipping Forecast series of paintings was "atmospheric". I'll take that, thank you.
Many thanks again to all who came to visit; your interest and support is greatly appreciated.
In the meantime, if you would like to get hold of my cards or other items, please see my Stockists page for where you can find them. Some items are also available from my online Shop here on my website.
This will be my eighth year taking part in NEOS (North East Open Studios). I'm number 269 in the book this year and will be at the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee in Bieldside in Aberdeen again. Eleven artists and makers will show their work there; we call ourselves "Art at the Phoenix". There will be a lovely mix of paintings, mixed media work, textiles, ceramics, fused glass, wooden furniture and more. Delighted to be part of it again - also thrilled that my daughter, Ailsa (number 268 in the book) is showing her textiles and illustration work at the same venue. Looking forward to welcoming visitors!
We will be open daily 10am - 4pm, from Saturday 8th - Sunday 16th September.
I will have some new work on show - a series of paintings with titles such as "Rising Slowly" and "Backing Southwesterly", based on The Shipping Forecast - the weather programme on Radio 4. They are mostly sea and skyscapes, inspired by the coast and ever changing light on the west coast of Scotland.
I've also been experimenting with lino printing and collage this year, and will have some of this work on display as well.
I have continued to do watercolour sketches throughout the year, so will have some new card designs available. Look forward to seeing you soon!
I recently took part in the Art Fair which was part of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy. The weather was fantastic all weekend, hot and sunny, which made for a great time down at the harbour for all the boat-related events. Inspired by the boating theme, I developed some new pieces of work, using mixed media for a change from my usual watercolours. This year I have been keen to recycle old work; repurposing, upcycling, whatever you like to call it. Not using new materials, wherever possible. So I gathered some paintings which I felt hadn't "worked" - or did not stand alone - bright acrylics and some small watercolour studies. Added to the materials pile were an old book of sheet music (classical music, as it happens), sheets torn from magazines and also the coloured nets which I've bought fruit in (mainly oranges). Last but not least, I cut out some of my little lino-print boats, some of which had been printed on watercolour studies. I simply gathered what I had to hand.
And then the fun began; it took longer than I thought to find pleasing compositions. Perhaps they are not even that. Patterns, shapes, colours which complement each other. Little pictures. I am calling the series "Songs from the Sea" as they reflect my love of the sea and all things marine, including boats, and also my love of music, both listening to it and playing it. Each composition has a little fragment of sheet music within it. The first six works will be on show during North East Open Studios (NEOS) in September (8th - 16th) - I am exhibiting at the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee again this year. In the meantime, they are also available for sale here on my website.
Once again, it's time for North East Open Studios. This will be my seventh year taking part! For a change, I will not be exhibiting in the cabin in my back garden (apologies to fans!), instead joining forces with five lovely creatives at the Phoenix Community Centre at Newton Dee in Bieldside in Aberdeen. We are calling ourselves "Art at the Phoenix" and have our own Facebook page. I will have more space to show my work and it will be great to have company during the event. Four of us are artists, with a fused glass maker and a potter adding to the mix. The venue will be open daily from 9th - 17th September, 10am - 4pm. Look forward to seeing you there! I am number 263 in the book; directions to the venue are in my listing.
Art at the Phoenix is part of the Lower Deeside Trail (which I was part of in past years). It lays out 11 venues, featuring 19 artists and makers, within 6 miles of each other. See map below (also available from my Pebbles on the Beach FB page, and the NEOS website).
I finally broke into the 5' wide roll of Fabriano watercolour paper which I bought in a flurry of enthusiasm nearly two years ago. Yes, sometimes it takes a while to get around to doing things. This was verging on the ridiculous, so when I knew we were to be painting landscapes at art class yesterday morning, it was time. The paper is deliciously thick (300g for those of you who are interested), more like card than paper. I did have to cut it, sadly, as I don't have a board large enough to put it on to paint. It stayed rolled after cutting, so I wet it, stretched it and taped it onto the widest board I own (a great £2 offcut from a well known DIY store). There is something very satisfying about this process of preparing the paper. Almost like a meditation.
