• New Book

    I have been told by my publisher that I can start talking about my new book! But not too much-  publication date is still  four and half months away but the time will race past and I am now on a count down to March 1st 2018!  It feels like I have been working on this for ever. It is a year since  a photographer visited my studio  and took  shots of my paintings as I developed them . I had decided that it was time for me to do a  more ‘hands on’ book.  I then had to sort through about a thousand photographs  choosing the ones that best illustrated the points that I was  making and whittle them down to a usable number. Once these were allocated I had lots more painting to get done and of course all the writing to explain everything, making sure it is informative but still reads in an entertaining way and provides inspiration.

    One of the aspects I enjoy about  developing a book is the layout and design process. I always get heavily involved  in this . I have a feeling I may have a  bit of a reputation  for being rather picky and difficult about the tiniest detail but it’s only because I am passionate about getting it ‘right’. It’s a bit like composing a painting- you know instinctively when something hangs together well.  So hours, days and weeks were spent over fonts, word counts and juxtapositions of images. The next stage was the exciting bit , when a large packet of colour proofs came through for my comments and  corrections.  It never stops being  a thrill to see your  pictures in print. Viewing the pages on a computer screen just isn’t the same. The next adrenalin packed installment was when I returned the corrected package to the publisher and it got ‘lost’ in the post!  Luckily, Royal Mail discovered where they had sent it to by mistake and  my baby was  returned into the arms of the publishers.

    The final piece of the jigsaw was choosing an image for the cover  and here it is! It is called Ann Blockley’s Watercolour Workshop, to be published by Batsford on March 1st 2018.  I will be posting more information each month about this new book and what you can expect from it. So excited!!


    ‘Ann Blockley’s Watercolour Workshop’ will be published on March 1st 2018



  • Written in Stone

    I find painting difficult. I always have done. It sometimes feels like drawing blood from a stone. I often feel that I could write a book about artist’s block- My name even has a ‘Block’ in it! However, I have realised that my problem is not stifled creativity – it is a surfeit of ideas! I am always so brimming with thoughts that sometimes I get confused about which way to turn.  Ever searching- earlier this year I decided to explore a completely different  avenue –something I have always been drawn  to but not had the confidence to try. Poetry.   I went on a day ‘s workshop at a local college feeling slightly foolish and fearful. Poetry scares me.

    There were six of us and the tutor suggested that we begin by sitting in a circle to meditate and focus on what images came to mind about how we felt.  My heart immediately sank. What was I supposed to be feeling?  What kind of images did he mean?  Why had there been no tutorial before we began? At least we did not have to sit cross legged and hum.  I was clearly out of my depth and my cynicism was at full   pelt. Everyone had to recall what they had been thinking and we took turns to tell.  When it came to me I confessed that I did not really know what I was supposed to be saying or what was appropriate. In desperation I conjured up the idea that I had been lost in a  wood and had reached a clearing where a golden beehive stood.  I waited for the tutor’s comments.

    ‘Why did I feel that I was ‘supposed ‘ to be doing something specific? ‘……..At these words my internal  light bulb   switched on!   I realised straight away that I did not have to try and please anyone, that nobody could tell me what to do or think. There are no rules- we just search inside ourselves to find a way forward.

    And my image?  The wood was a metaphor for my uncertainty about which way to turn but the bee hive was my inner knowledge of being a  sweet treasure trove of industry- full of creativity.   ‘I love that idea’ , I said ,’but I  am a fraud because that image only came from having painted something similar last week’. ‘ But out of all the many thoughts that were possible’,he replied, ’ the beehive in the wood is the one that surfaced at this particular moment.’   SOLD.

    Having spent the morning inside (with no poetry to report yet)  we were sent on another exercise outdoors ‘to see what we were drawn to in nature and write about it  if we wanted to.’  I was relieved to be in the fresh air and wandered past a few daffodils , wondering whether these were going to show any  magnetic signs of  luring me in. Nothing so far. I meandered a bit further and spotted a magnolia tree in bud. Something made me move towards it. I could hear the murmur of some water- an underground  spring perhaps, as I could not see it.  Birds sang as I approached the tree and saw that a large, pointed stone was dangling from one of its branches. I found myself reaching for my notebook.  scribbling down words as fast as they poured out.  I wrote  the last two verses later, after I had returned to photograph the scene. I  had approached it from a different path and was astonished to see that the other side of the stone was actually a colourful mirrored mosaic.   The metaphors and meanings woven inside  the  words suddenly seemed enriched and I discovered  layers of thought that I had not even been aware of:


    Written in stone


    Suspended from string

    Turning, twisting

    Swinging to and fro

    Pondering, testing the air

    Feeling the energy

    Divining which way to go



    Tied to magnolia bough

    blotched branches twist

    With buds expectant

    Pointing. Sensing the air

    Gauging the temperature

    Wondering if the time is now.



