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.

Winter Window

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

I’m often asked why I don’t buy ready made frames and then frame my paintings myself. Apart from the fact that I don’t paint to specific sizes, I always think that each painting needs to have a frame and a mount that’s chosen especially for it.

This was confirmed the other day when a regular customer of mine wanted one of my paintings in an oak frame rather than the off-the-shelf black one, it was currently in. What a difference it has made! It’s like another painting!

So, I’ll continue to pay the extra and use the framers who I’ve been going to for many years. They are so helpful and we spend ages selecting the mount and frame that are the right ones.

This is the painting. It’s of my studio window and the view across the river. I painted it during Lockdown.

Crail

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

We’ve recently spent a few days in Scotland. We stayed in Leith for a couple of days and so visited art galleries in Edinburgh. We saw some wonderful Scottish art.

We then drove on the Crail where my Dad lived when he was a boy. I talked to people who now run the shop that used to be my Grandfather’s Draper’s shop and I also found my Grandma and Grandfather’s grave. The last time I’d been to Crail was in 1974 for my Grandma’s funeral. It was lovely to be back and to spend some time thinking about my family.

I enjoyed sitting by the harbour and I did some painting. Here’s one that I finished when I got home.

Roundhay Park

Thursday, March 21st, 2024

Two of my paintings and a print are currently on exhibition in the gallery in Roundhay Park in Leeds. The gallery is in the mansion in the park and is a lovely space with lots of craft and paintings on display. Part of the arrangement is that the artists, whose work is being shown, are on duty in the gallery one day a month. As my sister lives in Leeds, I stayed with her and my brother-in-law on Sunday night  and then she and I worked in the gallery together the next day.

It was quite busy as it was a lovely sunny day but my sister was good at using the card reader and I just talked to people!

This is the print. It is A4 but a customer wants it at A2 so it can go on her feature wall. I haven’t had it printed that size before, so, it will be good to see it so large.

 

Farfield Cottages

Sunday, February 25th, 2024

I received an email the other day from someone who had been sent a card of this painting. He would like to buy the original as he used to live in the white house in this painting. The original has been sold but I have prints of it and am now busy organising framing before I meet him and his wife on Saturday.

I did the painting a while ago. It was an Autumn day and I am looking down on our place from above. My studio is on the right of the middle building and virtually next door to Farfield Mill.

I’ll be interested to hear some of his stories of when he lived here and I think he’d like to hear my stories of living here today.

Woodland View

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

We had a good Christmas though it was marred by us both having covid the week before. But we had a good New Year. I visited two great exhibitions with a friend. One was at the newly restored Abbot Hall in Kendal and was of Julie Brooks’ fire stacks and the other was an exhibition of Vivienne Westwood’s clothes and accessories. at Bowes Museum. The day we went to Bowes was glorious, which made a good change from all the rain over the New Year, and the scenery en route was stunning.

Now, spring feels like it is coming and it’s lovely to see the snowdrops.

This pastel, of the garden of some friends, reminds me of what is just around the corner.

Sunflowers

Tuesday, December 19th, 2023

Our box trees in the garden have all gone now. There were about 12 of them and they were being ravaged by the box tree caterpillar. They’d grown very large and so there’s a lot of space in our garden now. It’s quite daunting!

We’ve also given up our allotment and so I’ve got a new compost bin here and am enjoying not having to go to the allotment with the kitchen waste. I’m also piling up the leaves to make leaf mould. Other than that, we’re just waiting for spring and the bulbs to start appearing.

The Sunflowers and Salvia were looking glorious right up to the first frost and I’ve left the seed heads to feed the birds.

Pastel gardens

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

I’ve been running a couple of workshops in Cumbria this weekend. They were both using pastels. The first one was with a group in Burton-in-Kendal where most of them hadn’t used pastels before. We decided on the theme of Gardens. This is a theme that I enjoy and so I did a few pastels before the workshop so I could show them some different approaches.  I think it’s very important that people develop their own style and so I don’t do long demonstrations.

The second workshop was in Barbon and the theme there was Water.  They all looked at each other’s work at the end of each session and it was great to see all the different approaches to a similar topic.

