October is …

Well two months since I last posted. Not as interested in sharing my life these days and to be honest a lot of my readers were others in education.

So October, my seasonal boat job has finished for 2018. Working on helping to organise December’s Artisans on the Beach event that I took part in last year. Returned to Sea Rowing in readiness for ur Supervets Regatta on Saturday October 20th.

Art wise, I continue to do duties as Wareham’s artisan yard. I have been stock taking, cards done, prints next prior to any orders for Artisans event in beach hut 54 again. It is also Inktober so I have kept up for the first 8 days and intend to continue with that.

Mental health wise, I have reduced my anti depressant dose age, just need to tell GP later and check on next steps. I haven’t returned to support group and continue to feel better for it.

Getting out and enjoying the freedom our new life offers Anne and I especially, oh and raking up leaves, lots and lots of them.


Two month gap …

Well, to be honest my mishmashlearning blog has ceased to be as important as my art on AndyKnillArt.

Life continues to have its ups and downs but I feel less inclined to impose these on others and over the summer I have taken a break from my Support Groups. Today I read and responded to some teaching posts on Twitter and then slipped into a little slough of despond. However this was cleared by a four mile walk over to Swyre Head and its great views over Purbeck, other parts of Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

So what is life doing?

Still working three days a week at the boat hire, I love the job and chance to be around in boats. Three to four times a month I am on duty at the Yard and do my best to chat with our visitors and support purchases from all the Artisans therein.

The art is a source of confusion in my own head at times as I decide if it is therapy, a hobby or really a job as I just don’t have the energy or capacity to throw myself at it like my teaching career.

Hope friends and fellow bloggers are well.

Me and my cello

Cedric is my cello. My parents bought him for me sometime in my mid teens. He was reasonably priced, had a great tone and was found in someone’s attic. He has been a constant companion ever since. He went to Europe with me by train, went to university and I ran and cycled with him across Cheltenham often to the alarm of Cheltenham Ladies College as they queued to get onto a coach and I parted their line.

For many years as I taught he would come out as I added to school ensembles to add strength to the bass section. Then neglect. In 2008 he came out as I practised to play for a colleagues wedding while the register was signed. See I beat Harry and Meghan’s idea.

Today I needed a distraction for my mind ( see art blog day nine) and I got him out. Cedric was almost completely in tune and only needed a little fine tuning. I gathered my music stand, some cello pieces and exercises and we went outside.

His bow is not tensioned enough and probably to be honest needs replacing, it’s the only bow I have ever had to play him with and I am sure 40 years is pushing my luck. Well pleasantly to my surprise my hands and fingers did not seize up and I managed to play extracts of or whole pieces several times. Mainly pizzicato (finger plucked strings) but some arco (strings played with the bow hair).

I hope as a dry forecast continues, to play more this week and we can assess if I am just scaring visitors off or not but it’s my bit of renaissance man with the art and classical pieces, oh and my Jaws theme extract.

Cedric and his bow – he is about 200 years or more old.

All the world’s a stage or in this case our traffic Island in the drive.

Invite an artist into your home and then distract them with a sketch pad, pen and a subject – I now have a Josh Hollingshead original of me.

Nope, keeping picture to myself thank you.

Art blogging time

Well, today will be the ninth day of Purbeck Art Weeks, my Open Studio so far has welcomed 140 visitors and only 9 canine visitors. Sales have already exceeded last year but then there is a lot more work to choose from and there have been a number of return visitors who people have chose. To visit my studio which is a great compliment.

I used to blog about education and as a reply to Iesha Small on Twitter today said I blog about lifelong learning rather than education but I continue to lead many things in this my new main occupation, but one in which there is less pressure.

So on AndyKnillArt.com there is a developing series of posts. If people like my work the easiest way to buy it for people who can’t visit is to contact me as I can invoice buy email to allow payment online. I like feedback just as much as sales, honestly.

Here are a selection of pieces I have drawn in the last two weeks or are working on to try different audiences.

