Now and agin you make a breakthrough. It’s never quite what you’re searching for but it’s a step along the way and encourages you to go on exploring.




Since returning from Australia, I have been feeling stuck ….unable to paint. It’s a scary feeling when you just can’t seem to move forward with your art practice. The success at the Norwich Art Fair had made me wonder if I should try to ‘go commercial’ with my painting? Deep down I knew it would be wrong to sell out and go against the grain of the aspirations of my MA course. But on the other hand if I just kept on painting and moving further towards pure abstract I’d soon be up to my ears in canvases piling up and taking valuable space in my studio. I need to sell to move things on and create space for the next canvas.

I took a long hard look at the main part of my MA exhibition stuff.

And I really didn’t like it ! Then I looked at a photo of the massive  loose canvas which didn’t make it into the main exhibition.

And I DID like it. But it was totally impractical…no frame and 2.5 metres wide. All I could do is roll it up and shove it in a corner. On a whim I dug out the underwater photos which had inspired the monster of a painting and quickly overpainted a small experimental acrylic painting using oil paint for a change. I just used one of the original figures swimming towards me underwater. And something happened …….

I had simply painted from the heart. Advice given to me by a good friend who maintained that it was no good trying to second-guess what would sell but to just paint what you, yourself, love and then someone else would surely love it too. I felt pleased that at last my block was lifting so I made a second quick oil-painting by overpainting one of my MA canvases. These were already in oils and made a perfect background for another swimmer. Having looked long and hard at these 8 canvases I realised how dead, soul less and empty they looked. They needed some life injected into them….

And here it is. My usual muse, Kate, from an old photograph.

The 8 MA canvases are all rather nice natural linen – 60 cm. square and I’m now excited to tackle the whole lot, eradicating the emptiness and injecting life into them.

In tandem with this project, I’m looking forward to running 3 Art Workshops alongside my weekly teaching of an adult group. I started teaching again after Christmas and am now addicted having begun somewhat tentatively. It’s so rewarding to watch the classes growing confidence and progress.

Life just keeps getting better !




On following a suggested link, from a comment on my last blog on studio space, I have discovered an artist who has some similarities with my own practice. A slight obsession with the subject of water. He seems to be drawn towards painting water as often as myself. Not sure if he shares my passion for immersing myself in water too?

But it’s good to know that someone else shares my simple pleasure in this most fundamental element. I have frequently wondered if this subject is enough in the face of contemporary artists who seem to focus on more intellectual, concepts and strongly political issues such as poverty,  gender issues, Global warming and other quite difficult themes.

The endless  tactile,  visual and emotional experience of observing and being within water are more than enough to sustain my artistic practice forever.

That feeling of otherworldliness as you slip beneath the surface never ceases to thrill me. The sensation of weightlessness, freedom of movement and escape from reality is like a drug. Endeavouring to express just a fraction of what that feels like, through my paintings is a challenge which will never be fully accomplished but equally will never cease to be a challenge.

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Went into Ipswich today to meet up with a couple of arty friends from my time at Suffolk University. We all feel the need for a good studio space. They share a studio space at the Atrium at the university and I work in a space at home which is not ideal. Their space is a bit quiet and restricted but at least it’s not in their homes.  Vital to keep in touch with friends like these and it was invigorating to chat about art. I rushed home to do a bit more to a painting I’ve started about wild swimming in the river at Warraba in NSW. I had thought it was finished but suddenly needed to do more to it.

Here are some closeups of the surface. I think there’s still more to do. So hard to know when to stop???

Tomorrow is my teaching day which I’m really enjoying now and then next week I’m returning to Ipswich to see another friend who is also looking for studio space.

My main initiative for the next few weeks is to solve the studio problem and to push forward to apply for exhibiting space and kick start my practice yet again. Australia was a blast but I must get back on track.



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Just got back from a month in Manilla, NSW Australia. Even the locals were complaining of the heatwave we had. Intended to paint but my brain was frying and the most I could manage was a series of small watercolours.

Mostly horses. There were 10 on my stepdaughters  vast 200 acre property. But also tried to capture the view from the verandah where we spent a lot of time just gazing and drinking in the amazing spaces. As well as drinking cool beers and wine! Unless you’ve been to Australia it’s impossible to truly appreciate the space. It’s monumental, daunting, exhilarating and impossible.

Returning home I immediately set about trying to recall in paint all the mixed feelings and impressions of Australia. So far I’m failing miserably.

The first big painting I started has rapidly degenerated into my former descriptive, figurative style. I keep shouting No!!! in my head but it still comes out as a figurative image. It’s as if I haven’t spent the last 6 years doing a BA and an MA and pushing my practice forward. Gone are the aspirations to paint from the memory of experience and to create an ambiguous reflection of time and space.

So here I am blogging about my struggles. It usually helps to articulate my thoughts by writing….thinking aloud on paper….well on a laptop but it’s similar. I’ve somehow got to inject the heat, dust, colour, joy and space into the image and at the moment, working in 3 degree grey UK after temperatures in the high 30’s and low 40’s it’s just not working. I’m lost as to how to do that.

Also spent time in the local pool and swimming in rivers and small lakes. Maybe I should start with that aspect…. more my natural element. Hmm now that’s a thought. Back to the drawing-board.


I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve got over that feeling at the end of the MA of falling off a cliff. It seemed to take much longer after the BA. Maybe it was having to go straight into the one day a week teaching which helped. Initially I slightly resented the time it ate up – 10 till 3 every Thursday plus I inevitably spent time preparing stuff each week too. They are quite a demanding group. But slowly as I got to know them all better and began to realise that my tuition was actually making a difference to their artistic results I started to look forward to Thursdays. I’m regaining that long-forgotten high of enjoyment and fulfilment when you see people making progress through your teaching efforts. I was thinking of giving it up next term as I felt I was procrastinating yet again rather than trying to move on with my own art practice but instead we’ve come to a compromise and I’ll teach every other week after Christmas giving me time to get away to paint in new spaces, as I’d like to do, to carry on with the lido project among other things.

Here’s the first painting on this theme. I’m hoping the Australia trip might inspire more on this line. But in the meantime I’m busy selecting images for the Art Fair East in Norwich where I’m exhibiting with Jen Sendall. Having to prepare for this is a second reason why I’m not suffering withdrawal symptoms I think….too busy.

These are some of the paintings I’m taking to Norwich. Alec is helping to frame some of them for me. I’m hoping to finish a portrait of Kate in time for this but am working in oils agin so it’s a bit slow compared with acrylics.

I think, at last, I’m beginning to slow down and consider things more carefully….breaking the habits of a lifetime of rushing headlong into everything and often realising my mistakes too late…one step forward two steps back. Am I actually growing up I wonder??