Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Walking, working, today.

In a field of golden stubble, a flock of Canada geese. They lift, then circle as we move through the field, wings whistling. The sea is unnaturally still. It flicks and folds on stones, the shallow breath of a sleeping sea.

Each year, at this time, I make a pilgrimage to the beach. The path is heather scented. No seals yet, but I think I hear their calls on the edge of the wind. Maybe it is only a memory, and echo, a trick of the sea.
I sit for a while and try to gather words.

This is one of my favorite places to work. There are ravens, chough, sunshine.
The sound of the water changed as I sat hunting words and time passed. The tide had turned. In the sheltered cove a silver seal floated. It is so quiet, so hushed that even from the cliffs you can hear the seals breath.
The dogs get tired from waiting. We walk home.

As I stand again to watch the water a peregrine flies past then circles, stoops over the water.

Book Launch

Almost finished 'I am Cat'. Just a few words to gather up now. My mind has begun to search for wild dogs. 
Meanwhile The Cat and the Fiddle should be in the warehouse now in the UK, so, enterprising book sellers, contact Frances Lincoln and get stock early.
At Solva Woollen Mill we are having a book launch on 16th September. For those far away you can still pre-order signed books and with each book purchased you get a raffle ticket and a chance to win a drawing that was a prelim from the book. One book, one ticket.

Contact Solva Mill if you would like an invitation to the launch.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Night, light and twilight walking.

Yesterday I walked in twilight for the first time in a while and watched as the world dropped into monochrome. Moths, pale and fragile as ash moved in the lane that still held warm air from the day.
Tonight I walked in the dark. In the east the sweep of light from the lighthouse illuminated low cloud in a pulsing rhythm. To the west all starlight was eaten by the ink dark cloud. From each a bridge of glorious lights, too deep to imagine, arched. In this time of the dark moon even the gingercat looks black as he walks beside me.

Film of the seals from yesterday, swimming, on land and calling.

As well as sketching yesterday I did take my camera, so have uploaded some film clips of seals. I love the seal who played in the sheltered pool.
If you listen you can hear them calling.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Seals, sunshine, sketching 2

When I was younger I would draw all the time. Now for the first time I am learning how to look sharper, better. Leaning about how drawing is memory, is seeing, is learning. Simple lines capture shape.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Almost finished.

The painting of the puma has been leaning against the wall in my studio for a while. I was going to scrap it. Then a family came in to wander around and look at things and the father said something about the painting. Out of all of the things that were there. It pulled me up, made me look again, and so now 'I am Cat' is almost finished.

Meanwhile while at Art in Action I got together with Catherine Hyde, Hannah Willow and Tamsin Abbott. There was much laughter, but also a plan. So now we have the beginnings of a small group. We will exhibit together, at least once a year we hope. In the meantime you can wander through our studios and see our work on facebook at The Sisterhood of Ruralists.

Friday, August 26, 2011

An Open Letter to Mr Daunt

Dear Mr Daunt
For a while now I have been musing on what it is that makes a person a 'reader'. I have watched as government schemes to encourage reading have come and gone, even been a small part of some of their campaigns, but always somewhat discouraged by their thinking.
The only conclusion that I can come to is that what makes readers out of people is good stories. Yes, you have to learn to uncrack the code of the alphabet, but once you have that trick what you need is stories. Stories that have the power to transport across time, to different lands. Stories that catch you up tight in their alphabet nets and hold you until the world around you falls away and you become a part of the pages.
These come from writers, and from painters, through pictures books that catch at the hearts of children to novels that dash and rage at the souls of adults.
Like you I believe in the power of the book to continue through these changing times. But I would ask you this. Please will you support us authors in what we do by paying a fair price for our work. Do not demand the 50 and 60% discounts from our publishers that push down our royalties so far that we cannot make a living from our drawing and dreaming. Help us to inspire new generations into the love of books.
So very many writers find that they have to work at other jobs in order to make a living. This is not wrong, for if we lock ourselves away in our towers made only of words then where will we find the inspiration and the empathy that we require to feed our souls. But I ask only this, a fair wage.
Thank you.

Other thoughts on what makes our children into readers:
1. Example. If your children see you reading then they will see this as a worthwhile activity and become curious to discover what the pleasure is that you find between the pages of a book.
2. Sharing. So many people will sit and watch a film together but few these days will sit together and share the pages from a book. As our children grow older we forget that we can still read books together.

More thoughts on how to make readers out of our children are welcome through comments.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Auction of Artwork and Free Books for Schools.

