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I've been marvelling at the concept of inspiration. Where does it come from? How does it start? What are the origins? How do the seeds of ideas get planted, germinate in the darkness and come through to give us an opportunity to respond and experience for ourselves?

The gift of creativity. We have so many ideas, but what is it that makes us settle on one idea and run with it... Ideas ‘grow’ wings, and ‘fly’ us into unexpected territories. The gift of creativity is something so intangible. It's something so important in our makeup. I looked up the word inspiration to find that it simply means to breathe in.

Such a simple concept, but it makes sense: When we breathe in, we breathe in oxygen, which keeps us alive. As an artist surviving on inspiration, I ‘breathe in’ my surroundings and make space for a fresh new perspective. Notice what's in front of you, and focus purely on that.

In early spring, I was invited to paint at Stampwell farm in Beaconsfield. On arrival, I saw the ancient plum orchard before me, thick with spring blossoms and exuding a heady seasonal aroma. On closer inspection the plum trees were alive with swarms of insects pollinating the nectar from the blossoms. The sound of the bird song was overpowering. I found a spot amongst the plum trees to set up my easel. I decided to paint as large as I could to not only experience what was before me, but to respond to it on a large surface. It felt like I was conducting an orchestra, big brush in my hand, and lots of paint.

I was able to ‘breathe in’ an environment, which in turn inspired me to respond in paint on canvas and to enjoy the colours and the light in front of me.

As I set about to capture the light coming through the trees, and the mass of blossom, I could feel myself being lifted by the whole experience as my response to the environment was being recorded on canvas.

I spent the next two weeks painting a collection of works not only of the plum orchards but the pregnant ewes. It felt like a place that was so full of hope and progress. It was just what I needed at that time, which otherwise had been so full of uncertainty.

I was invited to exhibit my work in one of the barns. It was a wonderful exhibition enabling me to invite friends, family and clients to come to the farm and experience the place for themselves. There were donkeys to ride, chickens to cuddle and an extremely friendly flock of sheep! I wanted everyone to see and be inspired in the same way that I had, by being on the farm.

This September I was invited to exhibit my largest painting from this collection at the Chelsea Art Society exhibition on the Kings Road. It was an exclusive exhibition for non members sponsored by the law firm Wedlake Bell. The Wedlake Bell award would be presented to one of the artists exhibiting.

My painting was given an excellent spot in the window of the exhibition. The gallery was full of promise and colour. At the preview party I was overwhelmed to receive the Wedlake Bell award by the Wedlake Bell team themselves. It was wonderful to be given the opportunity to share with their team the essence of my inspiration and I'm absolutely thrilled that my painting will hang in their London office.

I hope that my painting of these ancient plum orchards will create an atmosphere of calm and beauty, inviting the viewer to a peaceful space full of promise and light.

Artist Gail Reid Kindly provided a live link to my exhibition so that people could join us remotely. the recording can be viewed here: Film of exhibition

In the 37 minute film I will guide you around the show, describing my process and inspiration for each painting. Enjoy!

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Lately I have become glued to the weather forecast! If it's sunny, I'll plan to dash out with my paints, and if rainy to finish off paintings in the warmth of my kitchen.

It's been a huge relief to come out of the third lockdown having felt so stuck in limbo, quite literally clock watching and marking time whilst painting the clocktower of my local church. At least there I found inspiration and ultimately the building blocks for exploration and creativity.

Now out and about again, I was invited by the Revd Canon Frog Orr-Ewing to paint in the ancient fruit tree orchards at Stampwell Farm. It really is an incredible place and exactly what I needed. It's so lovely in fact, that I will be having a celebratory exhibition there over the weekend of 10th-11th July 2021

I encourage you to come and join me!

The exhibition will highlight this extraordinary year with paintings from my London rooftop and surroundings, and the awakening of spring at Stampwell Farm as we all head back into a new normal.

I have felt so encouraged and supported over this last year by friends and followers on social media, as they have joined me on this journey in paint and I would adore to share this exhibition and beautiful place. Come and see, and if you feel like it, bring your paints!

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During my adrenalin pumped roof top painting frenzy over the first lockdown, I decided to apply for a place on LAOTY. I had successfully appeared as a wild card artist in Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - Millenium Bridge Gateshead where I narrowly missing being picked as the winning wild card. My picture was used to advertise the program. See below.

It was a boost to hear Tai Shan Schierenburg rave about my millennium bridge painting which he dubbed as, 'Double shadow on the Tyne'.

Applying to be on LAOTY couldn’t be simpler. Just head to the website, fill in the form, and write as much relevant information about yourself as you can to aid the production team in selecting your work.

My submission piece I chose on the basis that it had wowed my Instagram following, topping my usual posts with its likes and comments.

Barely a month after applying, I received a phone call whilst out and about on my bike. Perched in the saddle, I heard the exciting news that I was being offered a pod to compete amongst 6 artists at a location to be confirmed just before the competition date.

A flurry of emails followed to confirm my identity, good health, address, passport and the like, as well as an hour long telephone interview with one of the producers. This was to establish more information on my career to date, painting practice, inspiration and other interests.

In the run up to the competition, I found that each time that I allowed my mind to wander to the competition, I found an ache in the pit of my stomach and a persistent nervous panic which I was desperate to keep at bay. It really was a case of mind over matter. I managed to persuade my nerves that if I treated the day as another painting day, I would do my best and that was all that mattered. More so than ever, I made sure that I painted outside every day, in different lights, challenging myself to rise at dawn, to push myself and my limits to paint under pressure of fatigue and changing light.

We were as a family spending our summer in Aldeburgh, so getting up early was no hardship, and actually a freeing pleasure to be up and out before the crowds.

My fantastic elder sister/journalist and trusty birth partner was the perfectly composed companion to accompany me on the day. She’s certainly seen me through a lot.

On to the nuts and bolts. I took a selection of painting surfaces on the day of varying sizes. Until I set eyes on the subject, I couldn’t be sure which shape or size would work best. After much deliberation, I settled on a long, thin panoramic oil-primed linen board. This I felt worked well with the tower blocks which for me dominated the scene.

Watch this time lapse to see an overview of my process.

My experience

Artists are given 4 hours over the day to complete their painting. In reality it can be a little longer as taking a break half way through the day is optional and could afford you that bit more time if taken up. I am used to painting fast, so the idea of painting one picture over a morning and afternoon was potentially going to be problematic. It didn’t take long for my painting to get underway, and if I’m honest, I feel I could have painted a second one if it had not been so hot. Either that or painting on a larger surface, perhaps to match that of my submission piece. This may have given me more of an edge to have been selected by the judges for the final three at least.

I was however happy with the painting that I did do, and it successfully conveyed what I had set out to paint. The fact that it didn’t tickle the judges enough to be picked was of course a disappointment, although on seeing the final edit aired on 17th February 2021 and hearing the judges’ debrief about my painting practice and approach, I felt hugely lifted, supported and understood.

Here’s what they said:

All in all, an incredible experience and one that I would recommend to any artist considering applying. You have nothing to lose. Go for it!

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