May 18, 2017

Remembering . . .

I have been so thankful for this beautiful month of May, it has always been one of my favourite months and even more so this year with the glorious weather we are having,  the bluest of skies stretching away into the distance, the clouds of delicate blossoms filling hedgerows and new life springing up all around - the lambs and young birds. This month of May has been like a gentle, healing balm and how I need that just now.
My days have been painted with sadness this past while, for we said goodbye to our dear, precious Dad in March. It wasn't expected and we didn't have much time but we were so very blessed to be under the care of the amazing nurses at the Alexandra palliative care unit at our local hospital. They ensured both Dads last days and our days with him were peaceful and gentle as could be and for that we are ever grateful.
When you loose a loved one, suddenly there is a before and an after and life takes on a very different shape. It's as if the  breathe has been knocked right out of you.  It's the kind of heartache you feel in your bones.  This loss is not something you get over, instead it becomes part of who you are and so I am making time; time to recognize this new me, time for quiet moments, time for stillness,  time to remember  and time to treasure the memories.

 I heard this on the radio a while ago: 'When we die, we die twice, once when our last breath leaves our body and again when our name is mentioned for the very last time by the last person to remember us.' 

Well my dear Dad you were so loved by your big, widespread family that your memory will live on for many years to come. You are in every beat of our hearts Dad and you will always be in our memories. We will never be without you.

February 27, 2017

Family trees and connections

Family have been much in my mind this week, family visits, family birthdays and family poorly and in hospital. (Sending lots of love to my dear Dad and hoping he is up and about again very soon).

I  love my family and am fascinated by the links we have, the family traits and characteristics.  When I look at old family photos it sets me wondering, where did those  traits and characteristics come from.  Who could draw like I can?  Where did the pale skin and red hair that my Mom, daughter and I have come from? And where did they live my ancestors? How did they meet? what was their favourite song, their favourite food. So many questions, so many stories.

Many years ago my Mom developed a passion for tracing our family tree,  discovering the pieces of the jigsaw and writing down the stories of our ancestors. I love to hear the stories, the snippets of information she uncovers, they are part of us, part of our heritage.  So far we are back to the early 1800's: all these people I am connected to from so long ago: the Jennings, Flanners, Bagleys, Days, the Jones, Herberts, Blackwells, Jobs, Bloxams! They came from Warwickshire and Oxford-shire, Glasgow and Switzerland, Birmingham and Worcestershire.

They were  gamekeepers, pen nib makers, gunsmiths, carters, glassblowers, glaziers, shoe makers, canal boat workers, plumbers, spoon makers, chandelier makers.Where did the creative side some from I wonder?
As Mom collected more and more stories and names that made up branches of our tree, I decided I had to create a painting to record all those names, all those people we were connected to, as a way to remember them.

 It took many sketches and doodles to come up with a design that was easy to read and on which I could fit all the names and dates. So I created my family tree flower design, it worked beautifully allowing me to add all the siblings in each family too.
Since that very first tree I have created many other family trees for folk, each one is a challenge, each one is unique. I love that I am part of the process and helping to create a family keepsake, a memory tree for those who have gone before and those still to come.
My Family trees have been given as Birthday gifts, and to celebrate anniversaries, as  wedding gifts and as new baby gifts. If you are interested in having your very own family tree created just drop me a line. I have a wide range of designs on my website that can be altered to fit in your own family members, your favorite colours, a special quote or memory. I am happy to discuss design ideas and love working with my customers to unfold the branches of their trees.

February 22, 2017

A treasure trove of gems and books and sketching

Last week was a time for family. My daughter and Grandaughter came to stay and we had lots of lovely times together, creating clay sculptures, walking down the lane, finding treasures in the garden.

Having a tiny person in the house is such a reminder to slow down, I love that she notices all the little things, a tiny daisy still growing in the winter grass, the funny shapes of clouds, the sound of the wind whispering through the branches of the trees.,  All the little things that we often forget to take the time to notice in our days.

