Meet The Artists

Green Door, an arts organisation based in the south lakes recently commissioned a series of video shorts called Meet The Artists. I was interviewed by the film maker Shaun Blezard, who specialises in music and creative technology (the iPad is his instrument of choice – running apps like ThumbJam, Samplr, Borderlands and SQRT). He also leads an experiment in large ensemble composition and improvisation called somesomeunicorn.

Shaun also interviewed other Green Door artists, who’s video interviews can be seen at YouTube.

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Space2Create Collaboration…progress & completion (part 6)



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Space2Create Collaboration… (part 5)

Space2CreateHere’s further progress updates to the painting…more stencilled starling layers of progressively darkening grey. During these layers I noticed that some of the stencils appear to be a single starling depicted at different moments in flight, cutting through space/sky. I intended the stencils to be more dense to the bottom left corner, but have been interested to see how the arrangement of the starlings towards top right breaks apart in a way that is not unlike the fluctuating matrix of a murmuration. I have been leaving this ‘pattern’ quite loose and organic.

IMG_0914 IMG_0916 IMG_0918IMG_0919

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Space2Create Collaboration…progress (part 4)


Each week, Wednesday is my time to spend in my studio, a little midweek oasis of creative activity! This week ‘Studio Wednesday‘ as I like to call it was punctuated with a lunchtime wild swim at Gurnal Dubs near Kendal. The weather was amazing and we could have easily spend the rest of the day there, but my studio was calling me and this painting wanted to be moved on to the next stage.


Gurnal Dubs (wild swimming place) near Kendal, Cumbria, UK.

So, the painting…more stencil work today. I’ve added more starling silhouettes in a very light shade of grey, painted over the white silhouettes. As you can see from the photograph below, the white is still visible in places, creating more of an abstract pattern at a distance. I’m also adding depth with layers of Liquitex Gloss Medium. On closer inspection there is a lot more going on and it’s getting very interesting! The painting is starting to tell me what it’s about in relation to the piece of writing that I was given, which I can now include here (below). Don’t worry I’m not going mad! This is something that I have noticed happens when I really engage with the process of how I paint. I tend to work and react as I’m going along, and this includes ‘listening’ to what the painting is telling me as it progresses. It’s a very exciting way of working that demands a lot of confidence and awareness of oneself and in one’s working method (not something that develops overnight of course!).


The painting is suggesting to me, safety in numbers, getting lost in the crowd and fitting in (‘feathers plucked’…which can be how we hurt ourselves and are hurt by others when young and immature/innocent), versus breaking free, individualism, uniqueness and growing up (‘she has come of age’). This will no doubt evolve as the painting progresses.

Here’s the piece of writing given to me from Space2Create:


My little one,

My starling bird.

Some feathers plucked,

Plumage distressed, but

She has come of age

And now can fly.

She spreads her wings

And joins the murmuration

Of the vast, wide open sky.

She darts, dives,

Swoops and soars.

She’s revelling in flight.

The freedom of the dawn-
Daybreak and she’s off,

Up and on the wing, away.

Late in the day, she’ll

Come home to roost when

All her journey’s done.

No cage, no bars,

Can trap or stop her

Travelling. The great

Migrations of the years, until

She finds her place to be.

My little starling bird –

She is, at long last, free.


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Space2Create Collaboration…progress (part 3)


In my last blog of this thread I posted some photographs of the background layers I’ve been working on. In this post I’d like to share some more images of the progress I’ve made.

The background layers were created using very loose brushwork with a relatively wide paint brush. The layers and brush strokes that can be seen are in various tones of grey. There’s also a lot of paper collage work in there as well, for both tone and surface texture. I prepared the collage material by taping down several sheets of watercolour paper (I tend to grab whatever is at hand most of the time in the studio, or if I go ‘looking’ for paper in my studio I don’t over think things once I found something that fits my idea) and then painted them with different intensities of washes of indian ink. The effect being not too dissimilar to tones of grey (the white of the paper acts as a substitute for white paint, which is the main device within watercolour painting). Once dried, I ripped all the pieces of paper up and then collaged them onto the canvas. I then painted over the paper collage with transparent layers.

In the next stage I collaged lengths of Herdwick wool (taken from the leftovers of a recent jumper knitted by my mum that I ‘commissioned’) cut randomly and applied without forethought. The Herdwick sheep and it’s wool is one of the things The Lake District is famous for (for those of you who don’t know, I live in Kendal, which is right on the doorstep of The Lake District in Cumbria, UK).

