Monday, 9 January 2017

My new website

Hi there, welcome to my old blog. If you are looking for my latest updates and a selection of my work, check out my new website >>>>> Little Fish Studio where you'll also find links to all my social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Do come and say hello

New website >>>>

Monday, 20 April 2015

A bit about me

I have always been an artist, I love painting, making and creating things. In 2012 I was able to take a sabbatical from work and I started to paint.

So I set up a studio.

New brushes!
New easel
Bare walls

 I exhibited some paintings in a few local outlets

In the lovely gallery at Kirkton Woodland and Heritage Group 
Now known as Made in Lochcarron

And at the wonderful Waterside Cafe

I made some cards and prints too and put them in some local outlets, and painted some pots and other decorative items to see whether I would sell anything and it went well.

So I painted more things and sold more widely, I even had a small exhibition at Portree Library.

And at the Howard Doris Centre

 I sold a few bits and bobs and more than covered my costs and had a great deal of fun and despite selling quite a lot, my walls are a lot fuller now

So this year I decided to do a little more.  I've spoken to some other outlets (more about that soon) booked some events, joined an artist collective Made in Lochcarron and I'm volunteering as a tutor at the Howard Doris Centre.  

I've painted some signs for a friend, 'Ionmhas'  means treasures in English

I've been invited to sell some of my painted pots, cards and paintings at the wonderful Patterns of Light

I was also invited to be part of the rather fabby South West Ross Arts and Eats brochure 

This is my stall at Made in Lochcarron 


There will be more info to come but in the meantime you can click on one of the links below
to find out more about me and my work
My shop on Redbubble


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Tidying up

I'll be back in the studio again next week, working on several ideas for paintings and other bits and bobs, but I can't help be bitten by the tidy bug at this time of year and so I spent today clearing out my kitchen cupboards.

I was quite impressed actually by the relative lack of unwanted packs of rubbish and out of date tins, though that's because my children have grown up now.  I do miss them, but nobody buys jars of chocolate spread and sugary cereal and then puts the empty packets back for me to remove at some point in the far distant future date anymore, which is definitely a plus.

Where I live you have to have a store-cupboard, even though there is an excellent local shop Lochcarron Food Centre, a brilliant local butchers and deli Lochcarron Butchers and Lochcarron Garage for everything else.  There have been a few times in the fifteen years that we've lived here, that we've been snowed in, had  power-cuts or the road's been blocked by floods, fallen trees or rocks; so a few tins of tomatoes and soup and pasta can be very useful.  However, everything has now been sorted and given a quick wipe with a damp cloth and I can ignore it for another year.

It's the turn of the garden shed next.

Lochcarron with appropriate labels - please allow for artistic licence!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


I live in Lochcarron a village, in the North-West Highlands of Scotland.  Wikipedia gives a little more information, it states that: 'The name Lochcarron is also applied to the collection of small settlements strung out along Loch Carron, a sea loch on the west coast of Ross and Cromarty. The village stretches for almost 2 miles, meandering along the shore of the loch.

It's another glorious summer evening and I know I am very lucky to live such a beautiful place and to be able to take time to paint it.  There is inspiration wherever I look, all of these photos were taken within feet of my studio.

Tamsin on the beach
Double rainbow at Attadale

The light is always changing.  Since I started this post it's gone from warm and pinkish, to grey to back to warmer oranges, to deep ultramarine blue, so I take my camera and sketchbook with with me wherever I go and try to capture an impression of it.

Lately I've been fascinated with reflections, my biggest problem is trying to capture the ever changing light and colours of the landscape, and much of that is reflected in water

flowers on the loch

 Loch Carron is a sea loch, but that loch is often very still, mirroring the sky and the hills on the other side of the loch. Flowers on the loch, tries to capture that stillness. The sky is pale and the hills are mirrored in the loch

Granella on the shore

There is a large tidal range on the loch and, when the tide is low, puddles and pools of water reflect the light, Granella has been moored in Lochcarron for a vey long time.  In this painting I focused on the boat, and tried to capture the paleness of the sky and sea and the reflections on the beach

Wednesday sailing

Every Wednesday and Sunday, Lochcarron Sailing Club takes its dinghies on the loch.  The club has taught hundreds of children to sail over the years on waters which can be quite difficult.  Sailing in light airs (as in my painting) is quite a challenge.  I liked the contrast of the white boats against the dark greens and browns in the reflections on the loch

Lochcarron Triptych

This piece is of the village from the beach.  This is a triptych and I tried to portray the coolness of the day.  It was painted in August, after we'd had a lot of stormy weather, at one end of the village the skies were a dark grey.  Further along the sky and the reflections in the pools on the beach was a warm blue

