Category Archives: Images and video

Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW) 2017

Well my biggest art adventure has started. On Friday May 26th I transformed a painted outbuilding shell into a working art studio. The dream of using our rustic outbuilding was achieved. So now I have a workspace to use. Admittedly if it is to be used in the winter it will need heating as it has the ambient temperature of a cave especially when the door is open six hours a day to welcome visitors in to my “open studio”.

I have artwork produced in the last four months (on Wed. 31st) in four exhibitions, I had a piece in one previous exhibition and I also have a range from greetings cards at £2 each to original pieces at £150 to offer. It has been a very productive time. I am now producing individual one off original hand drawn cards as well as my printed offerings also based on my art and photography.

My AndyKnillArt blog (https://andyknillart.wordpress.com) now features a weekly update but for the duration of PAW I am doing a daily blog to share how the experience is going.

If you are interested in any of the artwork please contact me on andy.knill@gmail.com, I am keen to widen my sales area which so far extends to Belgium and Qatar as well as Dorset.

Wow, didn’t know about this….

Checked twitter feed last night to find this picture sent to me.


So after some tweeting, linkedin messages later, this morning I have a copy of what was said about me.


Yes turn your screen or head but don’t crick neck. I have thanked my likely nominators and am now going for afternoon / evening trip to be at #gaconf17 #teachmeet and #beermeet although I will be on soft drinks to drive back tonight as working in the morning.

Very honoured to have my contribution recognised like this. 

Meanwhile….

Part time job for Wareham Boat Hire means I spend lots of time splashing about in a river moving boats and talking to a wide range of customers. 

Artwork is going steadily in build up to Purbeck Art Weeks – see http://AndyKnillArt.wordpress.com for separate art blog. 

Mental health generally good – now been keeping GOB diary for 110 days and 102 are positive.

Life is much more relaxed, frequently fun and quirkiness encouraged.

How far can one’s life change?

On 24 August 2016 I moved to the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. My aim to start a new teaching job, live in a dream property in a fantastic part of the country. To rediscover more time to spend with the family, to get outdoors and to regain more stability in my mental health.

About 7.5 months on plans have changed but my life has changed so much and for the better too. If you regularly read my posts this will repeat some points from previous posts.

I moved to live alone while issues to do with our family home in Essex were resolved. I was in a beautiful house, surrounded by countryside but only 15 minutes from work. The weather was generally good to start with. The job offered much. However, it didn’t work for me on many levels and it didn’t help my mental health at all.

Living alone was a shock after so long – 25 years. Lack of communication with no landline, mobile signal, or broadband was a big upheaval for someone who spent so much time networking and communicating with others online. I developed work resources using online contacts and sites previously. Now I was forced to go cold turkey and I didn’t cope well with it. I would joke when ringing friends and family from nearby country lanes where I could walk to get a signal that all was ok. I genuinely didn’t miss tv and now still only watch a few programmes, often recorded first. The contact gap with familiar voices however was much harder.

Work, well there was a lot of change and the above aspects that were already impacting on my mental health were exacerbated by my limitations in not being able to do much work from home, something I had relied on previously. I admitted some of this but not the true nature of my thoughts as I feared being removed from the post. The only harm I would have done would have been to myself but my moods were on a much steeper rollercoaster than previously and the dips were frightingly threatening to my own mental stability. I also hid this from home, a mistake but I loved the area and knew the house had potential for the family. Unfortunately I got to the point, linked to previous experiences, where what I saw as criticism became a stick to beat myself with emotionally and a path to recovery got to the point where it was no longer an option. I had to make the job work or teaching and I would separate at last, that scared me as I did not perceive that I existed beyond my label as teacher. Well in November after the family had been here a fortnight the job crumbled – I did and I lost teaching as part of my life. I still have bad dreams,sometimes even nightmares about educational settings normally a jumble of places I have worked. It will take a long time to let go fully as 28 years and a term took a lot from me.

So what has changed?

I live in a beautiful house with three other family members – my wife, younger son and mother in law. Everyone has now settled in and we are starting with the better weather and lighter days and evenings to get outside and work on the garden more. The house has the services (still no mobile signal) that It lacked when I moved here. We have grown into it.  I would say we are all happier generally for the experience and look forward to seeing more how the area changes through the seasons.

Work – I am now working as an artist, I endeavour to sell some of my work, I have a Facebook page, an art blog. I have signed up for classes, craft fairs and the local arts weeks later on. I have met many very generous local artists and crafters who are willing to share experiences and advice on resources and services. Also I have a part time job that involves being in and out of water in the River Frome at Wareham, I love that aspect. Work is not stressful as before. I still be the chance to use my teaching skills when helping coach juniors at the Swanage Sea Rowing club.

