Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The prize in the Contest of Beauty.

The Contest of Beauty continues and more links will be added, but just to encourage those who have not yet taken part above is the drawing that the winner will be sent. A pencil drawing on board of a moon gazing hare, signed and titled.
I will add more links and images as more things come through. Check out the posting to see how things are so far and for those who have sent me things so far, I will be adding them, but the days are too short and I have too much to do. I will share, and I have so enjoyed seeing, reading, listening.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Moving house

We have had a strange relationship over the years. You could call it a love hate one, but really probably more love than hate, though there were those utterly frustrating times. But all good things come to an end. Not sure how to break it to you gently. I will miss you, but it is time to be moving on. I won't bore you or lie to you. I have too much respect for you than to do that. I will simply say that, yes, I have found someone else.
I'm sure you will find someone else who will love you like I did.
And I do want to say thank you. Thank you for all the work you have done for me, all the time we have spent together.
But now it's bye bye blogger and hello WordPress.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Still working on ideas for covers.

A book can become very successful with the right cover, sink without trace with the wrong one. I thought I had got the 'knack' of covers but have been struggling with this one. Maybe getting somewhere now but just want to try one more thing I think.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From porpoise to purple sandpipers.

Walking a beautiful beach with friends and the dogs this morning, theoretically before work, changed the plan for my day. I had been lost in playing with images of polar bears in city streets but the day had a pearl grey quality about it, shadows flattened by low cloud, not cold not warm. Ffion said that the boats were coming out of the water soon and I asked what was about at the moment. "Oh, you know, porpoise, seals still, and pups." So at 12 I found myself wrapped up warm in scarf and hat and gloves with a long lens ready to sit on a boat for an hour.
The sea was flat calm, or so it seemed.
Lucy was working as slip-master ( or should that be slip-mistress?)
Ffi was skipper, Dave was crew.
So off we went on adventures to look for things.
And we found porpoise, so many and very close. They swam towards the boat, curving dark out of the water until they were all around rising into the ocean of air to breath and dipping down again in the hunt for fish. We found seals, including one so fresh to the world that he was still bloodied and the afterbirth was being taken care of by sharp beaked cleaners, gulls and a raven. There were peregrine and buzzard. The rocks around the back of the island were soft green with lichen, and gold and also black from algae ( or was it lichen) I can't remember, that thrived on the salt spray.
I watched seals swimming, hauling out onto the beach, golden and gray and dappled and stone coloured. 

So once again this year I have to say thanks again to Voyages of Discovery. I have had three trips now this year and have seen such beautiful creatures from porpoise to purple sandpipers. Bliss.


If you want to follow the adventures of Voyages of Discovery you can do so on Facebook. They post photographs of current sightings throughout the summer and some are just so beautiful. This year's highlights included the double flip dolphin leap and the underwater dolphin film. Don't think anyone managed to get film of the whales breaching, but they did see them. All the people I sent out on trips saw dolphins and came back to land so excited. Worth a trip to Pembrokeshire, definitely. 
( And if you click on one of the images here it should show a slide show of larger images)

Monday, November 7, 2011

James Mayhew.

Not content with listening to an iPod while he works, my friend James Mayhew invites an orchestra to play with him. Mesmerizing watching how the music and the image just flow together.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Spot the Difference.

Above, almost. Below, finished. Sometimes it is difficult to know when to stop, to know what makes a 'finished' piece. Needs to dry now. 
Today I ordered some new paints. I want to play, bigger paintings, different paint and have taken some advise and learned some lessons from Catherine Hyde.
Her beautiful book, The Firebird, written by Saviour Pirotta has just been nominated for The Greenaway Award, and I am hoping that Saviour will be joining me in Bramhall, Stockport on 26th November, at Simply Books, where the Holly Dragon will be on display in the window.


Catherine has an exhibition at The Lighthouse Gallery in Cornwall. Beautiful work.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Almost there.

Walking this evening at dusk, the cool air made my breath glow in the quarter moon brightness. If I talked as I walked, quiet words of thinking, the words became visible. All was still, apart from the blackbird alarm call as twilight woke the darkling creatures for the wild hunt.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sshhhhhhhh. Look. Listen.

I have worked at home alone for years. I find it hard to concentrate when there are people around, in the house, in the garden. Today I worked away in my studio listening to radio 4 and the sound of children in the other room. The children were visiting the Museum and galleries of Wales collection. At one point in the day I walked past and saw them all sat, silent and still, looking at a painting while the guide told them the story behind the picture. A semi-circle of concentration in miniature.
In the afternoon a lively noise was coming from the room so I turned up the radio a little and painted on. Then I realised it had gone completely silent. I turned around. Small faces were pressed up against the glass in the doors, big eyes, smiles. I waved and then held up my dragon for them to see, walked over so they could have a closer look.
I missed them when they had gone, missed the sound of them. Once again the day ended far too early and I drove home through the early evening twilight, leaving the Holly Dragon to fly through the gallery. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Old book, new book.

 Title page for I am Cat, with dedication.

Tentative cover idea for East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Pleasure District: A Contest of Beauty.

Idly flicking through a beautiful book on Japanese prints I read the title of one. " A Contest of Beauties in the Pleasure District." Such a wonderful idea, A Contest of Beauties. I had been thinking about having a competition again on my blog and the idea of A Contest of Beauty seemed to be a good place to start.

