Turn and turn about… a final post

Well. It’s been a while. Big changes were (and are) afoot for me.

The first was going back to work last February. My self-designated two-year painting period came to a close; it was time to have an income again. I had the great good luck to find a studio nearby, shared with some lovely artists – so in theory I could nip out early from work and do a bit of painting of an evening – providing I resisted the allure of the sushi restaurant en route…

Still, it was a bit of a shock to the system.

Next, in common with pretty much everyone else on the planet, was suffering the changes wrought by covid-19. No sooner had I limped back into the office and escaped my desk at home than the office closed, mandating an unwelcome return to being cooped up in the house all day, and an even less welcome dead stop to any exhibition or art workshop-type plans I may have had.

Nonetheless, there were some silver linings: the first being that at least I *could* still work from home, thus fortunately keeping my job; the second, that I ended up with a useful work laptop, which came in handy for all those Skype calls; and the third… well, working-from-home did have some convenience benefits in light of big change #3…

So, what now?

Most of what I would put in a post on this website has now migrated to my Instagram @traceysdrawings, by virtue of being quicker, easier and editable via my phone (I know, I know… sorry >_<). This was the case even before the small but adorable eater-of-my-time arrived and spent evenings asleep on my lap.

Therefore – this is probably the last post I’ll be writing for the foreseeable future. I’m still keeping (and possibly even maintaining; you never know!) this website – but long rambly posts are probably a thing of the past. A great tragedy, I am sure.

And so… goodbye for the moment. I will leave you with a small flurry of quick pastel drawings (plus one which was… not so quick), which ironically have been motivated by the blissful night hours of baby duty while she is sound asleep…

Berkhamsted Art Exhibition (Mark II)

Wow… where did all my posts go?
The ones about those four wonderful days of pastel-society-cum-local-artists-workshops in the summer? The ones about all the portrait swap sessions I’ve held at my house, the lifedrawing days, and those St Albans Art Soc workshops that badger me reluctantly out of my comfort zone(s)?

… Oh yeah. I didn’t write them yet.

It does appear that I mostly post about local exhibitions, after being galvanised into action by the nudge of guilt and duty, usually in the form of emails from the relevant art society saying ‘please promote our exhibition(!!)’.

Speaking of which…

Please come along to Berkhamsted Art Society’s Winter exhibition at Berkhamsted Civic Centre, 101 High Street, HP4 3HD!

Entry is free, and the exhibition is open Friday 13th December 11am to 8pm, and Saturday 14th December 9am to 5pm. There is also a fashion show running from 2.30pm on Saturday.

Please note – the exhibition is only open for two days this time, so don’t miss out…


… anyway, these posts are all well and good – after all, my work is in these exhibitions too (see featured image ;p) – but they aren’t quite what I envisaged when starting my posts.

So, here’s a quick snapshot of me at the moment, worshipping at the altar of the retouch varnish1 in preparation for lugging work into the exhibition tomorrow…

Varnishing point



NB in the vein of retouch varnish, guidelines recommend that it is applied in a dust free environment, to avoid dirt settling on the freshly-stickified surface of one’s painting. Guidelines also recommend that varnishing is undertaken in a very well ventilated area, to avoid gassing onesself.

Anyone knowing of somewhere which is both DUST FREE and WELL VENTILATED… please do let me know…

Harpenden Arts Club Exhibition

Having scrambled (barely) to the top of my painting, framing-and-varnishing deadlines, the fruits of which are parading along the banner at the top of this page…
… except for those which have been cropped into oblivion by the ‘featured image’ aspect ratio. Let’s try that again:

My piccies banner_small sharp

Ahem, please come along to the 2019 Harpenden Arts Club Autumn exhibition from Friday to Sunday this week at Southdown Public Hall, Southdown Road, Harpenden, AL5 1PD… with further info available on the HAC website.

Exact dates and times of the exhibition are shown on this conveniently placed poster!

HAC Exhibition 2019

Aldenham Art Festival

… I’m getting better at this. A post about an exhibition before it’s more than halfway through! Moreover, a post within an hour of another post1!

So yes; come to the two remaining days of Aldenham Art Festival2. Entry is by donation to the church it is held in, open on:

  • Saturday 11am – 4pm
  • Sunday 12 noon – 4:30pm

… at St John the Baptist Church, Church Lane, Aldenham, WD25 8BE (near Radlett, Bushey and Watford).

I hear there are homemade cakes and refreshments available – an addition to what is certainly a lot of gorgeous artwork to marvel at ^_o…


Short timeframe of posting explains why the featured flyer has been hastily edited in Paint.net to remove an artistic thumb and reinstate some of the address.


