In another world today would have been my first open studio of the year, instead, I checked on my seedlings, did some housework and an online Yoga class with my lovely tutor, Sarah. As everyone knows this situation is unprecedented and we are having to learn to live our lives in another way.
I am very lucky in so many ways, I have a comfortable home, a decent sized garden, in which to grow vegetables and flowers and where I can sit and a wonderful view. I can still use my studio, I am blessed in so many ways.
But, 2020 was a year in which I made many plans. I was going to be tutoring a number of classes, with my friend Aileen, with West Highland College and here, in my home studio, all of the ones from the first half of the year are now cancelled, with the early summer ones possibly going to be cancelled or postponed too. We’ve also cancelled the exhibition which was due to take place at Attadale Gardens next week. But their opening has been postponed too.
However, it has been hard to get back to work, it has been difficult to feel creative and so much of the advice I have read is telling us not to, (not unless we are key workers that is), which is why I have taken so long to update my blog. I closed my Etsy shop and didn’t launch my ArtFinder page as I had planned, but getting back to work in the studio just hasn’t really happened yet. I’ve done a bit of sketching and I’ve decided on my next project, now I have to just do that.
I will update again soon. I will try to get into the studio. But for now, in these strange and exceptional times, I, like many others I’m sure, am just taking each day as it comes.
Meanwhile, instead of holding an open studio today as I had planned, I did a wee phone video instead.
So often in painting life I have an idea that I just have to paint, or I set myself a goal, such as an upcoming exhibition or a project like my recent 30 days of paintings, which I uploaded to my Etsy shop in November last year and sometimes I get inspirations that I just have to work on. But my latest piece was commissioned.
Commissions can very challenging for an artist, as one is trying to create something which is someone else’s vision or memory, it can feel like a huge responsibility . I’ve done a lot of commissions in the past and I always enjoy the challenge, but this particular painting was, and will continue to be a favourite.
Firstly it was based on a recent sketch I did of the Five Sisters of Kintail, a stunningly beautiful range of mountains in the Western Highlands of Scotland.
This sketch was done at the viewpoint on the Auchtertyre Brae, looking towards Kintail. The lady who commissioned the painting liked the sketch because it reminded her of fond memories she had of walking in these mountains, so she contacted me and we discussed me doing a painting for her.
Firstly though, I decided to go and do some more sketching and take some photos to help me make sure that my painting was accurate. The weather on my second visit was less kind than the day I did the first sketch, but I waited for a while and the skies cleared just long enough for me to do a couple more sketches and take some photos (I know it looks like it was a lovely sunny day, and it was…for about 20 minutes!)
Next we had a conversation about canvas size and composition. We wanted to keep some of the immediacy and energy of the first sketch while making the mountains themselves the focus of the painting.
Then, canvas and composition decided, I began to paint.
I really enjoyed painting this one. The composition came together quite quickly, without too many issues. Because I had done so much preparation work I found that the paint seemed to flow and that I did manage to get both the detail and the energy that I aimed for into the painting.
Some last minute touches and then I had to step away. I always let a painting sit for a day or two before I know its finished, then I added a highlight or two and then it was done. The finished piece is quite large, 100cms x 50, it is acrylic on deepedged canvas and I painted the edges black so it was ready to hang
The lady who’d commissioned the painting was delighted with it and it has now headed off to a lovely new home.
It was a wonderful experience, a painting I loved doing and a satisfied customer. This is why I feel so blessed to be able to work as an artist.
I’ve spent the last few weeks doing all the preparation work for my new project with my friend and fellow artist Aileen Grant. We set up Lochcarron Arts as a very informal partnership so that we could work together to hold some exhibitions and maybe run some workshops together. We spent some time over the past couple of months planning and meeting up with some lovely people to organise some exhibitions and some workshops.
Both Aileen and I sketch and paint outside a lot so we thought it would great to be able to share our experience of working en plein air, so we’ve arranged to run four workshops at the absolutely stunning Attadale Gardens and two workshops at the gorgeous Loch Torridon, based at the Loch Torridon Centre, there are three stunning mountains dominating the landscape: Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe. For more information about this project or to book a place click here: Workshops
We also have several exhibitions planned too at Attadale, in the gorgeous wee gatehouse
And we’ll be holding another exhibition at the wee gallery at Eilean Iarmain – An Talla Dearg in October. If you’d like to find out more about our joint Exhibitions click on the link
Aileen and I have also planned to hold a series of Open Studios throughout the year, on the first Friday of every month. I’ll be posting more information about them via my social media pages (links below).
Planning and designing our workshops has been a lot of work and quite lot of fun too but working on the website was a whole other thing entirely. I have learned so much, but I think I was dreaming about links and blogs and uploading photos and info in the end. Fingers crossed though, everything seems to be working okay and you can find out more via the Lochcarron Arts page or even book a place on one of our workshops. So I’m now available to design websites *(I’m totally NOT available to design websites, though I have a lot of admiration for those who do!)
If you want to know more about the Lochcarron Arts projects or more about our open studios please do contact me to say hello.
