I know I’ve said it before, but never mind, I’m going to witter on again. The thing is, when you spend most of your creative time making extremely slow art, you do occasionally have the uncontrollable urge to do something different, the bubbling juices just have to be uncorked.

For some time now, I’ve been hatching a plan to do something I haven’t done for, well, let’s just say, it was before Mrs Thatcher’s era…

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I started putting my plan into action – I bought a small selection of oil paints and a bottle of brush cleaner. Yes, I’ve decided that I’m going to spend time this summer revisiting the joy of my teens, oil-painting.

Way back then, I was so lucky to have an art teacher who let us experiment with oils, in fact he positively encouraged a group of us who were being channelled down an academic path, to relax at the end of each week in the Sixth Form, by going along on Friday afternoons to the art department, to paint for a couple of hours.

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I can’t imagine now, why I didn’t keep it up after I left school. Probably I was simply too caught up in the whole forging ahead in your career imperative to think about making art very much in those days. And at times of stress – and there were plenty of those – I turned to stitching as my relaxation.

But for a few years now, certainly since I’ve well and truly left that world behind, I’ve occasionally hankered over oil paints again.

And now, having finally managed to scrape out a tiny space in the house, where I can set up an easel and leave it, I’ve taken the plunge.

Yesterday, having started off in what I’m going to call a slightly prickly mood (you know the one, where you turn green and scaly and begin to breathe fire), I knew it was the right time to crack open the paints and the turps substitute and get down to some serious playtime.

It didn’t take more than a couple of minutes before I was that teenager all over again.

So, there you have it. My plan for the summer (apart from the three weeks in Scotland), is to reacquaint myself with the special alchemy of oils. I’m not anticipating any startling results on canvas, but if yesterday’s experience is anything to go by, I will at least expect to be smiling most of the time.

(Although, thinking about it now, I wonder if the turps substitute had anything to do with lifting my mood…)

Have you ever returned to an old arty love? Do tell.

Happy creating!



And breathe…

Just about recovered now from the final episode of Wolf Hall – phew – even though you knew what was coming, it was still heart-ripping.

And so apparently it’s nearly the end of February – a busy month around here, family birthdays, car MOTs, half-term – I’m always surprised how very ‘full’ this shortest month can feel.

This month, despite remaining cold and grey for much of the time, spring has actually arrived on the lane. Buds on trees and a tiny clump of snowdrops give me visual confirmation, but the daily chorus of birdsong (plus the drilling of the woodpecker), leaves me in no doubt, the mornings are getting lighter and spring is here.

I’ve had a sticky few weeks on the stitching front. Several pieces started, with enthusiasm, but somehow unwilling to go the distance. In an attempt to rid myself of whatever was blocking me, I had a good old thrash around with the metallic paints and then on Friday 13th, I went off for the day to Ely cathedral – an artist’s date – to top-up the creative juices. I’ve posted about the cathedral over at Mists of Time – do pop over there if you’d like to see pictures. 

Ely has a superb stained glass museum – and of course the cathedral itself has a vast amount of stained glass windows – the whole jewel colour extravaganza always carries me off to some other place – and I think it shows in the stitching…

I’ve finally managed to settle into a piece that I’m confident now I’ll stay with until it’s finished – another tree would you believe.

And February has set me a challenge which I’m sure may well keep me occupied for some considerable time – the whole question of whether William Shakespeare of Stratford, was actually also the playwright...or not.

Since writing the previous post, I’ve been carefully reading Shakespeare: An Unorthodox Biography by Diana Price – a good place to begin as it attempts to establish the knowns and unknowns, without getting hung up on possible alternatives. I’ll post more, once I feel I’ve digested it enough to make my initial thoughts clear, but I’m already hooked, it really is a fabulous mystery, and perfect for early night bedtime reading.

I hope February hasn’t been too harsh where you are – happy stitching!

You can find almost daily pictures on my Instagram page.


Nearly there…

Thank you to everyone who came up with their thoughts on a name for the current piece. I’m very close to finishing it now, so failing any unforeseen events (holds fingers crossed while typing this), it should be finished next week and then I’ll reveal it with the name I’ve chosen.

In the meantime, this is what I’ve been playing at when I probably had better things to do…

The thing I find about spending most of my time slowly stitching, is that every so often I have to release the valve on the images swirling around in my brain and do a bit of faster art. I think perhaps the obsession with stained glass might be evident here…

Right, I’d better get on. Happy Spring and happy stitching!






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Well, thanks to the very nice man who came out and replaced our internet equipment, I now have fully functioning broadband, after a couple of weeks without it.

Not naturally being one of life’s more optimistic people, I thought this was a long time, but having talked to several friends, I now discover that we probably ‘got off lightly’.

Nevertheless, not having constant access to the internet, has had an impact on me. After the first few days, during which time I did quite a lot of unreasonable ranting to the techno-guru husband, I almost became reconciled to the loss.

I think the worst of the pain was eased, when I discovered that I could get a good connection on my smart phone in our local supermarket car park. At least it meant that I could read emails and do urgent stuff.

Then a strange sublime calm came over me, when I realised that as I couldn’t use the internet at home, I was actually free to do other things. And, like some old folk memory, I could even recall the types of things that people used to do, in the old days (pre 1996ish).

The panic did increase a tad, when the daughters wanted help with their homework – you try finding 10 facts about fuels, for tomorrow, without google. But with half-term coming up, we escaped too much difficulty.

And now, everything is working, the girls are back at school, and life can get back to what we call normal.

Art & sewing.

When the girls are at home, I find it very difficult, if not impossible, to draw or paint, not least because it’s downright dangerous to draw while driving – which is what I think I spent most of last week doing.

It’s coming along slowly.

I did however manage to put quite a lot of time into the current tapestry/needlepoint project. I must have a think back and try to work out how many hours I’ve spent at it so far, but I’m loving it. As ever with me, I fall for the process itself. Just watching those tiny stitches soak into the canvas, has a sort of dreamy effect on me.

It’s good to be back. Have a good Hallowe’en, happy Samhain.

Cranking Up…

Well, I said I’d draw every day, and so far I’m managing to do it – but it’s a strange process. If I don’t have an idea of what I want to draw, I end up doodling – relaxing, but not exactly developing the drawing technique. But what to draw?

I have various books on the subject, most suggest that you draw your breakfast (or coffee cup, or bathroom cabinet, toothpaste tube – etc) – in other words that you draw what’s around you. OK I suppose, but it doesn’t make my spirit tingle – and I do want to get that ‘flow’ sensation.

So instead, I had a think about the sorts of things that I do like to draw, or more importantly perhaps, the things that I’d like to be able to draw.

My list is short. I like drawing (for which also read painting) trees and landscapes. I would like to be able to recreate buildings, in particular ruined castles and churches – but these I find very difficult indeed.

Well, I don’t have to be a genius to know that if I want to improve, I should practise the bits I find hard – and so (drum roll please)…

Lanercost Priory – pen and watercolour sketch.

Here is my first sketch of the inside of Lanercost Priory. We went there on holiday, on a simply horrendously wet day, and I absolutely loved it. The lady at the ticket office deserves a medal for being so enthusiastic about the site, despite the weather. She gave us a fabulous description of what to see, which even managed to inspire the daughters.

It took a lot of sketching to get this far – how on earth do you get those gothic arches to look even vaguely pointy, rather than distinctly wobbly? I think I could go mad. Anyway, this is as much as I can manage on this picture – I’m seeing arches in my sleep.

I’m using ultramarine, new gamboge and permanent magenta – my scanner doesn’t know that. 

The photo I used for reference.