Monday, 22 August 2016


I've not had the energy to pick up a brush at all since my last blog!  I will paint again, and soon! I promise... but for now, the deconstruction of what doesn't work, is rotten, or beyond repair is heavy work!!  But I find that I have found  the same focus that I once had; the need to create nearly every day.  And I know, without a doubt, that this old focus will translate to the easel, once I have a place to work and the heavy physical labor is over.  I've had help from a couple of friends when I needed it most....more brawn than I possess was needed to get the floors started in two rooms. But mostly, I've tackled this project each day, on my own! I HATE asking for help, hate looking not strong; but it was beyond me to get the floors started.  Once started, I could do it, using a bit of ingenuity figuring out the best way to conquer a physical limitation, and get the stuff up.  The same was true with demolishing heavy walls separating two connected bathrooms.... it will be one bathroom, and a small utility room.
Master Bedroom... one day, a set of narrow french doors in the window ahead.
the living room now... the oldest room in the house - 30 in thick walls

one room now, was two bathrooms of interesting construction. my master bath, utilities, and a hall and closet in to the master bedroom

my debris pile from the bathroom alone... beyond that, the old kitchen, my bedroom, and alot of rotten wood... what a view though.

Yesterday, after spending 4 hours cutting and pulling old wiring, boxes, light switches, I nearly finished the inside, but several wires defeated me...stuck between the ceiling boards and vigas....again, it will take more brawn than I possess to pull those wires with the aid of a 'wonder bar' (truly the most versatile tool in my arsenal!) to lift the ceiling boards just enough to pull the wires through.  Yesterday, I sat on a step looking at the dirt floors, broken windows, and concrete slabs I still need to bust and remove (hmmm....maybe a patio???), and I wondered if I'd lost my mind!  I know I've not, but I felt overwhelmed and worried that I won't get into my house before the snow starts to fly....  Its only 4 big rooms, so truly, once construction begins, it shouldn't take too long! And I'm hiring the help for the construction, bar the remudding, painting, refinishing of windows, existing floors, etc.  I'm just sore and tired!  I am having to learn to ask for help once again! Which I think is the point to this missive.... I can't do it all myself. There is nothing wrong with saying "Uncle!" and recognizing that I need to remember to ask for help!

Friday, 8 July 2016


Well, it HAS been awhile, once again.  But I am finally finding my feet.  I have been talking/writing about 'floating' for what feels like years....possibly since August 2011 to be truthful; but I have purchased this little bit of New Mexico heaven this past month, AND have managed to finish all four paintings shown in the previous blog post!  The above house will give me space, and a studio, and grounding so that I feel I can soar again with a rudder this time.  It will be alot of work, don't get me wrong!!  But this vintage 1820 adobe on the Talpa Ridge just south of Taos, NM, will be well worth it.  It still has beautiful vigas, 30 in thick walls in places, and mud plaster through out the inside of the house.  The ceiling has 12 in. of dirt as insulation on top of the plank ceiling above the big vigas.  There is NO plumbing, the electricity has to be completely redone before they'll think of re-attaching the house to the grid, and lots of broken windows.....  but its mine.

 The Studio
The Torreon

The studio sits out back of the main farm house.... an old forge of the same vintage; and there is even a torreon on the property - a New Mexican version of a adobe defensive tower (once 2 stories) from about 1820 - the Comanche Wars.  I miss Scotland and parts of France like I missed Taos when I lived away.  I know that this base will be the first step in once again being able to keep my feet firmly soaring across the pond; painting and keeping up with the many friends around the world that I've made.  Now for the adventure of restoring the house, the studio; and stabilizing the torreon. Along with making time to paint most days.....

Sunday, 1 May 2016


I am posting this photo of my current studio, in the SMU at Taos, Ft. Burgwin Art Barn.  I'm proving to you all and myself that I am actually working....four started, yet unfinished paintings.  Loss affects us all differently.  and it seems that for me, it affects my ability to let out the images inside me.  Yes, my creativity flows from the inside out, even if its an image in front of me....and grief and loss seem to block that for me.  But SOMETHING's leaking out, or even these four paintings wouldn't be there. Doesn't matter that two of them were begun a year ago....the images are still there, lurking until I can find a way to dynamite the dam holding it all in. This dam is definitely cracking...I can feel it.  I just wanted to let you all know I'm still here.  Still looking at the world through my painter's eyes....

