Monthly Archives: May 2012

art lessons from a 10-year-old


I got schooled this week.  In the nicest possible way, but still

Scotland was in a heat wave so we all played hookie and headed to the beach!

I threw in my sketch pad and an old pack of oil pastels just in case.

 While the kids ran around I took the opportunity to start a drawing, but it soon became impossible.

Some of the pastels were broken, the right blue was missing, sand was flying,

bathing suits were dripping, the five-year-old was helping – you get the picture.

 My middle girl came over to watch what I was doing.

I finally gave up and started to put it all away when she asked if she could draw.

I handed her the pack and went to cool my toes in the ocean.

15 minutes later, my girl happily showed me her work. Done. Beautifully…

Straight away I saw where I’d gone wrong.

Distracted and caught up in getting details and colours right, I’d missed the joy of the scene in front of me. 

Arabella’s drawing was all about the moment, the fun of catching what you see on the paper.

Hers is the better for it. Lesson learned.



drawing blanks…


If you’re finding it hard to start something – be encouraged! You are not alone. Here’s a famous quote to prove my point:

Don’t let the big white vastness of the new overwhelm you.

There’s a wee trick painters use to get through the first stage – we hit the white all at once, letting a single colour (or a mix) overtake hesitation.

Whew! then the pressure is off  to produce perfection in the first 5 minutes. Sometimes, you just need to jump in without having it all planned out first. The effort itself has value, even if things don’t turn out as expected.


 To all my loyal followers: Thanks for your patience – our internet has been down out here on the moors which is why this post is late. The good news is Scotland is having a HEAT WAVE, so my studio has moved outside until further notice 🙂

the basics…anything but


“Back to basics” –  this phrase seems pale and uninteresting. In a world that pushes the NEW fast-acting SECRET FORMULA! ten EASY steps to SMOOTHERcleanerYOUNGERbrighterMOREsuccessful…4 out of 126 people agree! anglethe basics are a bit unglamorous to say the least.

But this is where we start. Whether it’s in cooking, bike-riding, writing, singing or shoe tying, the basics are foundational. Take some time to review. Go “old school” and remind yourself how you do what you do and why you do it.You might discover something new and inspiring in the process.

My palette had become very one-sided and I needed to exercise some other colour combinations. I drew the lines fast & free, but the painting was done with purpose and design. I stretched it even further through photography.

Then I took all the colour out for a “basic” black & white…and found anything but.

Who said homework can’t be fun?

clipped (into) wings


I was experimenting in the studio – mocking up different elements for a work-in-progress. I wanted to try a figure floating in the sky, so I painted a human form and started to cut her out. The more I cut, the more I cut. I just couldn’t seem to get it right. Then I saw something new emerging. Being careful not to go too far, I kept shaping and subtracting until I found this little bird fluttering in my hand…

I gently pressed the bird onto my canvas and let her stretch out those new wings…

It took some time and fearless paring down to find the right shape for this part of the painting.

And so it is in life.

 This work is still in flight. I’m not sure what the end result will be, but I like how it’s moving.

don’t forget the space hopper


life lesson from a 5-year-old:

it really doesn’t matter where you’re headed or how long it takes, as long as there’s fun in the gett’n there…

Indoors or out, to the bathroom or to the moon, our youngest prefers  travel via space hopper.

There is so much JOY in his journey!

May I humbly suggest that we take a break from the seriousness of lists, deadlines, reputation,and résumés long enough to find the FUN in what we’re doing here?

p.s.  They make adult-sized space hoppers, too 😉