Through a different lens.

Hello again.

Sometime last week when I made my way into the Hidey-Hole, I found that I just didn’t have the urge to do anything particularly arty. I know this is entirely normal and nothing to fret about, but I wondered if there was anything I felt like doing that might be even vaguely art-related.

And suddenly I had the answer – I decided to take a photo of every piece of work in my stash.

Photographing the Stash

The stash is in fact two A3 sized cardboard boxes from Amazon and two A3 sketchbooks, which are where I put the artwork that I deem finished – either because I’ve reached a point that I’m happy with, or at least I don’t feel like taking it any further, or because I have reached the stage of really not liking something and I want to move on with a fresh start.

The stash has been steadily growing over the last two years and in all that time, I’ve almost never been back to look inside and see what I’d been creating. Which to be honest has always been my way of going about things.

It was/is the same with the textile art pieces that I make. The enjoyment is all in the doing, in the stitching, so once it’s completed, I lose interest and just want to move on to the next piece as fast as possible. Off the completed work goes to the stash, totally forgotten.

Anyway, I followed through and duly took each piece from the stash, put it on the kitchen table, and took a picture.

Well, what an eye-opener!

I rather think I could write a book about the revelations that came up while doing it – although you’ll be relieved to know that I’m not going to bore you silly about it all now – but I thought I’d mention a couple of things that really surprised me.

The first thing, is just how different a picture can look in the photo compared with how I think it looks in real life – I’m not talking about the quality of the reproduction or colours, no, what I mean is that in many of the pictures I can see (or not see) aspects of composition, contrast, colour use, focal points and things like that, which aren’t anything like so clear in the flesh.

I’ve heard some other artists say that they take photos of their work whilst working, but this is the first time I’ve really begun to understand why that might be helpful.

One thing that I noticed particularly was that I don’t really achieve enough contrast (for my liking) – and that’s something I hadn’t realised before.

The other thing that really struck me was that in fact there does seem to be an element of style and subject beginning to show itself, despite my concerns that everything is simply random. It may not translate to other viewers, but I begin to see some themes in process, colour and subject that I found oddly reassuring.

As I went through each piece, I tried to decide if they were finished, or whether they might be reusable in some other way. I knew there were several pieces that I had stopped working on without feeling that I’d resolved them. I’ve put those selections into another box, so perhaps the next time I lose the urge to carry on with the current piece, I might dip into the box and see if anything sparks my interest.

It took a couple of hours to take the pictures and I didn’t go back to look at them straight away, but I’m so glad to have taken time to do this. I’ve just been going through some of them again to show you a few, and while doing it I made other discoveries that I’m sure will help me – and who knows, that might carry on.

Somehow the detachment of time and looking at a photo instead of the real thing allows an opportunity to be your own constructive critic. And it certainly helps that when you go back over a lot of work, you begin to see patterns that aren’t otherwise obvious.

(I’ve littered this post with a tiny selection from the photographed stash – it seems that I paint trees far more often than I thought…).

In other news…

I had a lovely afternoon in Worcester on Sunday. A flying trip with the daughters. The river and the cathedral were looking gorgeous. How exciting to see everything beginning to unfurl for spring – hooray!

Until next time.

Anny x


Hello and a happy New Year to you.

I always hesitate to ask how people’s Christmas was, and this year – or should that be last year’s – was probably even weirder than the one before for a lot of us, so shall we move swiftly on?

It’s a gradual slide into January and the routine around here. Fortunately we’ve had very little of the weather we normally associate with this time of year, but we have had rain – quite significant amounts – you can see that the water meadows next to the canal have been doing their thing…

I have a childish delight in seeing the ducks and geese floating in the fields when the meadows flood.

I don’t seem to have been out much. More because I enjoy a time of winter hibernation even under normal conditions and I didn’t see any reason why it should be different this year. I find a few weeks of snuggling up on the sofa with a duvet and a good old movie on TV – Death on The Nile, the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, any Jane Austen – with fairy lights twinkling in the sitting room and the kitchen and probably with a glass of whisky to keep out the cold, does a lot to help keep my spirits up.

We did venture out on one afternoon to Stowe gardens for some fresh air and exercise.

