Friday, October 13, 2017

Money, art, and more onion hospital days

It's grey and overcast and the cobbles are wet. I have a cup of coffee and I am listening to this beautiful album to conjure up a mood. My headphones are on and a pad of paper is next to me with a pen. On the paper are social media stats and in my mind are the beginnings of yet another idea to bring my art to more people and also bring some money into my bank. Of course, I didn't want to write the sentence including the words money or bank. Like many other artists, I wonder why can't it just be about the art? Naive, I know.

I am continually reminded of this quote and I wish I wasn't.

“When bankers get together they talk about art. When artists get together, they talk about money.” -Oscar Wilde

I try my damndest to just talk about art, pretend I don't need money, don't want things, don't worry about "security." However, I need, want, and worry like everyone else.

So we will see if the ideas come to fruition from the pad of paper sitting beside me and if I can find that balance of making art and making money.

In other news, this week's Tuesday Studio Video Visit seemed to have struck a chord with folks, as it received 1,800 views! I talked about intuition, imagination and the importance of play. If you missed it on my facebook art page you can see it again here. Thanks to everyone who viewed the video and commented on it on facebook, it feels good when we can connect this way.

You can see in the video that I worked on another canvas this week and made some "spirit bundles." I mostly took it easy as I nursed a trapezius injury which frustratingly kept me away from painting. I love getting to that point in my life where I can injure myself in my sleep.

So, that's all I have for you this week. I wish you more onion hospital days. Keep fighting. Keep playing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Play it again!

New work from the studio this week
I started the week in the studio with one song on repeat at full blast on my headphones. I played this song for probably 3 hours or more. My hearing was impaired for the rest of the week but damn if I didn't get some painting done. I also made my Tuesday Studio Video Visit. If you missed it, click here. 

New work from the studio this week

What song did I listen to? This trance inducing number, "Circles" from 2010 by The Soft Moon. I have used this song and this band in this way before. I often go back to pieces of music that have worked in the past to get me to the place I need to be to paint the work I need to paint.

I repeat different songs for different things. Right now as I write, I am listening to Blur's Sing. I sometimes paint to this as well.

Do you do this too? How important is music to your painting practice or painting to your music practice? Do you use other forms of art to make your work whatever it may be? How about the repetitive aspect? I would love to hear about it if so.

If you listen to these two songs I think you will find similarities and perhaps see why they work for me. I like driving, repetitive sounds but with a good amount of noise, a touch of dreaminess and minimal words. I think this helps me focus on the essentials. Music is the ultimate alchemy and I remain under its spell.

New work from the studio this week

In other news, I am delighted that my painting, The New Language, sold from The Velvet Easel in Portobello yesterday! It will always make my day, perhaps even my week or month, when I sell a painting. I will always feel the thrill of it just like I did the very first time I made a sale years ago. I am grateful when someone sees my work and chooses it for their life. It means so much to me, spurs me on, and encourages me. I am headed into this weekend filled with gratitude. Thanks, patrons!

The New Language, Acrylic on canvas, 76x51x4cm/30x20x1.5" Sold 
Until next week, keep fighting. The world needs you, and your art.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Oldest Living Things

The sun is shining and the light has that lovely afternoon autumnal glow. The last gasp of summer warmth is soaked up walking to and from the studio and running errands.

New supplies arrived in the studio this week. It's always exciting to receive new paint, charcoal sticks, and my beloved charcoal powder. Two rather large canvases were in the mix of new materials as well. I am looking forward to diving into all of this. However, right now I need to focus on a couple of smaller works and finishing a commission. I find the change in seasons a bit distracting.

The three-year anniversary of my arrival in Edinburgh was on Tuesday so I took some time off to contemplate it all and enjoy myself.
You can see the Tuesday video visit here if you missed it.

I did manage some studio time and began working on one 40x40cm/16x16" canvas. It has a long way to go yet. Here it is surrounded by studio mess. I think the surroundings capture my mind right now. There are so many directions I want to take.

It was 6 days ago that Stewart put out our super wee EP, Dérive: Living Among Filaments. One of my favourite tracks is the last one, Oldest Living Things. I especially like the ending bit. Give it a listen if you like being cooed and hooted at in an alternative universe.

