Saturday, 23 January 2021

Papier Mâché 'Pottery' - Learning Through Making - 1

My focus is on learning through making. My medium is papier-mache and resin in the main.

I am making a series of new video tutorials for YouTube and Patreon.

First of all I'm making a Flat Lay Board - I used to have a stack of old doors and driftwood that I would use to take photographs on and I want to include current methods too. Flat Lays are really popular because of i-phones and Instagram. And they look great for certain things. I have an i-phone and an Instagram account so here goes. 

I'm working on the back of a small Ikea trestle table top that I sometimes use in my studio and thought it would double up as a good surface for displaying work on if I painted it first. 

My thoughts are to make a series of vessels using different methods in papier-mache. I'd also like to make moulds and forms for vessels from scratch or from found objects.

I'm always attracted to colour, texture and light and was never particularly drawn to earthy colours that were so prevalent in the 20th century British pottery movement. I do like their forms and lifestyle. 

I'll start to collect and list all my references as that may be of interest to some.  




Monday, 4 January 2021

January 4th 2021

 

So - here we go 2021 - what do we call you? You're still the 20's - We had The Roaring Twenties 100 years ago but not many of us are exactly roaring, apart possibly Elon Musk as he heads off into space. 21 is one of those - just a little bit 'special' sounding numbers and anything related to it gets a sprinkling of hope from the start. We're talking of the great reset and goodness knows we need one but we're a divided world - polarised and arguing - a lot right now. 

I have and am enjoying lockdown in its various tiers - it's as if the world has joined the artists, the philosophers, the contemplatives and the sages of old in living a life less travelled. So welcome and let's make the very best of it.

My world has changed for the better. The love of solitude has crept up on me determinedly and steadily. At first, quite a surprise as I'd always pictured myself living in a big happy family as a child - so where were all the others? They never materialised. But I did eventually find them - not the other children, rather the essence of mother nature - the world of nature - in the garden, when out exploring the countryside and in the infinite realms of the imagination. So for me, solitude became a place where one finds both magic and safety. 


During lockdown, I've been able to make time for painting and am delighted to find that I have a bit of an obsession for flowers. Wildflowers, a little abstracted and layers and layers. I used to paint much more realistically but always with a touch of magic - a twist on reality. Going into winter I find I need to collect armfuls of dried wildflowers - dried by the wind and the rain and the change of the seasons - silhouetted against the sky and now against paper and canvas. Raw linen canvas and canvas coloured like faded frescos, intense and brilliant colours and deep mysterious colours from the world of the Renaissance. And layers on silver, bronze and gold, wisps of trailing white, smudges of pale turquoise. I paint in my head throughout the day just as I also develop and hear conversations between my characters in my stories in the early morning and the times of falling to sleep.

And then there is the business of business - my business and of earning my living. The dream I had years ago where a rather beautiful and somewhat elegant lady - yes 'lady' rather than 'woman' in this case for it seemed she had momentarily stepped forward from of the world of an intelligentsia of selected females to meet me. The feeling accompanying my dream was that I had always known of her and admired and respected her so I was delighted and surprised to see she was the person who was running or owned the art gallery I'd chosen to first show my portfolio of paintings to. She was rather like a historical figure from a time and place long ago. I have just realised that I have a woman who is of exactly her ilk in one of my stories called Zuleika - it translates into 'brilliant and fair' - she is, though eternally old now. But here I have to emphasise that I'm not using 'ilk' in a pejorative way but as an antonym. This became all the more profound when she suggested that I cut up my paintings and make jewellery from the fragments. 

I was horror-struck - all the more as I respected her considered opinion above everyone else's. So you see I didn't expect her - what I felt, was a putdown. And yet in reality she'd thrown me a lifeline. I did as she suggested - after all, it was a sort of question - 'why don't you?' So - I did and it was another turning point. I see her rather as one of the three graces - Charis possibly as she is grace, kindness and life. It fits in my mind.

Lockdown has been another turning point. The turn I'm in the process of making right now is the one we call Patreon. I've always taken to social media - it's ideal for someone of my temperament - I love to communicate and sometimes to meet people but need to be undisturbed in the main. This is so that my imagination is given room to reveal its gifts. Also, people have disturbed me a bit too much for my liking during my life. I was unprotected. I am wiser now. I don't hide away. I simply love contemplation and the joy that lives in solitude.

