Abstract Intensives. Reflection #2 Late August.

Late August always seems to be a more logical time to reflect than the dark days around the New Year. Obviously I’ve wanted to reflect on the change the Abstract Intensive Course at hhttps://www.falmouth.ac.uk/ has had on my work. I realise now that that is just part of the picture, prior to my attending the course at Falmouth I had already submitted many works to galleries and exhibitions for the summer season and completed commissions . The unsold works from these events, and, to my chagrin, a refused purchase of a commission are slowly returning to the studio. Even with the insight of a fresh pair of abstract eyes I still really love some of them and am surprised no one has wanted to take them into their homes. Others I can see that only a mother/ the artist could see their good points. I’ve still got some way to go to get through the reading that was suggested to me by the tutors.The reading has been a great pleasure.Accidentally I went to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition twice. Once before and once after the course. I loved it both times but it was really a treat to see it the second time. I’m unsure if it was great because the curating artist was Grayson Perry whose work and words I adore or great because I was really geared up to look at contemporary art this summer. Either way it felt like the best RA Summer Exhibition I had seen. Taking all these things into consideration as well as the Abstract Intensive Course . I feel some change is afoot for my work. I’ve realised that when I paint my abstracts they are not only representations of how I see the subject but also how I think and feel about it. My way of applying an image on my newly acquired art boards (with thanks to Ravi Bains who made them https://www.endgrainsurfaces.com/contact/) may not look so very different from my usual style but my thinking will have taken some more intriguing routes to get there. In the next few weeks I’m going to have a virtual ‘Open Studio’ to sell off this summers returners before I get down to some serious painting in September.
Concrete Rock Pools from the previous blog and inspired by a visit to Trebah ,on the Helford River https://www.trebahgarden.co.uk/has been finished. Some rusty old iron stripes and some fragile bubble shapes add to the glorious Mediterranean colours that were such a part of the summer of 2018 . It was a great place to contemplate War and Peace.

Abstract Intensive.Reflection #1 Early August

Following the last blog which was in essence a review of the Abstract Intensive Course at Falmouth University www.falmouth.ac.uk this blog is much more of a personal reflection. More like a diary of how the course is affecting my practice

I accidentally fell into painting abstracts during my degree in Fine Art. Prior to my foundation course I was very much a landscape painter. The beauty of foundation courses is the requirement to try a lot of different styles and to form ideas on which direction to travel once on the degree. My first foray into abstraction came almost by accident, I was struggling to express my reaction to the events of 9/11 and found abstraction to be the easiest tool in my limited skill box.( An earlier blog Bloggers Block covers a similar theme) https://theoldmortuary.design/2018/03/15/blogblock-spring-clean Abstraction worked then and I’ve largely stuck with it.

Reading books about abstraction and following abstract artists seemed only to take me so far, and it certainly got me through my degree. It got my work into galleries and exhibitions, into people homes and serendipitously one of my pieces of work was shown at Tate Modern . With more time to paint and think I was thrilled to find a dedicated Abstract course not to far from home. Time to learn Abstract techniques first hand.

My particular interest is the interaction of man made structures on landscapes and nature’s constant bid to overwhelm and reclaim supremacy, Nature always wins.

This is the start of my first painting after the course.

It’s working title is Concrete Rock Pools. The Southwest of Britain is a rich source of concrete, built quickly during WW2, used only briefly during the preparation for the Normandy Landings. 80 years of weather and tides have broken it down leaving concrete and rusty iron that forms rock pools that are part natural and part man made.

This will be a different painting from one I would have done on the same subject a month ago, before the course. The impact of a week-long intensive course shows itself in this painting in small ways. Marginal gains is the sport psychology terminology for small improvements in performance.That phrase works equally well in Art. Measuring my own marginal gains may simply be taking time for recognising and reflecting and then developing confidence in those changes.

Having largely worked out my own methods of abstraction from practise, reading and observing other artists work it was great to have this book recommended at Falmouth.

