Art Retreat by the Sea




I wanted to share an idea of our itinerary – as ever, there are really no rules – so join in, or not as you like. And all timings are “ish”!


Arrival Any time after 11.30am on Friday 26th February.


Friday Afternoon – Time to settle in, set up your art things and have a play, go for a wander along the beach : whatever calls to you.

6.30pm – Time to grab a fish and chip supper

8pm – We will share some of our Art Intentions and Ideas for the weekend and then spend the rest of  the evening playing in the Art Room.



 8.30am – Leisurely breakfast

9.30am – Gather for some communal journaling / art journaling.

9.50pm – Opening the circle, creating a space to think about and share our plans and dreams; finding ways to manifest our desires through mutual support and collaboration. Designing strategies for gentle accountability within our Constellation. (Thanks, Moyra)

11.30am – A stroll on the beach to let new ideas percolate – followed by a warm drink watching the sea.

12.30pm – Back to the house for homemade bread and soup – and then… into the Art Room to play; I have something new to play with and will always be available to help with art prompts, bookbinding help etc. Time for a nap? Or check out the Art Library.

7.00pm – A stroll into Felixstowe for supper at Bencotto.

Later – Home for more Arting, or bed, as desired.



9.00am – breakfast

9.30 – Gather for a guided meditation, journaling and then sharing – An artist or workshop you have discovered; a new art technique or juicy Art supply.

10.15 – Time in the Art Studio to work on your projects.

1.00pm – Home made Lunch

2.00pm – More Arting; time on the Beach, Coffee and Ice cream – whatever your soul needs.

3.30pm – Sharing and closing circle.

4.30pm – Time for home


Fear and Focal Images

How time can be an Artists best Friend…

Blagion Whole picture

Blagion in Contemplation


I can’t remember when I started this painting, several months ago  I think. I created a collage background and added layers of sprayed stencils, painting and doodling but just didn’t finish it.

I was sorting through my basket of collage materials and found the background painting in there a couple of days ago. I was really only looking for a couple of scraps to stick down to begin a new piece.

As I looked at it I noticed a shape – pretty much the one that eventually became the bear/lion/ gorilla creature that ended up there. And I was really quite excited to have a go at bringing the creature to life.


The Blagion – bear/lion/gorilla.

Sometimes, putting a focal image (the main subject of a painting) into one of my backgrounds is a bit of a block for me – I get to the end of creating a background that I really like and I am scared of ‘spoiling it’.

With this background, I had made it so long ago that I couldn’t even remember when it was. It was really freeing – as if some kind person had started a piece and left it there for me to play with.

I now have a piece that I really enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, every time I look at it I can see something I could improve but this piece gives me a warm feeling. I love the way the face turned out. And I might just go back for another fiddle!

As a very wise man said:

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

Leonardo da Vinci

So can you give me any of your best discoveries for tackling the fear factors in your creative practice? Please do share.

Fear and Focal Images

Art Auction – Update

Thanks particularly to the actions of Catherine Mason of ‘The Velvet Barnacle’‘The Velvet Barnacle’, the Art Auction has been a great success, raising around £2000.


If you remember, we are raising the money to help the volunteers who pluck Syrian refugees from the ocean in Greece, as they the horror of their own country in tiny rubber boats.

Every piece of Art has found a new home. And I was delighted to find out that I had put in the winning bid for Erin Faith Allen’s amazing retreat in Prague next year.


I think there are a few places left if you would like to spend 8 days exploring Art in a beautiful European city.

If you missed the opportunity to bid but would like to make a donation the donation site will be up for a little longer –


Enhanced Artist Easel

As I have been working on larger pieces more recently I thought it would be a good idea to work at my easel. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a back board and is only really suitable for canvases in its current form. I asked DOH to see what he could make for me in his workshop.



The easel I have is the Windsor & Newton Hamilton Studio Easel.



The cool thing about this easel is it can also be tilted level for painting with watercolour.


DOH disappeared into his workshop and the following is what he did:



Starting with a piece of plywood 760cm x 920cm x 1.8cm. to easily fit A1 size paper.

He drilled down each side and added metal threaded inserts for the attachments.





The first attachment made was the palette wing, for the ‘special’ glass stay wet palette (pyrex tray & dish washing sponges) to sit in. A lid fits on top, to keep the palette wet when not in use.



Next attachment was the water holster, this will sit handily below the palette.

Again, another bracket was fitted for this.








The water jar is a ceramic plant pot in a lovely green colour. I love big water jars.







The wet brush tray attachment was made to fit to the left side of the board. Though, the design of the attachments and brackets means they can be fitted either side, and anywhere on the board.






The wet brush tray is actually an up-cycled old plastic cutlery drawer insert.








Using the flip down toggle clamps that have been screwed to the top of the board, my work can be held directly, or if I fancy, do it the good old fashioned way and tape it to the board.





Here it is, it is all put together (but not constructed) in less than 5 minutes.


Art Auction for Syrian Refugees


“There’s a humanitarian crisis in the making and it’s happening on the Greek Islands. Each day, an additional 5,000 – 7,000 refugees arrive, further straining inadequate housing and sanitation facilities, medical supplies and logistics.”

This is a quote from Michel Abdel Malek who is a volunteer  Doctor with Stichting Bootvluchteling a Dutch Charity helping the hundreds of Syrian refugees that arrive on the beaches  everyday.