So - Patreon? Well, I've been thinking about it and now I'm researching just what I can do with it. I don't appeal to everyone - who does? But after so many years of being true to myself, I do know that I have a following of interesting and interested people who love what I make and some of the things that I say. So I have the required foundation on which to build a Patreon account - that is an established presence online.

I used to be an Art Teacher - not for very long it's true - I didn't take to the system or the curriculum or the general school culture. So I handed in my notice and went my own way - hitching through the South of France and Spain. The streets were sometimes paved with gold. Not always. And they need a little polishing right now. But I love teaching - sharing and making and know for sure that millions of us do too. I don't really look at other people's ways of doing, making or sharing so I suppose I risk seeming somewhat unusual. That's ok - I'll keep on following my own path.

The thing is I feel very safe, very confident and very enthusiastic about this next stage. I've been keeping up with social media since its arrival. I've always been able to see the point of it and its possibilities. A bit like the wheel and clean water on-tap. Or telephones or boats. Anyway - I'm trying to work out what certain phrases, jargons really mean and to see if I need them. I don't have people I personally know who are embarked on the same journey to ask for guidance and actually they would probably say as I will - you need to work it out for yourself. And we have forums - just like Ancient Rome. And I even have my own permanent pitch on our modern-day Agora - Totnes Market on Fridays and Saturdays where strangers and old friends meet and have the most interesting and spontaneous conversations. The wisdom of the market place is a reality.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Making a very large tray

A sort of visual step by step of how I made a contemporary take on a traditional method of making a rather large tray. Designed to give a hard surface on a red upholstered pouffe.
The final piece is painted in a matching red acrylic paint from Golden paints and gilded around the deckle edge with Sterling Silver leaf that will slowly tarnish as the Renaissance Wax with which it's polished gains it's patina through repeated polishing and buffing. to be finshed..

Friday, 10 April 2020

Thursday April 8th? Staying at Home

I fully realise that I'm very fortunate to actually have a home - albeit a rented one. It's a safe harbour after all - even though I may be told to leave at some time in the future. I have never known the security that must surely come with living in ones own home. No tides of the equinox can wash that away. Though perhaps a tsunami.

I'm also painfully aware of the disparity in our society between people staying at home in in Grade 1 listed estates, mansions, houses with walled gardens, gated town houses, farms, country houses and villas, suburban detached houses with land and gardens, little terraced homes with gardens - like the one I'm currently living in - to all of the majority who have no gardens.
Then there are those living on the ground floor to those living in high rise buildings of many many flats - some have a balcony thank god - most have not. 
And then there are the displaced and the refugees and finally those in permanent lockdown in prison or in institutions and 'homes'. 

I've never taken whatever situation I've been in for granted. I always feel very grateful. I've been homeless on a few occasions - for a short times - but long enough to feel the fear and the cataclysmic shift in society's attitude. You seem to become like an untouchable to most people - even those you may have thought were on the way to being 'friends' - I have developed a healthy wariness of people on the whole now.

I feel that I should to say all of this every time I write a post - to put what then follows into some kind of context. But fear not - I will not - it has now been said. 

So the thing is that I've always wanted to share with those who have far less of my own experiences of living. A sort of sharing and by way of some form of encouraging. 


I remember once driving to Liverpool along one of the many out of the way back roads. Liverpool is a city I knew well and loved. 
I was going to hire a large van after my father died - to start to unravel and hopefully sort out and move some of his lifetime collecting and hoarding acquisitions - from anything to used paper bags and newspapers to Chinese porcelain and 17th century glass and furniture, silver, books and carpets, paintings, clothes and tools. 
It was in February and very cold (one of the reasons I moved to the South West - winters are milder - the air is cleaner) and I passed tower block after endless shabby depressing tower block and thought of all the single mothers struggling (I now being one after my divorce when my son was  five) to give their children some sense of inspiration that life has many different possible scenarios. 

I hadn't yet been to Venice at that point but it was one of my somewhat confused messages of hope and inspiration - at least it was something that I could focus on a bit to relieve the drudgery and oppression of life at times. 

