Strayfish Arts at Sakala!

I’m so pleased to be exhibiting at Sakala in Steyning High street. I knew this shop when it was barely more than a cupboard in Cobblestones and when my sister saw a photo of it, she wanted to move in. Everything is directly sourced and the makers paid properly for their work; this is where buying local means buying from local communities of small scale makers, often women, helping them out of poverty. Take a look at their Instagram account and prepare to be swamped by colour!

I said earlier that I’d be taking mostly small pieces, the kind you can carry home under one arm or slip in a shopping bag, but I might have a couple of bigger pieces hot off the easel by the time we get to the end of August. Those would be unframed and a bit unwieldy in a half-decent breeze so you’d probably need transport.

Trail dates are August 28th – 30th and the 4th and 5th of September although Sakala is open during regular shop hours too. Hope to see you soon, COVID, as ever, permitting!

Another outdoor landscape, another block of concrete

There’s been a lot of experimenting going on with this assignment, which is new for me. At one time, sketches were drawings and had to be perfect, sketchbooks were tidy affairs, and anything loose was usually on a piece of canvas board so qualified as The Art.

No more. Sketchbooks have become anarchic beasts full of dabs and drips, scrapes and scratches, and little clippings of other people’s art work. Not only are pieces on A3 also sketches, but A2 and A1 as well.

I should have known, I learned this with writing. After decades of being the One Draft Queen when it came to professional letters, reports, and journal articles, I discovered writers actually wrote drafts, and re-wrote drafts, and edited drafts, and scrapped drafts, and only after a great deal of this did a story emerge that satisfied them long enough to send it off somewhere. Why would art be any different? Well, it’s not.

So this is another piece of concrete in another patch of countryside. I’ve enhanced this image because I like to bring out the shapes that make up the whole and, as part of this assignment requires demonstration of perspective, there’s a bundle of that to be exposed.


I use Paintshop Pro for this kind of work, then I pin it up where I can work with it and usually draw out the various planes that often include horizontals that tilt and perspectives that fan. I could probably do with a protractor.


This was the first ‘draft’; all the lines in place but no real grit to it. That’s gesso-prepped cartridge, conte, oil crayons, and inks.

Because I wanted to see what might build on that framework and digital is way more economical than physical, I ran it through PSP first to try out darkening and lightening filters:


Then Rebelle 3 painting software to see how adding layers of other media might work with the original base. Rebelle has a good range of ‘brushes’, including watercolour, ink, charcoal, and pencil which allows for coverage and detailing. I took this version back to the physical piece to see how it could be replicated/enhanced.


This is where it is now with added layers of white and black gesso, ink highlights, fineliner detailing, and some inktense colour just for good measure. Dog walkers (and walkers) will know this place – although maybe not from this picture! – it’s under the Steyning bypass on the east side of the river Adur just south of Beeding bridge. Some of the graffiti has been, erm, ‘simplified’ out.


So is this the finished assignment piece? I don’t know, it could be any of the four I’ve put together the last week or so. It will most likely turn up as a print at some point, if anyone’s after a bit of grunge for their wall!

Steyning Arts trail

img_2769I’ve a feeling this month is going to zip by at a rate of knots, like that time between October when Christmas is forever away and December 24th when you realise a black hole ate all of autumn. I’m pulling together my bits and bobs; paintings, prints, cards, and arty sundries, for my pitch at Jill’s in Beeding. There’ll be sheep, brooding landscapes, some things with Tin Pots Hill on them, and a ‘Winter is Coming’ snow globe because obviously. Also cats, there’s always cats.

Steyning Arts trail – where to find trail guides

arts trailThese are the fab folk in Beeding and Bramber who are hosting our trail guide this year:


Beeding News, High Street (river end) Upper Beeding – leaflet, natter, papers, eggs, bread, magazines, and a cross-dressing gorilla.

The Beauty Box, opposite Beeding News – leaflet, nails, and new eyebrows depending on if you fall asleep in the chair or not.

Jayze Barbers, next door to the Beauty Box – leaflet, bloke talk, and exactly what you came in for on your head.

The Pharmacy and Store, just down from the newsagent – leaflet, hair colour, an ointment of some sort, and a bottle of milk.

The Kings Head, along the High Street from the Pharmacy – leaflet, beer, beer, and did I mention beer?

The Hub, cross the road from the Kings Head, mosey on up Church Street and it’s on the right – leaflet, carrot cake, coffee, and many many smiley people.

Khushbu, between the Beauty Box and Church Lane – leaflet, takeaways, and a chance to sit on a big leather sofa like a boss.

Beeding and Bramber Village Hall, – leaflet, craft fairs, yoga, line dancing, and BYOB 40th birthday parties.

Beeding Surgery, a bungalow next to the Village Hall – leaflet, doctors, vampire nurses, and something to take to the pharmacy at the other end of the street.

The Rising Sun (or the Riser, if you’re in with the in-crowd), along the High street, right to the end after Beeding’s Bungalow Surgery and it’s on the roundabout. Well, not actually on it, obviously – leaflet, beer, brain strain quizzes, and beans.

The Towers, a school for girls up the road from the Riser towards Henfield and on the left. It has towers. Leaflet, educational education, and fun nuns.

Back along the High Street turning right up Hyde lane, there’s Hyde Square and more leaflet hosts.