And then, finally, to painting. My favourite brush was nowhere to be found (a 1 1/2 inch wide woodwork brush), so I picked up a wide brush with a long wooden handle. It has a proper name, which I can't recall now. It may come to me. I love using a big brush and lots of water. I may even see if I can acquire something bigger. The only limitation is the size of the watercolour pans of paint. There is always a way. Some of the day's efforts are shown above; they will be on show from next weekend at my North East Open Studios event with Art at the Phoenix at the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee (I am number 263 in the book this year).
A friend asked me the other day what I'd been up to recently. I answered very unsatisfactorily, I suspect. "Oh, this and that," I said. I managed to gather my thoughts sufficiently to mention a couple of reasonably concrete things - a new outlet for my work, plans for the open studios event later in the year. I feel as if I have been pretty busy recently, but it's all fairly disparate, with not a lot of tangible results for my efforts. Perhaps it is time to take stock, see where I am with various projects, and start prioritising what to do next. North East Open Studios seems a long way off (it's not really, it's in 4 months' time!).
This is the problem I find with working creatively, on my own. The lack of a sounding board, someone to say "that's not one of your best ideas, what about that other one you mentioned the other day?" - the less brutal version of "that idea is rubbish.... next!" I find I am often full of ideas, but whether it is worth pursuing them can be a difficult decision. Recently, I have done a bit more drawing, as well as some sketching out and about (sitting on the harbour at Portsoy was so lovely, especially in the sunshine). It made me recall how much I enjoy this; absorption is total, concentration absolute, focus intense. Time just disappears. I had hoped to do a pile of sketches, and managed three or four. I tried doing a few in the city centre the other day, but found that I needed to find a quiet spot, somewhere I could sit, as I felt too conspicuous otherwise. The practicalities of balancing sketchbook, water pot and tiny box of watercolours also have to be taken into account. Of course I took photographs as well, many of Portsoy harbour. I very much admire the work of John Glynn, who I believe is now based in Moray. When I got back to my shed/studio I had a go at doing a simplified drawing of Findochty harbour, inspired by his style. It was an interesting exercise, which made me focus even more clearly on the shapes I was seeing, and avoid making "sketchy" marks. Plans are afoot to do some drawings like this, using some of the reference photos I've taken recently of northeast harbours. There we go, a plan has been crystallised before my very eyes! Thank you for listening/reading :)
It's that time of year again. Artists and makers will be opening their studios, garages, front rooms, shops, galleries and other miscellaneous spaces this weekend, to show the public what they do.
It's my 6th year taking part - once again I am in The Cabin in my back garden. This year I'm number 227 in the directory. There may well be baking. I have been tidying and sorting through my work from the past year, deciding what to put on show. The Cabin is quite small, as those of you who have visited before will know - I am contemplating having an outside exhibition space, weather permitting (and if I can find where I put the little gazebo...), in order to show a wider range of my work.
There are more artists than ever included in the trail I'm part of - this year called The Lower Deeside Trail (see image below). I have also posted this on my Facebook page, and paper copies will be available at any of the entries listed on it. Time to get planning where to go - I have started making my list already!
I look forward to seeing you and welcoming you to The Cabin!
Once again, the year has flown by and it's time again for North East Open Studios, when artists and makers across northeast Scotland open their doors to the public. There will be potters, glassmakers, jewellers, painters, photographers, weavers, embroiderers and woodworkers, to name but a few. There will be exhibitions in village halls, garages, living rooms and sheds, studios and workshops.
This will be my fifth year taking part. As usual, I am not as organised as I would like to be. I will be collecting some last minute orders of greetings cards later on this afternoon. And stocking up on real coffee and raspberries for making muffins in the morning. I have not finished hanging my work. The Cabin is clean and tidy, however, so that is a good start. I'm looking forward to meeting new folk, welcoming back friends and people who have visited before.
To help people plan a day out visiting venues which are close together, I am delighted to be part of the North Deeside Road Trail - 13 artists within 15 minutes drive of each other. I'm venue number 214 this year. I look forward to seeing you in the next ten days! Open daily 10am - 5pm, except Tuesday and Thursday (closed). Open late till 8pm on Friday 18th September.
Here's the map - you can click on it to download a copy.