Short timeframe of the exhibition explains the haste of posting.

Open Studios – the onward journey…

Well, the first week is over…
I was footling about on the first day, convinced I was to receive no visitors (on due reflection, perhaps trying to hold my Private View on a Saturday night was a non-starter), and heard a knock on the door…

And there were people galore!

As it turned out, my cousin had spotted Open Studios approaching and thoughtfully prodded several family members into coming – not only said cousin but my aunt and uncle (a painter himself), plus one surprise neighbour with her own interest in art 1. They all turned up on my doorstep within half an hour of each other…

… and we held our own impromptu Private View, which made my dayPleasedAsPunch_LH 2.


I’m also pleased to report we all ate the shortbread and passionfruit cake threatened in the previous post… and survived!

To make it look as if I actually work in my studio, I have strategically placed unfinished paintings all around the room

The following day someone from St Albans Art Society also visited, and very flatteringly quizzed me all about my work 3.

And yesterday, which was another very pleasant surprise, the lady who produces the local Park Street newsletter came to visit… with formal interview to follow ^_o…

I’m still pretty sure my house is still too far from any pass-by traffic to get many visitors (although we’ll see if there is any increase in footfall next week when nearby artist Sarah How is also opening her studio), so I’ll probably be changing my approach next year.

However, I’m hardly one to talk… I’ve not yet even planned my visits to the other local artists myself >_<…


Mosaics, intriguingly… I wonder if she’s involved with the local marquetry group…


We discovered (when on the obligatory 3-hour tour of all artwork in the house) by dint of hey-I-recognise-that-still-life, that my uncle and I have the same occasional painting tutor, Caroline Bays
… this also means we both paint well enough to accurately identify objects in our still lifes. A mutual win!


His own speciality is in maintaining very intricate and informative sketchbooks – something of a diary, something of a scientific journal, and illustrated throughout with very beautiful line-and-watercolour sketches.

Herts Open Studios Ahoy!

Yep, it’s that time of the year again… the time I realise I haven’t actually started preparing for my Herts Open Studios and it begins next week.

Cue frantic shopping for refreshments, brochure distribution (which can handily be done simultaneously… or at least some supermarkets put them up on their community noticeboards) and slathering nearby street furniture in fluorescent yellow signage.

This year there are a few other artists in the vicinity, so I’m hoping we might encourage visitors to tour us all…

Additional details, plus the online brochure with the most up-to-date info, are on the Herts Visual Arts website (my page is here), including a handy interactive map with which to plan your visits. There is also a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/hertfordshirevisualarts

So yes! Come to Herts Open Studios, and take a look! There will be artwork! There will be tea and shortbread! There may also be passionfruit cake… unless it ends up like my last attempt at passionfruit cake, in which case, well, there will just be tea and shortbread.

How did it come to this…?

The question one asks as one sticks the 56th of 80 greetings cards (and its envelope) into its acetate sleeve, and realises that all the envelopes have been obscuring the card designs.

The question one asks as, juggling one heavy frame and two folders full of delicate unfixed pastels in one hand, and one ill-advised eco-friendly mug of coffee in the other, one’s trapezius threatens to part from one’s spine.

The question one asks as one totes a picture into an exhibition, weighed down physically but buoyant in spirit1, to replace a sold painting, only to find that the customer has brought it back again2, and the precious, precious sales money refunded3.

And so, I drooped off home to drown my sorrows in tea.

Fortunately, a kindly next-door neighbour salvaged my mood by dropping by to deliver some chocolate biscuits as thanks for mowing their lawn while they were away, reminding me that sometimes, pleasant surprises happen too, such as…

Finally, my cartoon featuring the Bricket Wood Art Club exhibition held in the Radlett Centre cafe (hence the inclusion of a tasty sandwich), a mere 5 months ago…


After spending the morning chatting to a fellow local artist and admiring their beautiful artwork.


This also means that, tragically, my puns of the previous post were wasted, since it was the donkey painting which had been returned.


I’m glad to say that Bricket Wood Art Club nonetheless let me hang my replacement picture anyway, since I was on the warm and grumpy side after lugging it in and finding I hadn’t sold anything after all. I then made an ass of myself repeating to the staff all the donkey puns I could think of. Which makes them, of course, hot cross puns.

Bricket Wood Art Club – 2019 August Exhibition

Saturday 10th to Monday 26th August

Whoops. So. This announcement is over a week late now, but at least it’s not as late as my formal announcement of Bricket Wood Art Club’s first exhibition of the year, which finished at the end of March and has as yet received but a throwaway mention in February Update (part 1).

