New vid

Hi all! I’ve got a new vid up, which is the first in a series I’m going to do called Sketch in the City…


The journey of discovery

Everest to Makalu

Some of you might be following my journey over on Instagram (@embers_and_ink), and if so you might have noticed the occasional mountain picture popping up with me being a bit elusive about it being part of a project… Well, I thought it was about time to stop being elusive and come out with it: I’M DOING THE 8000ERS!


(Everest 8848m)

The 8000ers are a collection of fourteen mountains that stand higher than 8000 meters above sea level – the tallest being Everest at 8848m(above).  Some of you may know that I rock climb – less now than I used to though (hence you might have noticed a lot of my art features rocks, hills and mountains – this is no coincidence!), and although mountain climbing something such as Everest was well above my paygrade, the target of the 8000ers was a well known climbing achievement to me. And since my activity in climbing has been dropping off in recent years I thought it would be nice to still be able to ‘tick off’ a climber’s list: the 8000ers was it!


(K2 8611m)

So I’ve been working through the 8000ers for a little while now, starting with Everest (8848m) and working down from there, the next in the list being K2 at 8611 meters above sea level (pictured above). It has been a hard slog to get going, I’ve got to admit: although the challenge of developing and honing the appropriate skills is still worth the time it has taken.


(Kangchenjunga 8586m)

One of the reasons that it has taken so long up until this point, is that up until recently I’ve been pursuing my art and illustration in the evenings and weekends around a day job. This was exhausting, and finding time to embark on an acrylic or oil painting once I returned home from work, sorted dinner and answered emails etc was difficult. I am now  completely focusing on art and illustration as my ‘day job’ – a full time freelance artist and illustrator. It is still difficult, but my work is now my focus, and I don’t feel like it is a chore to be done through the veil of exhaustion. My patrons are so awesome in helping to fund this journey, and giving me the time and mental freedom to be able to pursue art and be able to dedicate the time to developing new art.


(Lhotse 8516m)

I’ve been learning a lot during this journey – just like on a climbing trip or expedition. I’ve been learning the value of taking it slowly. To rush is to risk losing everything. I’ve also been learning the importance of knowing when to stop, stand back and re-evaluate. It is something that I am developing and still need to get better at! There is a point in a painting when you just need to stop – like reaching the peak… and if you keep on going you only start going down hill again.


(Makalu 8485m)

I could have done with keeping this a bit more firmly in mind with my latest picture of Makalu – there was a time when I should have stopped, stepped back, evaluated and seen that I had finished. I didn’t do that soon enough with this picture, and as such the painting isn’t what it was or could have been. But I am walking that journey of discovery, and every day I am getting better. I am so thankful to my patrons that they are giving me the ability to find time and space to get better. Thank you!

It is not just the destination that is important – it is the journey and what you learn about yourself and your surroundings on the way. As Ben Moon says ‘Variety is the spice of life. Variety will give you good skills, stop you stagnating and keep you motivated’.

I’ve got much further to go on my journey – 9 more peaks to do in fact. And I’m looking forward to summitting every one.

Please feel free to stop by and say hello on my Patreon site: have a look around – you can follow me for free, if you would like to keep in touch and boost my confidence a bit!


Makalu. Today I’ve been finishing this off, as part of my mountain series. I am learning the value of the stopping point, and knowing when to walk away! I’m talking more about this over on my I’d like to thank my patrons once again for being awesome. You can follow me for free on Patreon, and you’ll be able to access the free content I put up there occasionally. Just head over and click the follow button!

Monday cartoon!

It’s close enough to Monday to put this up!

When you visit a friend’s house for the first time and it is so awesome that it fills you with that warm glow of inspiration!

This is the first one I’ve tried with colour, what do you think?

Life is short, and sweet, but ultimately short.

So, I’ve just had that interesting experience where someone I thought was a friend has tried to mask their own insecurity by putting me down in public.

Woah! Left field! I’ve got to admit that I did NOT see that coming!

Well, thank you very much! Come on self-confidence and self esteem, let’s pull ourselves up from the ground and dust ourselves off in front of this group of strangers and acquaintances – and let’s not forget our ‘friends’.

Wow: our friend’s – who I suppose must have assumed that I was strong enough to deal with it when I replied with a ‘F*ck you’ and a ‘Stop being such an a*sehole’ – but actually wanted to leave immediately and go home and cry.

It started something like this: he was telling us all about his new hobby with a light-hearted snapshot of a weekend workshop he’s been on (that was actually quite interesting). Some people made a light-hearted comment to him and he replied with something along the lines of:

‘…well, look at THAT lady in the corner, whose just given up a perfectly good job to DOODLE!’ [ Smug pause for expected laughter]…

Luckily no-one laughed, however he did just add a whole level of awkwardness into the gathering.

However he really delivered a sucker-punch: delivering the line that comes to me when I am feeling at my lowest, my most self-hating, self-doubting, and feeling at my most worthless… And wow, all of those feelings really came out of nowhere to thump me in the throat.

And yes, wasn’t I just saying to him earlier that I was having feelings of loss from leaving my Teaching Assistant job? And I DO doodle…

All the way home I was holding back the tears of embarrassment from the encounter. During the journey I was doing my best to turn all of those feelings of rage, embarrassment, self-doubt back on him, calling him (in my mind) all of the blue names under the sun (many of them actually valid, I’ve always suspected he was a bit of a tw*t).

I was very prepared for this blog entry to be me ripping him a new one, actually. But the more I think on it, the more I feel sorry for him. That he had to go to such lengths to divert people’s eyes from his obvious feeling’s of insecurity about something that he obviously enjoys doing. Thinking back on the time I’ve known him, I could recount more and more times when he has done something similar, or pulled out his go-to line of ‘I’ve led men into battle’ as a verbal justification for him doing something.

And there is absolutely no need for him to do that. If he enjoys whittling spoons or whatever, he shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks: if that is what – at this moment in time – lights his fire, then that is fantastic. There are far too many people in the world who either never find that thing, or are too scared to pursue it.

But the same goes for me too.

Yes, being a Teaching Assistant is a great job (even if you know all about the poo, and pee and sneezes to the face and the daily drama of 5 year old life). And yes, I am bound to miss it! I bonded with 60 pre-6 year olds! They didn’t just bond with me, it was a two way thing. I will miss them chatting to me about what they did at the weekend, the wonder at losing a tooth, helping them to develop their confidence, and helping them to believe that they can be whatever they want to be – life is short and sweet and you need to grab it with both hands.

And it is. Short. And sweet. But short. I really, truly felt this when I held my dying father’s hand until he wasn’t there anymore. He wasn’t ‘there but dead’ – HE was gone. Just gone. Quickly. No fanfare. Life is short, and sweet, but ultimately short.

And I spent years telling children to follow their dream because life is short, and once I realised what it was that I really wanted to do, I would have been a hypocrite not to have followed my own advice.

Yes, I gave up a perfectly good job to pursue art (I do more than doodle), but my life is short – as is yours- and I don’t know when my story is going to end.

So while I have the ability and the desire to pursue the life I want, I will.