That's all I have for you this week. Thank you for being part of my story.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Oh find me sweet alchemy

The seasons are changing and my motivations and habits change as well. I am waking up earlier and going to sleep earlier and feeling that nostalgic closeness of Autumn.

This week I ordered some new materials and worked on two larger pieces (the paintings are pictured above). I also posted my Tuesday Studio Video Visit which proved to be a bit more popular than usual with folks. I appreciated the comments and feedback. It always feels better when we can see ourselves in each other and be more connected. I am glad I am not alone in my thoughts. If you missed the video on Tuesday on Facebook, here it is below.

Besides these things I made some fudge (because you know, Autumn) and worked on an ambient music project. Stewart Bremner and I are calling ourselves Dérive and we have made a wee 4 song EP called Living Among Filaments. It was good to collaborate and enjoy some creative time away from painting. You can hear it here. We hope you will enjoy it. Until next week, keep fighting.

Friday, September 15, 2017


I am cleaning up my thoughts and stories that surround my art, process, and why I make art in the first place. How did I get here?

I feel this is some dark and murky territory and I feel deeply challenged as I wade in. This is an emotional landscape. I feel a bit lost, floating around the edges of things unable to put words to where I am in my head regarding my art. I feel like I am hovering above the meaning of it all and my feet are nowhere near touching.

This is not a bad thing, it's just uncomfortable and that is a good thing. I am challenged and I don't have any answers. So with this knowledge, I move forward.

Ideas about value and worth swirl around my head, mirroring my self-esteem. I have underpriced my work. I have undervalued my work. I have undervalued myself, my time, and my skills. At the same time, I have shied away from the true risk in my work. I have only scratched the surface because of fear. I have been lazy and played it safe. I dance on the outside of my real work in order to keep the peace, in order to fulfill a void, in order to fulfill a need. Not always but often. There are bodies and pieces of my work that go deeper. I remember them as if they were a dream, and I am always trying to get back to that secret door.

I like dirty work, torn work, imperfect work, energetic work and dark work. I always have but I don't allow myself to make this work too often. I hold back, I censor, I repeat and stay safe.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The awkward beauty of what comes next

I've been in a mood, aka a dark place. It's only this morning after cutting my fringe/bangs, putting on too much lipstick for working at home & the studio and drinking two cups of mint green tea, meditating, taking a mint scented shower and taking an "art selfie" while listening to one of my favourite/favorite old Siouxie and the Banshee's albums on headphones at full blast that I thought perhaps I could write my blog and feel a little better.

Whew... so your perpetual art cheerleader has dark days and weeks too, but you knew that. Truly with the world on fire and drowning at the same time, threats of nuclear war, and with 45 at the helm in America and May here in the UK, it's no wonder. Who isn't bummed out right now?

Regardless, I got to the studio and I worked through it and each time I did, I felt better. I worked on two "accidental" portraits for a commission. I also worked on two large 80x80cm/31x31" canvases, and I sold two more brooches and added three new ones to my wearable art collection. I have listed them in my Etsy shop. I even tended to some gallery business and social media programming. I also tried out 2 new recipes (not art related I know, but cooking is just another way I express my creativity). I also showed up for my Tuesday Studio Video Visit Video, a bit late but I made it. If you missed it on Facebook, you can see it here.

See this is why I keep a blog, when I read all of that, I feel much better and I know I haven't completely given up. I may have cried while doing the above-listed things and spent too much time zoning out in front of my computer while feeling too incapacitated to reach out to friends and family but damn if I wasn't productive.

As I was writing this, I received notification that my very first Distillation Series print, "The awkward beauty of what comes next" (pictured below) has sold from my Etsy shop and will be headed to The States! That's wonderful news! I was so excited about that series and those prints and felt a bit bummed out that they fell flat after their launch. Everything works in its own time. Thanks as always, patrons!

My old go to phrase on this blog was often, "Everyday we paint is a victory" in recent times this has often been replaced with "Keep fighting" and to me they mean pretty much the same thing. Keep working, keep showing up, on the good days, the bad days, and every plain old day in between. Sometimes you will be okay and pleased and sometimes you won't and that's okay too.

We are all in this together. The world needs you, your art, and your vision. Let's keep fighting. To those in the path of Irma, please stay safe. x

Friday, September 1, 2017

The risk that brought me here

Pettiwick Bay, St. Abbs.

