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.
I’m getting really excited for my upcoming exhibition at Osgood’s Cafe, Inverewe Gardens and feeling very blessed that I have the opportunity to exhibit my work in such a wonderful space. As readers of this blog might remember, I’ve been going up there regularly for the past couple of years.
This is thanks to the stirling work of the Inverewe staff and the very supportive Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie. Lynn was the artist in residence at Inverewe a couple of years ago and it was she who set up a very informal artist group, who meet and sketch in the garden regularly. After Lynn’s residency the gardens have launched a series of wonderful exhibitions and creative events and have even launched a great new website, which showcases:
“Exhibiting artists (which) include emerging and established artists working in the Highlands, whose works are inspired by the nature, environment, people or culture of the Highlands, or alternatively of Inverewe itself.
Our mission is to inspire viewers and artists alike; viewers by informing and exposing them to quality artworks of all genre, exhibitors by stimulating and stretching their artistic practice, as well as facilitating collaborative working with other artists on residency programmes.”
It really is a fabulous opportunity, which is why I have worked so hard to try and live up to the amazingly high standards and huge creativity of the other artists who are involoved.
It’s amazing how much getting ready for an exhibition concentrates the mind. I have (and still am) working to a number of deadlines. I wanted to have at least 10 – 12 paintings done for the exhibition, even if I don’t hang them all (It is quite a large space) and I’ve managed that.
I wanted to have some good images to use for the flyers that I had done and for the adverts that I’m putting in the An Carranach and The Gairloch and District Times and I’ve managed that too. I also needed to get my two largest paintings ready to take to the wonderful Emma Noble to be framed (I’m picking them up next Tuesday and I’m very excited to see them!)
It’s been a real learning curve and quite a challenge, but I’ve really enjoyed being able to create a series of work, which has continuity and (I hope) cohesion. The art that I have produced for this exhibition will also form a core of the collection that I’ll be exhibiting in October at Gallery An Talla Dearg at Eilean Iarmain on Skye, with fellow artists Aileen Grant and Steven Proudfoot at Oakbank Studio, Lochcarron.
However, it’s just over a week to go now to Inverewe and I’ll be in the gardens sketching and painting at for at least a couple of days in July.
More information about the exhibition and a selection of images are below:
I can’t believe that I haven’t updated this page since March 22nd. So much for my promise to myself that I would update regularly. However, I’ve not been idle.
Since my last post in March I was awarded a certificate in Botanical Illustration from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. A course that I’d been doing since October last year.
After many years of trying to be freer as an artist and focus on concepts like markmaking and emotion, I found Botanical Illustration to be much more formalised. Botanical art requires the artist to be much more precise and detailed than I am used to, however it’s been great fun and I learned so much.
Earlier this month I took part in an exhibition with some friends from the South West Art Group – a first for us and a wee trial to see how we got on. We were at the steading in Balmacara again, a great wee venue that I shared with Aileen Grant last year. We were there for 9 days this time and I think we all enjoyed ourselves, made some new friends and sold some art and some cards
I’ve also submitted a couple of paintings to the upcoming summer exhibition at the Torridon Gallery at the end of June, which I’m excited to go and see. But even more exciting and challenging for me are the two exhibitions that I have later this year.
The first is a solo exhibition at Osgood’s Cafe at Inverewe Gardens at the end of June. This has been a huge learning curve for me. First of all I had to decide what I would do for it. rather than just showing existing work I have decided that I would paint everything especially for this exhibition and rather than a disperate selection of work I wanted to do a collection, something cohesive that had a strong connecting thread running through it.
Luckily, because I had just completed the course in botanical art course, I had a starting point and I have painted and drawn, botanical subjects most days and I have, worked on studies and smaller paintings, before starting on the larger pieces, a small selection of which are below:
I’ve also started including more native plants in my landscapes as a direct influence of my botanical course. The title of the collection will be #Flowersof Scotland, if you want to follow my progress on Instagram or Facebook and the exhibition starts on the 28th June. I’ll definitely be updating here with more about the exhibition.
In the meantime I’ll also be adding some of the studies and small en plein air paintings that I’ve painted recently to my Etsy Shop
Meanwhile, if you happen to be in Edinburgh any time soon, my work can still be seen at the Stick Factory which I wrote about last time I posted.
More soon about Inverewe and the Autumn exhibition that I’ll be taking part in later this year.
On Mayfield Road, in Edinburgh is a great wee gallery called the Stick Factory and, earlier this year I was absolutely delighted to be asked to give them some work to display.
I met with Mike, one of the owners of the gallery in early February and discussed giving him some of my work to display. It was quite a tight schedule and I didn’t have a lot of time to create new work. I had already committed to my anniversary promotion, wherein I launched my Etsy Shop, and uploaded 20 paintings from my village and surroundings, one a day for twenty days at only £20. That promotion is now over, but I wrote about why I was doing it previously on my blog. I loved doing it, I learned loads and am now comfortable with selling my work online in a more formalised way.
I was also continuing to work on the art course that I have been doing with Edinburgh Botanic Gardens (more about that soon!) Sadly that meant that I had less time than I would have liked to get together a decent body of work for the Stick Factory. However, I did manange to give them 10 large paintings, a number of small paintings, some decorative trays, some wee original paintings for their browser and 25 handmade cards. The exhibition is now hung, and while I haven’t been able to pop in and see it, the Stick Factory have shared some photos of it on their social media pages, including their Instagram account
Several of the paintings that I gave them were still life paintings, but the core of the exhibition consists of a series of landscapes From Letterewe to Skye, this is what a wrote about the series:
“I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and, as a landscape artist I spend a lot of time, sketching and painting in this place. This series of paintings is titled from Letterewe to the Isle of Skye as this is where they were painted.
My village is Lochcarron, which runs like a ribbon along the Northern shores of Loch Carron. At the head of the loch is Strathcarron and the flat valley and raised beaches left by the last ice age. From my home I can be at Letterewe, within an hour, as long as I don’t keep stopping to sketch or draw or just look at the beauty all around me. This road takes the driver through Beinn Eighe nature reserve, the mountains of Liathach and Beinn Alligin dominate the views and are reflected in the sea lochs along the route. Letterewe is near the centre of Loch Maree, an inland loch that is steeped in myth and legend and that is considered one of the most beautiful in Scotland. To the West lie, Gairloch and Poolewe, to the North is Ullapool.
Heading South again, gives a different vista. Back past Loch Torridon, Loch Kishorn and the Bealach na Ba. Past Loch Carron and on the Road to Skye, the driver can stop at any number of view points and look back at Fuar Tholl and towards the mountains of Strathconan, or look ahead to the Cuillin range on the isle of Skye.
This scenery is primordial. Man is inconsequential in this landscape. And yet there are wee houses sheltering beneath the hills, the trees are distorted by the strong winds and the roads fringed by broom and gorse. This is the land of the storms and of gentle breezes. This is the landscape that I try to capture in my paintings.