Category Archives: Inspiration

Donkey mugs, coaster,key rings etc.

Artists printing on gift items

What do you do with all the paintings you finish!  In principle sell them, but that does not always happen quite as often as we like to believe from reading social media sites (they are so inspiring though!)   My older are stock is piling up because as I have progressed I no longer like them and I don’t see why anyone else would!

A lot of my paintings I print to make my greetings cards and notebooks, but I recently decided to try something new.  Images can go on many things these days can’t they.  I set about investigating possibilities.

I had to choose one image and have that printed on a variety of media for me to decide what I liked.  I only wanted a very small run so this was ideal.  I chose my donkey painting because I thought this could look good on the different articles.



This is the range of items I received back.  What an excitement and very pleasing to see him reproduced so well.

Donkey mugs, coaster,key rings etc.

Donkey printed items – bag, tea towel, mug, coaster, place mat. fridge magnet and key-ring

Key-Ring with the Donkey painting

Donkey Key-Ring


Donkey Coaster

Donkey Coaster

After that it was just a matter of deciding what I wanted to order and what other paintings I wanted to use…….. more later.

Field Mouse

Painting of a mouse – finishing

If you read my recent post Painting of a mouse – in progress you will remember I had been painting a mouse in watercolour.  He was left sitting on my desk whilst I wondered what to do with him.  I didn’t want to introduce any new colours into the painting as I wanted the emphasis to remain on him and his inquisitive expression.  For the same reason I couldn’t put anything too interesting to attract the eye away from him.

After several days of looking at him every time I passed by I decided upon a simple rocky area.  This was neither too bold nor too distracting.

Mouse painting nearly finished

Mouse in progress

This, I felt, worked.  Now just the finishing touches and some more definition and we were good to go!

Field Mouse


Hope you like him!  He can be seen on a new card in my Etsy shop (see above for the link).   All he lacks now is a name – any ideas?


Painting of a mouse – in progress

Mouse in progress

This is my current work in progress.  A little mouse who is sitting watching me from the easel on my worktable.  He is patiently waiting for me to decide where he lives or what he is doing with his life.

Mouse Close up

I like to have more than one painting on the go at any one time, preferably in different stages of completion.  It helps keep me away from that dreadful time when I have NOTHING to paint.  That’s when procrastination sets in along with loss of confidence.  Not a nice place.  But when I am painting, ideas flow and I can’t wait to have a go at the next idea.

Back to the mouse though – he looks such a friendly fellow  (I’m starting to feel like Beatrix Potter!).  Shall I put him peeping out from behind a rock, a flowerpot or perhaps just vegetation?  It will come to me I know, but in the meantime I am just enjoying his company.

Visiting horses at the World Horse Welfare Centre

Under an azure blue sky with House Martins darting darting here and there in the late summer warmth, I spent the morning at the World Horse Welfare Centre at Snetterton in Norfolk.  http://www,


Horses, ponies and donkeys come here when in need.  They are rescued, cared for and rehomed after rehabilitation.  The work of the organisation, whose president is the Princess Royal, can range from giving advice to owners through to court cases for cruelty.

During a walk around the paddocks you may encounter many different equines.  Hall Farm can be home to up to 104 horses at any one time.  There differences in size, colour and personalities are all represented.

My visit was part of an event organised by my local art group.  Members can sit and draw or paint anything that inspires them.  My own aim was to take photos as my  style is very detailed and considered.  This does not gel with animals continually on the move.

I took many photos;  some horses ignored me, carried on grazing, they’d seen it all before.  Others came over to see what was going on and came much too close to photograph!  It was lovely to stroke their soft, velvety noses though.

I had a lovely morning – the weather was glorious, the surroundings idyllic, and the atmosphere very calming.  I also have many photos to work from over the coming months – looking forward to that!

Thanks to the staff of World Horse Welfare for opening it doors to us on a non-public opening day!



“Ask me to show you poetry in motion and I will show you a horse.”

~ Author Unknown



May Inspiration

“All things seem possible in May”  Edwin Way Teale

May is here and everything is bursting into bloom. Growth is exuberant, a time of blossom, hope and optimism.  There are so many flowers in the garden which inspire an artist to paint, but where to start?  What is it that particularly draws the inspiration?  I have been trying to understand.

In the past I have noticed most of my paintings seem to be of pink, lilac or blue flowers.  Very seldom do I pick out a yellow, orange or red bloom as I wander round searching for my next project.  But not every pink, lilac or blue flowers get considered.  Why not?  What next?  Perhaps how it catches the light.  This is very important in the finished composition as it adds depth and quality and brings the painting to life.

Size – it is not always the biggest and blousiest blooms that appeal.  Some of the smallest florets have the most amazing detail and the only limit to the finished size of the picture is your own imagination (except of course if it is to be a botanical illustration, when the dimensions must be scientifically accurate).

So to sum up, I think what attracts me is:

  • colour
  • sufficient contrast in the lights and darks
  • clean lines – I have found I do not like too much information, simple and uncluttered works best for me
  • interesting focal points – there has to be something to draw your eye into the picture.
Geranium robustum

Geranium robustum

This geranium seems to fit all my criteria.  I have it growing alongside a path in my garden and it always makes me smile as I pass when it is in flower.  I love the colour and the white centres make it really stunning as it is such a prolific flowerer.

I would love to hear what draws you to a particular subject to paint.


The Colours of Advertising

I have to admit to being disappointed!

Trusting to the pictures in advertising, I have bought items and they have not come up to expectation!  Yes I know that is very naive, but that’s how it is.

The thing is that now I have been painting flowers for quite a while, I have begun to look at plant purchases which inspire me to paint them.  So I look at the pictures on the packet (for bulbs, tubers, seeds etc) or on the label (plants).  Seems simple enough, but no!  As I say, I have been disappointed.

