The Golden Forest

I’ve just returned from a short break to the Forest of Dean, a place I have mentioned many times before. It’s my ‘childhood happy place’ and somewhere that holds a lot of treasured memories. This years visit was particularly special as my partner and I went in celebration of our anniversary - 12 years together. It was also our last little getaway before our baby arrives in January. Not only was it special for those two reasons but also because the autumn colours were so vibrant this year; richer and deeper gold, orange and yellow hues than I’ve ever seen before. It felt as though the trees were really putting on a show for us, to make our escape even more precious.

Last years trip to the Forest of Dean inspired many drawings and was the catalyst for starting the woodland studies series which is ongoing and a project that I particularly enjoy working on. It seems a shame that I rarely work with colour nowadays as this time it wasn’t so much the tiny details of the woodland that captured my attention but the incredible copper colours. Perhaps this will signal a change in my practice, from intricate monochromatic drawings in pen to abstracted landscapes focused on colour? Only time will tell.

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I hope you enjoyed these photographs taken by my partner Craig Pendrill. The Forest of Dean is located in Gloucestershire on the English/Welsh border.

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A Little Life Update

This journal has always been a space to share a little bit of everything; personal thoughts on life as an artist, exhibition summaries and for a big chunk of time an insight into my travels when I spent nearly 11 months backpacking, that seems like a lifetime ago now! As an artist I feel like all sorts influences my work and so it’s important to keep note of whats happening as a change in circumstances might be the catalyst for change in my art practice. With that in mind I wanted to share two life updates, one of which is very significant.

The first is that my partner and I are in the process of buying our first home. We’ve been together for 12 years but never lived in our own home together, rented or otherwise. In those 12 years I’ve lived in Cheltenham to study my BA in Fine Art, he has rented a room from a friend, we’ve spent a total of 19 months backpacking the globe together living in camper vans, hostels and hotels and we’ve lodged with my family. Finally, we will have a little place to call our own. North Hampshire is a pricey part of the U.K. to get on the property ladder (due to its proximity to London) so it hasn’t been easy and with me being a full time self employed artist we are only able to use my partners wage to get a mortgage. Still, we are chuffed to bits that soon we will have the keys and be able to hang all the art and illustrations that we’ve collected over the years as well as display all our travel photographs.

The second and most exciting piece of news is that my partner and I are expecting our first baby! Little one is due at the end of January and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Watching my bump grow over the last few months has been magical and we cannot wait to welcome him/her to the world. Of course, having a baby is life changing and will affect every aspect of my life and especially my art practice. In fact, baby isn’t even here yet and already so much has changed. I haven’t felt in the right frame of mind to create work for some time, the nausea at the beginning of the pregnancy, the overwhelming tiredness and the raging hormones have all contributed to me slowing right down. I’ve been trying not to berate myself for this as it’s just what my body needs at this time and I’ve been extremely fortunate in that working from home I can allow for time off without letting anyone down.

I’ll be the main caregiver to our baby as we need my partners wage to pay the mortgage and bills and I hope that in time I’ll be able to return to some of my work, squeezing in the odd drawing between the chaos. I will not be going on ‘maternity leave’ as such, I receive so few orders that I imagine I’ll still be able to pack and post any that I do receive (though there may be a slight delay) and financially I won’t be in a position to turn down any sales or opportunities to make a few pennies, the pursestrings will be very tight for some time going forward. I envisage that new drawings will be very few and far between and that my social media channels and journal entries may look totally abandoned but hopefully that’ll all be temporary and I’ll be able to bounce back.

It’s been really lovely keeping this news private for us to enjoy with our family and closest friends for so long but as I enter the final trimester I felt it was the right time to share, I didn’t want anyone wondering what on earth had happened to me come January when I’m no longer able to draw/make/share anything!

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Thank you for following along with my art life so far, I hope you’ll stick around while I start this new chapter. I promise I won’t be bombarding my journal/social media with all things baby. If you’d like to help financially support this artist mama-to-be (home buying and having a baby are rather expensive things - especially at the same time!) then don’t forget to take a look at my online shop which is currently filled with lots of intricate original pieces of art ranging from £10 - £300.

If you enjoyed reading then please click the heart at the bottom, share or better still leave me a comment, I love reading them. ❤️

An Exhibition Realised

While travelling back in 2016/17 I kept a small sketchbook where I recorded little drawings and doodles inspired by the varying landscapes that I was seeing. By the end of the trip I had amassed a small collection of handmade postcards which I could see being developed into a whole new series of travel inspired drawings. On return from my eleven month trip in July 2017 I approached a gallery and submitted a proposal for an exhibition of drawings which was accepted and pencilled in to the diary for July 2018. I had a year to turn eleven months worth of experiences into a collection of work that would fill a space all on its own.

I got to work using the postcards that I had made as a starting point. I had a sketch from a walkway at Iguazu Falls in Argentina, a muddy road in Paraty, Brazil, a forest landscape in Argentina’s Lake District as well as many more. As the months trickled away I found that my drawings were developing, they were getting more detailed and my focus became rugged landscapes; forests and woodland scenes were featuring heavily which matched up with the drawings I was doing on another project which focused on British woodland. I managed to utilise some handmade paper which I had picked up in Pokhara, Nepal just before returning home. I created loose inky sketches using Indian ink, watercolour and charcoal and based the drawings on the stunning Santa Cruz area of Peru.

Three Drawings In Situ at The Sheep Shed Gallery

Three Drawings In Situ at The Sheep Shed Gallery

The Exhibition Poster

The Exhibition Poster

Over a year I’d made 22 drawings for the exhibition which by this time I’d titled ‘From The Road’ a nod to Jack Kerouac’s novel ‘On The Road’. The exhibition deadline had given me focus which I sorely needed as I’d been out of practice with drawing. I framed the drawings myself and fixed the frames with hanging materials. The drawings were then taken to The Sheep Shed Gallery in Weyhill, Hampshire where they were displayed for two weeks. The main objectives for organising the exhibition were to provide a way to take all the ideas and memories from the trip and put them down on paper, to provide a project that would motivate me to draw after a long absence, to gain more exhibition experience and to build a rapport with a gallery. I succeeded in all these objectives which left me feeling fulfilled and grateful that after a year of work I could say that the exhibition was a success.

The feedback I received was positive, apparently upon seeing the drawings close up many couldn’t believe it was done in pen by hand. Aside from achieving my goals I was pleased to have sold one of the drawings and have interest in others. Exhibiting at The Sheep Shed Gallery was such a pleasant experience, at the end of the exhibition I was offered a last minute spot on the gallery’s ‘red wall’ as an artist had withdrawn. If I hadn’t built a relationship with the gallery then this opportunity wouldn’t have been available to me and so I was very grateful for that. With one exhibition finished I was already back in the studio creating a small collection of brand new works for the ‘red wall’ which was displayed for two weeks in early September. I’d gone from having no real exhibition experience for a couple of years due to work and travel commitments to two exhibitions in a matter of months!

I look forward to exhibiting at The Sheep Shed Gallery again in the future and to also finding experience exhibiting elsewhere across Hampshire and beyond.

If you’d like to see all the drawings that were created for the exhibition then please click here. Many of the works are available to purchase in my online shop; to see what’s available click here.

If you enjoyed reading then please click the heart at the bottom, share or better still leave me a comment, I love reading them. ❤️