Handsome Hounds – leaflet, get your pooch primped, come out with a glittery collar that doesn’t fit either the dog or you but it’s lovely.

iMendLtd – leaflet, sort out your scratched screen, speak words you read in a manual but don’t understand, get your PC back working perfectly.

Studio 44 – leaflet, glam, more glam, and also glam.

Blue Sea Fish and Chips – leaflet, chips, fish, chips and fish, probably featuring vinegar.

St Peter’s Church and Gladys Bevan Hall, along up Hyde/Pound Lane, left along Deacons Way and off up the top end of Church Lane to the um church. Leaflet, vicar, parties, and a very big tree.

In Bramber

The Castle Inn Hotel – leaflet, pub stuff, garden, and more parties. We like parties.

The Maharajah – leaflet, classy Indian food, takeaways and also sit-ins (no, not that sort).

The Old Tollgate – leaflet, yet another pub and food haven, very posh parties.

Text in red means we haven’t dropped off yet. We’ll try again soon, maybe take one of those police battering rams just in case.

Disclaimer: in case of complaints, all text as written is mine and nothing to do with Steyning Arts, its members or committees.

Black and White exhibition at The Basement93


Just some of the marvellous pieces on display at this boutique shop-gallery [and thank you Google for the pano] in Steyning, west Sussex.

People make the most extraordinary things; familiar and unfamiliar at the same time like those little raku sheep and the sturdy pigs standing four-square next to them on that stack. Blow a magic breath over them and they’ll come to life. If you’re looking for an original gift for someone (or yourself because goodness knows you’ve earned it), this is the place.

The exhibition runs for a little while longer at 93 The High Street Steyning and you’ll find The Basement on instagram and Facebook.

There’s a cow in the basement …

… what are ya gonna do?

Luvvit, that’s what!


This is, let’s call her Muriel, whose first job was to illustrate a story called The Bridge in Not Being First Fish, and who today has joined several cats and a sheep at The Basement93 in Steyning.

Here’s the rest of the gang.


You can have a flick through the book and if you like what you see (read), you can nip across the road to get a copy at the Steyning Book Shopotherwise you can click your way over to that there Amazon.

From February 1st, the gallery will be holding a Black and White exhibition which, I’m chuffed to report, will include some of this menagerie. Very mooootivating 🙂

Steyning High Street

Always rather nice but this year, my goodness but it seems to have taken a step up. Here’s a batch of almost random photos from today’s short walk.

photograph of a building
Roundabout at the bottom of Sheep Pen Lane

photo of buildings on a high street
south end of the high street

shop front
Dandylion – clothes for dandies and lions, obviously! Apologies for the blur.

Sussex Produce – veg you know and veg you’ve never heard of. All the colours of healthy eating in one place. Lunch and coffees too.

Sussex Produce

The Dollshouse shop

Steyning Book Shop – independent with all the quirks you’d expect (also possibly two of my books soon)

The Sweet Shop

photo through the doorway of vintage furniture shop
Vintage and Home – what it says on the tin.

Vintage and Home

The classy Gris et Blanc shop front. Furniture and all manner of other home fillers.

shop front with items on the pavement and lights over the windows
Steyning Antiques – winner of this year’s Chamber of Commerce shop window prize.

shop with teddy bears and shop owner
Smiffy’s Bears – and there’s Jackie, Bear Mistress in Chief. Cobblestones Walk.

photo of small shop with teddy bears
More Bears because, well, bears.

photo of small paved pathway between huts in a quaint shopping area
Cobblestones Walk

photo of small paved pathway between huts in a quaint shopping area
Cobblestones Walk

photo of small paved pathway between huts in a quaint shopping area
Cobblestones Walk

photo of small paved pathway between huts in a quaint shopping area
Cobblestones Walk

photo of small paved pathway between huts in a quaint shopping area
Cobblestones Walk

photo of small paved pathway between huts in a quaint shopping area
Cobblestones Walk

photo of small paved pathway between huts in a quaint shopping area
Cobblestones Walk – that’s the Tea Room behind that black door.

photo of small paved pathway between huts in a quaint shopping area
Entrance from the High Street to Cobblestones Walk. You’d never guess what was beyond that tiny doorway.

shop front with decorative items
Shop front window onto the high street from Cobblestones Walk

shop front with small artificial trees and plants
I’ll have to go back to identify this place, florist I think. Fab though, isn’t it?

shop window with silver reindeer and white sleigh
Truffles – cafe and bakery

shop front with white tree , ornaments and small items of furniture
Sakala – Indian ornaments, fabrics, incense and now massage. Spend all day there!

shop front with large grey vases
La Maison Verte – so many lovely pieces of furniture and decorative items that can also be USED!

photo of shelves with jars, prints, and candles


Cross-post from Conboyhill Fiction.

Cats playing to the gallery


This is a small corner of Steyning’s new gallery and shop, The Basement (instagram @thebasement93), a lovely new outlet at the bottom of the High Street, near the independent Steyning Book Shop, and the remarkable Sussex Produce Company. Within a matter of a few dozen yards, you can find a unique piece of art, a hand-chosen book, and a strangely shaped vegetable you have to Google when you get home. I left some mounted prints there today of the four cat cards. Also a sheep. All hand drawn then finished in a digital painting programme called Rebelle. Have look – you throw paint at the ‘canvas’ and it runs, adding an unexpected frisson to watching paint dry!