     Gossiping and bickering

    A running commentary

     with harts tongue fern

    A source unseen

    A scene unsourced.

    Babble to be ignored.

     Listen to birdsong



    Suspended from  string

    By the spring

    Under the magnolia  tree

    Stirring. Gently moves.

    Spins and swings towards me

    But shyly turns away.

    If I wait it will turn again.

    Another day



     Drawn to the  pencil line

     of string  holding

     taut this hanging thing 

    I approach in a different way

    Out of the shifting shadows

    Into a sunlit part of the play


    And see

    the other side of the rock

    Contains images of me!

    Not written in stone

     but   in multi coloured glass

    shining  shattered shards

    fragments of pain  and glory

     but also I  reflect-

    windows to a different  story.


    I could not believe what I had done and reported back with sheepish glee to the other students who were now back in the circle.  They encouraged me to stand and read my first poem and they  applauded when I finished.  It was a huge moment that I won’t forget.  

    I published my first  painting book when I was  just beginning to learn how to paint- the cheek of it!  So I thought- why not share my poems or creative writing whilst I learn this too? (It has taken me six months to pluck up courage after my initial bravado at the workshop)! I would love to hear from you  if you have any  constructive criticism  or tips at:  Thanks!





  • Autumn delights

    Hurrah- Autumn starts tomorrow!  I have enjoyed the Summer days  but I always feel as if I am arriving back home when we turn the corner into September. I feel that it is a  new season and a fresh start again.  There have been long, heady days spent in my garden this Summer.I often sit and simply look around me, soaking in the sounds,scents and sights of my magical  cottage garden. It is  a small oasis away from all the horrors of the outside world. I sit and watch the games that the insects play- tiny spiders  weaving an adventure playground of trails and webs across an obstacle course of stems , leaves and twigs.  Silvery winged insects  having fun  dancing and   dodging their way through the perilous  maze. This year there have been clouds of butterflies in the garden, not glamorous ones wearing   frilly frocks but simple white patterns; stencilled shapes against leafy backdrops. The pigeon has cooed his way  through the days- a soft, satisfying rhythm  and the swallows ( or are they swifts or martins?)  have been swirling, diving and swooping in circles , having a wonderful celebratory leaving party before they head off  for their winter holidays.

    My garden is being invaded by the Japanese- lanterns I hasten to add. I love the traffic light colours of these plants and I allow  them to trail where they like  around the purple smoke tree, curling against the quinacrodine magenta sedums. I pick off the overly green leaves and let the  green gold and cadmium orange lanterns shine through.   The star of the show this year has been the echinops . Their textured purple globes are often ringed with light. and the abstract pattern  is echoed by the smaller circles of poppy heads  clustered near by.  When I can drag myself out of the garden  I gaze at the hedges which  are already filled with Autumnal delights. Elderberries, rosehips , hops, and honeysuckle,  blackberries and bindweed.  Not sentimental views of pretty berries  but rich,  serious, abstract patterns   seen with a painter’s eye.  Which reminds me-  I am about to throw myself into a  passion of painting. having finished my book and almost ready to hand in my ‘other’ project -but more about that next time.








  • Demonstrations July 2017

    I  was demonstrating last weekend at an Arts festival near Nottingham called Patchings,working for St Cuthbert’s paper mill who make Saunder’s Waterford paper. A treat for me because it is one of my favourite surfaces. I worked on  140lb Not (CP)  paper which I didn’t stretch before hand because I find that is , for me, an inhibiting process. If I have  prepared my paper in that way it means I have to perform and get it right! If I just take a piece of loose paper and play on it- I can be more spontaneous and experimental. That’s how it works for me anyway. Everyone was asking why my paper does not cockle as I work with quite a lot of water and  I think it is because these demonstration pieces are relatively small. . I use heavier weight paper if the painting is bigger .On any rare occasions that the painting needs flattening ,  I wet the back of it when the picture is dry , cover it with a protective layer and weight the whole thing down until it dries. That squishes out any  undulations. The other reason I like to paint watercolour on loose sheets is that I can curl up corners and move the paper about in an organic way in order to manipulate the paint and have more chance of  all the happenings- happening where I want them to!

    Here is one of the demonstration pieces of an atmospheric woodland corner. It started out as two dark trees but I quickly realised that the  negative space between them was reading as  one pale tree . I decided that I rather liked this, changed tack and added some further details to explain my new focus. I used some Daler Rowney ink  to add the suggestion of a sun and I must admit there was a  bit of a   gasp when the ink  went on and everyone leapt awake! I did several more demonstrations over the three days and met lots of people. I really hope that if you came you enjoyed it and I am sorry that I sold out of books on day 2! I thought that  you had all already got a copy – but apparently not! I will be extremely well prepared next year when I hope to go back again and will take lots of copies of  my new book with me.




