Who am I?

This year has been so very difficult and yet I am still finding some glimpses and light amongst the darkness.  As I mentioned before, art and creativity have become a central part to my life.  I am lucky in that I have the space to dedicate to this, as well as a small amount of talent and self confidence that pushes me to experiment and not give up.

My studio is the centre of the house - the place I go to paint, to draw, to muse on ideas and to potter.  It has also become the place where I am developing a sense of who I am.  I've realised that I've always used my surroundings to develop creatively, even as a teenager I would arrange my bedroom so that I had some nice pictures, a favourite card or piece of pottery.  In more recent years, my home has become an expression of who I am. 

I will always be in love with furniture, pottery and music of the 1930s and 1940s, and my house reflects that.  The first thing I bought for the house was an old gramophone!  In the same way, a h…

Sitting in my studio

My life has changed this year, old certainties have fractured and more than ever it would be easy to doubt everything about myself.  In spite of all of this, one part of me has actually flowered and developed lately  - my life as an artist.  There was a time not so long ago that I would have baulked at even calling myself an artist. 
If an artist is someone who creates art and prioritises creativity, then that is what I am.  I don't pretend to be of professional standard, I don't want to sell my work (and I'm not consistent enough in effort or talent!), but art and creativity in general is essential to my happiness and even my mental health.

Recently I've turned a cluttered barely used spare room into a spacious, colourful studio.  It is utter bliss!  No more packing everything away after every project, or never knowing where anything is.  All my art, sewing and creative projects have a place to go.
My art books are nearby and inspire me to be a better artist and to …

Whatever you focus on expands

I've been learning a lot about myself lately.  I've been trying to look at my life and discover what is important to me and how I want to live my life.  Through all the reading and discovery I found a phrase that has really helped; 'Whatever you focus on expands'.

I may sound a bit like a hippy with this, but there is a lot of truth in a very short sentence.  If I spend all my waking moments looking backwards, having regrets, wishing that things had turned out differently, then my life could easily become entirely negative.  Almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you like.  We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it and make sure we don't make our future miserable because we are stuck in limbo, unable to move forward.  In the same way, we cannot change how others behave or what they are focussing on, they have to make their own decisions about what they want in life.

I am pretty self aware, and I know that my loved ones are always the most important pa…

Seeing the whole picture

When in a rush to see a painting that I know I will love, say a Vanessa Bell, or a Monet, it can be easy to walk past other works that don't draw you in so readily.  Some paintings don't easily reveal their importance or interest.  Quite often the subject matter can put me off, for example I know I get bored by Dutch sea scapes and surrealist art and I find some abstract art souless.

The other day, I came across this painting.  It is called Timber Run in the Welsh hills, by Lucy Kemp-Welsh.  I almost walked past quickly, as I'm not particularly interested in horses and I almost dismissed it.

Then I stopped.  Rather than dismiss this painting as a twee evocation of the countryside past, I thought I ought to see if there was any interest.  It was painted in the 1930s, a time when a lot of artists I'm interested in were working.  So I looked a lot closer, so close, I could see individual brushstrokes.
And it felt like a bit of a revelation.  This close up, the whole can…

Flaming June

The swifts are screaming overhead, swooping and dipping over the houses.  The air pulsates and shimmers with midsummer heat.  All the freshness and newness of spring and early summer is turning into abundance and fecundity.  High summer is a time for dreaming under a tree, for sitting and musing, for making lemonade and staring at the clouds.

I wonder sometimes whether our experience of summer is only partly about the here and now.  It seems to be more about summers long ago, of lost loves and memories of walks over hills and downs, of views from cliffs and through shady woodlands.  Many summers exist in our memories and the warmth gently releases them.  Maybe future summers will bring such warm and happy memories again.

That sense of looking back to a former summertime, has been at foreground of my thoughts lately, especially when I've been reading JL Carr's A Month in the Country.  A sense of melancholy and happiness mingle together as Tom Birkin appears in the village in th…

On her own terms

I sit and write this evening after an wonderfully exhilarating visit to the Vanessa Bell retrospective at Dulwich Picture Gallery.  There were over 100 oil paintings, book cover designs, fabric and rug designs, as well as photographs ranging from the early 1900s until just before her death in 1961.  The exhibition was split into themes, such as still life, portraits, and showed just how wide ranging and hugely interesting her work is.

Vanessa Bell is often subsumed as an artist into the whole Bloomsbury group, where she can feel like a shadowy figure behind Duncan Grant, rather than an equally interesting and important artist of that time.  She didn't stand still, she was influenced by the Post Impressionists and by Matisse in her early years, but she developed her own styles over time, painting subjects she was interested in, decorating her homes as she wanted, and designing fabrics that still look modern a hundred years after she designed them.

At her best she was bold and expe…

A Novel Experience...

“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”   ― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Sometimes when life feels painful, overwhelming or difficult, or even just slightly dull, the only thing that can make it feel better is reading a book.  Immersing oneself into someone else's story, can sometimes be the only thing that allows you to get away from real life and enter into another world entirely.  Novels by Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Jane Howard or Mary Wesley are particularly interesting to me, and I always love reading a good murder mystery, especially from the 1930s and 40s.
Although I've been a bookworm for most of my life, in the last year when my life has been quite tough, I'…