Monday, July 31, 2017

Moth Prayer and Moth Spell

Hidden in the depths of my rusty old seed box back in the Spring I planted a packet of sunflower seeds. It was a packet that I'd had for several years, so was unsure whether they would even germinate. But I went ahead and planted them anyway and they came up. I transplanted them and watered them lovingly then planted them out. And look how well they did!
The bees love them and so do I, they seem such happy flowers being big and bold and cheerful even when it's raining, which it has been quite a lot just recently. But despite the raindrops, they have managed to stay upright with a little help from some garden canes. 
When the sun has shone in between, I've took time out to take part in the Great Big Butterfly count.  It only takes 15 minutes and is easy to do and even has an the app that you can download. Sadly our Lepidoptera is in decline so it's a great way for the butterfly conservation charity to check on numbers. I've lived in the same place now for nineteen years and have definitely noticed the decline of butterflies, moths and of course bees. Although I am happy to say that the bees seem to be more abundant here this year which is wonderful to see.
Butterflies and especially moths have often featured in my work over the years. Seeing them as delicate winged messengers, they flit from the pages of my sketchbook into the indigo starlit skies of my paintings. Three of them stopped and made a permanent home in 'Moth Prayer' below.
                                                                      'Moth Prayer'
(prints available here)

'Moth Spell'

'Moth Spell' I have made for a very special auction that will be taking place on 6th August over on Instagram. The auction will take place at @giftthemwings and all money raised will go to Somerset Wildlife Trust and the U.K.Butterfly Conservation charity. My little hanger will join a number of other winged inspired art that has been generously donated by a lovely bunch of talented artists. If you have an Instagram account please do pop across and follow @giftthemwings to take part in the auction. :) 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Days and Travels

Midsummers day has been and gone. The sweet william are beginning to fade after flowering their precious clove scented hearts out. Sweet peas and pinks perfume the days. The creamy tiny elderflowers and meadowsweet blossoms replace the faerie hawthorn. The year has twirled, jumped and shifted and now points the other way, dancing to greet the other side of the year.
 I didn't find time to stop by and share this painting, finished a couple of weeks or so ago. It's title is 'Between Two Trees' and was inspired by May and the magical energy that is sometimes felt (I feel) when two trees are side by side and make a doorway or portal.
Twin trees. An entrance to another realm. Hawthorn, elder, yew and hazel are the species that I find give off a magical vibe.
There are also some new card designs that also haven't been shared.  The images lifted off of the previous wooden hangers and mounted onto a green background to celebrate the greening. 
I love this shade of green. It's a kind of war time 40's green and reminds me of Enid Blyton books for some reason and the paint work on an old house near to where I grew up.  
Between Two Trees and the cards are both available via the Etsy shop.

To be honest I haven't really felt like blogging much or speaking much on social media. Sometimes I need to step away and just be, away from the continued updates of each others lives and political moaning and blaming. Plus summer is one of those times to get away from the screen or device and lose myself in the outdoors. I often tend to recharge this time of year. When the weather is good and the days are long and light, it's also the time for little adventures.

One such adventure was had last week. With bag and camera packed it was time for a little trip up north.The sun shone as we travelled M4 then M5 making sure we stopped off for a coffee at this favourite service station. Travelling onwards and upwards and across country surrounded by blue skies we arrived at our first stop for the night. York.
York has been on my list of places to visit for ages.  The minster on one of the hottest afternoons of the year looked amazing. The skill and work in the architecture and carving was breathtaking. I couldn't help think of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as we gazed up at the statues looking down at us.  When it cooled down a little we walked along the city wall.
The old medieval street 'The Shambles' which looks like Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter books was very pretty and filled with tiny quirky little shops and cafes. As a Harry Potter fan it was a must to venture into 'The shop that must not be named' I bought myself a present to celebrate 20 years since the publication of the first book. A ministry of magic sign which shall be put up on the toilet door. ;) (see bottom right picture below)
A trip to the Jorvik viking centre was on the list too, but as time was limited and it was just a  passing through visit, that shall have to wait until next time.

