Lotti Brown Designs

-- Art to Give us Joy, Love, and Energy Through our Connection with Nature and our Pets -- Pet Art & Custom Pet Portraits - Wildlife & Bird Art - Floral Art --

personal musings

Moving to the Country

nature, personal musingsCharlotte BrownComment

It took me a long time to properly connect with nature and not just take it for granted - surprising, really, when I'm a country girl born and bred...

 Green fields and trees - nature is part of us and we are part of nature

Green fields and trees - nature is part of us and we are part of nature

First, a small Lincolnshire village, surrounded by fields, heathland and woods - then an even smaller village in Wales - hills and vales, and the sounds of cattle and sheep...

The overwhelming smell of grass at hay-making time as the huge hay lorries thundered past my bedroom window in the light of summer evenings - and I lay still, with cucumbers over my eyes to soothe the itch of hayfever, and my dad's giant hanky clutched to my red-raw nose. (Hayfever absolutely sucks!)

I left the countryside for the 'big city' at 18 when I went away to University and then found a job in the historic city of York. For several years, being in a city was exciting and stimulating - but then I got to missing the countryside - badly!

When my husband got cancer, we decided to run away to the countryside (he was brought up on a farm in the North York Moors, and later in a small Yorkshire village).

We wanted for him to be able to finish his cancer treatments and recuperate in the tranquillity of the countryside. We were finding living in the suburbs of York completely stifling at the time...

But even when we moved to our cute country cottage in our tiny East Yorkshire village, we still didn't quite take full advantage of the nature all around us.

 Lovely walks to enjoy and drink-in nature

Lovely walks to enjoy and drink-in nature

Still stressed from the traumas of Ian's illness, we still lived the commuter life. Though we appreciated the scenery we passed through in the car and the quieter location, we rarely walked out in the fields all around the village.

All that changed when I was, quite literally, forced to make changes in the pace of my life and to look again at how I lived it...

A couple of years after moving to our country village, I got sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME). I had to leave my work and become self-employed - a great opportunity to do something different... although it didn't necessarily feel that way at the time.

Working from home meant that - joy of joys - we could get a dog! As I slowly recovered, I started walking in the fields every day (to practice and make sure I would be up to looking after our new dog properly) - and soon we welcomed our first dog, Ginger, into our home - a wonderful, retired racing greyhound.

 Ginger in barley

Ginger in barley

Ginger loved walking through summer barley - the bristly fonds rubbing against his sides seemed to feel amazing for him - so we had a fab time on our summer walks, stepping out happily, side by side together.

But it wasn't, actually, until I got my second dog, rough collie Noah, that I really started to appreciate the precious time spent in nature - and how essential being able to be out in the green is to our well-being.

 The green of nature - with my dog

The green of nature - with my dog

We're supposed to be in nature and nature is a place where we can stop and see the beauty in this world - look at what's around us, listen to the sounds, feel the wind on our faces and the earth beneath our feet...

And lose what's whirring around our heads and instead ground ourselves in this real world we're living in.

 Taking some time to watch the world around him!

Taking some time to watch the world around him!

Noah loves to stop and stare - to watch the world go by and enjoy this very moment and everything that's going on around him - right now!

It's taken me some time to really appreciate the huge difference that this taking time to connect with nature makes - but it's essential.

I love to do this through my art, but I understand, now, that part of my art is feeling mindful and grounded in real life too - in daily walks in the green...

I feel like it's where we're supposed to be!

Dog Moments of Connection - The Power of the Dog

personal musings, pet art, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

I love that having a dog means meeting new people, getting to know people, sharing a little of our stories... person-to-person connection growing through a dog.

When you have an unusual and very fluffy dog - particularly one that loves meeting people and calls them over with a massive grin - people want to come over and say hello to him and give him a stroke.

 My smile and fluffiness invites new friends!

My smile and fluffiness invites new friends!

There's a few things that people say in this situation - one, in particular, I really love. They say, "Aw! Isn't he fluffy!" ... "It's Lassie!" (this one is inevitable, but some youngsters don't actually know Lassie these days!) ... "I bet he takes a lot of brushing!"

My favourite, though, is, said with a huge smile, "You don't see many of these anymore," usually followed by, "My mum/my auntie/my grandma used to have one of these when I was little."

I really love this, as with a smile and a little encouragement, you get to hear what they loved best about their faithful friend.

And the power of the dog is that this isn't just a memory but a whole emotion. As people speak about their remembered pets and furry friends, their faces soften, their voices slow and mellow, and a smile transforms their faces.

 A rough collie is born to steal the show!!! We get photo-bombed by our collie and it's done with such a smile! (He knows what he's doing!)

A rough collie is born to steal the show!!! We get photo-bombed by our collie and it's done with such a smile! (He knows what he's doing!)

I remember particularly the day I met several lovely people sat outside a large city supermarket, waiting with my rough collie Noah for my husband to get some supplies for our holiday.

I met some very interesting people, including a charming gentleman who told me of 65 years of living with greyhounds, bearded collies, lurchers, horses, donkeys! He recalled travelling 100 miles by horse and wagon over a week to Appleby-in-Westmoreland horse fair - and a pair of 40-year-old donkeys called Noah and Moses from his childhood, prompting him to consider getting a pair of donkeys for his grandson.

