Sunday, 2 November 2014


I began a blog this past October, titling it 52 card pick-up.  I never was able to finish the entry, because life, as it usually does for me, took me, fast forward, into the next stage.  I was suddenly whisked from my time of floating, frustration and insecurity – even if I WAS painting , to action.  I suddenly was on my way to Taos, NM; one of the places of my heart, and always a place of healing and focus for me.  Home.  I spent a week there with friends and family, and returned with wheels and the unsold work from my series Waltz Across Texas – both large and small – and a sense of urgency to get going!!  It was time to start!!!  Yes, I’ve been painting, but I was ready, finally, to start!!!   
Now, I’ve gone from one extreme to the other.....such is the life of a painter.  You never know when plans you may have laid down months or even years earlier, with a time template and everything, are going to finally swing into place.  No matter how hard I tried, I found I had no choice but to float, to wait.  And as frustrating and negative as that sounds, and it was, it was just where I needed to be.  I didn’t see it until I got to the clarity that I find in Taos.  I realized that I had leapt off the cliff, or tossed my cards into the air, and I didn’t fall....but I floated, and have kept floating, watching, using small movements to help me keep direction, but am still floating; and it’s good.  I’m enjoying it!  I’m not crashing into the ground!  Who knows where the bottom will be, but if and when I need to land, it will be toe, roll down to heel, first. 

I’m painting again, but laying the groundwork first – to find the real direction this commission is going to take. I’m immersed in my giant Waltz Across Texas paintings, and letting them speak to me and take me where I need to go!  Floating is good!!

52 Card Pickup....

Modern Cliff Dwellers, The Brazos River, 16 x 12 in., oil on board, £1,250.00
Nothing like tossing your life into the air in one massive 'game' of 52 card pick-up!  I have done just that; and, am still waiting for even ONE of those cards to land.  It's unnerving to say the least, to not have any stability - especially for an artist. But perhaps one has, since I am already painting.... began 2 weeks ago, and am on my third.  Not the commission yet, but these are like warm-up exercises before I really tackle the big project!  HOWEVER,  and it's a big one,.... gotta go!! 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Jumping Without a Net....

paint, panic, run, paint, dance, paint, panic, run, breathe, go deep inside, paint, dance.....under water (or so it feels!).  This is my first three weeks back in the USA.  I'm working again.  Painting the Brazos River, dancing to non-stop two stepping music, completely happy, then when I'm done for the day, I panic.... or sometimes, in the morning when I'm running my 6 mile route (3x/week), I panic.  This is a HUGE cliff I've leapt off.  But, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, breathe deep (no matter what speed I'm going), go deep - check in, dance, paint, breathe, dance, paint, run, breathe.  This change from one continent to another (my second change in 6 months...) is proving to be the biggest challenge of my life, so far.  All I can do is keep moving forward, into the fog, absolutely trusting that the tracks are perfectly laid for my feet, even though I can't see where they are.  The subject for the commission remains elusive, but not impossible.  I need to do these two landscapes to flex my painting muscles, make sure my feet are indeed traveling the perfectly laid tracks. 
Paris, TX studio.... with beginning of  Hot Day on the Brazos

Challenges - the need for my own wheels is becoming paramount; the lack of independence is beginning to tell on my psyche, my ability to do my job.  The phone can wait til I'm in NM, as can a USA driving license, and all the other things necessary to today's life, never mind my work.  The illness of my Dad adds to the challenges, but I'm mostly so glad and honoured that I'm here right now and able to see him even for a few days at a time.  So much to be grateful for, and the knowledge that I know I'm doing the right thing for me, for my work...

I'm trying to decide if its done....what do you think??  I think it is!

