Welcome to my Blog Posts

I'm Anne Mackinnnon. When I'm painting in the garden or somewhere in the countryside or in a new city I can jot down my thoughts here. About what I'm doing and where I'm going.

Veg Patch

Friday, May 7th, 2021

It’s 2 months since I last posted a blog! You’d think that during Lockdown, I’d have nothing else to do! However, what with zooms and minutes to write for the various groups where I’m the secretary, time seems to go by.

We’ve got moths in our Sedbergh house so I’ve been squashing them in a vague attempt to get rid of them! I was standing on the bed and following one on the ceiling and forgot where I was. I went crashing to the floor and damaged my ribs.

So, I could only paint while sitting down and not moving too much! I had a sheet of vegetable drawings that I’d done for a Soup Book we produced several years ago and so decided to continue it. I really enjoyed painting it and thought it could make a good card. I included some tools so it might suit a card for men!

Here it is!

Manchester Windowsill

Monday, March 8th, 2021

We’re in Manchester now for a short while as the allotment needs some attention. It’s in a very sorry state after being flooded but we managed to spend some on it over the weekend, so it looks better than it did! We’re trying to decided whether to invest in some sturdy, ready-cut raised beds or whether to go without them. Unless you make them yourself (as we’ve always done in the past) they can be very expensive. We’ve been told of some local stables where we can get manure for free which is ready to put straight on to the soil, so I think we’ll do that for now.

The weather is about to change for the worst so, I’ll get back to my windowsill studies. The sills here in our Manchester house aren’t as deep as in Farfield so I’m mainly painting the view. As you can see, it’s very different from the one out of my Farfield studio window but there are still lovely, big trees.

Windowsill

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Several artist friends of mine have been saying how they’re finding it difficult to feel enthusiastic these days and aren’t feeling inspired to produce art work. The Green Door Art group that I belong to have set some monthly topics to draw and then post on instagram to keep interest going. This month’s topic is Favourite things.

It’s too cold to work outside so I have been doing some smaller drawings of my studio and the views from the window. When I saw this topic I added some of my favourite ceramics and plants, put them on the windowsill and did a painting! This is the first. I’ve done another two since then.

I’ve also done some drawings of the view from my studio window in Manchester. The view is very different from there!!

Lockdown again!

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

I’ve just re read the New Year post that I wrote on January 13th 2019. It says that fortunately 2020 seemed to be getting off to a better start (as 2019 ended with several mishaps!!) Little did I know!

So, we’re back in Lockdown again (a word I’d never used before!) and the best hope of coming out of it is if the vaccinations are successful. I had my 70th birthday in November and although I’m not too keen on being classed as vulnerable, at least it means I’ve jumped up the vaccination list!

One of the highlights for me at Christmas are all the lovely cards we receive and the lights in peoples’ houses and gardens. Sedbergh looks so pretty at Christmas time. It’s sad to be taking them down today.

December was very wet but the rain has stopped, thank goodness and the days are frosty and sunny. We even had snow at Christmas! There’s not much to do in the garden and allotment so the best thing to do is go for walks.

The topiary in our garden looked lovely in the snow, so I had to do a quick watercolour of it before it thawed completely .

The Silver Studio

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

Dimitris is a talented jeweller from Greece. He has had a workshop in Farfield Mill for several years but recently had the opportunity to open a shop in Main Street in Sedbergh called The Silver Studio. He works with stones that he’s bought in India and Graham has bought me several pieces of his jewellery over the years, which I love.  Dimitris has made a big difference to Main Street as it gives people somewhere to browse. Sadly several other shops have had to close recently. He has decided to exhibit other work for sale in his shop and he asked me to display some of my paintings.

Unfortunately he has had to close for November but is hoping to have lots of customers in December. And I’m hoping so too!!

This is one of my paintings he now has on display.

Bright Blue Pastel Paper

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

It’s been lovely in Sedbergh recently, especially when the weather’s been so good. There’s an outdoor market each Wednesday and although its very small, it means Graham can shop easily. We’re still getting most of our shopping online so it’s a treat to be able to pick and choose. We also went into Kendal and met some friends for a short, socially distanced cup of coffee!! There’s an art shop there called Youdells. It’s not very big but seems to stock far more than most art shops. I brought some fabulous coloured papers for using with my pastels and also lots of new, soft pastels. There were so many different colours and I couldn’t resist them. When I got home I used one of the bright blue papers and did this pastel.

I’m finding it difficult to take photos of my pastels in my studio as they are too big to scan so I  take them to be photographed by a professional photographer. When I take photos of them, they always seem to come out rather dark. Maybe, I should try taking them in daylight.

 

 

 

Riverbank

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

The Green Door artists group which I belong to is celebrating it 25th anniversary this year. They had all sorts of celebrations organised but then Covid got in the way! So, they asked all the members to post a sketch on Instagram and/or twitter every day for 25 days throughout August.