Adventures are good for the soul. For the past two weeks, our friend James has taken us in his car (we don't have one and I haven't gotten my UK license yet) to places I have never seen. Last week we went to the lovely village of Culross in Fife. This week, we walked high on cliffs above the North Sea at St. Abbs. 

I sat above the sea on the mossy ground and breathed in the air and listened to the wavelets on the shore below. I imagined all the people before me who had seen the view and all the people who would see it in the future. This place isn't going anywhere, but I am just passing through. I thought about the power of the land to soothe, inspire and intrigue.

After our Scottish seaside adventure, we crossed the border to England and wandered the town of Berwick upon Tweed. We walked around looking at their ramparts, bridges, and buildings. And then just like that (thanks to James' driving), we were home for dinner. 

I never thought I would see any of this. I certainly never thought I would live here and be able to walk these cliffs or get to know this land. It's a risk that brought me here and risks can feel scary and unsure. Just like making art. 

This week I have been working on a possible commission and I am a little out of my comfort zone but at the same time excited and challenged. Here's my Tuesday Studio Visit Video with more on that. 

I don't have any photos of the possible commission that I can share, as it is a possible gift. That is if I can materialize it to my satistfaction. It's all good and secretive on my end and may not even happen, but it's giving me plenty to think about and work on, and that is a gift to me. 

It's the first of September, there is rain on the cobbles and a coolness to the air. I think I am going to grab another cup of tea and head to the studio for another adventure in risk. 

Take care out there. Until next week, keep fighting.

Friday, August 25, 2017





Off the gallery wall and onto your jacket or cardigan. Hand painted wearable art badges & brooches! £15 and free shipping. Message or comment to reserve yours. I am offering them to my fb and blog reading friends this weekend before I list them on Etsy on Monday.

Beep Beep!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Exciting gallery news!

This week seemed long and productive. Firstly, nineteen more Isolated Moments were brought into the world, documented, and listed in my Etsy shop, Art Maven. I am happy to report there were several sales too. Thank you, patrons, for supporting my work! Here are five of my current available favorites. Please visit my Etsy shop to see more and make your purchases.

To learn more about these pieces you can view my weekly Facebook Tuesday studio visit video, where I go into detail about my process.

This week, I also started painting a wearable collection of modern art scarves. These scarves are hand picked by me for their color and tactile qualities. I am choosing synthetic fabrics to the best of my knowledge as to not use silk so that they will be vegan-friendly. Also to contribute to the circular economy, and in order to be more environmentally friendly, the scarves are sourced from local charity shops. I then paint them in my studio. It's the early days yet and I hope to complete ten of them to see how they are received. I hope to produce a line of abstract brooches soon as well. It has been a fun and active time in the studio.

And yes, I really will get back to my canvas Resilience Series paintings soon! Which leads me to the next big item!

Last but certainly not least, I am delighted to share that I now have work in The Velvet Easel Gallery in Portobello, Edinburgh. It is one of my favourite galleries and I am chuffed to bits to have my work included in the current exhibition, Portobello Mon Amour. If you are in the area please stop by the gallery. You can find them on facebook too. The gallery has three pieces from my New Language series, including the title piece as seen here on the right side of the gallery window. It is wonderful to be in such good company.

Photo credit: Rosalind Walker, The Velvet Easel Gallery
All rights reserved 2017
I think that is all I have for you this week. I am knackered! Until next week, keep fighting. Keep speaking out, calling your elected officials, signing petitions, showing up at rallies, vote with your pounds and dollars every day. Support the things you love, look for the helpers in this world and be one when you can. It's up to us.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Music fuels my art: PJ Harvey

Image may contain: 1 person

I saw the best concert I have ever seen in my life this past Tuesday as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. Less than a mile from the flat, we were able to walk up to The Edinburgh Playhouse to see PJ Harvey perform with her band on their Hope Six Demolition Project tour. I have been a fan of Polly Jean Harvey for years but have never had the opportunity to see her in person. 

I have been very fortunate to see many amazing bands and artists starting at a relatively young age - thanks to my older brother Sean's influence (my even older brother Ben influenced me musically as well, but was already away from home by the time I was going to gigs). Anyway, I digress. 