Little connections, stories told, forgotten... but now remembered.

My favourite, though, was a gentleman who, stopping to greet our dog, told us about when he was a child and the elderly neighbour's rough collie, Duncan, who he used to take out for a walk to help out his neighbour.

He told us about getting to know Duncan and enjoying walking with him every day, building up a friendship.

He made a big smiley fuss of Noah, which Noah loved! He spoke with him and accidentally called him Duncan!

For this lovely man, he was taken right back to these warm, comforting, childhood memories. He felt again the happiness, the connection between himself and his doggie friend. And that was triggered by that meeting with our dog!

Something that's so priceless and precious.

These are the moments of connection that I love. Dog ownership at its best!

 There's nothing in the world like a rough collie grin!

There's nothing in the world like a rough collie grin!

If you'd like to celebrate why your dog is precious to you, I can create a special custom pet portrait for you to have always...

Let Me Take You By the Hand

behind the scenes, personal musings, artworks, natureCharlotte Brown

When I create my art, I want to take you by the hand and show you all the little awesome things that I see in nature.

Sometimes we get too busy to see them, or too distracted by other things going on. One of the jobs of an artist is to see the little things that other people sometimes miss - and to share them with the world...

 Detail from my Wren and Physalis artwork

Detail from my Wren and Physalis artwork

The act of creating art, for me, is just me saying:

"I saw this. It made me feel happy (or serene, or joyful, or intrigued).

I want to share it with you."

I anchor this emotion inside myself by re-creating it in art - the thing that inspired it, and the emotion itself, are both what I try to put into the artwork...

Now that that special feeling, that emotion, are in a tangible form, I can share this emotion with you - I can properly tell you about what I saw and how I felt - and share it all with you.

"I want to show you the awesomeness of nature - how I see it, how I feel it - I want you to see it too, share it with me, experience it right alongside me..."

I hope that you enjoy experiencing nature along with me and that it makes you as happy as it makes me... :)

Heatwave Hermit

nature, personal musingsCharlotte BrownComment

I love the sunshine – bright, clear days, soft rays of sunshine across infinite blue skies and the gentle caress of warmth on the skin…

But I have to say that I’m not one for the heat. I know there are some that are loving this summer heat, but at the risk of being a grumpy so-and-so, you can absolutely stick your heatwave… and preferably where the sun don’t shine!

For the last few weeks, here and across much of the northern hemisphere and beyond, it’s been too hot, abnormally hot… claggy, muggy, heavy, uncomfortable… and completely overwhelming!

 Hot August evenings in Yorkshire

Hot August evenings in Yorkshire

Life is reduced to venturing out in early mornings and late evening when, on most but not all occasions, we can enjoy a relative cool – so important when you have a hairy dog who hates hot weather too!

The middle of the day is spent with blinds and curtains drawn, blocking out the heat of the sun and trying to keep the house cool. We have a daily routine now, following the sun around the house, opening windows when it’s cool(ish) and shady at that side and closing up when the sun moves round… but still remembering to come back and open up to let the cool air in later.

On our recent week off, we decided not to brave the elements on day trips out in the heat – too hot for us – too hot for the dog to come with us – too hot for him to stay shut up in a hot house...

 A shady spot for the dog to hide from the heat

A shady spot for the dog to hide from the heat

(Luckily, when we’re at home, Noah gets to choose his own shady spot in the garden and does follow the shade as it moves through the morning, returning inside in the afternoons where it’s a little cooler than the scorching garden.)

Excursions have been short and sweet and we’re getting to know, now, which shops and cafes are welcoming, cool, and air-conditioned, and which are stuffy, overheated and unbearable.

I do feel like we’ve become heatwave hermits – timing our outings with the dog for cool mornings and evenings (24C at 8.30am and still 26C at 9pm the other day, so that cool is relative) – and having to shut out that sunshine just to stay cool and avoiding anything even remotely strenuous in the heat of the day.

In Britain, we’re just not used to it being this hot. And we’re not equipped with shutters and air-conditioning that do make life a little easier in countries where this weather is more usual.

I can hardly even bear to imagine what life is like in countries where it’s now even hotter, with wildfires breaking out (we’ve had some, too) and burning uncontrolled and the risk to health and life is increased.

I was only two when Britain last experienced such a heatwave (in 1976) so I can’t recall it at all, but it’s so completely out of the ordinary for us that it does feel unsettling. And the fact that such a huge area of the world is experiencing the same makes it even more unnerving.

It seems that we may not have a choice but to take more note of nature, as nature reminds us that it’s still a powerful force in our everyday lives, no matter that we sometimes feel like we humans have dominion over all things.

 The golden summer light is beautiful - but the accompanying heat is overwhelming!

The golden summer light is beautiful - but the accompanying heat is overwhelming!

Stay cool in the heat of summer look after your loved ones and your pets – and look forward to enjoying the best things about a heatwave – the cool, refreshing summer rain when it does eventually come!


If you can't wait for nature to oblige with some cooling rain, click and enjoy the rain experience below... hope it helps cool you down!

Nature - Going Deep

behind the scenes, personal musings, well being, natureCharlotte BrownComment

Spending time out in nature isn't just a matter of seeing beautiful plants and flowers, or interesting birds and animals that I want to draw and make art of - it's something even deeper that that.