With visitors to entertain it was a perfect excuse to take a trip to the 'GemRock Museum' in Creetown. A fabulous collection of jewels and gems, such vibrant hues and colours. There is a crystal cave to explore and a trail of gem bunnies that a certain wee person was excited to find. I even came across a tiny carved mermaid tucked away. And to finish off we had a delicious home cooked lunch in the cafe and then a drive through the stunning Galloway forest, a perfect day out.
A few days earlier I found myself over in Wigtown, Scotland's designated book town, a must for any book lovers out there! The reason for my visit was a trip to 'Curly Tale Books', a wonderful treasure trove of a children's bookshop that has agreed to be the latest stockist for my cards! They will be in good company for the shop is stuffed with loveliness of all kinds and is run by author Jayne Baldwin and illustrator Shalla Gray - creators of the lovely 'Beltie' story books. For those of you not in the know 'Galloway Belties' are stripey black and white cows found here in Dumfries and Galloway.

 With visitors here and trips to and fro to hospital to visit my poorly Dad, who hopefully is on the mend now, my sketching took a wee bit of a back seat.  I have managed a few though and am loving the variety of topics: eye, small bird, cafe life and the colour blue, I am determined to keep my sketches to within half an hour, but sometimes it's very tempting to keep going! I would like to get it down to 20 mins per sketch soon!
I'm thinking that, for folk interested in joining in the sketch a day but who are not on Facebook, I am going to post the weeks topics on here as well, lets see if that encourages any sketchers to have a go! I do have a Pinterest board for where you can find the daily topic as well here.

Do let me know if you join in and maybe we can find a way to share our sketches!

February 06, 2017

Sketching again and showers . . . .

We have had some "plowtery" days this last week. Isn't that a lovely word, it's Scottish for showery, I think it sums up this wet weather very well. There are so many wonderfully expressive  words in Scots language, I especially like these for wet weather.  "Smirr" meaning very light rain or a "dreep"  for a steady fall of light rain. I love being inside cosy by the fire whilst listening to the rain pattering outside, but in between the showers I did dodge out to capture these photos. 
The snow drops caught my eye too, nodding in the rain, tiny splashes of white against the vibrant green grass down the lane. They always feel like  a sign to me that Spring is on it's way.

A couple of weeks ago I happened to hear that folk singer, songwriter Seth Lakeman was coming to play at the annual Big Burns Supper Festival, and of course  had to go, and what a treat! His music has inspired me on many occasions whilst working away in my studio. One of my favourites has to be 'The white hare' , you can have a listen here.

Some of you might remember that back at the beginning of  2015 I was desperate to establish a good sketching routine (having failed miserably the year before) and so set up a Facebook group called 'Sketch-a-day', where a daily sketch topic was set and members of the group were invited to post their sketches on the page.

By the end of that 1st year not only did we have 60 members from all around the world contributing, but the group had become a gathering of lovely like minded, friendly folk, supporting and encouragement each other along the way.  It also resulted in my actually doing a sketch just about every day,  almost 365 sketches! 

Last year life got so busy that sadly my daily sketching fell by the wayside, though I still enjoyed seeing the sketches that other members of the group put up. There were so many positives that came from that daily sketching habit, my sketching improved hugely, my confidence grew and I tackled topics I would never normally have attempted,  so I have decided: new year, new start and I am very happy to report that as the group enters it's third year, I am going back to doing a daily sketch again. 

If anyone is interested in joining  our Sketch-a-day group do let me know.

January 30, 2017

Go slow, gratitude and Mindfulness resolutions

A Happy (Belated) New Year to you all my lovelies wherever you may be! I have rather neglected this wee corner of the world and have missed being here and the connections it brings.