  • The Arborealists in France-review

    This is a review of the current Arborealist exhibition showing in France. I am not showing in this particular exhibition as I have only just joined  the group but  will be exhibiting in their future shows.

    The exhibition “Les arbres de la Vienne” by Les Arboréalistes, until July 31 at the Dortoir des
    Moines (Dormitory of the Monks) in Saint-Benoît, is simply sublime. More than a group, the
    Arboralists movement was born in 2013 in the United Kingdom, led by Tim Craven, one of the
    exhibiting artists, Chief Curator of the Southampton Gallery in England.
    The aim of the movement is not only to paint trees, but also biodiversity, their representation and
    preservation. ” Cut a tree and it reveals all its history, its scars, its fights and its sufferings. The
    trees irrigate our history, ” says Philippa Beale. This English artist who has lived in Vaux-En-Couhé
    for many years, has organized the exhibition. Composed of 51 artists with international media
    coverage, the Arborealists are predominantly British. The movement also includes a few French
    and an Italian. 23 of them are participating in this exhibition. Each artist has his own approach, his
    interests, his technique, his supports and his style. Painters, sculptors, engravers, watercolors …
    including two British royal academicians and artists present in the English national collections.
    After several events in the United-Kingdom, the Arborealists have chosen to present their work in
    France, here in Saint-Benoît, for the first time. “In the fall of 2016, they spent a few days in the
    Vienne in search of French landscapes and trees as a source of inspiration, ” explains Beale. This
    exhibition is the fruit of their work. The trees are immortalized and sublimated, in their visual
    requirement, in exceptional pallets, sometimes unexpected.
    “Les arbres de la Vienne” until Monday, July 31 at the Dortoir des Moines of the Abbey of Saint-
    Benoît, 11 rue Paul Gauvin. Free entry. From 9h to 12h30 and from 13h30 to 18h (on Wednesdays
    from 9h to 12h30), on Sundays 9th and 30th July from 13h30 to 18h. Private view open to all,
    Friday July 7 at 5:30 pm. Presence of artists every day.,


  • The secret wood

    I have recently been lucky enough to  become a member of a group called the Arborealists who are passionate about nature and in particular trees. Each artist in the group uses a different style or  medium  and the work varies from tiny to huge-  There were   watercolours  of at least a couple of metres long  in a recent exhibition and there are also wonderful etchings, oils, prints of trees made on  handmade paper using leaves from the same tree,  huge  draped, dangling installations of abstract work on paper made by a collaboration of artists and much more. It is really exciting .

    What is also very inspiring is the number of projects that are being lined up  throughout UK and in France too.  I joined the group just in time to be involved with a project that will  culminate in an exhibition in Uk next year. There is a secret wood that has been unmanaged for many years as an ecological experiment and barely any humans have entered it for decades. The group have been given permission to  visit the woodland  to gather information, paint and draw and  the resulting works will  be exhibited. We paid a spring visit to the wood  recently and will  return in the autumn. It will be interesting to see how  the atmosphere changes  with the  different plants and cycles of vegetation, the differing colours and  weather of a new season. This  theme is endlessly fascinating to me.

    When we visited in April the wood was a shimmering haze of  tender greens, flecks and speckles. White stars of wild garlic shone out from the  earthy floor and ferns with their shuttlecock feathered leaf patterns   sat snugly among last year’s crunchy bronzed leaves . I sat under   a group of  ancient yew trees  to paint the textured bark and twisting shapes of the trunks.  It felt like a dark oasis of earth   and shadow  under the  evergreen trees. Through the gaps  I could see  the  delicate  filigree and sparkle of the  sunlit foliage in the more open woodland beyond.

    As I made my sketches I began to feel that perhaps what I had chosen as a subject did not best capture the overall atmosphere of the wood . I had spent a long time earlier wandering through the varied tangled treescapes looking, listening to birdsong, smelling the scent of the wild garlic,looking again, soaking up the feel of the place  before settling. I  remembered the words of my late father in one of his books*:’ I like to settle quickly wherever I happen to be and see what I can make of the material immediately available, looking at in terms of interesting patterns.” It saves endless time spent walking around  looking for the paintable subject.’  Sound advice as it is not what the subject is but how we interpret it that can make it interesting. I noticed one of the other artists had immediately settled in front of  some shrubs that to me looked uninspiring and noted how she stayed there for the whole two days , painting it in detail. Perhaps I should have chosen something earlier? Maybe I should be painting, not sketching? In fact , what I had  been drawing was probably  complete rubbish in comparison to her amazing work!  I realised that I could go two ways with these thoughts. I could either learn from them and act accordingly or allow all my insecurities and doubts creep in. I decided that  the lesson I would take from this was to be more confident about my  decisions because it was how I interpreted the subject that mattered.   My paintings are not ‘of’ the woodland’  but  ‘about’ it and the arguably ‘wasted’ time spent  gazing and absorbing the sense of the place was actually crucial to my way of working, as it becomes more towards abstract and less about representation.

