My prints have gone to the pub!

One last bit of awesomeness to end the year: here are my prints hanging in the newly and beautifully refurbished The Drummond at Albury.

This glorious gastropub is nestled in the Surrey Hills and well worth a visit—not just for the prints, though it’s always nice to see them in person—I have it on very good authority that the food is delicious and the wine lists are pretty awesome, too!

Many thanks to Kim at Peach Pubs for reaching out and the lovely photos are by Case Eames.

How would I mount my prints?

These four prints are going to be on show atWater Street Galleryin Todmorden as part of its ‘A Modern Bestiary’ exhibition “[e]xploring the animal kingdom, real and imagined, through the eyes of artists who have a personal and contemporary take on this fascinating genre.”

If you’re in the area, do go and see them in person to appreciate all the fine detail and textural marks a computer monitor can’t show you.

That meant mounting them, so I’m finally able to share how I would mount my prints.

I really like black core mount board with my black prints. The black reveal really sets off the printing and keeps your eye in the picture plane.

Once mounted, I also like to pop these in a thin profile black frame because black goes with everything.

Of course, these are just my preference so feel free to go as wild or plain as you like with your choice of mount and frame–you do you!–but the latent graphic designer in me just loves that graphic black core.

Click on any of the images if you’re inspired to try black core mount!

Wildflowers, clouds and a photobomb

Cow parsley in the afternoon sun. The view is from the start of the flowers looking up at a summer blue sky filled with fluffy clouds

The sun was shining for the first time in what feels like ages yesterday afternoon on my walk. I spotted a few lovely things I thought I’d share in lieu of prints (which are percolating) while I work on my website and newsletter.

Did I mention the newsletter? 😉 Do sign up and you’ll receive the inaugural issue which is due soon!

My dog is largely oblivious to flowers though flowers have evolved to take full advantage of his longer hair and the “feathers” on his legs and feet with their cunning “sticky” seeds. I swear it’s like taking a piece of Velcro for a walk. EVERYTHING sticks to him. Still, this has improved the biodiversity of my garden where most of his nature finds are removed.

Anyway, on our travels in the warm sun and cool wind we saw: Queen Anne’s lace and little fluffy clouds (shout out to the 90s music fans out there!).

A close up of the disc-shaped umbel of a cow parsley plant. Umbellifers have many of these, which are made up of many tiny flowers held on short flower stalks.

Anthriscus sylvestris is important for lots of insects, including bees and hoverflies, as it’s an early source of pollen. It’s also a nectar source for orange-tip butterflies.

I rather like the most common name for this beautiful flower, “cow parsley” sounds bucolically pretty but has other common names depending on where you are in the UK: Queen Anne’s Lace, fairy lace, lady’s lace, wild chervil, hedge parsley, Keck (or Queque depending on where you are in the UK), Wild Parsley, Adder’s Meat, Devil’s Meat, Bad Man’s Oatmeal, and the worst—and yet most sensible—of all; mother die.

Perhaps Queen Anne’s Lace refers to Queen Anne’s habit of travelling the country in May, which led people to believe that these lacey flowers decorated the hedgerows especially for her. Another common name “mummy die” was presumably used to discourage children from picking these pretty flowers. For pretty they may be, but they can also easily be mistaken for some poisonous umbellifers like hemlock.

If you think you’re seeing more cow parsley than usual in the verges as you venture further afield this year, you probably are. Alas they are becoming a monoculture in our verges due to roadsides being more fertile than they were 30 years ago (agricultural run-off, cuttings left in place by local councils, and even car exhausts all contribute). Although it seems counterintuitive, many of our wild flowers needs much less fertile soil to flourish so they are doing less well on our verges.

NB this is not Daucus carota which is called Queen Anne’s Lace but only in North America.