Mindful time in nature - by that I mean, not a hike through nature but a walk, a stroll - drinking in the green, stopping to look at a leaf or a a flower.

Taking a quiet moment and letting your ears, and your heart, fill up with the sounds of birds calling, the wind in the trees, the rustle of breeze in grasses or crops, the sensation of wind, sun, or rain on the face...

 A beautiful spot to drink in the healing calm of nature

A beautiful spot to drink in the healing calm of nature

This special time in nature brings us to a deep, inner place of calm and clarity within our own selves - a truer knowledge of our own values, wants and needs.

It's from this deep place of calm, energy and clarity that creativity comes alive and where the soul feels open to speak out, to call out, and connect with our self and with the world.

Awesome Places to Connect with Nature (...and you can bring your dog!) Part 2 - Skye

behind the scenes, nature, inspiration, personal musings, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

One of my favourite-ever places for feeling connected with nature in a really wild, remote place, where you feel so far from the everyday life and the modern world is the beautiful Isle of Skye in the highlands of Scotland...

 Nature and wild landscapes on the Isle of Skye

Nature and wild landscapes on the Isle of Skye

This is somewhere where we've visited and holidayed several times now and we never fail to feel refreshed and rejuvenated from a trip...

 Holidaying in nature on Skye

Holidaying in nature on Skye

Here are some of our favourite places to connect with nature on Skye...

Coral Beach - Claigan, Skye

 White Coral Beach at Claigan

White Coral Beach at Claigan

A beautiful white beach with turquoise waters - if you're lucky enough to visit in the sunshine (which we have in the past - I recommend you plan to coincide your visit with a forecast sunny day, if at all possible) it looks truly tropical - but it's dramatic in any weather.

 The white sands at Claigan beach in Skye

The white sands at Claigan beach in Skye

The white 'sands' are actually created from a 'coral' which is made of a fossilised red seaweed growing in the waters here.

 'Coral' from Claigan, Skye

'Coral' from Claigan, Skye

It's an amazing place to sit for a while, put your hands into the 'coral' and examine the tiny pieces, listen to the soft 'hush' of the waves and look out to sea.

 Beautiful Coral Beach at Skye

Beautiful Coral Beach at Skye

Claigan Coral Beach is a short walk of about 20 to 25 minutes through fields (with cows, who seem used to the visitors).

  • Find the beach from the little road going past Dunvegan Castle (also recommended to visit for the lovely gardens) and going up further onto the peninsular
  • Look out for a small signed car park where you can start the walk from the gateway at the far end
  • It can be busy at weekends or peak holiday periods - try to go early or late to get the beach to yourself

The Fairy Glen, Uig

 Fairy Glen, Skye

Fairy Glen, Skye

The dramatic landscapes at the Fairy Glen seem otherworldly - and it's a place that seems to hold a certain energy and stillness...

 Pointy hills and dark lochans add to the atmospheric Fairy Glen

Pointy hills and dark lochans add to the atmospheric Fairy Glen

A steep and narrow winding lane leads to this anomaly of nature - park considerately and explore...

 On misty days in the Fairy Glen, when there's no other tourists around, there's a feeling of being completely separate from the everyday world - almost like you're Alice and you've fallen down the rabbit hole into a whole other world!

On misty days in the Fairy Glen, when there's no other tourists around, there's a feeling of being completely separate from the everyday world - almost like you're Alice and you've fallen down the rabbit hole into a whole other world!

We listen carefully to the deep silence in this mysterious valley - and get the slightly unsettling feeling that it's listening to us, too...

 You can clamber carefully up to explore 'Castle Ewen' - a rocky outcrop: do the fairies live here?

You can clamber carefully up to explore 'Castle Ewen' - a rocky outcrop: do the fairies live here?

It's a lonely, dramatic and deeply intriguing place that seems to draw us back to visit each time we go to Skye!

 Intriguing landscape formations at the Fairy Glen on Skye

Intriguing landscape formations at the Fairy Glen on Skye

You can find The Fairy Glen down a small lane off the A87, just outside of Uig. Just south of Uig is the Uig Hotel (where we've stopped for lunch).

  • With the Uig Hotel on your left, take a sharp turn left just after and follow the road to the end to reach the Fairy Glen.
  • It's also fun to visit Uig and watch the ferries arrive and depart for Harris and North Uist.

Talisker Bay

 Talisker Bay - Skye

Talisker Bay - Skye

Now this one may not be the most dramatic of the places we've visited on Skye, but I think its my favourite and has a lovely remote feeling about it...

A tiny lane across the hills leads to a quiet lane end where you can park up and walk 20 minutes or so down a quiet track to the beach.

 Walking from Talisker Bay

Walking from Talisker Bay

The beach at Talisker Bay is stunning - a sheltered cove backed by hills all around - rocks, pebbles, and as the tide goes out the most beautiful black and white patterns in the sand...

talisker_bay_sand_rocks.jpg

It's a place to sit and hear the ocean as it breaks with energy on this shoreline, and absorb the simple quietness of this beautiful location.

Take a small road from the village of Carbost (where Talisker Whisky has their distillery) to Talisker and park with consideration at the end of the road near a farm entrance - the walk continues down the track.