IMG_0893I like the sense of movement in the painting, as the ‘theme’ that I’m working on is based on a murmuration of starlings (there are other aspects to talk about, but more of that later). My theme so to speak is part of the collaborative aspect of this painting taken from a piece of creative writing passed on to me from Space2Create (see previous posts for more details). My vision for the painting from this point is to create a fade from bottom left to top right of a single starling stencilled many many times. The fade will be from white to black, which is similar to the pattern on a starling’s feathers (white tipped). I plan to add another starling on its own that will be different to the one stencilled.  IMG_0895IMG_0898IMG_0896

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Space2Create Collaboration…progress (part 2)


I have now received the piece of creative writing to use as a starting point to work into a painting. I’m not sure I’m able to publish the written work yet, so won’t include it here until I hear back.

I had already started the background work for a painting, which will now lend itself to the initial ideas I have had in response to the creative writing. Here’s a couple of development images from my studio. More to come soon!



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Space2Create Collaboration (part 1)

As part of Green Door Artists in Cumbria, I recently received an email newsletter with a link to a new project being run by Space2Create.


‘We firmly believe in the benefits of being creative as part of a group. For anyone who has found themselves isolated or excluded while experiencing long term physical or mental health conditions, the road to recovery is a daunting prospect.

We provide creative opportunities which are supportive, accessible and unthreatening. All our sessions have a very positive atmosphere and the participants are mutually supportive. Again and again we see service users improve their confidence, self respect and wellbeing as they move towards recovery and back to being part of their community.

We support individuals to move forward at a pace suitable for them, looking to help them become more involved and eventually take on volunteer roles, education opportunities or look to return to employment’.

The plan for the project is for a creative writing group to produce a body of work as poems or prose with a theme of change and transformation (to be completed by 22nd June). This may be linked to personal changes made in their lives as a consequence of illness or be an imagined transformation.

The next stage (which I will be part of), artists will receive a piece of writing or poem to work from. The idea being to take inspiration from the whole piece, a single line or even a phrase. Interaction between writers and artists is encouraged to help build confidence in the writing group participants. Finished work will be exhibited and auctioned off to help raise funds for future projects.

I am really intreagued to be part of this project and look forward to making a painting inspired by a piece of writing from one of the participants. I like to challenge myself and so having a starting point supplied is a good way of introducing a different way of working. More importantly I want to support such a good project and the work that Space2Create are doing.

I will blog more as things develop!

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React, adapt…transform.

It’s been a while, several months in fact since I posted to my blog last. I’m not sure why I’m writing this now and it doesn’t matter, as most bloggers  know (well, those of us without any active readers yet) it’s as much about the process of blogging than it is questioning why, otherwise we’d easily stall and stop. My blogging silence over the last few months has felt as natural as the times when I was blogging regularly. You can’t force it, although there is a case for consistency. My blogging dead air came about through major life changes, I moved from Yorkshire to The Lake District and returned to working full-time (not on my art) and later started a long-term relationship.

Most of us (and I include myself in this) have great difficulty in discovering our passions, our creativity, ourselves and how this all fits in with daily life. I feel very lucky to have made significant discoveries in my life and been able to act on them… taking action within personal circumstances that enable creative growth is a major hurdle that we can all identify with. The point here, is that very often the opportunity exists, but we fail to see it, capitalise on it and take action. Knowing what your passions are and that they are subject to change is only the start of what I’m going to call ‘taking them out of their boxes’. I dare say we all have a few talents hidden in boxes, things we maybe previously enjoyed but didn’t continue, stored away for the ‘rainy day’ that never seems to come. We’re not all of course going to be successful (in the worldly sense) artists earning a living from our endeavors. The challenge I set myself, which I’d like to extend to you is to react, adapt and transform.

New work 'resting' on my studio walls

New work ‘resting’ on my studio walls.

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Short Thoughts: Motivation, Purpose & Meaning.

In February I wrote a Short Thoughts blog with the title What three things make YOU an Authentic Artist? In that blog post I isolated Motivation, Purpose and Meaning as being the three things that I feel authenticate my artwork. The concept of the authentic artist is something I’ve discussed in previous blogs also, but today I wanted to expand on the definitions for my three things that have filtered through recently.

Motivation – to uplift and inspire investigation into personal awakening through the art object

Purpose – to be an expression of the undefinable

Meaning – to promote internal investigation within the observer, directly or indirectly

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Third Time Lucky? Threadneedle Prize

return to sender stamp on brown paper graphic

The results are out. The final cull has been made by the judges, who chose not to accept my painting Grab Your Eyes after they shortlisted the digital submission and then viewed the physical work. This is my second time being shortlisted. My second time incurring expense for both submitting the digital image (yes there is a fee) and courier costs to get the work to and from London. I have to ask myself whether I’m being played or whether it’s a matter of perseverance. To be shortlisted twice is one thing, but to ‘contribute’ financially to the prize and it’s affiliated services (the couriers) as part of the ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’ approach is a bitter pill to swallow. A phrase that popped in to my mind recently was ‘you’ve got to live it to know it’, which to me means that without the benefit of hindsight or the impediment of pessimism, we have to continually make decisions that act as a feedback loop for future decisions. The experience of which is entirely different to if we had just sat on the fence.

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