A rather bleak kind of day, but there’s always something impressive about the place – perhaps it’s how much interest has been shoe-horned into the space. What were those eighteenth century landscape gardeners on! Imagine anyone creating it today.

News from the Hidey-Hole…

Just to be clear, the Hidey-Hole is my nickname for the tiny room in the corner of the house which I can’t bring myself to call a studio. You’d understand if you saw it. It is still partly the downstairs shower room and I have to vacate when the daughters want to use it, but nevertheless I am extremely pleased to have my own dedicated creative space inside the house – warm and cosy, even if it’s a little on the cramped side.

Well, the news is that Father Christmas brought me a gell printing plate.

And I feel a bit like Mr Toad in The Wind In The Willows.

Suffice to say, I am having a lot of fun.

I’ve been creating a stash of printed papers, creating textures and mixing colours, which I’ve just begun to use as collage over a couple of the paintings I’d made that weren’t really going anywhere.

I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying the whole process. It feels like being back in primary school – although it was called Infant School in my day – and playing with all the art supplies. Being covered in glue and paint and goodness knows what.

I can’t remember ever doing anything like it since, so I’ve watched a zillion YouTube videos to pick up some techniques and ideas, which is just wonderful!

Anyway, who knows, maybe next time I’ll take some photos and you can see what I’ve been up to.

Right, time to cook the dinner.

Stay warm and happy.

Anny x

In and out in December…

the Grand Union canal.

It’s no secret that I tend to find the low-light days of winter something of a challenge, which is why I’m delighted to say that so far this year, I’m managing to stay pretty buoyant. Maybe it’s the generally mild weather we’ve been having or just a determined effort to stay relaxed. Whichever, all I can say is that we’re now really close to the solstice and so far, so good.

Part of my strategy for staying well is to get outdoors as much as I reasonably can. It used to be easier when the Delinquent Dog insisted on a decent daily walk, but the old chap isn’t up to all that these days and we have to content ourselves with short strolls near to the house. I miss getting out into the woods and countryside so much and try hard to get out when I can.

We’re lucky to live a short hop away from the Grand Union canal, which would have been the perfect place to walk the Delinquent Dog, had he not come hardwired with the urge to attack any other furry creature he might meet. Narrow canal paths do not lend themselves to quick avoidance detours – not without getting very wet at any rate.

I’ve taken to having a quick walk along the tow-path every few days without the boy (you can see how glorious the weather was from the picture at the top of this post on a recent stroll). And there have been occasional walks around the Park at Woburn – always a delight.

There have also been proper days out.

First, a trip to Worcester with both daughters. We were there a few days after Storm Arwen which had brought down one of the stone pinacles from the tower of the cathedral, which crashed through the roof below. If you look carefully you might be able to see where the tarpaulin is now covering the hole. The pincacle came from high up on the tower, so all-in-all I’d say it was lucky not to have been a worse outcome.

the damaged roof at Worcester Cathedral

We happened to be in Worcester on the final day of the Christmas Market, so it was fairly busy, but also rather lovely. Twinkly and smelling of mulled wine – quite put me in the festive spirit.

the Guildhall, Worcester at dusk.
excellent message I thought…x

Later that week, I met up with my brother in Worcestershire and we headed off to Hanbury Hall for tea and cakes and a wander around the house. This year they’ve decorated the house in the style of Christmasses of the 1970s and 1980s and oh my goodness! What a good job they’ve made. I haven’t laughed so much for an age.

We spent our afternoon remembering toys, films, tv, pop music and food from our youth. It was magical! Tacky, but totally magical.

It wasn’t just indoors that had been decorated. Every one of these little trees had a glitter ball on top – over 200 of them, how fabulous!

Meanwhile, back indoors, there has been more needlepoint. I’ve given up trying to think about what I’m doing and instead I’ve fully embraced the stitch to relax vibe that I used to have. For now, that feels absolutely the right thing to do. I’ve always thought that stitching was primarily a meditative practice and so it feels again for me.

this is the current piece – rocking orange…x

There’s something snuggly about sitting on the sofa in the evening, listening to the TV and quietly sewing. Well, it works for me.

It’s a funny old time of year and I hope you’re doing alright. Stitching keeps me relaxed and calm, but do whatever works for you. We’re all different.