Hot Day on the Brazos, 12 x 16 in., oil on board, £1,250 ($2,000 approx)

Monday, 8 September 2014


Looking West on the Brazos River, West of Ft. Worth, TX
I spent this past Friday looking at this view.  After a somewhat spacy, and wonderfully strange re-entry to the USA here in the town of Paris, TX, I am starting to feel my feet - somewhat!!!  Its harder than you think to move back to the USA - anywhere - after living 12 years abroad!  I've spent time with my Dad in his skilled nursing facility room in Dallas; listening to folk songs and western ballads and watching old movies (he really likes Singing in the Rain). I've spent time calming my poor Ardnamurchan kitty and am happy with her progress (what a brave kitty!), and had a few little tours around Paris, and started my running program.  All things designed to help me find my feet so that I can begin to ruminate and work on my commission. 
The thing I did that was best though, was to go out to the ranch on the edge of the Brazos River (Texas) west of Ft. Worth (its a LONG river, so you see why  I tell you SORT OF where it is), where my commission will hang...  feeling the inspiration literally flow through my veins. I could literally smell the juniper and mesquite, feel the dry heat, and felt like I could see forever....  So, watch this space!  I don't think it will be long before I begin to put paint to canvas again....  If I don't give myself heatstroke running too late first!!  First learned rule, don't run after 730 am until the weather cools... 

Friday, 25 July 2014


Village Street, Auribeau sur Siagne, 22 x 18 in., oil on canvas, £2,000.00

I’m now finished with the materials I brought with me to work with, and have decided that it’s time to stop painting for awhile – until I get into the USA.  Since my last entry, things have been moving forward at tremendous speed (for shifting one’s life from 2 countries to one “across the pond” at any rate!).  I been faced with difficult decisions.... all a result of the decision to move home to paint, and the inevitable questions of what comes with you and what stays behind.  No-one should have to make these hard choices, but it seems, we can’t get away from them! 

I’m about to, once again, temporarily (I hope) leave my beloved mare, Dancer, behind while I return to make sure that life in the USA still suits us, after living abroad for so many years.  THAT was a difficult and necessary decision, made apparent by sudden shifts in the USA around importing livestock into the US from Europe.  I’m starting to spread the word that I’m selling my car – my mid-life crisis purchase that I’ve enjoyed immensely in the last 2.5 years I’ve had her; and then there will be the inevitable questions once I’m back in Glenfinnan for a short stay, about what is left, what is sold or given away, and what is shipped home.  My little Ardnamurchan cat, Ceilidh, is returning home with me this time....she has her passport, and is young enough to deal with the challenges ahead.  Right now, in Brittany, I’m focusing on Dancer.  Spending as much precious time with her as possible, making sure she’s completely integrated and accepted in her new herd, and as trouble free as possible for my very generous friend who has agreed to look after her with her own horses.  
Sadly, I won't be able to make the longed for drive across France to visit the caves at Lascaux, or on to the Cote d'Azur.  But, I'll make sure it's part of my agenda when I return to check on Dancer in 6 months. I needed to finish my work, needed to help Dancer, and take care of business...
I finished the last painting mid-week last week, a lovely view down one of the streets in Auribeau sur Siagne, in the Cote d’Azur.  It’s the last main canvas here in the studio, and all that is in front of me is Waltz Across Texas and possibly a painting I’ve put off for 2.5 years – one I saw in a moment of clarity right after my Mother passed away in 2011.  I’m working now on those very difficult sketches of the obvious crowd of beloveds, a host of kachinas (absolutely!) and well-wishers that surrounded her and helped her move on in those last, very powerful yet difficult days.  Art is therapy, and we artists are closer to it than most, as we struggle every day to allow inner images, feelings, passion, and struggles, to flow through our hands into the world....whether it’s by written word or through paint, music, dance, photography, sculpture, or any other medium.  This image may take a very long time to finally produce.  For me, it’s like very carefully lancing a sore; making sure its healing well and that there is only love behind what is left. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Well, since my last entry here, plaintively saying, “I need to go home!”,  things have been moving in that direction steadily.  Don’t get me wrong, I need to raise a lot of cash to move home with a clean slate financially, much less just move me, travelling Dancer, and timid Ceilidh (a soon to be travelling cat from Ardnamurchan) home.  Artists are continually moving from feast to famine; and the feast times are usually paying off the famine.  But that’s NOT what I’m thinking about right now.  What I’m thinking about is the rush that as soon as I put it out there that I needed a certain amount to make it home, a large chunk of that was offered to me in the form of either a commission based on, or a major painting from my series, Waltz Across Texas.  I always DID want/hope that Waltz Across Texas would generate some commissions, and it seems that it might just be doing that!  And THAT is what I want to talk about.... COMMISSIONS. 
Floore Country Store, Study  9x 12 in., oil on board, £700.00
I LOVE doing them!  I love connecting with a client who has a vision, based on work of mine they’ve already seen, and wants me to put that vision into reality.  I love the research for a commission; getting to know a place/person, being able to take zillions of photos without worrying, sketching and sketching until I know I’ve come up with what I think the client is looking for, and in the case of Waltz Across Texas, painting the studies necessary to make sure that the client and I are on the same page before I ever put paint to canvas in a larger piece.  I do this for all commissions.  It makes it worthwhile for them because they can be pretty sure they’ll love the finished piece; and for me, because I know the finished piece will be what is expected – even though it’s my own vision, really.  And, unlike my usual work which is always on spec, it’s paid for....  There is a relaxation in my life when I’m working and know I’ve got money in the bank for food, supplies, etc. 

