Snow, yarn and other such ramblings

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There’s been a spot of colourful hooky going on in these parts.

After a bit of pootling on Pinterest and various and delightful craft blogs, I discovered a newish craze for granny square blankets emerging.  Aha! I thought; I could do with one of those very things for my own sweet bed!  However, Christmas was upon us, and I had neither the time nor inclination to contemplate a new blanket project, so I filed the idea away for future reference…fast forward to January, and I eventually caved in and bought a new stash of Stylecraft Special DK wool to set about making a granny square blanket of my very own.  My heart had been well and truly taken the moment I cast my eyes upon this beautiful blanket here although there are many fine specimens to be found upon the interweb as I’m sure you will discover.

I cannot lie to you, I was so smitten with Sandra’s colourway that I ordered pretty much the same shades of wool that she had used for her blanket.  And it’s coming on a treat; its a fine way to pass a happy hour on a winters eve, curled up on the sofa watching Miranda, gigglesnorting like billy-o and knocking up a few squares in deliciously vintage coloured yarn.

I’m using the join-as-you-go method, fiddly as heck, but saving me a lot of sewing at the end which can be a tad time consuming to say the least.

During the day, I’ve been working my little socks off on some new pieces of art for my solo exhibition…would you like a peek?  You would?  Here you are then:

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The Coastguard Cottages

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Beside the Waves

I also have a plan to create some coastal inspired characters on some small box canvases, with an element of collage and stamped text about them.  I’m mighty excited by this sudden flurry of inspiration and I’m making sure I write down lots of notes about these ideas in my book, should they happen to dissolve and disappear from my busy little head forever.

After a colourful week, our world suddenly turned very grey and white.  The snow finally came to our little corner of the world and we decided that we would go out and enjoy ourselves enormously.

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There was sledging and snowman girl making, the obligatory snowball fights and wanderings down the back garden to see the river which had turned into a magical winter wonderland…

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I love the sculptural shapes of the branches and seed heads, and that glorious blue sky!

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As I work, I see my little feathered friends making more frequent visits to the feeder (which is hung a couple of feet away from my window).  I love to watch them, and wonder how something so small can survive such terribly cold nights…

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Another feathered soul paid us a visit too…can you spot him?  He’s a regular visitor, and can often be seen stooping in the shallows, waiting to catch a plump trout for his lunch.

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Back inside after our snowy meanderings, hot chocolate of the best kind, topped with the squirtiest of cream and tiniest of marshmallows is consumed and jammies are put on.  It’s only 3 o’clock in the afternoon, but it’s a snow day from school and there’s no need to be going out again; may as well just cosy up indoors and do a spot of painting with C…

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…and on a whim, I dug out some papier mache style hearts and painted a whimsical little Valentine’s scene.  These hearts are secretly magnets, but would look rather dandy in a nice box frame I think.

So my week is only just begun, but already it is filled with the simplest and nicest of things.  And if it needed icing on the cake, it came in the form of an email from my lovely agent, who wrote to tell me that three pieces of my artwork have been accepted for licensing by a client, and therefore shall become cards or suchlike.  I am delirious with delight, because this is another one of my dreams come true.

And dreams do come true you know, if you believe they will.

I’ll see you again soon, have a wonderful week and thank you for coming to see me today.

Love J x

Gently Does It…

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I’m easing myself gently back into my work this week after that lovely Christmas holiday.  My daughter has gone back to school and the house seems ominously quiet, so yesterday I busied myself with a spot of de-cluttering, starting with my bedroom which was anything but a peaceful sanctuary for sleep and more like a dumping ground for Homeless Objects and outgrown baby toys.

I unearthed quite a few half finished paintings which I sent for recycling (sometimes you just know they’re never going to be anything else other than half finished), and discovered a stack of canvases and mounts I’d forgotten all about.  I also found a new home for my fabric stash, which up to now has been stored rather untidily in a pile of carrier bags but is now folded into neat piles in a drawer.

I must confess, I was rather ruthless in my de-cluttering.  There was a heck of a lot of stuff that got thrown out or put in the recycling bin and I was shocked at the amount of junk I’d managed to accumulate.  There’s a huge pile of books and clothes for the charity shop, and a local childcare centre will be the new home for some of the baby toys which we’d hung on to.  Once I’d finished the hard graft, I burned some delicious essential oils to bless the room if you like, and it really did feel very fresh and new again.  Last night I had the best nights sleep I’d had in ages, uninterrupted and full of lovely dreams.  Waking up to see a little jug of flowers sitting on a vintage embroidered mat was heaven I can tell you.

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I find the helpful advice of the Flylady to be superb in all things to do with keeping house, so if you’re feeling the itch to Spring clean, check out her website.  Another great resource if you don’t naturally lean towards chores and the like is this book, Housework Blues by Danielle Raine.