Red sail on a still loch

 There is a small Drascome Lugger, which is moored on the loch, I've painted it in several weather conditions, this was when the loch was still and reflecting the hills on the southside of the water.  I liked the bright red of the sail against the dark green of the hills behind

Lochcarron village and Wellington's Nose

Fuar Tholl, is the moutain that dominates the eastern side of the village, it's a particularly striking mountain, which is also known as Wellington's Nose, because of its resemblance to a man's face.  This painting was also done in August on a still, clear day.  I tried to capture the rapidly moving clouds and the still waters of the loch

Sailing at Attadale

This painting was done on a Sunday, I painted the hills and the loch first.  It was painted rapidly from my studio window as I tried to capture the incredible light on the hills and reflected in the still waters of the loch.  I added the boats in later as I felt they added contrast and a focus to the centre of the painting


The final painting was done from a couple of sketches and some photographs taken from an upstairs window of my house.  I loved the bright colours of the kayaks reflected in the still clear waters of the loch.

I still don't think I've managed to adequately capture the beauty of this amazing place, but I do keep trying!  The trees are beginning to change colours now and I shall definitely be out trying to capture the flavour of this time of stunning beauty.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Leibster Award

So I had a lovely surprise the other day, my friends at Aval-Ballan invited me to take part in a great scheme called the Leibster Award.  Aval-Ballan is old Scots and means second song, which is a wonderful name for this wee gallery.   They produce original and unique Art and Design; bespoke, hand painted, reclaimed furniture, paintings, murals and handmade jewellery from found objects collected along the Fife Coast.  In addition, one of the duo is also a talented photographer (Vicky Devaney's work can be found on her Facebook page)

The Liebster Award is a way for new bloggers (and maybe some who are not so new), build networks and make new connections.  Once you recieve a nomination, you have to answer ten questions that are put to you and then nominate 5-11 other bloggers to answer questions that you set.  Simple eh?  You also get to read the interviews that others have answered already and make new friends and contacts and find lovely new pages that way too.

Anyhow, here are goes, questions from the lovely Vicky at Aval-Ballan, my answers are below:

Describe your dream home.

Funnily enough I quite like the house I'm living in, it's right by the sea and has a lovely big garden and I have my lovely studio too.  A house would have to be pretty special to beat this one

Do you prefer to live in a city or the country?

I live in a small village beside the sea and I love it! Though I do like visiting the city from time to time

What is your favourite movie?

Lol!  Am watching it right now.  Local Hero, would have to be number one, though there are quite a few that come very close

What is your favourite song or piece of music and why?

I love Elgar's Cello Concerto, so moving and evocative

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An artist...funny that!

What motivates you? (Either to blog/ work/ learn …garden?! and/ or whatever else you do…)

Hmm, that's difficult, in one of my previous blog posts I discussed how I'd been gardening for years without realising how creative it was. I love reading because I am interested in the world and other people and their thoughts and feelings and impressions of the world.  That's what makes me paint too, trying to share the feelings or the impressions that I get from the world.  So being creative and sharing that and sharing in and enjoying the creativity of others I suppose.  that and I don't really like sitting still for very long!

When taking a break, would you prefer to go on a wild adventure or relax with a good book?

Ooh, I do like reading, but I fancy an adventure sometime soon

What three people would you invite to your Dinner Party of a Lifetime? And Why?

Gosh, this is a hard one. I'd really like Nelson Mandella to come, because he is one of the most forgiving people that ever lived.  Clement Atlee, because he has to be one of the greatest Prime Ministers that Britain ever had an pushed forward to create the NHS and a huge amount of social change at a time of great struggle and austerity, and J.K.Rowling, because we have similar backgrounds and I love how creative she is.

What is your favourite book? (Or if you don’t have a favourite- what are you reading/ is the last book you read?)

To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee  I read a lot, and I have read some wonderful books over the years, but that one always comes to mind when I'm asked that question

What five words best describe you?

Hmm, that's difficult too.  I suppose that I'm always optimistic, and caring.  I do care about others.  I'm friendly and emotional and I like to think I'm creative.

And now for my questions, I'm really looking forward to finding out the answers to these.

1. Where is your favourite place to be and why?
2.  Do you prefer dawn or midnight?
3.  What is your inspiration?
4.  Fact or fiction what do you prefer to read?
5   Geek or Chic?  Do you follow fashion or do you prefer alternative culture or do you eschew labels completely
6   favourite blog?
7.  If you could time travel for just one day would you chose the past or the future and why?
8.  Do you have a favourite motto or quote?
9.  What is your favourite season?
10   If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

And I'm going to nominate:

Vicky Stonebridge at Balnacra Arts
Lynn Bennett-MacKenzie
Dave at Big Guy Small Scooter
Marion at Skyeworks
Katy Fryd
Ulrike Miesen-Shurmann
Emma at Little Bit of Everything
Travelling Stories and Adventures

If you're not on this list and would like to do this, do let me know and I'll add you to the list, cos I'm quite new to blogging and might have missed someone out. 

