Orkney Photography

A couple of months ago I holidayed in Orkney, my first ever visit to Scotland! I stayed in Stromness on Mainland and I have decided it is my new favouritist place in the whole world. The scenery was beautiful and the people really lovely. I had decided to study photography before I left using a little book I’d gotten for Christmas a couple of years ago and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try out some new skills! I have collated my top ten photos from this holiday for your perusal.

The view from our garden

Footprints in the sand

To the lighthouse

Sparkling sea

Sunset over the shipwrecks

Tower on the cliff

Reaching out




A Quote Collection

For the last five years I have been noting down favourite quotes from books as I come across them when reading. They range from insightful observations into the human condition to descriptions of views that have conjured a vivid image in my mind. Whilst browsing through my old diary this evening I found the collection and thought that now is as good a time as any to share a selection of my favourites on here. It’s a list that is constantly growing so I may have to do an update in the future.


“The lowest portions of their trunks, that had hardly ever been known to move, were visibly rocked by the fiercer gusts, distressing the mind by its painful unwontedness, as when a strong man is seen to shed tears.”

Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree

“But a resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible.”

Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd


Tree of Crows

Tree of Crows by Caspar David Friedrich

“I am tempted to think that to be despised by her sex is a very great compliment to a woman.”

“How was she to bare that timid little heart for the inspection of those young ladies with their bold black eyes?”

William Thackeray, Vanity Fair

“Death was a friend, and sleep was death’s brother.”

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath


Sleep and his Half-Brother Death by John William Waterhouse

“Such she often felt herself- struggling against terrific odds to maintain her courage; to say: “But this is what I see; this is what I see”, and so to clasp some miserable remnant of her vision to her breast, which a thousand forces did their best to pluck from her.”

“…they came out on the quay, and the whole bay spread before them and Mrs Ramsay could not help exclaiming, ‘oh how beautiful!’. For the great plateful of blue water was before her.”

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

“But it is hard for anyone who is dissatisfied not to blame someone else, and especially the person nearest of all to him, for the ground of his dissatisfaction.”

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“They could lie drowsing now under the sound of kindly voices in the living room, a sound whose intricately rhythmic rise and fall would slowly turn into the shape of their dreams. And if they came awake later to turn over and reach with their toes for new cool places in the sheets, they knew the sound would still be there- one voice very deep and the other soft and pretty, talking and talking, as substantial and soothing as a blue range of mountains seen from very far away.”

Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

“A dull and foggy day, with a drizzle of rain. The house is banked in with rolling clouds, which rise now and then to show the dreary curves of the moor, with thin silver veins upon the sides of the hills, and the distant boulders gleaming where the light strikes upon their wet faces.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Devonshire moor

Devonshire moor

“Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.”

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

“…one day, looking at the clock, I thought to myself, “This moment now, at twenty past eleven, this must never be lost,” and I shut my eyes to make the experience more lasting. When I opened my eyes we were by a bend in the road, and a peasant girl in a black shawl waved to us; I can see her now, her dusty skirt, her gleaming, friendly smile, and in a second we had passed the bend and could see her no more. Already she belonged to the past, she was only a memory.”

“I wanted to go on sitting there…keeping the moment precious for all time…In a little while it would be different, there would come tomorrow, and the next day, and another year. And we would be changed perhaps, never sitting quite like this again. Some of us would go away, or suffer, or die; the future stretched away in front of us, unknown, unseen, not perhaps what we wanted, not what we planned. This moment was safe though, this could not be touched.”

Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca




A Christmas Present

This Christmas I received a request to create a painting or drawing for a present! I had a little think and in the end I decided to base it loosely on this picture of Richmond Park.


I wanted it to feel really autumnal so I decided to use a lot of reds and yellow which, when I’d added the sky and the ponds, made the painting consist mainly of primary colours! I decided to use my Georgian watercolour set because I’d been reading a book on them which had inspired me. I had no idea about all the ways you could manipulate watercolours using washes, texture, brushes, masking and more. I started by wetting and stretching the paper myself which was interesting considering I had no gum strip to hold it down- masking tape is a poor alternative. For the painting I decided to try experimenting with washes which was very risky considering it was going to be given to someone as a present! For the foreground I painted the details in and then painted over with a red wash, and for the distant hills and trees I used a blue wash. For the sky I experimented with blotting out the paint to create clouds and for the grass I used a scratchy bristle brush. My recent paintings have helped me realise that I have a certain style, which tends to involve bright colours and quite rounded objects. I’ve also realised how much I enjoy painting landscapes. Here’s the finished result…


I’m starting oil and acrylic lessons on Monday so hopefully I’ll produce a few interesting things from that!