This is one of the gardens I painted before the workshop. I still have a little work to do on it.

New York paintings

Thursday, October 5th, 2023

When I was a tutor at Stockport College, I used to take my textile students to New York every year for 14 years to exhibit their work in an annual textile exhibition.  I got to know the city very well and took lots of photos and painted several paintings there.

Many of these paintings of New York have been on the walls of a cafe in Stockport. I met the manager of the cafe, called Rhode Island Coffee, at a friend’s 30th birthday party 11 years ago! They fitted the theme of the cafe and have been very popular. I replaced them with prints as the originals sold.

The cafe is currently being renovated and so I took my paintings down and I’ve decided it’s time to exhibit  them somewhere else. I am now planning to put some of the originals up in a local jewellers in Sedbergh.

This one is from the top of the Rainbow Room showing the Hudson River in the distance.

Spectrum

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

Four of us who exhibit under the name of Spectrum have been exhibiting our work at The Old Parsonage in Didsbury, Manchester for the month of August. We were there each Sunday afternoon with extra prints and cards to show. We had lots of visitors and I was thrilled that so many of my friends came along to support me. There were even two old friends who’d come all the way from Kauai (a Hawaiian island). They hadn’t come especially for my exhibition, of course but had made a point of visiting!

I was thrilled to sell two pastels at the exhibition and another one just after it finished. On the final Sunday I sold one to a German man. He was on holiday and had just been walking in Parsonage Gardens when he saw our exhibition. He was going home that afternoon, so, we took the pastel off the wall and he took it off to Nuremberg!

It’s a pastel of the stream running through RHS Harlow Carr Garden and here it is.

Box Trees

Monday, July 24th, 2023

Over 20 years ago, Graham designed and planted our garden using Box trees to create an interesting structure with plants and flowers in between. Over the years the box have become huge and some of them are higher than our 7ft fence. They have been pushing out some of the other plants and they should have been pruned more often but we needed ladders to reach up to them. So, we haven’t done it very often!

We wont have to bother now though, because the box caterpillar has been eating its way up the country. It has now reached Manchester and is gradually decimating all our box trees. There is no cure or predator so we will just have to sit back and wait and watch.

I’ve done several paintings of the garden over the years and am now making sure that I have a good record of it by painting more!

This is the latest that I did when the Ceanothus was in full bloom.

Berlin

Thursday, June 29th, 2023

We’ve just been to Berlin with a group from the Friends of the Whitworth Art Gallery. We visited numerous museums and galleries and saw some great art. One of the highlights was the Jewish Museum, designed by Daniel Liebeskind. It is an amazing building, and the exhibits were very powerful and emotional. We were also lucky to see an exhibition of the Seccession movement with work from all three groups in Vienna, Munich and Berlin. I’d thought there was only one that was based in Vienna! There were several paintings of Klimt which were fabulous to see close up and in the real.

The weather was very hot most of the time but on one day it poured with rain. We got soaked and so went back to the hotel to dry off. While there, Graham read and I drew (in my tiny sketch book) him reading!!

 

Happy Days

Friday, May 26th, 2023

The exhibition at Green Walk was a great success. Even though it’s the first one since before Lockdown and that it rained all day on Sunday, there were still hordes of visitors. No-one seemed to mind about the weather but enjoyed visiting all the artists and crafts people in all the houses and there was a marquee on the green where they could keep dry, have refreshments and listen to music.

I didn’t see much of it as I was inside all day but I didn’t mind as I was busy with visitors. Several of my friends came and I sold lots of cards and prints. I was also thrilled that the woman whose house I was in bought my Happy Days painting.

So, thanks to the organisers for all their hard work and I’ll definitely be back again next year.

Here is Happy Days.

 

Green Walk

Wednesday, April 5th, 2023

I’ve just heard that I will be able to exhibit my work in the annual ‘Green Walk Open House Arts and Crafts Weekend’ which is back up and running this year. Residents open their doors to allow artists to use their rooms as an exhibition space and it’s a very popular event, especially if it’s sunny as there is food and entertainment on the Green. I’ve exhibited there a couple of times in the past but then Covid stopped it till this year. I’m looking forward to taking part again.