I had already done this for 15 days at the beginning of Lockdown so wasn’t too keen at first. However, August 8th would have been my Mum’s 100th birthday so I decided to post a drawing of the riverbank outside my studio to commemorate it. This resulted in me painting several different views of the riverbank in various media. I found an old sketch book that I hadn’t used before, of Indian hand made paper. I used pen and ink as well as watercolour and enjoyed the effects it made. When I can get to the art shops again, I intend to buy some larger sheets of hand made paper.

 

Farfield Mill

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

Farfield Mill is open now but only for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the moment. If numbers of visitors build up then it may open for Thursday as well but I don’t think it will be back to seven days a week before the end of the year! It is free to enter and is very safe as there is sanitiser etc everywhere. The cafe is also open but with fewer tables.

Some of us directors/volunteers took advantage of it being closed to spruce it up. I painted the front doors grey, which is a great improvement on the previous dark red, and some of the inside walls white. We are hoping lots of visitors will come to the Yorkshire Dales soon. It needs to make up for all the weeks of Lockdown which were, generally, its busiest time of year!

At the entrance to the mill is a patch of ground which I’ve never really looked at much before but at the moment it is covered in beautiful Yellow Loosestrife, or Lysimachia punctata to the serious gardeners. Also pink Loosestrife which, I think are classed as weeds but look very pretty en masse. It makes a lovely entrance and in the evening they shine out just as the sun is going down and the light is getting dim.

Grasmere

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

I took part in an exhibition in Grasmere in March last year and we decided to stay for the weekend. It was glorious weather. One afternoon we had Afternoon Tea at Storrs Hall. It’s in a glorious setting by Windermere and the tea was delicious. While there we spotted a bride and groom being photographed in the grounds. I asked where their guests were and was told they do a special package for couples to get married without any guests. The staff will be their witnesses for the formal bit and then they stay for a day or two making the most of the beautiful surroundings on their own. It’s not everyone’s idea of a wedding but apparently (in normal times!)  at least one couple every week choose this way to get married and several of my friends thought it sounded like a very good idea!

We also visited a National Trust property called Allan Bank which stands high above Grasmere. I have since done a pastel of the view from the house. I decided that a section of this drawing would make a good card and I’ve just had it printed.

Here it is.

Dreaming through the Lockdown Glass

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

I’ve been continuing my pen and ink drawings of my garden and as it’s not rained for weeks, I’ve been out there every day. When I’m not drawing, I’m gardening here or on the allotment. It’s really kept us both sane.

I recently heard that a publisher is producing a book called ‘Dreaming through the Lockdown Glass’ featuring work by artists in Cumbria. The idea is to capture this unique moment in history to show how artists have responded and how their work has changed. The book will be sold in aid of the NHS and various Cumbrian art groups and there may also be an exhibition of all the work later on. These pen and ink drawings show how my work has changed and I know I will be developing them over time.

I belong to The Green Door Art group, which is based in Kendal. They are a very active group and are currently organising an on-line exhibition as there wont be any actual exhibitions for quite some time. I’ve submitted some work for that, but not my pen and inks.

This drawing shows some of our topiary and the Irises growing out of the pond. They now have lovely yellow flowers.

Strange Times

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

The world has changed since I last wrote. Graham and I are in isolation and Graham has been told he is to stay in until at least the end of July! This affects me, of course because I don’t want to bring infection into the house. Thank goodness the weather as been so wonderful. Our garden is benefiting and so is the allotment. I still go there as this is my main form of exercise (!!) and I am alone on my plot.

I decided at the beginning of Lockdown that I would do a drawing a day and post them on instagram. I continued this for 2 weeks but found that I was rushing them just so I could get them done and posted. So, I decided to do what I wanted to do and only post when I felt like it. Gradually I got involved with drawing different parts of our garden in pen and ink. They are quite detailed so I don’t want to rush them. I’m really enjoying it and have posted one of them here.

What I’m not enjoying is working with acrylics. This was another of my challenges.  I haven’t used it much over the years and I’m feeling happier with it now than I was but I don’t think it will ever replace watercolour or pastel for me.

This pen and ink drawing is of a rhododendron nearly in bloom, a camellia in bloom and of course ivy which is everywhere in our garden! You may just spot a clematis. We thought it had died but suddenly spotted it creeping up the Hydrangea. As it’s been so dry, its managed to get some height before the slugs get at it!!

Surreal dream

Monday, March 16th, 2020

This is how a friend of mine has described what it feels like to be living at the moment in the current situation with the Coronavirus.  I thought it was the perfect description. Places are beginning to close down but I’m still preparing for the exhibition of paintings inspired by Holehird Gardens. I don’t know if it will go ahead and even if it does, I don’t suppose many people will go but I’ve been enjoying the project. I visited again recently. It was a glorious day in early Spring, the birds were singing and it was so peaceful. The sun was glinting on the snowy hills of the mountains in the Lake District.

Holehird Gardens

Monday, February 10th, 2020

There’s an exhibition coming up with other artists from Green Door Art Group. It’s of paintings inspired by these gardens near Lake Windermere. They are gardened by the Lakeland Horticultural Society and are glorious. I visited several times this year to gather reference. The first time was in June and I took lots of photos but somehow lost them when I got a new phone. I don’t know how. I visited again in the Autumn and plan to go again soon. It looks lovely at all times of year and I’m looking forward to seeing it when the bulbs are out.

