Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seasonal Behaviour

All over Christmas I worked really hard to finish The ice Bear. Then I worked hard on other projects and now I have had a week of getting the mug designs done for the MBF, so it is time to break free and do something for me. Even though I have deadlines and too much to do. Back to the drawing board, my favorite place to be, and time to do a huge tryptych based on this tiny sketch above.
Drawings of hares have gone to The Imagine Gallery in Long Melford and soon there will be more there. In the meantime, hares for Eostre and the moon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Things that were left undone.

1. Make list.
2. Address the things on the list from yesterday that were left undone, especially 'paint windows'.

3. Talk to accountant and gather up any further details that are needed in response to yesterdays call from Customs and Revenue VAT office with gentle threat of being visited by VAT inspectors. 
4. Get so lost in painting that the day falls by in beautiful colours.
5. Remember to take car to garage for new tires and headlight check! ( How mundane is that!)
Constantly astonished by the things that get in the way of working.
6. Post hare to Iris and books to Jonathan Mayhew.
7. Phone the elusive and wonderful Vivian French and say thank you.
8. Constantly check porch for boxes of flowers! 
9. Walk dogs.
10. Sit for a while, covered in a thick blanket of ginger purring fur and read The Horsieman ( and work out whether it is possible to go to Scotland for the launch of Duncan Williams's book of seal stories) 

11. Remind people that it is possible to vote for more than one blog (up to three I think) and the cats, having very generously requested that people vote for my blog have noted that I have not returned the favor, so, if you haven't already would you please vote for The Gingers, at the Author Blog Awards, otherwise I may find that fur begins to fly here.

List no ? and a lovely surprise.

1. Make List.
2. Post hares to Suffolk.
3. Take dragons and snowleopards to cathedral
4. Paint windows.
5. Sketch running dog for Iris.
6. Draw hares.
7. Finish Christmas
8. Order 70 dragons and 30 seals.

Heard yesterday that the blog is in the running for the author blog awards so if you haven't voted yet and like what you see please click through from this link to vote.

Working away upstairs, painting the windows when the dogs began to bark. I went downstairs, opened the door and found the biggest box filling the porch. Brought it into the house and up to the studio to unpack. And inside the wonderfully intricate box was the most beautiful bunch of flowers.


 They were from my gorgeous friend Vivian French. I met Viv at Swansea Wordplay Festival years back and she has always been the most generous friend, full of encouragement and overflowing with story. Some years back we began working on a book, Singing to the Sun, together. The story is wondrous, the cover is not and I fear the sale of the book has suffered for reasons a little beyond our control. Anyway, even at a very early stage of the book when Viv saw the roughs she said " I want that painting. Can I buy it off you?" " No, sorry, I am giving it to a friend of mine, " I replied, but then had to say to Viv that I had decided that I would have to give the painting to her, couldn't sell it, so funny that she had chosen it too. Anyway, if you look at the page for Singing to the Sun on my website you can see that the picture didn't have an easy birth. Viv's text is so beautiful for this book and I couldn't do it justice, but managed, eventualy. And then Viv bought a piece from Snow Leopard, and they sat in my house and waited. She lives in Edinburough, a long way from here.
Long story cut short, as the lovely Anji Spangle came to stay and then drove to Edinburough with the paintings and by hook and by crook they made their way to Viv, and then she, wonderful woman, sent me flowers.
She has another story lurking and now and again torments me with it. It has a bear in it, and an archer, and a woman, and love, and joy and sorrow. And I so look forward to reading it for I know that it will make pictures dance in my head.
And the flowers now sit on the kitchen table so that they are in the heart of my house, and they have made me realise how lovely my house is. Outside the March wind is all raindancing cold. This time last year I was crunched into a corner of my bedroom painting. Last year I had half a house with no roof, no bathroom, too much work, chaos. Now what was my bedroom is the kitchen. I have a beautiful red cooker. The log burner heats the house. I have the best studio space I have ever had ( a huge mortgage, there has to be a down side to everything!) I am lucky.
And Viv, well, she is just a joy to know and a wonderful friend as well as being a word wizard or extraordinary power.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Poems and drawings and clay and fire.