I’m not sure what work to include yet because I haven’t seen the room where i’ll be exhibiting but I’m pretty sure I’ll include some of my pastels and the pen and ink series that I did during Lockdown.

This pastel is of the Beech Trees at the bottom of our garden.

 

Out of the Earth

Tuesday, February 28th, 2023

I’ve had two paintings accepted for this exhibition at Farfield Mill in April. One is ‘Misty Morning’, which I showed on my blog last month and the other is ‘Spring Garden’. I painted this after I’d visited RHS  Harlow Carr near Harrogate. It was early February and yet, the garden looked beautiful with swathes of snowdrops and crocuses. The Cornus looked particularly impressive with their red, purple and yellow stems.  After I returned home, I told Graham how beautiful the Cornus looked so he bought one. It is very attractive during the Winter with bright orange stems but it is a bit of a thug in a medium sized garden! I have to chop it down to the ground each spring but it still sends out runners and pushes other plants out. I don’t want to dig it up but I may have to!!

 

Happy New Year 2023

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

Several of my paintings are currently being displayed in the tea room of Farfield Mill. They are mostly pastels and look good against the stone walls. The Green Door Art Society are holding an exhibition there soon and so I’m trying to decide which other art work of mine to submit. The theme is ‘Out of the Earth so many, if not all, of mine fit that theme.

At the moment I’m thinking of choosing this pastel which is of a tiny river that runs through RHS Harlow Carr Gardens which is near Harrogate. The tumbling water, the trees and plants are all coming out of the earth. So, it could be the one!

Christmas Greetings 2022

Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

One of the highlights of this Christmas, apart from spending time with family, will be seeing my special friend Sue. She now lives in Whitstable so we don’t meet very often but this Thursday is her 70th birthday and she and David are staying in a cottage near Buxton and I’m going to go and see them on the day. We always used to spend her birthday together as it’s the time in between Christmas and New Year when things quieten down but we haven’t managed to see each other on the actual day for several years. So this will be a real treat.

We were hoping to go for a walk but judging by the awful weather we might just have to sit in a cafe, drinking coffee! The weather all over Christmas has been grim but I’ve been looking through photos of the spring and reminding myself that it wont be long till bulbs start appearing.

Here’s one of my pantings of snowdrops in Harlow Carr gardens in January. Cant wait!!

Christmas cards 2022

Monday, November 21st, 2022

I’m the secretary of the Friends of the Whitworth Art Gallery and for the last few years I’ve been designing their Christmas cards (you may have received one of them). To give me a break this year, we held a competition amongst the members to design a card. We only had a few entries and so I entered a painting that I’d done of our garden in the snow during Lockdown. The managers of the Whitworth shop judged the entries and really liked my painting and asked if I could paint a partner which included the Whitworth building!

So, I painted the topiary in the garden at the back of the gallery in snow (even though it was May at the time!) and included robins in both! Maybe i’ll have a year off next year!

They’re called Withington Robin and Whitworth Robin and here they are:

Harrogate

Sunday, October 2nd, 2022

I’m getting ready to exhibit my work in an Art Fair in Harrogate. I haven’t taken part in one of these fairs for several years but this is a new one in Harrogate. My sister lives in Leeds, so I wont have to stay in a hotel and she and my brother-in-law will be able to help me set up. I can’t take Graham as there wont be room in the car!

I’ve got plenty of work to show but as always, I’m getting several new paintings framed especially for it. Most of them are landscapes but I will take some of my flower paintings. I did this one a while ago from when I visited Holehird Gardens in the Lake District. I thought the difference in scale and colour would make people stop and look!! Let’s hope so!!

Summer 2022

Sunday, September 11th, 2022

I can’t believe its four months since I wrote a blog. I’ve posted new paintings but forgot about my blog!

I’m trying to think what I’ve done since May but some of the highlights are a trip to Ludlow, Higham Hall, glorious weather and Covid!!

