Took myself off to Morningside, hoping the biting cold wouldn’t deter me from outdoor sketching. It did. Apparently, I’m not that hard. And so I perched myself upon a tall chair at a coffee shop with a big window to the outside world and drew the activity on the street.

What I’m aiming for: I want to not just draw the details of things that I see; I want to attempt to bring the viewer to the place where I was sitting for that moment in time. My art lacks life and I want to bring life into it. Or energy, more accurately. See what happens, ehe? 


“What will we do? What will we be?”

It’s the night before the next Day of Adventure and I’m pausing two seconds to ask myself ‘What am I going to do with this child of boundless energy?’ Holiday Day number 12 in the Big and Little house. Ennui is setting in.

The other day we glued and taped together a cardboard homage to the now deceased Cockenzie power station. L displayed her thoughtfulness by stabbing breathing holes into the lid. I’m assuming the real one did not have holes randomly poked through its roof.

As I’m trying to keep my progeny entertained, I’m trying to plan my own life (worklife, parentlife, playlife) so I can start this new batch of days with sure footing and something of a planned trajectory.

What I learned from the previous year was that although my drawing and painting skills improved with the ‘Hello Neighbour’ project, what people continued to like most were my textile and print artworks. Good to know! One of the shop owners said that its the materials used that sets my work apart. I’d wanted to take a break from them as a) I didn’t think you could see my hand in them and b) I wanted to improve my drawing skills. B is an ongoing process and I should treat it with the seriousness of breathing. As I was thinking of my words for this, my next daily drawing project came to mind. So, I guess there is purpose in this blog after all.

I’ve been researching new materials and also thinking of subject matter. Whilst the prints are ticking over in the shops, I’m going to divert my attention to a project I’ve had on my mind for the last four years. Now seems about right to make that happen.

So, I can’t say that we’ve planned change this year, or new ways of living. More of the same, please. In this home we grab our pens, lean over paper, and draw and colour for fun, for relaxation, for the need to be creative.  See how amazing L is at colouring in the lines? She’s just 3 and she’s mastering it. You learn the rules. And then you learn to break them. Let’s see how colourful life gets when that happens.

‘Hello Neighbour’ and other spaces

Last week I took this show to its final stop:  Curiouser&Curiouser on Broughton Street. This small idea of postcard sized neighbourhood studies has somehow carried me through the passed ten months. This stand accompanied by 16 tiny friends, has visited four spaces, linking Bruntsfield to Stockbridge to Grassmarket to Broughton Street. In total I must have made around 60 sketches and paintings. As I look at the details, I can see improvement. And thank goodness for that.

Part of ‘Hello Neighbour’ is still visiting Hula Juice Bar in the Grassmarket. Find it here, at the bottom of Victoria Street. 

Brochan Cafe on Marchmont Crescent is currently hosting these two large original watercolours, along with a selection of prints. This was one of those small pieces of magic life hands you, which started with “I have a friend opening a cafe. Want her details?” Thankfully, said friend was happy with my work and I have to say, it gels well with her colour scheme. Plus, she’s a vivacious, charming person and I rather like working with such lovely people.

Not everything has gone swimmingly. The VAS did not love me this year (rejected for RSA wall space, but I’ve already exhibited twice this year. Can’t win everything!). I also felt the cold shoulder of rejection for an art-related job I was keen on. But it’s fine. Life is a big room with countless doors. I’ll continue to try my luck to see which ones I can coax open and see what happens.


Trying to find a magic hour when a) it isn’t raining and b) L is being happily entertained at nursery or other, can be a bit of a challenge. On Sunday I had a small 30 minute window and took a chance. With meltmongers’ heavenly combination of grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich nestled beside me on the grass (this is my new post run snack) I took out my pens and set to work…

Fifteen minutes later an effing car parked right in front of me. Aaaargh. I’m sure the man heard me swear. Just as I was about to close my book and give up, I quickly drew in the car, overlapping those swooping buildings. As always, I sent out a quick tweet of the sketch and that was that.

Later that same day, I was asked if that sketch could be purchased and now it is winging its way to its new home. I hope it brings its owner much joy.

I have found that confining my artwork to postcard sized pieces of paper has limited some scope for improvement and now I’m enjoying the freedom of bigger spaces. I’ve been lazy in that I haven’t been drawing from life like I should, so now I’m looking for windows of opportunity whenever I can to get out my pens and continue to learn/improve/and develop my style.

