Posted in allthesmallthings, crash course in art history, inspiration, news, process, Uncategorized

Making is Connecting and Creating Community


You know when you stumbled upon a book and there’s that fabulous zinging sensation that pings through you, knowing that you are about to get your hands on something that resonates with what you’re about or the part of the journey that you are on right now? That was this book.

For weeks I have been teaching online classes via zoom.  I have been teaching so many art history and art making lessons that my files are stacked with ideas, images, notes, and even a book proposal based on what I am learning.  Not only is my mind being fed all these gorgeous, inspiring images but it is starting to make connections that I had not fully explored before.

On Saturday, there I was, sitting in front of my computer screen, watching my attendants appear one by one.  The ‘connecting to audio’ and ‘connecting to video’ messages gave way to faces I had not seen before. Some screens remained black so I had no idea who I was speaking to.  This past Saturday I was winding up my Saturday art sessions which have been rattling on for 15 weeks.  During that time we have explored Still Life artworks, the works of Wayne Thiebaud, Helen Frankenthaler, Suzanne Valadon, Jean Michel Basquiat, Landscapes and Abstract Expressionism.  We tried our hands at continuous line drawings, mark making, patterns, and collage.  All of these lessons were of my own making, sometimes using a small nudge from an outside resource.  It’s been fun for me to go ‘okay, I see what that lesson is doing but how can I make it my own and how can I fashion it better for the people in class.’

When the last session was winding down, the people on the screen began to talk.  Seattle calling. Australia calling.  Edinburgh calling.  We were calling from at least three of the four corners of the earth and here we were, all connecting for this session.  I nearly cried with joy.  What was it that was so touching in that moment?

I have been on my own journey of discovery, finding ways that learning about art can connect us to the past to better understand our present.  That is practically word for word what Eventbrite write on their page when they promoted my class to America. For years I have been teaching children and adults about the stories of perseverance seen in the lives of artists.  There are themes of loneliness, love, anger, bravery.  Art can create a bridge between people and help them to cross over to the other side to view life from a different vantage point.  Creativity is connecting to not only what is within yourself but to others.

In David Gauntlett’s book Making is Connecting, Gauntlett states, “…art was never really just ‘product’ – art and creativity have always been about ideas and relationships.” I circled this statement, wrote GOLD next to it, and dog-eared the page.

For the month of July I will continue to write on this subject and give examples from my classes.  In a time when many of us have felt increasingly isolated, making art ‘together,’ can be part of the answer to feeling part of a bigger picture.

Here is C Lavelle’s interpretation of Las Meninas.  I feel like we ended on a high.

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Embracing the good: Lockdown moments

This week I have been busy completing Lockdown portrait commissions. Some of these have been requested for Father’s Day. The one I really want to show you I can’t as the recipient follows me on social media. It’s super cute so I’ll share after Father’s Day. Some requests have been for birthdays and anniversary.

It has been a joy to make these and it’s even better when I can hand over the work personally. I’m thankful that I can bring a small spark of joy into people’s lives. Just like I am happy to receive the great teaching and creative gifts of others; it’s nice that I can be a part of the creative gifting economy as well.

Posted in allthesmallthings, inspiration, process, Uncategorized

Lockdown Painting Experiments Continue: Finding my groove


£75 each

6cm x 6cm (two on the left)

6cm x 4cm (the allotment on the right)

Whilst in Lockdown I have been going on an adventure with getting down with my painting style.  I like where my drawings are going, I am happy with developments in textile work however now is the time to see where I can take my paintings.  For weeks I have been working my way through a series of hours of frustration, elation (if it can all be pulled together) and curiosity as I try different painting surfaces.  Textured canvas?  I like that for picking up oil pastel marks.  Hard board? I can draw on it with pencil easily and it keeps the line.

These paintings here are my favourite so far.  I have been working with these colours for years and I am glad they have found their way into my paintings.  These were inspired by a feed I follow on Instagram.  The photographer takes high contrast photos of buildings, using interesting angles.  I see the images and mentally break them down into shapes then begin to paint what I am constructing in my mind.  Of course it never translates directly.  Sometimes the accident that happens on canvas is better than what I held in my mind.

The above pieces are for sale for the Artist Support Pledge.  After I sell £2000 of work I then buy a piece from another artists.  It’s artists supporting artists and many of my artist pals are a part of this.  I would be so delighted to support one of them and of course, own a gorgeous piece of art that will bring me happiness for years to come.


You can see a portfolio of my illustration, commission and painting work here.  If you like the ones featured here please get in touch.

Posted in inspiration, news, process, Uncategorized

Interview with an Artist: Edinburgh Sketcher

The other day I caught up with Mark Kirkham (EdinburghSketcher) and had a great talk about how the Lockdown has been a time to create and explore new things.  Not all things are bad during this weird time in which we find ourselves. There are glimmers of hope and sunshine and I think the best in people has been brought to the surface.

In June Mark and I will be teaching Urban Sketching sessions online.  For more information and to book your spot, please visit the info and ticket page at Eventbrite

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Lockdown painting experiments continue. The green corridor.

The Meadows. The Links. We live close to this glorious strip of green that weaves its way in between tenements and streets. To be in lockdown in Edinburgh feels somewhat lucky as we have these generous green spaces to escape to. These grassy knolls and treelined walkways connect one neighbourhood to the next. Get yourself on a bike and you’ll find you can connect all the way to Holyrood Park.

I’m pleased with how this one is turning out. A few more details here and there and that’s me done.

I’m starting to populate my website with these interesting treasures. They’re treasures to me as they show me the gift of time I’ve been given to make them. To find out more please hop along to see my brilliantly colourful Paintings.

