Slow down you’re doing fine…

Take photos of your dogs catching treats… you won’t regret it

They say it takes 10,000 hours to master an art. 

Spud is incredibly good at catching treats. I don’t know how many I’ve thrown at him over the years to achieve this skill, but given that he once went 1.5kg overweight (he got a Kim Kardashian butt) we could very well have gotten close to 10,000.

When learning something new, the trick is to enjoy the process and not focus on the end goal. This is a frame of mind I’ve been instilling when I’ve been painting landscapes, and Ollie too when he’s faced deep water for the first time – you’ll find more about that when you read on.

So, if you’re learning something new, remember that getting good at something takes time. Imagine you are an ex-street dog with no-coordination and a piece of dry kibble is flying straight between your eyes… go get ’em tiger!

However, despite feeling like a salmon swimming upstream, I’ve definitely been engaging in some restful and calming activities recently. I went on an all women’s overnight camping retreat with Anna from Wanderwoman (if you’re local to Edinburgh look her up!) and then I’ve been practicing floral displays for the wedding with my mum (The Packing Elf, see pic below). All foraged flowers of course!

Lastly, Juan and I took my 90 year old Great Aunt for lunch as part of a family birthday present. Spud came too because she’s got an absolute soft spot for him! 

A wander in the Scottish hills on an overnight camping trip…

Slow down, you’re doing fine…

My biggest lesson over the last few years has been learning how to slow down.

I blame my parents, who have speed and efficiency down to a fine art. Even the simple act of filling the car up at the petrol station on a long journey is executed with the agility of a formula 1 racing team.

Their method, before you ask: Dad starts filling the car with petrol while simultaneously mum runs in to start queuing at the till and watches out the window so that the second that tank is full she’s ready to swipe her card. 

Smart, sure. But you can imagine the culture shock for my mediterranean fiance when he met my family – he comes from a country where resting is actively encouraged whereas my mum starts hoovering if you dare take a nap and my dad starts playing the killers at full volume if you ever sleep in past 8am. 

However, despite feeling like a salmon swimming upstream, I’ve definitely been engaging in some restful and calming activities recently. I went on an all women’s overnight camping retreat with Anna from Wanderwoman (if you’re local to Edinburgh look her up!) and then I’ve been practicing floral displays for the wedding with my mum (The Packing Elf, see pic below). All foraged flowers of course!

Lastly, Juan and I took my 90 year old Great Aunt for lunch as part of a family birthday present. Spud came too because she’s got an absolute soft spot for him! 

Arranging foraged flowers with my mum…. Aunty Moyra sneaking Spud a chip from her plate (a potato within a potato… potato-ception)
My miniature landscape of Arthur’s Seat…

I did a landscape! At just 6.5×6.5cm it’s a great size for me to be able to get lots of practice in. With the economy looking rather dicey at the moment, smaller artwork is definitely where I’m going to be putting the focus. 

I have two shows coming up: Scone Game Fair 1-3rd July (find me in the 3d/2d tent) and then Turiff in Aberdeen 30 & 31st July.

I’ve been creating new artworks for them including ‘Fancy Footwork’ which I’ve just got back from the framers (see below)

I also have decided that this summer I’d like to start running workshops in my studio, where you can come and have a relaxed drawing and painting session with me and the dogs.

You don’t have to be ‘good’ at art. If you’re not confident at drawing I can help you and you can focus on the colouring in! If this is something you’d be up for do keep an eye out on social media and in my next newsletter for all the info!

And finally… since wedding season is upon us, a reminder you can always find prints and products on my website which make lovely gift ideas, as well as pet portraits which can be a great pressie idea to club together with friends for. 

Let me see your Fancy Footwork’… My new original on the easel and also framed
He did it! Sort of…

You saw it here first! Ollie swam in the sea… well, if you can call bouncing up and down on the sea floor ‘swimming’.

The sea was quite a rough place to take him for a first proper swim – he spent of the time getting tossed about like a sock in a washing machine with the expression of a startled otter plastered on his face. But hopefully now his confidence is up we may get some doggy paddle out of him when we go out to somewhere calmer!

But it’s a huge improvement. When we first got Ollie, he hated even the feel of water on his legs and would always do his best to avoid it. However, over the year we have had him I’ve been working on building up a positive relationship between him and water.

I can’t explain to him that he will be able to swim, I just have to encourage him until he figures it out. 