Thursday, 19 November 2015


It’s been months since I’ve felt I could write about events in my life and how they relate to my journey as an artist.  The challenges of ending a relationship, changing countries, changing states, re-examining goals, the illness and ultimate loss of my Dad, the need to find a new market for my work here in the USA, proved finally too much for this artist.  Floating, anchorless, I have spent months on the road, dealing with duties and travelling to ‘reboot’ my inner body.  Artists can sometimes use their art to help get their emotional bodies through times of great stress, but for me, it has been a time of deep meditation, reconnecting with beloved ones left behind in Scotland and France, finding myself re-inspired by landscapes dear to me – even if I couldn’t paint them yet; and ultimately, finding the final ability to lift myself up out of the hole, and heal from the inside out through training a very special dog (Normally this part of my healing has been helped by my horse  and companion of 26 years, Dancer, currently enjoying an extended holiday in Brittany, France).  Within a few weeks of working and running with this dog, I was able to go sit in my new studio, sketch, and begin finally, to paint (for the first time since mid-January!).  Now that I’m working again, I can use the work to further heal my heart.

I’m now in Taos, New Mexico – working in a studio provided for the winter by friends at Ft. Burgwin, the research center and SMU satellite campus that my Father founded the year I was born.  It’s snowing…the first big snow of the year they say, and I’m beginning to think ahead.  I’m still floating, but it’s a meditative floating….that will produce work.  The first piece out of this new, temporary studio is the final painting for the commission that I began last year (fingers crossed!).

Cliff Dwellers Canoeing on the Brazos, 24 x 18 in., oil on canvas, sold

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Life's 90 Degree Turns....The Roller Coaster Continues!

Brilliant news!  The commission is mostly complete.  My clients loved the Team Roping painting, have accepted it, and all that's left is a small piece on their section of the Brazos River - which can't even be begun until the Spring when the weather warms up!

I'm now floating again; re-evauating my goals for returning home to the USA for ANY period of time, and focusing on so many things that got put aside as I was trying to find my way through the challenge of a commission that stretched me as an artist.  The best experience!!!  Watch this space... my new pieces on the easel are from both the West Texas subjects I'm finding so challenging and rewarding, and a ceilidh painting from France.  I'm passionate about their passion!!  See the sketches below!!

As to the subject of the title....all I can say at this point is to listen to these blogs... changes are afoot once again.  In the meantime, I'm giving a talk this week to an Art Practicum class at UT Commerce, taught by my good friend, photographer Ginger Cooke.  I'm honored by the chance to give these students the benefit of my experience.  It'll be hard not to scare them too much....but to be truthful, there were no such classes when I was at University; and I learned the business of being an artist by sheer tough experience.  If I'd had a backup career once I made the leap off the cliff to paint full-time in 1998, I'd have taken it long ago!  Its not an easy life, but more rewarding than I ever imagined.  I just knew I could do NOTHING else by then.  

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Decisions, Decisions

I've had my nose to the proverbial grindstone lately.... working on a new painting that will hopefully be accepted by my clients for at least part of the commission.  Its finished, I think.  This is always the point where I have to make a second leap.... the first being the start of a painting.... that the picture has resolved itself, regardless how much or how little paint is on the canvas.  And then, the third leap - at least in this case, because this is a very wide-open commission I'm working on - is waiting to see if the clients like or dislike, alot or a little, the paintings. (Usually, my clients approve sketches before I even put paint to canvas, so that I'm sure they'll love the end result! In this case, they liked the general idea, and yet, I had to make a leap to keep working - highly unusual in my usually very controlled commission work!) I'm at the point where I'll soon find out if the commission is resolving itself, is resolved, or if I need to re-attack the 'problem'!  So much of being an artist, for me, is patience, and waiting.....  So here are the two main pieces, and soon, we'll know if I'm done, nearly done, or have more work.
Calf Team Roping at 4 Flags, 36 x 48 in., oil on canvas, £4,000

Crider's No. 2, WAT 2014, 36 x 48 in., oil on canvas, £4,000

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Finding The Passion...

Its been way too long since I've posted here, but the holidays.... need I say more?!  I have been working though.  And what I'm loving is that this commission is stretching me.  I'm currently working on a team-calf roping painting.  Just a bit outside of my comfort zone to be sure!!  But, I have a passion for horses, understand them, know how they work, and so does my client.  I also have a passion for movement and balance, and my client does as well; riding a horse is about balance.  Its a dance, a conversation between horse and human.  In the painting I'm working on, I'm finding my own passion, my client's passion and am finding that I can see just what is becoming important in this work.....the movement and balance and speed of the horse(s) and their rider's.  The focus it takes for both beings to work together to capture the calf, to ensure it gets its shots, its castration, its brand.... 

The next question is how do I say all this with color as well.... and its all set in the magnificent West Texas countryside along the Brazos River - which will also dictate the color and light! Then there is the question of what in the painting becomes spotlit, what is important, what is sketched in as quickly as possible.... Like I said, these paintings are stretching me!  I'd never have pursued this subject on my own, and I'm so very glad I am!