Thursday, 17 August 2017


“the best laid plans of mice and men…..”  I had a vision of this time in Normandy, and as is usual in my life, if I make a plan or have expectations, I have to review and change. 

Many artists (myself included) need quiet, security, and sanctuary, in order to open themselves up on canvas, show their inner most person to the world (whether it’s in music, on film, on canvas, painting realism or abstraction or something in-between).  I find that if that sanctuary is absent in my life, where I am in the moment, that I cannot work.  I found myself in such a situation, and had to change most of the outcomes of my first month abroad.  I expected respect for the reasons I came on this working trip to France – a small solo exhibition in a small town, to paint in the time off from sitting in the gallery – communicating, in an interesting conglomeration of English, Spanish, French and charades, with people who came from as far as Holland, Spain, the UK, and decided to step into the gallery.  I found the opposite; and had to change accommodation, and to decide ultimately if I could even afford to stay in Normandy or to cut my losses.  As a result, I can’t paint even as I write this, and that was half of my purpose for returning to Normandy this time.  Since my work has been more upmarket than locally in Normandy for awhile now and I really can’t change the pricing, sales, while welcome, were never the big expectation from the early conception of this show.  Life’s challenges in New Mexico made it more important to sell….but I still held no illusions on that front!   The work here will go to other exhibitions in the UK. 

I expected to focus, to feel only my art, my creativity, feel that rush of pure creativity….living, breathing my art….like I did before I returned to the US, or last winter when I stopped working for others to concentrate on my painting for the exhibition.  Life is never completely absent for sure, but it’s necessary to be able to keep it at bay.  And what I do as a professional artist is just as committed and focused as any other career!  So many people just don’t get this! As a result, I found new digs thanks to new friends;  but no painting – although I can take photos and sketch  a bit – and had to decide, with my organizers, if I could afford to keep the show up til August 15!! We had to analyze the fall out if I pull out half way through versus the fall out if I keep up the show (emotional and monetary fall out).

Ultimately, through the generosity of friends new and old, we were able to keep the exhibition open; and I’m so very glad we did!  It ultimately surprised us with attendance – each day the gallery was open I had 20-30 visitors from not only the village and surrounding countryside, but from farther afield in France and into the rest of Europe and the UK.  I’ve made new, lasting friendships; one painting sold; and everyone who came through loved the focus of the exhibition on the coastline and kept talking about how “strong” the paintings are.  I am so very grateful for the chance to have met wonderful people, to show and talk about my work, and to spend time in a very quiet, lovely part of France. 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Saint Aubin sur Mer, Normandy, France

Since leaving the USA on 4 July, it’s been non-stop.  It never easy to put on your own show; even more so in a foreign country.  Even though arrangements began to be made more than 2 years ago, and posters and cards printed and sent, there is always a lot of catch up work to be done.  My show is in an historical building across from the Mairi (Mayor’s) in St. Aubin Sur Mer, Normandy.  They have devised an ingenious system of fencing – wired together for strength – and hooks to protect not only the historic walls, but I’m sure, the hammer and nails!!- Its effective though! 

Since arriving in Dieppe on the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry on 7 July, my friend Madelyn and I have raced about putting up more posters (in addition to the ones I sent from the USA a month ago), finding someone to print more (in Paris), etc., etc.  There’s a music festival on (Pete the Monkey), and its meant more visitors than expected to my little gallery space on opening day; Bastille Day.  The village began to celebrate last night with a fette that involved copious amounts of wine, moules (mussels), French fries, and dancing for the children (at least until I finally hit the wall at about 930/10 pm). I walked home in the waning light – sunset at 10:15!, listening to two different sound tracks…..the more traditional one at the fette, and Pete the Monkey electronic sounds down the road.  I’ve also tasted home-made calvados (liquor), that was as powerful and strong as a very good single malt whiskey or cognac, had more dinners out (hysterically trying to speak French when for some reason unfathomable to me, I’ve only been able to speak Spanish…and better than I’d done years ago).  I’ve been trying – sometimes more successfully than others over the years – to learn French; and the closer I get to understanding people, the harder it gets to speak!

