Photo credit : Ailsa Watson
For National Poetry Day
I wrote this free-form poem (with minor alterations) at the start of this year. It was a contribution to the Sustaining Life as a Creative Programme, run by the wonderful Creative Learning team in Aberdeen, which I was very fortunate to take part in.
The brief was to describe our creative journey.
I am the small pigtailed girl
Perched on the window seat, with
sugar paper and poster paints,
brush and water pot,
the wooden trolley
I am that girl in shorts and tee-shirt
on the west coast shore
searching for crabs every summer
before rockpooling was a thing
collecting shells and pebbles,
sticks and stones
I am the girl playing in the
corrugated iron shed behind
my granny’s house
wildflowers in a jam jar on the rickety table -
the hedgehog visiting -
imagination my best friend
I’m the schoolgirl sailing on the loch
with my first love
I'm the teenager climbing hills with friends
gazing over Scotland -
hills and heather
burns and boulders,
I am the student, drawing in my lab book,
Learning the nature of science
I am the scientist, fishing for facts about
Trout and mackerel and herring,
I am the translator, editor, creator,
putter-together of research volumes,
organiser of conferences and treasurer of troves
I am the mum with no clue -
doing, not making,
(except soup and cakes and occasionally marmalade)
with a head crammed full, jammed full
a scarcity of time to call mine
I am the thirty-something friend,
persuaded to trade
My violin for a fiddle,
To play tunes with people
Who would become pals
To add another dimension
I am the mandolin-playing ceilidh band member,
calling out dance steps
- Oh, the feeling of power!
I am the teacher of students,
The organiser of labs and lectures,
Marker of essays,
Developer of screen-based things
With no song to sing
Or dance to bring
I am the escapee,
Fleeing to evening classes -
Some shaky pots, a few pale paintings,
My sketchbook brought along
On family holidays
For rare moments of
I am the e-learning adviser,
Brain addled by screens,
Quitting the squeaky lino floors
Before it was too late
I am the pupil once more, online
And for real,
(because I respond well to being
I am the walker,
Walking with purpose -
In three years.
And Ben Nevis
No hesitation –
I am the delivery driver,
Dropping off veg
I am the spinner of stories
Weaver of yarns
I am the open studios partaker
Opening the door to my shed,
Pretending it is a studio,
letting people in to my life
To ask me questions
Which I find hard to answer –
When, What, Why, How?
It seems that some
Wish they had my life, whatever they
May think that is – living the dream –
An endless stream of ideas, most of which
Get washed away in the shower -
Down the drain, never to be
I am the artist, maker,
Creator of things
Which bring joy
I am the West coast
Still walking the tideline
In search of shells and pebbles,
Bleached bones of wood
Filling my pockets
Again and again
Still looking out to sea
"Good, occasionally poor" 80cm x 22cm approx.
February already! I hope this finds you settling in to 2019 and keeping warm in the recent wintry spell of weather.
This year I have taken the plunge and signed up for "Dream Plan Do", a scheme run by the Design Trust to help artists and makers (all creatives in fact) make a success of their business. It centres around a journal/workbook which asks lots of questions; some easy to answer (not many!), some more difficult and some downright scary! There is also a Facebook group, where we can compare notes, organise to meet face to face and agree that we need to reduce the amount of time we spend on social media... So far, it has certainly made me think about what I am doing and why, and where I am heading. There may be some changes ahead, but all good ones, I hope. I will keep you posted.
In the meantime, here are some exhibition dates for your diary - quite a long way ahead, but I guess it's good to be thinking about warm days ahead while we are still in February!
I will be taking some work over to the west coast to be part of the new "The Living Land Sea Sky" exhibition at the Loch Torridon Centre, which will be on from 14th May - 31st August. Current (winter) opening hours are 11-3, Mon, Wed & Fri. Easter to October, open 10-4, Monday - Saturday.
Delighted to say I'll be having a solo exhibition at the Acorn Centre in Inverurie. This will run from Monday 3rd June - Sat 29th June. Opening hours to be confirmed nearer the time.
Next up is the annual Milltimber, Bieldside & Cults Festival Art Exhibition, which runs this year from 22-25 August (Thurs - Sun). At the Phoenix Centre, Newton Dee, Bieldside, in Aberdeen.
And last but by no means least, I'm delighted to say that I will be showing my work as part of Art at the Phoenix at Newton Dee, for this year's North East Open Studios (NEOS).The dates for this year's event are Sat 14 - Mon 23 September. There will be ten artists and makers at the venue this time.
As you probably know, I produced some more "Shipping Forecast" paintings back in October - now it's time to get them framed and ready to go out into the world! Images above and below show a couple of them.
"Fair. Moderate or Good." 98cm x 24cm approx.
This will be my eighth year taking part in NEOS (North East Open Studios). I'm number 269 in the book this year and will be at the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee in Bieldside in Aberdeen again. Eleven artists and makers will show their work there; we call ourselves "Art at the Phoenix". There will be a lovely mix of paintings, mixed media work, textiles, ceramics, fused glass, wooden furniture and more. Delighted to be part of it again - also thrilled that my daughter, Ailsa (number 268 in the book) is showing her textiles and illustration work at the same venue. Looking forward to welcoming visitors!
We will be open daily 10am - 4pm, from Saturday 8th - Sunday 16th September.
I will have some new work on show - a series of paintings with titles such as "Rising Slowly" and "Backing Southwesterly", based on The Shipping Forecast - the weather programme on Radio 4. They are mostly sea and skyscapes, inspired by the coast and ever changing light on the west coast of Scotland.
