Tag Archives: Sketchbook Project

A Reunion With The Well Travelled Sketchbook

The wanderer returns to Witchmountain.Yes, I have returned to my kitchen bench and wood-burning stove with the kind of nostalgic, jet-lag I always feel when returning from London.Visiting the city I am almost physically assaulted by memories, in sights, sounds and smells. It used to be home a long time ago, but Witchmountain is too magical to leave for long…

So, on Friday,I packed my bag ( not this battered old thing but my trusty Milican backpack) and got up before it was light, to get the early train.By 8am I was propped up in my seat like a zombie,reading Paul Theroux’s “Kingdom by the Sea” and wondering how the group of loud,overexcited women further down the carriage could be so awake at such an un-godly hour. I am becoming so used to quiet and solitude that my tolerance levels are low. I read about Mr Theroux’s train journey to Cape Wrath as we sped South.

The Sketchbook Project was happening in the Canada Water Library. We met friends there and it was exciting to be re-united , briefly, with my well traveled book. I wish I had taken more photographs but I felt flustered, having forgotten the list of other artists who’s books I’d wanted to see. The process of getting a library card and then searching and checking out the books was a little clunky  and there was only one computer which slowed things down…luckily ( or not) there were not many people there and while I enjoyed myself and saw some lovely books I felt it was all a bit anti-climactic.The lovely people from the Art House Co-op had come such a long way and the participants had put in so much effort that it seemed there should have been more publicity, more atmosphere and more people!

I read this account by Jane Housham and thought I’d share the link as she took some great photos and had a similar experience. Don’t be put off though, its on until the 19th of October so if you’re in London go and take a look…and don’t forget to say hello to my book.There is still a chance you could win a print if you take a picture of yourself with it, like my mug shot here! There is still a month left to sign up for next year’s tour as well.

Anyway, I have returned to the North, having filled my eyes with a feast of visual delights, from the stunning jewellery room in the V&A to the RED things in the Conran Shop, the seedy joys of Brick lane and Columbia Road and the bohemian Chelsea Arts Club where I would love to spend my days drinking Absinthe, smoking cigars in the garden and meeting unusual people.

Before I went to London I had a bit of a nightmare with my website; it needed some updating and the consensus seemed to be that people didn’t know how, or where, to buy my work. I hope the links and information are more clear now…let me know what you think. www.witchmountain.co.uk

Its been a hectic morning ,with logs delivered in a howling gale and a kitchen full of neighbours drinking tea and discussing mice after re-routing my water supply in the pouring rain. I can’t wait to press the publish button and get on with some work!

Here is Toast with some information….

Reading:- ” Me Talk Pretty One Day” David Sedaris
Listening To:- The howling wind and the logs crackling on the stove. On Thursday I’ll be listening to “Reverend and the Makers” in Leeds.



Well the days are lengthening and I’m feeling optimistic, the sight of a wood full of snowdrops will tend to do that to a person.( I’m pretty superstitious though and historically whenever I’ve written here about feeling upbeat something runs up behind me and knocks me flat…fingers crossed not this time!). This weekend we explored closer to home and again had that feeling of seeing a familiar place through new eyes or from a different angle. In the woods at  Arden Hall I lay on the ground to photograph the snowdrops and could smell the hint of wild garlic still underneath the slowly warming earth.

From where I’m sitting now I can see Hawnby Hill, which we were looking at from above yesterday, they are burning the heather and the sky is that wintery yellow grey again. Blue is a colour often associated with sadness but I’m not sure why… along with those Lakeland pictures last week, these blues lift my spirits .


So, now you may well ask, why are you using such dull sludgy colours in your drawings?! Well colour is a funny thing isn’t it? Blue is one of my least favorite colours, I’ve never managed to paint a room blue without it looking damp and depressing and of course I have a life long aversion to Tory Blue!  Still, I have one page left of the Sketchbook before it gets posted away to its new home forever…

The magpie is the page I’m most pleased with at the moment so I used it on the cover too. The cover is printed on to fabric and was designed using Photoshop and a photograph of the church at Wasdale Head, as well as layers of drawing scans. I then stitched into the print and added beads, leather and antique lace pieces.

I’m really pleased with the result and as usual don’t want to part with it. The point of keeping a sketchbook is to inspire and experiment with ideas. I think I’ve been too precious with it; thinking of it as a book with a narrative that needed to look perfect and finished. Re-discovering how much I enjoyed the “design” element (by using drawing and photographs to make the cover) has meant that the Sketchbook Project has fulfilled its purpose , for me, by inspiring me to do more of this in the future.

The book, with possible addition of blue page, will be in the post by next weekend and I can’t wait to see it and all the others in London this year.

