Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Wednesday again...

It is nothing short of pure joy to draw the human body.  I so love Wednesdays when a small  group of local artists meet to spend a few precious hours together,drawing .  The poses range from 3 to 15 minutes.

This post is especially for brave Colette in Istanbul. Cancer or no cancer, your body is beautiful, all bodies are.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Hens and eggs and paintings.


Elena and Rebekah (my hens) and I are bonding. I give them left over porridge for breakfast and veggie scraps for supper, and they give me one egg a day. Yesterday morning’s egg was still warm when I picked it up.
This new experience is pure joy.
Small pleasures make my heart sing.
Day 4 in the new Happyhouse.

Day 5.  This morning I wasn’t surprised to find two empty nests.  Last night it  rained heavily.

Shame I thought.  Do the hens mind getting wet?

Then mid-morning - to my great surprise and delight- after making veggie  soup and taking the scarps to the chucks ,my eye caught sight of three white eggs sitting on top of  a pile of  brown curly leaves. Three!  Two eggs were still warm. Warm as a small child’s hand.

And soon after this moment of joy, an unexpected email arrived like a slap in the face, and a few hours of horrible ‘lost-ness’ followed.

My best medicine for these disruptive feelings is to change my location.

Small Cork Trees Henri Manguin - 1906

So I limped up the grassy track to my car, remembering to padlock the gate behind me.  Then  carefully and slowly driving down  our shared narrow lane - avoiding the three yapping puppies and the bent old lady - I  headed for the village.
The shared lane  has  5 small whitewashed traditional houses on one side, and  large vegetable plots and wild orchards on the other. Almost every piece of land around here has orange and lemon trees growing abundantly.

Old ceramic pots , black buckets full of purple freisias and mature green plants line our communal concrete track. Everything will soon be  shaded by  a leafy roof made from  a spindly old grandfather vine.
And at the bottom, 50 yards  or so from my gate,  the lane meets another slightly wider lane, and it meanders delightfully into the village of Tablones, where once upon a time, many tin miners lived.

The day then became full of poignant  and beautiful moments.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Raoul Dufy - The Little Palm Tree, 1905

Somehow though, the upsetting email became an excuse for not making my first drawings in my new studio.

Instead, I re-researched (online) my favourite period in art history – The ( colourful)  Favuves.  How amazing to discover that what I need and long to do with my own art now, is what I started out to do, but got side-tracked and interrupted by life all those years ago by  earning a living, and being a single mother .


Who were the Fauves?
Besides Matisse other Favue artists included, Maurice de Vlaminck, Raoul Dufy, Georges Rouault, Kees van Dongen, all long time favourites of mine .

Their paintings  were characterized by  ‘seemingly wild brush work and strident colours, while their subject matter had a high degree of simplification and abstraction. Above all, Fauvism valued individual expression. The artist's direct experience of his subjects, his emotional response to nature, and his intuition were all more important than academic theory or elevated subject matter.’

Georges Rouault

Georges Rouault

Georges Rouault

These powerful influences in my first years of becoming an artist would become, over decades, silent companions on  a lifelong healing art journey.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Adios mis quierdos amigos.

Tomorrow will be the end of another chapter in my life. I’ve spent three winters now at Kay and Bernie’s delightful casita @ near Orgiva,  in Andalucia, southern Spain.

The little house has been a safe place, a sanctuary, a comfy cosy nest of a place, an experience of living beside many animals and a wonderful family. Added to this has been getting to know dozens of lovely young WOFFERS  from around the globe who have come and  stayed awhile, then seemlessly moved on to their next advenute.  Jess and Eve especially spring to mind .

I’ve loved living alongside Kay and Bernie’s incredible creative energy, and I’ve loved watching their garden ‘grow.’ You would not believe the daily hard work they’re committed to, to make the garden a joy for everybody .

I came to the casita before the garden was opened to the public, a week before I started chemo, in November 2014.

Over the recovery months, I enjoyed the  privileged of being appointed official ‘taster’in Kay's kitchen for her various ice creams. Let me tell you !  Eton Mess is definitely the best ! I was also invited to test : soups, brownies, and various gluten free creations, as well as teas and wonderful natural fruit drinks –all for the open garden days .

There have been so many big and small experiences shared. So much laughter. So many Bernie jokes !! So many ideas birthed that have come to fruition, Kay’s paper flower courses, Art in the Garden, Chinese cooking in the Garden, the arrival of the peacocks,  and never to be forgotten, my birthday surprise breakfast with the llamas by the river .

Now I’m ready and off to a little house across the river where my responsibilities will include 2 chickens a cockerel and 2 quails, and…I’ll have a small studio, at last.

But also never ever to be forgotten, a huge thank you to all my many friends whose love and practical help have got me to this point. I could not have come out of the other side of cancer smiling, without you.
Os quiero mucho. You know who you are, as they say.