So, from the bottom of my heart, I’m saying a huge thank you to the client who has come forward to help me make this move, to give me a focus to work on immediately once I return, and for believing in and trusting me and my work! 

Sunday, 15 June 2014



I’ve been out in the bigger world, outside the home cushion of the USA, for 11 years now; and I have come to realize in the last few weeks, that actually, it’s time to go home.  Not because the world has become too big or too difficult – believe me, it might just possibly be MORE difficult to be “home” – but because much as I love my life in Europe, I miss New Mexico, I miss my family, my loved ones, I miss relating to friends on a daily basis who have the same life experience as I. I want to spend time with my Dad while he can still remember me (he has Alzheimer’s).  It was really brought home to me this past week as I read Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton.  I had tears in my eyes many times as through the pages of that incredible book, I relived times that had been my own experience, HOME!  I  am painting intensely in my 16th century Braeton house for the summer, listening to music that reminds me of home, and planning just how I’m going to achieve this huge shift.  Once again, it’s time to leap off a cliff – one equally as big as the one I leapt off of when I moved to Scotland!  I have to raise a large sum of cash to achieve this as soon as I possibly can.  I have to move my horse, my cat, some paintings (some will stay in Scotland or France because let’s face it, I have a global business!!), a few boxes of books and the family mementos and photos that made life away from them easier to bear (my Navajo rugs, Apache baskets, pueblo pottery, my Mother’s apron, and my childhood panda bear). 

In the meantime, I intend to keep painting furiously; to make the best of this time I have in France; to explore a bit more as I get ahead of the financial game just a little.  Leaping off cliffs into the unknown to make my art sing is part and parcel of living as a full-time artist for me.  This leap back home – as soon as my finances will allow – is another big step forward and will, I hope, make it easier for me once again to travel the world to paint, to find new and better markets for my work, and to maintain those markets I have worked so hard to create in Scotland, England and the rest of Europe.  Made possible, I know, by making a stable place for me to be.  And with all this change, there will still be the terrible wrench of leaving my friends and family in Scotland (I know, I know, I’ve already left, but not really.... not until the last box goes, and the cat is back with me and Dancer in our new home).

When I first began this blog about the adventures of being a full-time artist in this difficult world of 9-5 jobs and consumerism, hard times for living without a tough outer skin, I’d not realized how much of the inner journey I’d feel the need to write about!  But the inner journey of an artist is actually MORE important (to me anyway) than the outer!  In the meantime, enjoy a few more images from my incredibly productive summer!!
Old Nice, Like a ripe melon... 14 x 11 in., oil on board, £1,000.00

Thunderstorm approaching olive groves, Le Castellet, 16 x 24 in., oil on canvas, £2,000.00


Thursday, 5 June 2014

INSPIRATION and other things...

St. Agnes, Provence-Alps-Cote d'Azur, 12 x 16 in., oil on board, £1,250.00

 It’s already June!  Where has the time gone!?!  I’ve been struggling lately with my choices, I’ve also been driven to keep painting; it’s an interesting conundrum!  I’m living in a gentle, rolling paradise, in a 16th Century Bretton house – every artist’s dream.  But, the landscape doesn’t inspire me – it doesn’t get in my way either.  And, I knew when I moved here for 5 months that I WASN’T inspired.  I knew it wouldn’t get in my way either.  And, it hasn’t!  But what has stymied me more than anything is the IDEA that I’m not inspired by my very environment.  I paint from my photos and sketches of other places – mostly from my journeys to the South of France, or back to Scotland. 