Enjoy the photos below…

Having fun…
Second thoughts…
Troll attack? Or just an innocent piggy-back inland…
(Left) Definitely a troll move… (Right) The aftermath. Either that’s Ollie passed out asleep or he’s crying in a corner trying to process the whole experience.
What a fun newsletter this was! It’s crazy how much content builds up over two weeks and I get to select the best bits for this newsletter – remember you get exclusive insights here that you don’t get to see on instagram.

Speaking of instagram… I am back on there! After chats with my family and many messages from you guys telling me you missed your daily #spollie videos (which I also missed documenting) I have returned – so make sure you add me as a favourite so the dogs keep coming up on your newsfeed 🙂

See you in two weeks! And please feel free to tag me in any pics on insta when you’re reading this newsletter – I get such a buzz when you do!

Tori xxx

My toxic trait is pretending I’m going to make bread.

The boys are back in town and I’m finally back in my studio

A few years ago I hatched the idea of baking fresh bread, did a day course and brought home a sourdough starter which I somehow managed to keep alive in my fridge through prayers and good will alone. The long-suffering starter eventually expired, but my optimism did not. I’m going to start, I would tell people, while slicing up a Sainsbury’s ready-made focaccia.

Man does it feel good telling people. It’s almost like half the work. Swanning around like I’m one of those people who have their lives together without so much as making eye contact with a bread tin.

Writing very nearly became the new baking. I was hearing myself telling lots of people about my plans for starting a newsletter (one of the early warning signs). However, on this occasion, it appears I have indeed managed to follow through. And due to the shortage of local shops selling ready-made newsletters, I have actually been forced to write it myself. Home-made, from scratch. Enjoy!

After two months away in Spain we are finally home in Edinburgh! It’s great to be back. While we miss our friends (and the avocados) I’m glad to finally be able to scrape off two months worth of suncream.

The Spud reunion was amazing, I forgot how soft his fur is. Dad put up quite a good fight over him (see pic below) there was talk of a custody battle and the first night was tense while we waited to see who’s room he was going to sleep in but after two nights stay I managed to lure my dad away with a couple of bottles of Spanish red while we made our escape back to Edinburgh with both dogs successfully in tow (and the trailer cover secured this time).

The coming months are going to be busy. I have Scone Game Fair in Perth coming up on 1-3rd July and then Turiff Show in Aberdeen 31st July & 1st August *everyone scribbles dates in their diaries* so I will be preparing for those. I do have to say it is unlikely the dogs will accompany me to either of those shows as the stand spaces are quite small *everyone crosses out dates from diaries*

As promised, your 10% discount code to celebrate the launch of my new greeting cards is:


This voucher is valid for one week and entitles you to 10% off everything on my website.

The voucher code is in honour of the brilliant campaign ‘Just a Card’ that was started after one too many galleries and independent shops were forced to close their doors during times of economic hardship. We always think that to support a small business we have to buy something expensive, but the truth is that lots of little sales can keep a business afloat too.

And finally, the winner of an A4 pet portrait, selected at random from my subscribers is…

Beth Lewindon – get in touch!

I don’t know what it is about Spud that sets Ollie’s inner troll alight with a passion for anarchy. If Ollie was a person he’d probably have an ASBO for property damage and noise complaints by now. He was so well behaved in Spain and on the ferry home, we thought he’d turned a corner. But it’s back to training again, working on his impulse control since it seems to have gone out the window upon his reunion with Spud!

Ollie eating an al fresco dinner while we queued for the ferry. Then onboard, being a good boi in the kennel where he stayed for the 27 hour journey (we came and let him out on deck every couple of hours)

Like a lot of dogs Spud has a penchant for chasing deer. Two of his worst occasions where he chased deer happened down in Hampshire at my parents (the fact he stores them up for specifically when we are at my parents makes me feel targeted)

So one time I lost him after a stag he ended up tangled up with it in a fence and I had to scale the 6ft fence and get the stag in a headlock to release both him and Spud (much to the surprise of the two middle aged men that were watching this unfold) And on another occasion, upon losing Spud in the woods, I was informed by another dog walker that they’d seen him SWIMMING ACROSS THE CANAL after a deer. A couple of hours later I got a call from a local bee farm telling me a ‘lovely little dog’ had just rocked up covered in brambles and would I like to come and collect him.

Nothing is ever what it seems behind the veil of instagram, so let me tell you NO dog is perfect. Dogs are dogs and we love them for all.