So, Adios mis quierdos amigos. We’ll be sending smoke signals across the river now instead of trading knocks on the door, because, as the crows flies, I’ll only be about a mile away !!

Thank you Kay and Bernie. You are quite simply, the best .

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Reaching a milestone.

Maravillosa noticia hoy de la cariñosa oncóloga…estoy limpia, 22 meses en remisión!! Y siempre después de dándome la noticia ,ella me da un beso.
Mis hijos y mis nietos en Escocia están muy felices, y yo tambien!!!

A wonderful instant reply from son number 2 in Scotland to the great news from the oncologist today. All clear again! 22 months in remission after a no hope prognosis. Never say never friends !!

So grateful to all my very dear friends for your love and support. And the icing on the cake, the oncology visits will now be every 3 months, not 2.

We've reached a milestone!

'You'll have the summer free,' said the lovely young lady oncologist as she gave me a parting kiss, as usual !

Yesterday almost 1000 people went on a walk around our local town in aid of cancer , not sure if it was for research or just in support of people dealing with this illness. It was deeply touching and humbling to see them walking beside the eucalyptus forest,hundreds and hundreds of them, so many people concerned about cancer in one way or another.

In the accompanying ambulance I saw my doctor Don Juan. Normally he is very serious and screws up his face when he listens to my Spanish. He rarely smiles. Yesterday he waved and absolutely beamed at me, which brought tears to my eyes, and still does.

Cancer is an extraordinary camino, it brings so very many unexpected gifts.

Photos thanks to Pinterest, art work, I'm sorry I have lost the names of the two  artists.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Wonder-filled Wednesdays.

 Wednesday morning now means Life Drawing with six other artists here in Orgiva, Andalucia, Spain. Bliss and double joy!!!

I love these precious hours more than I can say.

My hope in sharing these drawings is that they might touch your hearts with the same kind of wonder I feel when I'm drawing another human being.  It's a hugely priviledged, intimate, experince of meeting another soul  - beautiful - unmasked - naked - real.

  Elizabeth Gilbert says:

'My soul, when I tend to it, is a far more expansive and fascinating source of guidance than my ego will ever be, because my soul desires only one thing: wonder.

And since creativity is my most efficient pathway to wonder, I take refuge there, and it feeds my soul, and it quiets the hungry ghost—thereby saving me from the most dangerous aspect of myself,'

from her book, Creative Living Beyond Fear.

                                               This weeks drawings with the new model.

All of these rapid drawings were  made in between 3 and 15 minutes. Speed is of the essence.

It's like if I'm not quick, the spirit will hide, and I'm left with a chalky mess on the paper and on my hands.

I prepare the background paper the day before.  Usually this is with acrylic paint, sometimes with plants printed onto the paper. I’m drawing with chalk and sometime oil pastels.

Usually I take a flask of black coffee. This week it was not so nice dandilion tea because  I giving up coffee for a while.  This week the Dutch sculptress brought a banana cake to share at break time.  It's not very good she said.  It's ok said the new model.  I can tell you it's ok because I used to  have a cafe. I'm a cake baker, she added, smiling.

The cake was definitely delightfully original. I thought it was wonderful.  Partly for  her  kindness in making it for us, and partly as its yummy, squidgy, melt- in –your- mouthness took my mind of the caffeine withdrawal headache which was hammering away behind my eyes, for the second day.

Writing and life drawing help me balance my world which I’m hyper aware could change again at any moment.   Next visit with the lovely lady oncologist is on Monday.
My ( inner) drama queen gets very busy before these visits.  21 months in remission is nothing short of a miracle.   May  this miracle continue, please.

All of our lives could change for 1000 reasons  in a spilt second. I know that. I’m not asking for sympathy. I think I’m just asking you to walk beside me, for a little while, and share my joys and…my uncertainty.


I resolved a week ago to follow the advice (online) of somebody whose name I didn’t catch,  but that doesn’t matter.  She  was an ordinary looking but confident American lady wearing a red dress. Her hair was short and brown.  She was strutting across a stage talking to a large audience.  I had  a huge penny dropping moment.  I had no doubt about that. AHA!

She said she had  decided to depend on  God, not simply just put her trust in Him (/Her/It/All That Is/Buddha/ Allah/Yahweh) call  'Him/It' what you like.

So I decided to try depending.

 A  day later I found my new home!

Blessing on all your inner and outer journeys dear friends.

Hasta pronto.

Prints on watercolour paper of any of the above drawings are 45€ plus postage.
Original drawings unframed but mounted are 450€ plus postage.

All proceeds from the sale of the drawings will go to supporting Ivan Nogales arts centers for street children and youth at risk in Bolivia. 
Ivan and 10 of his young actors/musicians  will be touring Spain and France later this month. They need all the financial help they can possibly find.

Ivan's Teatro Trono is  one of the 5 projects Orgiva's  Chocolatada supports :

To order a drawing, please email me -