I’ve just finished a lovely little piece from Le Pouldu, a coastal town south of here, just to prove this wrong.  I CAN be inspired, but I’ve got to travel to get to it, rather than stepping out my door.  As I look at my photos from my journeys , I realize that I literally was able to step out my door and feel inspired – I often am inspired by the view from Le Rouret,  across the city covered plains to the ocean in the distance,  or out the door in Glenfinnan  across the fields and eternal mists and rain to the hills, and feel inspired.  Yet here, in this gentle place, I am not.  I am grateful because my beloved old mare, Dancer, has settled in nicely, so the distraction and worry of my “little sister’s” difficult transition from Glenfinnan to France has gone.  However, I’m now able to focus on what is working for me and what is not. 

Le Pouldu, Brittany, 11 x 14 in., oil on board, £1,000.00

It’s never easy for an artist, to live with uncertainty; yet, it’s part and parcel of our very lives.  I had imagined being able to travel across and explore France during my time here; and I’m not able to.  I have to scramble so very hard just to keep food on my table, and petrol in my car that any thoughts of exploring further – to the Perigord (one of my dreams to see the caves at Lascaux – rather the duplicates since people are no longer able to go inside in order to protect them), a mere 4 hour drive from here; to explore other parts of the Southern French coasts, and on down to the Cote d’Azur to the rugged hills above Nice and Menton, to again live in and capture the famous Provencal light.  I am painting that light, but from my photos, from my sketches, from my memory, and at the moment under the influence of an energy saving, daylight (really???) bulb, because the best light comes into the studio in the evening, and my best work happens in the morning....  Always, always, there is the need to adjust, to work with what is in front of me!! 

Auribeau sur Siagne, 11 x 14 in., oil on board, £1,000.00

I’ve more exploring to do though.  I hear there are beautiful rose colored rocks just an hour north of here (though not the deep red of the Corniche), and I’m saving my pennies (now THAT’S a euphemism!!!  Saving – I have to just make the decision to fill the tank and not pay something else, or pay a card, and use that just paid balance to fill the tank, etc., etc.  This is the OTHER side of a very blessed and romantic life as a painter!!), and will make the journey.  Red rocks – visions of my desert home return to me, making me more homesick than ever, but inspiring nonetheless, as they meet the blue ocean. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

Time for Inner Quiet

 St. Agnes, Alps Maritime Cote d'Azur  12 x 16 in. oil on board, £1,250
 Sketch, St Cezaire sur Siagne,  pencil on paper, approx. 11 x 16 in., £200.00
sketch, Bergemon, pencil on paper, approx. 8 x 6 in., £100.00
I am writing this on the back side of a period of quiet, after an intense period of work.  I don’t know about other artists, but THIS one needs time of quiet between projects, after time of intense creativity, or worry, or just about anything requiring a modicum of focus.  I don’t acknowledge weekends; I tend to work when I can, regardless the day, because I feel inside my deepest, darkest place that if I stop, I’ll never be able to start again.  (This much, I know other artists’ suffer from!)  Utter nonsense, I know, but there it is! 

Just as I need to work whenever the muse strikes, no matter what’s going on outside the studio, I also need to pay attention and NOT work when my inner artist says, “enough!”  I call it my “inward” time.  I read a book, for hours, or watch movie after movie, or even sometimes just sit in the sun, absorbing the warmth.  (To be honest, those days have been few and far between these past 10 years in to absorb ANY sun is to be treasured!)  The point is to completely detach – from everything.  The only souls who claim my attention then are my cat, Ceilidh, and my horse, Dancer.  I’d include my partner in that, if I weren’t single!  Friends, of course, but they distract me from the detachment and take me into the world many times – which is what my detach time is asking to hide from. Sometimes I don’t even want to have a coffee with someone other than my book or movie! Make any sense??  And those of you who love me, I KNOW will understand this and not take offense.  I AM a gregarious introvert (a descriptive phrase so aptly coined by a very dear friend who is very much like me), with a distinct need to take care of that introvert sometimes.....

What does this mean in the studio? means that whatever is on the easel has to sit and wait for me to pick up the brushes again.  It means that sometimes my brushes sit in turpentine for a few days.  It means that I’m not good at answering emails, don’t want to look at my bank statements, or have ANYTHING to do with the world for at least a day or two.  If I’m lucky, that’s as long as it lasts, and I get tired of inactivity and sloth and pick up the brushes, the balls, look at my email, and right now, go out and weed a section of my garden.