King of the castle

Look at Spud. Butter wouldn’t melt! This was taken at Arthurs Seat and I love it because the boulder kind of looks like a huge potato…. anyway, on that carbohydrate, we end this months newsletter. Thanks again for reading and looking forward to sharing more with you next time.

See you guys next month!

Tori xxx

My First Newsletter…

Buenos Dias! Welcome to my new monthly newsletter and boy am I excited.

Expect life updates (the highs, the lows, the hilarious) as well as art updates (including special behind-the-scenes insights exclusive to this newsletter) and finally, the all important pupdates from Spud and Ollie – because thats who we REALLY want to hear from, amiright?! *crowd goes wild*

It’s called the excitable artist because there isn’t much I can’t find enthusiasm for and I hope my insights and sense of humour can bring a little smile to your inbox at the end of each month.

'Apocalyptic Orange'

I’m starting this just as my fiance Juan and I reach the end of our two-month stay in Spain, where we’ve been renting an apartment in the mountains up from Marbella. As it was our first big trip away, naturally we anticipated a few hiccups, including but not limited to, managing to leave one entire dog behind in the UK, have our trailer cover fly off half-way down the motorway and manage to lock ourselves out of our apartment within 48 hours of arriving.

We came here to be near Juan’s family, for me to practice my Spanish and of course for the glorious weather… which is hilarious because the first few weeks of our stay involved an impressive cocktail of ‘the worst rain in years’, mountain fog so thick you could whip it into butter and a surprise sandstorm that painted the sky a lovely shade of ‘apocalyptic orange’. Oh how God must have laughed when he heard we were trying to escape the winter weather in the province of Málaga.

Okay okay, so eventually the sun did rock up (although that does bring its own unique problem for me given that I can barely approach a bright lamp or even a scented candle without at least factor 30). I have managed to spend most of my time here in the outdoors with Ollie, exploring many a beautiful landscape and traipsing through rivers with water as clear as glass.

Spud sadly wasn’t able to join us on this trip as due to confusion at the vets it turned out he wasn’t up to date with his rabies jab and they need to have the vaccine at least 21 days before travel. However he’s been enjoying himself no bother at my parents and been so spoiled that I bet he barely remembers his own name. Make sure you scroll to the end for the full pudpate!

And so my aim this year is to focus on generating more passive income by focusing on my greeting cards. By selling greeting cards as wholesale (getting them into shops), it means that I can generate income on the side allowing me the freedom to put some of my energy towards new exciting projects (like landscapes!)

I’ve been having a think about how to progress my art and my business this year. I have so many new avenues I’m wanting to explore but the trouble is that starting a new blog or learning a new painting medium requires lot’s of time and doesn’t generate income. And for a self-employed artist with studio rent to cover and two fun-employed dogs to feed, that’s a priority.

I’ve already created some new artwork for my next designs – the originals of which are available to purchase on my website – however, I have plans this year to branch out into more whimsical designs for special occasion cards. This is something I’m really excited about because it’s going to allow me to inject a little humour to my work.

Since I promised you exclusive content and behind the scenes insights, I’ve snuck in a little sneak preview of a mock up I made just from a past painting I had on file. It gives you a rough idea of what’s to come… I’m excited to see what ideas come out of me as I give this my full attention over the next couple of months.

Our resident troll, Ollie, has made leaps and bounds with his confidence in the absence of his older pack brother, Spud. As Ollie is a rescue, found at about 7 months old wandering the mountains alone in Greece, we aren’t sure what went on during his puppy years but whatever his experience was before we got him it definitely seems like it has knocked his confidence.

He’s now about 1.5 years and really blooming, however the most progress we’ve with him seen has definitely been throughout the last two months whilst we’ve been in Spain because he hasn’t had Spud to fall on for support. However, he absolutely adores Spud so I know that he will be over the moon to be reunited with him in just one weeks time!

As for Spud… so much for being ‘little boy lost’ left behind at my parents house for the last two months. He has been spoilt rotten, I don’t think there is a piece of furniture in that house that he hasn’t been let up on and the last I heard from my parents was this ransom note (you need a sense of humour to survive in our family!)

For those of you with dogs you can imagine what it’s been like for us not having him around for such a long length of time but the reunion next week is just going to be amazing!

Wow you made it through to the end of my newsletter – I’m blushing! I hope you enjoyed a little insight into what’s been going on. With social media making it more and more difficult to reach people, I would really like to direct my energy into this newsletter as a form of communication so I hope that you’re going to be here for the next one.

Chat soon!

Tori xxx