And thanks once again, Vicky that was so much fun!

More links for me



Thursday, 11 July 2013

When my naughty little sister was a portrait.

Some of my work

When I first started this painting malarky again I was almost too emabarrassed to call myself an artist.  I might tell friends and neighbours, 'oh, I'm doing a bit of painting.' but it was in a very off-hand, low key sort of way.  There are plenty of people who didn't know me when I used to paint - everything from portraits and landscapes to plant-pots and loo seats (yes I really did, there are still some loo-seat originals knocking about in various far flung bit of the Highlands),  I expect those people thought I was talking about decorating, cos I did do a bit of that too.

When I used to paint, I had no problems telling people about it, because I had things I could show them if they demanded I support my claim (not that anyone ever did of course.) It was easier in a way to pop pictures of my work up on Facebook, which I did, and share my progress, because I got useful feedback and I had to post images to help with my Facebook stats.  And, of course, I didn't know those people and if they hated my work I didn't have to see them next time I popped in to buy a chicken at the butcher's.  (mind you, since I started my Facebook page I've made some very lovely friends online, but that's another story)

Then, bit by bit, I got back into painting and did a lot of different things, tried different mediums and utilised my very rusty skills, and gradually those skills began to come back and I began to regain my confidence. I remembered techniques and little tricks that I used to use, and I did a few portraits as well as landscapes.   But what I really wanted to try was a portrait of children, because that is really hard. 

As an artist, you need to aim for a good likeness when painting a portrait and if possible you need to try and get at least something of the person's character onto the canvas.  Painting a portrait of children is a real challenge, you have to try and get the proportions right, the composition mustn't dominate and children are so very rarely still. But I really wanted to try

I had done some portraits of my own children, and did manage to achieve a resemblance.  When I showed them my paintings they didn't hate them on sight - which I counted as a plus. wasn't enough, I wanted more.  This is easier said than done, if you no-longer have young children of your own. How do you even start that conversation?



Luckily, I got my chance.  I was chatting one day on Facebook to a friend of mine, Lindsay, and she said that she liked my work, Lindsey has the two most lovely little girls, children that I have known since they were babies, so I asked Lindsay if I could paint them.

Lindsay was great, she sent me a selection of lovely photos of the girls to work from and then basically just left me in peace to get on with it.

I scrapped my first attempt pretty early on.  Lindsay had sent me a photo of the girls laughing, in the sunshine.  But they were wearing hats, which meant their faces were obscured and in shadow, and they were also in a woodland that meant the background was far too 'busy' for a portrait. 

The background was far too 'busy'

The second photo that I used had been taken when the girls were playing in a large concrete pipe.  The background was pretty plain, with a nice wee landscape as part of the composition and that's the one I finally went for.

I did the background first, blocking it in quickly and then I started on the older girl, H.   H is an enchanting child.  She is sweet and funny, but also gentle and somewhat shy.  I made several attempts, but couldn't quite get her essence.  She disappeared into the background or stood out far too starkly, i couldn't catch her sweetness or her fragile prettiness. So I prevaricated and Lindsay  must have thought the painting would never be finished. 

Then last week the weather was awful, wet, cold and stormy.  My children were away and one morning I just decided that enough was enough and I had put off working on the painting for far too long.  So I shut myself in the studio with the omnibus edition of the Archers and Verdi's operatic choruses and got to work.

H was very tricky to paint

I left H as she was, though I was far from satisfied with her and started work on R.  If H is a somewhat reserved child until she gets to know you, then R is a force of nature. 

R, is a force of nature and appeared quite quickly

 She was so easy to paint in comparison with her sister it felt like she arrived on the canvas and wouldn't be ignored and once she had arrived H was far easier to coax into completion.  Once her sister arrived everything seemed to fit into place and I finished the portrait within a couple of days.

H, is very sweet and more reserved than her sister

I was very lucky that Lindsay had supplied me with such a good photo as I had to do very little work on the composition and could concentrate on the images of the girls as can be seen from the photograph below

It was good to have a very clear photo to work from

Thankfully Lindsay and the girls were delighted with the portrait as can be seen from the lovely pic that they sent me and I've managed to get a nice shot or two to share. 