I’ve been stealing an idea for abstraction for years from a completely unknown artist. I’ve always felt a little guilty about that. The author of these books, Austin Kleon cured me of my guilt. Both the book and the journal are well written with simple tips. I’m sure the strategies in these books are useful applied to many areas of life not just art.I bought mine cheaply from www.abebooks.co.uk

( My guilty steal happened at porteliotfestival.com A life drawing class was being taught in one of the tents. The model was posing, lit by some shafts of sunshine piercing through small holes in the canvas roof.There were some cracking images being created by the small group of artists. One artist however was writing a stream of descriptive sentences. Really beautiful words that were accurately reflecting the change of light,texture and nuanced shapes on the models beautiful body. I’ve used this technique many times when an image doesn’t quite flow from mind to canvas or when it is impossible to recreate natural beauty with a photograph, I just take some time out to write what I see and how it makes me feel. It really helps to get me out of a painting rut if I read these notes)

The relevancy of permission to steal to the above painting is all about fear really. I want to get both rust and and tiny sun bursts into this painting. The potential for error is great particularly when I’m happy with the first painted layer. Time to research abstract sunbeams and rust.

Falmouth Intensives, a personal view.

A collaborative painting- Abstract Intensivists 2018 I recently completed a five day intensive course in abstract painting at Falmouth University.I’ve done art courses most of my adult life, many of them at established, well-regarded art schools. Some on-line and some that would be regarded more as a leisure pursuit than as an intellectual expansion of artistic knowledge and skill.The Falmouth Intensive was the best organised course I have attended.At £500 for five days, it is not cheap but is certainly in line with other courses that are available.What did the Falmouth Intensives Course do to make me rate it so highly?The campus itself is eclectic and beautiful,especially with weather that was perfect. Falmouth is a dream destination for artists.Students/course members were treated as valued clients/customers. Our working accommodation was a large Victorian villa on Wood Lane, a leafy suburban street that merges town with gown. We were a group of 9 course members, with a choice of 11 well prepared studio spaces. Within the studio space area there was a communal kitchen that was stocked with complimentary tea, coffee, milk and biscuits, all branded products, that were topped up every day. The communal kitchen was shared by all the intensive course attendees, there were two other courses running the week I attended. This gave us the chance to mingle and share experiences. Food based ‘ break-out’ sessions happened nearly every day, not compulsory, they enabled artists from all three courses to meet whilst enjoying food, drink and some valuable time away from their artistic endeavours. This was a brilliant idea, artists can be insular creatures, to lure us out of our studios with the promise of free food was a genius plan. Falmouth Uni also wins a food diplomacy prize for serving scones a bit like a Victoria Sponge, (Scone-Jam-Cream-Scone). A simple flip made the scone ‘Cornish’ or ‘Devon’, keeping the scone purists happy.So, as they always say at the beginning of courses “that’s the housekeeping done”.The abstract course was not afraid of taking all participants back to basics. Our first morning was spent doing drawing exercises indoors and making observational sketches outside. Our two lecturers for the week were Simon Averill and Glad Fryer, a fabulous tag team of enthusiasm and knowledge. Both working three of the five days we were given the chance for ample informal conversations with one or both of them in addition to time-tabled ‘crit’ sessions and seminars. Both held sessions in which they shared their own working practices and experiences as active artists in the abstract genre. They also made the effort to bring in a good selection of their work and published materials. It is so helpful to understand other artists viewpoints and creative endeavoursWhat participants never know on these ‘selective’ courses is whether everyone who applies gets selected or whether there truly is a selection of suitable candidates. Either way, due to serendipity or selection, our group of students worked well together. All with a similar work ethic, we were surprisingly productive over the 5 days. Our one experience of working on a collaborative piece of art exposed us all to a new, to us, and unique way of creating art. With no rules or instructions it was left to the group to devise a way of working cohesively. That’s a tricksy ask of an established group of people let alone virtual strangers. I can’t say it was all ‘peace and love’ but the character and texture of the individuals in the group found a way to create an image together that gave us all something to think about.The Simon/Glad tag team, was an inspired choice as course leaders. Significantly different in character yet matched in the quality and style of their teaching, it is hard now for me to remember which one taught me which of the learning nuggets I have taken home.Their enthusiasm carried me through when my paint was recalcitrant and my technique shoddy. I’ve been home a day, had some sleep and time to reflect, undisturbed by swirling thoughts of ‘resolution’. I’m nearly ready to unpack the car and return my stuff to the studio. Next week I will paint abstracts again in a whole new way and with a lot more confidence.Thanks to everyone who plays a part in organising or delivering Falmouth Intensives. Thanks to my fellow intensivists. It was great to meet you.An abstract of this blog is not available.A feather that blew into my studio on the last day. I wonder who was visiting? #creativespirits #abstractthoughts