Here’s a pastel I’ve done recently.

New Year 2020

Monday, January 13th, 2020

We had a chaotic end to last year. The glass door on our cooker smashed ( it wasn’t on and no-one was near it!!) a few days before Christmas. Last year the oven broke down completely and we had to cook the turkey at a friend’s house. Luckily, this year we managed to get it fixed and could cook the turkey at home! Then the TV aerial fell off the roof so we had no picture and a branch fell off a tree and smashed the back window of our car. We have water coming through the ceiling of my studio and we’re waiting for the roofer to come back and we are currently having a new conservatory built because the wood of the old one has rotted!! Fortunately 2020 seems to be getting off to a better start!!

However, I had some interesting commissions last year. One was for a neighbour who wanted a painting of his wife and their dog on their favourite walk across the hills from our place in Sedbergh. I did two! This one is looking up the river towards Farfield Mill and you can just see our place behind the red bush on the left.

Happy New Year everyone.

Beech Tree

Friday, December 13th, 2019

I’ve been having website problems so haven’t been able to write anything for a while and now it’s nearly Christmas and I need to write my cards!

It feels like it has been raining for ever but there have been some lovely Autumnal days. I took a photo of the huge beech trees at the bottom of the garden and they looked so majestic in the gorgeous sunshine that I decided to draw them in pastel. Tree surgeons have been recently to take off some lower branches and crown them as they were shedding branches which could be quite dangerous. It’s a pity the enormous Lime Trees in the road round the corner hadn’t been looked after as a branch fell down in the strong winds this week and smashed the back window of our car which was parked below!!

Whitworth Art Gallery

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

What happened to September? It’s now nearly the end of October! The leaves are turning now and the trees around my studio in Sedbergh look beautiful in the sunshine and those in our garden in Manchester look lovely too. It’s been a wet month but these last few days have been bright and I’ve managed to get some clearing done on the allotment.

After working in pastels a lot over the Summer, I’ve enjoyed getting my watercolours out again. I’m the secretary of the Friends of The Whitworth. This is a thriving organisation and we raise a lot of money to help the gallery purchase new works of art. Recently I’ve produced some greeting cards of different aspects of the gallery and the Whitworth Park, where it is situated. I’ve done three so far. In this one you can only just see a corner of the gallery but it shows what a lovely aspect it has. The Cafe in the Trees is particularly popular as you can look on to this scene while having your lunch.

August

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

It’s been a busy month. Unfortunately, Graham has had toothache for several weeks and has been pushed from dentist to dentist. Hopefully the end is in site and he should get some treatment soon.

We had a good few days in London, we met friends, we went to the Proms and we saw ‘The Lehman Trilogy” which was brilliant. I also went to The Serpentine Gallery and saw an exhibition of Faith Ringgold paintings and patchworks which was very powerful, especially as a lot of them were relating to slavery. Her Grandmother had been a slave.

I loved being back in my home town and enjoyed the buzz of the city but it was also good to be back in the beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Dales.

There was a ‘Big Painting Challenge’ at Farfield Mill one Sunday and I was coerced into taking part. The idea was to produce a work in one day and to have an exhibition of everything at the end. It was a sunny day and lots of people turned up. It was great to see so many people painting in the beautiful landscape surrounding the mill. I enjoyed the day in the end and this is the pastel I produced.

 

Roots

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

I’ll soon be exhibiting work with other artists from the Green Door Studios. The exhibition is at Farfield Mill and opens on Wed. July 10th. As I’ve put up lots of exhibitions at the mill over the last couple of years, I offered to curate this one as it will save the group from having to pay someone!! Hopefully other artists from the group will be helping.

Tire’s always a theme for Green Door’s major exhibitions and this one is Roots!! I wasn’t thrilled with the theme as I want to exhibit some of my new pastels. A friend of mine then commented that you can interpret the word in many ways, such as “where my roots now lie” as well as roots underground that are supporting plants and trees. This made it easier for me to choose suitable paintings to be selected. However, the perk of the person organising the exhibition is that their work will definitely be shown!!

This is one of the pastels, it’s called ‘Wildflower Meadow’.

 

Seedlings

Monday, June 10th, 2019

I don’t know where May went and now we’re half way through June. It’s been a busy time on the allotment and in the garden. Everything is growing madly and with the recent torrential rain the slugs have been eating madly too! They ate all my lettuce seedlings just as I was about to start harvesting them. Last week, Graham watered the allotment with nematodes so I hope this next batch of seedlings will survive.

Our usual weekly class of yoga was cancelled for 5 weeks and so that gave me more time to get on with the gardening. My yoga group is made up of ex. textile students and lecturers and we all love flowers and spend a lot of time talking about our gardens. When there was no yoga we emailed each other photos of what was happening in our gardens. These beautiful tulips were on the steps of my studio in The Yorkshire Dales. At least the slugs didn’t get to them!!

