A Guest Post — “Chasing the Fae . . . . .”

The internet is a wonderful and strange new place where we get to form real and significant friendships with people across the globe that, rather unfortunately, we will probably never get to meet in person.  Such a treasured ‘net friend is Sylva Fae, and her thoroughly charming and delightful family.  Living in a magical woodland in the UK, Sylva shares adventures in parenting, along with stories of childhood wonderment, discoveries and fascinations in her blog entries.  I invite you to Visit and Follow Sylva Fae’s Blog, and you too will be charmed by the woodland, the fairy gardens and inhabitants.   I am honored to be able to share her most recent uplifting post with you here.  Enjoy.

“Chasing the Fae…”

25efbfcb-c190-41d5-b5b3-30dea2c96ac9This is a time of year for reflection, for pondering and for weighing up the good and the bad of the last year. For me it was a year of great change. I’ve escaped a job I’d grown weary of and tumbled into a new career. I’ve seen my baby grow up to become a school girl, I’ve watched my middle daughter blossom in confidence and my eldest little diva is now dancing through junior school. The school terms mark the passing of time as my girls learn faster than I can keep up with.

As a parent I am constantly trying to keep the balance between boundaries and rules, and allowing children to just be children. I worry about whether I’m doing enough, being strict enough or too strict. I relentlessly remind them of their pleases and thank yous and hope that they use them with others. I read with them, sing, dance and play with them, we run through the fields, scramble through bushes and climb the trees together but I don’t take them to the clubs other children their age go to. Our weekends have no structure, no plan, we just check the weather and choose an adventure. I often worry if it’s enough.


The previous month brought happy tears as I watched each of my little ones sing in their school plays. It also brought proud mummy moments as I crouched, knees up to ears on a tiny school chair listening while their teachers reported on their year in class. It seems my three are known for their manners (phew!), are effortlessly coasting through their lessons and are kind to others. Good to know but what made me smile most, was each teacher commented on their vivid imaginations, their aptitude for story telling and the amazing illustrations they create to go with their stories. One teacher said with a giggle, that she always looked forward to what she’d write about her weekend adventures. She showed me a few and laughed about how she tried to make her describe her weekend but she always insisted on telling a story instead. I read a few. They told of leaving the woodland path and wading through thick forest to discover secret lands, of hunting dragons and making houses for the fairies, they described chasing mermaids across the sky and climbing to the tops of the tallest trees to capture the sunbeams. I smiled back at the teacher and assured her it was all actually true. I’m not sure whether the teacher believed me or made a mental note that their mother was quite loopy. She smiled in a knowing way and moved swiftly onto her maths progress.


In those moments of self doubt, I remember that I have fuelled that imagination, fed it and encouraged it to run wild. I have provided the playground and focused their minds to see beyond what the eye can capture. I may not be a conventional mum but then I did not have a very conventional childhood. I blame my mum! My girls share our family trait, we’re deemed by others to be bizarre but I am secretly proud my girls have inherited my weirdness. I can’t blame all my quirks on my mum but she was the one who taught me to read and I have passed on that love of books to my daughters. Giving them the gift of literacy is something I can be proud of.


b99f9029-8769-453a-9765-448280b85477This new year blew in with the weather. Here in England, we’ve had a wet and gloomy start to 2016 with many flooded out by heavy rains.This weather has kept us from going out as much as we’d like and I’m missing my little woodland. My girls have been wishing for snow for weeks and finally their wishes were granted. We awoke today to a white garden and sparkling trees; they couldn’t wait to build their first snowman. I happily dodged snowballs and helped give our snowman a smile, but I’m secretly wishing for sunshine, for lazy, carefree days to run through the fields. Whatever the weather, I know this year will bring many more adventures out in the woods, making memories and writing stories to baffle teachers and keep my little faeries entertained. One thing I know for sure, I’ll be spending my days chasing the fae.