We also saw Horse chestnut flowers (Aesculus hippocastanum):

A close up view of horse chestnut flowers showing some still with their yellow nectar guides while the majority of pollinated flowers now have reddy-pink guides

Horse chestnut flowers are mostly white (though there are some cultivated red/pink ones). The flowers have nectar guides which are yellow when the flower first opens and change to deep reddy-pink once the flower has been pollinated. Why the colour change? Well, bees can’t see red colours so they no longer visit the pollinated flowers, only the pollinated ones.

We also saw a very photogenic dandelion clock:

A dandelion clock stands along in front of the grass at the very edge of a verge.

Well, it was photogenic until the canine photobomber detonated it and it all stuck to him ready to float away merrily as we made our way home...

A black dog sits in front of the cow parsley at the edge of a verge

When “No” is not a rejection

A blackboard with previous text badly erased. The text on it now reads "When 'No' is not a rejection' "

Three “No”s in a row.

Am I disheartened? A little, but here’s the thing.

It's the same as when you make a mistake, you have to choose not to take it personally.

A gently written “No thank you. This work is beautiful, but it’s not for us,” isn’t a rejection of my work, it’s simply a gallerist knowing their market better than I do.

You see, even if I have researched either the website or the physical gallery (preferably both) to see if I think my work might be a good fit, the gallerists know their clients better than I do, and it’s important for both artist and gallery that the work will sell.

“No thank you. This work is beautiful, but it’s not for us” doesn’t mean my black and white prints won’t sell anywhere it’s simply that this particular gallerist knows that the people who buy from them are tending to buy luscious colour-rich work at the moment.

A pro forma, "We’re not taking on new artists at this time. Please check back later,” would be perfectly acceptable, but every single one of the galleries I’ve approached has taken the time to a) look at my submissions and b) write thoughtful and sensitive replies. These make the “No”s even easier to take without taking them to heart.

So, thank you very much to all the busy gallerists who make time to do this. It is much appreciated.


PS if you happen to know a gallery where black and white prints [cough] like mine [cough] will sell, do drop me a line!

Let it go and move on

In the interests of full transparency, I make mistakes. I know. Shocking, isn’t it?

Since there’s no undo button in printing, that little “double-tap” mark could be sitting on the drying rack undermining my confidence in my ability to make any decent prints, ever again.

But I choose (and it is a choice) not to catastrophise and think like that. Instead, I let it go and move on to the next print.

I used to be a perfectionist and believed that it would take years to learn how to let things go…

And then one day I realised that it’s a choice how you react to an event. The event itself has no meaning other than what you’re ascribing to it. Revelation!

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still human: if I’m tired, or hungry, or stressed it’s not always easy to make like a Zen master and let it go, but with practice the little “Oh poo!” followed by a shrug and acceptance becomes your default reaction.

I think what I’m trying to say is, be kind to yourself. Printing is fraught with jeopardy, especially when you’re printing a block with loads of detail on new paper that is stiffer than you’re used to, and that doesn’t fall smoothly.

Let it go and move on, your self confidence will thank you.

Now you can buy me a Ko-fi

A black and white close-up photo of the surface of a mug of hot beverage. On the top, bubbles formed when the hot water was added have collected into a heart shape.

I’ve just got myself a Ko-fi page!

If you haven’t heard of it, Ko-fi helps people who make things get support from the people who like those things.

If you like my prints and cards, please consider buying me a “coffee” to keep me in ink & paper. The site also lets you set up a campaign, so I am currently working towards getting the ‘Instruments of Hope’ series framed.

Thank you! *raises mug in a toast to lovely followers*

Happy Christmas (2020)

A spent sedge head is covered in hoare frost. Behind it, a body of water has a think covering of ice, too. Still further back, the trees that border the water are also covered in rime giving them a pale, grey appearance against a flat white sky

Thank you for supporting my artistic endeavours, wonderful comments on social media, and for adding my art to your walls in 2020.

My prints are now in collections worldwide from the USA to Singapore!

Have a good holiday (goodness knows you’ve earned one this year!) and let’s hope for a brighter New Year.