I can’t believe that it’s the 15th of January already. I had planned to take a few days off after Christmas and then get right back to things, but then I ended up with the dreaded lurgy and am finally beginning to recover.
However, although it was a challenge, it was huge fun too. I got to meet lots of lovely new people, made lots of art, went on an artistic journey – which isn’t over yet. Made some mistakes, learned new skills and…did I mention the art? That was definitely the best bit.
One of my biggest learning curves was beginning to sell online, via my Etsy shop a great way to showcase my more affordable art and be able to sell around the world. I’ve been in contact with some lovely people and learned all about how to package and post my work. Etsy though, is only really suitable for my more affordable art (everything in my shop is under £100. The art is fairly small and therefore easier to send. So it’s a wee but limited.
I started to investigate a way of selling my larger pieces. I did quite a bit of research and then applied to Artfinder, an online gallery space. I had to send a CV and some images and was really delighted when they accepted me. I’m currently in the process of uploading images and setting up my shop there. I’ll let you know how I get on!
Although it’s still quite early in the year I already have quite a few things planned for 2020 and I wanted to be able to be able to share and document that sonewhere, so I decided to upgrade my website. I spent 45 mins earlier having a really great online tutorial with Caimin from WordPress (thanks Caimin it was really helpful!) on how to improve my site. So this will be the last blog post on the old site, watch this space for the new upgraded version.
Meanwhile, I’ve been out and about sketching and drawing with my friend Aileen Grant and some other local fellow artists. Firstly in wild weather in Ullapool and then warm and cosy at the very welcoming Albatross Cafe
It was really good to have a break, but it’s really good to be getting back into the studio at last.
I’ve been meaning to hold an open studio for ages, but for various reasons never seemed to manage it until this weekend. I’ve been madly busy this Autumn, firstly with getting ready for my recent joint exhibition at an Talla Dearg which I discussed in 30 days of painting and making Then getting ready for several craft events and the #30dayproject Thirty days of Etsy which I completed in November. However, I finally managed to give it a go this weekend.
I am very lucky to live in a hugely supportive village and lots of folk stopped by, despite so truly awful weather, to buy cards and art and to offer some great feedback, so it was a really good practice run.
I plan to hold at least one open studio a month from Spring onwards, so it was great to have such a successful first try welcoming people into my home studio. And I’ll hopefully manage to keep it tidier from now on, just in case I get more visitors.
So, if you do want to come and visit me in my studio sometime, when it isn’t officially open you’d be very welcome, but please do call ahead as I may not be at home. Or you can stop by when the sign is outside – if it ever dries off that is!
Meanwhile I still have some of my cards, wee paintings and cards at Café Ceàrdach here in Lochcarron, I also have a selection of paintings and cards at Stick Factory in Edinburghand finally there are still lots of paintings from the #30dayproject at my Etsy Shop If you want to click on the link provided and go and have a look. If you want to get in touch with a comment or question you can contact me at any of my social media sites (Just scroll down) to the images at the bootom of this page or via my website here
Thanks so much to everyone who has messaged me, supported me and bought my art this year and in the past. You are all amazing.
I’m always striving to improve my skills, to be a better artist, so I’d wanted to do the #30daychallenge for a while. This is where an artist posts a painting a day, every day for 30 days. For some reason I decided it would be a good idea to do this in November. It’s a good choice in many ways. It’s a month with 30 days in it – makes remembering the number of painting that you’re on nice and easy. I had no particular deadlines to worry about, my exhibitions were over for the year, and I’d decided to not take part in any craft fairs in 2019, but, well, then I got asked to do a fair or two and I said yes and suddenly things got very busy indeed.
So, as well as posting the art, which, in addition painting them, also included taking photos, (not easy in the low light of November in the Highlands) editing and uploading them, I was also busy making lots of things for local art fairs,
I am also working with West Highland College, UHI to deliver some creative course (more about that soon) the first workshop of which was on the 16th of November at their Auctertyre campus.
Therefore it was definitely more of a struggle than it might have otherwise been. However, despite the additional busyness, it was still a fantastically good experience.
I found that the thing about doing so many paintings is that it didn’t allow me to overthink things. That is a definite problem which I have. I tend to faff about and repaint things and then paintings can become overworked, colours can become muddy and then I can get very frustrated and disheartened. In addition, I had to trust that my skills were now good enough to manage to produce enough paintings to post on a daily basis. Of course, I like some more than others (more about my favourites later) but I there isn’t a single painting that I hate – those ones didn’t make it online at all.
I found that I was less precious about each individual painting. If things started to go wrong, I didn’t try to keep working on it, until I got more and more frustrated and ended up demoralised. I had a daily deadline, I had to do the work and then get it posted.
What I also discovered is that because I wasn’t overthinking it, because I wasn’t taking it too seriously the compositions seemed to come more easily, the brushstrokes seemed to flow and the colours seemed to stay brighter and cleaner.
I also found places that I hadn’t painted before – Applecross for example or the several paintings that I did on the East coast, places that I really hadn’t manage to get to before.
The funny thing is, that for every painting I did there are more ‘cooking away nicely’ in my brain. I have a list of places that I want to go back to and paint “en plein air” next year, and I’ll definitely share my adventures when I do go out and paint more.
