I find the alphabet a helpful structure in my writing, so when I came to write a list of what I feel grateful for over the past twelve months, I turned to it again to help me.
It didn't let me down.
A is for Art and creativity – admittedly, this has come in waves, but at times has been very helpful in keeping me moving forward.
B is for Black Isle Correspondent, daily videos from; a little bit of madness, kindness and real life every day, especially during the first lockdown. Grateful thanks to Anna Massie.
C is for Camomile tea. And cake – the making and partaking of it, the sharing of it with friends, when possible.
D is for Dog. My dog for making me smile every day, and often laugh too
E is for Empty beaches for walking on, I'm so lucky to live where I do.
F is for Friends and family, for staying in touch
G is for Growing things and gardening.
H is for Hugs - the ones we had before it all started, which we didn't know were so precious, and the illicit ones which were all the more precious for being so.
I is for Isolation – that may sound strange, but living at a distance from densely populated areas gave me a feeling of safety. Also, conversely - I is for Internet, for keeping us connected.
J is for Just being – some days, that was all that was required, or indeed possible.
K is for Kindness – to myself and from others
L is for Love from old friends and new
M is for Mindfulness, learning a new way of being and practicing it.
N is for Noticing nature in so many ways. The tides, the seasons, the light.
O is for Oranges and occasionally olives.
P is for Playing music on my mandolin. Also Photography - taking photos feels like a form of meditation to me.
Q is for Quiz shows on TV, especially Only Connect and Mastermind. Monday evenings’ entertainment.
R is for Refreshing my knowledge and love of languages and learning a new one or two, on Duolingo. Also, reading. Novels, poetry, familiar and new.
S is for Slowing down, social media, staying in touch. Also Soup, the making and supping of it.
T is for Tunes – playing old ones and writing new ones
U is for Unforgotten – a cold case series on TV; totally hooked. Also old murder mysteries, the familiarity of them, the satisfying resolution.
V is for Very funny radio programmes, especially some of those on at 6.30pm on Radio 4, providing lots of laughter while I make my tea.
W is for Walking. Every day. Walking and the peace of it. Sometimes walking with a friend. Also for Writing; the joy of putting words together, in a poem, a story, a post.
X is for Acceptance – I will cheat a little here perhaps – taking the X to mean being not being allowed to do things. Accepting the situation, the imposed restrictions, the fact that I could not travel anywhere and no-one could come here – all that. Accepting it all made it a whole lot easier to make the most of what I could still do – many of these things are listed here.
Y is for Yes – saying yes to new things, to taking part in online workshops and courses and exhibitions.
Z is for Zoom, which I hadn't heard of this time last year, but now value highly, for staying in touch and keeping things going.
Distant Isles I. Original watercolour on paper. 45cm x 25cm approx. Unframed.
Hello. I hope this finds you safe and well and managing to find a way through what is hopefully the last part of this very trying time.
Living where I do, I’m very fortunate to have beautiful beaches nearby to walk on. I do this most days, with my dog. Sometimes, if the weather is wild or wet, we venture inland a bit, walking in a sheltered glen with large trees and a burn flowing through it. I’ve taken a lot of photos over the past year of walking. Mainly on my phone, sometimes with my camera. I've posted some of these nearly every day on Instagram and less frequently on Facebook. There's a spot where I always go and stand, at the far end of one of the beaches. I now have a whole series of photos from that spot – I'm working out what to do with them.
I've been doing some more writing recently, spurred on by attending (online) a wonderful week-long Arvon at Home course, called Exploring Creativity. I've posted a few poems on Instagram and also on my blog. Watch this space for further developments.
I've also been updating my photography portfolio on the Photo4me website.
New work and Poolewe Market
I've recently spent some time in the studio, painting a few more seascapes. The first of these is shown at the top of this newsletter. I plan to add some more coastal works to the collection – these proved popular at Poolewe Tuesday Market last year. Speaking of which, we're keeping our fingers very firmly crossed that the market will be able to start for the season in early May. Of course, this will depend on the regulations in place at that time. I'll keep you posted.