There are lots of other really beautiful and quiet places on Skye where you can take a moment of stillness and calm to connect with nature so do get out and explore this beautiful place.

Please note that we have not yet actually taken our own dog to Skye, although it's something we want to do - it's perfect for walkies! Don't underestimate the length of journey it takes to get here, though, from many parts of the UK - it's either a very long day's drive, or more realistically an overnight stay, even from Yorkshire in the north of England where we live, so both yours and your dog's tolerance for long journeys will need to be taken into account!

We usually visit Skye in early May when there aren't too many tourists or midges!

The Joy of Doing Nothing!

nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte Brown2 Comments

"What did you do on your holidays?"

"Nothing."

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing..."

And it was fantastic. No need to rush, to seek more experience, more novelty.

We just had the most wonderful holiday doing nothing more than sitting, looking out into nature and walking with the dog, slow meandering strolls in the cool of the morning and the shade of evening.

shropshire_hills_gorse.jpg

Time to relax, to think, to feel, to recover from a hectic few moths of 'everyday life'.

Time to be still, be quiet, to return to the core of ourselves. Time to connect with each other, with the natural world around us. Time to eat well and sleep deeply. Time to feel the wind in our hair and the sunshine on our faces. Time to cherish ourselves and each other. 

Time to come back to our true selves.

Time taken doing nothing is not time wasted - it is essential to our well-being to unplug from technology - to quiet the TV, the music, the chatter - and return to a sense of quiet, calm and self. We need it as part of our lives, our regular routines.

Featured on Training Tabby

behind the scenes, featured on, personal musings, well beingCharlotte BrownComment
TrainingTabby.jpg

I'm more than honoured to be featured with my dog, Noah, on Training Tabby - a new website aimed at helping you to live a happier, less stressed-out life (we could all do with more of that, right?)...

It's run by the Training Tabby himself, with able assistance from my friend Jill, and shares tips, ideas, inspiration and stories to leave you feeling well-equipped to deal with what life sends your way...

I love their ideas about opening yourself to all the limitless possibilities in life and avoiding overwhelm (a feeling I sometimes end up doing myself, more often than I'd like!) - information that we can all put to use right away in our everyday lives...

You can see my feature here - where my dog, Noah, shares his own ideas on stress and sniffing the breeze... 

 "Stop and sniff the breeze, my friends!" Sage advice from a wise, not-so-old collie!

"Stop and sniff the breeze, my friends!" Sage advice from a wise, not-so-old collie!

There's plenty we can learn from our animal companions, and the world around us.

Thank you so much, Jill and Training Tabby, for this lovely write-up - and good luck with Training Tabby. I can't wait to see how it develops and grows :)

Barley Beautiful

behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

Connecting with nature via the barley beautiful...

 Summer fields of beautiful barley

Summer fields of beautiful barley

It's not fancy nature - it's not rare, it's not even wild - but one of the most awesome things about where I live are the fields of barley. I love it!

Walk through a field of barley and you can really connect with the natural world and take some time to come to that quiet inner place in yourself...

 One of my favourite things is the lime green of a barley field against a blue sky

One of my favourite things is the lime green of a barley field against a blue sky

I love that amazing, lime-green colour and the little red tips on the ends of the fronds - the way the colour gradually changes from fresh green to a pale gold over the summer.

I love to walk and touch the barley when it's this colour - splay out my fingers and let my fingertips drift softly through the slightly sticky fronds as I walk.

 Trail your hands through barley fields

Trail your hands through barley fields

My greyhound also adored to walk through barley with the fronds tickling his sides - oh, to immerse yourself in life like a dog!

Swifts and swallows swoop and glide, catching flies that buzz just above the surface of the barley - and the skies high above are filled with the trilling song of the skylark.

When it's windy, the barley turns into a heaving ocean - fantastic to watch the surface of the field dip, twist, and rear up, and to hear the wind rushing through the stems.

As it ripens and dries, the barley turns to pale gold and crackles and cracks...

 Barley ripening in the sun

Barley ripening in the sun

It means it's time to harvest - and then we get to walk through the tossed stems as they dry on the field, then are bound up into huge bales which appear suddenly in the field, like sentinels standing watch.

 Freshly harvested barley - gorgeous gold against a dramatic slate-grey sky

Freshly harvested barley - gorgeous gold against a dramatic slate-grey sky

Then the field is spiky, stubbly, and cracks as you walk through, snapping at your ankles with each step.

 Walking through stubble

Walking through stubble

A whole season's worth of awesomeness from a field of barley - and a connection to nature and the seasons of life.

Taking time to stop and absorb the sights, sounds, and even the touch of the world around us allows us to feel more connected with our world, and in turn more connected with our own inner self.

It's also the way that artists notice the world around them... 

 

Being Alone and Still in Nature

behind the scenes, nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

A special value comes from being alone and still in nature.

Being alone and still in nature is sitting with yourself - your real self, the one deep inside.

It's also gifting yourself something luxurious, something that too few of us, now, will actually consider as what it truly is, which is one of life's essentials.

These special moments of silence, time, and space are what we need, to look deep into our own hearts and to accept ourselves, love ourselves.