I also decided to post all the paintings to my Etsy shop for several reasons. One is that I have a lot of folk who have followed me online and been hugely supportive and helpful, but they can’t come to my exhibitions, so I wanted to do something that they could view, along with everyone else. I posted small paintings to Etsy, so I could manage to make posting free as it’s easy to pop a small painting in an envelope and send it to anywhere in the world. And finally, I chose Etsy because it’s easy to share the page on all my social media platforms.
Over all I think I’m pretty happy with the collection. I like some more than others, though that’s not necessarily anything to do with the finished work (and it’s changed daily throughout the project anyway!). But, I think my three favourites are (in no particular order!)
A. Ben Wyvis from the road to Culbokie – I loved this one, because I lived on the East coast for the first ten years that I lived in the HIghlands. This mountain brings back such fond memories for me and I really liked the composition and the way the pallette came together so well and so easily. (This painting is now sold)
B. Streetlights, Lochcarron – this is a painting I have struggled to do over the years. I have tried on several occassions without success, but this time, because I didn’t have time to overthink, I found that everything just came together. For me this image evokes many memories. The streetlights go on in the evening, it reminds me of winter, of cosiness, of home.
C. On the shore, Applecross – this one sort of painted itself, it just seemed to flow. I’d had a lovely day in Applecross with friends and family and did sketches for several paintings that day, all of which I liked. But this one was the first of the three that I painted and because it seemed to come together quite easily it gave me a boost at the beginning of the #30dayproject.
Do you agree with my selection? Do you have a favourite? I’d love to hear from you, you can message me here or via InstagramFacebook and Twitter
It’s been a madly busy few weeks, on top of a busy year. I’ve had lots going on – some of which I’ve shared here and some things that are coming up that I can’t share yet. It’s been a year of big anniversaries, twenty years in Lochcarron, thirty years in the Highlands.
I really can’t believe at times that I am lucky enough to live in this place, a dream come true for a landscape artist, especially at this time of year, when the low sun lights up the reds, yellows and golds of the trees and hillsides. When the sky is a bright blue and the lochs are still, relflecting all that surround them.
My home is on the now world famous North Coast 500 and it is no surprise to those that live here that so many people have fallen in love with the stunning, glorious, beautiful Highlands. The paintings in my Etsy shop aim to celebrate this beauty. I’ve tried to capture the colours that are so prevalent at this time of year and am aiming to post a painting a day for every day of November. I’ve managed it every day so far, but I’m not quite halfway yet.
Each painting is of a landscape local to me, in Skye, Lochcarron and Applecross, so far. All of the paintings are under £100 (including postage)
I do hope I manage to reach my goal!
A selection of the paintings are below and all of the landscapes so far can be seen on my Etsy shop
Earlier this year I did a promotion/celebration to mark the fact that I have been living Lochcarron for twenty years. However, because I was so busy getting ready for my exhibition at An Talla Dearg at Eilean Iarmain I let another big anniversary go by in August without note. Thirty years ago, my husband and I moved from London to the Scottish Highlands and we’ve lived here ever since.
So I decided that for 1 month, of 30 days (November) I would upload a painting a day, every day to my Etsy Shop
I’ve managed so far, but we’re only seven days in. Fingers crossed I can make the whole month.
If you follow this blog, you might have noticed that I’ve been absent for a while. I don’t think anyone would argue that I’m just not that good at blogging! However, I am trying to share my artist journey, so I’ll keep at it for a while.
This year has been a very interesting one so far. After Aileen, Mairi and I wound up the gallery, Aileen and I held our first joint exhibition at the Steadings, Balmacara Square. It was my first big body of work after leaving the gallery and many of the unsold pieces are available at The Stick Factory gallery in Edinburgh. In October I started a Botanical Art course with Edinburgh Botanic Gardens which I completed in March and then I started working on my exhibition at Inverewe. Once that exhibition was hung, I began working towards my most recent exhibition, a joint one, with Aileen once again and, this time, with watercolourist, Steven Proudfoot at An Talla Dearg.
The exhibitions and the courses are over now. I have a good sized body of work of more than 40 paintings and a selection of drawings and sketches. I’ve been thinking what to do next. There are some other exhibitions coming up and I will be adding some smaller works to my Etsy shop, but also have other plans.
I promise I’ll try and keep you posted on what they are.
It’s amazing how fast July has gone by and it’s now just a couple of days till I go back to Inverewe to take down my exhibition.
It’s been a really interesting, positive experience. I had lots of support from Gairloch artist Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie and have had loads of great feedback. I also did a painting for Justin and TyLean, who are the new owners at Lochcarron East Church They’re holding a mini exhibition and this is place that I have painted a lot, so it seemed very fitting that I should do a piece of work for them.
Meanwhile, Aileen Grant and I have been out and about sketching. Both of us are working hard on pieces for our upcoming exhibition at An Talla Dearg in October. I love sketching in Gairloch and in Skye and I have some very interesting drawings that I’m currently working up into paintings.
I might even get the chance to make some of these drawings into prints. I’ll let you know how I get on.