I'd read a lot about Venice - it's fascinating history and some fanciful and charming modern and older novels but more to the point I'd often seen paintings of Venice. 
Especially contemporary ones - usually of waterways with poles - reflections spiralling down that reflected and shifted on the ripples of passing gondolas. It was the rippling warm colours in the cool moody atmospheric blues and silvery blacks of the Grand Canal that did it for me every time back then. Venice Insider
I was also acutely aware of the privileged life of anyone who could get the time and have enough money to go there in the first place. Then I recalled Thomas Coryat who even in Shakespeare's time found a way to go - he simply walked there. His adventures first published in 1611. 

I 'determined' (good old reference to Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit!) who struggled quite a bit) that I could maybe inspire people - especially these imaginary but you know - real - mothers - to expand there horizons if they had a need to or a mind to (another poem I recall writing about expanding horizons that I'd completely forgotten about is flooding back through time to me now - must search on Finder and find it)
Venice - Carnival Time -
definitely for the more privileged

I would love to read blogs by people from all backgrounds. I know that the person is not always dependant on their 'lifestyles' - I have met many really kind and considerate rich people and many prejudiced and mean, resentful people who have little. I have also met many kind and considerate right wing voters and many intolerant and scathing left wing voters. There are no rules. Each person is responsible for how they live there life to such an extent.

I know that my consistent happiness - but not at all in a hedonistic sense comes from within and from nature and from seeing the goodness in people from afar. 

I am fortunate enough to be creative to some degree. I love to make things and to relate deeply to colour. I love music - classical, lyrical etc. Birdsong, weather, dawn, autumn, tarnished silver leaf. 
That reminds me of a poem I came up with - as that's how they seem to arrive - once upon a time - about colours. 

I'll see if I can find it - yesterday I 'cleaned' my very old Macbook-pro and most of my more interesting files have been put in another place - yet to be discovered. 
That's a good reason why some of us prefer to live in creative chaos - it may look untidy from the outside but at least I know where everything is - not by consciously remembering but a sort of 6th sense. But then again it is so nice when it is clean and tidy - when it's still sort of un-lived in - for a while anyway.

I can find some reference to it - at least in the prose form -



Is there grey in love? 

After a life time of loving I can say that I for one don’t think so. Not at least until there is doubt or fear, then there is grey. Lovers don’t wear grey they used to say but of course recently grey is so fashionable that they must be. However -

The grey matter of a dull, dull life that doesn’t matter, of sleep without dreams.

Bring some colour, bring in some colour. 

Silver.   

Silver - so much more exciting than grey after all.
Stepping out of grey with magic and with sorrow.

Through the rain the birds are singing. 

Tears that reflect the light of life as it slips through our hands until we are alone, with anguish and  passion, ice pierces our hearts.  

Tarnished by years of neglect, by years lost from sight, lying half forgotten for another lifetime until we are transformed by love and care.

Until we can show the world  the patina of time, our  age reflecting it’s own smooth, warm serenity.

This is how to grow old, for we all have sadness and despair, it is the common currency of a life being lived. 

I take shelter in the old shed with the sacks and buckets, the smells of earth and dust and the spiders obliviously spinning and waiting.  The rain beats on the roof and window panes, the birds are singing still.

Silver is the colour of the moon, tonight she will be full, half forgotten sister to Apollo. The moon goddesses, the children of the moon, the women of our world. Our half forgotten other selves.

With the night, the moonless night and the absence of light comes black, slowly descending. 

Black. 

Black - the colour of despair and desolation, rejection and abandonment, of futility and lost dreams, depression and nightmares. 

Black as the traveller, alone on the road at night, no moon, no stars to guide the way home. 

And for those times in our lives when there is it seems no home, at least not tonight but maybe tomorrow. 

We cling on to the hope that all is not lost forever. 

Black as the pit and the raven, as the soul of the devil, tormented in hell, unable to escape. 

Black as the black dog that enters my room at night.  

As the eye of my lover, wide eyed and amazed by my twists and turns, by the many facets of my vision, exhausted and confused, entrapped and bemused. 

Black as the shadows, lost in the shadows I cast.


Red.

Red as the blood that flows through my veins. 