A Guest Post — “Christmases of My Childhood” by Kathleen Creighton

I am honored to be able to share a Christmas remembrance from friend and renowned author Kathleen Creighton.  With more than 50 books published and two million copies sold, Kathleen has long been a powerhouse of the romance genre. Her books have earned her five RITA awards, as well as a place in the Romance Writers Hall of Fame.  Please join Kathleen for a fond look back at childhood Christmases in Southern California.

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“The Christmases of my childhood and young adulthood were always spent at my grandparents’ house. A few days before Christmas, we’d pile into my grandfather’s old pickup—-Mom and my Aunt Mary and Uncle Russell and any cousins and friends who wanted to come along—-and drive up the canyon to cut a tree. We’d find a nice, hardy little pinon and Papa would chop it down, and we’d take turns dragging it back to the pickup. The tree would be installed in the living room on a base made from an old tire. It was Mary’s job to decorate it, because she was the only one who could put the tinsel on right. In the later years, we had electric lights, but when I was very small, I remember, we still used candles. They were only lit once, on Christmas Night.

“On Christmas Day, the family would gather for dinner. If the weather was nice—-and it often was at that time of the year in that lovely little valley tucked between the arid Tehachapi Mountains and the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada—-the children would sit out on the porch. The grown-ups sat at the big dining room table, expanded for the occasion so that it stuck out into the living room, with Papa in his overalls presiding at the head and Grandmother flitting back and forth between the table and the kitchen, ignoring everyone’s pleas to “Sit down, Mama, please!”

“In the evening, after the livestock had been fed and the cows milked, everyone gathered again around the Christmas tree. The old farmhouse wasn’t large, but somehow it always seemed to hold everyone–sons and daughters and in-laws, all the children and babies—-especially the babies! There were always a few “extras,” too, because anyone who didn’t have a place to go on Christmas was welcome at my grandparents’ house. And Grandmother saw to it that every person there had a package under the tree. We’d sing carols for a while, until the kids got restless. Then we’d light the candles on the tree and sit in their glow and sing “Silent Night.”

“Once the candles had been blown out, it was pandemonium, with kids yelling and paper and ribbons flying. Papa’s special gift was always a five-pound box of See’s chocolates, which, for the rest of the evening, he took great pleasure in passing around. Finally, stuffed with pumpkin pie and chocolate, loaded down with packages and sleepy children, everyone would drift away. But never very far away. Because to each and every one of us, that old farmhouse was home. And every day my grandparents lived in it was Christmas.

“When I was very small, we lived for a time with my grandparents. On one of those long-ago Christmases, a box arrived from far away—-no one seemed to know where. In the box was a beautiful, brand-new Lionel electric train. Everyone thought Papa must have bought it, though he steadfastly denied it, and to be sure, it wasn’t his way to be modest about his gifts. I think he would have been proud as punch to be the bestower of that wonderful train, as he was with his annual Christmas box of chocolates. So we never knew where it came from, and if Papa knew, he took the secret with him when he left us.

“In any event, on this and every Christmas, I wish for you the gifts my grandparents gave to me and to everyone—-kin or stranger—-who came into their home.

“Simple gifts: Warmth and welcome and unconditional love.” — by Kathleen Creighton

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Please visit Kathleen Creighton’s Author Page on Amazon and her Web Site.  This Christmas memory first appeared as the Author’s Note to Kathleen’s novella, “The Mysterious Gift”, available for Kindle and eReaders, in which she also included her famous Christmas Cookie recipe at the end as a special bonus ‘Thank You’.  Check it out.  Please visit and follow Kathleen on Facebook and Twitter.

Big Bear Hugs and Thank You’s to Kathleen Creighton for allowing me to share her wonderful memories with you.  And also to you, for visiting and reading.  Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season!  —  Jim (and Red!)

Christmas- Old-fashioned Christmas- 2

Introducing the Amazing– “Devon Art Pop!”

Sharing a delightful entry and wonderful artworks today from my writer friend Sylva Fae, which appeared on her blog Sylvanian Ramblings a few weeks ago.  Sylva introduced me to an amazing group of talented artists who brought themselves together under the umbrella group name of Devon Art Pop.

