If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will know I ran a little competition to name my new Stoodley Pike painting. I received so many lovely suggestions that I couldn't really choose. So I asked the family that bought the painting to do so; it felt the perfect solution. They decided on "This is what it is to be happy" which I love and suited the painting really well.
It is a Sylvia Plath quote and it made me think about the connection between words and pictures. With my background in illustration, stories are so important to me. I try to weave an atmosphere and emotion in my paintings but also leave a little room for people to establish their own narratives about the place I have painted.
However, I thought it would be good to share some of my stories behind my art.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin..
This painting was inspired by my walks with my friend's dog. I was terribly unconfident with dogs but when my friend asked me if I would like to walk her new puppy I thought it would be a chance to change that.
Polly is a beautiful golden retriever and if she was fully grown when I met her I might have been a bit overwhelmed but as she grew, I grew more confident about being out with her.
These stables were on the way home from our regular walks and if we were lucky we would spot some horses.
Now when Polly comes bounding towards me I know her and I know she is full of love.
This was really a memory of one of my friend's birthday's. A group of us all brought picnic things and we sat and chatted in a meadow above Nutclough Woods. One of those lovely summery evenings with the sun slowly fading.
I had never been to that meadow before and it was such a lovely secret. It is one of those places that if you don't know the way in; you might miss it. During lockdown I was so grateful for it; a little quiet place to sit.
I have taught drawing classes there. I have made sun prints with my art club children there.
I love it.
Every year Heptonstall Junior Infant and Nursery school put on a musical. All the children are involved from new and small, to the children with one foot in their next chapter.
My good friend and neighbour always got me a ticket to see the show; it was to support her daughter but I also knew so many children there from art club too.
I have seen great versions of the Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows to name a few.
After the performance there was always a bustle of children leaving the school, some still in costume, all with the backdrop of the beautiful countryside. I spied Stoodley Pike through the trees and took a quick picture.
That became Evening Pike and now I always think of excited children, big achievements and the community when I look at it.
I have written about this painting before but I will do a little revisit..
It was the first lockdown and the weather was strangely warm. I was just navigating how my business would work with this new world we were living in. Weirdly enough I had started to navigate where I lived in a different way too. The local community were incredibly supportive of small businesses. The orders I was getting not only gave me a massive boost but they also led me to different places whilst I was making deliveries.
I am now realising how much that helped me. It gave me boldness to explore new places on my own (I hadn't really been brave enough before) and the connection to nature seemed to be such a tonic.
I am just reading a book by Florence Williams called "The Nature Fix" which the very inspiring Hannah Nunn bought me. It supports all of those feelings you have about nature being restorative with science and experiments. It is totally fascinating.
I painted Woodlands and Sunbeams around this time as a commission. I wanted to try and capture what I had been experiencing.
Here ends my stories. It is time for you to go and play outside if you can. x