Christmas greetings


If you have been disappointed not to receive a Christmas card from me this year then I apologise.  It doesn’t mean I have forgotten you – quite the opposite.  I am deeply grateful for all my friendships.  It’s just that 2017 turned out rather differently from what I had hoped and has left me feeling rather bruised and a little less sparkly than my normal self.

Therefore, please forgive me and accept these little robins with my love.  They come with my very best wishes to you and yours this Christmas and for the year to come.  May peace, love, fun, and good health be yours.


The Thief

When did he slip beyond my reach?
Was depression the thief?
My heart will never relinquish its hold
No matter how taut the thread,
How slippery the enveloping darkness,
How persistent the dark well,
Replenished with tears
That will not extinguish
The fire of my anger
At this cruel thief
Who has stolen my son.

Release him, I cry!
Loosen your stranglehold!
Disperse this suffocating cloud
Of gloom and doom
Darkness and despair
Like the depths of a tomb.
Defiant, I light a candle against your darkness
While helplessness taps at my heart.
Reaching out in hope
I watch from afar
Desperately trying to bridge the chasm.
And the thief laughs in my face.

Learning, exploring, improving…

I’ve recently been attending life-drawing sessions at The Oak Room in Tiverton where Sue Searle offers a variety of classes for artists, whatever their level.  She encourages us to try different media, techniques, and approaches, and I’ve certainly benefited enormously.  It’s the first time I’ve engaged in life-drawing (having concentrated on portraits until now) and I’m beginning to overcome my mental blocks regarding hands, feet, and foreshortening!  Challenging it certainly is but hugely rewarding.  Thank you Sue (and the models).


‘The pangs of despised love’ . . .

Forty-four years ago today I had my first date with my first husband.  We married some six months later and 23 years after that I left him.  There had been too many tears, too many disagreements, too little communication and togetherness, until the gap between us became a chasm too great to bridge.

For the sake of our two adult children I spent the next 20 years doing my best to foster, nurture, and build a new relationship of friendship with him so that we would all be able to attend family events without any elephants in the room, awkwardness, or unpleasantness.  It was a slow process but we did indeed celebrate our daughter’s wedding, cope with our son’s mental health challenges, and even enjoy the occasional warm telephone conversation, sometimes laughing together.

Then, this Summer, all that changed.  My Ex made choices that resulted in a family split so that we have all been requested to stay away from a 21st birthday celebration this weekend.  He and his son exchanged abusive messages resulting in a rift which may never be healed.  Our daughter got caught in the cross-fire.

I wept a sea of tears.

So the question is not ‘to be or not to be’ but rather whether to carry on trying to heal, to mend, to nurture, or simply, finally, wearily, to let go and walk away . . .

Have I really done the right thing . . .?

I have a love-hate relationship with social media.  I wouldn’t be without facebook because it does enable me to retain connections with family and friends in a way that was never possible in the past.  I love being able to access information, views, articles, and so forth, that I would never otherwise come across, and engage in lively debate on topics about which I’m passionate.  On the other hand, although I do exercise a degree of discipline and discrimination I am all too often guilty of simply wasting time browsing.

I held out against facebook for a long time before I caved in.  Now my resistance to Twitter has finally broken down, too.  No, my motivation was definitely NOT a desire to follow the current US President’s tweets!  It was actually so I could send photos of my sand sculptures to the Camping & Caravanning Club who ran an article on that topic in their latest magazine.  I’m still not quite sure what I’ve done – it feels as if I’ve entered some kind of maze in a foreign land where there are no signposts…  Hopefully I will in time find my path, if not to the centre, then at least back to familiar territory.

If you have any words of wisdom that won’t be lost in translation, tips, or words of comfort then apparently I’ll receive them at #hazel-ann@LifeSparkleArt – or so I’m led to believe . . .

Pushing the boundaries (again!)

Opportunities to join a life-drawing class are few and far between (well, in my world they have been) so I jumped at the chance to join a course at the Oak Room in Tiverton.  Last Tuesday evening we were challenged with a series of short poses (two minutes each) which encouraged us to go for shapes rather than detail and get some energy into our work.  Then we explored a concept that was new to me – blind contour drawing – where we drew the outline of our subject without looking at the paper.  We had some interesting results!  We finished with a couple of longer poses (20 minutes) and I was encouraged by how much my work has developed over recent months.

Hugo and Alfie

Hugo and Alfie compressed

I had to keep this one under wraps until today because it’s a wedding present for a friend’s daughter and her fiancé/husband who are getting married tomorrow.  It was quite a challenge because I’ve never met this lovely pair but now I feel as if I almost know them!  Hugo is the cheeky puppy while Alfie is the old man (just love his expression!).  Usually I choose pastels for pet portraits but this time I used acrylics.  It’s approx. 19″ x 19″ on canvas.

Catching the light

AliAfter so many dull days I was keen to make the most of this morning’s sunshine (albeit interrupted by hail showers!) so headed into the studio to finish a portrait I started during  the Tiverton Art Society portrait group’s last couple of sessions.  Our thanks to Ali for sitting for us so beautifully 🙂

Enough of stretching (for the time being)!

Having spent almost a week stretching myself with exercises in watercolour techniques I retreated yesterday back into the comfort of acrylics and a palette knife to start on this study of a wave.  It needs finishing but I’m pleased with progress so far and it may well be a candidate for entry into the Tiverton Art Society’s Spring Exhibition next month.


The wave