                   ‘fallen tree’ in the secret wood.

    I found it fascinating and sometimes worrying over the weekend to get a glimpse into the way other artists work and discovered a few things about myself.  I decided not to allow other  artist’s  creative decisions feed my  negative self doubts  but  let the experience  strengthen  my sense of being ‘me’ . Creativity is not hierarchic. There isn’t a ‘best’ way to do things.  Whatever I or any of us decide to do artistically can be  unique and valid.


    * ‘Watercolour -Practise and progress’ by G. John Blockley published in 1985 by  A&C Black ( out of print)


  • Online exhibition-extra paintings

    Through the distant tree-small watercolour

    The pictures in my online exhibition of small  paintings are being snapped up  really quickly. Thank you to all of you that bought one ( or more!). Most of them have been posted   now. I decided to add a handful more paintings so have added some finishing touches to some that were not quite ready before and they are now  in the exhibition. To see which ones are available at a glance look on the shop section  then go to the online exhibition section for further information.




  • The Arborealists

    I came across the group called the Arborealists about a year ago and was blown away by  the variety of  incredible paintings, prints and drawings all linked together  through a shared theme of trees. I made a mental note that perhaps I should contact them. I  recently  happened to meet one of the founder members who told me that if I was interested in joining I needed to act fast as it was complicated to join, that they had recently capped the number of  members  to 50 and they were almost full. I applied immediately and am thrilled to say was promptly accepted as the 48th member.

    The Arborealists were formed in 2013, the brain-child of curator and artist Tim Craven after the critical success of  Under the Green Wood : Picturing the British Tree, an exhibition he co-curated at St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, Lymington, Hampshire. This exhibition was formed of two distinct parts. Part one was an historical review of artists who had occupied themselves drawing and painting trees and landscapes and included John Constable and Paul Nash amongst other 19th and 20th century celebrated artists. Part two, ‘Under the Greenwood’, featured 32 contemporary artists including a Turner Prize short-listee ,two Royal Academicians, contemporary artists such as Kurt Jackson and other artists who had given trees, forests and woods a special value. The exhibition showcased a great diversity of art practice, including scale, medium, style and philosophy, centered around the unifying subject of the tree.Under the Greenwood proved a substantial critical success and when the exhibition closed, many of  the original group and other artists, including painters and printmakers  formed together to become the Arborealists. Each time they have exhibited it has been to critical and popular success.

    Trees provide a wonderfully versatile subject for artists, not only in terms of the incredible diversity of form, character and colour they provide, whether individually or collectively, but also in terms of the wealth of association, myth, folklore, religious and symbolic significance, which they have come to embody. I am absolutely thrilled to have become an Arborealist- particularly because of what the group stands for. It is not simply a showcase for trumpeting one’s own success. It is aimed at raising people’s awareness of nature. In these digital days we are becoming increasingly separated from nature and I think it is vital that we try and connect back to these roots in order to regain contentment.  If through my paintings I inspire someone to go out into the countryside, breathe the air, stand and stare and listen to the birdsong I will feel I have achieved something worthwhile.  The enthusiasm and ideas buzzing out from this group of artists in a sharing way is refreshing and I cannot wait to get started on some of the enriching projects that are lined up… more about these later.


    The Arborealists are currently exhibiting at ‘Nature in Art’, which is the world’s first museum and art gallery dedicated to fine, decorative and applied art inspired by nature. I am not showing in this exhibition as I have only just joined the group but it is a fascinating  and varied group of paintings and prints.

    The Arborealists: A Celebration of Trees

    April 11th – May 14th

    Nature in Art
    A38, Twigworth, Gloucester, GL2 9PA, UK
    Telephone: 01452 731422



  • So what have I been up to?

    I have just handed over the artwork and text for a new book. It has taken ages to put together because for various reasons I  have done a lot of the decision making and  designing myself and it has proved to be a more complicated book than usual ( but in a good way I think)  It is too soon to describe the contents as it takes a year from handing over the paintings and manuscript to it being published. This is largely to allow time for the printing and binding to be done in China and for the shipping……. So there will be no fanfare until next spring but I can assure you I will be shouting out the news nearer the time as this is my baby!

    By June I should have the first layout to look through. By the end of the summer all the text will have been edited and I will have added all those bits I forgot to say and rewritten all the bits that made no sense!  I am mentioning it all now because I have been a bit quiet online and I wanted you to know that I have not disappeared! I have in fact been as busy as a bee.

    ‘Woodland beehive’ will be featured in Ann’s Spring online exhibition beginning in late April 2017.


  • Happy New Year. Happy New News!