I must be coming out of my sloth now because I’m writing!  So, more paintings on the way (two on easels for 2 days now), sketches to do and show, people to contact, etc., etc.  Still focus is on the South of France, but there is focus!  The painting above was finished just before my little break; and the sketches are what is currently on the easel.  More sketches to publish, but I want to start the work!! 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

PAINTING IN LEZELE or THE ETERNAL SEARCH FOR GOOD WIFI (or "now, to find the bl...y post office")

I’ve just finished two paintings – the first in 6 months!   Interestingly, while the little piece is of a Mill less than a mile from my studio, and I’ve spent time sketching it, looking at it, and lusting after its open space and windows, I the bigger painting by far – thus most important? Not really – is the one I’ve done of Loch Shiel, looking north to the Glenfinnan viaduct and Glenfinnan Estate.  I looked at that view three times a week on my run, and FINALLY got it finished!  I thought you’d like to see the process, just a bit....  Sketch, interim painting – as yet unfinished -,  and the finished product. 

Part of the distraction of this past 10 days or so, when I finally started working, has been errands – those things that keep taking time.... and the last was finding a post office in which to post two letters I’ve put off posting purely because of the hassle of finding and dealing with in French, the local post office!  I did it.  So, perhaps we’re in a period of no longer putting off what can be done today!   Dancer presents the ever present distraction and much needed anchor that she has always presented....perhaps her tales from this period should have their own page...  The latest was magnesium deficiency, which manifested in her in neurotic, needy, panic’d behaviour.  Sorted, but not before we made ourselves a little unpopular in our local barn....Whew!  Poor thing!

Its good to be up to my elbows and eyebrows in oil paint once again; music of all types blaring on the stereo – helping me feel the places I’ve either taken photos or sketched, or both....  I’m still very much all over the place in my interest....  but I’m finding that ever so elusive focus. 
midway on the Loch Shiel painting... the sketch is in the last post!

Early Autumn, Loch Shiel  12 x 16 in., oil on board, £1,250.00

Mill at Pont Morvan, Brittany,  6 x 8 in.,  oil on board, £700.00

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Finding My Rhythm

I have now settled into my temporary residence in a mostly 16th Century Braeton house, courtesy of the generosity of a friend. The plan is to stay here, use it as a base to explore from (should a painting or two sell), and paint.  If you’re trying to find it, Lézélé en Plouyé, Huelgoat, Brittany is west of Carhaix....set in the middle of the finger that is Brittany and on the edge of the Finistere.  After spending hours every day working with my beloved mare, Dancer, helping her feel secure (still an ongoing process these days) and settled in HER new home, this past week, I began to paint. 

After a 6 month hiatus, the sense of relief was palpable, when I got out the oil paints.  Coaxing the tops off of disused tubes of paint, the jar of liquin, and finding my turps substitute (legal to take on a car ferry...) was nearly a religious experience for me on the first day!  Yet the two paintings I started have come along slowly as I picked my way through the image, trying to work with different light, an image across the room (electrical outlets being a challenge here), etc., etc. 

I first found myself sketching not Brittany, once I’d found the image I wanted of the local disused mill, at Pont Morvan; but Scotland and my beloved Glenfinnan, and also,  the beaches of Normandy and even more so, the markets and landscapes of the Cote d’Azur.  I also found myself suddenly aware that the sketches themselves might be, must be interesting to clients!  I had to tell myself not to be silly, to ignore that voice, because as soon as I paid attention to it (that voice), my sketches became stilted and awkward and DEFINITELY less loose.  Lots of laughter ensued; thankfully, I managed to quell the critic fairly rapidly.  The sketches are for ME and my work, and if a few of them get into the larger world, then fabulous – but not the other way around!! 

Some of the effort of the last few weeks, and continues in this completely new (to me) place, has gone to sourcing materials, solving problems, finding the market, necessary things for my horse, my painting, my sanity!  It’s nice to be able to run to a market and back in 20 minutes (!!), but the other side of that is that I’m finding that I’m more isolated here than I ever was in Glenfinnan.  It’s harder to get out into the world here  - Even to the rest of France.  Brittany is just that isolated in its little peninsula world.  So, a hard realization has been that my beloved cat, Ceilidh is best left with her next best friend, my neighbour, until I am able to move to a less transient home (I miss her terribly!); and that at the moment, any spare cash is necessarily used on exploring my new world, to find my rhythm, to see if this part of France ‘fits’ me. 