I've also been experimenting with lino printing and collage this year, and will have some of this work on display as well.
I have continued to do watercolour sketches throughout the year, so will have some new card designs available. Look forward to seeing you soon!
It's that time of year again, somehow. The annual MBC (Milltimber. Bieldside and Cults) Festival is about to start (and it is raining, sadly). The Art Exhibition has become a fixture in this event, with the opening marking the start of the festival each year. It includes work by local artists, or those who work or attend classes in the area. I'm exhibiting again this year, with half a dozen paintings on show, including some new work. I also have some limited edition prints available, as well as a small selection of greetings cards.
New for this year, we have two tables of "CD artwork" - original pieces all donated by the artists, CD case-sized - for sale at the bargain price of £5 each! The money raised will be used to help fund the exhibition for following years, as it has made a loss in recent times. There are some lovely works available - as well as a great range of framed art on the walls, of course!
So, lots of see and enjoy - a great range of framed work, also a large selection of mounted pieces, both originals and prints, as well as greetings cards and also some beautiful pieces of turned wood. Not forgetting teas, coffees and cakes at the weekend!
Hope to see you there.
I am often asked where I get the inspiration for my paintings. The simple answer is that I go out for a wander. I always go armed with my camera. Sometimes, I am caught unawares and will take photos on my phone, if something catches my eye when out and about. I love the response I heard once to the query "what's the best camera to use for taking photos?" - "the one you have with you!" Makes perfect sense to me.
I mainly paint from my own photographs; when I get home I transfer all the photos I've taken onto my laptop, and then print out ones that appeal to me onto A4 paper. I then use those as a reference. I never set out to produce an exact replica of the photo; there will always be omissions or additions, depending on the subject matter, my mood or level of patience on the day! A favourite haunt is Footdee, or Fittie, in Aberdeen; I love the buildings and sheds, and their brightly coloured doors. It's a great source of inspiration. The shed above appealed to me - the photo was taken just a few days ago, with the painting done several years ago. It's had a lick of paint recently!
I based "Fittie Deckchair" on the photo above; missing out the people and using a certain amount of "artistic licence" with colours, composition and construction. Sometimes, I will take photos which I feel work best staying as photos; I'll write about this another time.
My November newsletter has just been sent out, by email. You can read it here.
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Once again, it's time for North East Open Studios. This will be my seventh year taking part! For a change, I will not be exhibiting in the cabin in my back garden (apologies to fans!), instead joining forces with five lovely creatives at the Phoenix Community Centre at Newton Dee in Bieldside in Aberdeen. We are calling ourselves "Art at the Phoenix" and have our own Facebook page. I will have more space to show my work and it will be great to have company during the event. Four of us are artists, with a fused glass maker and a potter adding to the mix. The venue will be open daily from 9th - 17th September, 10am - 4pm. Look forward to seeing you there! I am number 263 in the book; directions to the venue are in my listing.
Art at the Phoenix is part of the Lower Deeside Trail (which I was part of in past years). It lays out 11 venues, featuring 19 artists and makers, within 6 miles of each other. See map below (also available from my Pebbles on the Beach FB page, and the NEOS website).
MBC Art Exhibition
I hope this finds you well and that you have had a good summer. It's hard to believe that it's mid-August already - so next weekend is when the Milltimber, Bieldside & Cults (MBC) art exhibition takes place at the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee in Bieldside. I will have a few paintings on show, both framed work and mounted and also some of my cards. There is always a great selection of work by local artists.You are very welcome to come along when it's open (see the opening times above). The Milltimber Playgroup mums will be providing teas, coffees and homebakes at the weekend! Hope to see you there.
North East Open Studios (NEOS)
(Saturday 9th - Sunday 17th September).
Just a wee reminder about NEOS. This time, for a change, I will bepart of a lovely group of artists and makers at the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee in Bieldside. I will have a bit more space than in the cabin, to show my work. The venue will be open 10am - 4pm every day. I am number 263 in the NEOS directory this year. Look forward to seeing you there!
Last but not least ...
I am delighted to be supporting Cornerstone's first ever Art Fair, which will take place on Friday 29th September - Saturday 30th September at the Sir Ian Wood Building at RGU in Aberdeen. They have an Instagram account where you can have a wee preview of the art which will be available to purchase.
Thank you very much for your continued interest and support.
It's that time of year again. Artists and makers will be opening their studios, garages, front rooms, shops, galleries and other miscellaneous spaces this weekend, to show the public what they do.
It's my 6th year taking part - once again I am in The Cabin in my back garden. This year I'm number 227 in the directory. There may well be baking. I have been tidying and sorting through my work from the past year, deciding what to put on show. The Cabin is quite small, as those of you who have visited before will know - I am contemplating having an outside exhibition space, weather permitting (and if I can find where I put the little gazebo...), in order to show a wider range of my work.
There are more artists than ever included in the trail I'm part of - this year called The Lower Deeside Trail (see image below). I have also posted this on my Facebook page, and paper copies will be available at any of the entries listed on it. Time to get planning where to go - I have started making my list already!
I look forward to seeing you and welcoming you to The Cabin!
Just a quick note to tell you that this lovely exhibition is on this weekend. Opening times listed in the poster. Teas, coffees and homebakes are available at the weekend, courtesy of Milltimber Playgroup mums. I will be on duty at the exhibition on Saturday and Sunday afternoons - hope to see you there! Also a wide range of artists' cards available, and some beautiful textiles and woodturned work.