Posted in inspiration

Best practice

When I sit back and think about the thing that I do, the work thing, my reason for waking up early, that thing that gives me a sense of purpose and drive, I feel fortunate that I can live a life that allows me to explore creatively.  My CV is chalk full of stints as a waitress, a retail girl, admin lacky and the like.  Nothing wrong at all with these rolls, just not the things I use to identify myself.  Slinging pizzas or selling designer goods from the Conran Shop, all of these things add to the experience of a life of working hard to achieve goals that are purposely set so high I have to get on my tippy toes and stretch to reach them.

But, at the end of the day, I can tap into that thing that I love to do: create.

I do sometimes get hung up on the fact that I am not further along my career.  If I think of my age and what I haven’t accomplished by now, it does make my shoulders sag and I think I should be doing much better than this.

But you know, all of that is rubbish.

Recently, I was given a very useful map created by Jo Roberts.  She did not personally lay this thing into my hands; it was a gift from a friend.  So hey friend, thanks for the inspiration.  The map is from an exhibition Jo had in Leamington Spa, exhibition title “Finding a way through:  Jo Roberts personal journey for fellow travellers”.  The map is printed on a very tactile, linen finish surface and opens up into a glorious illustration of what I would describe as a geological cross section of rock/mountain/hill.  The key shows that each layer is a layer of life, of something that has happened, falts that occurred and caused growth/change/a leap forward.  It is interesting to look at the timeline below the cross section and see the key events that happened in this artist’s life.  There are set backs, she didn’t travel from A to B to C in any sort of ‘normal’ projection, but took what life gave and rocked on in her own little path.

The thing is, I’ve really been tripping myself up with issues of Best Practice.  What to do.  How to do it.  What is the best way forward?  Have I already messed up somehow, not quite starting on the right foot, deviating too much with the left.

I have had the good fortune to befriend some very wonderful and talented artists in Edinburgh.  This week I had a chance to sit and chat with a couple of them, discussing their current work, their current plan and rehashing the past a bit.  And the thing is this:  there is no best way of doing this thing called being a free lance artist.  It’s obvious, I know.  I think I just suddenly realised I had been wasting far too much brain space on worrying about the best way, the best practice, and worrying that I had somehow missed my chance to do things the right way.

Cassandra.  There is no right way.

So.  I shall forgive myself this minor infraction.  I shall move forward with what I think is a tip top plan.  I shall diversify as I had previously thought, talked myself out of, then thought about again.

I best practice on being me, then.  It’s the only way forward.

Posted in work of the week

Artwork of the week – Grassmarket

New print featuring the Grassmarket and Castle

Image size: 5″ x 7″ in a white frame 8″ x 10″

£45 (free postage)

To purchase, please visit the online shop.

Artwork of the week features my latest linear print.  I have tried to incorporate the castle in other artworks but find that it is a bit difficult to make the organic crag bits tie in with the steady, sturdy, if-not-straight-then-close-enough, lines of the architecture I like to feature in  my artwork.  Organic shapes do not always translate well in this style.  In this instance, however, I think it has worked.

Although I print the linear designs several times, each artwork is then individually created using stitching, layering and whatever else needs to happen to it to pull it together.  Therefore, each piece is unique and individual.

The above artwork is available from me until Sunday, 20th of November.  Postage is free, which is brilliant and just think how convenient it would be to not have to do the footwork to acquire the latest print.  See.  I’ve totally got you in mind for this.

Posted in inspiration

My own little tenement

Image 5″ x 7″ created using Gocco print on textiles

I have recently moved into a tenement. After having spent my entire life not living in a tenement, I am finding this new way of existing very, uhm, interesting. Interesting in the fact that I can hear the doorstairs door, four flights of stairs below, shut every time someone goes in and out. Interesting in that my own door somehow does an airlock bang every time the door downstairs shuts. Interesting in that I can hear the people below my flat swearing at 3am. Interesting in that I most certainly never feel alone because of all the muffled sounds. Interesting in that the lady that lives across the hall from me hates dogs and I’ve got a big one. Interesting in the fact that someone likes using the stairwell for a smoking corridor. Yes. Tenement life. I’m not actually complaining. It is actually interesting.