 Moments of quiet in nature are essential for our becoming us

Moments of quiet in nature are essential for our becoming us

Out in nature, we are far from the critical gaze of others, of society. We don't have to answer to what anyone else thinks of us - and they might well have plenty of thoughts about us!

Out in nature we sit with our only real truth, ourselves.

Nature accepts us as we are and we need to take this quiet time to accept our own thoughts, emotions, our hopes and fears - all that makes us, us.

The quiet time of nature allows us to connect with our true selves with calm, joy and clarity. Once we are able to sit quietly with acceptance of our self, just as nature sees us and accepts us, the sounds, life, and energy of nature appears all around us - and it's not silent at all!

 Nature is full of energy and love - self-acceptance and clarity

Nature is full of energy and love - self-acceptance and clarity

It's full of vitality, energy, love. We connect with nature and we connect with our true and confident self.

Connecting with Nature - Why Your First Connection is with Yourself

behind the scenes, nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte Brown

My art is all about connection - connection with your pets and connection with the world around us.

But that first, primary connection needs to be with yourself.

That connection with yourself is vital. Through connecting with and recognising our own nature and self, and realising self-acceptance and self-love, we can connect more fully with others.

For me, connecting with nature is a part of and a way to access this vital connection with my own self.

Through connecting and feeling a part of nature, I can see myself, not as an imperfect or failing human, but as a beautifully imperfect and complete facet of the natural world - as beautiful and complete as the summer bloom or as the bare branch in winter - equal and essential parts of the way of nature.

 Connecting with nature

Connecting with nature

Experiencing compassion and kindness towards yourself, connecting with your essential self, comes before connection with others and allows those further connections to be lived fully, authentically and with love and compassion.

Taking time in the quiet of nature allows us to connect with that deep, quiet part of our own selves. Connecting with nature allows us to find quiet so that we can hear the song our soul wants to sing so that we can take it out into the world to share it.

So show yourself some love and kindness first and foremost. Like me, you might be able to do this by immersing yourself in and connecting fully with nature.

If you'd enjoy doing this through my art, you can see some pieces you might connect with, below...

Our Pets are Part of the Natural World

behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, personal musings, well being, pet artCharlotte Brown

For me, our pets allow us a special bridge to connect with the world of nature...

 People, pets, and nature

People, pets, and nature

Sometimes, the world of flowers, animals, and trees, seems so far removed from our human concerns. But I feel like we should be a part of the world of nature.

Thousands of years ago, and even just a few hundred years ago, humans lived a life more connected with nature. We lived close to nature and lived by the bounty of nature and measured time by its seasons.

Actually, in some respects, very little has changed. We still mark our calendars by the natural turning of the year. We still depend on nature for our food and energy. We are still part of nature.

But somehow it doesn't feel like that. While I truly appreciate all the wonderful innovations that the modern era has brought us, I feel like we are very far removed from the natural world. And that's why I like to make a conscious effort to connect with nature and to stay connected with nature through my art and in my daily life.

Our pets can be like a unique bridge between the human world we perceive that we are part of, and the all-encompassing world of nature that we belong to.

 Our pets allow us a bond of love across species and help us to feel connected with the natural world

Our pets allow us a bond of love across species and help us to feel connected with the natural world

When we communicate with our companion animals, we make a connection across species and take a step closer to nature. When we feel that bond of love, we feel the connection with the natural world. We see that we have a common bond with other animals and with the world of nature. We feel part of that world.

This is the feeling that I want to share with my art. When you look at my art, I want you to be able to feel that connection with our pets, with nature, with the wider world around us, and feel at one with it, a part of it.

See more in my art store or find out more about commissioning your own custom pet portrait

Summer Means GREEN to Me

inspiration, nature, personal musings, colorCharlotte BrownComment

This is so much of what summer means to me - exactly this - endless swathes of green...

 Summer green in nature

Summer green in nature

Green barley rustling in the wind edged by decorative white cow parsley lowers and bejewelled with golden buttercups - brilliant blue sky, skylarks overhead and the chatter of little birds...

 I love to walk in fields of beautiful green barley - green! green! green!

I love to walk in fields of beautiful green barley - green! green! green!

And just walking, walking... me and my dog.

 Walking with Noah in the green!

Walking with Noah in the green!

What's summer for you?

Awesome Places to Connect with Nature (...and you can bring your dog!) Part 1 - Shropshire Hills

behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

Connecting with nature is so important to our well-being - taking time to connect with the green of the natural world, space away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, and an opportunity to reconnect with our true inner self, our thoughts and emotions, and with those we love...

For me, it's important to get to this inner place so that I can make my art - but it's also essential for my own (and all of our!) health and well-being, too...

With this series of blog posts, I hope to inspire you to explore some of the wilder natural places - places where you can really feel the energy of nature reviving you...

This is a really special natural place to connect with nature - out in the Shropshire hills up close to nature and close to the sky...

 Connecting with nature at the Stiperstones

Connecting with nature at the Stiperstones

On holiday recently, we stayed in the beautiful Shropshire hills and walked up into the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve and visited the Devil's Chair stone...

We felt really connected to nature on this walk - out in the hills away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and villages - just birds overhead and lots of sky - a time to reflect and connect...

