Thursday, 31 October 2013
I was in Bath a couple of days ago, we had met up with some friends and taken our children off to Longleat. Before we went home, we stopped in this beautiful city for a few hours, and upon our wanderings we stumbled upon The Whistlefish Gallery.
You may or may not know that a while ago, some of my images were licensed to be sold as greetings cards by this art company, who have galleries throughout the south west of England.
I went inside, spotted the Christmas card stand, and suddenly, there they were. Just like that, right in front of me amongst a collection of other festive images...three of my own wee pictures.
It's a rather lovely and strange moment seeing your work published and for sale in a real live gallery for the first time. I've had real paintings in galleries and that is a spectacular feeling, but seeing your work printed as cards, and knowing that people might perhaps come in and buy them and send them to someone special, and to different little corners of the globe, well, that's pretty special.
Thanks to everyone at Whistlefish and Emma at The Paintbox for making one of my dreams come true.
PS - you can currently get 15 cards for just £6 - available in the shops and online at their lovely new website.
Thursday, 10 October 2013
It's been a while since I last wrote a blog post, and since then we have been enjoying a beautiful Indian Summer here; honey tinged days warmed by the sun and brilliant blue skies above. Sunflowers continued to nod their cheery faces at us from gardens still full of blooms but spirals of falling leaves and a nip in the air come teatime gently hinted that Summer was indeed leaving us, and yet it seemed to be endless.
Then, just like that, it was Autumn.
A chill in the air and a wild wind arrived. Like a travelling fair, Summer had packed away her glamours for another year and left quietly one night while we were sleeping.
A feeling of wanting to make the house cosy settles, I find extra cushions for the sofa, we light candles in the evening on the mantel and we put the eiderdown across the bottom of the bed for extra warmth at night.
We get out and about taking walks close to our home noticing the subtle changes in the light, the dusty green leaves turning crisp amber and gold, the flowers turning to sculptural seed heads (oh how I do love these) and the blackberries ripening in the hedgerows. I like being outdoors, enjoying the shift of the seasons, and I relish the effect they have on all of my senses. I love the scents and the colours of this season.
I also notice how my grocery shopping changes, from crisp salad leaves and strawberries, to the rich sweet flavours of Autumn; butternut squash, mushrooms, parsnips and beets. It's a time for hearty casseroles, chunky soups, warming and comforting flavours.
There is an abundance of apples in our neighbours garden and he gives us two carrier bags full, bulging with different varieties. There is apple tarte tatin with thick, unctuous clotted cream and apple flapjacks for after school snacks.
We think the Summer Birds may have finally left. As I stand on the back door early evening and search for signs of them, listen out for their familiar chatter I find empty and silent skies. If anything marks a change in the season, its the arrival and departure of the beautiful swifts and swallows that swoop and dive above our river and over our rooftops each year.
With Autumn finally here, it's a busy time of year for me as I prepare for a Market Night. I'm hosting this on my Facebook Page, so just like a real market you'll be able to browse and shop for Christmas goodies and gifts. I'll share dates with you soon, but to be double sure you don't miss out, you're welcome to follow my page too.
I'm also putting together an gorgeous collection of cards for my Mailing List subscribers, which will be available at a very special price and exlusively to subscribers. They'd make a fabulous gift, or a treat for yourself - why not sign up here to discover more? The next e-zine will be published very soon, so don't miss out!
Yorkshire Snow, a limited edition print (run of 50), professionally printed on fine art paper, are now available on the website:
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
Sometimes, life sends you a beautiful gift of a day, one that will be remembered for a long time to come, and recently we had such a day down by the sea at Robin Hood's Bay.
This little village is a cluster of old fishermen's cottages on the Yorkshire coast, which shelve steeply down to the slipway and beach. Great cliffs sweep away to the left, and to the right, when the tide is out, the beach curves away in a crescent of sand covered with slippery rocks and enticing pools.
We parked at the top of the village and began our descent down, stopping at the little grocery/post office to buy drinks and chocolate bars. Once there we set up our camp and immediately kicked off our shoes. The little one was away with her net and bucket in an instant, off to catch shrimps and crabs.
It was a spectacular day, with blue skies and warm sunshine. The good weather had enticed quite a few people down to the sands as well as an ice-cream van who had parked at the bottom of the slipway.
There is a wonderful tranquillity about this place. You slowly become aware of the peace as there is no sound of traffic, only the gentle breeze soughing in the trees and the cry of the gulls overhead. Even the sea was peaceful, as still as a millpond and streaked with jade, indigo and blue.
The day passed in a gentle and carefree way, searching the rock pools for creatures, making sand pies and eating delicious ice-creams. It was unanimously decided that fish and chips on the beach for tea was quite essential.
Later that afternoon, we had a wander up to our favourite café, Swell, and had a refreshing drink sat on the veranda overlooking the wide sweep of the bay. It's quite something! As we left, we bought some special treats from the glass cabinet for our dessert later on - chocolate crispy crunch slices for us, and for the little one, a rich chocolate brownie.
After our refreshments, we wandered around the village a while...
There is something heavenly tantalising about catching a glimpse of the sea between buildings, that happy inducing blue stripe makes the heart soar, like discovering treasure I think! There are also exciting little lanes and pathways to be found, lined with higgledy piggledy cottages that were frothing over with bright blooms in baskets and containers. And it is up one of these very paths, hidden up a side lane down by the dock that you will discover a very good fish and chip shop. Tempted in by the mouth watering scent, we promptly went in and ordered and then took the steaming parcels down on the beach. Really, it's quite the best place to eat them I think!