Cass Arts

Saturday, April 27th, 2019

The exhibition at Cass Arts, an art and materials shop in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, is on and looks great. It is an exhibition of work by Friends of the Whitworth and I was given the job of organising it. 18 people were keen to exhibit and I had to accept everyone, even though I had no idea what type of work they did! I was quite nervous when unpacking it all but was relieved to see that it was of a good quality. There was a great variety including pastels (of mine)  as well as watercolours, linoprints, sculpture and oil paintings. It took a friend and me all day to put it up but we were pleased with the result and so were the artists when they came to the opening.

The Showcase at The Whitworth the previous week had been a great success. There’s an exhibition about John Ruskin in the gallery at the moment and the Director of The Whitworth is a great fan of his. So Graham had written a short play about Ruskin which was to be performed by 3 people wearing different hats for different characters. Graham was rather nervous on the night as the play was a comedy and rather irreverent. However, it went down very well and the Director said it was the highlight of the night!!

Here’s the flyer for Cass Arts.

Moonlight

Monday, March 25th, 2019

It’s been a busy month as I’m preparing to take part in three exhibitions, all taking place in April. One is at The Whitworth Gallery as part of the Friends of The Whitworth’s Showcase on April 11th, another is in Grasmere in Cumbria and the last one is at Cass Arts in the Northern Quarter in Manchester. I want to show some of my latest pastels in all the exhibitions but had to record them before having them framed.  I couldn’t scan them but I’ve now found a very good photographer who has taken photos of them for me. So I now have a record of them and can produce prints from them, if I wish.

The exhibition in Grasmere starts next week and so Graham and I have decided to stay there for a couple of days so we can deliver the paintings and go to the preview the following evening. This pastel was featured today on the Cumbria page of BBC News. It was very exciting to see it there. It’s called Moonlight.

Blaze Hill

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

I went to Bollington recently, just before the snow arrived, to deliver some of my cards to a shop which sells them there. Before visiting a friend and her two little boys I went for a drive up Blaze Hill as it was such a glorious day. The views were wonderful but it was very cold and rather blustery so I painted from the car.

The next day the snow came. I managed to get up to Sedbergh but I had difficulty getting out again. The snow had frozen and the little hill by our house was thick ice. Eventually after two neighbours were pushing and with the help of lots of grit and 4 mats under the tyres, I managed to get away.

2019

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

Happy New Year to you all. We’ve had a busy Christmas and New Year. Our oven broke down on Christmas Eve so that added to the excitement!! Graham managed to cook a delicious Christmas dinner by taking the turkey to a friend’s house – a Fawlty Towers episode springs to mind!

I’m just emerging into the real world and I’m continuing with my pastels. My work is now on a website of Lake District Prints: www.lakedistrictartprints.com and I’m hoping to put some of my pastels on there along with the watercolours already featured. The website has been started recently by Klein Imaging where I get my giclee prints printed.

I can’t scan my pastels and so took this photo on my iPhone. It’s not great, so I’m checking out different photographers who can take photos that I’ll then be able to reproduce as prints. This is called Moorland Storm.

Farfield Mill – saved.

Monday, December 10th, 2018

It’s been an exciting time at Farfield Mill as we managed to raise over £346,000 in shares which meant the mill has been saved from closure. We’re not quite sure how we did it but we did! My studio is in the grounds of the mill and so, although our place wasn’t at risk, we would have missed the buzz of the mill. It would also have been tragic for all those artists who have studios there and the staff who would have lost their jobs. It is a lovely place to visit in the midst of glorious countryside in the Yorkshire Dales so it would have been a sad loss if it had had to close.

A new website has been set up recently called Dales Discoveries and my work will be going on it. I love painting the scenery around here and since  working in pastels, my work has become more dark and moody than when I work in watercolour. Here’s one of my latest on my easel in the studio.

Pastels

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

My exhibition at The Parsonage in Didsbury finishes on Sunday. It’s been going well and has been very popular. Our Opening was very busy. There was another opening in the adjoining gallery. They provided wine and we had tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes. Our visitors were drinking their wine and their visitors were eating our cakes, so, it was a good ‘do’. We also had a ‘Meet the Artists’ event on another Sunday. A friend of mine travelled up from Whitstable to be there on this day. I hadn’t seen her for nearly a year so it was lovely to have her there and a good chance for her to meet some of my other friends too.

I was pleased with how my new pastel drawings looked. I’ve done another one since the exhibition and am now going to go bigger. I treated myself to some large, bright paper and some more gorgeous pastels at Cass Arts in Manchester yesterday and I’m looking forward to doing some more.

Spectrum

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

My exhibition of paintings as part of The Green Door Art Trail came down on Sunday and today, Tuesday, I have been hanging my next exhibition at The Parsonage House in Didsbury. It isn’t easy, the walls are very high and the ladders are wobbly. Still, I am enjoying working with Carolyn Murphy and Cate Gibson, the other exhibitors, and the exhibition is going to look great once it’s up which will be tomorrow, hopefully!!