Anne,  my wife and I have spent more time together since she moved down five months ago than we probably have throughout our marriage of 24 years as I am not working 60 hour weeks, lots of my work is done from home. It has helped our relationship which is now in a better place. I know Vi my mother in law much better and at 95 she continues to be an inspiration in her vitality. My son Charlie and I have had more time to go and do things together which I hope isn’t too much of a bi d for him, I enjoy it.

Fitness – I was told I could join one club when I moved here, the fact that at a few points  I have been there six days a week didn’t impress but it has brought me a much fitter health. I have made many new friends and I love that training has now moved back o to the sea after a winter on the ergos in the rowing hall.

Mental health – thank you to my new GPs at the Corfe Castle surgery who have been very supportive, alongside the great Swanage Depression Support Group whose company I enjoy bi-weekly. Being able to shed and share has helped a great deal and they have commented on how much I have changed from my start in November. New acquaintances have even been surprised that I have a mental health issue as I do t present that way currently.

In the last week I have reflected that I have made more friends here than in the last 27 years. I am happy. I love my surroundings. I continue to learn new skills and things most days. Life has a future, I don’t know completely how it will be but there will be ways that don’t involve creating extra stresses.

If you get this far please comment or say hi on social media, in the street….

It’s sunny today, what to do?


It is Friday 17th March. Last week’s post was foggy as the last few days have been, but today the sun shines. First reason to welcome the sun is to celebrate my mother in law’s birthday today – 95, a very good reason to celebrate. Lunch out later as a family, those that are here in Dorset.

In the last few days news that the next art printing order will be ready to collect next week. More details about that on http://AndyKnillArt.wordpress.com where I am onto my second weekly newsletter.

Too many friends are leaving teaching from both the classroom and leadership and a fear that many more will too with the impending funding dilemma. When will we start to value the individuals (pupils / students) who will lead in the future? What value a teacher with experience?

Each day has offered a few walks taking in the wildlife and shoots on the plants, watching the sheep and birds out on Swyre Head and Houns Tout. Whenever we venture out the changing views of Corfe Castle, a great privilege to live near and sketch at the other morning.

Walks at Swanage and Studland Bay. A key aspect of our new life is definitely taking in the fresh air on offer.

Greetings to friends celebrating their patron saint St Patrick (Noeleen please note) and the rest looking for a reason to raise a glass.

Wishing all my readers a great day and a weekend where some time at least is used for what you choose.

Living a dream …

For those of you who read and support a bit of an update. GOB is now 61 days, on the 12 March my first journal will be full. I attended Teachmeet Poole last week (Thursday 23 Feb) and as a presenter received a nice notebook which I shall use to continue the GOB journey.

Those who know my background and change in circumstance might well challenge, why is Andy at a teachmeet? It’s a fair question. I had looked up to see if Jenna Lucas’ TMBournemouth would be on and found details of the event in Poole on Differentiation. I immediately thought what about a piece on Solo Taxonomy, whose enthusiasm has not left me. I offered my services and settled to participate in the break marketplace and fill any other gaps that arose. I ended up in a mock classroom in the corner of the school theatre presenting to the entire teachmeet. Not what I had expected but I just got on with it. I loved talking about Solo. As I finished I made the point, from the chap in shorts and polo shirt, that this was my first time in a school building since November when I had a nervous breakdown and left teaching. It was a great evening to see the enthusiasm of young staff. There was repetition of many familiar ideas I have seen previously but I was left to wonder how long they would stay in teaching and knew it was unlikely to be as long as I had managed and that still upsets me.

Anyway apart from that I have been sketching with other artists for PAW (Purbeck Arts Week) at The Etches Collection – fossils of Kimmeridge. I liked the setting, found the number of experienced artists quite intimidating tbh. However it was a link back to degree days with Jo Angseesing my palaeontology lecturer. In fact my eyes were drawn a lot to the architecture after the urban sketching trips I have attended with both London and Cambridge groups previously. I have taken some photos to allow follow up on this.

Yesterday, March 2nd, I had a conversation with a mental health professional about a local programme Steps to Wellbeing, and after being very open and honest about what the last six months have been like – a range of triggers, it was felt and I agree that I am doing all that I can to recover and don’t need additional input outside what I am doing already for myself which overall is working. Yes there are slips and dips but that is the nature of depression and anxiety. In fact after the phone talk I went out on an standee walk from the house along the SW Coast path. T-shirt, shorts, walking boots and a sweatshirt for when I stopped plus camera. In the end I walked about 8 miles, took over 200 pictures (the advantage of digital) many of landscape and waves, enjoyed fresh air and sunshine, got muddy but felt great.

