Friday, 21 September 2012


It's been a busy but enjoyable week.  I don't want to spend much longer on my computer, so this will be short and hopefully sweeter than the plums on my plum tree.
I've met lots of interesting and interested folk; everyone has a story to tell. We are all innately fascinated by each other, I think.  That's about it, really.  Many little seeds have been sown - ideas for stories and paintings and projects.  And ways of doing things better next year.  People have come and admired things that I have made, and that feels good.  It is good to be adding to the sum total of human happiness.  This is, someone once told me, what life is all about. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012


Today has been spent out and about, looking at art in all its guises.  I just noticed that word "spent". It really has been spent, hasn't it?  Gone forever now.  I'm happy to say I believe I spent it fruitfully, which is not always true.  May that be a lesson to keep with me.  That all sounds very serious - maybe because I am tired after my day gadding about the countryside.  I went prepared today, with a picnic lunch. 

I went south today, heading straight for Old Portlethen, where it did what it said on the tin.  A warm welcome awaited (as it says in the catalogue) at the home and studio of David and Jane Pettigrew.  Over a hundred pieces of artwork adorned the walls of their home and studio, as well as the corridor that joins them.  They obviously work quite happily in the spaces within their home.  I know that I am not tidy enough to be able to do that.  We spoke for quite a long while, about materials and methods, Italy and Manhattan, washing and textures.  Have a look at the website and you will understand why washing (as in washing-line) featured in our conversation.  Before I left, we went to look out over the sea from their cliff-top perch.  What a magical place to live and work.

Stonehaven is always a good place for a picnic and today was no exception.  Everyone else seemed to have the same idea - the esplanade beside the excellent fish and chip shop and tempting ice cream shop was chockablock with cars.  I regretted not taking the dogs with me for an outing, as I would then have had a brisk walk along the beach.  As it was, I slothed in the car, munching and listening to the radio. 

Gallery at Fifty Five has not been open very long.  It is on the main street in Stonehaven.  Three painters are exhibiting there just now; one is the gallery owner, who paints in watercolour.  The other two were very bright and vivid, real splashes of colour.  There is such a variety of work on display during NEOS.

Thereafter I zoomed down the coast road to Catterline, to the Old Schoolhouse.  Combine harvesters worked away in the fields as I sped past.  Again, a wide range of work was on show.  I don't know about you, but I prefer to wend my own way through an exhibition and don't particularly like being told which "end" to start at.  Nor do I like heavily scented candles filling the air with a smog of perfume.  But that's just me.  I'm sure loads of people love it.  Perhaps it works in the same way as having background music playing.  If there is a familiar tune playing, or one which evokes good memories or assocations, is one more likely to make a purchase? Maybe it works the same way with our sense of smell.  Interesting.

The Phoenix Hall at Newton Dee has several artists exhibiting together.  I could not recall having seen any of Catherine Imhof-Cardinal's work before, but I was very taken with it.  So much so that I bought a book about it!  Chatted with Alison Davidson about her work, too, and discovered that she runs classes locally.  Debbie Neill is also exhibiting there - I studied her paintings with interest, as I've signed up for one of her workshops next month.

The last stop of the day was at Mill Farm, near Kemnay - Susie Hunt's studio, where a talented group of folk are exhibiting together (and having a rare old time as well, by all accounts).   Here I was offered a very welcome cup of tea and even a fancy piece (or two).  That's something I have been doing - offering a cuppa and homebakes.  It usually goes down a treat.  I know from my touring experiences, not just this year, but over the past few years, that it is really tiring trekking round the countryside looking at art.  Yes, it is.  Really.  I know that my senses get overloaded, especially the visual, so regular sustenance is required.  (How does that work, exactly?).  That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.  The only problem can be that, having partaken of sustenance of a liquid variety, loo stops are inevitably required.  So, when planning your NEOS route, do try to ensure that both of these needs are met.  Preferably in the same location, without having to pay 20p (as I had to do; Stonehaven, you know where you are!). 

So, the last stop.  Lots of chat with Morag McGee, who explained how raku firing works; I want to see it in action now, having smelt a piece that was done yesterday.  I should have worn my "Fit Like" earrings that I bought from her last year... maybe that would have been a bit obvious.   I sifted through a box of lovely pen and ink drawings by Gabi Reith and found a beautiful one which appealed to me straight away. "Posh Bird" came home with me; I will need to find a suitable frame for her.  There's also lovely jewellery on display in the studio, from fused glass to acrylic and found materials.  And some interesting photographs.  Just as well I haven't started my Christmas shopping yet.  But some seeds of ideas were planted.

The light today was not as fantastic as two days ago, so I took very few photographs.  This was what caught my eye just a little way up a farm track not far east of Dunecht.


