Slowing down in Ireland


Well I had an amazing week in Ireland – it was quite a journey in both the physical and metaphorical sense.  Such a beautiful country, such warm people, so many seductive Irish voices I could listen to for the rest of my days …

The traveling was a bit grim and I arrived in a state of pain severe enough for a doctor to come to the hotel, administer a shot and give me sleeping pills.  Two days later I started my period a week early – ’nuff said.  That idea I talked about recently of getting out on the road to do workshops … well let’s just say I’m not sure how viable that is this side of menopause.  Tempting though it is to bypass my remaining few years of troublesome menstruation via drugs or surgery, I really don’t want to go down that road if I can avoid it.  I think I just need to give my body a chance to get over the months of long distance house hunting and the move itself, so I’ll just hibernate here in our little corner of Scotland for the rest of this year and put my energy into some online projects I’m cooking up.

The painting and journaling classes I took in Bantry were both incredible experiences in their own unique ways.  Orly Avineri‘s journaling class was a guided journey into an unknown world, beautifully prepared and thought out in great detail.  Her teaching is poetic and soulful and intensely personal.  I had to put aside impatience and resistance and learn to quieten down, really listen and be completely present in the moment.  To say much more could spoil it for anyone taking a similar class with Orly in the future and I want to respect the private space she created for us.  If you do ever get a chance to do a class with her, open your heart and embrace it with complete trust.


Flora Bowley‘s class was also transformational in a different way.  I got as much from Flora’s mental preparation for painting as I did from her intuitive approach to working with layers of colour and mark making.  As a child of the seventies, I grew up with some hang-ups about anything too “New Age” or “spiritual”, but Flora’s morning group sessions helped me to open up and embrace the wisdom of starting any kind of creative endeavour with a personal ritual, whether that is quiet introspection, setting an intention, writing an affirmation or letting go of something holding you back.



Right at the start, Flora encouraged us to let go of something and I chose to let go of living in the future (always planning) and commit to being present – something I identified as an issue for me in my journal recently.  None of my paintings are finished yet, but one of the other students got some photos of me on the last day with a couple of my works in progress (thanks Janet!).


This one began life as someone else’s painting – we all handed in one of our paintings on the second day and Flora re-distributed them around us all as a lesson in not being precious about the early stages of getting down layers.  As I worked on it and looked at my sketches that I had drawn walking around the gardens, I realised I was seeing circles everywhere – drawing the gravel on the path, the cobblestone drainage channels in the garden, the dotty foliage of the lacecap hydrangeas – my sketchbook was full of circles.  So I painted circles and the moon like face emerged almost by herself.



This one is definitely inspired by the hydrangea petals around Bantry House gardens and I now have a clearer vision of where I’d like to go with this one.  It could take a while to get there without destroying the parts that I love, but that’s the challenge of painting.

And that leads me neatly into the gap quotation by Ira Glass (an American author and radio presenter) which some of us discussed in the bar one evening.  If you haven’t come across this quote before, it may just help you to persevere, whatever creative path you’re on.  (Click the image to enlarge.)


I have more to share from this very special trip and more photos once my camera and computer have had a bit of marriage guidance therapy and are talking to each other again, so stay tuned for part two!


A Space for Dreaming

I know I’ve gone a bit quiet on the blogging front, but Adrian and I have turned our house over to friends eager to house sit for us in pretty Portpatrick while we have a couple of weeks away in equally pretty Bantry Bay in Ireland.

It’s a very special trip for me – I’m actually here on an art retreat called ‘A Space for Dreaming’ organised by artist Pauline Agnew.  I am doing three days journaling with Orly Avinieri and three days painting with Flora Bowley. I planned this trip months ago, before we moved house, knowing that it would be the perfect antidote to the stresses of househunting, moving and settling in to a new area.

