Friday, 23 December 2011


As you all know, gifts come in all different shapes, sizes and styles and I have to admit that giving gifts is one of my most favourite things to do.  Throughout the year I love to surprise friends, family, even neighbours with an unexpectant gift.  Of course when it is a birthday or Christmas, that is even better as I can really let my head go:)  As I write this last blog for the year I have 3 presents left to wrap, one for my first grandchild (oh the joy), one for my youngest son (his last living at home as he married next year) and one for my husband (who I am so grateful to for all his support and love.)  All the rest are sitting beautifully under our Christmas tree waiting for Christmas day to arrive, when paper and bows will be flying and love will be flowing!

One of the most precious gifts I think we can give each other is 'ourselves.'  A smile, a helping hand, company for a lonely heart are all things we can give on a daily basis.  You might not think that is important, but the way you do things is very unique ~ no one else has your lovely smile or can do things just like you do.  This reminds me of some very gifted ladies I had come to one of my High Teas (you can read more about those on  These particular ladies all belong to a local craft group and decided to come and experience the High Teas I do at Garden Terrace Studio.  I just love spoiling the clients that come with not only delicious delicacies but also with the history of High Tea and also a tour of my 170 (and still growing) Royal Albert plate collection.  Parlous games and a private garden setting all add to a really fun time and this year I am so grateful to have been able to serve 91 ladies with bottomless cups of tea and treats.  Well the table was set with Royal Albert Old Country Roses all ready to receive these very crafty ladies and to my surprise they bought some of their pieces to show me. 

Anita is so clever at making scenes and objects out of eggs.  She even has made a teddybear useing a goose egg for the body (photos  will follow.)
Caroleyne brought her Diarama show box displaying the mose peaceful, pretty scene and Jenny is a very gifted Bunka embroiderer (Jenny does classes too, so contact me if you are interested.)

All these ladies showed such patience, an eye for detail and beauty, a steady hand and also a unique way of using their hands.  That is one of the most precious things about the Decorative art classes I teach too.  Each artist is so gifted with a unique style of painting their pieces.  We can all paint the same design but each one will turn out differently.  Amazing!

Christmas really is my most favourite time of year.  Not only because I get to shower my loved ones with gifts, but also because of the Reason for the Season, so the old saying goes.  If I didn't have God's gift Jesus in my life I really don't know how I would cope from day to day.  He is the most precious gift to me I could ever receive.  When I am overwhelmed with lifes trials He is always there to encourage, support, comfort and see me through.  When I am happy and content I can share it all with Him and somehow He makes it even better.  You may be asking 'how?'  Well that's the mystery, that's the miracle of is really simple though ~ all you have to do is to 'ask' Him!

As I leave you to get on with all your Christmas joy I just want to thank everyone who has supported my little business this year.  It has been a huge task to get Garden Terrace Studio off and running and in 2012 I really do hope to be able to share the wonderful world of Decorative Art and High Teas with you all.....(and more too I hope!)

Here is one of my favourite Christmas cards I painted a few years ago ~ the deer is listening to the Church bells as they ring out over the snowy medow.....(I do hope I can experience a white Christmas one year ~ does anyone else have that dream?)

So blessings to you all this Christmas and may 2012 bring peace, joy, love and hope in abundance ~ Cathy XXX

Monday, 7 November 2011


Life is so full of opposites isn't it?  Tall/short; happy/sad; black/white; hot/cold; bitter/'s sort of how I'm feeling right at this very moment!  I love spring with it's glorious colours, blooms and sweet smells, but alas spring doesn't like me with my sneezing, wheezing and coughing.  The promise of warm weather coming is quite a joy to some as they relish the rising temperature, don their swimmers and head for the crystle waters of the beach to feel the sand on their feet and dance along the lacey edge of the waves as cool water tickles their toes.  For me and others like me summer is a time when I take cover in the airconditioning, cover up and do what it takes to keep my body cool to stop the hot/humid conditions affecting a medical problem that I have.  Yes life is bitter sweet but I always remember my mother saying to me you can't have good without knowing what bad is.  Life really is all about how we handle the bad.  How we respond to the trials of life and how no matter what, we try to make the most of everything that comes our way and learn from the experiences that are thrown at us.  This is when our character is built, our faith is made stronger, we learn to smile at adversities and our compassion extends to those around us who are also doing it tough. 

During such times I like to look for the beautiful things in life, so although spring and summer may not like me, there are lovely things during these seasons that bring such joy to my days and bring a smile to my face.  I love the quote that says:~

"When life gives you lemons,
make lemonade."

Roses would have to be one of the joys of these warmer months.  I have already been picking the beautiful blooms of "Remember me;" "Appreciation;" and "New Dawn."  The climbing "Jane McGrath" soft pink buds are about to burst into perfection and the pretty "Pink Splash" carpet rose, a gift from Wendy who comes to art classes is trailing beautifully over our terraced wall with it's first flowering.  Without a doubt there is always beauty for ashes and there is always sweetness to find when things seem bitter.