Here’s the flyer.

Art Trail 2018

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

The Green Door Art Trail is coming up and again I’ll be exhibiting in The Athanaeum in Leasgill near Milnthorpe in Cumbria.  I had some wooden screens made last year to hang my small paintings but the screens only just fitted into the car. I keep meaning to get a local joiner to saw 6inches off the tops and I’d better get a move on as the trail takes place on the weekend of the 29th and 30th September.

Unfortunately, that’s the day of the launch of the Share Offer at Farfield Mill. We’re hoping it will be a busy weekend at the mill with lots of people wanting to buy shares so as many trustees, staff, resident artists etc need to be on hand as possible. I wont be able to be there but I will be back in time for the party for the ‘Great and Good’ (and wealthy!) of Sedbergh and district in the evening! We’ve got to raise £365,000 to keep the mill going. We’ve been promised £100,000 of matched funding so only need another £265,000!!

Here’s the Green Door  Art Trail flyer.

 

500 to 1!

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Great news from Farfield Mill because at a recent EGM, we won the vote by 500 to 1 to become a CBS. This means we’ll become a co-operative and people will be able to buy shares. This is the only way the mill will survive as it needs serious money investing in it to bring it up to date, repair the roof etc.

It’s been an emotional time, not without problems but we (the trustees) the resident artists, staff etc are ecstatic and now must get on with selling shares!

Meantime I’ve been working in my studio and getting ready for an exhibition at the Parsonage in Didsbury. A friend came to stay recently and we both enjoyed a week of drawing. Me in pastel and her in pencil.

Here’s one I was working on.

 

France

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

We’re just back from a holiday in France. We spent 4 days staying on a houseboat on the River Seine right outside the Musee D’Orsay. It was great sitting on deck watching the other boats go by and of course, we visited the Musee D’Orsay. All the Impressionists were there but my favourite rooms were of Bonnard and Vuillard where there were paintings of theirs I’d never seen before.

We then moved on, by train, to North of the Loire where we stayed in a gite in the middle of nowhere. After driving through towns with no-one on the street and all the shutters closed, you’d find a small restaurant and it would be packed! By 1.30 the towns would be deserted again! We visited some very pretty medieval towns and Le Mans, where we caught the train, was amazing with narrow cobbled streets and 14th century timber framed houses. In the UK it would have been heaving with visitors but there were only a few of us tourists. The cathedral like many of the other churches had beautiful painted frescos and pillars dating back several centuries.

Some of the most fun nights were spent watching the World Cup in various bars. It was surprising to see that the Americans and French were cheering for England when they were playing. So, we aren’t hated by everyone after all.

I enjoyed painting and here I am in the garden of the gite being critiqued by the owners’ cat.

Sunshine

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

It’s been glorious weather during the whole of May and into June. I think we’ve had less rain in the North West than in the South of England for  a change! I went on a coach trip with a local gardening club to two gardens and nurseries in York and Halifax recently. The gardens were gorgeous but it was very cold and when we arrived back in Manchester the sun was still shining!! I bought several plants of course. I can always find a space!

We held a Plant Sale at Farfield Mill on the weekend of June 9th in aid of the Friends of Farfield Mill. I had sowed several trays of lettuce seedlings but I don’t think the hot weather had suited them as they struggled to grow and some of them are still looking rather weedy!  We did very well at the sale and raised some much needed funds for the mill and I managed to sell some of the more healthy looking lettuce seedlings too!

Whitworth Park, where The Whitworth Gallery is situated, has also been looking lovely, especially in the Spring when the blossom is on the trees. I painted it and have had the painting printed as a postcard so they can also raise some money! Here it is. You can just see the windows of the gallery peeping through the trees on the left!

Green Walk

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

I exhibited my work at Green Walk again this year. An Arts and Crafts Festival has been taking place in this cul-de-sac in a suburb of Manchester for 12 years. It is always on the first May Bank Holiday weekend and this is the first year in all that time that the weather has been so hot!! This is  cul-de-sac is a little oasis in this part of Manchester. It has a beautiful green in the middle of it where people picnicked, played games, musicians played etc. I was exhibiting in one of the houses and as well as showing my paintings, I met loads of people who I hadn’t seen for years. It was a great weekend, though it was just a shame that I spent all the glorious weather indoors!

Conservatory Cactus

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Sadly our wonderful, tall cactus has died. It was tucked in a corner and I think we neglected it. I did this painting in my sketch book nearly 20 years ago and it grew to 4ft. There’s been another demise in the conservatory and that is our Weeping Fig. It had been a gift from students and must have been even older. So, we have more space now in the conservatory for the lemon trees which are getting very large. It’s nearly time for them to go in the garden but they are very heavy as they’re in large pots. The student lads next door come in useful as they help to carry them out!!

The seedlings are finally germinating (hopefully the tomatoes wont be as leggy as these!) after a very slow season and other plants in the garden are pushing through and coming to life. The Magnolia tree and Camelias are looking glorious.