Red as the deepest rose. 

Red as rubies cast within the fire - raging with passion.

Blue.

Blue as the blues,  that goes without saying. 

Blue as sapphires, Mediterranean skies, as lapis lazuli in the folds of the Madonna. 

Blue as ephemeral wisps, vapour trails across the sky, cerulean depths and beyond the patterns of dappled waters of transparent azure and shadows of indigo. 

Blue as cornflowers and love in a mist, of periwinkles and the hush of bluebells in the woods in spring.  

Blue as the bruises you left on my face when understanding left your side. 

Blue with and without you. 

And blue as that electric blue of the meteorite that lands at my feet on the mountainside when the world is asleep.

Green. 

Green as they come, waiting, holding back, bursting with life, delighting in the myriad shades, merging and submerging into the deepening light.

Green of summer woodlands, blinded and suffocated by the engulfing light - cool and enclosed. 

Green of beginnings, fresh and healing, as emeralds from distant lands.


Golden. 

Golden - the colour of dust in shafts of sunlight, of ancient coins worn by centuries of changing hands. 

Of necklaces from Egyptian tombs and rings of love, of kings and queens, of emperors and gods, of chalices and idols, of nuggets in streams and buried deep within the mountainside. 

Golden as the morning light.

Of the halos of saints and the desires of sinners.

And golden as the light of all that is divine - fused with the light of love - the love  that creates and the love in every atom of life that we call may even call God, that we do call Love.  

We are golden, the colour of Love.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Staying at Home 7th April 2020

Every morning when I take Bella out for her morning walk the air smells cleaner, better by far and really fragrant - rather like working my way through a floral selection of gentle eau de colognes on a perfume counter in the South of France. 
As if I were to have opened Bonnard's window during an imaginary lockdown. 
I sometimes wonder why I write this blog - keep this diary - and why I make it available for anyone and everyone to see. I'm sure I'm not alone in the world of bloggers. Sometimes I can go for weeks - even months without actually getting round to saying what's on my mind or what I've been making. Being in lockdown is I think changing my relationship to my blog now. 

The one thing I pretty well always forget to do is check my messages or comments. They don't seem to turn up in my email box.

For any would be phishers or spammers out there or anyone offering me fortunes or unbeatable opportunities - I never open them - and on Instagram I'm very particular would I even let follow me. I am guarded by my intuition and the older I get the stronger it is. So if you work on an oil rig or have a high rank in the U.S military, love children, dogs and God and also Donald Trump - I will block you instantly. 

Sorry if you are by any strange chance genuine! I can't see why you would be interested in my life. My social media spaces are for me to choose. And that includes who I let into my life. I'm not collecting Likes or numbers. 

And I don't have any money - I am probably one of the poorest people in the land. My wealth is my love of life and my love of nature. I am a solitary person not a socialiser. I don't drink, take drugs, smoke, paint my nails or wear heels. An I am probably old enough to be your mum. Not that I'm offering!


So this morning on my phone - which is now being used as a hub (for broadband) in the kitchen by a north facing window so I cant't use it for Instagram but check my emails every morning I was really surprised to find a proper and incredibly lovely message from someone living in New Zealand who has really followed me and actually read my posts - saying she'd been thinking about me. I must have had a premonition - I often do - to check my blog for messages. 

(Intuition is'nt an unusual thing - most people have it daily, they just don't really talk about it for fear of seeming weird. It's not weird - it is perfectly natural and a great thing to acknowledge.)