So, the entire time I’ve been writing this, my new copy of Selvedge has been unopened in its envelope, with a bulge that looks like it might be a “free gift”! I can’t resist anymore so its time to put the coffee pot on and do some reading. Just time to mention that I was accepted in to Printsy today; a group of Etsy sellers who are printmakers. I’m very excited about this which I discovered via LinocutBoy‘s blog. I was also asked recently to provide a link on here in return for some digital printing. I’m so pleased with the result ( although I rushed into it and should have planned my design more carefully) and plan to get some more done soon. The link is under Canvas Art Printing and if anyone else would be interested in becoming a sponsor of this blog just get in touch ( I can provide a link banner for example)

Have a great week and thank you for reading. x

Drawing and Dreaming

Well its been an eventful few days. My wish came true and the fog was blown away by gales ; which also blew away chunks of peeling paint and bits of the window frames. Its ok, no real damage and anyway, the insides of the windows are all neat and freshly painted…you can’t even tell which bits are actually held together with scrumpled up Guardian newspapers and wood filler.

This weekend I helped Kev and Viv of ArtVanGo set up and take down, their stand at the Knitting &Stitching Show in Harrogate.It was hard work but even harder work resisting the urge to buy one of everything.Mountains of pristine sketchbooks and papers, racks of paints and dyes the colour of precious jewels, bottles of mysterious potions and brand new virgin silk screens. ArtVanGo also run a stand called Artists in Action where you can see …erm….artists in action, and talk to them about techniques, materials and so on. I was sorry to miss Dionne Swift ( who got me the job), but I did meet Ruth Issett who was demonstrating mixed media techniques ( here is a video from a previous year ) and who has written quite a few books on the subject. Jill Flower was another artist who specialises in textile applications on paper, making intricate lacey pieces inspired by Elizabethan ruffs.

Well, I was tempted in to buying the new issue of Selvedge Magazine , mostly because the cover fitted so perfectly with my idealised vision of Witchmountain, I would love to swan about in vintage lace and cozy wool with my pack of huskies and a few tame polar bears, before returning to my roaring fire to drink brandy coffee and eat turkish delight…oh hang on… I AM sitting by a roaring fire, drinking coffee and obviously when I next look in the mirror I’ll look just like the model in the pictures!

So, I’ve also been busy with this year’s Sketchbook Project and really enjoying using a combination of pen and ink with cyanotype.The subject is “Tears and Fears” but I’m being quite vague about it. I wish I had been able to afford some of those lovely inks and things from ArtVanGo but to be honest I don’t know what half of then are for! My other treat was a pack of inkjet printable cotton which will be used for making some more little wallets, probably, and a skein of beautiful orange wool which I’m trying to knit yoga socks with!!! ( no pattern and little patience)

Now I must leave you to do something productive, it is hard to set my mind to one task and tempting to go outside and do some strimming while the weather holds. This time last year I was snowed in, I feel quite nostalgic for those sparkly days of ice and isolation.

I’m sure there was more I wanted to tell you but it really is time to make more coffee and set up the sewing machine. Oh, but I just wondered, what is Cyber Monday?

A Stolen Day

Another week begins on Witchmountain and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic; actually I’m feeling on top of the world but I’m really superstitious about shouting about it.  Other times I’ve said “Hurray, things are great just now” only to almost immediately loose internet connection, stub my toe, dye all the washing blue or receive a huge pile of bills in the post. Well, anyway, I’m feeling inspired, I’ve been out for a walk and done some gardening and its still morning so I have an afternoon of making and hopefully drawing to look forward to.

I’m really hoping those chemicals for making cyanotypes arrive today, and the labels to sew into my new wallets. Then I need to sort out my tax return and give some more thought to “target markets” and new places to sell things.

We went to the Lake District this weekend. At last, after a summer of disappointing weather we caught a near perfect day, stolen from fast approaching winter and as usual I have returned with cobwebs blown away and some lovely memories to inspire me.

The first thing that I wanted to show you is this amazing house, Rigg Beck . The  original Purple House  burned down in 2008 after a facinating history which included visits from poets, artists and actors. I’m not sure whether the new building is a private house or not but it certainly fits perfectly within its surroundings, even the flat roof is planted with moorland and alpine plants, while the curve of the main slate roof echos the summit of Causey Pike beyond.Proof that new buildings needn’t clash with the landscape in such sensitive and beautiful areas as the Lakes.

After our  attack on the summits of Causey Pike and Scar Crags I stumbled back to the car feeling like I had one leg shorter than the other and was desperate for tea and a cosy sit down. Rupert was probably desperate for me to stop moaning about all my various aches and pains too, so we made hot foot to Temporary Measure in Keswick . I just LOVE this place and it made my day to meet Emma and finally get to have that tea and cake I’ve been promising myself since I first saw the shop last year.

Have a look at the website and you will see the squashy sofa we sat on while enjoying this huge floral pot full of tea and the most delicious ginger fudge cake ( I’d earned it after all that walking and no butter for a week!) Then of course, being a sucker for bears I had to buy this small canvass which means I now have to stop typing and get back to the drawing board, or the sewing machine or whatever will be most likely to bring home the (veggie) bacon.

