Handle with Care

Handle with Care is a textile piece about my experience of caring for my terminally ill mother in 1979, the summer I turned 16.   I had never thought of myself as a ‘carer’ until earlier this year when I was involved as an Arts & Health Practitioner in a community arts project in Devon called The Craft of Caring.   The main project was engaging with carers in a series of workshops to make a piece of community artwork.

There was a call for art submissions from people about their experience of being a carer.  After hemming and hawing for a few weeks, I decided to make this piece.  Although I have done a lot of work on this loss over the years, I have carried vivid visual memories around with me for the past 40 years.  This piece of artwork gave me the opportunity to process my experience in a different way than I have done so in therapy.

Artist’s Statement:

“This self-portrait uses photographic and stitched images,
layers of memory and text to capture the artist’s experience
of being an adolescent carer;   an experience of a world unravelling
contrasted with the strength of will to hold herself together.”

Handle with Care, 2019

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Back to the beginning

Over the past five or so years that I’ve been on a hiatus from making fibre art, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about my Muscogee ancestry all the way back to the Mississippian period.  The Muscogee, also known as the Creek Confederacy,  are descendants of the Mississippian culture peoples, who flourished between 800 AD and 1600 AD.   The Muscogee were a confederacy of tribes consisting of Yuchi, Koasati, Alabama, Coosa, Tuskeegee, Coweta, Cusseta, Chehaw (Chiaha), Hitchiti, Tuckabatchee, Oakfuskee, and many others.  

I have been influenced by much of the artwork that has survived and been documented.  I have also read many of the stories and legends which have survived orally and were collected throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Alabama Indians’ creation story tells of the beginning of things –

“Once, long ago, before the time of the oldest people,
water covered everything.
The only living creatures above the water
were some small animals and birds
who occupied a log raft
drifting about in the great ocean. . . . . . .”

First World, Neocolor crayons on paper, 25 x 25 cm, 2014

I began this acrylic painting last weekend on a rainy Sunday.  In the summer of 2015 I took a painting workshop led by Nocona Burgess in which we learned about painting onto a canvas primed with black gesso.  I found a couple of blank black canvases recently during a studio tidy up.

One of the tips I learned from Nocona was how to mask off the canvas to get a super straight and crisp line.

A crisp tip

I surrounded this first world with colors from the Medicine Wheel.

In the Beginning there was only Water, Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 cm, 2017

For my current work in progress I’m using Sennelier Oil Pastels on 250gsm mixed media paper.  I love working with my fingers and how the colors can be blended.

Water covered everything, Oil pastel on paper, 30 x 30 cm, 2017

I’m going to the art store tomorrow to get some turpentine so I can see what that does to the pastels.  I also plan to pick up some more square canvases.

I suddenly have a lot of ideas and images for paintings and works on fibre waiting patiently to come out.  It is as though everything I have been taking in over the past five years has had a chance to settle, find roots and is growing once again towards the light of day.

Sources:   Creek Confederacy  ::  Muscogee

No Ordinary Notebook

I bought a new notebook last week.

It has a grey cardboard cover, which I can collage and draw on.


I also bought a zippy bag


for my rubber, sharpener, pencils, charcoal and a pen.


“Once upon a time  .  .  .  .  .  .


once she got a hold of it, the notebook got extraordinary


wise companions, spirit guides in groups of five


and there became feathers



three charms offering the gifts of transformation, wisdom, flight, protection  .  .  .  .



Who journeys with me?


My Great Grand Mother, Melindy Phillips and I


My Mother, Nell Rose Martin



Free Spirits, watercolour pencils, 12″ x 12″

my main Muse


This is no ordinary notebook.  This is a journeybook.

The story continues   .  .  .  .

journey (n.) c.1200, “a defined course of traveling; one’s path in life,” from Old French journee “day’s work or travel”

Online Etymological Dictionary

Beautiful Dreamer

I’ve been faced with a few art deadlines recently.  An opportunity to display up to 3 pieces into the Local Open Art Show at Greenhill Arts, to have my studio on the Arts Trail during the Moretonhampstead Festival of Food, Drink and the Arts and to enter an art quilt in Sacred Threads.  I’ve hemmed and hawed.  After all, an artist is ‘supposed’ to show her work at every opportunity, right?