 Stiperstones view

Stiperstones view

 Gorse and Shropshire hills

Gorse and Shropshire hills

We walked up quiet, stony lanes with primroses, forget-me-nots, bluebells, and purple honesty flowers in the hedge verges along with the occasional daffodil. Beautiful flowers and so much colour and life - lovely to see!

 Forget-me-nots growing wild in Shropshire

Forget-me-nots growing wild in Shropshire

As we gradually climb, the flowery banks get taller and start to give way to hedgerows of tall hawthorns, not yet in flower, sheltering wild bilberries, called 'whinberries' locally.

 Lovely meandering Shropshire lanes

Lovely meandering Shropshire lanes

 Whinberries growing wild in the Shropshire hills

Whinberries growing wild in the Shropshire hills

As we climb further, the shady lane opens up into moorland filled with yellow-flowering gorse.

 Leaving the farmland behind and entering moorland

Leaving the farmland behind and entering moorland

There's no shelter from the sun and the air is filled with the coconut scent of the gorse flowers - actually, this is one of my favourite smells and always takes me back to special places like West Wales as a child, or more recent holidays in Skye and Islay - it reminds me of being out, quiet, in nature and it smells like summer!

 Out in nature with the sun, sky and brilliant colours is so re-energising!

Out in nature with the sun, sky and brilliant colours is so re-energising!

The colours look fantastic and they help us to feel really energised - great for that climb as there's still a way to go!

 Surrounded by vibrant yellow gorse on the moorland

Surrounded by vibrant yellow gorse on the moorland

We pass a blackened, gnarled gorse bush which still has the aroma of smoke around it - a moorland fire, luckily extinguished swiftly by some watchful soul.

Still we climb and the air cools and the gorse is gone. The path lies deep within banks of whinberry and heather - bright green with berries still red, the heather not yet in flower, still dry and brown.

 Looking back at our path up through a moorland of whinberry and heather

Looking back at our path up through a moorland of whinberry and heather

There's no shelter here and we're exposed to the elements as we continue to ascend, the rocky path beneath our feet and warm sunshine fighting with cool winds against our faces.

A tiny flutter of green across our path turns out to be a Green Hairstreak butterfly, cunningly disguised as it perches almost invisible amongst the whinberry leaves... Exciting to see - it's a butterfly I've never seen before!

 Can you spot the Green Hairstreak butterfly here? (There is one - honest!)

Can you spot the Green Hairstreak butterfly here? (There is one - honest!)

We seem to pass beneath the Devil's Chair rock and stop at a waymarker where the path goes four ways...

 Looking up to the Stiperstones

Looking up to the Stiperstones

Up here on the hills, we feel close to the sky, alone amongst nature, free and alive.

 Noah appreciates a rest at the top of the hill - he's much more a sit-and-watch sort of dog than a long-walk sort of a dog!

Noah appreciates a rest at the top of the hill - he's much more a sit-and-watch sort of dog than a long-walk sort of a dog!

 Looking across at the Shepherd's Rock (Scattered Rock)

Looking across at the Shepherd's Rock (Scattered Rock)

We sit for a while, quietly, resting and refuelling. We can see for miles all around us. We are nearly 1750ft above sea level - just us, rocks, sky and heather...

 It's a great view from up here!

It's a great view from up here!

...oh, and a couple of pleasant walkers who pass us, greeting us warmly, bedecked in cool summer shirts and sun hats... 

We call back to them and gaze wonderingly, as we feel the chill winds whip around us, and pull our jackets tighter.

As we progress along the ridge, the way becomes very rocky. It's easy to stumble here so we need to concentrate on where we're going and not looking around at what's around us.

 Walking the rocky Stiperstones ridge to the Devil's Chair

Walking the rocky Stiperstones ridge to the Devil's Chair

The clouds darken as we reach the Devil's Chair and I worry about lightning strikes. Is that thunder I hear or just the rumble of a passing plane?

The clouds feel close to us and quite heavy. There are warnings everywhere about lightning strikes and the legend of the Devil's Chair speaks of bolts of lightning should one have the audacity to actually sit in the Devil's Chair! Scary!

 The Devil's Chair

The Devil's Chair

We finally reach the rocks of the Devil's Chair - tall, hard, and grey.

Red Kites whirl past and a raven tumbles and folds itself elegantly into the rock.

We clamber ever up and eventually peer downwards between the shards...

 Admiring the view from the top of the Stiperstones

Admiring the view from the top of the Stiperstones

We look down past moorland and fields and follow the lines of pathways - it looks impossibly far down and I start to feel a little dizzy at the height.

Ian continues to explore a further crag - a rocky fortress on high, while I stay back a little with the dog, feeling a little in awe at this majestic natural place - a spire of the earth reaching up into the sky.

 View to Manstone Rock

View to Manstone Rock

Our walk down is much easier on the legs! We spot the grass-covered ruins of an old miner's cottage - humps and dips in the hillside surrounded by fruit trees and hawthorns which mark the boundaries of what was once a cherished home and garden high in the hills. 

 Signs of a life lived up on high - out in the wildest and most elemental parts of nature

Signs of a life lived up on high - out in the wildest and most elemental parts of nature

What it must be to live a life atop a hill!

