at last I have a usable studio. there is stuff in it – boxes of pots and paintings – that will go in the small shed I have ordered and will receive this Thursday – but I have been able to work in there. it’s been very cold again so as I can’t afford to spend lots of money keeping it warm I haven’t had a lot of time, but things have started. Also there is an issue with the bottom of the door – a large gap as the joiner didn’t make the new floor extend over the step enough.

I have 2 trestle tables, the one on the left will have even more space to lay out all my paints etc when I have resolved the problem of where certain other things should go. the logistics of moving from a place with masses of sheds …

it’s great having walls that are smooth enough to bluetack the work onto. before I only had flint cobble, or shiplap wood. So I’ve been working on paper as it feels safe, I’ve got rather used to it over the last 6 months.

it can be tidied away into folders or plan chest drawers, and it’s very cheap compared to canvases. I have lots of blank canvases which I am ignoring for the time being.

the old paintings, from the 90’s which we edited down to a smaller stack in the summer, will go in that shed, and then I will have room to bring in the studio easels, and to use the piece of wall opposite the table I’m painting on, as a painting wall.

meanwhile I am also walking to paint, doing research with my feet, taking little notebooks out in my pocket

to scribble in and try to find the essence of the local landscape

Cairngreen wood is one of these focii

from my door to walk to it and around it is almost six miles, with some steep bits.

it has a wonderful shape on the map, which I am intending to work on as the basis of some paintings

you can see by the concentration of contour lines the “steep bits”.

parts are conifer plantation, other parts, higher up around the quarry, are sparse skinny birch and sycamore between rocks, the rocks and the bases of the trees thick with bright green moss.

these paintings on paper are beginning to express the ideas of landscape, paths, textures, shapes.

another place I am focusing on is Garliebank. I can see this side of it, the very steep side, from my house. pity that streetlight is always in the way.

but if I walk up to Ceres moor

and turn right

I am up on top of Garliebank, with a view across to the hill of Tarvit

where a magnificent fox crossed the ploughed field in a leisurely fashion the other morning

the notebook received several swoopy lines and scribbled-in areas

these books are made of paper folded and cut

and then scrap paper of all sorts folded and stitched inside each of the three main folds (In this case the “spine” has four sections, a “four winds book” from India Flint’s Nomad school of arts course taken through February)

and they are included in my “morning pages” routine, before I get up with a cup of tea and the dog waiting … I am finding them extraordinarily fruitful.

the papers themselves will suggest pattern which can be co-opted in a painting

the faster I do them, the better – here while walking down the steep hill below that foxy wood

and the scalloped edge of the ploughed and the unploughed field

yellowhammers sing up here, they like the gorse and the open sky.

larks too,

though the promise of these catkins has been put on hold and spring seems far away. the municipal daffodils are still fast in bud.