Tag Archives: Sketchbooks

“Now is the Happiest Time of Your Life”

Yesterday the log man came; so today the hungry stove is happily ticking away with a belly full of sweet smelling wood. It feels so different here, although less than a hundred miles West of “home” – the log man gave me a goats’ cheese in return for 6 bantam eggs and we discussed the work of Kaffe Fassat, needlefelting and ceramic design over a cup of tea and home made custard creams…so civilized!

Anyway, after what seemed like a lifetime the internet has finally started to work this week (did they have to hand craft each wire from spun gold? What is going on with these companies?!) so I feel as though I am actually living here now…my enforced period of exile from real life is over and already it is the middle of March, snowdrops are making way for daffodils and I expect the Curlews have returned to the moor whether I’m there or not.

Map of Lake District Fells

Certainly Cumbria is living up to its reputation, with rain every day and gales that mean I’ve spent much of the week armed with a butter knife and a pack of tissue paper, seeking out drafts to stuff. The Yorkshire saying “shut the door! were you born in a barn?” makes sense once you actually do live in a barn and the wind is hitting you in the face even as you sit in front of the tv watching Miss Marple, wrapped in a blanket and clutching a mug of hot tea.

Ah, but in between there are days that make you want to walk for miles and wish you’d brought a picnic. This is where I ended up on Monday afternoon having only intended to get some phone signal and take a few pictures of the sheep I’d just made…


Wearing a dress, Doc Martens and a big woolly jumper, it was only after I got up from the ground (getting a good angle) that I saw the other walkers; head to toe in sensible “outdoor gear” and probably relieved that I stood up before they had to call Mountain Rescue. I’m sure they didn’t spot my tiny sheep and thought I was just exhausted from the climb.

Needle felt Herdwick, Newlands

And so I continue to try and draw, struggle with motivation and spend a lot of time looking out of the windows wondering about the meaning of it all. Luckily I have found a lovely part time job which helps me feel less of a hobo. Purely by chance I walked in to a gallery to buy my daughter a birthday present and got chatting to the owner who turned out to be looking for someone to help out. Its a lovely little gallery, Northern Lights Gallery, with some gorgeous work and right next door to a favourite cafe, the Square Orange.

Herdwick sketch

Tomorrow I’m meant to be going to a Beach Clean Up Day at Seascale, organised by an old school friend. Hopefully this nagging headache and dizzyness will have gone by then … probably need more coffee!

Squirrel sketch

Yet again, a million thank yous to all of you for reading, sending messages and being so supportive; you’re wonderful.

Reading:- “The Fortress” Hugh Walpole  and “Tove Janson, Love and Work” Tuula Karjalainen

Listening To:– ” Now is the Happiest Time of Your Life ” by Deavid Allen/ Gong who died today.

Zen and the art of nest building


Another Thursday, another month and while everything seems “normal” on the surface, underneath is shifting and slipping and bubbling like a house built over a sink hole…or a Baked Alaska pudding…no Chicken Kiev! My attachment to “home” and the difficulty in uprooting me, even for a day out, has been a bit of a joke over the years; so it’s hard to express the almost physical effect the threat of eviction has had on me this past month. However, the garden won last week and I couldn’t leave it alone, for so long the meditation of working in the garden… totally absorbed to the point of almost forgetting real life has been the way I’ve coped with bad times. Ok, mostly I retreat under the blankets with Jack Daniels but once outside I soon become lost and “carried away” as Sara and Jake used to say. The temporary nature of everything I do now does not fit comfortably with my bear like urge to build my winter den and feel as safe as this world will allow…and so the coal shed is empty, the logs have not been delivered yet and is there any point in turning the compost?


Such negativity! If you are still reading I promise the next bits are more uplifting…


Over the past week the Morning Glory in the Freecycle greenhouse has been glorying like mad , heavenly blue and as short lived as a May Fly… if only I was more Zen in my outlook I’m sure there’d be a lesson there! Good things have been happening though. The Saltbox Gallery where I work a couple of days a week took an order for some of my Natural Partners cards and so it was nice to put them on display and overhear the occasional comment about the lovely polar bear! The gallery also took some of my good friend Susie’s needle felted creatures which makes me happy as I love to feel that I’ve helped promote another struggling artist. If I was suddenly rich ….


There have been a couple of much needed trips to the Lake District, partly on a potential house hunting expedition and partly because being made to walk up hills like a reluctant pack pony (admittedly I don’t carry the pack!) seems to be as spirit lifting as gardening. Re-visiting Castle Crag I nearly pushed Rupert over when I spotted a little red squirrel person busily collecting things under the Scots Pines. There were deer too, and autumn colours and that wonderful smell of Autumn woodland and earth still warm from summer. Somehow the North York Moors feels hostile and barren in comparison ( or is it that just a reaction to my situation?) with the only wildlife apart from sheep being there only so it can be shot.


Now I am setting myself the task of drawing something everyday and e-mailing it to Sara who is now in her final year of Illustration at UWE in Bristol. She is meant to do the same so we’ll see if we can keep it up, unlike our various attempts at giving up crisps or taking regular exercise…. I’d like to be able to draw landscape, and clouds but it doesn’t work so I think I’ll leave the clouds to Daddy.