There are many groups of artists about, but most frequently assembled by field of study– a watercolor artists group, woodcarvers group, pottery group, etc.  What struck and impressed me most about the Devon Art Pop was their mix of talents, crossing discipline lines to include not only artists but a poet, leather worker and wood worker among others.  I would love to be in such a marvelous group and to be a “Popper!”

I strongly encourage you to visit the Devon Art Pop page and artists thru the links provided.  Residents of the UK can check their appearance schedules and meet them in person! Follow their work and activities on Twitter and Facebook. Here is more information, as presented by Sylva Fae and Chaz E Arnold from Devon Art Pop.  Beautiful and amazing creative work all around.  Enjoy!

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From Sylva- I was introduced to the Devon Art Pop group by my Twitter friend Alan Prince whose amazing sculptures are featured in an earlier guest blog. I was then introduced to their Paignton Poet, Chaz E Arnold, who very kindly helped gather information from the group. In its time, the diverse talents of 20 different artists have been represented, and this is a showcase of just some of those.

Thank you to both of you for your help.

Sylva Fae x


Devon Art Pop

Devon Art Pop is simply a group of Devon based artists who share conversations via the social media of Twitter and work collaboratively to exhibit our work through pop-up galleries across Devon. The idea is the brainchild of genius watercolourist Jill Griffin. Since Jill’s eureka moment, the concept has grown from strength to strength with new artists joining the happy band all the time.

The aim is to enjoy collaborating and inspire one another and hopefully sell a work of art along the way. The poppers, as the members call themselves are painters, leather workers, sculptures, metal workers, wood turners and a poet. The media used couldn’t be more diverse and include watercolour, acrylic, oil and textile.

Devon Art Pop’s pop up exhibitions are held several times a year in venues as diverse as stately homes and town halls to art galleries and high street shops. Up and coming events and more about the group and its members can be found at their DevonArtPop website.


Jill Griffin

aka PocketPop

Jill Griffin - Curious CharlieA lifelong self taught watercolourist, influenced heavily by Mother Nature in all her guises. I love to paint a big variety of natural things and particularly I am influenced by the changing of the seasons. From bare trees in winter, to sea shells, from pebbles stacked precariously to fish swirling in a mass. I also like to work in a semi abstract and illustrative styles, where I can use my imagination and hide surprises in my work.
My favourite work had to be a Barn Owl portrait I made called Curious Charlie- I loved his character that came through and his deeply curious stare.

I am represented at Mayflower Arts, Gallery on the Hoe and Homeframe Gallery in Plymouth, and I sell work direct via Artfinder as well as popping up with DevonArtPop.

Jill Griffin - Hyacinth
Jill Griffin - Trees


Chaz E. Arnold

aka The Paignton Poet and Poet Pop

41HuiizeVEL._UY250_Chaz is a poet and author and has written many novels, most notably The Hope Saga, a science fiction adventure series set in the 1950’s. He is perhaps better known for his poetry and is inspired by virtually everything but most enjoys writing poetry to accompany artwork. Chaz’s work can be found on Amazon and his poetry pops up in art galleries across Devon and occasionally further afield. He enjoys tweeting spur of the moment verses on Twitter and Facebook where he has built up an appreciative following.

His scifi and poetry ebooks can be found on Amazon and he can also be found on Twitter @PaigntonPoet and Facebook ‘Chaz E. Arnold

Chaz - A Lonely Cloud

Chaz - English Rose

Chaz - Modern Cafe Culture


Alan Prince

aka Made By a Prince and Pair of Pops

I’ve had a passion to create things for as long as can I remember, becoming an approved craftsman and learning many skills along the way, years of wood turning and furniture making followed. Time spent working alongside a model engineer challenged the approach I took to my craft and gave me the insight to see things in a different way. The more difficult the piece the more I was up for the challenge, always striving for that unattainable perfection. Having worked with different medias, I have found my passion in recreating the things that I see around me with “spent items”. My chief sculptures are made from recycled copper and brass, drawing on my experience with wood to make formers to help create these. Being mostly self taught has given a feeling of freedom about my creations and I have now arrived at a point I feel comfortable sharing my efforts.

