October 29, 2014

Autumn poetry, pictures & paintings

 The golden hues of Autumn have danced through the trees surrounding our wee cottage and trickled their way into my sketchbook. You perhaps already guessed that I love this time of year, it always fills me with the joy of being and ignites my creativity.
Walks in the ancient woodlands fill my pockets with treasures aplenty, each taken home and placed in pride of place on my studio 'seasons'  windowsill to bring me smiles through the darkening days.
 For me autumn feels like a comfortable ancient cloak wrapped about my shoulders, familiar & cosy an old friend to be greeted with joy after the longest of partings.
 Mr O tells says my hair is like "Autumn" and that as we walk in those quiet places I disappear into the surroundings, ha!  so it seems I am indeed an Autumn lass.
 I stop at every turn to take my photos, forever astounded by the hues and textures Mother Nature provides, inspiration for my paintings for years to come.
 Every once in a while I catch a glimpse of wee messages left by fae folk, hearts hidden here & there if you remember to stay still awhile and look for those secret places..
 Even the sunsets seem imbued with Autumnal colour.  It seems the perfect way to say goodbye to the day, to stand on our doorstep and watch the sun slowly sinking into the night leaving velvet darkness.
So I am away back to my paper and my paints to try and capture the essence of Autumn, I'm not sure yet who will appear on the page, but she does have glorious hair.  I shall leave you with some words from one of my favourite Autumn poems by Thomas Hood

"I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like Silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
  Pearling his coronet of golden corn."

it can be read in full here 

October 08, 2014

Art journaling workshops

Back during the long hazy days of Summer, I had the pleasure of teaching my first "Introduction to Art Journaling" course.  Set in the lovely surroundings of the Franca Bruno shop in Gatehouse of Fleet,  a beautiful old  converted church,  it was the perfect setting for an evening of creativity.    There was much laughter, chatter, creativity and playing with paints, pens and papers.  Franca provided a delicious array of refreshments to keep us going and someone bought in a big bowl of fresh from the garden raspberries!
 I have been working on a programme of workshop based activities over the past year, with the view to teaching creative play, based around topics that can also take the participant on a journey of self discovery and nurture their soul.   It was a joy to see these lovely folk letting go and "playing" with the materials I provided, and coming up with some beautiful pieces of work. When teaching the workshops, I demonstrate a variety of techniques and medium and with creative prompts folk then experiment and get creative themselves.
 My own art journaling is now an extension of me, a place where I capture my hopes and dreams, emotions and thoughts through art and words. A place I can experiment and play creatively.
An art journal can bring greater insight and understanding of self, it can enhance the ability to listen to our inner voice and heighten our self awareness. By putting down our thoughts it focuses out attention and  allows us to explore them. Journaling is also a great stress reliever, and a wonderful way to discover new talents or awake old ones.
During my workshops we explore self expression, art-making and journaling all in one go.  You don't have to be an artist to participate, all you need is the desire to be creative and an art journal. So if you ever felt you wanted to:
* Discover your artist within
* Begin a creative practice
* Learn to have some creative fun
* Get in touch with and nurture your soul
* Explore creative expression
* Learn how to start creating an art journal
* Begin your journey of self discovery
* Learn art techniques

then perhaps heart journaling is for you.
I have dates for my upcoming "Heart Journaling" workshops

 *  Tuesday 21st Oct, 7-9pm at the Franca Bruno shop. Gatehouse of Fleet £5pp

*  Saturday 22nd Nov 1.30-3.30 at The Art Room within the Old School, Dumfries £20pp
I am also hoping to run a series of weekly workshops in the New Year

You can find more information about the course or contact me if you are interested over on my website www.ruthieredden.com   or e-mail me at ruthieredden@hotmail.co.uk.

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 You may also be interested to read my post about the "Happiness Book" I keep here.