Thanks for reading


Carpe Diem

My new motto and one that is pushing any minor dips along. Last night I had two positive dreams the main one was about teaching – a moment to enjoy.

Today – Open Studio 23 preparation …

Dreams? Nightmares? Self doubt?

I last posted directly on this topic in June 2017, here we are almost 11 months later and my last section of sleep included a “dream” that led to an upset me waking to start a new day. I still have “nightmares” which I think are based around my self doubt about if I was contributing in my last 10 years of teaching in the way I thought I had.

Was I doing any good for my pupils? Yes I cared but was the subject side good enough? I know that I struggled with the changing focus away from the individual child to the piece of data and its relative place on a “progress” chart. I taught people and parenting two sons with additional needs made me very aware of this and how trying to fit all children into predetermined shaped slots did not make sense. I myself was a peg that didn’t fit slots.

I clashed with managers, I challenged decisions but offered alternatives which didn’t always help my popularity. My enthusiasm for investigating new ideas made me friends internationally across the globe online and at a variety of education events but my interest and passion was questioned in the places that I taught within.

My mental health and parenting needs at home didn’t fit the right slot. I was open about my issues, uncomfortably too open for some that I worked with. I was the victim of bullying in at least three schools and my nerves and anxiety was fraying. In conversations with other teachers online with open mental health issues I discovered that working through up to 7 breakdowns that led to extended weeks / months off was rare, should I have gone sooner? To be honest I don’t know. I snapped in the end and know that I could never return to the pressures of the classroom. This all happened before I was ready or prepared for it. I am in my second year now of pre-retirement earning some money through part time work.

I have discovered that I can do other things, I can enjoy free time in the week and School term times. As I have typed this post a fight returns in me that yes I did a good job, sometimes even better but teaching broke me over my 28 years. Here is to hoping the dreams fade with time, my self confidence can build and I stop looking back as much.

Taking the time …

A lot fewer blogs recently and generally for positive reasons. It is now almost the end of April. I have been working back on the boats on the river Frome for about a month. Weather has been variable affecting shifts but twice I have arrived early and before I open up I have taken a kayak out for a short paddle downstream to the First river bend to the right and where Monarch the steamboat is moored.

I have pulled back from rowing commitments as I realised I had over committed myself and the art, boat job and flat decorating needed to come first.

So now,we have a flat with the agents to rent in Swanage with decorating done. My second season of work has started with the boats, I have work in the Purbeck Artisan Yard and I am planning my studio for PAW 2018. The next month will get busy as the lead into and then the PAW fortnight.

Taking time out as a couple means that Anne and I need to take time when available to do things. Recently that has included drives out with lunch fitted around an art errand usually including a trip to Art2Card in Upwey. We like to visit Craig’s Dairy milkery and enjoy a bacon and dorset blue vinney panini. On Thursday we fitted in a trip into Weymouth and explored the south side of the old port. We discovered Revolver, a record store with vinyl, a coffee shop and retro items too. Then our walk extended to beneath the Nothe fort and a great lunch at the Stone Pier cafe with a view across the town and towards Durdle Door. We also found a new art store in ArtyCrafty.

Another recent trip for a car service was combined with a walk and picnic lunch in the New Forest. This afternoon we popped into the Artisan Yard to restock one of my cards and also enjoyed an hour paddling upstream on the river Frome from Wareham. Most of these activities have been on weekdays which in my previous work existence I could only do in school holidays. Today a Sunday afternoon on the river instead of planning and marking.

Our new life offers a great location and a variety of opportunities and it is gradually rebuilding my mental strength.


Fits and starts at the moment. One matter resolves itself and another occurs. Two days now on decorating duties but added a positive in getting self to use I Door rower when I get home and about 4K done each day. Let’s see how long I can keep this up.

Pause . . .

Life just reared its head again and I found myself bouncing on a bungee emotionally. I have a potentially idyllic life in a fantastic place but head stuff gets in the way.