Not necessarily.  For a start, I’ve been in a fallow period since the autumn.  I’ve been thinking a lot about and dabbling a bit in some new creative ideas, but haven’t been producing much.  In addition, since the New Year, I’ve been feeling poorly from a tenacious flu virus and haven’t felt one jot like going into my studio and making anything.

Sure, I have some stuff that I could chuck into the Local Open and Sacred Threads, but I’d rather show people something new.  As for having my studio on the Arts Trail, well Steve and I want to go out and enjoy the Food Festival this year.  Still, it has been difficult to decide to fore go these opportunities.  I’m still influenced by that nagging pressure to ‘get out there with my art’.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a scoot around the mypersonality.info webpage for my Myers-Briggs personality type, INFP.  There is a chart with a one word description of each type and mine isn’t even called ‘Artist’.

No, I’m a ‘Dreamer’ who is “imaginative, artistic and often has a talent for language and writing”.  INFPs can and do make very beautiful and unique works of art.  Art which comes via walking the path of the heart, art which is created along the journey of the Soul.  It was really good to read this and remind my self of exactly just sort of an artist I am.  I am visionary artist who incubates my creative dreamings and then, when the time is right, brings them into being by the medium best suited to them.  I am NOT an artist/ craftswoman who makes, makes, makes and markets, markets, markets.

Today I found a Squidoo lens called INFP Companion via this post written by Carol Rosinski:

“A lot of people think of artists as a group with many, if not most, personality traits in common. I thought the same thing for a long time and was disappointed when I couldn’t seem to connect on deeper levels with other artists.

When I was young, I thought I was different because I was an “artist.” Once I discovered my INFP personality type score though, I realized I’m not like most other artists either. On the Myers-Briggs personality index scale, I score very highly as an INFP. That means I am introverted and intuitive. By far, most of the people in the world are extroverted. And that goes for artists too.

The world seems to be made for extroverts and that creates problems for us. For instance, if you have a problem and ask for guidance, you’re probably going to be given advice that works for extroverts but not for you. I’ve found that to be true in all areas, but especially concerning art.

Recently, I read an article about how to market artwork. The author advised all artists to make the kind of art that people want to buy rather than the kind the artists really wanted to make. I’m sure many artists could do that, but I can’t. My creative well runs dry when the reason I’m making the art is just to sell it. Don’t get me wrong, I think money is a good thing. However, I can’t let my desire for money guide how I make my art. Instead, I find creative ways to sell the art I love to make.

If you’re an INFP artist, or other adventurer, you’re not without guidance. But you have to discover it yourself.

You are self-contained and made this way for a reason: No one else has ever been where you’re going, so no one can give you specific directions. As one INFP artist to another though, I can give you a clue. Intuition is your ship, and your feelings and ideals are the map and crew.

Bon voyage!”

It was so helpful to read this and to remember who I am and that I am right where I should be as the type of artist I am.  I have a pretty good idea of where I’m headed, but am making the map as I travel there.

The journey unfolds!

My day in pictures

Greeting the new day

Zesting orange peel for Florida Orange & Yoghurt coffee cake

Just another roadside attraction . . . .

Steve working on his screenplay betwixt leading guided tours

Today I led my first Stuff Your Inner Critic workshop.  In our kitchen.  While my artistic explorers were stitching, I read a little bit out loud from the chapter ‘The Imagination works slowly and quietly’.

Stuff Your Inner Critic workshop in progress

There was time for some writing and reflection on some of the sabotaging messages our Inner Critics whisper or shriek to us.

What she said


Stuffing her Inner Critic

Contemplating his Inner Critic

Tiger Lily

What (or who) is behind this door?

The wonderful Inner Critics made by my brave, creative compañeros today

At the end of the workshop, I presented each doll with a milagrito, a little miracle.  They are only small, but muy powerful.

His gift is the key

Her gift is a soft touch

Mulligatawny soup for supper


Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom

Playing with light

Today I’ve been playing with light and transparency in my studio.  I’m using one of my Southbank photos as a starting point.

Different tranparency levels on rice paper, lit from behind

Halogen lamp

No light

Ambient light

Natural light


BTW, these are the ‘Stuff Your Inner Critic’ leaflets that Steve designed and wrote for me.  I am so lucky to have such a talented and supportive husband!

Oh, maybe I haven’t mentioned this.  I’m leading a Creativity workshop in my home studio during Devon Open Studios 2012.  You can find out about it here.  If you’re interested, give me a shout via the contact page of my website,  pronto!  I already have a few bookings on both days.