Oh, I almost forgot, I signed up for the Sketchbook Project again yesterday; late as usual so I’ll be panicking, but really looking forward to when it comes to London for the first time next year. Who else is taking part? Send me a link to your profile so we can compare notes ?


“Time is what we want most, but… what we use worst.”

Today I’ve been trying to manage my time. I’m setting alarm clocks so I get two hours for each task…garden, housework,making, writing, Hand &Lock attempt… I’m already behind schedule, unwashed ( didn’t factor in that bit!) and surrounded by small bits of chaos. It was a great weekend.It certainly makes you feel a bit more inspired when you sell a few things and the art fair at Rural Arts was a great success for me.One of the nicest things though was meeting old friends and making some new ones; talking about our experiences and sharing our common fears about our creative lives. Jane Carlisle makes silk applique landscapes, Jorja Wilkinson designs interior fabrics and Jo works at the Joe Cornish Gallery which is currently running a photography competition if you are interested…

I’d had some more cards printed with three new designs and these along with the bird peg boards will be in my Etsy shop as soon as I get around to refurbishing it, it’s closed at the moment while I do a virtual dust of the shelves and brushing up of  the cobwebs.

So, here on Witchmountain it has become almost earily silent now that the wind and rain has stopped. A whole month of miserable weather has left the garden battered and bruised. It has been so bad that mice have invaded the house which they usually only do in autumn, moles have made a city under the asparagus patch and I’m wondering how to bribe my kids to help me do a big tidy up because its so hard to concentrate on anything else when you’re surrounded by jobs that need doing and being harrassed by small mammals.

At some point I will have to decide whether to invest more time in my Hand &Lock entry…I’ve got some great fabric samples from a company that specialises in outdoor/high performance fabrics and lotsof ideas but not much time until first stage entries need to be in (June 30th). As well as this I’m thinking of doing the Sketchbook Project again. This year it comes to London as well as visiting Vancouver which is quite appropriate! My sketchbook has now been digitised which is so exciting. At last I can see it again, and in order, like a real book. I’d love to know what you think and if any of you are thinking of taking part this year?

Hmmmm, time for my next task…making a moose necklace commission!

Reading “The Help” Kathryn Stockett    Listening to: A play on Radio 4 about catching moles!!

Heat Haze

Today I took a sheet of paper and in Sharpie pens of various colours wrote PLANS . Then there was a knock at the door and all the day’s plans went to pot when the man who had come to mend the chimney kept me talking for hours about everything from Art College education in the 60’s  and onwards to building regulations in the National Park. All in all quite an interesting afternoon but my asparagus plants have remained un-planted and my list of plans does not look convincingly thought out, let alone implemented!

Last week I bought myself a new set of pens for making necklaces and feel as though I’ve really got the hang of it now, so I’ve been making painted boards to display them on and trying to pluck up the courage to take them around a few shops .

Well it’s been amazingly beautiful weather the last few days and it must have gone to my head because I decided to enter the Hand and Lock competition. I have obviously fried my brain lolling on the trampoline; after paying the entrance fee, re-reading the brief and looking at some previous submissions I wonder what on earth I was thinking!  However, I’m hoping that having a project to work on will focus my mind much as the Sketchbook Project did earlier in the year. Talking of which, I got a message on Facebook today from Julie Fordham who had been to see the sketchbooks which have been in her home town, Atlanta, Georgia. It was lovely to see photos of my book on tour so thank you Julie ( Have a look at her book , I love it and can’t wait until later in the year when alot of the sketchbooks will be digitized)

So, it really is time I got on with something so I’ll leave you with this picture of Helmsley Castle and  The Walled Garden. Last Friday I had my first day working in the Vine House cafe  and nearly cooked myself as it is in a greenhouse and it was the hottest day ever. I’m not really designed for hard work in extreme temperatures, nor for enforced coffee rationing (!)but despite being exhausted I must admit it was a lovely environment to be working in and the food is delicious.

“…if pretty little Blue Birds fly…”

Just  a very quick one today. I’m going to be away, hopefully, getting some fresh air and exercise in the Lake District for a few days so I thought I’d extend the GIVEAWAY deadline until Wednesday to give you all more time to leave a comment ( There has been more snow ,a 19th birthday and several small upheavals to contend with so I haven’t given it much thought either).So far, despite record numbers of visitors there have been very few entries. Hmmm, why is this? I do like the giveaway idea as a way of both thanking readers and hopefully spreading the word about my work, however it doesn’t really seem to be as effective for me as it has been for other blogs…

This little Blue Bird has just been listed in my Etsy shop and I finally got confirmation that my sketchbook has arrived and been catalogued at the Brooklyn Art Library and is somewhere on these shelves!

Readers in London may like to know that an exhibition of my Daddy’s amazing watercolours,inspired by balcony views in the South of France, Portugal and Spain, is on until March 26th at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery.

Have a Happy Weekend, and enjoy half term x