My sculptures and jewellery are available to buy direct from the Made by a Prince website. My work can also be found at West Gallery (West Putford) and Mayflower Arts.

You can connect with Alan Prince on Twitter @madebyaprince.




John Fells

aka Woodpop

John Wells - long topWorking with wood is my passion. I’m predominately a woodturner using UK grown timber and some reclaimed exotics to produce a wide range of products and forms. I can’t help but aim for a fine finish on all my work to reveal the timbers beauty and I enjoy the finer details.

My favorite type of piece is a natural edge form where I start from a log and the bark plays a part in the final shape. (Although spinning tops may overtake soon as playing with physics turns out to be quite a curious activity, both on and off the lathe!)

My main permanent display is in Charlestown, Cornwall where I have a range of work. I also supply 2 galleries in Devon with some pieces; West Gallery (West Putford) and Artisan Homes (Modbury, home of the Devon Moths).
You can also follow my current work on Facebook (John Fells wood) and Twitter (@johnfellswood) and find other details on my website www.johnfells.co.uk.

John Wells - cans

John Wells - natural edge oak


James Peter Millward

I am a Plymouth based painter. My love of the natural world is my driving artistic force – having grown up in the beautiful unspoilt valleys of the Howgill fells in Cumbria I was surrounded by nature. In many of my paintings I zoom in on the macroscopic scenes in order to try and capture that intimacy and energy of that moment when a person may stop what they are doing to admire “let’s say!” a ladybird descend a grass shoot, or the immaculate design of a flower. I believe all living things have a consciousness which we can connect with if we empty our heads of the meaningless trash of our consumer driven lives and take notice of this miracle around us, and it is that intimate connection between all living things which I dearly hope to capture in my paintings, macroscopic or standard landscapes, riverscapes and seascapes.

My preferred medium is golden open acrylics, slow drying pigment which act much like oils and whilst the process takes longer than normal acrylics the pigment quality and vibrancy is in my opinion unmatched. I paint in thin layers and build the painting slowly up to a crescendo of colour and detail, I love painting detail on top of diffuse dreamy backgrounds because when our eyes give full attention to a particular subject the world around it defocuses into energy and that is the “moment of attention” which I am trying to capture and isolate in my work. Though I seek accuracy in my work, real-feelism is my goal, not photorealism.

A favourite piece of my own is “Henry the darling bug of May”. I was sat in the heathlands of the beautiful National Trust Saltram Estate enjoying the peace and quiet when I was visited by Henry when he landed on a grass shoot in front of me and began to descend it. I was amazed how his little insect legs supported his big shiny ruby red body and carried him seamlessly down the shoot and away on his journey. Ladybirds are supposed to bring luck and we can all do with a bit of that can’t we? Ladybirds are joyful creatures painted with some of nature’s finest pigments and designs and it was a joy for me to paint “The darling bug of May”

My art can be seen primarily in Mayflower Arts 12 Southside Street, Barbican, Plymouth, where I am the artist in residence. My works are also exhibiting in “The gallery on the hoe” here in Plymouth. I also have my own website with all my works, paintings and abstract sculptures here at www.jimsculpture.co.uk.

James Peter Millward - alchemy (1)

James Peter Millward - by the river(1)


Emma Higgins

aka Lino Pop

I make lino prints from my little cottage studio. Most of my prints are inspired by the South Devon coast and so have a seaside theme. My style is quite simple and many prints feature blues and greys which are colours I am always drawn to using.

‘Coastline’ is my favourite piece at the moment. It is of Blackpool Sands in the South Hams.