I'm so looking forward to getting out and about and meeting people again; I’m sure you are too!
See the Seascapes
For now, my online shop is very much open. There are still some limited edition prints available, calendars are now reduced in price, and there are some new small works to choose from. There's also a wide range of greetings cards, some sketchbooks and notebooks and even keyrings. Happy browsing!
Limited edition prints
There are some of these still available, at sale prices. The Thistle image below is an example. To be discontinued.
Shop the sale »
A variety of customised notebooks are available in my website shop (see image below)
I just received some new stock, so new designs, of both notebooks and sketchbooks, will be available soon!
See the notebooks »
Thank you for your continued interest in my work, it's greatly appreciated.
Hope to see you soon - until then, stay safe and well.
all the best
I hope this finds you safe and well and bearing up under whatever restrictions are in place in your part of the world.
The season is over for Poolewe Tuesday Market – it was wonderful to be part of it for the first time this year. We went out with a bang, with all the stallholders dressed up for Halloween for the last event. We are looking forward to having not one, but two Christmas markets – on Friday 27th November (4-8pm) and Saturday 28th November (10am -2pm) in Poolewe Village Hall. I will be there on the Friday evening.
This year’s (or should I say next year’s) calendar features photographs taken over the past twelve months, on the west coast of Scotland. As before, it is a slimline calendar, with each image printed on the back for use as a postcard. Below are some of the images in the calendar. It's now available to purchase in my online shop.
I am very happy to have a couple of paintings (including the one shown above, "Fair, Moderate or Good") in the newly opened online - for the first time ever - Members’ Show at An Talla Solais. This is a lovely exhibition of the work of 66 member artists. The upside of it being online this year is that you can all enjoy browsing it too! Enjoy.
Cabinet, the lovely gift shop adjacent to An Talla Solais gallery in Ullapool, has now reopened. It is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. They are currently stocking a selected range of my greetings cards, mugs, coasters and keyrings.
As promised, and by popular request, I now have a selection of lined notebooks available. There are two sizes – A5 and A6, and all have original linoprints on the front cover. They come in a range of colours – all available from my website shop. There is also still a range of A5 sketchbooks available there and small square ones too.
Last but by no means least, there has been much excitement locally, as the news emerged that the fabulous Gairloch Museum, which moved into its new premises and reopened last summer, was one of the winners of the UK-wide Museum of the Year award. One of the other winners was Aberdeen Art Gallery. I'm delighted to be connected to both these wonderful places - the art gallery shop in Aberdeen stocks some of my Shipping Forecast mugs and coasters, and I have cards and sketchbooks in the Gairloch Museum shop.
In celebration, I gave the museum here a little linoprint of the Rubh Re Foghorn, which now has pride of place at the front of the building (the actual foghorn, not my print!). Happy to say they liked it so much they are now stocking greetings cards bearing this design in their lovely gift shop. They also have lighthouse design ones there too.
Thank you so much for your interest in my work, it is greatly appreciated. I have really enjoyed meeting people face to face (socially distanced and wearing masks, of course) at the Poolewe Tuesday markets this year and receiving very positive feedback about my work.
Stay safe and well
all the best
Find Out More
I hope this finds you safe and well. There has been some more summery weather on the west coast these past few days and I am enjoying starting to see the fruits of my recent labours in the slowly developing "garden". It's like painting a picture, I've come to realise - putting colours and textures together, to create something pleasing to the eye. Of course the garden "picture" does not stay the same, as the seasons come and go, so the gardener must be continually trimming and tweaking, looking, adjusting and adjusting again. It is a continuous work in progress.