Basically, I have seen my fair share of great bands. However, PJ Harvey made me cry. I have never totally understood those videos showing the girls crying and going crazy for the Beatles but now I think I do. This was just the perfect show. 

This might have been the first show I wore my middle aged glasses to and I was so glad I did. I kept my eyes peeled, glued to the stage, forgetting to blink. I also sometimes forgot to breathe and when I remembered, they were deep breaths - to breathe in the whole experience. I sat in my seat in rapt attention, aware that I was seeing a true and commanding artist.

The set design was minimal, the lighting ethereal, the band was tight and perfectly theatrical and were equals with PJ and her powerful voice and gestures. She said no words between songs, a tight ship. The show started just after 8pm and was over by 9:30. She played 18 songs (16 making the perfect set and then a two song encore). These songs were expertly curated heavily from her previous two albums (Hope Six Demolition Project and Let England Shake) and a dash here and there of some her best older tunes (50ft Queenie was a raucous surprise from her album Rid of Me). There were also two of my favourites from White Chalk as well as two from To Bring You My Love. She played tracks from Is This Desire? and Uh Huh Her as well. The songs fitted together into the perfect summation of her impressive career to this point. As an artist, she seems to only get better and that was thrilling and inspiring to watch.

Tears rolled from my eyes and under my glasses as a smile crept across my face with every drum beat, heavy sax, and perfect guitar drone as PJ directed us through her dark and majestic music with gestures and voice cutting through the air, her face aglow in the silvery light. For that hour and thirty minutes, I disappeared "into the ether, one world to the next."

Friday, August 4, 2017

Everything I ever meant to say

I don't want to tell you about the hum drum of my studio life or how many paintings I have or have not completed or how much I have cleaned this week. By the way, I did hoover the place this morning and I ate soup in my makeshift studio luncheonette for the second day in a row. And I am sure that the cafe at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall actually puts love into their soup and because of this, it is the best soup in all of Edinburgh or certainly Leith.

What I want to write about is the flicker at my finger tips and the spark at the back of my brain that always comes from an upheaval or dissatisfaction and then is channeled into the dream world that I like best. You don't have to understand this or make sense of it. All I know is that when this place inside switches on, I am able to see things more clearly and honestly. I love the vulnerability and art that comes from this place. I love the nest building and escaping involved. A perfect storm makes the perfect nest of desperate creativity.

I know when I am approaching this place. I might be on the verge of tears, I might be more ridiculous than usual and the music might seem even sweeter. My self-censorship shield is delightfully lowered.

Francis Bacon once said, "The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery" and I agree. I think it is also our job to follow and cultivate the mystery- to simply allow the mystery.

At times, I have overlooked the mystery, been afraid of it and wanted so much for it to go away so I could be "normal." I have tried my whole life to fit into social groups, social norms, social expectations, relationships, and jobs. I don't ever fit into those very well or for very long and damn if I haven't tried.

So at 45, yet again I surrender to the mystery. I surrender to found furniture that always finds me on the streets and perfect bowls of soup. I surrender to the person that finds my work and gloriously understands it the first moment they see it. I surrender to the perfect song on repeat and the best tube of Payne's grey and the way paper gets so yellow and brittle and the wonderful sound it makes and how I like dirty, broken down art. I surrender to being alone as I experience these things and that you will never know the feeling in my brain when it fires that sweet spark.

Everything I ever meant to say. Ten new works on paper. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Isolated Moments

After taking Monday off, I worked on one 16x16" canvas and it still awaits completion.

Instead of finishing it, I turned my attention to Isolated Moments, a new small works series. These paintings are created on newsprint paper with acrylic paint during the process of working on my larger canvases. As I paint my larger works, I blot excess paint from the surface with newsprint paper. I often use the same piece of newsprint over and over again creating a multi-layered painting unique in and of itself. Rather than simply recycling or reusing all of these papers, I have held back the ones that I find particularly appealing, isolating the best moments from within the papers and now offer them as affordable originals.

I spent the week, selecting the paintings and then mounting them and documenting them. Currently, I am selling them through my Facebook art page but after a week or so I may list them in my Etsy shop. I am pleased to report that 4 have already sold since I shared them on Facebook yesterday! Thanks, lovely patrons! It is always uplifting to have the support and validation.

Until next week, keep fighting and keep finding those rare isolated moments.