    Happy New Year everyone.  There is almost a sense of relief to  be saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new one in. It is strange how every January it always feels like the chance for a fresh start when in fact every morning is a new beginning.   I have a busy year ahead although a lot of the work will not be evident until next year- which will be really busy! So here is  a bit about some of the things happening:

    I am currently working on- A NEW BOOK!  This one will be quite different to most of my other books and I am really excited about it.  Putting a book together takes a loooong tiiiime and is very slooooow.   So I still cannot say too much at this stage as you will get bored  hearing about it !  The images  are mostly finished but I now have the writing to do. Then  the publishers take  a year to put it all together in time for Spring 2018!    The only reason I am telling you this now is  because I have been quiet recently and I don’t want you to think that I have been slacking!

    Still in secretive mode-I have another project to work on as soon as my book is handed in that will keep me busy over the summer.

    A lot of you have been asking about exhibitions. At the moment I am keeping images back for the book and  some major shows next year. In the meantime there may be an online exhibition in 2017 or a studio exhibition.   I always have work here  though so do email me if you are looking for something and cannot wait that long .

    Next: WORKSHOPS!!  I am planning some workshops this spring.  A newsletter will be  sent out SOON with information and a booking form. I’m afraid that places  cannot be reserved in advance as it is an automated booking package. People who have subscribed to the website newsletter will be  given first notice that bookings and information  are  up and running.

    That’s all  for now. Happy January!



    The first snowdrop has appeared in my garden. A lovely sign to start the new year.



  • Happy Christmas Everyone!

    My Christmas  tree is  glitzy with decorations, standing on an ornate indian mirrored chest. It is sparkling with  precious baubles saved from my childhood. The branches are hung with   little felt sequinned shoes  made by my children at playgroup  over 20 years ago ,  tiny wooden toys  bought from a German Christmas  market , miniature knitted stockings,  patchwork stars, dangly glass heart shapes from a broken chandelier; all kinds of diverse treasures   carefully unwrapped and remembered each year.  Nothing matches and there is no colour scheme or theme! The crowning glory at the top of the tree is ‘grubby fairy’ ,named by my husband as until this year she was still wearing the gauzy dress I made for her when I was 12 and looking slightly worse for wear. I  decided this was a disrespectful title for a fairly elderly doll and  decided to treat  her to a new dress made from some pieces of victorian lace and rechristened her ‘lacy fairy’!  The lace was rather reluctantly  donated to the Christmas cause  as it had been set aside for  a yet to be planned collage.   So now you know my guilty secret- I still play with my toys!

    Well ,I guess  the  arty moral of this sentimental tale is to keep in touch with our playful childish thoughts  and dreams. If  we let our inner child shine  through all those barriers we build around ourselves it is more likely that  our true,authentic and unique  artist voices will   shine through in our paintings.

    And now I must go and put  a mincepie out for Rudolph…. or is it Santa who gets the pie?  Either way…. have a  wonderful Christmas and may all your dreams come true! X



  • Magical morning

    There have been some spectacular winter days recently and I have been out soaking up the colours and textures   for inclusion in some atmospheric paintings.   This morning I woke up early and could see from the window that the earth was frosty pale against the palest tangerine  tinted sky.  The valley  was layered with wisps of of mist.I  decided a walk before breakfast was in order before the frost melted and was so glad I did. It was simply magical.


    I walked down a favourite track where the hedgerows grow wild  up to several meters high. The intricate designs of their interwoven twigs and branches were emphasised by the frost and powder coated white. The  shady side  of the path sparkled silver but turned to gold where the sun  filtered through to the other side. Light dazzled through tiny  gaps in the shaded branches.


    It was a huge tapestry of tangles and my eyes scanned the  rich patterns  for focal points.  A few colourful  leaves were still clinging and   sang out from the pale glittering monochrome hedge. The ruby red rosehips were also sumptuous accents of colour against the dull pewters of the shaded hedgerow.



    The bare skeletons of some  hogweed  beckoned me . Their  fragile  stems  were  linked  into lacy  patterns by frosty cobwebs sparkling  with tiny beads  of water.  The leaves on the ground were deliciously crunchy. Their white rimmed abstract shapes reminded me of some prints  I had made earlier in the Autumn . In the field at the end of the lane  the sheep had  similar bright halos -this time from the low morning sun . Long shadows were cast through the grass. Where the sheep had beaten a path through the icy  sage green meadow  the shadows of the tracks were the brightest blue.



  • November update

    Just in case you are thinking that I have gone very quiet I thought I would let you know that I’m beavering away in my studio. I haven’t forgotten you!   I recently had a great photographer visit my studio to  take shots of me working and I have been sorting through these  as well as finishing off  a series of Autumn pieces. I have a  project in hand that  I can’t say too much about yet as it’s such early days but will do so in due course.

    The photographer   decided  that the portraits he took of  me  should have a  watercoloury feel, a bit like one of my paintings with washy faded  textured areas contrasting a more sharply focused bit – in other words – me!    I like the way the colours are a bit pastel and ‘vintage’   especially the photo-shopped pink water jar.  Never let it be said that I would ever let my water get so mucky- or that I would use such a ‘pretty ‘ pink!