Last year was a good year in lots of ways, with a whirlwind of activity: a trip to India, a new studio, exhibitions galore, workshops a plenty and lots of projects on the go, all very good. Yet as Winter descended and  the days of the year were numbered I realised my feet had hardly touched the ground and I was feeling decidedly frayed at the edges.
So I have spent my time since the new year in a state of hibernation, finding time to recuperate, time to ruminate, lighting candles, sitting watching the sunset, taking moments to stop what I'm doing and just breathe. Looking back, I realised that last year I simply hadn't allowed myself much time out at all. No time for mindfulness, for treasuring the moments, no time for the blog writing that I love to do, no time for my sketch-a-day,  no time to just sit and be. I hadn't even heard my body telling me to slow down!
It is so easy to get caught up in our frantically paced world and I knew I had to take action to re-claim the balance that had been missing last year. So I made just one New Year resolution -  To go slower, to savour the moments. After all that is why my blog is named '5 Precious Things', a reminder to self to slow down and find 5 precious things each day in my life to be thankful for.

I needed something visual and visible  so I made myself a huge wall planner and had great fun in the process using lots of my HeART Journaling techniques and included my words to live by for the year -  Mindfulness,  Gratitude, Courage and Peaceful.  I will pin my planner up on the wall of my studio  and it will be a a daily reminder to keep my resolution, and to live by my chosen words.

I have made space in my weeks for work projects and for play, for heath and happiness, for family, friends and for myself. It is so important to try and keep a balance and fulfil all the areas that we need to find harmony in our lives.
It amazes me just how often, when I am looking for answers, the universe drops the perfect solution into my lap, for look what I found in the local shop, this beautiful new publication called 'Breathe', filled with lots of interesting articles based on well being, mindfulness and creativity, including one on listening to your body clock. I also found a lovely wee journal in the sale section in which to record  '100 days of Gratitude'. Once you start to look for those precious moments in your day, you begin to find more and more. I  am already reaping the rewards of spending a few moments at the end of my day to pause and be grateful.
I set myself one more task to do daily, to help with my new resolution and that is to take a daily gratitude photograph. Today's subject just had to be this cheeky visitor to our garden, he was scampering about all over the lawn burying nuts and frisking his tail in the air, and made me smile with his antics. I got carried away trying to capture his antics.

I can't wait to look back at the end of the year and see my 365 photo's.

August 30, 2016

A garden of flowers, travels and midnight strolls

I can hardly believe Summer is almost over and September just around the corner! I've been so busy with exhibitions and art trails it passed  in the blink of an eye, but I did find time to enjoy some of the beautiful weather pottering in the garden. It's coming along beautifully now, it was so sad and neglected when we moved in last Spring.
I have loved bringing the garden back to life and it is so rewarding to hear the buzzing of the bees now there are lots of flowers for them to visit. Did you know that in Deeside,  the old name for bees was 'Foggie-toddlers - 'fog' being old Scots for moss or grass and 'toddling' meaning meandering with a gentle sound. Lovely!
Flowers have filled my studio with their perfume this Summer too, some from my garden and some gifted by a fellow artist, the very same lady who provided me with so many delicious cutting of plants last year so that I could stock our new garden. How  rewarding now  to see them growing and filling the beds. The wee posies of flowers below were another gift, left on our doorstep by the sweetest faerie girls who lived next door. They have now spread their wings and flow off with their family for adventures far afield and I will miss seeing their cheeky faces appearing over the fence.
Thinking of wee smiles, I got lots of those  from my wee Granddaughter a few weeks ago when myself and my two lovely daughters spent a week under the stars down South. Very posh camping as you can see! We spent every waking hour in the fresh air and when we weren't cuddling dwarf goats, blowing bubbles or exploring we were sitting up late into the night snuggled in our woollies and under blankets, playing scrabble, and watching the stars. Precious times.
I got a second weeks holiday after that too, when Mr O took me off exploring in Yorkshire. We stayed in an old inn built in 1613 and slept in what must be the comfiest bed I ever knew! We spent our days exploring places that caught our eye, like Hardcastle Crags, Gibson mill, and the lovely town of Hebden Bridge, stopping for cake and tea and mooching through second hand shops!
On our last day we visited the lovely  old village of Heptonstall, once a centre for hand looming. It's cobbled streets were discovered in 1980 when the paving was lifted.  Of course I had to have a peep at the ruins of it's original church, founded in 1260 and once dedicated to Thomas a Becket. All together we had a lovely few days away.
Whilst away Mr O and I remembered how much we love walking. When did our days get too busy to go walking regularly! So we are trying to do a walk every day again and are already feeling the benefit, feeling fitter and healthier for being outside more.
 I haven't shared with you before my 'In the gloaming' painting have I, I finished it earlier in the year and the original has already sold. The word 'gloaming' comes from the old English word for twilight 'glom' meaning to glow, what a perfect description for that magical time of day when the setting sun leaves gives it's last whisper of light to the evening. The painting is available as  limited edition prints in my Etsy shop here