It seems so long since I asked Iris Milward if I could buy some tiles for my floor, and she said, no, that she would like to swap some work. She has been so patient with me as I have only sent her one drawing so far, but am so enthused to send more after seeing what she has made with the one. The drawing above is heading off in the post to her as so far she has only seen it in the digital form, but below is what she made from it. I love her work an dlive with it in my floor every day so that I walk on poetry. We are both in the illustration and calligraphy tent in Art in Action in July and I am hoping to swap more work for tiles I can have in my small back garden. Her work is beautiful.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Weekend.

A weekend spent painting, gilding, walking dogs, walking cats, listening to films ( Once, Stardust, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ), going to a play and hearing The Lovely Somethings for the first time.
Time spent well, I hope.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two designs in progress.

There is always a stage in a painting with gold leaf where the picture looks ugly.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Work in progress

work in progress, for the Musicians Benevolent Fund mug design.

A steady day of painting brought some peace of mind. Yesterday a phone call from John Foley at the Imagine Gallery. John had sold the first of my big hare drawings. Good news as I have more in mind. So The House of Golden Dreams will be parting with a couple of its drawings and making space for more.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Falling into creative chaos

Day started well with sunshine and cats on window. Walked dogs on cliffs with ravens and blue sky. Took a photo of the dragon plant of Porthlliski. Cathedral looking splendid and snapped the ironic sign of William Henry Lewis.

 If you look carefully you can see my house from here.

He died.

On the cliff path tight fists of thrift held a promise of spring. 

Back home the morning which was meant for painting went all chaotic but too interesting as obsession took over and I phoned the V&A to talk to the curator of the quilt exhibition, ordered the catalogue, got the go ahead to do the tiger and the window design for the mugs and sold rather a lot of books.
And found a doodled rough for the nursery rhymes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sometimes the hours slip by too fast to catch.

To do before the day's end.
1. Make list.
2. Pack up a box of assorted chaos and post to accountant (slightly overdue!) 
Slightly overdue and have been worrying away about paying bill and how they haven't sent it through, then found cheque stub that showed I had indeed paid enormous bill. And forgotten. Anyway, chaos in post and determined to behave better in future. Maybe will sleep better now.
3. Call around next door and see Glyn.
4. Do either a rough or two for the cat book or paint some more on the MBF card.
5. Pick up a fox and a bear from Haverfordwest and take in an egret, a woodcock and a running dog.
6. Hang some Snowleopard originals in The House of Golden Dreams.

Earlier today talking to Glyn next door and he said that old people have all the best stories. Well said. 
Walking around the village early evening was handed warm eggs from another neighbour's chickens. Freerange. Fresh. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stitching time

All day painting and gathering ideas, listening to Laura Marling and David Hughes. Also wonderful piece on Woman's Hour about quilts, including one that was made by convicts on the voyage to Australia, the Rajah Quilt on loan from the National Gallery of Australia. Among the stitchers was a fifteen year old girl who was transported to the prison colonies for stealing a bolt of cloth. 
Hannah, my daughter, is fifteen.
I have to go to London soon to see my publisher so I hope I can persaude them that we need to meet in the V&A so that I can see it. I can feel a story coming on.

Mug designs for MBF. Some may become notelets. Some may be small paintings.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Slow progress on a rain soaked day.

On the beach today I walk the line where the sea's hand wipes clean the rain stippled sand. The wind bites hard, cold. Tiny shrimp and the smallest fish jewel the border of land and sea and in the waves the silver darling shoal of herrings dart beneath the wrinkled ceiling of the water.

Back home, green tea, sleeping cats, wet dogs, work.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Colouring in

1. Make list.
2.Paint for at least 4 hours.
3. Do roughs for mugs for MBF.
4. Put strange new trifid into pot.
5. Repot rosemary for kitchen window.
6. Walk dogs and cats and sit up high to watch birds fly.
7. Read, just a little.
8. Write up latest part of new story.
9. Think.
10. Supper.