I like to think that was my sixth venue of the day.  The smell of the freshly cut wood was amazing.  If only these were scratch and sniff photographs.  While I was packing up to leave the track, a chap arrived in dark coloured estate car and parked a little way further up.  I wondered if he was going to tell me off for lurking amongst the woodpile.  I had been very careful not go to near, heeding the warning signs not to climb on top of them.  But no, he proceeded to shin over the wall and up on to the pile of thickest trunks.  He took out a tape measure and measured at least one of them, lengthwise.  I didn't like to stare too hard.  He looked as if he knew what he was doing, was meant to be there.  Probably a forestry chappie, I thought, though he wore a navy fleece, not a dark green one.  My mind set to wondering; perhaps he was going to hollow a canoe out of one of the large logs, and needed to know if it was wide enough?  Or was he a log rustler?  Is there such a thing as a log rustler? And are they called that? 

Enough already.  It's been a long but interesting day.  Plenty of food for thought.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


I can't believe I just wrote one sentence in my previous blog post and then ran off.  How rude.  Today I am determined to write a proper blog.

Yesterday I took the day off from manning The Cabin to take a tour round some North East Open Studios venues.  I planned my route quite carefully, trying to take account of driving times and distances, and also to plan some refreshment stops.  I still took a snack box with me, of course, in case of emergencies or paucity of coffee shops.  When I got home at 7pm, the snack box was empty.  More due to my lack of good planning than anything else. 

I always underestimate travelling times and had also completely ignored the possibility that the northeast countryside would be at its most enticing on a sunny September afternoon.  My first stop was at a venue nearby, with many talented artists all exhibiting together.  I stopped to chat, making acquaintance, gleaning information about art classes and workshops.  It is always interesting to hear how others have arrived where they are today.  It would be lovely to meet up with some of these folk throughout the year, to continue these conversations.   I even bought something.  I may tell you later what it was.

Onwards to a village hall in the bowels of the country, to view paintings by a local art group.  A range of work was on view, along with some fascinating scupltures, based mainly on boulders sifted from farmers' fields.  This visit was followed by a hare northwards across the countryside to a wee place that I've only been to once before, to catch a friend's exhibition before closing.  She had just sold a painting, and had sold several in the past few days, so was feeling happy.  Luckily there was a tea shop next door with homebakes on offer and a very cheerful girl serving at the counter.  She was doing so in between giving loving "bosies" to a tiny person who I assumed was her nearly-new niece.

Between these visits I stopped several times, once backtracking completely and parking at the edge of a stubble field.  The sky was so entrancing, I'm surprised that no following vehicles reported me for erratic driving.  On a day made for dawdling, I seemed to encounter more than my fair share of impatient drivers, who drove right up my backside (not literally).  This meant that pulling over suddenly when I spotted a field or cloud or building that was of interest was completely impossible.  So, I stopped a few times, in safe places, and took photographs.  Here are a few of them.


My last port of call was to a little coastal village that I have not visited for a long time.  It is not so little any more.  Houses seemed to blanket the fringes of the place, which were now darkly solid.  I talked photography for a while at a venue which I had not planned to visit, then wandered to the harbour, camera in hand.  Again, the sky was full of movement and life.  Clouds, dark and grey and menacing on one side; fluffy and white and shining on the other.   Skeins of geese passed overhead more than once.  The boats in the harbour waited patiently for the tide to turn.  I turned and came home.

Monday, 17 September 2012


The time is now. It is Day 3 of North East Open Studios and things are quiet enough for me to write a wee bit here.
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Thursday, 13 September 2012


I have been busy getting things ready.  It's amazing how long everything takes, especially when you've become unaccustomed to working to deadlines.  I ordered some greetings cards a week or so ago - they arrived the other day, so it was time to sit down and put them into little cellophane sleeves, to keep them nice and clean while potential customers riffle through them next week.  No, next week, that day after tomorrow!  That's when North East Open Studios starts.  In case I hadn't mentioned it before.  Here's a couple of my cards - both of watercolour paintings by yours truly.

The next thing to get done was to get rid of all the junk - sorry, artist's materials - from the cabin/shed in the back garden, which is our venue for the week.  Again, this has been quite a slow process, as I kept finding things that I didn't know I had, or things that I had thought were lost forever.  I seem to have quite a lot of paper.  I do have a bit of a thing for paper, or rather stationery.  I can never have too much of it.  I really should just use it all up, paint things or write things on it.  No need to buy any for a while, anyway. 

Saturday, 8 September 2012


I am in the throes of preparing for North East Open Studios, a fantastic event which is in its ninth year. It is a collective of artists, makers and craftspeople in the northeast of Scotland, who work together to promote their work by opening up their studios to all and sundry for nine days in September. The process also involves the production of a lovely wee catalogue, containing details of all 285 participants. This super publication is free (yes, Free!) and has been distributed far and wide in the past couple of weeks. Here's what it looks like, so you can keep your eyes peeled for copies lying around the place.

The bleeper is going on the cooker to say my spaghetti is cooked.... to be continued...