Today the weather is back to cloud, wind, rain and more time indoors I suspect.

A rambling post, not pre planned as usual but flowing from my thoughts. I live in a wonderful place, I have an active lifestyle. I share delights of hares, deer, numerous birds with most of my family. I live a sort of semi-retired status and it suits me.

Our friend Morris the Mad March hare who may mean we have ravaged lavender bushes, but it’s a price worth paying.

Positive steps

A busy week: two days back in Essex collecting final items from our home that completed on Wednesday so we are now confirmed Dorset residents. A return journey that took in a camera shop in Sussex, a drive through the South Downs, a visit to theNew Forest – to look at cars, but we did see ponies too.

Two indoor rowing sessions where effort was on technique and I knew I had done a workout. This morning due to a numbers I did two rows on the sea before conditions made it impossible for the 10 o’clock group to go out as the wind picked up. Yes it was cold but even gloves and hat were dispensed with as the energy levels went up. Tomorrow I get to be in the 9 o’clock boat on the River Frome at Wareham which will be a new experience being in a gig on the river.

Bought a camera and taking lots of wildlife pictures of garden birds, pheasants and some deer too. Gradually uploading these onto my computer to edit and decide which are suitable for prints / cards or as inspiration for art pieces.

Artwork done on greetings card master cards from oldselected sketches. Also out for walks… so a good week overall.



Today . . .

So today I started a new WordPress blog. Http://AndyKnillArt.wordpress.com It will track and provide a route to tell others what I am doing, pieces produced and will link back to my Facebook page @andyknillart.

The Facebook page has also been added to and I have started to put examples of work and price ideas – please give feedback.

Splash…

Today I had my second sea swim since Christmas. This one was however after slipping over while recovering rollers at the stern  of one of the rowing boats. The water actually felt warmer than on Boxing Day but no loss of soh, in fact I actually enjoyed it. 

So I was at the boat shed by about 8.15 am, warmed up on the Erg, helped set up two boats and an hour’s row with B team and first time out in a wooden gig. Several aspects to work on, but sunshine, fresh air and sea makes a great pick me up to start the day.

This afternoon a walk in Swanage out to Peveril Point where more of the sloping beds were exposed, then a drive up to and walk at Durlston to see if there were groups of seabirds as had been reported on fb the last two days, several gulls seen gliding in and around the cliffs and several sightings of cormorants / shags flying out over the water.

Now feet up watching the garden for pheasants, squirrels and any other wildlife.

Creativity is good or I did some art

Yesterday rollercoaster dive,this morning we knew the electricity was going off at 9, so until a visitor had been, I was working by natural light only. I produced some templates / shadow silhouettes of three views from the house that I can use to record the various spectacular colours we get at sunrise / Sunset.

Very productive and pleased with the outcomes. I had messed about with iOS app Art set last night when unable to sleep and did a marker and oil pastel version of a recent sunrise that was fresh in my mind. This has led to an idea on other Dorset landmarks close by that I could use for a range of skies including Corfe Castle.

Art app – marker version


Two of silhouettes produced with freehand drawing using fine nib on Promarker and then shaded using chisel nib. 


We then went out and visited a few places returning home in time to wash the Yeti down which I had squashed in a sketch of the cars this morning. I feel tired but enjoying finding energy to do things.


I have also agreed to have a table at a craft fair in Swanage on April 1 – so I will need to be producing goods and getting this @AndyKnillArt idea rolling. Details as it happens.

Making a difference

A difference to me, to the property where I live, to my state of mind.

Over the last few weeks since my visit to the GP on 14th November I have tried a number of diversions to distract my mind, work my body to just be. Some days these aims have not worked. Successful activities so far include retail therapy, local walks, errands, visits to local sites eg Corfe Castle, exercise, eg cycling or sea rowing training.

Since  we moved into our home in Dorset I have wanted to start investigating and developing the grounds. So far this was mainly limited to leaves – leaves on the grass, leaves in drainpipes and drain holes. 

Then I looked more carefully about the out- building behind our garage. There was a lot of overgrown parts that just called to me to explore so im the last week or so I have started to do that. I have raked, pulled out plants, added to our growing garden pile (? Compost heap to be). 

Discoveries have been more extensive stonework than previously thought. Then I spotted some stones in the ground and I have removed matted overgrowth to start to reveal what lies beneath. 

This will be a long project but I am sure we will leave a positive mark on this property. I will continue to identify new species of garden birds as we put food out for them. I will learn tree species, plant species and animals. I hope to grow some vegetables but this will also be a new adventure. 

The photos below show some examples of recent before and currently shots.


This is a more positive thread to working on my mental health.