October 02, 2014

Glorious colour in nature and art . . . and a little Kaffe Fassett

As September turns and makes way for October, I am amazed at the glorious weather we are still having. It has been so mild, I can still sit out in the garden and marvel at the sparks of remaining Summer colour showing here and there! The richness of the colours combined with the hues of Autumn weave a rich tapestry indeed.
 All that colour reminded me of the exhibition I saw during our Summer break "Kaffe Fassett: 50 years in colour".  I have long loved Kaffe's work and was lucky enough to fit in a visit to Aberdeen on our way home to see this!
And, wow was it worth the effort.  I have to say the exhibition itself was one of the most inspiring I seen, it made me want to dash right home and experiment with lots of colour and pattern. Below is a video Kaffe made for the launch at the gallery.

As soon as you entered the exhibition you were enveloped by the richness and pattern of Kaffe's work, sumptuous knitted garments for which he never follows a pattern but designs each as he knits, inspired in part by the colours he has chosen.
Fantastic mixtures of colour and shapes in his needlepoint. I very first came across his work when years ago my lovely Mom bought me one of his tapestry books and the materials to stitch one of the cushions.
It is one thing viewing these works in a book, but seeing them in "person",  all grouped together is inspiring indeed. His patchwork kept me mesmerised for ages, the mixing of patterns to create such intricate designs was wonderful.
I came away with a copy of his autobiography, "Dreaming in colour" and couldn't put it down. It is filled with beautiful images of his work and inspirations. I love the way he views the world and sees endless possibilities for his knitting, mosaics, patchwork, ceramics, etc.  You can read more about Kaffe here on his website. As you can see from the top left and middle image below, I love colour and have lots of pattern and colour splashed about our home. 
The crochet throw (shown top left) was made many moons ago by my Grandma. I was recently inspired by one of her patchwork creations to make a quilt for my Grandaughter. My daughter decided the colours: hot pink, turquoise, white and I have been collecting scraps of fabrics for ages (even some snippets of her baby clothes will be added). The trouble was I didn't quite know where to start, it is to be a throw for a single bed, quite a large piece for a first go at patchwork!  Seeing the patchwork at  the exhibition though was perfect timing, and now I am inspired at last and can't wait to see the end result, I'm hoping to have it made by Christmas!Talking of wee rascals, look who's staying with Grannie for a few days. The best kind of distraction! 
Not forgetting of course the winners of my "Blessing Tree" draw.  Thank you to all who took the time to enter, both here and through twitter and Facebook, I loved the replies I got so much I just had to choose two winners in the end: Susan King & Hazel Lightfoot. Congratulations ladies.
As the shadows lengthen and Autumn spreads her amber glow I shall leave you with one of my favourite quotes and some of the words shared by readers of their favourite reasons for loving Autumn ~ Enjoy!

The colors, the cool crisp air, the smell of leaves and apples, and I get to bring out my favourite scarves and boots! I could happily in eternal autumn.

Autumn... colours, leaves, berries, low sunshine and stunning sunsets x
the changing colours, the cooling weather, warm cardigans, kicking through crunchy leaves, warm puddings and custard.

Foggy mornings, spider webs looking like necklaces, porridge for breakfast, leaves turning and that lovely 'smell' in the air.

I love the warmth of the Sun and the cool air; I love the colors of the deciduous trees; I love the lighting at this time - it's such a clear light; I love Hallowe'en; my birthday is at the very end of Autumn so you know I must love the season since I was born into it!

The light, the light, the glorious light....

I love all the seasons, but being a person who loves color, Autumn in New England is really beyond astonishing EVERY single year. 

Here in Southern Wisconsin the Autumn leaves and colors are just starting to show...my favorite time of the year.

Autumn; I was born on a Wednesday in October, like a seed cast willy-nilly under the opulent leaves. Potential in waiting. And my mother named me Hazel, as the asplendent Harvest sun lit all the shells of my fruits. Autumn reminds us to let go; a reminder to surrender. As a creative farer, an artist, we carry this emblem to continue yielding to the Divine, allowing its imagery to flow through us, as rain through Autumn moss.