So far from the hustle and bustle down below and more connected with nature and the elements out here where one could live free and unencumbered by the expectations of society...

 Path past the ruins - a beautiful natural place

Path past the ruins - a beautiful natural place

We feel revitalised and inspired after our walk out in the wilds of nature - this truly awesome natural place - in connecting with nature in this way, we feel more connected with our own selves, and each other - these are the moments that my art is all about and what I hope it will inspire for you too..!

Dog Walk Notes

  • This was a nice easy walk for the dog - a bit of a pull for him uphill, but wide paths and one stile with a gate that we could open to get him through. The ridge was a little rocky for him - he seemed quite sure-footed but we did worry a little about him injuring himself clambering over the rocks.
  • Dogs need to be kept on a lead at all times to protect the wildlife in this National Nature Reserve.
  • We did the walk from Pennerley Flats (just up to Devil's Chair rock and back again) but you can also easily access the Stiperstones from Stiperstones Village, Tankerville, and The Bog Visitor Centre (recommended) which has a large car park, toilets, information and refreshments (check opening times/dates).
  • Dress appropriately for your walk, take a good map, and be aware that weather conditions can change suddenly up on the hills.
 Feeling on top of the world connecting with nature

Feeling on top of the world connecting with nature

More Cool Places Nearby

Close nearby to explore is Tankerville old lead mine

 Ruins at the Tankerville lead mine

Ruins at the Tankerville lead mine

And the more extensive old Snailbeach Mine, which also does regular open days.

 Snailbeach Mine

Snailbeach Mine

A little further afield, we also enjoyed visiting Haughmond Hill woods with the dog - bluebells, woodland walks, toilets and a cafe...

 A great place for dogs to enjoy nature - Haughmond Hill

A great place for dogs to enjoy nature - Haughmond Hill

 Bluebells in the woods at Haughmond Hill

Bluebells in the woods at Haughmond Hill

 Woodland walk at Haughmond Hill

Woodland walk at Haughmond Hill

And the nearby beautiful ruins of Haughmond Abbey - a peaceful place to while away an hour or so - run by English Heritage.

 Noah admiring the view at Haughmond Abbey

Noah admiring the view at Haughmond Abbey

 Haughmond Abbey

Haughmond Abbey

Unplugging From Technology - Connecting to the Real World

behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

I've just come back from a wonderful week away with my husband and our dog, in the hills of Shropshire. With no mobile phone reception, we were completely unplugged from technology - and it was fantastic!

In this busy world of constant news and social media updates, it's important to be able to unplug from technology sometimes...

 Connect with nature to unplug from technology

Connect with nature to unplug from technology

Technology is wonderful and incredibly useful - it allows me to be at home writing this, and for you to read it, maybe hundreds or thousands of miles away. Awesome!

But the world reflected by social media and technology can seem overwhelming, too much.

It can trick us into believing that the world on our screens is the totality of the real world around us - the violence, the hatred, the ground-in bitterness. I see it on my internet every day. It seems pervasive, all around us.

But it isn't! The view from the world of technology and social media is skewed. It doesn't reflect all of the world - the world around us, right now, that we can reach out and connect with.

That's the world of beautiful natural places, flowers, the way your dog smiles and wags his greetings when you return home, the way the store assistant helped you out, a kindly smile from a stranger, a gentle word from a friend.

When you start to look out for these tiny connections and kindnesses, you will start to notice them more and more.

It's so easy to get lost in the concerns of the day or the worries of the wider world. Indeed, these are by no means unimportant...

But it's possible to bring some balance and unplug from technology. Take a walk outside and connect with nature - we all need some green in our lives! 

Reach out to a loved one - four-paws or two-legs, it doesn't matter. Make a connection and feel a part of the natural world around us.

My art can help you feel connected with nature, too. 

Feel connected and inspired!

Escaping Your Head - The Beauty of Connections

behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte Brown

In seeking out the green places, the natural world, I seek out connection - a connection with nature, the world and the realities of a life lived as part of the world, not in the world of concerns that we so often create inside our own heads.

A connection with our pets, our loved ones, or with nature makes us see and feel the beauty of the world around us and enables us to feel a certain gratitude for the world we are a part of.

We can seek out the world of nature in our everyday lives. Our connection with nature doesn't have to wait for a week's holiday or a day-trip to the country at the weekend.

We can connect and feel gratitude for the world we are a part of when we interact with our pets, when we see a bird or a tree, even through a window, when we stop for a moment to look at a vase of flowers in our home.

And of course, I hope that when you bring my art into your home, you are able to feel that sense of connection with, and love for, the world around us, too.

 So much in nature to love and feel grateful for. This Day in the Sun (Geraniums) art print can connect you with the feelings of warmth, sunshine, and summer flowers.

So much in nature to love and feel grateful for. This Day in the Sun (Geraniums) art print can connect you with the feelings of warmth, sunshine, and summer flowers.

Let me know, what in nature makes you feel most connected and most alive?

Snow Day Shenanigans (Beast from the East)

behind the scenes, nature, personal musingsCharlotte Brown

Living in Yorkshire, I'm quite used to snow, although it has been rather quiet on that front for the last few years...