I also started to delete most of my old messages on my blog - the ones that read as if they've been sent by a bot at least. Then I found the most beautiful message from - wait for it - four years ago. Mea cupla - mea culpa. I apologise to everyone I've missed, which is probably everyone who wrote to me and especially to the writer from Canada from so long ago whose message I read this morning and brought tears to my eyes - I've tried to reply but nothing seems to work. 
A lot of exclamation marks today. I am appalled at my own lax attitude. I never really though anyone was interested in what I have to say, I sort of do it because I enjoy it. I live on my own, I am used to being on my own - I was an only child and in my mind I also tell myself that I am writing it for my grandchildren - not that I have any yet but at least they will get a full (ish) picture of me when they come along. 
Periwinkle - The Language of Flowers -
for blossoming friendships that are still 
in their first stages.
Optional paragraph - (My daughter never knew my mother as she died 6 years before she was born so I know the importance of at least their presence. Saying that I may well be super enhancing their role - my granny lived with us from when I was eight to when I was eighteen - I held her hand as she died - though she never ever told me about her own life or actually spoke much at all. I'll talk about Jane another time. 
And I only very rarely saw my other grandma - Margaret - as she lived too far away - far away in the 1950's at least when the only way to get there was by country buses - maybe two buses a day so a bit of a challenge added to which my father put an embargo on visiting any of my mothers relations as he didn't like them. So we had to make a dash for it when he was out for the day. Very stressful. 
My mother's advice to me was only tell your father (he was a Cancerian) what he wants to know - as in probably not the truth. This was impossible for me as I was and am a stickler for the truth in all its forms.)
Today I am finding myself feeling quite sentimental and really upset for Boris Johnson. He's our Prime Minister for anyone who doesn't know across the globe. I've always had a bit of a guilty soft spot for Boris. Politics aside. It's the same soft spot that I have for Prince Charles. Monarchies aside. And God. Religions aside. 







Friday, 3 April 2020

Staying at Home - March 21st 2020

The strongest of all warriors are these two - Time and Patience. - Tolstoy - War and Peace.

Day 1 - of Staying at Home
My cottage is really quite small but it's cosy as in warm - providing that I keep the heating on - underfloor heating is pure luxury in winter and not something I'm used to. Bella loves to come and lie near enough to me to watch me whilst soaking up the heat on her tummy - legs outstretched
- as only a Labrador will, she will spring up at my smallest movement in case there's the slightest chance of food - a crumb or even a molecule will do the trick - she's just had the crusts off my buttery Marmitey toast. 
Moorashes - the little group of cottages  - eighteen in all were built more or less as peasant hovels - one story dwellings built on the earth. 
These little 17th century cottages are all in a terrace that curves gently - very gently along what used to be the edge of the Marshes where the tidal reaches of the River Dart once came to meet the downward slopes of the rolling hills that Totnes was originally built upon.
I'm collecting information of it's history from the Town Archives - I know who used to live in my cottage for instance - a family with six children - believe me a one up, one down cottage is a small place to dwell. At another time a 'Gentleman' with entrepreneurial skills and aspirations who advertised in the London papers and took holiday makers out on the Dart on fishing trips lived in splendid solitude here. Rather like me. I love splendid solitude.
More later when the archives have reopened and I have more information.

Totnes has been in my mind like a second mother to me. I love her. She's accommodated me time and time again as my wandering life unfolded. A safe haven to return to. When I love a place I first of all feel safe and protected. Many places leave me cold and some can actively repel me and then I pass by as quickly as possible and avoid if I can from ever going back. 

Totnes can sometimes irritate me too just in the way that mothers can. I found that my mother hardly ever irritated me - I think that's quite unusual. I however, as a mother, seem to be - according to my children - very irritating but also it seems endearingly amusing - at times. Perhaps that's a compensating factor.

So as the whole world settles or is somehow forced into staying at home I can't help being unhappy for feeling so happy - a childhood trait of mine that seems to have returned. I used to feel so guilty being filled with happiness as my angry and volatile father stomped around the house complaining about doors being open and lights on until he was incandescent with rage - shouting and swearing at my mother and me. As this happened between three and five times a day I was always living on the edge of peace but only ever there when I was on my own or just with my mother - we had that extra bond through seeking escape and refuge. 
We'd commiserate and mull over what had happened if we could possibly find the chance when he'd gone out. We'd go for a walk and let Mother Nature soothe our souls. We lived right on the edge of the countryside - a short walk, over a canal bridge,
along the cobblestone road of the village and then freedom. The Blackbird singing was our administering Angel. 
'Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night' was my song for a long time and still brings tears to my eyes. You could not talk about abuse in those days - you had to absorb it if you couldn't run away. I could not leave my mother to his single handed tyranny and she continually absorbed it until she escaped by death at 62. A merciful release. 
I continued to try and understand it's origins but from a distance by moving - initially to Devon. But inwardly if I was alone I was happy - mainly - often - often enough to show me that life had meaning underneath the storm - behind the clouds. 
I wrote a poem - quite spontaneously - from fridge magnets of all things - many many years later. I'd had them on the fridge for years - then inspiration struck and as if by magic one day as I passed the fridge. I was somehow compelled to stop - this poem showed itself to me - very quickly - one word at a time. There were no other words to choose from - just the usual jumble of incoherent magnetic words and not that I was consciously 'choosing' them - I don't know if you can understand this. It may sound very 'other worldly' - I also think that it was other worldly - in a good way.
But I felt astonished when I read it - automatic fridge magnet writing?! 
I called it The Garden. And at the end there were only 'life and 'love' left as words so I added in my mind - 'all an elaborate chain of' once again to the last word. I also added the punctuation marks as this is how it evolved in that moment of moving the words - one after the other. I think that it's beautiful. And a poem for our time. Also for anytime. I've gone back to it and shared it many times.