Life is a series of cycles

Today I bought running shoes. It’s a big step, or rather, a series of steps that will provide the meditative, heart pounding, endorphin producing experience I need. This is possibly all part of a resolve to leave my excuses behind and get involved. Involved in what? Life and the physical and psychological act of being me.

My brain is skipping around with a handful of plans and I’ve contacted the necessary people to come along for the ride and help make them happen. 

I’ve got another idea for an exhibition and the current one doesn’t even end until early November. There are still pieces to make for this but in the meantime I’ve been practicing a new technique for the new thing.

When these phases happen, I welcome them with thankful outstretched arms. This kind of shit makes me feel alive. Everything is firing, zing zing zing, and I love it. 

I can’t even put my finger on one specific thing that has happened, or is happening, to influence it all. Lately I’ve seen some thought-provoking art/shows thanks to the fringe and the festival rolling into town. The Inevitable Heartbreak of Gavin Plimsole got to me with their ending message of ‘look at all these hearts. They’ve all been broken yet they’re still working.’ (We were all attached with heart monitors, 70 meters displayed on a shed on a stage). Mine has certainly been pummelled with a meat mallet beyond recognition, yet here I am again filled with interest and wonder. How can that be?

Side note: Resolve to take up running came off the back of seeing that my resting heart rate was on the high end of the scale. So thank you, twice.

I’ll miss this phase when it moves onto the next part of the cycle but even that part is essential and fun. The work phase. The get down and do it phase. The get out now and run phase. The get your materials out and make stuff phase.

And after that phase the bottom will drop out and there will be no work and possibly a lapse with running. I’ll start eating badly, neglect myself, become weary and then after I’ve scraped along enough, the fire will return.

It’s like this every time.

You can’t live on that high all the time. 

Stasis is necessary.

Now is the time for forgetting and laughter (and a time for setting ships out to sail).

If you happen to be in Edinburgh, take yourself off to the City Arts Centre to see the Paper Trail exhibition. Feeling set adrift on day 5 of my daughter’s 6 day holiday with her grandparents, I decided to stop pining for her and went to indulge in the visual arts. A friend and I are in disagreement about what this can do for you. I say it takes you out of your head and plants you in the moment. He believes something very different.

While I was leaning in to the details of these works, I saw in faint pencil a statement that resonated. “And now is the time for forgetting and laughter.” Apparently, those are song lyrics (can’t remember from where and don’t want to interrupt my train of thought to look it up). But they dug in, made a meaning and now I’m glad that I followed my spontaneous idea to see the exhibition.

I tell my friends that most of the previous year had been less about planning and more about surviving. For the past few months I’ve gently entered into a new phase and this phrase seems apt for where we are. It got pretty damn serious there for awhile, but now we are settled, I feel I’m back on track with my artwork, so now let’s put aside the memory of obstacles and instead adventure, play and have fun.

This is a good place to be.

Now that there is space to move and breathe, there is also space to plan and stop treading water. I had been sending out ships already but when a parent at the nursery gates said to me – after I had told her I’m an artist – “All the artists I know are independently wealthy,” I wanted to laugh and cry in equal measures. So this week I launched an almighty vessel and this is certainly going to change the coarse of our future. The reality of not being an independently wealthy artist is that you live month to month not entirely certain of what will land in your account. Most artists I know have two jobs and I realised I can no longer be an acception. I don’t have the luxury of back up. The teaching circuit beckons and I’m actually quite excited about this.

There will still be time to create, and most importantly, time and energy to parent my amazing child. My life must be a good and workable example for her. As ever, I endeavour to do what’s best for us both, our team of 2. With that said, there will always be room to play and laugh all along the way of life’s journey.

“Hello Neighbour” next stop…Stockbridge

The fine people of Daisy Cheynes are hosting “Hello Neighbour” from now until the end of August. Here she is, perched happily in the window, shyly asking people to step closer and have a look. A lot of work went into this and I’m happy with the result.

Daisy Cheynes have always been good to me, ever since I started working with them that one fateful day four years ago when I introduced myself to the fabulous shop owner. Without shops like DC and Curiouser, I just would not have the opportunity to create and share the art I love to make.

“Hello Neighbour” had her first stop at Curiouser in Bruntsfield. As this is my ‘hood, I had the opportunity to see people look at the work. It’s a wonderful thing to see people enjoy the work of your hands. (Well, I’m assuming there was some sort of enjoyment there. I didn’t see anyone shake their fists in anger or shout that they wish they could unsee what they just saw).

The project will continue to make its rounds all the way until December. To think this all began with me just wanting to practice my watercolour painting…