Thinking in circles. Writing in lines

Returning to Synesthesia

A little over a year ago I left my profession to pursue old ambitions and loves more wholeheartedly. Mainly painting and writing but also other things not remotely related to medicine. One of the greatest revelations had been the ability to think more effectively, something that is harder when a job not only requires its own specific thinking but is also physically demanding with long hours worked in a challenging environment.

I was always a ponderer. To say I was always a thinker sounds way more impressive. Ponderer is more accurate . I can’t quite fit the brief of reflector either.

As an only child I was very happy in my own company. Pondering.

When I was in my thirties I became aware that my way of thinking was not the same as others and specifically that I have Synesthesia. This was discovered when I volunteered as a normal baseline person for some Psychological tests that were being trialed for people with acquired head injuries. It turned out I was not quite the help to the testers that I had hoped to be, but I had a diagnosis, in reality just a name, for my peculiar version of thinking. Early on I had self diagnosed myself as stupid and muddle headed. To achieve things I really had to concentrate hard to get quickly to the same place mentally as other people or I could use Synesthesia and get there quicker but with no sensible explanation. Without concentration my thoughts would swirl around dipping into my huge reserves of useless information or concoct creative but irrelevant sub texts to the tasks in hand. Learning to read was the first time I felt the fear of having to learn in a way that was proscribed by an outsider, rather than by a scheme of my own making. Fortunately words and writing seem to suit my form of synesthesia, so the concentration I had to muster, to learn to read, paid me back quickly by opening new worlds accessed more easily by literacy. Words are almost my favourite things.

Not that I realised that at the time, at the age of about 5 I was asked to read in a school assembly. Guided by my self -belief that I was muddle- headed I assumed it was to make an example of me and show how dumb I was. Some years later I was told it was because my concentration had boosted my reading age significantly. The same feelings of inadequacy swept over me when I was given an adults ticket for the library when I was eight. I assumed once again that my muddle- headedness had made me not clever enough for children’s books. It took a while to realise it was a promotion of sorts for the opposite reason.

Maths was not the same, wonderful, numerical worlds did not open for me. My absolute biggest fear was being asked to explain how I had got the right answer. The classic request to show my working out was such a fearful demand that I learned fast how to concentrate on getting the job done ‘normally’ and getting out . My maths career finished at the age of 16. I passed one exam in maths, an ‘O’ level, got a high grade and walked away.I never wanted to ever show my workings out again. The exception to this was Cusinierre Rods, The joy of learning maths with colour and shape. Sublime

By the time I realised Synesthesia was my thing it was too late to talk about it with my parents, it took me a few years to realise how fully it affected my thinking. My parents died before I even realised it was a thing to share with them. My mother almost certainly had it, she taught me to count using imaginary coloured clouds in the wide blue skies of East Anglia. Our real life was constantly overlaid by unrelated thoughts or feelings that, to her, explained the real world far more simply than it could explain itself.

Now I am free to express myself creatively, I’m freeing up my innate Synesthesia.

The best analogy I can come up with is that of a left handed person being forced to write with their right hand. To exist in the academic and working worlds I have had to concentrate on normal thinking and to an extent put Synesthesic thinking to one side because it is so hard to explain and justify.

Thinking in circles, writing in lines, is the closest I can get to describing my synesthesia/accepted normal thinking interface.

I know the spectrum of synesthesic experience is vast . My sensation is that before formal education I was more in tune with it, then life takes over and traditional thinking,  which has been learnt,  takes over. A year of not being in an environment that constantly requires individual accountability has allowed me to think and perceive more intuitively and allowed me to let the synesthesia do the shortcut thinking quickly and without explanation. To be continued.

“ I know the sound of blue and it tastes delicious “

Creative Port- Linda Winter talks to theoldmortuary

theoldmortuary is a place where artists and creative people come to talk. Creative Port is a series of conversations with artists and makers who have a connection with Plymouth, Devon, UK. Plymouth, the Ocean City, is a creative city of arrivals, departures and settlers.