Currently, I am exhibiting a rather large work of art which I had to do scad loads of research, digging up all sorts of information and learning the much loved skill of trawling through websites, archives and libraries on a hunt to find out more about my family. I found it interesting finding out where they lived and how they lived. Very fortunately, I was able to visit these places. I saw the place where the paper mill in Ivybridge (UK) was located, where my ancestors lived 200 years ago. I found the Georgian house in Dudley (UK) where my ancestors lived and worked as a Master Hosier – knitter of hosiery. My grandfather’s cousin gave me a photograph of the mud house my ancestors made on their farm in Nebraska, circa 1894. And then of course there was the farm house from 1924, and more recent homes which look a lot more like the ones in which I grew up in. (For more information on that project, please visit The Connecting Thread – a personal psychogeography).

Tenement living is something quite other. There are two museums that I know of – I’m sure there are several more – dedicated to tenement living throughout the years. There’s the Tenement Museum in New York, which I would like to visit if I ever find myself in that city again. There is one closer to home in Glasgow, The Tenement House which I would like to wander around someday soon. A little bit history. A little bit ‘why did people choose to cover their walls in that garish colour?!’

And my shameless plug is this: If you’re diggin the above artwork, I make bespoke tenements. You can have one of your very own for just £40.

The end.


Posted in inspiration, process, work of the week

Artwork of the week

Edinburgh Skyline
Edinburgh Skyline - Gocco print on textiles

Every week I’ll be posting a photo of a work I have recently finished and offer it here for you to see.  The work will live with me for a week and by the time the week is out, let’s say on Sunday, it will no longer be available from me for purchase here (or you can DM @geehowquaint on Twitter).  I currently stock four lovely shops and galleries in Edinburgh (Hannah Zakari, Curiouser and Curiouser, Marchmont Gallery and Daisy Cheynes).  Once the week is out, I will very happily deliver that particular artwork to one of the above shops for purchase.  So, if you change your mind and wished you’d nabbed it, you can quite easily visit one of the above shops.

This week’s Artwork of the Week is was created using my first Edinburgh Skyline design.  You can see St Giles’ Cathedral lurking in the background, looking like the crown it was fashioned after.  I’ve got an interesting story about St Giles.  Last year on Burns Night, there was a flashmob style meet-up.  I happened to stumble upon a blip on Twitter talking about the flashmob, time, place and what was to be done.  We were to sing “A Man’s a Man for A’ That”, by Burns.  Here are the lyrics and no, I had no idea what most of that meant.

So, with paper of lyrics tucked into my pocket, and a plan to meet with Rhiannon, I ventured forth into my first flashmob.  Unfortunately, most of the people attending may not have seen the myriad of YouTube clips that I have seen.  Instead of walking around nonchalantly, pretending to be tourists/workers/people out for a stroll, they were huddled together in mass, waiting for instruction.  No. No. No. No. No.  Bar that very hilarious mistake, the event was quite a hoot.

*Artwork information

Image: 5″ x 7″ in white 8″ x 10″ frame


Posted in inspiration, process

My room with a brilliant view


My flat. I love it quite a lot. Well, it belongs to someone else but for the time being, I am occupying a very lovely space in this fine, fine city. It isn’t that the place is palatial (far from that) or that it has the latest, trendy insides (don’t believe decor has been touched for the last 15 years) or has been accessorised with any amount of taste (it appears to me that landlord thought “Cripes! Since I’m renting out this place I should probably find some vases or something” then went to a car boot sale and bought a lot of mis-matched crap). I have turned the place into something livable by a) hiding all the tat in the closet and b) putting up my own collection of artworks and cards from various friends, artists, designers.

What I love about this place is the massive floor to ceiling, double wide window that takes up most of one of my living room walls. My views are grand and I never seem to tire of looking out the window. This is a bonus as I have spent the last several days on the sofa capable of little else than looking out the window. I had great plans for this week but it appears my body had other ideas and decided to break down a bit on me. So. The window. And my hours of staring out it.

I am choosing to look at this, out this, as a blessing. I am taking this time to study and draw the buildings and their many many windows, sweet little gardens and cobbled street. It isn’t a very busy little street below, but there are just enough people walking their dogs/their children/themselves to get a bit of practice drawing moving forms. And to be honest, as my entire artistic practice is based on buildings and focused on Edinburgh, I think this practice is very much desired anyway. So look at this, cheery little me, dizzy and nauseous and attempting to make the best of it.

Whilst I draw and paint and study and look, I have been keeping the good tunes going. There has been some funk, Lemon Jelly, Grizzly Bear and others. I’ve also tapped into TED viewing and found this little gem about creative flow on Michael Nobbs’ website.


Thanks, Pete, for my paint set.