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Express Yourself

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

Where the summer was all about getting out and about and finding inspiration for my landscape art, visiting and sketching, September has been about getting into new routines, October is about conserving energy – finding a balanced pace so avoid arriving in winter exhausted and dishevelled! It’s my favourite month (do I say that every month?!). I like the quietening, I like seeing the stars again and tracking the waxing and waning moon in a velvety night sky. There are the trees to admire, leaves to collect and a crispening of mornings. Later in the month as the leaves drop, I love to kick through a rusty pile and hear the change of the seasons.

A large part of my archive is Autumn based work. It is a palette I love and the work evolves from the resources I gathered in the summer months. There’s an authenticity to the work that has evolved from a moment in nature, captured in a sketch, plotted as a design and evolved into a finished landscape. There’s a melancholy attached to having winter around the corner, but I take solace in the celebrations along the way – in Halloween and Bonfire night – celebrations that are around gathering, being in nature, about food and family and friends. And I love getting my boots on and layering up!

Like my work, my wardrobe is layered. It was always funny as a textile student at art college to see whose clothes matched their wardrobe! Mine is full of autumn tones, burnt orange is a favourite colour along with teal. I love colour blocks and a hint of pattern. I’m happy in a hat and scarf as the temperature in the studio drops. Curating a wardrobe that works for the darker days ahead, keeping hold of colour, adding layers of cotton and wool for warmth and comfort – that’s part of my preparations for this season.

Looking good every day is, for me an impossibility! But I want to feel good and ready for anything. There are plenty of days where my focus is on what I am doing rather than what I look like! I’m a mum, artist and business-woman so different days call for different ‘hats’. Like with my art-work, it took a long time to accept my dress style as my own and to enjoy it. I guess I’d call it hippy-chic meets granny-style!!

This month I am having a photo-shoot with the wonderful Ursula Kelly who will capture my style and studio so I can update my website. I’m also having a shoot with Ally who is my Social Media Assistant and so much more. We’re trying to capture some joy and comfort ready to offer inspiration during the colder months.

Preparing for winter brings me comfort as I look ahead to the pleasures of a winter fire, a walk on a crisp day. I love a plan that brings me home to a slow-cook stew. Last winter in the darkest days of lockdown I wore a lot of grey and navy and I’m resolving to wear more colour this autumn and winter to keep heart and soul buoyant. My palette is full of squished berry shades, denim, ochre, burnt orange and plum. Do you have a palette of colours that you wear and also use in your art? Do you work with cloth and wear embroidered clothes?

Is how you look a part of your self-expression, or a barrier to getting stuck in to the real work of painting and making? I must say that so many of my clothes end up with paint on them – wanting to just get on, rather than changing into more appropriate attire! Of course, my studio has a peg with pinny’s I can wear (I had to translate this for my son recently who didn’t know that a pinny is an apron). There’s also the challenge of being brave when we express ourselves – having the courage of our convictions to wear the hat, or dress, or shoes that seemed such a good idea when we bought them. Are you a brave, expressive artist? Do you wear the colours of your soul? Or do you dim your light?

I always talk about creativity as a holistic pursuit. If you are feeling blocked with your art or making, surprising your inner artist by feeding the senses can kickstart your creativity. Dressing creatively can be a part of this, so if you’ve been feeling detached from your usual creative processes, an evening spent layering colour, pattern and textures in your wardrobe can lead to some creative confidence. Thinking about how we style ourselves can help nurture how we create and express in our artwork. It may seem fickle but how we feel about ourselves can have a huge impact on how confident we feel in expressing ourselves in our artwork.

I am a bit of a cloth junky. My background is in textile design and I love the feel of cloth, the textures and warmth of it. Over the summer I got back to some projects that were fabric based – I am hoping to stitch into these in the dark evenings ahead. There’s something very comforting about stitch, the meditation of layering and joining fabrics together. I often get asked if my landscapes are made of fabrics – and mostly they are not, they are stitched – but through layers of paper, my processes having evolved out of my appliqued textile designs into painted, layered, patched and stitched collage.

But in the last couple of years the pull of cloth has been too much to resist. The slowness of hand-stitch helped me through some challenges – when I needed to still mind and body. So, I want to offer this solace to others and have been developing a course, ‘Stitching the Stillness’ that will be launched in November 2021. I will show you step by step with video tutorials and tasks the stages of designing from the landscape to create a peaceful winter themed piece that we will evolve in painted fabric and hand-stitch. It will give you confidence in design, colour, layering and stitching – and you can express the world with your palette and put your stamp on the project. Who will join me?

Something to inspire all your senses….

Watching – Sharing well-loved films with my teenagers – “The Motorcycle Diaries” – Looking forward to James Bond and the new Wes Anderson film.

Reading – not a lot! I have a very big book pile and have been enjoying Donal Ryan’s “Strange Flowers"

Listening – my music mellows in the autumn – enjoying some Xavier Rudd

Eating – home grown produce! Beans, pumpkins, giant beetroot. My favourite salad at the moment is grated carrot/red cabbage/cooked spring onions with sesame seeds, soy sauce and lime juice.

Smelling – frankincense oil in my bath for comfort

Touching – softness, blankets, hot water bottle cover and my pussy cat, Milo. Resisisting putting the heating on for as long as possible!

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