The Garden

I have to take you to a garden.
It is essential that you tell our friends.
I have one lifetime only here.

There is a void and then a vision.
The summer rain is felt as music.
The water and the wind whisper through
Eternity a language that we dream of.
Above the mist, behind the storm, beneath the rain.
Together in a thousand moments.
A delicate symphony of light, like diamonds shine and play.
Shadows fall away. 
Beauty would be these and death sweet, not sad.
All an elaborate chain of life.
All an elaborate chain of love.




From my current perspective Corona virus and it's horrendous toll is having the same effect. Now I can see the - what - I am not at all certain. The whole world is in confusion but right now I am happy. A fool's paradise?
I have been making simple resin earrings for a while and love seeing how they are appearing in my paintings - diadems of translucent shifting colours.


I get up very early and paint. And let it evolve. I am looking over the edge of land into the sea or so it feels. I'm in Italy - there are cactus plants - diadems that float before taking form - caught in mid air. I have very few paints so work with chalk pastels and the paint into them with a gesso acrylic primer. It works and is very versatile but very opaque. Looking too yellow at this stage. Later I think I will work onto and into with oils pastels in layers of translucent glazes.

This morning I took Bella for her morning walk etc to a little grassy area round the corner from where I live - called Moorashes Meadow. 
Some people might just see it as a scrappy bit of grass and pass by and that for sure it once was - until quite recently. 

There's a group of people - often older - often female who have banded together to help Mother Nature shine. They start by clearing away all  rubbish, then the overgrown brambles, docks, nettles, ragwort and all and make overlooked and neglected places beautiful. I'm not one for joining groups of any kind - far more solitary so do what I can when I feel like it from afar and unseen. 
I moved here after all the work had been done so I'm a beneficiary of their hard work. 
It's still not finished but the Leechwell Brook that used to pass through the grassy meadow has mostly been channelled along a beautiful narrow raised leet or rill that's built up along the old wall that once delineated the edge of the town proper. It has a dark grey slate base and little rises of silvery granite blocks to allow the water to collect before it rushes and drops to the next run below - and onwards - collecting and dropping - all the time. Well, it's supposed to be musical as in the sound of water falling. You can just see the water rill under the arc of the flowering cherry below.
As there was no-one else yet about I thought I may as well move the dead leaves from the long rill that carries the spring water of the Leechwell Brook to a pond. The newts and water boatmen etc are far happier in the pond after all. I love playing with water especially if there's a purpose so after going back home and feeding Bella and Fizz
(ancient cat) I went back with a small brush that was almost the width of the rill  - about ten inches - and began to gently move everything along.
The rill drops in a series of little waterfalls of increasing height starting about roughly three inches and gradually increasing to the final plunge of a couple of feet into the pond. 
The thing is (was) is that the rill was full of sludge, twigs, plastic and leaves and the water was hardly flowing at all. So bit by bit I pushed the whole caboodle along and over to the next section. It soon became very heavy and the brush handle broke in half so I used my hands - never thought to use plastic gloves though a pair of bright yellow Marigolds would have been wise. It was only when I noticed something twisting about that I stopped and saw a very large black leech - Leechwell
Leeches do carry a certain mild terror for me even though I know they were once thought to be healing aids. In a similar category as rats I suppose. 
I found as I waited for my mild terror to subside that after a minute or two the water began to fill up again and I could then use it's momentum to push the bulk of the sludge over to the next section without actually needing to get my hands in it. 
I've always been a hands on sort of person.
Gradually worked my way along - walking along the side of the stone wall and down-rill to move the leaves into the pond and then walking back to ease the rest bit by bit - not wanting to damage the occupants too much - not even the enormous leeches - until the water ran fairly clearly and freely as it's meant to and the pond had the benefit of all the new visitors and decomposing leaves from the autumn. 
I fished out a big plastic bottle and a bag of dog poo - then feeling satisfied and rather virtuous and still not having seen a soul I went home to shove my clothes into the washing machine and scrub my nails.