So. Come along to the lovely summer exhibition of Bricket Wood Art Club inside Burston Garden Centre, open from 10am to 6pm1. Entry is free, and there is a restaurant/cafe inside, open until 4pm, which I can attest does a decent cup of tea2.

The address is:
Burston Garden Centre
N Orbital Road
St. Albans

… Burston Garden Centre has a bit more info on its own webpage here… ooh, and apparently the parking is free too. I tend to forget to mention this, not having a car!3


…despite unfortunate and wide-reaching confusion of several stewards… all right, mainly me… which resulted in several people signing up until 5pm, not realising this left the final hour of the exhibition unattended!


Not that I spend all my time stewarding chain-drinking cups of tea, you understand.


I should probably also mention, not that I’m bragging or anything, that the Hee-Hawe-some painting of a Wonky Donkey at the top of the page was in the exhibition, but has now sold… which I’m very glad of, since it was a Bray-ve Attempt which took Donkey’s Ears to paint… OK, I’m done now.

St Albans Art Society – 2019 Summer Exhibition!

… AKA Mounting problems…

To be fair, the problems this year can mostly be ascribed to Acts of God, and have also mostly been inflicted on other people (a fellow SAAS committee member comes to mind, as does the person I go to for frames who, having received my order, promptly went into hospital with a collapsed lung1.)

However, this does mean that I spent this evening eyeing my newly-framed artwork, with its rather stark white mount glowing against the dingy backdrop of my pastel pictures, thinking….

Hm. Sure wish I’d had time to tint that mount.

In fact, given I’d finished all the artwork going in for this exhibition by the end of May2, it’s amazing how much time drained into the black hole of my life before I actually started getting the framing done. I’m sure there have been psychological studies done on this phenomenon. So sure, in fact, that I decided the best use of my time now would be to create a beautiful pie chart3 about the overheads on producing a piece of artwork4.

Having now tentatively signed up to Instagram as well @TraceysDrawings (#shamelessplug), I fear this overhead will only increase. I’m sure there’s something to be said about working more efficiently but, having spent the last two hours5 waffling on about nothing to do with St Albans Art Society, I shall now finally reiterate/return/wander back to the actual subject of my post, which is:

Come to St Albans Art Society Summer Exhibition!

  • Come to St Albans Art Society Summer Exhibition!
    • Entry is free
    • Open to the public daily from Wednesday 31st July to Saturday 3rd August
    • Time: 10am to 6pm
    • At Upper Dagnall Street Baptist Church Hall, St Albans, AL3 5EE

Further details6, together with a sneak-peak gallery of a few of our exhibits (including mine), are on the St Albans Art Society website.


…and still somehow managed to finish the frames. I can happily report they are now up and about again… and their efforts are very much appreciated *bows*.


The same cannot be said for the artwork going into the pending Bricket Wood Art Club exhibition at Burston Garden Centre in St Albans, which is due in less than two weeks, for which only four out of five paintings are finished, and for which I as yet have no frames… this is sure to end well.


Pie chart as beautiful (and accurate) as fifteen minutes of work could render it.


… case in point. NB the so-called ‘Daily Painting’ Challenge was a satisfying exception – but as a result, I now have a backlog of 20-odd paintings to properly process, fix, file and upload to various locations … on top of my previous backlog.


Yup, this took two hours. It was adding in the emojis to the pie chart that did it. The explanation for that black-hole effect is becoming clearer…


Well… in all honesty, the same details, repeated again.

The Daily Painting Challenge

In a discussion with an artist friend, we decided it would be good for us to try and do a painting every day for a month (from 8th May to 8th June… yes, yes I know that was over a month ago now…).

After achieving my target, by dint of creatively redefining both ‘daily’ and ‘painting’1, I thought I’d better get round to posting them (in completely random order) before I forgot entirely2.

Several of the below were sketched while holidaying in Scotland, so many thanks to my hosts for generously lending their collection of shiny objects to the cause…


i.e. By dint of applying the following cheats:

  • Deciding completing a painting every *other* day would be more my style. Wouldn’t want to overdo it, would I?
  • Redefining ‘painting’ as ‘whatever I felt like’.
  • Adding on an extra day to my deadline, because I spent the entirity of two of them travelling between home and Scotland. Hm, really I should have added two on… missed a trick there.
  • And finally, counting the picture I *finished* on the day I started the challenge. Sadly, the Mouse did not in fact take only a day to complete.


As has apparently happened with the ‘Springtime Sketches’ posts.