There's absolutely nothing better than fish and chips, soaked in salt and vinegar, eaten at the seaside. and with a view like this it was nothing short of perfect.
After our fish and chips, we sat a while watching the tide coming in. It crept in quietly yet at a rather alarming pace, filling rock pools and coming right up the beach. People, seemingly drawn by the change in energy began to wander down to the sands to enjoy the last moments of this beautiful day. Gathering in groups, standing together and talking in low voices the sun slowly sank behind the sands and there was a quiet calm the likes I've not experienced before...it was almost as if people were wistfully saying farewell to Summer, knowing that this gift of a day was something very special and that ahead lay colder days.
One last walk along the beach then, before it was time to head for home...
Goodbye for now, my favourite village on the cliffs...
...we'll be back again soon.
Inspired by the village of Robin Hood's Bay, this framed painting, entitled 'Slipway' is now available to purchase. Please contact me for more details if you're interested.
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
School has started again, after a long, hot and languorous Summer holiday.
I am all of a sudden alone in an empty house, there are lots of things to do, things to be cleaned and tidied but right now, I am aware of a silence and a stillness that wasn't there before, and I'm taking my time to acclimatise to it.
In a way, I had dreaded this day arriving, but it wasn't as bad as I imagined. There's plenty to do today as it happens, little chores to fill the little gaps, to keep me occupied. In an hour or so the house will ring with the sound of her little being again as she clatters in through the front door, throws her school bag on the sofa and runs outside to play.
See you again soon.
Thursday, 22 August 2013
So the holidays are in full swing, the sun is mostly blazing and there are an abundance of butterflies the likes of which I have not seen before. The broad beans are ripe and bulging in their emerald green pods, begging to be picked and cooked. Lazy breakfasts laden with delicious fresh summer berries and nectaries atop a hearty dollop of thick greek yoghurt are enjoyed in PJ's with no care for time.
There is a trip to Norfolk, a stay in a caravan, a wander upon vast beaches. We crunch upon the pebbles and spy on the seals on Scroby Island, then go for massive ice-creams which are eaten on the promenade under a lush blue sky so bright you squint to look at it.
There are times at home too, just crashed out on the sofa watching a DVD, sat at the table painting, in the kitchen making some iced biscuits.
But there is also a feeling that a little bit of structure to my days again would be nice. I'm starting to miss my routine, my work.
There are frayed tempers, the little one is bored - we've been to the seaside, the play centre, met chums, been into the countryside...but sometimes, we need to stay home and ground ourselves. Small people don't understand this, they want to be out and about all the time and doing exciting things. Mummy is boring, she never does anything interesting. I sigh.
I read lots of Blogs in the evenings and see heaps of gorgeous photographs, of people enjoying this freak British Summer time. It all looks rather marvellous, rather perfect. My Summer does not look like this; my home is untidy, there are unfinished jobs stacked up on my desk. I have a fatigue upon me which has descended and will not leave and I am running out of steam, running out of ideas on how to amuse an energetic, creative six year old child single handed. I've mostly enjoyed the holidays so far, our trips out and about as well as our days spent busying at home, but these days are full of things, and I see less and less of my paints, which makes me feel empty and irritable.
I start to feel like the bad Mummy, the one who is secretly wishing that the children were back at school. I feel momentarily selfish for wanting to scratch that creative itch, to bed down uninterrupted and create new paintings and start new projects. For a second, I wish I was having a magazine style summer, complete with spontaneous picnics that bulge at the seams with just baked goodies, and to accomplish it all with a happy family, a happy smile and boundless energy; to not have those wants and desires.
But real life, it's not really like that, at least not all the time.
As a Mum, I often spread myself too thin without realising. Since my daughter was born I have instinctively put others first and very often put my own needs on the back burner...I'll get to them later, they're not important, it can wait.
Meeting your own needs, it's not selfish - it's necessary.
If we take care of ourselves, we have far more to give to others when needed. If we don't practice self care we run the risk of burnout or illness. Self care can be ten minutes in a hot bath without interruptions, it can be a walk in nature, sitting with your journal and writing down your ideas, your friend taking care of your offspring while you shop - whatever lights you up. Self care promotes calmer, happier people, it replenishes our energy, it helps us to feel good.
With support thin on the ground this summer, I'm really feeling the need of some solitude, some sacred time to myself. It's become a deep craving, and when I feel the insistent nudge of frustration I know it's time to act, to do something for myself that will help tip the balance back to where things are happier and easier.
It's learning to ask for support, it's learning to say yes when it's offered. I need to remind myself of this more often. I don't have to do it all on my own, and it's good for my daughter to be around other people too. Making time for myself teaches my daughter that it's important to take care of yourself, to make your own needs, interests and activities a priority too. We don't compromise our love for our families if we don't give 24/7 - in fact, it teaches our families to see us as a whole person rather than some woman who irons the school uniform and provides a taxi service to the after school clubs.
So...Summer carries on in it's blissful, warm, hazy way. The little one is busy, engrossed in her latest project...so I'm sneaking outside for five minutes to watch the dragonflies playing in the sun.