Hello, and welcome to my first blog post! Finally.

If I’d been a little more organised, a bit more on it, I probably would have started this ten years ago when I started painting seriously because I’ll be treating this as a sort of online art journal. Inspirations, general musings and also some paint and photography mixed-media tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way. But anyone who knows me well will know that it takes me about ten years to get my head around anything new in the tech department, so the timing is actually probably about right.

I like my tech simple and tactile. Take the pedestrian crossing for example – that’s my kind of tech: the satisfying resistance of a well designed single button, the spring-loaded ker-lick on release. In fact, hand me anything with more than around twenty buttons (or worse, the impassive, faceless pane of the latest iphone or gadget, it’s just not something that I can rustle up excitement for) and I can feel the shutters start to come down… My family finds it hilarious that I can barely work the television, but the truth is that I could probably quite easily work it out and finally find out what an HDMI is if I had the inclination. It’s just that I’m not interested enough.

But…something is slowly changing. The shutters are lifting! (Rustily, and catching at the sides a bit, but lifting all the same). In the past couple of years I’ve come to value the importance of being part of an artist community. As artists, we learn, grow and progress through one another’s feedback and critique. We become inspired and motivated when sharing ideas. But making art is a solitary business – no breakfast meetings, chats with colleagues, or after-work drinks. You can get round that by renting a studio space with other creatives, but that is too expensive to be a reality for many artists. Most of us set up a space in the corner of the kitchen or, if we’re lucky, in the spare room with the clothes horse for company.

This is where embracing the tech comes in. I’m lucky to now be an active member of an amazing online community of international artists called the Art2Life Academy. These are artists at all stages of their careers and who are generous with their time and wisdom (some of us Scottish contingent also meet in the real world too). We have a feedback forum, live discussions and masterclasses. I even had the privilege to have been interviewed live by founder Nicholas Wilton in front of (gulp) thousands of people – maybe that will be for another blog post on stepping way out of your comfort zone (and then realising how much you enjoyed it).

In short, I’m coming around to the idea that, in small doses, tech can be good. It can connect us. And connecting with like-minded people has to be a good and positive thing. Friends recently expressed surprise when they saw that I’d mastered Instagram reels. They’ll be feeling my forehead for fever when they see I’ve published a blog.

Part 2, featuring the Paint and the Pooch of the title will be published next week.

Meanwhile, I’m off to learn how to work the telly.