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.
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 and able to enjoy a little freedom at last. I have a few pieces of news to share.
Poolewe Tuesday Market
I am delighted to let you know that the wonderful Poolewe Tuesday Market started up again on 18th August. This was thanks to the meticulous planning and hard work of the organisers. Of course it is a bit different, with a limited number of stalls each week, a takeaway cafe (some weeks) rather than a sit-in one and a limit on numbers allowed in to the hall at any time (currently 20 visitors). It was so good to be out and about (wearing one of my own mask designs, of course) and talking to people face to face again. I will be at the market every Tuesday (except 22nd September) until the end of October. It's open 10am - 2.30pm every Tuesday in Poolewe Village Hall.
Since it seems that face coverings will be with us for a while yet, I've set up a number of my designs (over 100) to be available on masks from Redbubble. I've bought a few of these myself and find them very comfortable to wear. I've been wearing the Sweet Peas one (shown below) at the Poolewe Tuesday Market and have had some kind comments (and requests to purchase). There's 20% off when you buy 4. I've been interested to see various designs appearing - it's a good way to show a bit of your personality, when your smile is not on show!
I'm happy to let you know that several of my local stockists have recently reopened their doors - carefully and cautiously, of course.
The GALE centre in Gairloch is open again, (10am - 5.30pm, every day except Saturday) offering teas, coffees and cakes and a range of gifts, as well as information about the local area.
Gairloch Museum is also open (10am - 5pm, Tuesday - Saturday) with visits by appointment only for now. They have produced a useful video to show you what to expect when you come to visit.
Loch Torridon Community Centre Gallery is open again too : Monday - Friday 9am-6pm and Saturday 10am - 2pm. I have some original work on show, here, including small, mounted works, as well as a range of greetings cards. The Wee Whistle Stop is providing refreshments at this lovely venue. Check their Facebook page for opening times.
Cabinet, the lovely wee gift shop within the An Talla Solais gallery in Ullapool, has also just reopened. They are a new stockist for me, with a range of my mugs, coasters, keyrings and greetings cards (mainly with a nautical theme) available. Open Tues-Sat, 10-1 and 2-5.
Delighted to say that the Button Bothy, located within Poolewe Village Hall, is now stocking a range of my greetings cards. This is a gem of a shop, selling jewellery, buttons galore, scarves and other gifts, and also providing access to Ron's Book Bothy with an eclectic mix of vintage books, prints, charts and maps.
In the meantime, if you're not in the northwest Highlands or aren't planning to visit anytime soon, I have a wide range of items available in my website shop.
Many thanks for your continued interest in my work - it is greatly appreciated. If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to get in touch via the Contact page on my website.
wishing you all the best
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.
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!
I have wanted to attend Feis Rois for a long time. When I first took up my fiddle again, about twenty years ago, my two children were quite small and I didn't feel I could escape for a whole long weekend to myself. Goodness knows why - I must have been a bit mad. The years passed, I wondered about going but never got organised. Then, around New Year time this year, an old school friend got in touch. She picked up her fiddle again last year; hers had collected more dust than mine, although perhaps that has made her even more determined to play again. "Let's go to the Feis!" she said. I didn't need to be asked twice. We were best friends right through school, from Primary 6 to sixth year. Competing in class, spurring each other on to study hard and, oh yes, sitting beside each other in the second violins in the school orchestra.
So, on Friday 4th May we travelled to Ullapool (by road, not ferry, contrary to appearances from the photo above), booked into our lovely B&B with views out over the sea towards the Summer Isles, and headed to the High School to register for the Feis. To describe the Feis, I am borrowing some words from their website - "a weekend bursting with music, song and dance and a stellar team of tutors to inspire participants of all levels". And that is exactly what it was, and more. Although I've been playing fiddle and, more recently, mandolin on and off for twenty years, I chose to attend a beginners' harp class. I went to this every morning. It was wonderful. There were only six of us in the class; all keen to learn and loving every minute of the new experience. Rachel Newton was our tutor - she was so patient, kind and full of laughter. And a great teacher! "Thumbs up, fingers down" became our mantra. The time flew by; we learnt a tune by ear, and the beginnings of a second one. Several of the class asked where they might acquire a clarsach so they could carry on....
Afternoons were spent doing group work under the expert tutoring of Lauren MacColl, along with Mairearad Green and Signy Jakobsdottir. I played my fiddle. We had a chance to play some of the music from The Seer, a new composition by Lauren, commissioned by Feis Rois. I learnt a lot, including the fact that a tenor horn sounds great in traditional music, 3 x 4 = 12 (I did know that, but this involved drumsticks and chair backs) and that an accordion can make a sound like waves on the shore.
It wasn't all about the music. Mostly it was, to be fair. But sustenance was required. Coffee breaks in the morning were a highlight, with volunteers serving endless cheerful mugs of tea and coffee, and fabulous, substantial homebakes seeing us through until lunchtime. The whole weekend was marvellous; there was a concert with The Shee and The Seer on the Saturday evening and a tutors' concert the following one. There were sessions in the pubs all through the town, which went on into the small hours. Tunes were shared, songs sung and I left feeling replenished, refreshed and inspired. The icing on the cake for me, however, was succeeding in encouraging (not single-handedly, I admit) a reluctant joiner-in to do so. The look of glee on his face after just one workshop was a joy to behold. That, for me, is what playing music together should be all about. A fun and enjoyable experience, shared with others.
I'm looking forward to next year already!
A friend asked me the other day what I'd been up to recently. I answered very unsatisfactorily, I suspect. "Oh, this and that," I said. I managed to gather my thoughts sufficiently to mention a couple of reasonably concrete things - a new outlet for my work, plans for the open studios event later in the year. I feel as if I have been pretty busy recently, but it's all fairly disparate, with not a lot of tangible results for my efforts. Perhaps it is time to take stock, see where I am with various projects, and start prioritising what to do next. North East Open Studios seems a long way off (it's not really, it's in 4 months' time!).
This is the problem I find with working creatively, on my own. The lack of a sounding board, someone to say "that's not one of your best ideas, what about that other one you mentioned the other day?" - the less brutal version of "that idea is rubbish.... next!" I find I am often full of ideas, but whether it is worth pursuing them can be a difficult decision. Recently, I have done a bit more drawing, as well as some sketching out and about (sitting on the harbour at Portsoy was so lovely, especially in the sunshine). It made me recall how much I enjoy this; absorption is total, concentration absolute, focus intense. Time just disappears. I had hoped to do a pile of sketches, and managed three or four. I tried doing a few in the city centre the other day, but found that I needed to find a quiet spot, somewhere I could sit, as I felt too conspicuous otherwise. The practicalities of balancing sketchbook, water pot and tiny box of watercolours also have to be taken into account. Of course I took photographs as well, many of Portsoy harbour. I very much admire the work of John Glynn, who I believe is now based in Moray. When I got back to my shed/studio I had a go at doing a simplified drawing of Findochty harbour, inspired by his style. It was an interesting exercise, which made me focus even more clearly on the shapes I was seeing, and avoid making "sketchy" marks. Plans are afoot to do some drawings like this, using some of the reference photos I've taken recently of northeast harbours. There we go, a plan has been crystallised before my very eyes! Thank you for listening/reading :)