So, the prize will be a small drawing of a moon-gazing hare, and the competition will be to make, show, tell, create, something beautiful. It can be with words, images, sculpture, any medium what-so-ever, but it must be beautiful. A celebration of beauty.
Email me a link to your entry and I will list it here on this blog post. Please invite others to enter too. I would like this to be a celebration of beauty, more than a contest. If you write, then write something beautiful. Sing, play, dance something beautiful. If you are not a maker, but wish to share what you find beautiful, send a link to that. All artists desire an audience and the audience to art is no less important than the maker. I would like this blog post to become a portal to beauty.

  • To begin with here is something very beautiful that I love.

  • The most beautiful, stunning, dangerous, breath-taking natural history filming I have seen for years, BBC's The Frozen Planet, directed by Elizabeth White. Glorious. If you can watch on iPlayer do. The ice caves, bears, whales, land, sea, everything is just stunning. Link is to her blog. 
  • Walking in the street the other day I watched a couple, maybe in their seventies, walking hand in hand. The autumn leaves blew around their feet. Watching them I wondered if they had had a lifetime together or whether they had met again after living separate lives, childhood sweethearts reunited. A fragment of time, watching the lives of  others. Beauty. 
This is one of the most beautiful pictures of a child I have ever seen. Magic in her eye.

( Later I read the text that went with the image from the book of Japanese art and realised that I had been thinking along completely different lines. It was a series of prints from 1795-1796 of Japanese courtesans in Yoshiwara. Had to laugh. Seems my mind had wandered into a completely different Pleasure District from the one so elegantly depicted.)

The competition will end on 10th December, International Day of Human Rights.
This is the drawing that the winner will receive:

The list begins:

  •   From Lyn Oates, a photograph seen on the web. Child and tiger by Dyrk Daniels. 
  •   From Jane Johnson, author of The Salt Road and The Tenth Gift, patterns in Saharan sand and her husband, for, as she says, "is anything more inspiring than love?"

  • Above, from Susan, a beautiful ballet from  Tamasaburo Japan. I love herons, and snow and transformation.

May Tree by Kate Green

The Dark Hands of the Sea by Catherine Hyde. 

  •  From Jane Ryan of Opi, her message that came with the link is beautiful in itself. It reads: " My lovely daughter singing......... a beautiful thing for her mother to hear." Jane's work is magical too.
  • From A Mermaid in the attic, a contemplation on Beauty, a sideways look. Her entry to the Contest of Beauty is complex. A painting, which I will add below, or Beauty, sleeping and dreaming and remembering, but also a poem, sung. She recorded the song in a swift window of 15 minutes and says that it is rough and yet if you tried to recreate the nature of it you would struggle. Even the dog conspires to the atmosphere. I love the idea of Beauty looking back on her life with her Beast lover, so look first here for the poem and the roots of it, then at the 'finished' song and image.

  •  From a friend on Facebook an entry by email, beautiful, atmospheric. 
  If I was any good at writing, or drawing, I would put down something
about last Tuesday, when I took my 3 year old gypsy vanner and my
daughter out for a walk. It had rained hard earlier, so there was no
point in staying in the field, but the paths in the woods were dry
enough. I put her on his back with a blanket and walked next to them,
in the twilight under the trees. I knew we didn't have much time until
full dark, so I ran part of the way, jogged with the horse trotting
next to me, and ran hard with him cantering. It is somewhat scary
running with a horse ten times your weight running next to you, almost
touching, but exhilarating as well. we stopped because my daughter
shouted 'enough!', and anyway it was getting too dark to see. On the
way home, the other horses greeted us from across the fields, the
lights from the cars on the road in our eyes.
Looks like I have written something after all.

My Beauty is
the wild and windswept moorland
the piercing eye
of predatory bird

My Beauty is
the well-lined face of Oak
the visionary Wren

My Beauty is
the sensual touch of velvet flower
salt taste of ocean
scent of Earth

My Beauty is
green grass in stone circles
Sun-bleached bones of desert
Undulation of prairie

My Beauty is
the ecstasy of dance
the moonlit glade
the chant of invocation

My Beauty is
the hypnotic hum of bees
fragrance of honey

It is laughter, tenderness
and frightening as lightning
It is the arching rainbow
the glinting sharpness of obsidian blade

It is night-hunting Owl
Playful Crow
Blue Star Maiden
Swan-blessed river

  • A late entry, sneaking in on the last day! Which is only fitting as I knew this young woman when she was a small thing and she sneaked into my house through the cat flap with her sisters. First I knew of them being in was three giggling girls. She has grown up to be very beautiful and very talented through years of hard work and practice.


Please invite your friends to join by sending them a link to this blog post. There is so much beauty in the world. Let's share it.

nb. And there was more, much more and thank you to everyone who has enriched my life with all their beauty and shared. Sorry I can't put more on. There is just so much and I run out of time to paint and draw, but I have looked at everything. There is still one day left. Tomorrow morning I will decide where the hare will go. The winner will be announced on my new blog.

Day Off

1. Make List
2. Walk dogs
3. Email Guy about exhibition.
4. Phone Dru re Tues ( hmmm.... Thai feast night, lovely), sister re birthday, Parcs re studio.
5. Capture 2 or 3 images so that can work on East of the Sun in studio next week.
6. Stretch paper.
7. Put washing away.
8. Tidy studio/ bedroom ( slut slut slovenly slut!)
9. Read, for at least half an hour, but fire, with feet up.
10. Blog.

Friday, October 28, 2011

End of the first week.

Peaceful working today after a busy book signing yesterday. In the morning I popped out for a coffee and found a strange visitor on my return.

Washing up, lovely to have a sink in my studio.


Adam Buick's moonjars complete the window. 


Meanwhile, in my studio, old work, and new.