Next morning with sun shining again we carried on our journey northwards into Northumberland. A fleeting glimpse of the Angel of the North the sculpture by Antony Gormley on our way. (Photo actually taken on the journey home hence the clouds)
Within a couple of hours we had reached our next stop. Alnwick Gardens
It was perfect timing to see the roses all in bloom in the rose gardens. These were a few of my favourites.
I loved the adorable fox taking pride of place on top of the sculpture, the blue delphiniums and hearing all about the plants in the poison garden.
There is a wonderful tree house cafe and restaurant where a cup of tea and scone was shared with friendly blackbirds and thrushes. Definitely my kind of place. :)
The castle at Alnwick dates from the 1300's and has been home to the Percy family throughout the years. It is sumptuous and filled with magnificent chandeliers, art and antiquities, but despite this,  still has a homely feel to it inside. The current Duke of Northumberland and his family still live here six months of the year, when the castle closes to the public throughout the winter months. (No photography was allowed inside) 
More associations with Harry Potter here as the castle was used as a location in the filming of the first two films. The scene where they are learning to ride broomsticks, that's here on the the lawns in the castle grounds. It was great for kids young and old here, with broomstick training and a dragon quest. 
Our next place to visit was Holy island.
A retreat. Bleached skeletons of small crabs washed up on the shore casualties of a high tide tangled in seaweed. Driftwood, white shells and skylarks. The island is home to the ruins of Lindisfarne priory, base in the north of England, of spreading the Christian word long long ago and of St Cuthbert monk, healer,  bishop and hermit of the kingdom of Northumbria 635-687. The Lindisfarne gospels a sacred illuminated manuscript was produced here by a monk named Eadrith who was Bishop of Lindisfarne between 698 and 721.
Offerings that had been left for St Cuthbert beneath his statue.  Money, pretty stones and shells.
The other sculpture in the photo below is also St Cuthbert and stands in the grounds of the priory. 
Sadly the castle is closed for renovation work at the moment and doesn't reopen until 2018 so I didn't get to see, but maybe I will return another time for that adventure? Possibly on my way up to Scotland, one of these days?
I bought a souvenir to refresh me on my journey. Mead some would say, nectar of the gods. 
The local birds were very friendly at the cafe and the pub where we happily shared our tea with them and one was even brave enough to feed from my hand. No photograph of that moment captured though I'm afraid,  he was one super quick sparrow! :) 
After visiting other little places on route like Alnmouth, and Seahouses where we were going to book a trip to the Farne islands but didn't because of rain and thunder forecast. (that will have to wait until next time too ;)) we finished up at beautiful Bamburgh ancient capital of Northumbria. 
Windswept from the north sea salt spray. The old castle stands strong, granite walls holding it's memories and secrets quiet while the waves roll in reassuringly as they have for so many lives before. Foot prints of the past lost in the sand like my own instantly dissolved in a moment, as another wave covers any trace that I have stood where Vikings came to shore.
The dunes were filled with dog roses and valerian, pied wagtail and tern flying overhead. And a pink orchid.
This day was the longest day, the 'Summer Solstice'
"Welcome back" whispered the north sea as my skin connected with the chilled water that sparkled and swirled around my ankles. "I remember you" 
But I had never stepped into the north sea before, at least not in this lifetime?  

I am back home again now.
Until my next adventure.
Enjoy these summer days.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Hare and a Fox and the Sweet Blossoms in May

Back again, is it really a whole month later!?  I'm sure each time I say I'm going to blog more I actually end up blogging less which is a little weird?
We've had beautiful dry weather here in Wiltshire since April and many of the flowers are ahead blooming this year. In between working, the days have been spent soaking up May's heady perfume, and imprinting the song of blackbird robin, thrush and lark like a precious seal on my heart and soul. I'm sure the sounds are healing. I'm just waiting for a scientist to prove it sooner or later? 
Beautiful May.  Hawthorn decorates the hedgerows with sweet  frothy creamy (and sometimes pink) boughs. Oh but they go too soon when that impish west wind plays games for fairy weddings and summer snow showers, scattering the petals beneath to create scented carpets for wood mice.

"Tis like the birthday of the world,
When earth was born in bloom;
The light is made of many dyes,
The air is all perfume:
There's crimson buds, and white and blue, 
The very rainbow showers
have turned to blossoms where they fell,
And sown the earth with flowers"
~ Thomas Hood

The greening is all dressed up with lacy gowns along hedgerow and field. Here in the garden, the cow parsley is spreading nicely too. 
When the days have had a chill in the wind, I take my tea break in the greenhouse. Enjoying the warmth with the plants whilst they're busy growing. There is lots to plant out still and plenty of digging to be done. The ground has been very hard because of the lack of rain but the last two days have provided a few showers and refilled the water butts. 
I have a good view of goings on from my studio window. I can clearly see why all the peanuts have been disappearing so fast! ;)  Mrs squirrel doesn't mind me, but makes a swift run for it back up the plum tree when the cats spot her. 
The birds in the garden have been busy raising their young. I see them daily stocking up on food at the bird table and then they are off again. This precious soul found time to stop and serenade me with a spring song.
Here's some other wildlife captured on camera recently. The friendly chaffinch below I encountered on a walk yesterday near Avebury. The moth and may bug I found in the greenhouse and the heron and swans are a regular sight on the river. 
A couple of weeks back on the 1st of May there was definitely some 'Spring magic' in the air.  During a walk I encountered  5 hares, 2 foxes, and 2 deer.  But the best bit of all was seeing a fox and hare together. The fox walked through the hedge to the side of us then proceeded to walk down across a field past the hare. They looked at each other and the hare just stayed put and the fox just walked by glancing at the hare as he did so. Just seeing each animal on their own is a wonderful encounter at any time, but seeing 'both' well it felt as if it was my birthday or that Spring had gifted me a special moment. Here is the moment below, which I managed to capture very quickly. My camera is not the best at pictures from a distance but you can make out the hare and fox. :-)
And here are more hares.
Work wise this past month, I've been busy designing and turning work I've already done, into cards. these sets are both available in the shop. 
'Love the land and treasure the wild' and 'Love the Earth and all her creatures'
'May your dreams be filled with magic' and 'Believe in your dreams' 
I've also just finished these little 'Spring inspired' hangers.  
These will be going into the shop this Wednesday evening (17th May) at 7pm  (UK time)

Until next time, I shall leave you with a song from Lisa Knapp's brand new album, which has been my playlist daily for the merrie month of May and is just perfect I think. (link in my side bar to the whole album)
 Have a great week. x