It all began last year when I  purchased morning glory (ipomoea) seeds and looked forward to that rich blue.  The flowers when they came were, to put it politely, insipid.  My Viola sororia ‘Speckles’ which looked lovely on the label – white petals liberally sprinkled with violet dots, was actually sporadically sprinkled with pale lilac dots, which could not be seen from a distance.

At Christmas I bought myself an amaryllis which, according to the packet, was white with red stripes.  I watched it sprout, bud and grow with mounting anticipation, paper and paints at the ready until the day it opened.  Cream with peach stripes which, whilst lovely in its own right, was not what I was expecting and the desire to paint it withered.



Maybe from the seller’s point of view more sales are made from pictures with brighter colours, but it is …well…….disappointing.

I have finished my watercolour painting of an Himalayan Blue Poppy (Mecanopsis betonicifolia).   I had to use artistic licence here as the plant in my garden is distinctly pinkish.  Not the fault of the advertisers this time as it is probably due to my soil being quite limey, whereas these beautiful poppies prefer it more acidic.

Himalayan Blue Poppy


In the future I think I will just have to keep an open mind when looking at advertising material!


A Rose for Valentine’s Day

Last summer while working in a local garden I noticed a beautiful rose that made me just want to drop everything and paint it.  The lady who owned it very kindly let me photograph it and now here it is.  Usually when I paint I get to a point where I think it looks awful and it takes a leap of faith to keep going. This time however that did not happen and I enjoyed painting it from start to finish.  That has honestly never happened before!  I mostly painted it wet on wet and I was so enamoured with the changing colours that it kept me going.

I also decided to photograph my work in stages and I found this really helpful to see how the painting was progressing.

I actually took twelve photos but there was little difference to see between some of them.  Unfortunately my photography skills are somewhat limited.

A very kind lady at my art group said you could almost smell the rose!  Music to my ears!  Perhaps I should print the cards on scented paper!

The finished card all ready for Valentine's Day

The finished card all ready for Valentine’s Day



Time to Stand and Stare

I read Katherine Tyrell’s blog today on the her ’10 golden rules for every busy artist’ and it got me thinking.  We all struggle to allow ourselves time to do what we want, when there is so much that needs doing.  However I do think there is a balance.  The things that need doing are so much easier when personal satisfaction has been achieved by doing the things we want to do!
On my personal list I would put – allow myself time to think or rather let my mind wander.  That is when I find I am at my most creative or inspired.  We have so much “noise” and “traffic” from computers, radios and televisions going on in our heads now that original thought is sometimes difficult to grasp.  I have a picture in my mind of Mel Gibson in the film ‘What women want’ when all the thoughts of women passing by are entering his brain.  He looks as if his brain is about to explode.  I think we all feel like that sometimes…so….. 
WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.               Wiliam Henry Davies
This is a very well cited poem, but nevertheless relevant.  I often recite it to myself, but rarely do it.
Changing the subject I have at last opened a shop on Etsy.  I have had it in mind for a while now but there is quite a lot of new ‘learning’ to do to understand the system.  At present I have only two items in my shop, but hope to increase as I get better at photographing etc.  It is all taking an inordinate amount of time at the moment.  Please have a look if you have time.  I would also really appreciate any  comments you might have.
And finally, a picture to leave you with of pink phlox growing in my garden…..



Think Pink!

I think I have said before that I always seem to favour pinks and blues when choosing flower subjects to paint.  Well this week it has all come to a head.  I often have two or three paintings on the go at any given time, usually at different stages.  However, at the moment I am finishing off the details on three paintings – all pink.  There is a lovely pink hollyhock which I have been working on for a while, a pink phlox which just begged to be painted and my pink rhododendron.

Hollyhocks in my garden

Hollyhocks in my garden

Original rhododendron

Original rhododendron

Amended rhodendron

Amended rhodendron

If you read my last blog you will remember I was not happy with one dominant leaf and have been trying to lessen the effect by adding another leaf.  I don’t know if it has worked, because all I can see when I look at it is that one leaf!  I would really welcome your comments.

Why though, am I inspired to paint pinks and blues – is it simply that I like those two colours?  A little research tells me that pink is a compassionate and nurturing colour, basically female and that blue is a safe colour implying honesty and dependability ( boring do you think?)  However when you mix the two colours you get lilac which I have taken to wearing a lot. Apparently, this means that I need to create order and perfection – perhaps a good trait for a botanical artist!

OR…  maybe there’s just more pink and blue flowers our there in the UK.






Artist’s block or writer’s block?

I have not posted for some time as I appear to have been suffering from writer’s block.  Thankfully not artist’s block as I have plenty of subjects to choose from in my own garden.  The thing is – what to write about.  I know what the problem is or rather what the problems are.  1.  I have been looking at the blogs written by artists who are members of the SBA and/or are teachers of botanical art.  These are marvellous in that they are so informative and inspiring I want to try all the ideas, but ….. they are all so good!  I wonder if I will ever get to that stage!  2.  This is a similar end result.  I have entered several local art exhibitions and as a consequence become very critical of my paintings during the time lapse between entering and exhibiting.  This rhododendron for example needs more work on it.  All the time I was working on it I hadn’t noticed the prominence of the large leaf at the bottom.  Still I can perhaps solve that problem by adding more leaves.


This dip in confidence has meant that I have not been able to think of anything to write about that is informative or noteworthy.  Then I realised I may not be the only one who has this problem and would love to hear your experiences of confidence dips and how you get over them.

I have been inspired this week by the artwork of Suzanne Hull Wilson (at for the beautiful transparency and clarity she gets in her colours.  I love her subjects too for no other reason than they make me feel good.  Definitely worth a visit!