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I have recently updated my Etsy shop "Mythweaver" and now accept direct payments from visa, credit cards etc as well as the usual paypal. Do visit for a peep at my work. I am soon going to be uploading lots of new goodies very over the next couple of weeks!

September 22, 2014

Nature's Treasures and a birthday giveaway . . . .

 On darkening Autumnal evenings as I have wandered lane & shore
I have come across some wondrous treasures, tiny hidden gifts waiting to be found.
Gloriously patterned stones, like some ancient artifact that fit snugly into the palm of my hand.
 Beautiful heart shaped slate, painted with many hues in the evening light
 a delicate blown thistle, perhaps a miniature faerie pompadour wig
A stem washed up on the shore, such an intricate piece of sculpture .
All gifts from Mother Nature to amaze and astound.
And speaking of gifts, well I have one right here.
It was my birthday very recently, such an Autumn girl am I.
 I felt it would be the perfect time to hold a giveaway. The prize is one of my new range of personalised A3 Blessing tree prints.  They are the perfect way to record special family events, make wonderful gifts and can be adapted to suit many occasions: births, christenings, weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries.

To enter, leave a comment below telling me which is your favourite season of the year and why.
I shall pull a name from the hat and announce a winner on Monday 29th September.

You can find the full range of blessing trees on my website 

September 16, 2014

Summers Passing and a tale or two

 Summer slipped by this year in a flurry of doings as my feet carried me here & there and when I sat down to tell all I didn't quite know where to begin, so this is a tale of my too-ing & fro-ing, its a wee bit long and may well have to come in parts 1 and 2!
(You can click on the images to view larger)
 The beginnings of August saw the annual Kirkcudbright Art & Craft Trail and bought a river of wonderful folk, faces  familiar & new, through the door of our wee exhibition space.  I shared the room with my talented Mom Jean Redden and jewelry maker Eileen Wright and this year we also had the pleasure of live music provided by friends Jon & Jen.  It's so lovely to have a chance to chat to the folk who come to see our work and I want to say a big thank you to all who came a-visiting. 
Without time for a breath we whisked away, Mr O & I, on adventures to the Northern shores of Caithness & Sutherland where we filled our days exploring & relaxing amongst the quiet places there, on our first travels in our wee house on wheels. (I must share with you one day that tale too!)  One of my favourite things to do when we go away is to explore and discover the history of the people and the place and Caithness is certainly filled with history.
We explored the ancient ruins of medieval castle Sinclair Girnigoe, built on the cliff edge, with waves crashing on the rocks below. We got a glimpse through the mist of the stacks of Duncansby that rose majestically to tower 60ft above the sea and we stepped into Smoo cave to marvel at this place where it is said Vikings once hid their boats! There are many legends told of the cave here, my favourite ~ that it was once the abode of spirits who guarded this entrance into the underworld.

The grey cairns of Camster were a site worth seeing, Neolithic chambered cairns that sat low and timeless on the hill.  As I clambered inside I was in awe of the work of those folk from long ago who built such a place, the largest is 69 metres long! Then it was on to the Hill 'O Many Stanes, the site of about 200 wee stones all no higher than my waist. Why were they set there and by who? There is no sure answer to this only a perhaps that t'was a way of recording lunar movements.

