If in doubt, add water

After my week in the lovely Orkney Isles, I’ve spent most days in the studio at Waldringfield Boatyard, catching up with ‘stuff’. I’ve even managed to paint a picture or two… dabbling with acrylics for a change, inbetween doing ‘proper’ jobs:

acrylic tiles

These are small squares of board which get paint splashed on them at random…. some of them make it into frames, some into the bin! It’s a bit of creative play – laying colours on at random, seeing what they look like and then adding a few bits and pieces.

Talking of splashing paint around for fun, June has been a good month for teaching – I have gathered a few small groups who meet round various kitchen tables to splash watercolour around and listen to me babbling on and urging them to ‘put more water with it’. It’s a fun, informal way to learn, and looking at my notes of teaching sessions over the past years made me realise it’s about time I put all this experience and information into some sort of order. So every day this month so far (well, nearly every day!) I’ve spent the first hour of the day sitting up in bed with laptop and a cup of strong tea to wake my brain up, getting it all down so I can produce a book on how to draw and paint. Let me know if you think this is a good idea, and if so, what issues it would be useful to cover. It’s true that there are dozens of ‘how to paint’ books out there, so I’m going to stick to the approach I use when teaching – trying to explain the basics as clearly and playfully as possible to give students the tools to develop their own style.

teaching group

It’s nearly time to abandon my students and set off on my travels again – by the end of the week I will be signing on as the only female crew on board the good ship ‘Witch’, who will I hope pick me up on a quayside somewhere in Inverness for the final leg of their round Britain cruise. All being well I will fetch up at Ipswich a few weeks later, along with the rest of the Old Gaffers Association Round Britain fleet, most of whom are battling locks and midges in the Caledonian canal at the moment. There are several websites and blogs following the fleet – I can recommend http://www.sailing-by.org.uk/tags/around-britain which is also gathering stories and historical snippets from all around the coast to enrich the voyage for us all.

I know more about ‘Witch’ than I do about my shipmates, as I spent an enjoyable few days sailing and finding out about her back in April whilst researching this article just out in July’s Classic Boat magazine:


So I’m packing sketch books, seaboots and seasickness tablets…. and praying for good weather. One of these days, I’ll just do an ordinary holiday in the summer, like normal people. But then again, perhaps not!  I think a wee dram might get me in the mood for sailing in the bracing Scottish air, don’t you? Anne and I got into the habit of putting a splash of whisky on our muesli porridge whilst in Orkney – and I thoroughly recommend it for all breakfasts north of the border.

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