Catherine Mason of the Velvet Barnacle, invited me to contribute a piece of Art to her online Charity Art Auction for Boat Refugees


Her wonderful idea was to create an online Art Auction in a Facebook Event page. It has attracted a range of well known artists including Orly Avineri and Tamara Laporte.

It was brilliant to be able to help too; so I chose a piece that seemed to fit the nature of the event entitled ‘Free’ it is an acrylic piece on 300gsm mixed media paper. ( 12 x 16 inches.)


Art is not the only thing you can bid for – there is also an Art Retreat in Prague, generously donated by Erin Faith Allen and a place on her year long ‘Life Book’ course donated by Tam Laporte.

So, to purchase an original piece of art or grab yourself a unique Artful Experience please visit the Auction Page at

Violet, the Vocabulary Dragon.

One of my great passions is Big Junk Art – I just love cardboard. So when Holywell school gave me the go ahead for a Big Art Project at the end of term; I was thrilled.


After laying out a rough framework of boxes, I set to work with the gaffer tape and rolls and rolls of masking tape – in fact I realised, at the end of the project, that I had used the entire schools supply!

Once the skeleton was reasonably firmly fixed together and safe from the enthusiasm of the year one and two children, we embarked on the next stage of fleshing out. This needed a pile of another expensive resource – newspaper.

I was lucky that a big group of year 4 girls were happy to help during their lunch hour, as the end of term was looming. They were an efficient team – some scrunching the newspaper into balls others attaching it with the masking tape. Piece by piece the beast began to take shape.


The next stage was the fun bit – time to get messy with papier mache. There was a lot of dragon to cover as she is about more than 2m long. The children worked in teams, and my daughter, who had finished college, came along to help too!

Once her less than posh origins were entirely covered, we started to add detail such as spikes along her head and back. She was beginning to really look like a dragon.

At this point I was a little obsessed, and was up at 5am in the morning to fashion claws and a tongue from lashings of tinfoil.


We finally got to bring her to life with paint, the children taking turns to apply her covering. Once the last details were finished – teeth from the corners of ‘fruit corner’ yoghurt, eyes, ears and the all important wings she was ready to take up her post at the school entrance.



Violet the Vocabulary Dragon (as well as guarding the school, her job is to collect amazing writing on her wings to share with the whole school) was such a fun project – I can get very excited about the possibilities of the junk modelling corner.

If you know of a school or group who would enjoy creating something incredible out of stuff that is usually thrown away – please let me know – I would be happy to help.

Christmas Art for Everyone

Get Tagged

Every year, my mum spends weeks planning and organising a charity Christmas fair to raise money for a village in Tanzania that our village church has been linked to for several years.

Over time it has become more than a just a fundraiser, is also a high point in our family calendar with everyone (seven  siblings, their partners, and fourteen nieces and nephews) involved in some way. Children who used to run a little riot between the tables, now run stalls – the sweet stall being particularly popular, and hence not terribly profitable! Nephews pack tables away at the end at lightning speed, and sweep the floors, having bought most of their Christmas presents earlier.

This year I ran a make and take stall – I thought it would be fun to share the magic of heat embossing with the children at the fair. It gave them the opportunity to work with craft materials they hadn’t seen at school – and who can resist the lure of those matt grey lines transform into shiny embossed lines under the heat gun.

The process I settled on:

1. Use distress stains to create a colourful background.
2. Stamp a Christmas image using a ‘Perfect Medium’ ink pad.
3. Apply embossing powder and heat to create a bold image.
4. Adorn the image using mica paint.

Teacher Tag

My customers ages spanned from two to forty something, including a toddler, a teacher and a little boy whose mum said: “He never usually wants to paint…”

It was wonderful to watch the expressions on their faces change – from curiosity to wonder to intense concentration and flow as they got to play with the intense colour of shiny watercolour paint.

Using artist quality materials and skilled instruction, anyone can experience joy and excitement in the process of making Art, and develop the skills to create masterpieces they are proud of! And that is where I wish to focus increasing amounts of time and energy on over the coming months and years.

Mysterious Creatures

This June and July, I was lucky enough to take an assignment at Holywell C of E Primary School, to look after a year one/two class whose teacher had fallen ill. As well as literacy, Numeracy and lots of Phonics, I was able to share my passion for Art with them.


Using a little of what I had learned in a fab online course by Micki Wilde, I introduced them to mysterious creatures.

They learned that by using a range of simple shapes to make facial features and bodies they could invent a wide range of weird and wonderful creatures. And it didn’t take them long to grow in confidence and come up with their very own creations.

The joy of Art is that, given a few tricks and tools, amazing things are possible. As was proved by a lovely group of five to seven year olds this Summer.

Experiments in Life



“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving — it doesn’t matter, Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times, Come, come again, come.” ~ RUMI

The last few months have been an experiment. Some of it has been very conscious other parts less so. Some parts amazing and enriching others heartbreaking. A continuous learning process – both in terms of my Art and in terms of becoming the best Me that I possibly can.

I created the piece above at an amazing three day soulful art retreat  – “Call of the Wild Soul” that took place at the end of September – it was a hugely life enhancing experience and brought me into a wonderful tribe of sisters.

It is still a work in progress – just as I am – and I’m sure both of the figures are speaking to me though I haven’t quite put their thoughts into words yet.