We stayed in Ludlow for a couple of days because we went to a ‘hooley’ to celebrate the life of our neighbour, Paul, who was a performer at Country Fairs and festivals. He was granted the freedom of Ludlow Castle and so there was a short service there before an evening of food and music. We also stayed in Shrewsbury which is a very interesting city.

We were supposed to spend a few days in London in July before going to a family reunion in Southend but that was cancelled due to a train strike. We’ve booked again for London in October.

I spent a wonderful five days on a painting workshop in Higham Hall in The Lake District. The weather was amazing which was very unusual for that area, the food was delicious and I enjoyed a time of dedicated painting. Unfortunately, I came back with Covid. Graham then caught it and ended up in hospital with pneumonia. He’s just recovering now.

Apart from that, it’s been a good Summer but with the energy crisis, a new Prime Minister and now the death of the Queen, we’re not sure what lies ahead!

Here’s one of the paintings from my week at Higham Hall. I haven’t had it photographed properly yet but that’s Rydal Water in the foreground and Windermere in the distance!

Glasgow

Monday, May 16th, 2022

We had a weekend in Glasgow recently. It was great to get away and spend time in a city and I was very keen to see the Burrell Collection. I visited there in the ’80s and so wanted to know how they had spent £68million on renovating it recently and see if it was worth the money. It was!

The collection is magnificent and so is the building. It makes the most of new technology without taking away from the collection itself. It is set in a glorious park and we were very lucky because it didn’t rain.

We also visited the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to see the paintings of the Glasgow Boys amongst much else. It was a Sunday afternoon and we arrived just as an organ recital was beginning. The sound filled the huge space. It was very moving and added to the experience.

So, as well as eating some very good food, it was a great trip.

Now, I’m preparing for two exhibitions which are coming up. I’m going to show a selection of my work and as the exhibitions are in Cumbria, I’m going to include two of my pastels of Ullswater. Here’s one of them.

Harvest

Monday, April 25th, 2022

My sister and brother in Law came to stay with us in Sedbergh over the Easter Holiday. The weather was lovely so we went on several trips. One of them was to Low Sizergh Barn to see my pastel on the wall of the cafe. There were supposed to be two but just as I was about to take them along, I was contacted by a woman in the USA who wanted to buy one of them! I didn’t want to lose a sale so I only submitted one!

I was rather  concerned about it reaching her in one piece as it was already framed and it was a birthday present for her husband, so I asked my framer at ‘Frames’ in Didsbury to pack it for me. He always packs my paintings that need to be sent as he has loads of packing materials left over from deliveries. He did a wonderful job and it arrived in one piece!!

This is it!

Low Sizergh Barn

Sunday, March 20th, 2022

I’ve been asked to submit two paintings for an exhibition in the gallery at Low Sizergh Barn. This is a working, organic, dairy farm near Kendal which has a cafe, farm shop and walking trail.

There is also a community-owned business there called Growing Well which produces up to a tonne of fruit and vegetables a week at the height of the growing season. The team is made up of volunteers and students and supports people with mental health problems. They grow over 60 varieties of fruit and vegetables and it was featured recently on one of the Hairy Byker’s cookery programmes.

I visit often and contribute to Growing Well,  so I was very pleased to have both of my paintings accepted for the exhibition. It opens on April 8th and is on until June 3rd.

The title is ‘Working Landscape’ which suited me perfectly. This is one of the pastels that will be on show.

Floods

Sunday, February 27th, 2022

It’s been a very wet month and yet again our allotment has been flooded. The sluice gates of the River Mersey were opened and so it rushes on to the the allotment like a torrent and washes away everything in its path. This year it’s even worse than last year.  I’m particularly upset about my compost and leaf heaps. I’ve been nurturing them for over a year and all the manure we spent days digging up from a local farm and spreading on the plot, that has gone too!

Still, the sun has been shining all weekend and there are snowdrops in the gardens and banks of them along the roads and the crocuses and tiny daffodils are blooming in the pots on our steps. So, I’ll forget about the allotment for now, enjoy these first signs of Spring and hope for no more rain.

