Tag Archives: art

Playing with Space: A Cast of Shadows


This shadow perfectly displays the distinctively pointed whippet nose (with elegant wafts of smoke!).

Out for a frolic with the dogs on the beach late last week.  Although it was still bitterly cold the sun was bright enough to cast lovely shadow shapes on the sand.


The uneven path here creates a double spaniel shadow.

Poppy, the poor deaf-(dumb)-and-blind spaniel – although spritely for all of her 15 years –  needs to be ‘guided’ on the lead, but the whippets move around so quickly it’s impossible to pose them for photographs.


Tammi with beach ‘treasure’ (possible identification: lump of charcoal / muscle shell)

By the time I’ve pressed the shutter button on my iphone camera, they have whizzed through the frame.  So most of these shots are ‘pots’.  Some of the unusual angles and blurred motion images are surprisingly refreshing and convey the exuberance of the moment much better anyway.


It is not hard to see why she is still mistaken for a puppy as she skips along, still eligible for waggiest tail.

It is a day to be joyful and these are my cast of shadow highlights which mirror our mood on this bright but cold April day: playing with space as the absence of light in mobile, prancing shadows.


The path goes past the train track crossing to the golf course on the other side of the dunes.  The train has just gone through and I failed to catch it’s passing shadow….this time.


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Filed under Nature / Nurture Project, Walks, Whippet Story

Marking Time.

Landslip, c.1995. acrylic on board

Landslip 1, c.1995. (the beach at Le Couperon, Jersey), acrylic on board

Landslip, 2013, pencil, ink, gouache, digital print.

Landslip 2, 2013, (Praa Sands, Cornwall), pencil, ink, gouache, digital print.

Landslip 1 & 2

The subject is the same for both images but there are seventeen years that separate them.  There is nothing new about whole chunks of cliff face falling onto the beach and we have witnessed more cliff falls than usual this winter.  But as a subject that I have returned to it is interesting for me to compare these two images from different time zones in my artistic practice.

The actions are the sameLandslip: a geological phenomenon which involves a wide range of ground movement.  In this instance, natural erosion by the action of over-saturated ground causing the slide of a large mass of earth and rock down a cliff face to be deposited on the beach below.  These cliff-falls are nothing new and we are sure to see many more in the future.

Technique.  The difference between these two images is that they represent differences in technique and reflect the changes that have taken place in digital technology over this time span.

Landslip 1 was painted in the still relatively modern medium of plastics made by mixing polymers and pigment to produce acrylics. Once the paint is dry, (theoretically) it is not possible to undo any of the previous stages of the process.  (In practice it is possible to erase some of the layers but there will be traces of paint left behind which frankly creates  a very interesting surface texture).  The standard way to proceed is to add another layer of paint (or drawing or whatever) on top of what is already there.

Landslip 2 is a product of two key stages using different media.  An initial drawing – using age-old, low-tech materials – carbon pencil, ink, gouache and gum arabic washes, laid onto a piece of paper primed with gesso.  A digital photograph of the image was taken and then developed further within the digital arena.  (In this case, the software on my iphone).  At this stage, I have options.  I might decide to print the image onto a piece of watercolour paper and rework back into it using my original organic materials: pencil, pen, washes of colour, oil resist etc.  The real difference is that I can digitally record certain stages along the way which means it becomes a much more flexible process.  I am able to go back to any of these steps that I have saved and rework them.

Copyright.  By the same token, although I no longer own the original Landslip 1 (painted in 1995), I could take the photographic record I have of it (or any other come to that) and ‘re-work’ it digitally into another artwork because as the creator, I still own the copyright.

detail of post-it note sketches

detail of post-it note sketches

However, ever since I started the digital experiment I have pondered where exactly does it fit into my practice?  If I have produced a piece of artwork using digital software somewhere in the process, is it still art?  At first, I found it hard to accept that it was art.  But of course, the answer is undoubtedly yes!  I have creative control over all the processes.  The idea is conceived by me, the facilitator, I make the decisions and it is all my own work.  Phew!  David Hockney did it so it must be OK.


sketch for landslip 2, (alternate view)

Landslip 1 & 2.

The sentiments are the same: I, me, the artist, am a silent witness.  A witness to the natural destruction of localised, unstable land-forms.  A witness to order turned into chaos: the reshaping of the landmass in the natural process of erosion.   A witness to the danger of its unpredictable nature which can cause death to human life.  I can see the layers of history once safely locked in the subsoil strata now a darkly-spewed stain on the beach.  Branches and roots, ripped from their beds, now lie exposed like bare, bleached bones, the process of buffering and polishing already begun by the pounding of the sea and the sand.  I watch as it becomes part of the ebb and flow rhythm of the beach until finally, consumed by the mighty ocean, there is nothing left to see.

The landslip thus becomes a mere snapshot of time in motion and I am here to witness it.  I was there seventeen years ago, another place another time, and I am here now.  It is just part of a normal cycle of nature.  Nothing has changed except my means of expressing it.



Filed under Digital, my sketchbook pages, Nature / Nurture Project, Personal Philosophy, Studio Practice

Winter Blues

Winter Vine

Winter Vine Covered Terrace

Winter is a time when I willingly retreat into hibernation.  As the bare earth becomes cooled and still, I enter into a place of deep reflection.  It is a dark place but not a forbidding one.  On the contrary, the darkness is positively charged with potential fecundity.  It is a private and sacred space, and within the stillness seeds can germinate and show their first colourful shoots.   These fragile beginnings need to be nurtured, lovingly coaxed from the shadows.  This is no time for rushing about but a time to quietly embrace my peaceful solitude and honour my creativity.
However, as the frosty wind eddies around me threatening to freeze my ability to move, it is inevitable that doubts will creep in through the cracks to try and sabotage my resolve.  If I can work through these challenging moments then whatever progress I can salvage is even more rewarding.  I repeat the mantra ‘just do it’ and take heart from these wise words by Sol LeWitt in a letter to Eve Hesse which I have shamelessly taken from a great blog post by artist, Liz Davidson.
“Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping,…Stop it and just DO!…
Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety…
You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!…
Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be…
I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself.”


Filed under Art Works, my sketchbook pages, Personal Philosophy

Free Spirits

The following extract is part of an email sent to me this week by a dear friend.  It describes a dream she had.  I have added a painting I did last November that I thought was appropriate.  It is so wonderful when things like this happen out of the blue, and it arrived just after I had published Guiding Spirit, a post about our genius.  It certainly lifted my spirits.  My first thought when I read it was that the young girl was my granddaughter, Rose.

I had a lovely dream about you and me last night being very free spirits. You were down on a beach somewhere and I was climbing down to join you on the beach – the wind was up and the sun was shining and my dog ran ahead of me to join you and your dog and a friend of yours with his (sic) dog, she was  a young girl. Once you saw my dog you realised I was coming I was climbing down the headland and the sand dunes. I got to the beach and I said to you

Path Over the Dunes, mm on board, November, 2012

Path Over the Dunes, mixed media on board, 2012

look at this day.  It is absolutely beautiful. Then we both just marvelled at the sea. We then said together that we loved it here ! That was it. We were two free spirits and happy.

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Filed under Art Works, Dpchallenge, my sketchbook pages

Note to Self


As my working space has shrunk to a small kitchen table, I have cut my (table) cloth accordingly.  Thus, the humble post-it note has become my scaled-down sketchbook for the time-being.  These images all began with pencil drawings arranged on a grid of post-it notes.  Layers have been added to build up images with overlays and digital media.  The inspiration comes from the recent landslips on the beach at Praa Sands.




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Filed under Digital, Drawings, my sketchbook pages