I’m now alone in the house for the first time.  Not alone as in “going to the market”, but on my own.  To fill my day however suits me, to not share conversation with someone over dinner one or the other of us has cooked, to not say goodnight to anyone. I like that part of life! In fact, I’m realizing that this is the first time since I left my studio at the Steading in Glenfinnan that I’m truly alone in the biggest sense of the word!  And this timing here now, is pretty much when I thought I’d be ready to leave that studio for the larger world!  Whew!  What a journey! My own devices, bar the very welcome interruptions of new friends or visiting loved ones, completely – answering to no-one!  Rhythm indeed! 

Vuellettes sur Mer, sketch 2, charcoal on paper, 6 x 8 in., £100
 Vuellettes Sur Mer, sketch, charcoal on paper, 6 x 8 in., £100
 Mill at  Pont Morven 2, Sketch in Pencil for painting, 6
 x 8 in., pencil on paper  £100.
Loch Shiel sketch for painting, charcoal on paper, approx. 11 x 16 in., £200

Thursday, 10 April 2014

From Lezele en Plouye

old mill at Pont Morvan
Well, I’ve finally made it to Lezele en Plouye, Brittany, France!  I’m finally ensconsed in my ancient/new, temporary abode where I hope to find inspiration and be able to paint.  If not the surrounding scenery, then other places within Brittany, while I explore; or further south, where I KNOW I feel the inspiration!  Getting here wasn’t easy....and has taken all I had in reserve,  as hidden expenses, unforeseen problems, and just  time got in the way.  I’m here now, and am already itching to get settled enough to begin to paint.  I have been reunited with my beloved mare, Dancer, after nearly 6 months, and am now exploring creative ways to get my cat, Ceilidh here with me. 

Incredibly, I had an easy drive, once I saw Dancer (who was in Wales temporarily), and headed on to Folkestone to catch the Eurotunnel in my car (no ferry this stormy time....) I found myself in the  beautiful, big skies of Normandy, and landed with a dear friend I’d not seen in years.  She generously made her little gite available for my first week in France.  The perfect place for me to settle, get my bearings, and get my head around this huge leap I’ve taken in my life – if even for 6 months!  As you might guess, I got out into the sun each day and explored more of the Normandy coast around LeBourg Dun – returned to Sottieville for more photos and sketching, and Vuelettes  sur Mer, which is like a mini Etretat (just a bit further West along the coast, unsurprisingly!) .  This part of France has always inspired me, and I’m not surprised to be beginning there with my sketching. 
I then landed with new friends at Kervalen Organic Farm ( , in Kervalen, by Plouye (just a mile up the road from Lezele), where I waited for Dancer to arrive a day later!  A week there settling my very patient horse, then moved to Lezele, where I will spend the next 5/6 months, while I explore this new world!  So far, its been rolling hills, sunlight, riding, and finally, a bit of inspiration at an old mill, still fairly intact – although the mill works have been removed and stored in a barn...  A nice gentle beginning. 
I’m actively marketing my sketches now, as a way of raising a bit of cash to keep me afloat in between painting sales. It IS a way for people who can’t afford the oil paintings, to have a Wendorf – and many love the immediacy of a quick sketch.  And to  add to the mix, I’ve met with a Scottish neighbour (yep, in France, I’ve got a Scottish neighbour... ), and he’s asked if I’d be interested in a little summer exhibition with himself and a few other local artists in a wonderful space in Huelgoat.  I said unequivably, “Yes!!”  At least a chance to get my work out!  In the meantime, I’m also putting one foot in front of the other, as I spoke about before, leaving no stone unturned, looking for ways to make up for the loss of “potential income” of those two cancelled summer exhibitions.   
But what I really need is to find my focus, my rhythm – which seems a bit hard won at the moment, with so much on my mind.  I need to find that quiet place inside me that sees and hears the need to paint something; that understands, trusts, and knows that all will be ok.  I’d not have had all the help to get here if I was going to fail!  I saw on Facebook the other day a quote from Georgia O’Keefe, who basically said she never had a day where she didn’t have to face fear in her artistic life.  I suddenly felt in grand company, normal, not so alone. 
I’m ending this missive, by posting a few of the new sketches – note, I’m a bit homesick for Scotland as well as New Mexico, thus two large Scottish sketches....if that isn’t a muddle, I don’t know what is!!