Action – education

So I have reduced people I follow online still in education because headlines about the visions from central government and who has published a book and … just make me feel completely inadequate. I can not teach anymore, I broke and recent nightmares have made me wonder when the cracks became unglueable and did I just push too far? Well obviously I must have done because I have seen I can be in a classroom as a visitor ie artist, but the main role – nope can’t even contemplate it anymore.

Action- commitments

The old Andy returned recently I said Yes a lot. I can do that and that and that and … what a surprise I find myself overloaded. So I have contacted and paused all ties with SSRC for the moment. I have art events and an art venue that I now belong to. I restart my seasonal role from Easter. That will do.

Action – health and fitness

I need to lose weight and I want to be fitter. To do that I need to get out there and exercise and eat less cakes, crisps, biscuits, roulade … I am surrounded by beautiful countryside and coastline. I own a bike,a kayak, a rowing machine for self torture, trainers, walking boots – they need using and it needs to reestablish itself as a part of my lifestyle. The boat work will help and as I intend to be pedalling to and back fromWareham a lot, that will help.

Action – Me

Yes, my brain has entertained #those thoughts, no I am not going to. I am going to just have to learn to accept that I have a life that can and should be enjoyed, oh and enjoy it. I have a wonderful wife in Anne to share that life with. I know there are more people out there that I get on well with but you are not my main focus. I don’t need to travel for great surroundings as I have them here. I live in a great location as the roebuck confirmed this afternoon and the hares yesterday morning and the partridges and pheasants and …

So, yes the Black Dog has me in its shadow right now. I recognise it, I know what it is, I know actions that I can take and I have started to implement them. Blue sky suit man, super penguin, man overboard volunteer etc will all be back but for now I am going to try to:

Just be me.

New adventures of an artistic kind

Ok year 2 calling myself an artist and new challenges taken on. I have moved so far from the broken person I was just 14 months ago. My first year as an artist saw that break into selling some work, being commissioned to do some pieces, exhibiting work in a number of locations and taking part in two events locally. So year two already has a pattern to follow and is not brand new.

I started the year with the last week of Artisans on the Beach on Swanage seafront. Swanage TiC team chose me as Artisan of the Year for my enthusiasm. Today I have applied for a committee post to help next year’s event be even better for all involved.

I then put two pieces into an exhibition by participants in Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW) sketching programme in 2017. The exhibition was in the Orchard Cafe at Holme for Gardens and finished this week.

I have worked with two classes at Swanage Primary School with a sketching project which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I have entered PAW for 2018 and will be opening my studio at home again. This year will see the addition of refreshments and supporting three local charities through this. More detail on this going forwards. I believe that the art Weeks are a good opportunity to highlight local charities and what they offer in the Purbeck area. I am also putting together a trail map to link studios across the villages between Swanage and Corfe as there are more of this year and working together we can help visitors to see what we offer. Last year having enough work as a concern, this year I already have quite a catalogue of pieces both original and prints /cards to offer.

Last week I visited Purbeck Artisan Yard who have had a recent turnover of bay holders. The atmosphere and range of artists has changed and I took a bay which I will use over the next 12 months as a permanent gallery and selling space for my work. This was a missing aspect for me in being able to have work on show all year round. At the end of 12 months I will review what steps to take next. I look forward to working alongside and learning from my fellow Artisans at the yard. Duties will see me managing the “shop” on regular days and at other times I intend to be there working as the bay is light and I can discuss work with visitors as I was able to do during Artisans on the Beach.

Today my newest batch of card designs arrived for proof checking and I look forward to getting customer feedback too.

I have also started, slowly I admit, adding my work to an AndyKnillArt Etsy store. So in 2018 my work will be available direct from me; at the Purbeck Artisan Yard; on Etsy; during events – PAW and Artisans on the Beach and anywhere else that stocks pieces – currently Java Independent Coffee House and Swanage Tourist Information Centre.

I just need to enjoy making art, showing it and if people like they can buy it. my ambitious sales target for this year – to sell some art.