The journey was not a fun experience (I got ill), but I’m sorted now, feeling much better and enjoying the company of  45 other creative women for six whole days!  I am being stretched, I am slightly outside my comfort zone which is as it should be on a retreat – I’m here to grow and learn, not re-hash what I already know.  I am being slowed down, made to focus and engage at a slower pace than I would normally.  I am collaborating with others and building the foundations of new friendships.

Internet is very tricky in the hotel – it can’t cope with the volume of people trying to use it and of course I’m now outside the UK so I can’t use the phone to connect as easily.  So I may be quiet on the blog and Facebook a little longer, but I did manage to get the Monday Mojo emails prepared before I left, so you will still get those if you are on the list (the sign up box is here on the right).

I’ll be back with photos at some point!


Chocolate Baroque Colour Challenge 2

A while ago, Lesley and I decided to do a little background swap and we chose the colours of this month’s Chocolate Baroque Colour Challenge to play with.

This month’s colour challenge over at

I can’t tell you much about how the background on my card was created as I didn’t make it!  What I did do though was stamp the keys and keyholes in Cornflower Blue  and Venetian Orange Archival ink.  I stamped some up to three times before re-inking to give the fainter images in the background.

col challenge2

The sentiment is stamped in black archival and that’s it – mounted onto a brown card, it’s a super simple, quick card.  The stamps are all from Key to My Dreams – a useful stamp set for mens cards and I think it goes with our Steampunk range really well too.

If you’d like to see what everyone else has been creating with this month’s colour swatch, do take a look at the Chocolate Baroque Colour Challenge blog – it’s truly inspiring.

Have a great weekend!




PS – Lesley is doing one of her weekend treats over at Chocolate Baroque – click here to get all the details.

Seaside Dreams

Well firstly, thank you all for your very encouraging comments about me doing some workshops – I had lots of replies over on Facebook too, so I’m trying to get something planned for the end of October and will let you know what, when and where.

Meanwhile, Chocolate Baroque  just launched a set of Seaside themed stamps last week (Seaside Dreams) and of course they are instantly my favourite stamps ever.

I used them to create this week’s Monday Mojo inspired card which features a transparent strip along the front to reveal the inside of the card.  Click here to read the tutorial showing how I created this type of card.


The inside is a gelli print which I stamped with Archival Aqua ink.  The shells on the front were stamped with Pale Ochre Archival ink, masked off and stamped again.  I then drew a pencil line above the shells, simplifying the shape slightly and cut them out to form the base of the card.

The line below the beach huts was drawn using a useful gadget – the curved Tonic rulers which are handy when you want a wave shape bigger than anything a paper trimmer can do.

seaside bunting

When Lesley came to visit a couple of weeks ago, we had real fun playing with these stamps.  I had the idea of making seaside bunting, but I got carried away with colouring and I think it might take a while to do a whole string of bunting!  Lesley made a super postcard which you can see on her blog  (  My bunting is coloured with polychromos pencils, including the sea behind the huts which uses lighter and lighter shading to fade out to white.  Today the view from my window is of a sparkling grey-blue sea, but we sometimes see it where the sea fades out to sky with no visible horizon and the boats look like they are floating in mid air.


seaside mermaid

We also did some gelli printing and the mermaid card below uses one of my prints as the backing paper.  The mermaid is coloured with copic markers.


mermaid seashells


The scalloped circle card seemed very appropriate for the shells. I stamped in Archival Potting Soil and coloured with pencils before covering with a mask. Once masked, I used a large brush to add colour to the sky and sand. The two starfish are from  Underwater Kingdom which are also coloured with pencils. Just when it was all looking good, I noticed a smudge at the top of the card, so I picked out the tiny shell from Mermaid Queen and stamped it all around the edge which disguised the mark and gave the whole thing a nice frame too.

I hope you are enjoying the same glorious sunshine that we have here at the moment. We are making the most of it while it lasts – we were out last night on the putting green then we took a trip out to sea to watch the sunset.  The sky was fantastic!




PS – you can click on any photos to see a larger image – just use the back button on your browser to return to the post.


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