Even better, I’ve found a new spot to paint from.  I’m here in Normandy until 15 August, then after a brief trip to Brittany to visit the spot where my beloved mare, Dancer, has been buried, and check on my friends there, it’s on to Scotland to reconnect myself with that bonnie place after being away 2 years.

Saturday, 1 April 2017


Vuelettes Sur Mer, Normandy, France

I asked myself this week if perhaps I should give in, give up... my head is bloody from hitting it against the walls!  All artists have to deal with these feelings...well most of us!  That feeling that you're hitting your head against the wall so much that it's bloody, and you can't seem to soar over those walls or off those cliffs the same way you used to.  It's hard to remember the good times, when you're struggling with day to day things like finances, credit ratings, paying rent, buying food, looking for the dosh to get you over the next hump and into a decent (your own) studio - as well as to your next exhibition!  Unexpected expenses seem to be insurmountable; and don't tell us about a savings account for such eventualities!  I wish!  Sigh.

Enough moaning.  I KNOW that this is temporary, and only has any power over me if I choose to give it power.  This isn't the first time I've been here!  Not, my first rodeo! But, giving up is SOOO seductive!  This is what I'm writing about today.  NOT GIVING UP in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. I talked about this very briefly in an interview with Artist's Web (my website host) in 2014.  I'd forgotten what I said.... and by accident, read it again this past week, just in time. I was asked what was the most important advice I had to impart to other artists....?  My answer was very quick and to the point... TO NEVER GIVE UP.  This is where we separate ourselves from the rest of the world.  We do what we do because we must.  I MUST paint, and explore to do so!  It is part of my path in this life.  It has given me such an incredible life, such incredible insight into the human condition, and most importantly, such incredible insight into myself.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Solidity with the Easel and Brushes

I had to stop working on my house/studio in Taos, NM in January for a variety of reasons.  Foremost being that I have an exhibition in Normandy, France opening July 14, 2017 for a month.  I had to start painting, despite the fact that my house was by then 3 months behind schedule - winter building.  It took all of 3 days from walking into my temporary studio north of Taos and only a mile from the room I rent to putting paint to canvas (or board as it happens).  I was absolutely right when I thought that all the focus of working on my house/studio would translate directly to the easel!  The work has to be finished by mid-March, and dry by the end of the month so that I can ship it to my framer in preparation for this wonderful little show in the village of Le Bourg Dun, not far from Dieppe.  I have spent nearly every day in the studio - not wanting to tear myself away, even to check on the house and make sure it still is in one piece.  And yes, it (the house) does now have a roof; and has almost completely dried out after spending most of December and January dripping water like a grotto (see my last post!)

I'm still not in my house, but my go fund me campaign is helping, as are people who step up to offer some thing I need, or some free help.  I feel the love!  There are still lots of things I can do before I have to pay for something....but for the moment, my studio has my focus.  I am content!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016


I'm soon to begin painting again!  Whew!  I need to do new work from the Normandy coast in France for an exhibition in the village of Le Bourg Dun...opening mid-July.  So the clock has begun ticking. I still am not in my house/studio in Taos, NM .  It sounds like a cold grotto when I open the door, from the snow melting through the dirt ceilings.  The roofers, plumbers, electricians are madly trying to get things sorted so the roof can go on, and I'm sweating to get it all done, before my walls melt and I run out of cash!!!

I know I really won't loose the walls - they'll dry out, as will the roof!  I've launched a GOFundMe campaign to help finish the house, ( )  I've an exhibition in Austin at the Irish Embassy that's been extended into March, and I'll find a place that's dry and warm, to paint! Somehow, in all the chaos, I need to get quiet, and start to re-immerse myself in that magical Norman coastline.  Of COURSE I'll make it....

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.....