21st January 2013

Week Three


When I first posted about this sabbatical,

I think people (perhaps even myself included)

anticipated a whimsical 4 month meander through galleries and gardens.

Long blissful days spent in the studio,

penning mission statements, sketching barefoot,

learning meditation and sipping green tea…


The reality is it’s been blooming chaotic!

So much so, I’m not even sure ‘sabbatical’ is the appropriate title.

Despite not taking on paid commission work for 4 months, there’s still lots to do

My caffeine fuelled, list laden, inky days are just as frantic as before

Except there’s no invoicing and less emailing.


Maybe this is just a re-focusing of energies?


Terminology quibbles aside, Week 3 was eventful.


2 days of building work in the studio forced Studio Pup and I to decamp to the kitchen.

This was awful.

Bad light, wrong desk, pens in disarray, messy and noisy.


I struggled to focus and the drawings I created were lack luster at best.

It did however highlight the impact of environment on my work.

Clearly I need tidy, quiet spaces with lots of light, no other people and a borderline obsessive level of organization to be most productive.


Studio Bliss


Back in the comfort of the studio, work on the inky forest is almost complete.

These drawings will form screen prints each 3 – 4 meters tall.

I’m apprehensive about printing by hand at this scale;

Firstly, it’s physically challenging when you’re 5ft 3″ to wield a super sized squeegee,

Not to mention exposing massive screens, lining up multiple images and keeping BIG rolls of paper pristine.

But I do like a challenge…





On Friday I braved the blizzards and drove to Dundee.

I had Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point on audiobook for the journey

(Interesting listen, more on this soon).


Part of my grand plan is to learn 4 new skills during the sabbatical.

This month, it was Japanese brush calligraphy with Campbell Sandilands.

From meditative ink grinding, to materials, brush strokes and the culture of calligraphy in Japan it was a super enlightening day.

The migration from pen to brush intrigues me.

I’ve always delighted in the control and precision of a fineliner,

but the freedom and spontaneity of a brush brought a new character and energy to my inking.

Definitely something I want to develop into my practice.

I also delighted in the little red signature stamps that complete each piece.

That shot of colour on the black and white… ideas are a-percolating.




Over the weekend I had a visit from Blazej Marczak, a polish portrait and documentary photographer based here in Aberdeen.

Brought together by Twitter last week, we arranged for Blazej to come to the studio to take a few shots.

I LOVE his work, particularly his Neighbours project capturing people in their homes.


Blazej Marczak

Blazej Marczak


Props to Blazej for indulging my request to try and have Studio Pup in some of the shots.

Brings new weight to the saying ‘Never work with children or animals…’

The relative freedom of the sabbatical has allowed me to meet-up with amazing Creatives like him that are right on my door step.


The usual whirlwind of client deadlines can be bad for networking.

I’m always inspired and energized after even a short time in the company of someone else who makes things.

I should prioritise it, if for no other reason than to avoid becoming a hermit.



Lastly, the first copies of my book, Secret Garden: an inky treasure hunt and colouring book arrived early Saturday morning from Laurence King.

Queue MUCH excitement and Insta-spamming!

I literally danced around the kitchen in my PJ’s waving it above my head.

I’ve never been able to pull off cool, least of all when tremendously happy.


The book project almost killed me last spring but I’m very glad we powered through!

It’s out in March but pre-orders are being taking on Amazon now.

I’ll post a proper ego-swelling blog with some sneak peeks later this week.


Secret Garden

Secret Garden


LOTS of things going on this week:


·      Finalising the inky forest

·      Beginning work on a cuckoo clock installation

·      Compiling my Ted Talk Top Ten

·      Blogging about Tipping Point

·      A quick trip to London

·      Sneak peek inside Secret Garden


Meditation and green tea will have to wait…

Big thanks to Creative Scotland who supported the Sabbatical through a Professional Development Grant. 


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