      I  had been out   the day before  foraging for hedgerow material to  paint from. There were buckets laden with sprays of blackberries, rosehips ,colourful leaves and sloes with lichen encrusted bark .  I find it inspiring to be surrounded by such things even if I am only gathering ideas for colour and texture rather than  creating an actual picture of them.



                      Having fun in my studio



        twig encrusted with silver and gold lichen

      Photographs   copyright Steve Russell studios 2016

  • Honeymoon!

    Following on from my last post I thought you might like to see some photos. Here is me looking somewhat pleased with myself. We had just got married on the beach in the Seychelles. It was beautiful, with the sun sparkling silver on a turquoise sea and coral white sands. I  like to think that I looked appropriate in my aqua  silk dress with shimmering moonstone jewellry!  :



    Earlier that day we had been snorkelling. The  marine underworld  is totally inspiring and opens up  whole new vistas of visual experiences. I had ‘splashed out’ on an underwater camera  and was  very glad I did . Even though I could scarcely see through  my blurry snorkel  I just kept snapping and it paid off.  I will have to write a separate blog about the fish because the  sheer variety, the colours and  shapes not to mention the backdrop of corals and seaweeds simply blew me away.   Actually, the current almost swept me away- it was very strong indeed.




    One of the places  that we stayed on our honeymoon was  a tiny piece of paradise  called Bird Island. Not everyone’s cup of tea as the million and half birds in a very small area definitely  deafened you! But for us nature lovers it was utterly spectacular.  White Fairy terns  flit through the palm trees,   black seabirds gathered in their thousands on bleached driftwood structures,  humming birds  sipped at bougainvillea. It was just amazing.



    thousands of birds gathering for a sunset party!



    ‘Fairy tern’ – I just love that name!

    The interior of Bird island is a mini jungle and  again, it was wonderful to be surrounded by such a natural environment with so many organic shapes and patterns.  Now we are home and the  holiday is over but I feel that the honeymoon  has just begun. I  can’t wait to get started on  the next bit of my life and immerse myself in my painting again.



    ‘The jungle path’ . I look so tiny against those massive palm trees!






  • Moving forwards

    It is Monday and the party is over. The last guests have been dropped at the airport. The house and my studio have been tidied . The bins have been emptied. The washing is on the line. All that is left to do is write this piece. This blog has been something I have been hesitant about posting. I have rewritten it in my head a hundred times but it never felt right until now.  Today feels like the right moment to share with you some of the journey I have been travelling through over the last three years. Writing it down feels like the last little piece of the jigsaw.

    I will tell you more about the party later but at this very moment, I feel I am beginning a new and exciting phase in my life.  I am sitting at my computer and I feel so very joyful!   Sadly, the last few years have not been so happy.  I feel that I want to explain why I have not been so ‘out there’ and why there have been fewer workshops and exhibitions, blogs and Facebook offerings.

    I told everyone that I was ‘having a sabbatical’ which was something I did originally intend to do.  After my mother passed way and another precious family member died unexpectedly soon afterwards I decided that  I would take some time out. I would explore and develop further my artistic ideas and spend time feeding  my soul. Days after making the decision to have a sabbatical I too was diagnosed with a serious illness and my world fell apart again. I won’t bore you with the details because so many of us have similar tales to tell- but it wasn’t much fun.  I tried to focus on the positives and  luckily was able to immerse myself in painting which was a huge solace. I had handed over my book ‘ Experimental Landscapes’ to the publisher the previous year and  it was being launched in  the Spring. I went ahead with a big book launch exhibition and the success of the book was the most incredible boost. It gave me the encouragement and motivation to continue painting and helped me  through the blackest of times.

    My story is not unusual and I know I am one of the lucky ones.  I was given the ‘all clear’  quite a while ago but  I  still needed to work through a kind of emotional healing. I cleared my studio in a sell out sale last year. It was all part of the cleansing process.  One thing I felt certain about was not to punish myself if – shock horror- I actually didn’t feel like getting my paints out. There were moments when for the only time in my life I felt that I might stop being an artist and tried to think if there was something else I could do?  My way of dealing with this was   to cut down the hours I spent painting and   tried to concentrate on quality rather than quantity. I also spent time doing other   kinds of creative things such as redecorating my dark, olde worlde house   and turning it into a haven of light and colour.    I enjoyed time in the countryside surrounded by nature gathering information for future work. Gradually, gradually I began to feel like ‘me’ again.   And now I’m on top of the world!