Snow

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

We’ve had our place in Sedbergh for nearly four years now and hardly seen any snow but it’s making up for it this year! I’ve been keen to do some snow paintings and so have been having some good walks, all wrapped up and taking photos to work from. There are lots of hills round here, of course, and it’s been great seeing people tobogganing and having fun. It’s not been too good for visitor numbers to the mill, however.

We had a good trip on Friday (before the snow came) to Liverpool to see the John Piper exhibition.  We then visited the Walker Gallery (our favourite) and discovered the Singh Twins exhibition. The subject matter was challenging at times, as it looked back to times of the Raj and exploitation in the textile trade but the twins who are from Liverpool, employ traditional techniques used in Indian miniature painting to produce vibrant, exquisitely-detailed paintings. We bumped into an old friend from Anglesey who we hadn’t seen for many years. She was also visiting both exhibitions. She used to be a textile designer like me and we both loved the Singh Twins exhibition as their painting of the Indian fabrics was glorious.

As if we need a reminder, here’s a snow painting I’m working on at the moment.

Pruning

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

It’s been such a miserable month that I have only been to the allotment once and that was for a quick visit to prune a few of the Autumn Raspberries. I managed to get into the garden the other day but was depressed to see soggy leaves everywhere. I obviously didn’t clear as many away last Autumn as I usually do. I was going to prune the Fuchsias but then heard there’s a very cold spell coming so thought I’d better leave them. I hope it snows again so I can do some more painting of snow on the fields and hills.

Our gardening friend Hazel gave us a Hydrangea Paniculata (to give its full name) a couple of years ago but I don’t know how to prune it. I’m confident pruning the large blousey ones but this one’s more delicate. I’ll have to ask her to help me. It was so beautiful last year that I painted it and it’s a reminder of lovely seasons to come.

January 2018

Friday, January 26th, 2018

I’ve been to a couple of workshops on acrylic painting recently. I have lots of tubes of paint but never get around to using it mainly because, unlike watercolour,  it dries so quickly. I experimented with some different ways of using it and so plan to dust off my tubes and have a go at home!

It’s been pretty wet this month so I haven’t gone for many walks. There has been some snow so the hills have looked beautiful, especially when the sun was shining. The hedgerows are pretty bare except for holly and ivy. There are still some berries on the holly that the birds haven’t eaten but there are plenty of flowers on the ivy for birds and insects to eat.  I took some home and painted it. In watercolour, of course!

 

Christmas 2017

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

December has been so busy that I’ve just realised that I haven’t written anything all month.

It’s been hectic at the mill organising Christmas exhibitions. It was free entry over the weekend of my birthday with lots of events and activities for children. We called it Festive Farfield and it was great fun. We had all gathered a few days before to decorate the mill and it was good to see staff, resident artists, trustees etc all mucking in and getting into the festive spirit. We have had a challenging year and aren’t out of the woods yet but our Just Giving site is bringing in some well needed revenue before we become a Co-op in the New Year.

We went to London for a few days and caught up with several old friends for lunch. We saw ‘Follies’ at The National which was brilliant and very emotional, also ‘The Play that Went Wrong’ which was very funny. My favourite exhibition was of Degas Drawings. Although I’d seen most of them many times before, there was something about the way the exhibition was curated that made it special and inspired me to get out my pastels again!

We’re having a great Christmas with family and friends in Manchester. I feel like I’m running a B&B at the moment with different people staying each night, then we’re back to Sedbergh for the New Year.

I thought the following photos of round the corner in Withington and outside my studio door at Farfield sum up our dual life. No prizes for guessing which is which!!

I hope you have all been having a very Happy Christmas and wish you a very Happy New Year.

Newcastle

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Graham and I visited Newcastle last weekend. Our main reason for going was to see the exhibition of a friend who was exhibiting her large patchworks at the City Library. It was a mixed exhibition with work from different artists inspired by the library’s big books collection.

We were very impressed with the city, it was small enough to get around easily and had some lovely old buildings. We went to a Paul Nash exhibition at The Laing Gallery and I saw again the paintings he had painted after being a soldier at the Battle of Passchendaele in Ypres. My Grandfather had fought in that battle and it was quite emotional to imagine him in such a desolate place amongst all the slaughter.

We went to The Baltic Gallery in Gateshead and really enjoyed it there, especially the lunch. We also visited The Biscuit Factory which had displays of work by a variety of artists and crafts people, just like at Farfield Mill. Talking of which, we are now ready for Christmas at the mill. A crowd of us stayed late last week and decorated it with holly and ivy and lots of baubles. It is the Christmas Fair, Festive Farfield, this coming weekend so we are hoping for lots of visitors as we have some great work for sale.

It’s getting cold now but I’ve managed to draw outside when the sun has been shining. I’m enjoying working with pen and ink again and am inspired by the stone barns and our mill buildings.

Elterwater

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

It was the opening of the exhibition at Merz Barn recently, organised by the Green Door Art Group. A friend was staying with us so we went along. We first visited Elterwater where there were Morris Dancers performing outside the pub. I noticed that a lot of them were women. As usual it seems these groups need women to keep them going!