Next job is to send a few of the more important emails and then to take a painting to the next stage. I am using up all my canvases and seeing where my imagination and my unconscious take me, really very revealing. I have a large (ish) canvas with a summer sky - slightly blustery on the go. 
The sea is distant but as it comes closer it's shallow and transparent moving over long narrow little sand banks and stretches of seagrass until it is lost beneath the overhanging clifftop that then changes into and vibrant imaginative colourful micro jungle with I think at this stage as a flattened swathe of grass with a book open as if someone has just left for a moment. Maybe. Who knows? Not really me yet as it keeps evolving. This is a daytime painting. I think that I will do a companion piece - set under a full moon. I want to develop a poem I wrote a few years ago and weave it into the life of a character - Sam Lovett - in one of my short stories -


stories that are all linked into a wider arching narrative that connects all of the characters over time. 
Heaven and Earth

Sulphurous halo round the moon, full or nearly full.
Clouds move quickly now, like smoke caught in amber light,
Cool and silent like the river.
Flowers that once dazzled us with their brilliance and intensity,
With their gentleness and grace are still now.
Transfigured and transformed by the silver light and the half-light of night.
The river, half heard, speaks a language that we know and feel,
As it moves along the pathways of our souls.
You are my anchor, my heaven, my earth.


Even though my cottage is small it does have walls - white walls and mostly in the extension that is the studio - really quite high so ideal as temporary storage/hanging space so that I can glimpse them whilst in progress. I find that flashes of insight and inspiration - imagination - call it what you will - will come to me this way. The open book was a complete surprise - not consciously put there by 'me'. My conscious mind would love to vaguely suggest the traces of The Angelic Script 
- partly as some of the letters resemble the flowers that I've painted have evolved and partly because of that intriguing other world that I find enters our world so often. But they're tricky things - Angels. So if I do it will be with a pinch of salt - sea-salt of course.
Or it could be writing by Pericles or the Ten Commandments. Or a page from a sketchbook. Probably the latter.

My daughter is in lockdown with me - rather unintentionally so we're settling into this new shared state gradually. She'd like to get back to London to her spacious flat. As I have mentioned more than a few times it has no garden!  I feel she is safer here. Boris has decided. Here we are. 
As she is by profession as Set Decorator and has worked on some incredible films and has 'the eye'. I have said that she can completely rejig the way I've arranged the cottage to make her stay - however long it may be - pretty much entirely to suit her. I OK with 'Creative Chaos' - and I do know that her way will be a vast improvement. 
Time is standing still now - all the galleries I sent my jewellery out to (on Sale or Return) have closed for the duration of the lockdown so I have time to help rearrange the cottage and do the garden and paint and write and sort out all the 'stuff' that tends to spend far to long in the in-tray. I already have loads of jewellery made and am appreciating the break from making. I have lots of new ideas that I want to relate to my paintings and I want to be able to have time to ponder - to work some stories around the narratives of my paintings and connect them to new jewellery.
In the late afternoon we head off for a walk towards an old drovers road that goes up onto the top of one of the hills here. Walking along the path the birds are singing, the sun is shining and the banks are full of primroses. There is no-one else around. It feels perfect and it's hard to equate this country life with the cities.
Day 2 - of Staying at Home 