 So I shall leave you with a taste of 'the gloaming' and some images that I caught on my full moon walk down the lane last week,  I love walking in the evening it is a magical time! Such lovely silhouettes to inspire new paintings I hope!

May 09, 2016

A new studio and a faerie Queen in the making . . .

Hello my lovelies, it's been a while! In fact it's been almost a year since I last blogged!
How did that happen, and where did the days disappear to? Being a creature of habit, it has taken me a good while to settle after our move last April. A new wee house to grow accustomed to, new lanes, fields and shore to discover, a new place to create in. Lots of busy days have passed and it has taken all my energy to settle into the new pattern of our life. Now at last I feel like I'm waking after a very long Winters nap, waking into the warm  May sunshine full of stories, happenings and creations to share!
I have so much to share, so where do I  begin?  Slowly I think, as it feels strange to be writing here again, like meeting with a long lost friend and not knowing where to begin in the catching up!  I have missed this blogging, and the connections with all you precious readers,  it feels so good to be back!

One of my most exciting happenings this year began with  a chance discussion with a fellow artist, that revealed the possibility of some local studio space becoming available. Having recently discussed the need for such a space with the very patient  Mr O (who never grumbled as he shared our home with an ever increasing array of paint, paper, brushes, pens etc) it was decided  I should go ahead and apply for a space. The WASPS Artists Studios is 'a charity that provided affordable studio space to artists and arts organisations across Scotland'. They are currently helping 800 artists, 12 art organisations and have 17 buildings. What a wonderful idea!   
Well I am very excited to say I am now the proud owner of a space at the WASPS studios in Kirkcudbright, a lovely light and bright space where I can have all my arty paraphernalia to hand. It has made a huge difference and feels lovely to go 'out' to work each day. It has made a much clearedr definition between home and work as well and means when I'm at work I am not distracted by weeding or dusting that is calling to be done! And when I'm not distracted I get to finish pieces that have long been in the making! 

Back in 2014 I had the idea that I wanted to do a companion piece for Autumn Bounty, inspired by references to magical things in  Shakespeare's  'A midsummer nights dream'. 

As I started to doodle and sketch, a 'Faerie Queen' began to appear, as did other fae folk, a magical hare, a drowsy bee and Summer time flowers.
She is the Queen of the faeries and leads the merriment on Midsummer's eve. 
If you are awake late on Midsummer's eve, you may happen across the faeries dancing by moonlight in ancient circles of stone, a wondrous sight indeed.
 But remember, do take care, you don't want to be caught or these fae may just cause you mischief. It is said that if you carry a sprig of rue in your pocket it will confuse those wee folk and you can be on your way!

Faerie Queen - Midsummer Magic' is available as limited edition prints in my Mythweaver shop.
I am so pleased to have finished her at long last and can't wait to see what my pencils will sketch for the next painting in the set 'Spring'

It feels so good to be blogging again and I look forward to next time, but for now I shall leave you as the garden is a calling, it's a glorious afternoon and I have seedlings to plant.