Artist Support Pledge
Since the Covid-19 lockdown, many artists and makers have been looking for different ways to keep going; exhibitions have been cancelled, gift shops and other outlets such as cafes, restaurants and galleries are closed. A UK based artist, Matthew Burrows, had the idea of setting up the Artist Support Pledge, on Instagram, for artists to support other artists during this difficult time. The concept is simple - an artist posts images of their work, costing no more than £200 each, on Instagram, using the hashtag #artistsupportpledge. Buyers contact the artist directly. When an artist reaches £1000 of sales, they pledge to buy £200-worth of other artists' work. I have recently joined this pledge, and am posting artwork daily on Instagram. Only the items listed there are included in the pledge - I'll be adding more items as time goes on. It seems like a good way of us all supporting each other - of course, you don't have to be an artist to buy works included in the pledge! Some of the artworks I've listed so far are shown above.
Many of you already know that as well as painting, I love taking photographs. I know lots of folk have been missing visiting their favourite places in Scotland in recent times, so I've been busy updating my website to include a photography page, showing a selection from my portfolio. This links to another website (Photo4me) where you can buy canvases, prints etc. of my work.
There's 10% off just now, on all items - just use the code kindness2020 at checkout.
If you're finding it tricky to get hold of greetings cards just now, I've expanded my card collections - there are now 15 different collections, each with 5 different cards. Hopefully there's something for everyone - shown above are -
As always, thank you so much for your interest in my work, it is greatly appreciated. I am hopeful that there may be some opportunities to share my work in real life before the summer is over.
In the meantime, stay safe and well.
all the best
I hope this finds you safe and well and finding ways to get through these strange times.
Recent work created during lockdown
It took me a while to get back to painting after the lockdown was put in place on 23rd March. Out for a walk one day, I noticed the remnants of a foxglove - see above, on the left - at the front of my garden (I use the term very loosely, I am gradually taming small parts of it). I brought it into the studio, laid it flat on the table, and began. So started a series of these works - mostly remnants of last year's growth, as there were few signs of spring at that point. More recently, bracken fronds have started to appear, and my daffodils have bloomed, so spring greens have made an appearance in my work. All the works - 15 to date - are on large (A2, 40 x 60cm approx) paper - most are life size, some a bit larger. You can view them all here on my website.
see more flora...
I am very fortunate to be able to have some of my daily walks along the beach. There is always something to see, a shell, or a pair of them, a sea potato, or an interesting pebble. Very often, some of these treasures come home in my sandy pockets. I have a growing collection of shells - cockles, mussels, scallops, razorshells. It just makes sense, to me, to paint them. These works are generally larger than life-size (often abut ten times larger!), as I prefer to work on a large scale. A few examples are shown above - razor, scallop and tellin shells. There are more (11 in all, so far) on my website.
see more seashore artworks...
New! Greetings cards collections now available
I've put together 12 collections of greetings cards - mainly existing designs, but also some new ones in there too - each set has five different cards in it, all with one theme. I'm hoping this will make it simpler (and more economical) for those of you who are finding it difficult to get hold of cards just now. They can be popped in the post to you, or delivered, contact-free, if you live in the Gairloch area.
Thank you so much for your interest in my work, it is greatly appreciated.
If you have any queries or special requests, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
very best wishes
view card collections...
I don't need to to tell you we are facing difficult times just now. I hope this finds you and your loved ones well and adapting to whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
In my last newsletter, I was sharing news of being part of Poolewe Tuesday Market, stocking some of my products in Cabinet at the lovely An Talla Solais Gallery in Ullapool and an exhibition of my paintings at Inverewe Garden. You can see the paintings I planned to exhibit (and more), in the gallery pages of my website. More recently, I had provided cards and sketchbooks to the shop at Gairloch Museum. None of these things is happening now, for obvious reasons.
Sketchbooks and linoprinting
One of the upsides of being creative is that I never seem to find it hard to find something to do. Recently, I've been doing more linoprinting. I like the fact that I can get quite quick results. I keep things simple, which helps. Most of the printing has been of marine themed designs onto sketchbooks - gorgeous colours from Pink Pig - resulting in customised items, all with a unique, hand printed design on them. There are two sizes - little 4x4 inch ones, with good quality cartridge paper, and A5 size ones, with heavy duty watercolour paper. Yes, they're available to purchase on my website.