Press release from Amnesty International.
Emma Thompson is one of three Amnesty supporters who have donated nearly 6,000 copies of Amnesty International’s award-winning book We Are All Born Free to primary schools across the UK.
The renowned author and actor is a long-term supporter of Amnesty International and her gesture will mark National Children’s Book Week, which starts on 3 October.
The book is a collection of 30 beautiful illustrations, each of which represents one of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the document that is a foundation stone of Amnesty International.
Among the top illustrators who took part were Axel Scheffler, who illustrated The Gruffalo, Korky Paul of Winnie the Witch fame and multi-award-winning John Burningham.
Every primary school in the UK can apply to receive their free copy via the Amnesty website To enable as many schools as possible to get this resource, Amnesty is asking schools to only pay for the post and packaging.
In addition to the book, the schools will also receive a copy of Amnesty’s excellent new primary schools resource Learning About Human Rights in the Classroom, which contains innovative lesson plans that enable teachers to explore human rights and use We Are All Born Free in the classroom.
Emma Thompson said: “Human rights mean a great deal to me and I’ve been a keen supporter of Amnesty International for years. I was hugely impressed when I saw their delightful book We Are All Born Free, which explains the importance of human rights through truly beautiful illustrations.
“It is clear, simple and uplifting and makes it very easy to raise difficult subjects, even with young children. It is a wonderful educational tool and I strongly believe that every school should own a copy.
“There is something about story-telling that is integral to well-functioning human society. Stories have tremendous capacity to engage our imaginations and to inspire empathy and understanding. I hope that, in the long run, exploring the stories contained in every picture of We Are All Born Free will help children to become tolerant and compassionate human beings, who fight prejudice and stand up for the rights of others all around the world. That is why I am supporting Amnesty in this initiative and I really do hope that primary schools will take up this amazing opportunity.”

The original artwork from We Are All Born Free will be exhibited at Amnesty’s Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn yard, London EC2A 3EA for one week from from 9am-5pm, 26-30 September. This exhibition is free and open to the public.
Many of the illustrations in the exhibition will be available to buy, in a unique opportunity to own original artwork by some of the world’s top illustrators. All proceeds will go to Amnesty International. 

Above is the page from We Are All Born Free that was my contribution. It shows Max relaxing with a child in a hammock. You can bid for this and a selection of other pieces either on teh day or by phone or email at The Illustration Cupboard. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Seals, sunshine, sketching.

It was good to feel the sunshine on skin as I sat above the beach of seals sketching. Good to sketch from life, though difficult balancing on the cliff top with glasses and binoculars, sketchbook and pencil. Beautiful to watch the seals and hard to pull myself away and back to the studio.

Astonishing things.

1. Jon Mayle has made a clock that looks just like the clock on the endpapers of The Cat and the Fiddle. For me it is strange and magical to see this 'made real'. The clock will be exhibited at The Imagine Gallery, Long Melford, Suffolk, for an exhibition themed around nursery rhymes, opening on 8th October.

2. Dropping Hannah off in town yesterday I heard someone talking about the van. It was a family on holiday. I stopped to talk before heading off shopping. The mother had made a cake based on one of the images in Tell Me a Dragon for her son's birthday. So lovely. The dragon curled around the sleeping child. I asked her to send me a picture so that I could put it here. She did.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Too long

My list grew and grew until it became too big....
1. Hang washing out
2. Draw cat for cover ( still thinking about this one, as it is a tricky balance)
3. Draw wild cat
4. Hang more paintings on the walls ( the house is an obstacle course of huge drawings and paintings in frames waiting to go to Oriel y Parc in October)

Meanwhile I have work on display at Theatr Gwaun in Fishguard, in the theatre foyer.

5. Text Sophie and drop off the last of the calendars.
6. Stretch paper.
7. Put away the logs.
8. Sweep away the dust and the dirt from the studio floor and think about finishing painting the walls.
9. Send more images to Jane for the book.
10. Finish the Dream of Six Kingfishers and put together film.

Meanwhile the endpapers are now done for I am Cat and only two and a bit spreads to go. Soon I will be moving on to East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Things I learned today....

 How to embed a film clip into my blog.

The End of the Song.

For the past few weeks I have spent far too little time walking and far too little time painting. But I have finished the owl painting.

In the garden the green reflected in the moongold.

Now the painting is hanging in The House of Golden Dreams.
On some days I feel very much like the owl. On other days I feel like the wren.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When I should be painting a cat I am thinking of love......

and musing on music for this, below. The poster was in a shop doorway in St Davids. Curious that it is also heart themed.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Art in Action 2011

Sometimes life is just too busy to blog and then things get a little out of hand. Art in Action was so busy that for the first two days of being there I found that I still had not wandered around with my camera. Despite arriving early I had so much work that it took all day to hang and then once the doors were opened it just seemed chaotic.
The evenings at the lovely Judy Dyble's with Hannah Willow, Catherine Hyde, Tamsin Abbot, Anji Spangle and Robin. Over the weekend my sister Maxine joined us too, and organised the chaos of the day.
I have more photos and will make a page on my website later but for now this was my stand, or rather, a small part of it.

And in the Best of the Best tent this is the piece I voted for. I love Karen's work. 

Since being home I have tried to settle to work. I have to finish the cat book, do the cover for City of Dragons, work on the calendar image for KNTR, sign and number and post the calendars, try and organise things for an evening of words and music at Theatr Gwaun in Fishguard on 12th August at 8pm
Hoping for dry weather tomorrow as despite all that I have a wish to ride in the morning on the heavy hoofed Uther or great patience through a valley thick with meadowsweet.

More photos of Art in Action later. Time for bed.

Elmo the Meercat, Pixie and the Field of Clover