Up a creek again, paddling madly!

It took a few few weeks to adjust to life back at home. Temperatures of 6 degrees and under, gales and rain, and the challenges of small boat living in winter took a bit of getting used to after six weeks of domestic ease and balmy temperatures!

aurora at sydney

Farewell Sydney…

mooring buoy

Hello gales and rain…

Luckily, my boat was still afloat – helpful friends had been keeping an eye on mooring lines and bilges, and my car started first time. There was a certain amount of reality to face up to in the form an empty bank account after two months of no income, and just enough cash left in my purse for life’s essentials (in my case, a bag of apples and a bottle of wine). I gave myself a day to sleep and unpack, and then straight back to the studio, trying to remember if there were any invoices I could send and immediate work I could do.

Within a few days of getting back I was getting ready for the RYA Dinghy Show, because the clever folk at RYA Publications have made all my ‘Go Sailing’ books available as e-books. They look great on tablets, and some of my cartoon figures have been animated – great fun! Here’s the link – http://goo.gl/NZgyA1 

dinghy show 2016 5 low res

At some point during those first couple of busy weeks I also had a phone call inviting me back on board ‘Aurora’ for the final leg, Cape Town to Southampton, in April. Alas, I had to say no, tempting though it was. My students would have had a shock if I’d popped back up again – and we would have had to have another final party!

I’m always surprised at how long it takes to get over jet lag, though it’s been many years since I did a long haul flight. Sydney to London is 22 hours in the air, 36 hours door to door. Each morning for a week I was wired and awake at 4am then crashing out by 8pm. I went to one of my local music sessions a few days after I got back and had to be prodded awake when it was my turn to play.

I made use of the early mornings, though, by working on a project whose seeds had been sown during the ‘Aurora’ classes. People are always fascinated by sketchbooks, however scribbly, unfinished, inaccurate or mad they are; perhaps they are of interest because they are unpolished, and show the artist’s ‘workings out’, the way that we interpret what we see in a direct way. I hoped that my own sketchbook diary of the trip was inspiring others to do the same. I decided to write a little book based on some of my scribbles and add some practical tips to help students change their thinking from ‘I could never do that’ to ‘I could do that!’

layers of life

There is too much emphasis in our world on a tangible end result, a product that can be sold or admired or compared to others and judged. When people ask if I am drawing a scene to make a finished painting later, they’re surprised when the answer is ‘definitely not’. I am drawing for the sake of it, because it’s good practice and it’s one of the ways I connect to and appreciate my world. No other reason is required!



So here’s ‘Keeping a Sketchbook Diary’. It contains some gentle encouragement, practical advice, and reproductions from my own scribbles, as well as reassurance that sketching is a non-competitive activity that no-one else can judge. It’s ready here – pre-order on my website now – and your signed copy will be on its way to you in early May. I hope you enjoy it.

It’s been a busy time down at Waldringfield Boatyard too, where Emma and I have been planning some new designs for our summer season at ‘Art on the Quay’. We’re branching out into jewellery (Emma’s doing clever things with seaglass; I’m drawing nautical patterns to make earrings with our flat sublimation press). Were also playing around with new local scenes on tiles and coasters. So if you’re within reach of Suffolk come along to our opening weekend:

spring exhibition invites 2016

And finally…… my art classes and workshops are starting up again this month, including regular tuesday afternoon watercolour sessions for all levels. If you’d like full details, get in touch!

Thanks for your encouragement and support, everyone, it’s much appreciated.

1 thought on “Up a creek again, paddling madly!”

  1. Sue Wichall says:

    Good to catch up on your news. Hope you’re ok. Sounds like you’re busy. Bumped into a fellow pupil from your Haverfordwest Wednesday class, she’s started in oils and has sold some of her work. Good for her I say !

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