 Loch Shiel scketch, autumn 2013,  approx. 11 x 16 in., charcoal on paper £200
Mill at Pont Morvan, sketch  approx. 6 x 8 in., charcoal on paper £100

 Sottieville sketch, spring 2014,  approx. 6 x 8 in., charcoal on paper £100

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

the Business of Being an Artist

Etretat Spring, 9 x 12 in., oil on board, £700

As I write from a small Normandy village not far from Etretat, I'm reminded that in spite of the stress and fear associated with living constantly on a financial edge, I live quite a charmed life.... traveling, answering to no-one, not having to get up early, drive horrible commutes, etc., etc.  But there are paybacks to this charmed life.  There is the constant knowledge that at any one moment, your fortunes could change, you might not pay your rent, your loan payment, your food bill; your carefully laid plans for exhibitions and sales might evaporate into thin air, and through no fault of your own.  Yes, I lead a charmed life and answer to no-one, but I also live my life by the generosity, support and good will of others.  Without their patronage, whether it be a gift of a house to live in for awhile, or the sale of a painting or planned exhibitions, I would have to return to the world of punching a time-clock. 

What does an artist do when plans change, when other peoples lives and difficulties create their own changes and difficulties in your own?  (And I'm NOT drawing those obvious lines, because these are the chances I took on when I began to paint full-time).  What do I do?  Well, I keep working, and talking, and selling and FIND the next exhibition; try to fill that space that has been emptied, with a few sales to make up for the inevitable lost revenue, and keep planning ahead.  Most dealers and artists plan exhibitions a year or two, even three, in advance.  So immediately filling a space in 6 months is a tall order, but not impossible.  Cancellations happen, schedules open up.  And more importantly, its an opportunity to find new clients, patrons, and new exhibitions. 

I have unfortunately had two scheduled exhibitions cancelled this summer - in two different countries.  And BOTH were incredible opportunities!  One is postponed, but the other just gone.  In addition to changing countries - and all that entails - I'm now looking to fill those two voids, with either exhibitions or new clients.  I guess I'm reminding myself that being an artist means more than just the painting (or music, or writing, or sculpting) -- the act of creating.  It is also the nitty gritty down to earth need to get out there, hussle and talk and meet people when you don't feel like it.  Take a few days or weeks to assess and regroup, and let solutions come to the fore; and above all, don't spend time complaining about the injustice of it all. We artists lead charmed lives, and there is also work involved that means sometimes being a little tougher. There is no room for fear, so when it haunts you, turn and face it down, never let it keep you from moving forward. No matter how hesitant those new steps feel, keep putting your feet one in front of the other, keep peering through and trying new doors, and keep the work happening.  NEVER, never, never give up! 

I've been fortunate to be staying with a friend who over the years has never hesitated to remind me to get up, dust myself off, and that I have NO reason to fear, to never forget what an incredible life is possible as an artist, and I am incredibly grateful, as always.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

In France, Finally....

Dieppe Harbor, 14 x 11 in., oil on board, £1,000.00


Grand Mare, Sottieville, Normandy  (pleinaire) 8 x 10 in., oil on board, £700.00

I'm writing today from a small village not far from the coast of Normandy.  In fact, the two paintings above are images from the part of France I'm currently passing through.... the top painting is one I did several years ago of the harbour at Dieppe, the lower one is a pleinaire painting  I did during the Grand Mare in Sottieville.  I can feel the stress of starting this move begin to melt away as I sit in a Normandy farm house, watching the weather come and go, and thinking of doing no more than going for a walk (no, not even a run).  I can feel the hope and excitement begin to fill my heart, as I consider the next 6 months.... nothing to do but explore, paint, do the business of being a painter (ie exhibit and sell those paintings) and enjoy my horse for the first time in four months!  I want to get my brushes out, am itching to get to work!  Not time for THAT yet, but I will set out with the camera and sketchbook today! 