Last night I started a new book having finished Rogue Herries in an all night session. I enjoyed it…maybe the story more than the style and I can see a bit of myself in all the characters. Now it is time for a mug of tea and some more drawing… a rabbit and a pony were the requests on my Facebook page last night….



Reading:-Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami    Listening To:- 6music


“I’m Sorry I Forgot You”

It was only while browsing the amazing submissions on the Arthouse website that I realised there was a sketchbook title called “Bear With Me” , drat, I wish I’d got that one. However, “I’m Sorry I Forgot You” has  been a good, if inaccurate, starting point. I’ve enjoyed it, despite the rubbish paper quality and the panic I’m feeling at the moment ( just in case I can’t get it in the post by the 15th).I paid a little extra so that my sketchbook will be digitized, I’m also excited by  the fact that due to the barcode I will apparently be notified by e-mail every time someone checks the book out during the tour, I hope somebody does!

If only it was coming to England, I wonder if  I could save up enough to get to Seattle or San Francisco by June?!

So, meanwhile on Witchmountain the snow has melted leaving treacherous ice and acres of mud, I have the toothache (as I’m sure Poirot once said in a lovely Belgian accent!) and I’m having chimney trouble as well as monsters in the attic. At least if there is any justice in the world things ought to improve at some point, if not I plan to run away to a log cabin in the mountains where I will live on coffee,cigarettes and violet cremes and read Tolstoy whilst avoiding being eaten by bears.

What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

“Sing Me To Sleep”

Here I am shivering by the stove as if it were still winter; frost and hail outside battering my newly emerging seedlings. Oh well,it doesn’t take much to keep me snuggled on my kitchen bench, I’m thinking I need a live-in personal trainer to make me do exercise…or at least keep me awake!

Here are some random doodles from my late night sketchbook, playing with the “Inktense” pencils I got for my birthday.

On Sunday I had a night in with 6Music and discovered this Gallery page linked to Guy Garvey’s show ; people send in artwork inspired by music played  that night. I love this idea because music is does have so much power to inspire and provoke emotion… I often wonder if there are people who get the same kind of “shiver down the spine” that you get from music by looking at a piece of art. Anyone?

Really, these computers are fantastic windows into the world, but they EAT YOUR TIME so I’m off to get inspired by some music ….or possibly just to make more coffee. Congratulations to all this years Textiles and Surface Design final year students who have just handed in their FMP’s, the degree show is at Hartlepool Gallery, Church Square from June 3rd-12th.

(Reading: “Taming The Black Dog” Patrick Ellverton Listening to: 6Music)

“Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion”

Wow, three days of sunshine,washing on the line and Lapwings getting territorial in the field. I’m waiting for the Curlews return as the year creaks slowly back into life.

I dug out a very old sketch book, looking for things to photograph, and found these drawings from 2005.Snowdrops and lost love, first signs of Spring.It feels as thought the sun hasn’t shone for a year but maybe, just maybe there’ll be a break in the clouds soon.

Anyway, the point of today’s post is to let you know about an exhibition of William Tillyer’s prints/reproductions of watercolours, which is opening tomorrow in Harrogate at the Godfrey&Watt Gallery .A rare event in the North…


Virtual World Traveller

Typical, I was hoping to take some better photographs today but the fog and sleet descended and the windows steamed up and the fire wouldn’t go.Yesterday, while I was at work customers kept driving me mad saying “ooh, isn’t it a lovely day ?”  when obviously I was trapped inside and COULD NOT SEE THE LOVELY DAY!

Ok, rant over! There is a smell of  spring in the air ( damp and mud) and in a few weeks the curlews will return . This year I MUST  tend my garden and at least  create the  appearance  of having things slightly under control!

These wintery pictures are once again from my old favorite sketch book ( now almost 2 years old).Lindsey came up for our weekly coffee fueled “work” session today and I found myself being so jealous of her still being at college. Her work’s looking great and I can’t wait for the degree show.

Well, the Poppytalk thing is now online and I’m worrying about how my offerings look/are priced etc in comparison to everybody elses…damn self doubt! I’m not sure why (because of PoppyTalk?)but lots of new people from different parts of the world have been viewing Witchmountain and leaving lovely comments which is really heartwarming…today I have been to Washington State, France, Vancouver and Sweden(?) returning their visits! Thank you.

Oh, what are you having in your pancakes tomorrow?! xxx

Spirit Bears

I was lent a lovely book the other day, “Learning To Be Wild” by Charlie Russell and Maureen Enns. Its about bears in the Kamchatka region of Russia and introduced me to the work of the artist Maureen Enns. I’m adding her to my virtual shopping list of art, along with the others I have mentioned in previous posts.Here are two of my favorite images…

So, I’ve been reading about bears and doing some quick doodles late at night while fighting the urge to hibernate. Yesterday I picked up four newly framed pieces from Les Prince and left some pages from my sketch book after agonizing over whether or not to pull the book apart…it seems a shame but also a pity to keep them locked in there in the dark where no one can see them.

Well, I think its time I started to do something about the approaching “festive” season ( Winter Solstice ) so perhaps I will make some mince pies tonight…then again, if I do they will have been eaten by Sunday, no use planning too far ahead!

( Reading: “Learning To Be Wild” Russell and Enns and “Never Let Me Go” Kazuo Ishiguro)