Having a gentle week pottering and decluttering (which is such a marvellous thing to do as opposed to throwing yourself head first back into normality) has found me digging through my paintings and sketch books, and a painting I started work on way back last year is now resurfacing.  It’s called The Apple Pickers (the picture at the top of this post) and I’m really pleased with how it’s coming along.  You can just about make out the figures if you look carefully, as well as a veggie patch and a greenhouse.  This painting is an acrylic on paper and will be part of my solo exhibition at the Studio 61 Gallery in May this year.  I’ve also got a lovely idea for a box canvas, which I’m going to start work on next – again it’s a coastal themed piece but I’m going to be introducing an element of collage to it.

Something I’ve been longing to do for a while now, but never made the time for previously is the creation of an online art workshop.  I’ve finally got around to ordering myself a nice tripod for my camcorder, so that I can start making some tutorials.  I’m also planning a fully illustrated e-book to accompany the course, and am hoping to release this in the next few months.  I’ll keep you posted on this as things progress.

Before I go, I have to introduce you to a new resident who’s come to live in our little home.

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Meet Muffin.

Muffin is a Sheltie guinea pig (one of those with the soft, long hair) and the most adorable little chap you could ever wish to meet.  For the last few months we have been ‘umming and ‘ahhing about having a pet, but finally relented and went to get him on Saturday.  It was a huge surprise for our little girl who had been pleading with us for ages to let her have something furry to care for.  We are all enchanted by him, his little squeaks and bouts of popcorning (the ecstatic leaps into the air, apparently done when extremely happy) have rendered us helpless with delight.  I can’t quite imagine life without him now, he’s definitely part of the family.

I’ll be back soon, with some news about a new crochet project I’ve started.

Thanks for visiting,

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Sweet Peas and Lemons

Inspired by the Cornish sea, and cosy views from cottage window sills, I have just finished this acrylic box canvas painting today and wanted to share it with you all.

It sums up lots of different things for me;  my love of the ocean, blue skies, little fishing boats, lighthouses perched on dangerous rocky islands, inspiring pottery, relaxing moments with a good bottle of wine, pebbles found on a beach walk, bright, deliciously scented bunches of sweet peas, and zesty lemons which remind me of warm days and happiness.

We’ve not had much of a Summer here so far, the weather is inclement and prone to monsoonal downpours. It has been damp and dreary much of the time but I’ve been very happy to spend parts of my days working on this sunny painting.

On Friday, after non stop torrential rain, our river down the garden burst it’s banks and started to flood the little path and patios that line it’s edge.

It normally looks like this:

But by Friday evening, looked like this:

It was very brown, very fast and rather terrifying!  Huge tree trunks went sailing past and a pool began to form on our patio by the lavender bush.  We couldn’t help but recall the flood of 2007, which consumed our garden and seeped into our cellar but luckily this time, the rain stopped and the water ebbed away.  I am forever amazed by the power of nature; how something so seemingly calm can all at once become ferociously out of control and alarming.

But I like being by the river non the less, I like being close to the water and the wildlife that visits us here and I like that it reminds us every once in a while, that we’re not in charge.

So!  With a painting finished, I’m back to the drawing board.  I have several ideas for my next work and I think I’m going to do a piece on paper this time.  I’ve hung Sweetpeas and Lemons on my wall for the time being.  I like to do this with my finished work where possible, to live with it for a little while.  I must say, it certainly brightens things up a tad!

Talking of hanging work on the walls, I’m really pleased to tell you that three of my paintings are currently in an exhibition at the Harrison Lord Gallery in Brighouse.  It’s called By The Seaside and there are some fabulous works on show there.  I’m hoping to get up there with my family to have a proper look around, and if you’re in the vicinity I reckon it’s well worth a visit.

Before I go, I just want to thank all of you who took the time to leave comments and email me personally about my last post.  It seemed to really resonate with people and I’m always quite amazed when that kind of thing happens!  There I am, going about my days thinking that I must be the only one feeling that way and suddenly, there are lots of people getting in touch who understand, who reach out and I am so very grateful for your sharings.

Since reading A Year By The Sea, I’ve picked up another of Joan Anderson’s books; A Weekend to Change Your Life.  From these two books and the effect they have had upon me, I know that my life has already changed enormously, and for the better.  I am much more aware of my own needs and as well as sustaining a family and a home, I am now more conscious of looking after myself and prioritising my happiness.

From spending some time away from my day to day life in Cornwall, I managed to see very clearly where my life needed to improve and grow.  There are things that I used to do or tolerate that didn’t make me happy, so I stopped doing them.  There are things I do now that I didn’t before that do make me happy and I’m pleased I took the time to acknowledge these simple pleasures and make them a part of my day.  And it really is that simple.  Whilst I can’t immediately live my dream of living close to the sea again right now, I can make changes that will make my life here feel newer, and happier right now.

Sometimes, it’s about making yourself new in old surroundings.

See you next time,