 List for tomorrow.
1. Check list for today and do the rest of the things on it.
2. Paint for at least 5 hours with the very good help of The Time Chicken.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Proofs and The Time Chicken

Slow slow slow progress. The tricks we use to make ourselves work, but I fear mine is leading towards a book as I bow to the rule of The Time Chicken. Set the timer for an hour then sit and paint til the bell goes off. And below the Time Chicken, proofs of The Icebear which at the moment I take as proof that once upon a time I did some painting.


Friday, March 19, 2010

In the Tower of Song

This morning the Tower of Song looks like the above. I have my chicken on hand to guard my time and with luck and a fair wind will be spending the day painting, though I do expect to be disturbed by the mask maker's daughter and the wolf gondolier. Meanwhile, stamps.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In the office today.

One reason I love writing is that sense of capturing a story with an alphabet net. Another is that I can write outside my studio, usualy in beautiful places. Today's 'office' was the beach at Porthcelau. Perfect wves, beautiful light, perfect peace. No phone, just pen, paper, lost in the islands of a Venetian lagoon. No better way to spend a morning. Then home to paint.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A mirror

A few days ago Hannah hoovered the cobwebs from the stars. It brought to mind my painting from the week before of the woman tossed up in a basket sweeping the cobwebs out of the sky. 
Anji noticed that there are no mirrors around, but it is strange how life often mirrors art in this house.


A day spent tidying raised the dust and now it is possible to see the floor in my bedroom. The cleaning was in honour of Anji Spangle who I had met a few years back in the briefest of meetings when she came to pick up her prints from me at an exhibition in Marlborough. We must have said no more than 29 words to each other, but enough to know that I had met someone I liked, and email and facebook meant that we exchanged more words. Still, just before she arrived I had a sudden fit of nervousnes. So when she arrived tired and late with the biggest and most boysturousiy of a dog in the biggest and widest world and cats scattered to the seven corners of heaven I wondered what on earth I had done! Maybe facebook sleepover not such a good idea!
However, after a bowl of food Anji soon settled down and a glass of wine was easily pressed into her hand! Poor dog was so excited by all the best things ever in life being in one small house, but on the wide wide beach she ran free and crazy with Rosie in dancing delight for being alive. First time on a beach and the sand underfoot was the best, then the cold sea, and she ran and tasted the sand and then just to be sure tried it again, again, again incase in different places it held a different salt taste. Sun came out on cloud softened day and dogs ran billy-o crazy and danced.

And though it was good to see them dance so free and happy, for me the best best thing was watching Tansy leap with crazy delight into rockpools sending water showing in diamond drops and stick her head underneath what was left and blow bubbles. 
Cats settled, dogs settled and we had a great day that included being shown around secret places in the cathedral, my favorite being the hidden paintings that I must incorporate into a painting again, and the Tudor graffitti from where the choir boys carved their name and small drawings of ships into the stone. I will try and get a photo of this wonderful piece of history, but so good to have such an intimate tour. I had never realised before that the mosaic that shines in gold was of Venetian glass and never before really seen the tiled floor as a whole, distracted by each tile. It makes a warm carpet of light in the sunshine.

This morning we will walk the dogs again on the beach, I will wrap paintings and then Anji will head off for a very long drive to Edinborough. I will then settle to paint, with a head full of ideas and a glad heart. Facebook sleepover was, after all, a good idea. 


Anji is now on her way to the dark north lands, having left me with a cd by her partner, David Hughes, and I am overwhelmed and head spun with wonder and delight, not at her leaving, but the music. ( I think I have picked up on Tansy's joy of living) Fantastic, lyrics and music. Just fantastic. 
And I have just had news that in advance of Bologna Frances Lincoln have sold the rights for The Ice Bear to Gautier Languereau of France,  ING Edicions of Spain, and Klematis in Denmark aswell as a Taiwanese publisher who are taking The Snow Leopard, Tell me a Dragon and Lord of the Forest also.

I have a story in my head, a book to read, a song in my heart and I think that maybe Anji is a catalyst for good things.