A Quick Aside

Wow, everyone look at my easel!


1. Full easel



2. Midway easel



3. Mini easel!






A Bigger Project

Hello! This weekend I went a bit crazy and have pretty much been painting all day today and all of the afternoon yesterday. I think this is my most intense painting session ever! It all began when I started browsing one of my Dad’s art books…

The book in question was ‘David Hockney: A Bigger Picture’, which my Dad bought from the Royal Academy exhibition earlier this year. I spent a while browsing the pictures and decided that I wanted to paint a picture of a landscape using my special colour wheel to pick a selection of complimentary colours.

I was particularly inspired by these David Hockney pictures:











And this photograph that I took from Corfe Castle in Dorset:

From my colour wheel I picked a tetrad of colours; yellow-green, red-violet, blue and orange. I also roughly applied the Rule of Thirds which I have only just learned about!

First I did a rough painting which I’ve previously been too scared to do in case it went horribly wrong and I couldn’t cover it up. However, it was really useful and the acrylics were fine at covering any mistakes I’d made with my first draft.

Following my rough painting I filled in the details and this is my result:

I was quite pleased with my final picture, it looks better in real life than photographed- it’s very difficult to make out the paint strokes and the different shades in this picture.

Originally there weren’t any leaves on the tree, until I joked with mum that I was going to call it ‘The Last Ash Surveys His Kingdom For the Final Time’ and she begged me to add some buds! (I am genuinely sad about Ash dieback and I was meant to help with the survey this weekend until it was called off, but I do like teasing mum).

I really enjoyed painting this picture, especially because my easel is the best thing ever! (Mini post to follow). I still need to work on my technical ability and my colour mixing, but I had a lot of fun with this 🙂 Even if it did go against my conclusion from this post!


Free machine fun

This weekend I decided to try out a new foot for the sewing machine that allows you to be freeeeee with your stitches. To test it out I decided to create a little fabric collage of a lighthouse. Here’s how I did it…

1. First of all I stretched a bit of backing fabric across an embroidery hoop and drew an outline of my design onto it.

Embroidery hoop

2.  I then cut lots of little bits of fabric in my chosen colours, including wool for clouds and netting for sea froth, and then glued them down with tiny amounts of PVA glue.


Collage fabric

3. I then used my crazy new free machine foot and sewed all over the place to secure the fabric down. I used different cotton colours and stitch texture for each part of the design.


Sewing machine

4. My finished article! It’s a little bit messy but I’m going to pretend that’s part of the design 😉


Finished article


At the moment I like…fantasy castles

I’ve always liked a good castle and have collected a few photos of my favourites…

1. Princess wallpaper

My earliest fantasy castle came in the form of my bedroom wallpaper. It had a repeating design of a princess in front of a pink castle in the distance. I used to look at it whilst I laid in bed making up stories about the princess. I tried to find an old sample of it to scan in but I think it’s long gone. Instead I’ve just got this picture of me looking silly in front of it.

Princess Wallpaper

2. Le Mont St Michel

I spent a lot of time at my nan’s house when I was younger and it’s her things that form my most vivid early memories. There were two pictures that hung in her spare room that particularly stick in my mind. They’re actually quite weird pictures looking at them now, but at the time they really fed my imagination.

Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel L’arrivee

3. The Castle of Adventure

This was my dad’s book when he was little which he then read to me. I love the illustration on the cover- it’s such a simple drawing but has a real sense of foreboding and mystery.

The Castle of Adventure

4. The Far Pavilions

ONE OF MY FAVOURITE BOOKS EVER! I love the descriptions of the “Palace of the Winds” with its courtyards, turrets, balconies and fretted windows, the exquisite interiors and the views over the mountains. Want.

The Far Pavilions

5. Temple de Sagrat Cor

I spotted this castle on the ceiling of the Temple de Sagrat Cor at the top of Mount Tibidabo in Barcelona. It’s so dreamy and fantastical and is made up of little tiny tiles. I think putting things on the ceiling always makes them look better. There were some other amazing ceiling mosaics there that I photographed but I’ll save them for another time.

Temple de Sagrat Cor

6. My castle painting

I painted this last summer when I was experimenting with my acrylics. I wanted to create my fantasy castle as a haven in the middle of a storm. It came out slightly odd as I layered the sea so much that it lost much of the distinction between the waves, and the castle really is very pink. I still think it is interesting though.

Castle painting


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