Again the sun rises into a blue sky. 
I was woken in the night by excruciating toothache. I made my Elixir of Life - I once read that the Ancient Greeks had a drink that they called the 'elixir of life' and it's characterising feature - apart from the obviously miraculous aspect was that the water was somehow thicker than regular spring water, river water or sea water. This does have a strange viscosity so in my mind I imagine that they had stumbled upon a  water source that ran over salt deposits and passed through deposits of sodium bicarbonate - it's entirely possible - check this out - the many uses of Natron - bicarbonate of soda 
that in the form of Bicarbonate of Soda - 1/2 a teaspoon and a dash of Himalayan Pink Salt whizzed up until clear as the salt can resemble little bits of finely ground pink stone - not sure of the chain of ethics of the suppliers. Too much and it stays cloudy it seems, just right as in Goldilocks and The Three Bears and hey-ho let the magic begin. That's it - the pain abates from 100% to 2% over the next hour. 
I also saw a very interesting video on YouTube about a family who credit Bicarbonate of Soda with not getting Flu during the 1919 Pandemic - it makes some aspect of your body chemistry neutral so the virus cannot enter according to her mother.
Mrs. Boone, 100 year-old resident of Mobile, tells how her family was the only family in a small rural Alabama area that did not contract the flu during the 1918 flu outbreak. Mrs. Boone's family all became responders in her community. Her parents become instant nurses and she delivered soup to the door of ill families. Well worth watching.
I go back to sleep to await the hither said sunrise as clear skies in March also bring very cold nights. 'The March wind doth blow and we shall have snow.' etc. The Robins as are the Thrushes and the Blackbirds are singing in their newly or reclaimed territories and on the hunt for the early morning worms. 

Generally I'm an early morning worm - I love the peace of the beginning of a new day. There is an incredible hush about the air at least for the first few hours. The road that runs nearby has been very quiet but now towards midday I can hear much more activity as in cars moving about. 
I continue to tidy the decking and clean up the pots of this and that - that have endured so many house moves of late. Now I know the way of the sun in this little garden and I can move pots to their best places. 
Wisteria and roses over by the steps that lead into the garden, a vine in the sunniest spot by the arbour, jasmine next to the French windows where the sun shines all day (when it does). 
I cut back the lavender that is in those long rectangular black plastic pots that make such good dividers or sit happily next to a wall or shed and scrub a bit more of that old decking every time I wash up. There is no dishwasher here so everything has to be washed by hand. A process that I'm re-learning to enjoy. 
Do I really need to table the days by number when they have so very rapidly merged into one long day that gradually is getting longer as the nights are getting shorter? No - different rules apply - I am sometimes content to float - more so now as I've completely lost my bearings. 
I love the morning as the sun rises in the frosty air - the blinds - a cream linen colour are down still against the night. I am sleeping on the little sofa in the alcove surrounded by some of my favourite books.
The sunlight gradually slices its way through the 2 inch gap between the blinds. It is dazzling and warm and full of life and joy - of promises for the year ahead. It makes beautiful shadows on the blinds - shadows of vine tendrils and of roses as the reach up towards the light and wave gently in the breeze. I have taken to taking my easel outside on the deck (I think of it as a deck as on board a ship that is searching for its safe harbour rather than decking from the builders' merchants) and with a thick graphite stick - a round one, sharpened to a point, I quickly trace the movements and of the shadows. But not every morning. Yesterday and the day before it was too cloudy so no sun and consequently no shadows.
So I found myself staring into space on the verge of tears as my heart cried out in pain at the whole world' plight. I kept thinking of the poor in India - of the homeless and of all the workers that have kept capitalism alive for the utterly pointless lives of the over indulged and hedonistic. This is a wake up call for us all. 
Today the sun is shining once again and I am seeing everything as an expression of love - at least I am remembering Tolstoy in War and Peace who continually emphasises love - in all it's forms - but ultimately divine love. Turner - the painter - said - supposedly on his death bed - his last words - that the sun is God. Certainly seems to be the earthly manifestation - 
I remember how I felt on the moment of a solar eclipse in Cornwall one summer when once surrounded by sea and sky and hundreds of bright blue agapanthus flowers the world - just for a few moments - but it felt like a howling, screaming desperate eternity - the world turned black and the air became immediately very cold - then the cocks began a confused cacophony of crowing all around - over the hills and woods and fields through the darkness. Then the utter joy and relief as the light returned. 
 

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