The finished painting

I now have a long list of paintings that I want to complete, this time totally without guilt, as H is no-longer watching me reproachfully from a corner of the studio, but is part of a completed painting which is with its new owners.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Nearer God's Heart

'All gardeners live in beautiful places
Because they make them so '

An innula in bloom in my garden last year

It's really cold again today so for the first time in a long time I'm not spending time in the garden.  My garden has been my sanctuary for a long time. When life was stressful, (and my life was very, very stressful at times!) being in the garden helped.  I found it meditative, relaxing, recalibrating.  After a few hours spent in the garden I always felt better.  But I never thought of it as being part of my art, part of my creative life, until reading this blog, by artist Vicky Stonebridge.  The article is well worth reading because Vicky writes passionately about her garden and what it means to her, and her words inspired me to think again about my own garden and what it truly means to me.

When I stopped painting several people asked me how I coped, how I as a self-proclaimed creative person, managed without being creative and I thought I knew the answer.  I still made things, with my children, or when working with other children both through work and voluntarily. At Rag Tag, I got a great deal of satisfaction from working with creative people and helping people discover their own creativity.  But thanks to Vicky's article I realised that all along I was being creative without really realising it.  Vicky says, "Growing things, or encouraging things to grow and rearranging them is a wonderful artwork, a meditation, a communication." and those are the words which had such an impact on me and made me look at my passion differently. I have been thinking about it, meditating on it, whilst I've been building an alpine bed, and reclaiming a large part of the garden that was left to grow wild when the children were small

This entry is the story of my garden.

The garden before - May 2000
When we moved into our house in 2000 it was a wreck.  It was cold and dirty and pretty horrible, but it was all that we could afford at the time.  My husband had just lost his job, it had all been pretty nasty and very upsetting and we had two small children who were also struggling with the experience and who needed somewhere to play.  So we moved in, camped out in a shabby house and the first thing that we did was work on the garden.


At that point it was a muddy slope full of broken glass and stones, without even any grass - not that we could lay grass as my husband is allergic to grass cuttings.  So we had to think again.  We hired a garden designer (Colin Johnstone of Skye) and sat down and discussed our needs and our very limited budget and then we built a garden.

We needed somewhere safe, that the children could play in, filled with tough plants that could with-stand a bit of punishment.  We needed somewhere that we could sit in and escape the world.

Colin and his men did the landscaping and we bought a few plants and begged a few more and learned that our neighbours were kind and willing to share cuttings and advice and slowly but surely our garden became magical.  We learned it is very fertile, faces south and is hidden from the road.  It gets plenty of rain and just enough sun. It is a perfect place for a garden.


My children played in the garden when they were small.  My daughter pretended that she was Mary Lennox and learnt to skip, my son hunted dinosaurs and they both played pirates.  We sat in the sunshine and told stories.

and stories

 The garden was a place for adventure and it became very overgrown, in a very short time.  Untamed, a beautiful wilderness that the children and their friends and our animals explored.





Occasionally I would spend time reclaiming the paths and trying to tame at least some of the weeds, but, nevertheless, for much of the year it was a riot of colour.  As my children grew I got to spend more time in the garden and now that they are young adults I have more time than ever.  These last few months have been somewhat back-breaking as I dug over soil and got rid of deeply entrenched perennial weeds, but it has been a voyage of discovery too. 

I found toys that my children used to play with, each discovery brings back a memory.

and teddies
I repurposed their old fort, listened to the birds and watched the bees and butterflies (of which there an abundance right now).  I listen to the noises from the street and yet I'm removed from them in my own secret garden.

The fort is now a compost heap

 Every day there are surprises, things that I have forgotten become uncovered or something flowers when there weren't even buds the day before.  In the evenings I often leaf through my well-thumbed gardening books and take inspiration from the pictures and spend far too much time on Pinterest planning and being creative.  My garden brings me joy.

If a garden is like art then to me it's like a watercolour painting, because you can decide the effect you would like to achieve, put together all the components and imagine how it will look and then your creation surprises you.  But once a piece of art is completed the artist has no more input, however, a garden is ever changing ever evolving as these pictures show. I get just as excited when a much cherished plant flowers, or when the sun shines and I get to sit outside as I did yesterday for a couple of hours as I do when I finish a painting.  And if it goes wrong, if something doesn't work, then it doesn't matter because there is always next year.

I love painting, I love my studio, but an artist is always striving to make things better, nothing ever looks as good on paper, or canvas as it did in my head.  In the garden things often look far better, more beautiful than I ever dreamed they would

The viewing deck is at the top of the garden

The view from the deck

French Lavender in the sunshine

Sown by Nature

New alpine bed with cat guardian

The Japanese Maple

The Spirit House that my son bought me from Thailand for my last birthday

I love this statue of a mother and child

A wise guardian

My little 'helper'

The garden as it was today, July 2nd 2013