    There is a wonderful book called ‘Women who run with the wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. One of the chapters  is called ‘Clear Water : nourishing the Creative Life.’ It uses the metaphor of a river and clear water in relation to creativity, particularly within females. She likens the creative force to an underground river searching for outlets in our psyche. It flows, cascades, meanders in new directions, empties, rises and falls again in natural cycles.  Even when the river appears to have  run dry it may be quietly bubbling and simmering away, waiting to spring forth. Problems arise when the clear water becomes diverted, forced into dams and contaminated by all kinds of negative forces including  illness. At that point we need to purify the water of its pollution so that it can flow freely again. One day I would like to write more about this as it is such an  important aspect of  our creative functioning. Being kind  and patient with myself  has been part of this process and now I feel the river is about to overflow again!  I am full of ideas and enthusiasm and desperate to get painting after a recent trip away!  I have some very exciting projects to plan and work towards.


    And the party?  It was   a wonderful celebration with family and friends to celebrate Life, Love and Moving Forwards.   And – getting married in the Seychelles!  Photos and blog to follow!!

    With love to you all   and thank you for being there!

    Ann  xx

  • Harvest home

    It is  still Summer but  already there is a taste of Autumn in the air. In the rural village where we live the lanes are lined with  the straw that has fallen off trailers piled high with bales.  Our kitchen table is laden with gorgeous red and orange tomatoes , some small and some large and flouncy shaped.   The victoria plums  are plumping up by the minute and I can sense the wasps  just sitting quietly on the sidelines just waiting for their moment to rush in and  begin their buzzy annual angry  tyranny in the garden.  In the street, neighbours disappear  back inside their houses when they see us coming with  yet more  armfuls of courgettes to give away.  There are seedheads , seedheads , seedheads  all over my garden. I love it.    When the stems  fall over or break I stick them in pots  by my studio door so that I can still enjoy their shapes and they can still spread their seeds for next year.

    Inside the studio I am also buzzing around  gathering together paintings for  inclusion in the exhibition that I have been invited to join as a guest artist.  This is in the local market town of Chipping Campden with its honey coloured stone and  charming high street. As the exhibition has been called ‘Fair Michaelmas’  I thought it only right that I include some seasonal subjects.  Every year in the local hedgerows I watch the butterflies dancing through the blackberries.  They never keep still for a moment  and when I paint them I like to try and catch an impression of  something  shy and ephemeral, camouflaged amongst the leaves and  patterns of the hedge.   This year the blackberries  are just beginning to ripen and it will be a really bumper crop so I am hoping there will also be  lots more fluttery visitors .    This painting of a  butterfly  in the blackberry patch  is only little- but I   have   really enjoyed  creating its sumptuous tapestry of colours.


    AB 1

    ‘ A butterfly in the blackberry patch’ will  be  exhibited at   The Gallery at the Guild in Chipping Campden.  My paintings will be shown from August   27th to  September 15th.  I will be at the gallery from noon to 4pm  on Saturday 27th. Please do come and say hello and enjoy a glass of wine with us at the Meet the Maker  afternoon.



  • Irish idyll

    We have recently got back from a  family visit to  Ireland, staying in an idyllic  corner of Donegal.  It is a wonderful time of year to go because  the  fuschia hedges   are so  vibrant and lush,edging and towering above small lanes by up to  three metres in places.  Honeysuckle   and convolvulus wove their way through the  swathes of deep  crimson  flowers  and to add to the joy of it all , large clumps of rosa rugosa studded this glorious tapestry.


    Harebells and heather  entangled with  many types of grasses fringed the dunes and rocks that edged the  little beaches.


    Seaweeds, pebbles and barnacles   kept me entertained with their endless patterns.


    As the emphasis of the trip was  firmly on fishing for crabs and building sandcastles with grandchildren  on  a series of deserted sunny sandy beaches ( yes- sun- in Ireland!) I had to content myself with a few quick forays with my camera to sneak photos. You never quite switch off when you are an artist!



  • Society of Women Artists

    The Society of Women Artist’s annual show has started! It is the Private view today. I went last night to deliver a picture to the charity auction in aid of Breast cancer  so was able to have a really good look round before it started.  There is some really lovely work including some very interesting mixed media  paintings.  My two paintings are hung in the centre of the wall of the main gallery so you cannot miss them.  It is always lovely to be given a nice position- I  have had my moments of discovering my work  in dark corners or at the back of screens and it is not so nice!  I forgot to do a ‘selfie’ of me and  my pictures- I’m hopeless at remembering these things! So here is one of them on its own:


     For further details about the exhibition please look at

    my events page or visit:

  • Artist magazine article

    Well that was a surprise. My monthly Artist magazine  arrived today and there I was! Of course  I knew I had written an article for  the July edition – I just didn’t realise it would be out so soon!  In it I have discussed the idea that if we ‘think’ in a different  more descriptive way it encourages us to loosen up and create a more abstract, and personal interpretation.

    I have included a practical element showing how  I developed a very abstract  experimental  exercise into this semi abstract interpretation of a  tangly tree and crumbly wall:


    So look out for the July edition of the Artist magazine. My article is called ‘Loosen up your thinking’.