Sweetness has come to the studio this week with me finally finishing the canvas of "Remember me."  I left her sitting on the easle for quite a few weeks not quite knowing what was missing, then it dawned on me.  The most beautiful time of day to see a rose and smells it's perfume is in the morning when the dew is still on the petals and leaves, so with that now taken care of, here she is:~

I tried something new for the background of this piece.  First I scraped rose pink/black/opal down the canvas using an old atm card, then when that was dry I used a 'shammy mop' and flicked warm white all over it.  Not sure how professional this procedure is, but I just loved the result, so for all you budding artists out there, give it a try ~ it really was fun!

The studio is up for a busy couple of months and before you know it Christmas will be here when we will be decking the halls and spreading the love!  It really is my favourite time of year, but more about that next time.....  The ladies who come to class are all busy finishing off projects, Kath's 'Ducks a wandering' are just beautiful, so take a look at 'Studio Peek' under classes and 'Gallery' on  to see what we have been up to lateley.  Don't forget I would love to paint that special piece for you to decorate your own home or to give as a gift...OMG only 47 shopping days to Christmas:))

So, until next time, enjoy making lemonade.
Cathy XXX

Friday, 14 October 2011


What does it take to inspire you?  I have been thinking about that a lot this week for some reason.  All the ladies that have come to my studio over the years have definiteley inspired me to paint bigger and better than I ever thought I could.  Having the privilege to help them dig deep within to find the hidden talent they never knew they had is always inspirational especially when I see the beautiful works they are painting.

Two such ladies are Fay ~ from my studio in the country and Wendy from my new studio here on the Central Coast.  Both these ladies struggle with two different forms of arthritis.  Fay is well into her 70's now and Wendy much younger, but to see them willing to learn and struggle through their pain to create something beautiful just shows the depth of their characters and will, to not let what life has dishes out to them...beat them.  This in itself is so inspirational to me and all those that know them.  

I remember an autograph my grandmother wrote in my autograph book when I was a little said 
"I grumbled because I had no shoes,
then I met a man,
who had no feet."

When I first read this  little quote I thought, what a strange thing to write, but as I grew older and remembered these words it all became clear.  Just be grateful for what you have!  I guess that is what the Fay's and Wendy's of the world are doing.  Making the most of the lives they have.  Being willing to face each day with a smile, being willing to learn and achieve things they never thought possible.  I'm sure you have noticed too that it is often these people who are the most understanding, compassionate and beautiful people you will find.  Somehow their 'short straws' of life have given them the ability to have the 'biggest hearts.'  Now that is inspiring.

The trusted Oxford puts it this way :  inspire ~ breath in; infuse thought or feeling; divine influence; sudden happy idea.

When we first moved to the coast I missed my country home, family and friends sooo much:(  I knew it was a 'God' move, but it did take my thoughts and feelings a little while to catch up.  One of the lovely things about our new home are the birds that come each day.  Two turtle doves have been coming here from day one.  I just love them.  Their little spotted necks and 'co-cooing' are so cute and calming.  When I was unpacking my art magazines I came across a small print I hadn't seen before.  It was a piece by Decorative Artist ~ Christine Whipper.  The art work was beautiful and I couldn't believe the subject.  It was two turtle doves sitting amongst the most colourful garden.  There were roses, grannies~bonnets, tulips, forget-me-nots, all favourites from my English country garden I had left behind and tiger-lillies, morning glory and ferns from the coast....all living together in perfect harmony in this one picture.  This was all the inspiration I needed to get brushes and paints out again and start painting.  Each week I would travel up the coast to paint with ladies from the Decorative Art Association and with the help from a very talented artist Karen Dimmock who knew the Christine Whipper technique, the piece was finally finished (only 2 years later!)  After it's completion I phoned Christine and thanked her for the blessing her piece was to me in helping me settle into my new home and also in inspiring me to 'keep painting!' 

So I hope you are all having an inspiring week ~ things of beauty that are taking your breath away as you explore God's garden; special people that are warming your heart with gratefulness and love and most of all the inspiration to create something amazing!  If you want to see the latest works of art that have been painted from the talented ladies that come to my studio, just go to click on 'classes' then scroll down to 'studio peek.'  Now that will definiteley inspire you and would you believe some of them have never painted before!

See you soon,
Cathy XXX

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

'Remember me'

Memories ~ we all have them don't we?  Some tinged with sadness, some that bring a smile, others we wish we could forget, then those that warm our hearts and put a spring in our step.

This week my dear man and I were remembering the beautiful sunsets we would sit and watch from our verandah at our home in the country where we lived for 17 years.  A work move to the coast 3 years ago bought many changes and challenges, but one thing we did miss was sitting watching the sunsets from the verandah after a hard days work...all because of a wall at the end of the new porch that was blocking the view.  On our new verandah we could look north out over a peaceful park, over the roof tops to the coastal bushland, then to the blue hills in the distance, but not west to the glorious red, orange, pink and mauve sunsets ~ all because of a floor to roof colourbond wall.