I'm planning to share some more of my short stories here on my blog in the coming weeks; there's no point them sitting in a drawer for ever! I'll be posting the ones from my two self-published short story collections; some of them have been broadcast on the fabulous Two Lochs Radio station already, and some more will hopefully be shared on air there in the future.
In the meantime, as always, my artwork, photography and a wide range of products are available via :
I highly recommend doing something creative during these trying times - draw, paint, write, play music. Plant seeds, and look forward to watching them grow. That's what I was doing yesterday. Or learn a language - I discovered the wonderful App, Duolingo and have been learning a bit of Gaelic, as well as brushing up on my French and German and getting going with Spanish. It's a great way to learn, very encouraging and good fun. Or make soup. Making soup is one of my go-to things when it all gets a bit too much. It feels like a time for recalibration, in so many ways.
Wishing you all the very best - thank you for your interest in my work, it is greatly appreciated.
See my Pebbles on the Beach Facebook page for regular posts and updates.
Pebbles on the Beach has moved...
Since the summer, I have been based near Gairloch on the northwest coast of Scotland. I am happy to say that this is where you will find me for the foreseeable future. The move is opening up new opportunities, as well as giving me the chance to strengthen existing connections. I am looking forward to the next chapter.
I currently have paintings (all from The Shipping Forecast series) in two exhibitions - the "Out there in Torridon" exhibition at the Loch Torridon Community Centre Gallery, and the Members' Show at An Talla Solais in Ullapool (my first time exhibiting there, delighted to be taking part!).
Opening times :
Torridon - Mon, Wed & Friday, 11am - 3pm.
Ullapool - Open every day 11am - 1.30pm and 2-4pm, until 22 December.
I am delighted to say that I will be exhibiting at Inverewe Garden in 2020 - more news about this soon.
I'm taking part in two events in the coming weeks - firstly -
I will have a selection of my products at the fairs - shown above are Shipping Forecast calendars, mugs, coasters, small original linoprints (new designs), customised sketchbooks (watercolour paper) and small original watercolours.
As always, thank you so much for your interest in my work, it is greatly appreciated.
All the best,
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
I hope this finds you well and that you have enjoyed the summer - it definitely feels as if we are moving into autumn now.
I am happy to be taking part in North East Open Studios again this year - at the same venue as last year - the Phoenix Centre at Newton Dee in Bieldside, Aberdeen. There will be nine of us showing a lovely range of work - from furniture to textiles, fused glass to painting, mixed media and printmaking. We call ourselves Art at the Phoenix for this event. I am number 302 in the NEOS book.
I have continued with The Shipping Forecast series of paintings and will have more of these on show, as well as small mounted works, mugs, coasters and of course greetings cards and 2020 calendars. There will be updates on my Pebbles on the Beach Facebook page throughout NEOS.
Opening Times -
I look forward to seeing you there!
"Occasional Rain" - original watercolour
You are invited to my Solo Exhibition : 4-29 June at the Acorn Gallery in the Acorn Centre in Inverurie.
The exhibition is open during cafe opening hours, so you can enjoy
coffee and cake, or a light lunch during your visit!
Open Tuesday - Thursday 10am - 3pm, Friday & Saturday, 10am - 4pm.
The Acorn Centre is within Inverurie West Parish Church, on
West High Street, Inverurie, AB51 3SA
"Fair, moderate or good".
The main focus of the show is a collection of new "Shipping Forecast" paintings, continuing with the theme I started last year during North East Open Studios. This is a series of seascapes of various sizes, all with titles based on phrases from the the well known and loved Shipping Forecast, broadcast every day on Radio 4. There will also be a few paintings of Bennachie on show.
I hope you enjoy the exhibition!
"Falling more slowly" "Occasionally high later"