My moss

In one of the Swallows and Amazons books I read as a child an uncle entitles his book of memoirs  ‘Mixed Moss by a Rolling Stone’ alluding to the saying ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’. This has always tickled my fancy so I thought over the next few posts I would like to share some of my visual mixed moss.

The first is little painting which is slightly smaller than A4, by New Zealand artist Nathan Rose which was acquired when we in stayed in an artists village in the Napier area in 2004/5.

I like this work because Nathan has captured in his strange hybrid little figure a sense of excruciating shyness and embarrassment which draws out a sympathetic response from me bordering on fondness. I can’t view this painting without thinking of Nathan and wondering what he is doing now as all the lovely memories of my time as an artist resident in the Waiohiki Arts Village come flooding back.


The next  item is two mounted  swatches of Henry Moore fabric which we framed in light oak. Moore is better known for his sculpture but he produced a number of textile designs which the Ascher company printed for him. My swatches are from two rolls reprinted from Ascher’s original blocks and used to refurbish Henry Moore’s House. With the left over fabric 50 mounted squares  of each were sold by Pallent House  Gallery where an exhibition of Moore’s textiles and sketch books was held. I couldn’t resist as they were reasonably priced and now I have two little bits of Henry to remind my of my student days when he was all the go.







The third Item  is a painting entitled Blue by artist Pat Bell  and bought as a birthday gift for my husband. I first met Pat on Flickr and friended her when I joined facebook. Pat has done a series of sheep paintings which have proved popular and blue is one of them, She also has a stream of wonderful abstacts based on stones and tangled landscapes.

Pats  website address is:  –

Blue by Pat Bell

Fourth is a large Zambian pot used for brewing the local Chibuku beer in  villages. Real village pots have different shapes depending of their function. A beer pot always has two handles. Different members of the family had their particular shapes. This is a coil pot made without a wheel and I particularly like the charred patch where it was in the fire pit. The incised decoration has some of the ash from the fire rubbed into it. We didn’t bring much in the way of artifacts back with us from Zambia but this was well worth the effort.


The 5th item is also from  Zambia and was sent to us out of the blue from someone who bought some of my paintings over 45 years ago whilst we lived there. She had searched for me on the internet and renewed contact and as she was downsizing thought we would like this little naive painting of St Anne’s church in Mazabuka where we lived. It was done by a local man  on a piece of ply using house paints.


Number 6 is my indulgence and is a painting called ‘In All Directions’ by Fran Donovan, part of a series with same title. I went to a preview of Fran’s exhibition in the Russel Gallery in Bournmouth with my daughter and  fell in love with this colourful painting. Fran works in oils using raw pigments applied over a soft  ground  and the result has a wonderful glowing quality. This painting has elements of a wide landscape but only hinted at and the suggestion of an  upward path seems to lead one over a distanf hill top horizon. In the foreground hedgerow plants and a fence are just suggested. To me its very positive work and I love the bright orange.

Egged on  by my daughter I took the plunge and bought the 90x90cm painting and today it cheers me every day in my kitchen diner.


Number 7 is a painting by Sussex artist Sue England entitled ‘Can you hear them, can you hear them coming through the vines?’ which is inspired by Sue’s visit to friend’s vineyard.

My husband and I bought this as a Christmas gift to ourselves last year as it reminded us of a walk amoung the vines in Cyprus many years ago but also because we like Sue’s work and fell in love with it.

Link to Sue’s website:



Getting into focus

After my grand rant in the last post I have girded up something or other and begun a new project in my studio as the only way to start is to start.

Last year I took a series of photos  looking up into the trees  in Hotham Park and my aim is to produce a series of fresh work based on these. As Artist in Residence for the Park   I’m always looking for new ways to represent it. Here is the first stage of the first painting and it was good to get going again.


Paint problems!

Recently I decided to use my Alkyd oil paints. I don’t usually bring them out in the winter as they do need good ventilation. They  dry overnight but are workable for about six hours. If you want to work again in a hurry without the week wait with normal oils they are useful.

As its been a while since I used them the first job was getting the lids off; enter a bowl of hot water. With the lids successfully removed I found the openings blocked with hardened paint with the nice fluid stuff quite clearly evident below. My trusty steel meat skewer made a bit an opening but it was still like a strong man competition exercise to get more than a minute blob out as the hard stuff would block the hole again. When one is itching to get going this can be VERY frustrating so with several  I resorted to cutting the bottom of the tube off and exiting the paint that way. I figured that I was going to have to use up the older paints quickly anyway.

I did finally get going but had to repeat the process every time I came across another blocked tube which does rather disrupt the creative flow. At least I can be grateful they were not acrylics which would have dried on my palette whilst I messed about with blocked tubes. Below is the in progress painting I was trying to work on.

Well its a painting

Having trouble getting going with fresh work but have managed to finish this today. It started life as a quick demonstration on the theme of ‘Storm’ for my little art class. As its on a good sheet of heavy acrylic paper primed with gesso I felt I had to at least finish it off. Managed to do it without getting too fussy which pleases me. Below is the quick pencil sketch the painting was taken from. I like working from sketches if I can.



Random Recycling

I think, like me, every artist has a corner of their studio where dubious works they thought were a good idea at the time skulk leeringly demanding some sort of action. Now the sensible thing would be to acknowledge when one is beaten and bin them, but somehow I can’t bring myself to throw them away so last week I took this small abstract experiment and collaged it with random cuttings. Here is the result, a work entitled ‘Random’.

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