One day while contemplating our dilema I asked Graeme if it would be too hard to 'move the wall!'  Well if you know my hubby, nothing is too hard, so the task began.  Banging, hammering, pulling, pushing, unscrewing, then re-building and adding a blind for the days when the sun is too hot, saw the job complete.  I'm sure the cheering on from me with nice hot cuppa's helped:) 

We did have to wait a couple of days for the clouds to move and the sun to start it's evening grand performance, but ohhhhh was it worth the wait!  Cheese, bickies and a glass of bubbly all helped to make another fond memory as we sat and watched our first sunset flood our back verandah with colours that brightened not only our evening but our hearts as well.

This little excercise has made me think just how many other lovely things in life I may be shutting out because of a 'wall'.  It is sooooo good for ones soul to have such times of reflection don't you think?  Hurts, offenses, unforgiveness and the like so easily sneak up on us and before we know it, our joy is stolen, the clouds come in and we are missing the beautiful colours of a gorgeous sunset because of our 'walls.'  So for me, all is well again as I hand these things toward heaven and thank God for the beautiful life He has given me.

Well I'm off to the studio now ~ I wonder what strokes of genius the ladies will perform today with their art work.  They never cease to amaze me with their imaginative thoughts, creative styles and willingness to learn.  If I get a chance I will dabble some
more with a rose I am painting called "Remember me."  This stunning rose was a gift to me from the ladies that used to come to my previous studio.  They presented me with two charming roses, "Remember me" and "Appreciation."  To my surprise they are growing so well here on the coast despite the heat and humidity.  Every time I walk past the blooms and breath in the fragrance the memories of these gorgeous girls from way out west bring happiness to my day.   I'm up to painting on the highlights and glazing, so it won't be long now before I can show you the finished piece.  In the mean time I will leave you with a photo of this radiant rose which resembles all the colours of the brilliant sunset we have just experienced.

Until next time may happy memories be filling your days,
Cathy XXX

Monday, 26 September 2011

Spring ~ it's a new day.

Welcome to spring at Garden Terrace Studio.  This is my first blog post which is a tad exciting for me.  To introduce myself ~ Hi...I'm Cathy and I am a Decorative Art teacher with my own studio on the Central Coast of New South Wales.  I have been teaching this wonderful art form for over 10 years now and if you would like to know more, please visit my webpage  where there will also be a link from the webpage to this blog.  I hope to make regular updates to let you all know what is happening in the studio, in this beautiful corner of the world and hopefully even some helpful hints and things of interest and beauty along the way.

I just love Spring ~ the promise of new life.  All that has laid dorment to protect itself in the colder months of winter feels the first touch of warmth and before you know it buds are appearing; birds are singing; baby ducks are down on the waters edge keeping their mums on their toes (well, little webbed feet); magpies and plovers are protecting their young (at our expense); daffodils are dancing in the breeze and all seems well with the world.

In our garden at Garden Terrace Studio there has been great excitement with the success of finally growing cold climate bulbs.  After moving from the cold winter frosts of a lovely country town where we lived for 17 years, one of my missions for my new coastal garden was to grow beautiful bulb flowers.  Well this year I succeeded with jonquils; minature daffodils, blue bells and snowflakes.  Placing the bulbs in the crisper in the fridge for a long cold sleep first, seems to have done the trick.

The studio has also been busy with High Teas.  Oh how girls love to play ladies!  Birthdays, baby showers, farewells and just for fun bookings have all taken place over the last few months.  I love to make these events so special for the clients and of course sipping a cup of tea from Royal Albert Old Country Roses tea cups with ones pinky in the air does make for a fun time, not to mention the 17th century parlour games and scrummy food!  You can see more about these on the webpage too.

There is lots happening in the painting world with the artists that come creating amazing pieces that help me love my work even more!  Estelle has just finished a lovely Australian outback scene surrounded by a garland of Australian Wild Flowers to remind her of a trip to Central Australia earlier in the year.  She chose to paint this work on her paint box and it really does look grand.  Kath is continuing on with her geese taking a leasurely stroll down a peaceful lane, Gail is working on a box for her coasters that match a huge modern canvas she painted earlier in the year.  Wendy is doing so well in her beginners course and has chosen deep red poppies for her project this term.  Honor came and painted for a term while she had a free day from her work and painted some magenta pink hydrangers that are now hanging on the wall in her spare bedroom.  Oh the joy of finishing a project to adorn ones home.  That is what it is all about ~ using your gifts to beautify the world you live in and bring joy and pleasure to others as well.

Well haven't I rambled on for my first post ~ I hope you come visit me again soon and also visit the webpage....or even come visit me at Garden Terrace Studio.  At the moment you can just follow your nose as the perfume from the French Lavender lining our driveway is so strong it really does fill the air with the feeling of peace and tranqulity.  Oh I am having a flash back to a painting I did a few years ago at the foot of the mountains in the country where we lived.  A beautiful Lavender farm stretched for miles ~ you could have thought you were in the countryside of southern France.  I will leave you with this scene and hope spring where you live is blessing you with warmth, love and laughter:)

Cathy XXX