2022

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

It’s nearly the end of January and Christmas seems an age away. My exhibition in Farfield Mill has finished now although it did stay up a little longer than planned as the next exhibitor had Covid! However, the Manager has now put some of my paintings on the walls of the Tea Room and I’m very pleased with how it looks.

I delivered a workshop last week to a group of amateur artists in Barbon, a small village near Sedbergh. I did a short demo of pastels and then they worked with them, combining them with watercolours. They got some interesting results.

I’m still enjoying working with pastels myself and I recently finished one of Windermere. I can’t post it at the moment as I’ve got a new laptop and haven’t got all the Apps yet! I’m missing Photoshop the most and will have to bite the bullet and start paying for the subscription!!

 

 

Exhibition

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

I currently have a solo exhibition in the Clough Gallery of Farfield Mill. I am showing my new pastels as well as some of my older watercolours. I am also displaying some of the pen and ink drawings that I did of my garden during the glorious weather in the first Lockdown. They are in simple black frames and are standing on the two windowsills. Also for show here are two small watercolours that I did of the view through my studio windows.

The exhibition is on until January 2nd.

RHS Bridgewater

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

A new RHS garden opened this year called Bridgewater as it is by the Bridgewater canal near Salford. It was delayed a year due to Covid but this possibly helped it become more established. I’ve visited twice so far. Once with Graham and once with a friend and neighbour from Sedbergh. It was lovely to see how much changed even just over a couple of weeks.
Graham and I have both joined the RHS and so we intend to visit several more times and see how it develops. The first time we visited we were interviewed for a programme on the BBC. I don’t know if it’s been on yet but I think our bit will be on the cutting room floor as we weren’t very lively!

I took lots of photos of course and have done a pastel drawing from one of them. It is inspired by the Chinese water garden which was my favourite part.

Art Trail

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

I’m taking part in the Green Door Art Trail on the weekend of the 25th Sept. I’ll be exhibiting my work at a house in Kendal with another  painter and a photographer. I am going to help put up the work next Tuesday. Ray, whose house we will be exhibiting in, will take down all his paintings and ours will go up throughout the house. He doesn’t seem to mind if we make more holes in the walls, which is very generous of him. I will be exhibiting 25 paintings and there will also be several of my prints and cards there too. I hope we get lots of visitors!

Unfortunately it coincides with the AGM of Farfield Mill on the Saturday when I’m going to resign as a director. It will be partly on zoom, so I’m hoping to be able to hide away in a bedroom and listen in.

This is one of the paintings I’ll be exhibiting. It’s the scene that greets me from my studio.

 

Harlow Carr

Monday, August 16th, 2021

At last my sister and I were able to celebrate my birthday which had taken place in Lockdown. She had bought me a weekend at Nidd Hall, a Warners Hotel near Harrogate and the highlight of the weekend was a performance by Anton Du Beke and Erin. They were fabulous dancers, of course but also very funny.

We visited Ripley and Knaresborough as well as Fountains Abbey and on the way back we had a glorious day in Harlow Carr gardens. They have been working on the waterways during Lockdown. The water was sparkling and the banks were full of flowers and plants tumbling into the water.  I took lots of photos and this is a pastel I’m working on now.

South West

Saturday, June 26th, 2021

We’ve just spent a few days in the South West. Our initial reason for going was to see a couple of friends who recently moved to Plymouth from Manchester but as it is such a long drive to get there we decided to meet other friends who live down that way.

We were impressed with Plymouth and found a very interesting new gallery there called The Box. We also visited an old art college friend of mine who’s a very successful potter. She lives near Bodmin and has work in the Eden Project so we went there with her and her husband. I’ve been wanting to go for years and wasn’t disappointed. Added to this we called in at Graham’s nephew and family in Walsall en route,  visited an old school friend of mine in Pill near Bristol and ended the trip staying with another friend in Bristol itself.

It was great to get away and have a complete change of scene and we had glorious weather. I didn’t do much drawing but did manage to get down to one of the harbours in Plymouth and did a very quick sketch of the boats.

 

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.