Where to find my work:
From time to time I exhibit locally but my prints can always be found online at https://folksy.com/shops/BilletDoux

Emma Higgins - Beach Huts

Emma Higgins - Coastline (Blackpool Sands)



Jackie Gale

aka StitchPop

Jackie is a contemporary textile artist who works from her studio in the South Hams. She produces quirky naive artworks using a wide array of recycled materials including anything from wood veneers to rusty nails, merino felt to window film. Along with strong use of colour she uses texture to capture the essence of a place or theme and tell its story. The fine detail in her work as well as the quirky features make it not only uplifting but truly engaging. Each piece can take up to 2 weeks to produce. She likes to research extensively about a place or theme she is portraying and customise her materials accordingly. Jackie draws inspiration from her beautiful surroundings as well as her passion for naive art. She feels she finds something new to capture in textile every time she steps outside her front door.

Since turning professional in 2012, her work has attracted both national and international interest and she was recently awarded ‘Up & Coming Artist 2015′ by the Fine Art Trade Guild. [Congratulations Jackie! Sylva x]

You can connect with Jackie on Twitter (@jackiegaleart) or at her web site http://jackiegaletextileart.com/.

Jackie Gale - Spring


Theresa Shaw

aka ShawAboutArt, FlowerPop

Theresa Shaw - Crazy-Daisy-IInspired by nature, in particular flowers are a constant source of inspiration that help me create bold, contemporary florals and landscapes in acrylic ink for vibrancy and energy. I occasionally use Hammerite and gold and silver leaf for that additional wow and my aim is to achieve multi-layered pieces that are never boring.

Favourite piece at the moment: Crazy Daisy I – I love this piece – the colours, the layers, the little details.

Galleries where you can find my work: GalleryFab, Newton Abbot. Haddon Galleries, Torquay. Mayflower Arts, Plymouth. West Gallery, Holsworthy. The Marle Gallery, Axminster. Art5 Gallery, Brighton. Suki Craft Gallery, Tutbury.
Also online here: shawaboutart.com and artfinder.com/theresa-shaw.

Theresa Shaw - crocus

Theresa Shaw - Flower Kisses 1

Theresa Shaw - Scillas 1

Guest Blog- “Trees” by Neil Giles with Artwork by Emma Childs

Sharing a delightful nature post combining original poetry and artwork from friends.  This enchanting post originally appeared on my friend Sylva Fae’s blog Sylvanian Ramblings.  If you love nature and children, I strongly encourage you to visit and follow her captivating blog.

The amazing “Trees” poem is courtesy of Neil Giles, and the accompanying beautiful artwork “Cyclamens at Killerton” created by Emma Childs.

I invite you to meet, connect and follow their creative works.  Sylva’s delightful blog is linked above, clicking on the poem tree image will take you to Neil’s Twitter page, and clicking on the artwork will take you to Emma’s site.

Big thank you’s to Sylva, Neil and Emma for allowing me to share their magical creative works with you!  I hope you enjoy as much as I did when first seeing their creations.



Cyclamens at Killerton by Emma Childs

New Year Resolutions Woodland Style | Sylva Fae

New Year’s Resolutions.  Most people prepare them.  Few seem to stick with them more than a month or so.  Even fewer complete them.  My very talented writer friend Sylva Fae has prepared her New Year’s Resolutions in an extraordinary way.   My money is on her to see them thru, too.

Please visit Sylva’s blog thru the link below to view her delightful take on resolutions for the New Year!

New Year Resolutions Woodland Style | Sylva Fae.

Major Oak-- 1000 Year Old Major Oak Tree in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. by VJLF on  Flickr

Major Oak– 1000 Year Old Major Oak Tree in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. by VJLF on Flickr

My Workspace Blog Hop

You are invited to visit and tour the author Siobhan Daiko’s beautiful home and workspace in Asolo, Italy. A wonderful visit and Blog to follow.   Check it out. Siobhan’s father was the artist Douglas Bland, who painted the incredible fresco on the outside of their cottage, after Botticelli’s “Madonna with the Book”.  Visit Siobhan’s lovely blog and take a photo tour of her workspace, home and surrounding area near Asolo.