The exhibition was in a small barn that had once been a cattle shed. It looked very cosy with a roaring fire in the stove. When they were putting up the exhibition the electricity had cut out so they had to finish by candle and torch light!! But you wouldn’t have known! Most of the paintings were inspired by the work of Kurt Schwitters and mine was the only one that showed the barn!

Autumn Exhibitions

Monday, September 18th, 2017

My exhibition has come down now. The final weekend was busy because the mill was taking part in Open Heritage Weekend. It was also Meet the makers so I was there along with the other artists who are currently exhibiting. A patchwork artist who is coming to exhibit at Farfield Mill in the Spring came along with a huge bunch of gladioli for me so that was a treat to end my exhibition.

I then spent the next couple of days putting up the next exhibitions. One is by Re-View Textiles, a Wirral based textile collective and the other is by Access Art, a participatory project run by AccessArt  www.accessart.org.uk/accessartvillage which is a UK education charity which supports and inspires teaching and learning in the visual arts. The project aimed to inspire individuals of all ages and abilities to contribute a sewn drawing of their home towards a larger, collaborative artwork.

The resulting installation of over 700 3D models shows work by children next to that of accomplished artists and older generations. We are hoping to reach a wide audience to come and see this fantastic exhibition at Farfield Mill.

Merz Barn

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

I had never heard of this project before Green Door, the art group I belong to, announced it would be holding an exhibition there in Sept. Located in a remote woodland in the heart of the Langdale valley in Cumbria, Merz Barn still stands as Kurt Schwitters left it unfinished in 1948. Schwitters was a German artist who could be considered to be the first installation artist. He created several of these barns but all but this one were destroyed. After his arrival in England during the war and especially after hearing of the destruction of the Hanover Merzbau,  Schwitters was desperate to resume what he considered to be his lifetime’s work, and create a final, permanent Merzbau. This he started just outside Elterwater in 1947 but it was never completed. A Trust is now trying to restore this derelict barn to what it would have been.

Graham and I visited there recently.  It is a magical place and we were full of admiration for the couple who stay there and caretake the area. I painted in the sunshine and look forward to the exhibition to see how others responded to this special place.

North and South

Monday, August 14th, 2017

My exhibition is up. Here’s the flier. I’ve called it North and South as I wanted to include some of my paintings from Southern France and Spain. However, I’ve also included some of my New York paintings and others from Tokyo, so maybe it should have been called North and South, East and West!

In the other gallery at Farfield Mill is an exhibition of work in wood by three woodworkers. It’s called ‘Into the Woods’ and you enter through some branches of trees. They give off a lovely aroma which adds to the atmosphere.

The mill is very busy at the moment with lots of visitors to the area. There is a mouse trail for the children to follow and some looms where you can have a go. All the studios are full now with weavers, jewellers, painters, knitters etc. So, it’s a good place to visit, especially when it’s raining!!

Exhibition, Farfield Mill

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

It’s been a busy time at Farfield Mill recently. We have been organising a Stash Sale which means we have invited artists and craftspeople to hire a table to sell any beads, wool, fabric, weaving equipment etc that they no longer want. It takes place this Sunday July 16th and it’s also been a good opportunity to clear out the cupboards at the mill. Three of us spent all Friday sorting out one of the cupboards. Most of it will go into the sale, some was given to two of our new resident artists who upcycle garments and recycle fabric and some of it went in the skip!

As well as this, I am getting ready for my exhibition at the mill which opens on Aug. 3rd. A friend of mine is coming up from Manchester to help me hang it.  It’s going to be quite a rush as we are going to a wedding in Derby on the Sunday before but most of my paintings are now being framed so I think I’ll be ready. Here’s one of them. It is of a quiet place by the river near my studio

 

Workshop

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

I spent a day in a Junior School in Dalton in Furness last week. It was their Art Day and I and six other artists spent the day working with the children in different types of media. Mine was watercolour. The teacher organising it said that they are under constant pressure to ensure all children achieve high levels in English and Maths but they also believe that art is incredibly important. I was pleased to hear this and so, although I am not used to working with children, I agreed to take part.

In the morning I worked with 8 and 9 year olds and they were very enthusiastic. We took photos and made sketches of the lovely garden in the school grounds and then they painted from them. In the afternoon, it was very different. The children were 10 and 11 year olds and already self conscious and didn’t want to make mistakes.

I tried to get the children to enjoy themselves and just see what happened but I left the school feeling I had failed. The teacher has since told me that they have been talking about the work and have been painting again and this time trying not to be afraid! So, maybe it wasn’t so bad after all and if some of them were inspired to keep painting then that’s great!

Manchester

Monday, May 29th, 2017

I went into Manchester today. I needed some shopping but I also went to St. Ann’s Square to see the flowers and balloons left after the bomb a week ago. I’ve often felt ambivalent about people leaving flowers in this way but it was rather emotional. People were coming from all directions with bunches of flowers and it was moving to see children taking such care over writing messages. Some were writing in chalk on the pavement, others attaching the messages to their flowers. Most people I know, knows someone who was at the concert.