It was still quite terrifying to hear talk of the 'Beast from the East' though - a polar vortex sweeping the UK and bringing bone-chilling temperatures from Siberia. Especially so since we had a four-hour planned power-cut schedule just as the worst of the weather was forecast to hit.

 The first lying snows of 2018

The first lying snows of 2018

With supplies of logs, flask, and camping stove all ready to hand, the power cut was cancelled - to huge sighs of relief all round... and we could turn our attention to enjoying the snow...

 Is this the 'Beast from the East'? No!! My rough collie, Noah, enjoying some exploring in the first fall of snow

Is this the 'Beast from the East'? No!! My rough collie, Noah, enjoying some exploring in the first fall of snow

My mum always says that it snows on her birthday, which is at this time of year - and it's true. It nearly always does snow, even if just at little, around this time.

This year the snow is from Sibera. It's light and powdery - fluffy, not wet - and it lifts in the wind and swirls around. The weather feels chill when you venture outside, so we make sure to keep our adventures short and sweet... (even for collies with thick fluffy coats!).

 Snow laying thick across the fields around our village

Snow laying thick across the fields around our village

We have a little more snow on the second day of snowfall. It takes my husband two hours to drive to work (a usual commute of 45 minutes to an hour).

As the snow becomes deeper, it starts to stick to Noah's fluffy feet in big ice-bobbles and he doesn't like it... we have to stop and pick the ice-bobbles out.

 It's quite hard going in the wind and the snow!

It's quite hard going in the wind and the snow!

There are snowdrifts in places and the snow is so deep there that we just can't make progress forwards.

We have to stand Noah in a bowl of warm water when we get home to make sure he thaws out nicely and to wash any road grit from his paws where it might irritate. 

 Noah in the snow

Noah in the snow

As more snow falls and the wind picks up more, it's really arctic-feeling out there. The snow drifts and it's really tough to walk - a real battle against the elements that we're not quite used to here...

I hope you stay safe and warm in the snow. It's pretty and fun, but it has its serious side too. Go careful out there!

Beauty and the Bleak - Connecting with Nature in Winter

behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte Brown

Living in the countryside in the north of Britain, it's easy to feel glum and uninspired in the dark winter months. Compared to the colours, light, and warmth of summer, the bleakness of winter can feel downright uninspiring for creative endeavours or even just attempting to capture a sense of cheer...

A walk in winter can be cold, muddy, wet and uncomfortable...

I'm on a dog walk in February, with eyes stinging from the wind, cheeks bitter and raw with the icy rain, nose running, fingers numb, and both feet sliding away from each other in thick gloopy mud.... 

It's pretty easy to find beauty and connect with nature in summer and in the beautiful places. Tougher in a muddy, Yorkshire landscape!

But it's so much more meaningful to lean into the bleakness, not try to shut it out.

 Bleakness can be beautiful too

Bleakness can be beautiful too

There is a certain, special beauty in this type of bleakness, too. I notice the energy of the wind and the rain, the vastness of the skies and the everchanging nature of the world around us.

 The vast emptiness of the fields and the skies gives us a sense of space - time and room to breathe 

The vast emptiness of the fields and the skies gives us a sense of space - time and room to breathe 

Looking at the detail of nature helps us connect with the world around us more deeply. This is one of the reasons I love to put so much detail into my artworks, as it helps us to connect right back with nature again when we look at them.

The details we connect with in winter are the subtle ones - a pattern made by grasses or leaves, the light of the sky, the detail of a trunk, or the unity of a wood of trees, the veins on a leaf - but they are the strong, persistent, solid, permanent ones that survive the storm of the season.

In the bleakness, you can take time out, a time for your thoughts and ideas to breathe, to percolate, to come alive.

Making an effort to connect with nature in winter, we can feel the grounding and same solid permanence in our own heart. We can discover solidity within ourselves and love the beauty and necessity of the bleakness that lives in our own souls sometimes, as well as the joy and gratitude we live.

 And fluffy coated dogs always enjoy their winter walkies!

And fluffy coated dogs always enjoy their winter walkies!

If you'd like to enjoy my art as a way of connecting with nature, take a look at some of my nature-inspired pieces below...

What is Connection?

personal musings, well beingCharlotte Brown

I write a lot about connection - about how my art is about connecting with the natural world, through flowers, plants, wildlife, and even our pets...

Then I started to ask myself, what exactly do I mean by 'connection'? What is 'connection'?

For me, connection is about two things:

  1. Recognition of something shared, whether it's a shared life together in the case of a pet, or a shared ecosystem, in the case of a flower, plant or wild animal/bird, a recognition that we're all part of the same natural world, and we're all in it together
  2. Understanding, empathy or compassion - a genuine care for the other who you feel the connection with
 Parakeet Paradise

Parakeet Paradise

Of course, a connection can be as different as the person, animal, or aspect of nature that you want to connect with, but it's all about recognising our sameness or oneness...

And connections make us feel good - our friends, family, pets, our garden, our natural environment are all important to our lives and our well-being - and I love to feel this through my art.

I'm happy to feel that connection to the world of nature when I'm inspired by a flower or a garden bird - and I love to help you celebrate that special connection to the world around us that we gain through the love and companionship of our pets, too.

 A husky is like a force of nature - in its element running out in the wilds...

A husky is like a force of nature - in its element running out in the wilds...