Change is difficult for everyone, and some artists absolutely can't handle it; but this artist seems to thrive on new inspiration.  This change has been hard won, but I believe truly that it will prove to be another momentous shift in my work.  Even the hiatus from painting since late October 2013 will, I think, prove to help my paintings leap forward! 

Friday, 28 February 2014

more tales from the Hotel California
Or perhaps, further adventures in checking out for Gail, Dancer and Ceilidh.  Its an adventure trying to change countries, and not for the faint hearted!  Dancer is currently out of the Welsh rain in a paid stable, awaiting a ride to France, Ceilidh has her passport and will follow once I settle into the house, and me, I'm healing my cracked rib, and trying to settle the 'tab' in the Hotel California so we can all leave!  Glenfinnan feels good right now.  It is my trusty cave in the Highlands while I work life out.  Thanks again to the kindness of friends, this time in Scotland is soft, perfect.  The hooks are sinking deeper every day. 
However, challenges aside, I AM getting excited!  I've no idea where I'll start, painting - wise!  But this change for me and my little family has been hard won, and much needed.  By the time I can pick up the brushes, I've a feeling it'll be when I finally arrive and settle into Lezele.  My days are spent preparing myself and my painting supplies for 6 months of focused work.  I've begun to run again, to rebuild my strength in preparation for the next 6 months.  Its a slow process, the cracked rib gives me a bit of grief, but not so much that I feel I need to slow down.  Its so strange to me here, to write about mundane things....but I can't even THINK about picking up a brush right now.  I can only focus on breathing in and out and keeping my eye on the horizon and one foot in front of the other, and ear to my inner voice that tells me to "trust, its going to work out beautifully..."  I leave you with a favourite image of mine...  Autumn on the Muidhe, 16 x 24 in., oil on canvas, £2,000. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014



A dear friend said to me, when I gave an account of some of my travel tales from the past three months, that I should at the very least be a blues player.  That like all blues players, my best work should come of the incredible adventures and challenges of the journey.  I hope he's right!  I've not picked up a brush since late October when the arrangements of this trip took control of my life! 
On November 15, Dancer (my very forgiving and patient horse and companion of 24 of her 26 years) and I set off for Trecastle, Wales, where she would spend the next three + months in the loving care of dear friends who know horses and had offered to take her so I could leave for an extended trip!  I can't tell you the number of times in my life lately that I have been humbled and offered help from friends unexpectedly, and its made it possible for me to keep moving forward through this lengthy time of transition!  But I digress.....  Dancer and I arrived late that night, and I had one day to settle her (NOT recommended, and I knew better, but circumstances demanded it).  I left for London 24 hours later, and on to the USA the following afternoon. 
Long story made shorter, after several months travelling, visiting, feeling supported by and loved by family and friends, I returned to the UK and quickly took a ferry over to Basse Normandy and Brittany to investigate leads on my next place to explore living and working.  After days of looking around Normandy, and waiting - knowing that none of the places I'd seen were going to work for me and my little 'family'; I headed to check out a friend's cottage in Lezele (by Plouye).  Zing!  This place is a beautifully restored 16th century Braeton house (or 3 cottages cobbled together), in a very small, quiet village in nearly the center of Brittany - not far from Huelgoat or Carhaix. I've been offered this place in beautiful Brittany for 5 months from mid-April ish, taking care of this house. There is a place for Dancer with other horses a mile away, and Ceilidh the cat is also welcome with me.  Its a small step; to try on living in France, without the big commitment of moving Dancer to the south of France before I've had time to make sure its what I want or need to do!  And, since I've decided to take this offer, things have begun to fall into place.  At least there is the illusion that they're falling into place! I also feel I have EARNED every bit certainty after the adventures of not only the last 3 months, but the last year.
Brittany is hilly and more forested than Normandy and yet I'm fairly close to the beaches and cliffs that I've painted there in the past!  AND, I'll have the opportunity to explore more into the South of France, and possibly other locations for painting.  After months of fear, I'm beginning to feel excitement!  Even that isn't without its fear though....  change is hard - even if the change is needed.  I now have Ceilidh's passport, and am working on getting Dancer moved from Wales; and in the meantime, am nursing a cracked rib which I earned by slipping on the door stoop of the Lezele house.  And now that I have my computer and broadband back again, hopefully there will be more to say as I take these seemingly huge steps in the next few weeks!
In the meantime, from Glenfinnan, stay tuned!!