 We came across museums overflowing with beautifully carved Celtic crosses, strange winged angels, beasts and symbols with long forgotten meanings.
(Clockwise from top left) We saw intricately carved bone combs found at a settlement in Freswick, read about the awful treatment of the Forfar witches and saw the horrific Forfar Branks, a metal device that was placed around the head of the accused with a metal spike that went into the mouth, last used near the end of the 17th C. We wondered at charm stones and carved stone balls, found a pair of the wooden clogs worn by the herring fishwives in ports such as Scrabster and Wick and came across a wonderful exhibition telling the stories of their hard lives and the sad demise of the once flourishing fishing industry, made more fascinating still as we are in the process of researching Mr O's ancestors and believe some of them came from Caithness!
I wondered at the quaint slate walls we saw dividing some of the fields and discovered the story of how the beautifully coloured slate was quarried at the Castelhill. We went hunting for fossils at Achanarras and found (bottom left and middle) a fern and a fish, such an awe inspiring feeling to hold in you hands and be the one to expose something after  thousands of years have passed.
A visit to Castle Mey  (one on the cosiest & homely castles I have ever come across) and the wonderful gardens left me filled with lots of ideas for our own garden.
 We walked under huge skies, listening to the call of the sea birds and the crashing of the waves, it was music to sooth our souls, unspoilt, peaceful and perfect.
 We caught an incredible sunset and stood mesmerised at the waters edge as the sun slowly sank into the sea casting ever changing myriad colours across the sand.
I felt the healing power of nature as the days passed, felt myself slowly unwinding and my mind filling with inspiration once again, and thinking how very lucky we were.

July 28, 2014

Family Tree Workshops at the Wickerman . . .

I am back from a wonderful Wickerman Festival experience!
Such a fantastic weekend filled with scorching sunshine, beautiful sunsets, much music & singing & dancing,  and my workshops going down a storm!   I arrived in the Lowland Links tent on Friday morn to set up amidst roaring Vikings in full chain mail & helmet getup, a storyteller clad in medieval gown and so many other entertaining happenings. 
I hung bright coloured bunting in a huge blue tent
unpacked oodles of paint & pens & arty things.

Propped up my family tree samples & inspirations. 
Laid out sketchbooks stuffed with ideas & info.
Spread out a feast of templates & worksheets, 
then sat back & waited with baited breath!
 and very soon they began to arrive, lots of smiling & inquisitive wee ones
filled with enthusiasm & ideas of their own they began to create their very own family trees.
Masterpieces a-plenty, flowery trees, branchy trees, trees with lots of family names, trees filled with family fingerprints, some with birds & butterflies, others with beasties, each one quite unique.
There are far too photo's of the creations to share here, so if you want a peep at more
of the lovely works of art  & folks who made them take a look over here.
Thank you to each and every one of you who came along to say hi, lend a hand, or have a go. To Susi sweetpea provider of provisions & mansion sized tent & Mr O for an endless supply of tea, delicious food & an extra pair of hands and the biggest thank you to all you wonderful youngsters for sharing your creativity and laughter.  Can you tell I had a wonderful weekend  folksies.

My family tree workshops are great fun as you can see,
if anybody fancies having this activity at their event do get in touch.

July 21, 2014

A wickerman workshop . . .

Some of my best inspiration comes whilst I walk in my favourite places
down deep in the ancient forest, listening to the trees whispering their stories.
On early morning walks up past dew kissed fields,
I  watch crows rise amongst branches scribbled across pink tinged skies, 
their calls breaking the still air of a brand new day.
Of course it is no wonder trees so oft find their way into my paintings.
and lately I have been working on designs for family trees
tying together three things I love ~ trees, stories, genealogy. 
I am endlessly fascinated by all that history, all those happenings and connections.
As I add twining branches, names and dates running back into the past
 I ponder the stories, the connections, the history there.
For stories are what we are made of and my family trees a way of keeping those stories alive
I am thrilled this year to have been invited to demonstrate my family trees and lead "family tree workshops" for children in the Lowland Links Tent" at the Wickerman Festival. It is part of this years Homecoming Scotland celebrations, which is all about encouraging folk to explore their Scottish roots, and discover more about their heritage.
It should be altogether much fun and I cannot wait to see what magical creation willow sculptor Trevor Leat has conjured up for this years festival. As you can see last year we had a magnificent horned beltie.
It is almost a shame to see the sculpture go up in flames as part of each years spectacular festival finale. Do come and find me and say hello if you are at the Wickerman Festival this year!