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The toddler: A wild and fascinating being

She counted to ten, just like that. As we were running along the sidewalk – she never walks anywhere, but runs – she sang out all the numbers in correct order. We haven’t been practicing them, but I do count often or sing the ABCs just in case she’s listening. Think I need to give her more credit for sponging up all the information whirling around her.

Last week was difficult. This week has made me think ‘Gee, this parenting thing is cake.’ Happy, compliant, silly and fun one day. Then freaking out about not enough butter on toast the next day. When she’s particularly fussy, I try to tell myself she’s being overloaded with trying to understand the world around her. I’m still trying to understand the world around me. Baffling. 

The small artworks are coming along well. This thing I’m trying to do seems achievable. Have also been seeking out other artist mothers and seeing how they juggle family and creative work. It’s a different story when the back up at home doesn’t exist. It’s fine. I’m able to write our little story, or rather, L and I write it together and somehow we’re making it sing.

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So, what’s with the style change, Cassandra?

I’m sure a lot of you have been asking yourselves this very question for weeks. Some of you? One, maybe? Ok, none. Right. Well, shit, there goes my topic.

The work below typifies what I’ve been doing for years, but with added rain drops and clouds in an attempt to develop my style:


Lately, however, what’s coming out of studio Harrison is a lot of this:




I never set out to be a user of watercolours. I’ve always carried my travel tin (and by always, I mean only in the last four years) with me on holiday or around town. In an attempt to complete something, anything, given the small glimpses of work time I’m trying to dig out for myself, I have taken to my travel set and am setting out to create. These small sketches/paintings I can do in an hour and although they’re hardly different from what others are doing, at least I’ve accomplished something.

Basically, instead of fighting against where I am right now in my life, I am embracing it. I’m embracing sleepless nights as I hear her coughing in the next room. I’m embracing turning daily walks on well trodden paths into small adventures to try to hurry her along. I’m embracing my stacks of books and ploughing through baskets of laundry. So I can’t make time in my schedule to work on a piece that takes days, weeks even. Fine. Now let’s see where this step to the side leads.

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On this tiny island…

Recently I visited the Modern Scottish Women exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art. Of course, as most (all?) were colourists, the colours were a-poppin. Now, as I wandered from Gallery Rooms 1 then 2 then 3 then 4, a solo goer as I was there when it opened for the day, it felt odd being watched by a man in the corner. I get that this is their job – to watch the watcher. But with these amazing works by women of a force, then me being of the same anatomy, it was…weird. As if they could have given a woman the post perhaps, to even it out.  There was a vulnerability about it that I can’t explain.

But anyway. My new favourite artist is Dorothy Johnstone. May I call her Dot? So Dot’s most fetching work, to my eye, is of the girl wearing an orange coat. She’s been beautifully settled onto a turquoise blanket. Not much imagination is needed to know how that must create a pop of colour that kept drawing me back to her room. It transfixed me.

I very much felt inspired as many of the artists carried on working whilst they grew their families. I also found it inspiring that their careers seemed to flourish when they were 40 and beyond. There’s hope for me yet!

One artist – and I apologise as I can’t remember which one – was very diligent about paying her children to pose for her. Perhaps I should put some coins in a jar for Lottie every time I grab a quick sketch of her.

As for all of these silly little postcard sized arts I’ve been creating….Shhh! I have a plan.

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Hello Neighbour

My small Nebraska town is so different from this. My Nebraskan stretch of street, my block, was and is occupied by a small handful of families. But here. Oh here the lives are crammed into short spaces, smaller rooms with high ceilings. Every lit up window an entirely different living scene from its neighbouring window. All that buzzing familiness. All those students crammed into five rooms with the kitchen the only shared space. It’s such a different way of living. 

I’m thankful for my upbringing and whatever happened all those years ago has given me confidence to choose a life very different from how I began. Exactly 39 years ago today.

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Bruntsfield Flâneur

Ok, Bruntsfield. Consider yourself observed for the next few months. My themes for my 100 days of stuff seem to focus on a) zillions of sketches of Lottie watching various movies and b) my neck of the woods. It’s not that surprising. This is what my life is made of.

I’m pleased with the offering above. It was inspired by a terrific little outing I had with my daughter, one in which she didn’t kick off, scream, flail, shriek, run or any of the other embarrassing behaviours that can turn a two year old into an unrecognisable monster. I love her, from the tip of her tiny baby ties to the top of her pretty little head. It’s the tantrums. What storms – quick and frightening. 

The other story is an observation. I saw two people, clearly not together and clearly unattached. Or I’m guessing at the last bit, just reading their behaviour. They looked a bit interested in the other and in the 30 seconds that I caught them from out of the corner of my eye, they continued to pretend to not see the other. Oh human nature. You are a funny thing. How many opportunities are missed out of fear.

The end.