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Spring tenements . Lockdown painting experiments continue…

Edinburgh tenements on an overcast Spring day

I’m not quite finished with this one. Tomorrow I’ll revisit it when the light is strong and I can see the true colours.

My painting professor at art college told me I was good at pulling things out of the fire. I don’t feel as if I’ve done this yet with any of my little paintings. They’re all huddled in my art room waiting their turn to be put on the wall and deemed worthy of that space. I’m still finding my way with painting. It’s been years since I’ve pursued this type of art making so am trying to be gentle with myself.

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Lockdown painting experiments continue

Morningside, Edinburgh

My Lockdown painting experiments continue. I had an unhealthy relationship with this one until I decided it was finished. Done. Walk away from the mini canvas, Cassandra. Walk away.

Everything here has been at least five different colours. If you conducted a forensic study, you’d find shades of red, purple, neon pink under what you see here.

It bothered me that the top of the building on the left mimics the hedge on the right. Now I have decided I like that quirk. A repetition in an unexpected place.

So what am I going to do with all of these paintings when I’m finished? Probably will never be finished as I’m having a lot of fun with this.

Stay tuned!

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Morning Rituals

Every morning I am woken up by the tentative creaking open of my bedroom door. The subtle sound is the whisper before the energy of my six year old daughter comes bounding into the room. Every. Morning. How does she do this?! It’s a super power that I’m quite envious of.

I lift one eyelid open with great effort then plod my way to the kitchen. Kettle on. Breakfast sounds commence. After I make my cup of tea, I sit in the bay window and look out onto the waking world. This is my most favourite ritual of all, beginning with the opening of the door and ending with a cup of tea enjoyed beside the window.

When days do not begin like this, it throws me off kilter slightly and it takes a lot of effort to get back on track. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding my sacred little rituals more important now more than ever. Maybe it is because so much of life is out of our control, it’s nice to feel like you own something. This is my special bubble of time; please don’t pop it.

On a Sunday my ritual is extended slightly and boy does it ever feel indulgent. I follow up the cup of tea with a cup of coffee in my favourite mug. I put my phone to the side, grab a book, and read for many happy minutes whilst Teen Titans and whatever else said six year old is into, blares from the tv. Perhaps I should buy some ear defenders so that this can truly become a magnificent ritual indeed.

What about you guys? What are your small but significant rituals to keep you on an even keel.

Posted in allthesmallthings, inspiration, process, Uncategorized

How do you define Joy?

And I don’t mean the person.  ‘Joy has a sparkling personality, is afraid of snakes and likes taking photos of bees whilst walking along the canal.’  Although that Joy sounds endearing and I’d like to be her friend, I am obviously referring to the feeling.

Over the last many days my joy-o-meter has hit highs, plummeted into a chasm of despair, then bounced back up again.  All the feelings seem so much closer to the surface and all of those nasty ways in which we measure ourselves seem even more difficult to control.  ‘What?!  No Likes?!  What do you know, Twitterland.  Oh wait…but this one has 35.  I am now awesome again’.  Guh. So tired of that game.

This week and next, I’m going to be redirecting my attention to those small moments where joy resides.  I have found that although I do like the spontaneous moment of joy (and by part of its definition, there is a spontaneity about her) I need to ring-fence time to let it happen.

During lockdown, I have given myself permission to treat art like the fun activity I know it can be.  It’s easy to get stuck in the notion that what I make HAS to be of worth to someone else.  In order to make a living, I need people to buy my art.  I have avenues for that (please feel free to visit my website and etsy page) however to grow as an artist, as a person, I need to let loose and experiment.  My current series within a series – Lockdown Art Experiments – gives me just that.  I have been painting in the alla prima style of painting and love it.  This is when you create a painting in one sitting.  There is a freedom to this as it intensely focuses my mind to solve this one problem right in front of me.  I feel lighter, happier, more like myself, when I have put boundaries around this special time to create something just for me.  Joy finds me here.  She finds me when I put two colours next to each other and they just sing.  She finds me when I paint a line that does what I was hoping it would do.  She finds me at the end when I survey what I have done and think ‘it’s not perfect, but it is the direction I have been wanting to go for a long time.’

So, what is it that you do to allow Joy to find you?  This week during my artist interviews, I will be asking artists this very question.  You can find these interviews on my Instagram page starting from this Wednesday.


Posted in allthesmallthings, inspiration, news, Uncategorized

Edinburgh Hopscotch Lockdown Game


The forecast looks like rain for Wednesday.  Staring into my weather app with hope for many more sunny days and finding rain on the horizon is always a disappointing sight.  This week it is even more disappointing as usual.

Over the past couple of weeks we have watched the Leamington Terrace Hopscotch Game grow by leaps and bounds (oh please laugh at that!  It was a good one – yes?). We have added our own squares, aiding my six year old to add numbers following 1378.  We have seen the chalk bucket travel up the road and down again and more than once I have been astonished to find that no one has lifted it.  Well, either that or some very conscientious people are replenishing the chalk supply.

This is certainly a weird, terrible and wonderful time in which we are living.  What else have we noticed?  We have noticed neighbours sharing their superfluous garden plants, bread being baked and shared, a smile and a nod as someone chooses to walk in the street so you and your small child can have the pavement.  We have noticed children safely learning to cycle in the street (mine included) and kindness parading itself around like it was here all along but maybe we were too busy to see it or too busy to give it.

As for my bit, I am gifting everyone on my street a small print of the drawing I created.  The day was sunny, the game was on.  I hope we can look back on this time and remember it as a splash of sunshine in a climate of uncertainty and change.

Here is the news article about our wonderful street.