Anny x

Making Hay while the sun shines.

Well hello again.

How’s it been? We’re still waiting for the November weather to turn cold. It’s confusing, when I look outside, the light tells me it’s winter, so I find my thick fleece, woolly hat and gloves. Then, suitably togged up, I set off to walk the boy and what do you know? Within minutes I’m melting in the heat. I’m not really complaining, it makes a change to get this far into November and not to be scraping the windscreen in the morning, I’m just finding it a bit weird.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, we went off to Hay on Wye to stock up on essentials – books, of course. It was our first visit in eighteen months and I was so happy to be back in my spiritual home.

It felt so good to be slowly scanning the shelves for that book you just had to have. In the end, having given it my best go, I came back with three books. One about the Domesday Book – something that I’ve been becoming more interested in over recent months – more of that perhaps another day. Another about the history of the countryside by Oliver Rackham – it was a punt, but I’m really enjoying it so far. And the third is a book about Celtic and ancient places in the United Kingdom  – which I bought mainly because of the absolutely wonderful black and white photographs by Anthony Gascoigne. 

Now, here’s a request. I’ve scoured Mr. Google for any information about Anthony Gascoigne and I can’t find anything, zilch, nada. Does anyone out there know who he is? I’d just love to see more of his work. I chose the book because I’ve visited most of the sites covered, and I know just how challenging it is to take good photos at those locations. I love standing stones, but they are mightily difficult to capture on film/digitally – they have a personality, and it’s really hard to capture that, and yet somehow, he does it. He creates mood. So, chaps, if anyone can tell me more, I’d be really grateful – he’s a pro!

We pushed the boat out on our trip and stayed overnight in Hereford, which meant that we had a day out in Leominster too. I love this town, it’s got just the right mix of old town charm, and a Wetherspoons. What more could you need? Well, actually it’s much better than that too. We went ringing at the Priory and then went back the next day so that the N1D could be shown the Romanesque carvings in the daylight. ( Our poor children, what have we done to them? They’re so psychologically scarred that they’ve both independently bought themselves membership of the National Trust and English Heritage – and they’re only in their early twenties!)

Leominster Priory is a total mishmash, but nonetheless fascinating for that. It shows you the story of English history in stone. I rather like it there.

All the pictures in this post were taken at Leominster Priory in November 2021. The carvings are over 800 years old. Doesn’t that make you tingle with excitement? Oh…x

In other news…

I’ve been slowly stitching in hessian again, but I haven’t taken any photos yet, so maybe that’s for another day too.

Best wishes, keep smiling.

Anny x


Well hello again!

I doubt if there is anyone reading this who was subscribed to Mostly Motley seven years or more ago, but if you are, then all I can say is Wow! Thanks for your patience.

If you do remember me – or indeed if this is your first visit – you probably want to know what I’m intending for this blog going forward.

So, let me explain.

When I first started this blog, I chose the name, because I wanted people to know that it wouldn’t be a single topic blog – it wouldn’t be focussed on one subject, in fact, it would be a mixed bag – whatever took my fancy when I came to write a post.

The received wisdom then – and quite possibly now too – is that if you’re blogging, you should concentrate on specific niches and not be too random. I see the same thing with social media, which soaked up a huge number of bloggers from way back when.

Anyway. I’ve tried to do it both ways. I’ve tried to maintain several blogs, covering a raft of interests. But in the end, I’m just not that sort of person. I’m interested in lots of things and if I don’t include them in one place, I feel that I’m not really being authentically me.

So, if you’re reading this and wondering if it’s worth subscribing to receive new posts – well, the big passions in my life are.

  • exploring Britain’s old places, and
  • making art, sometimes in threads, but lately also in paint.

But I’m also out there with a camera most days, walking in the countryside and photographing the changing seasons. I also read a lot of books, listen to a range of music, walk up mountains, go charity shopping for bargains, go bell-ringing, cook meals, dig the garden, and about a zillion other things.

And I might write or post photos about any of these topics.

A mixed bag – mostly motley.

Of course, I’d really love it if you wanted to come along for the ride. I’d be even happier if you wanted to leave the occasional comment. But the choice is yours and I’m just going to carry on and be me.

That’s it…x