I had organised a coach trip to Manchester on Tuesday, the morning after the bomb, for some of the Friends of Farfield Mill in Cumbria. Several people didn’t come but I decided to continue with the trip. We have to carry on living our lives as normal as we can. What else can we do?

Art Trail

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Graham and I are both now Directors at Farfield Mill so it’s a hectic time at the moment with endless emails and meetings every other day. Still, I think we’re making progress.
I took part in an Art Trail at the weekend. It was run by the Green Door Art Group and there were exhibitions in venues across the Kendal area. I was exhibiting in Leasgill near Milnthorpe with six other artists. It was glorious weather all over the weekend so we were worried that this would keep the visitors away but plenty came and it was a successful show. Here’s my stand. Please admire the screens, there are three of them but you can only see two! I had to get them made specially for this exhibition. They worked well but weigh a ton so weren’t easy to transport!!

Storm Doris

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

We went to London at the weekend to catch up with exhibitions, theatre and friends. Unfortunately, we were going on Thurs. the day of Storm Doris and ended up spending it at Manchester Piccadilly station as there were no trains running! We had booked to see The Lion King that evening. I have been wanting it to see for years but we finally had to give up waiting to see if there would be a train when we knew we wouldn’t get there in time even if one did run. So, we went home and set off again the following morning. After that we had a great time. We saw Paul Nash and Hockney at Tate Britain and America after the Fall and the Russian Revolution exhibition at the RA. We went to the National Theatre to see a strange play and met several friends.
The weather wasn’t great but it didn’t matter. We’ve had all weathers this February. It’s been sunny, mild, wet and we even had some snow this morning but we have managed to do some work on the allotment and I went to Dunham Massey recently to see the Winter Garden as the bulbs are now coming up. It inspired me to get out painting again.

2017

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything because my website has been playing up. I’m not sure where to start as it’s been a busy month! We had a great Christmas and New Year and I’m now a Trustee on the board of Farfield Mill! This is rather daunting as the mill is in a bad way financially. There is a new group of people on the board who are very enthusiastic so we have lots of plans to save it. Our cottage is not affected. It is the main mill building next door to us that is an Arts and Heritage Centre which is in trouble. It would be very sad if it closed down so we’re working hard to make sure it doesn’t.

I still have contacts with Bollington. I took part in an exhibition in November and through that I have cards and prints for sale at the Bridgend Centre. I visited recently and was intending painting the hills but it was so foggy that I couldn’t see them! I parked in a lay-by and did a quick sketch of winter trees.

New Light Auction

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

I have recently submitted a painting for an auction run by New Light whose aim is to make Northern visual arts available to everyone through exhibitions, lending art to hospices, schools etc and through an education programme which includes talks, workshops and school projects. The aim of the auction is to raise money to be able to continue with this aim. Its called a 100 for 100 and the paintings submitted had to be small and unframed. I decided to put in one of my paintings of the view out of the window of the cottage of our friends, Eve and Duncan. It is near near Kendal and I’d painted there many times. Eve gave Duncan one of my paintings of the view for his 60th birthday. Now they’re about to move, so it will be a good memory.

This is the one I put in for the on-line auction which starts this Friday.underbarrow

Slovenia

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

Zrece in Slovenia is twinned with Sedbergh and a group of ten artists came to visit recently. I joined them one day in the local community hall for a day’s painting. They were a very friendly, jolly crowd but only four of them seemed to be interested in painting. I think the others had just come along for the ride and spent most of the day chatting and drinking! October’s been glorious with lots of sunshine but the week they were here seemed to rain a lot. However, it didn’t spoil their trip and they were very surprised by how friendly the English are. They said they get a very different impression of us when seeing us in films!

Yesterday I went to the last day of a wonderful Winifred Nicholson exhibition at Abbot Hall Gallery in Kendal. It was mostly of her paintings when she was living in Cumbria. She loved painting flowers and several of the paintings on show were of vases of flowers on her windowsill with Cumbrian hills in the distance. A subject I love.

I visited a garden near Kendal recently which was open for charity. The garden was beautiful and I was inspired to paint it showing the Cumbrian hills in the distance.
Garden view

Sheepfest again

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

It’s Sheepfest this weekend and Graham and I are just finishing off our sheep. This year the subject is Book titles as Sedbergh is a book town. Graham and I wanted to continue our themes from last year when I made David Hockney and Graham made Jeremy Corbyn.

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I have made Van Gogh so my book is a ‘How to’ book, in this case ‘How to paint sunflowers!’ Graham has made Donald Trump!! He couldn’t resist it. I believe he has written a book about how to succeed in business!! As usual we took advantage of friends who were visiting to help us. David, from Phoenix did a wonderful job building up Donald with masking tape and bubblewrap and has gone home inspired to make some sheep to sit on his back step in the desert!! Hazel, is an expert needle woman and sewed some of the fiddly bits for Vincent.
And I am using a painting our niece Megan painted of sunflowers, for the cover of the book Vincent will be holding. Here it is.

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