Linda Winter is a regular at all three. She will be exhibiting at Bens Farm Shop, Yealmpton soon.

Coming from a family of creatives, it would have been easy for Linda to become a painter. Creativity is in her blood, descended from an East End tailor, her mother was a woman compelled to make the intricate and fabulous, if not always useful, fabric creations. Her brothers are Art School trained and successful. Christopher Stevens is a painter of note and Head of Painting at Brighton School of Art. William teaches art in Bristol. However, and perhaps perversely, Linda avoided the art school route, her work is solely the product of her innate ability. Sibling rivalry may have made her pick up a paintbrush initially but it did not lead her along a traditional route.

Linda had an uneventful education and then ran away to Cornwall and had a family. Her rebellion was short lived. Three young children, little money and a house on the edge of Bodmin Moor meant that she was thrown back on old painterly habits to keep her sane.

Using Gouache on Arches paper, she painted large vibrant semi abstract boats that quickly became her signature style. Selling though the Barbican Gallery in Plymouth helped to establish herself as an artist. In Plymouth in the 1980’s and 1990’s, being a female artist was a struggle. So, in spite of having numerous one woman shows, Linda went to University to learn how to teach. Again the rebel surfaced, instead of studying art, she studied Psychology and is now teaching Psychology in London, but she still comes home to the sea most weekends and holidays.

One eventful afternoon with only a small canvas to hand, she noticed some beetroot on her kitchen table that had been purchased the day before, (She paints in her kitchen). The leaves were beginning to wilt in the sunlight. The purple of the bulbs vibrant against their fading glory. She picked up her brushes and an idea was born. Although a classic still life subject, fruit and veg were not an obvious choice for an artist as vivid as Linda. The Fruit&Vegetable Series however made a serendipitous connection when Linda had a chance meeting with the Management from Ben’s Farm shop in Yealmpton (where the Beetroot came from). A unique exhibition will be held in the newly extended eating space at Bens, featuring paintings of her naked organic vegetables. The exhibition is special, following a conversation over coffee about the difficulties some families have in affording quality food, it has been decided that the commission, 20%, of each painting sold will go to the Trussell Trust and Plymouth food bank. Organisations’ that Ben’s already support. In addition, Ben’s will also donate a proportion of the afternoons takings from Food and Drink sales. Unconventionally, the opening, at 3pm will be a family event with kids painting, burgers, the paintings and Linda telling her story. Regular adults not accompanied by children are also very welcome. The fruit and veg show opens at Ben’s farm shop on the first weekend of June.

Bill Stickers is not only innocent, he is a genius. ( London gives good Palimpsest)


I’ve never really known the correct term for the incidental art created by street posters, graffiti and general wear and tear. Some years ago I settled on Palimpsest, this article in the Guardian has made me question my decision but I can’t really find a word that works any better.

Cultural and creative vibrancy can be measured by these serendipitous spaces.

Not all owners or administrators of walls are fans.

Palimpsest fascinates me , even the corporate version on traditional , paper and paste, advertising billboards are a rich source of serendipitous art if you can catch them on the day old posters are ripped off . The current trend to advertise gigs with notices, cable-tied to street furniture gets around the Bill Sticker haters but removes a layer of lovely colour and text that could be adding to palimpsest.

Occasionally I use the technique to create my own art.

Sometimes the most intriguing stuff can be found down alleyways. Hunting it out can require a strong stomach as these places also gather the excrescences, of a vivid and active night life.

London gives great palimpsest. The images below were collected on a walk from my hairdresser to a favourite coffee shop, half an hour max. My phone is full of palimpsest images from all over the world, some of it from teeny tiny places and sometimes in locations that are unexpected.

Hunt street palimpsest out; you will be rewarded.

” Dull places have immaculate walls”


I’ve been adding some recent images to my Artworks/Portfolio page, I’ve got a pile of work that needs just little bits of attention to get them ready to sell. There is also a commission that needs a good stretch of time to get it ready for delivery . The better weather this week would have been perfect for art but it was also time to attack the Cornish hedge that runs in front of the studio windows. 10 years of routine maintenance had kept the lane passable but optimum hedge health had not been on our agenda. Many woman hours later it is trimmed and bramble-less , looking pretty sparse with one or two holes that need to be filled with some climbers . Boston Vine , Evergreen Clematis and Japanese Wisteria will add some natural colour alongside any incidental splatterings that embellish the garden and hedge during a summer of painting . Time to get back on the paintbrush…

Continue reading “Artworks/Portfolio”

A Year to cross a bridge.