  • Back to nature

    I am sorry I have   not been updating my blog recently . I have decided to have a  quiet year and replenish the batteries!   I feel a bit selfish not sharing my activities   but I am limiting  my time on the computer  just for the moment.

    People have contacted me about the annual Patchings art festival to ask whether I will be demonstrating this year. The answer is that I  have decided to do this every other year- so my next time will be in 2017. I am also being asked about  workshops but I’m afraid that I don’t have any plans at the moment to do any.

    My mission for the next few months is to  feed my painting and creativity by immersing myself in nature, taking lots of walks with camera and sketchbook and ‘playing’ quietly in my studio with no aim  other than to explore and see what happens. There are  exciting plans rumbling under the surface however with ideas for projects simmering away- but nothing  I can reveal just yet!

    Last weekend we had  an utterly inspiring time in Cornwall walking  some of the coastal paths and visiting the fabulous  Lost Gardens of Heligan. Here is  a picture of me putting my head down and getting back to nature!:



    Sculpture: Lost Gardens of Heligan.

    The gardens were  gorgeously beautiful  and I found every square inch interesting so I was probably a nightmare to be with.  Low walls were full of primroses and moneywort whilst  richly coloured rhododendrons jostled for space with jungle like trees.


    DSC_1381 The coastal paths are so rich with plants and I love the three dimensional quality of looking up  or down at  subjects.  Birds flying above and below, gorse growing out of the tops of high banks and walls, seapinks nestled in rocks  and grasses on the clifftops.



    This gorse bush is just a bit too perfect- needs roughing up with a few watercoloury splatters!



    The sea was so blue that day – with patches of turquoise.




    I’m sorry but it gets on my nerves when people show pictures of their pets on their blog- MAISIE!! Get out of my shot!

    I am back in my studio today and a chaffinch  has spent hours flying in and out of the plum tree blossom, tapping on my window with its beak. From another window I have  a close up, full view of our huge magnolia tree . It is  extravagantly covered in flowers this year and it has been  strange to see  the petals illuminated in sunlight one minute and  shimmering with hailstones the next. Blue tits  flit through the branches sometimes  sharing the space with a fat grey pigeon.  Birdsong is tempting me back outside again and back to nature.


  • Exhibition in France


    france exhibition flyer

    I have just packed up  a collection of paintings that I have prepared for an exciting exhibition in Normandy  in France.   I was invited  to exhibit as the UK representative  with a  group of other European watercolour artists who have a range of styles.  It looks like it will be  a fantastic show and there will be a wide range of workshops,  demonstrations and music. I am sending about twenty paintings  in different sizes. Aquarellences is a non profit  organization whose mission is the promotion of watercolour.  For more information about this exhibition please visit or email:






  • Best selling dvd!

    I have been told that my dvd ‘Experimental Landscapes in watercolour’  was Townhouse Film’s best selling dvd  in 2015! I don’t like bragging as it makes me feel uncomfortable so lets call it ‘blowing my own trumpet! Thank you to all of you who bought a copy and made it possible . I really hope you picked up some tips  and if you haven’t already got it- it’s on my website  shop.

    dvd cover


  • Back from my travels

    I have just returned from a lovely trip to Essaouira in Morocco. It is an incredibly vibrant place with its ancient medina full of tiny medieval alley ways. It also benefits from being on the Atlantic coast. The fishing harbour is one of the most exciting I have visited in all my travels with an incredible display of colourful wooden boats and ships creating a chaotic jumble of shapes and pattern. The fishing folk gather around the harbour walls to display their catch in assorted collections of boxes, wheelbarrows and baskets. The Berber characters are immensely interesting with ancient faces wrinkled and distorted by the Atlantic weather. I find it really frustrating not to be able to photograph them. I do ask but they invariably wag their fingers sternly or hide their faces. They believe that having their photographs ’taken’ means that their soul is also captured.  So I contented myself with soaking up the electric atmosphere as the sun gradually sank into the ocean spreading its orange glow over the water. The many noisy seagulls swooped and soared wildly above and around waiting to grab tasty titbits, whilst cats of all shapes and sizes prowled and watched more stealthily from hidden corners.


    When I go abroad and see all these colourful scenes I am often asked how I will use them in my subsequent paintings. Quite often, I soak up these experiences but rarely use the information gathered in an obvious way. When you have an artists voice I think it will show through in whatever subject you choose to paint but personally I like to limit my subjects so that they are all linked to a theme. My Moroccan experiences are likely to influence my thinking but perhaps towards certain spicy colours , for example, or a magical oriental atmosphere rather than in terms of the actual subject itself . Some of these, like the fishing boats are outside the ‘nature’ theme that I am committed to at the moment. However, when away from home I am also looking out for familiar subjects with a different flavour. In Morocco I was drawn towards the light shining through gaps in the argan and olive trees, I photographed farm animals in country settings and textures in the landscape. It is just lovely to have a change of scene and come back feeling refreshed and invigorated.




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