A little over a year ago I crossed this bridge physically and metaphorically. After a 42 year career in the NHS I left to embark on an artistic and creative phase of my life. Straight ahead, in this picture, is St Paul’s Cathedral and behind that BartsHeartCentre. This bridge was part of my route home after a days work or an on call shift at Barts. The views from this bridge are wonderful, restorative and uplifting. Sometimes they needed to be.

One year on is a good time to reflect. Leaving a career I had nurtured for 42 years was a hard decision, but it had become an uncomfortable fit that I was no longer prepared to compromise my creative drive for. I had painted and created as relaxation since leaving school and even with limited time had had some success exhibiting and selling work. I studied part-time for a degree in Fine Art, fitting in five years of study with raising a family and building a career.

Having crossed the bridge forever, deliberately giving up my professional registration, the way forward was art rather than arteries and creativity rather than cardiac arrests.

The first thing I noticed was the incredible amount of headspace that appears when you no longer work 40 hour weeks. It took a little longer to feel fitter and younger. What surprised me was that limitless time to be creative doesn’t actually make for super creativity . It doesn’t actually get any easier to render an image onto a canvas , there is more time to make mistakes and prevaricate and definitely more time to tidy the studio or buy materials. Mistakes are the big thing, I love them now, previously they were mind numbing irritants, coming between me and my next great composition . Paint on canvas might not, in the past, have occurred again for weeks but now that’s not the case. So mistakes are my new big thing, new materials, quirky pairings ( Concrete and silk is my current vibe) Realising I couldn’t just flit about making extravagant mistakes I built some pressures into life. I’ve been learning the writing style to create useful art/cultural event reviews, 600 words, for publication. I’ve also learnt to utilise social media to publicise gallery and other art related events.

In many ways this brings my year of crossing the bridge to a conclusion. Unexpectedly a small piece of my work was included in a TateLates exhibition. Ironically it was a piece created when the pressures of my previous life on the north bank of the Thames were very great. Who knows where the mistakes, headspace and time will lead me.06200347-50CE-4F56-8247-77CE3A7B3BCF


BlogBlock/Spring Clean

I’ve not been blogging as much as recently as I feel I should. There are many reasons for this. The start of my bloggersblock came on almost overnight in September when I couldn’t write about my experience of visiting the 9/11 Memorial museum in New York. I just couldn’t find the words that fitted the sensations and emotions of my visit. 6 months on I’m not sure I feel any more competent .This is important to me but really shouldn’t stop me writing about other stuff. To me it seems like a cavernous hole in my blogging capability but until I wrote this who even knew it existed. So why did I make such a big thing about it.

The middle bit of my blockage came with research and contemplation. I started this blog because someone told me it was hard and I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. Maybe not the best motivation for starting a blog and actually they weren’t entirely wrong. I am a stubborn and determined mule when told I can’t do something. Then I run out of swagger grow a horn and flitter unproductively about like the mule/ unicorn crossbreed I really am.

I’ve researched long and interestedly into blogging and the use of social media , in particular for digital migrants like myself. Finding readers for a blog written by someone over fifty is in itself a challenge because the age range of the ‘average’ blogger or blog reader is somewhat younger. I also needed to contemplate the point of my blog, my initial spurt of writings had a loose theme but in many respects I was all over the place . I made a vague New Year resolution that I would sort it, the blog, out and give it more focus. January and February came and went and here we are half way through March and I’m no nearer to a tidy focussed blog than I was a year ago when I started. In my defence I have been busy doing art and learning new skills and writing for other people. I realise now how challenging it is to be a lone operator, there is only me to do the stuff.

The denouement is that my blog is more or less what I want it to be . It needs to be tidier and more focussed and needs regular but not obsessive attention. A little digital spring cleaning and a breath of fresh air should sort things out

If anyone has any hints or tips please share them