I still have a thing about foxes and have been watching them wandering around the gardens next door in the snow. I hope they find enough to eat.
Last year I took photos of the fox family sunbathing in the garden next door. One of the photos was taken in January, it must have been warm.
These are the inspiration for my fox ‘altered books’ except I draw them in a woodland clearing. I have yet to do an urban fox.
I’ve just created a pocket ‘altered’ notebook, Fox Wood, featuring a fox among some ivy covered trees and a couple of rabbits hidden in the pages. It’s now for sale in my Etsy shop
For another ‘Fox’ post see here.
There’s an owl theme going on at the moment. First I’ve been out looking for urban owls recently to write about for my book. So far, no luck, but I’ll keep trying.
Yesterday I completed a commissioned Owl at Dusk Box Frame, similar to the one featured below:
With the box frame I decided to hide a poem, Nature by Mary Oliver, written on parchment paper at the back of the box frame behind the final picture. I like the idea of hiding messages and hidden art for anyone who can’t resist opening up the back of the picture.
Below are some images of the box frame process including the back page of the box frame. From the front all you can see of this layer is a bit of sky and moon, but it’s a complete picture that features more trees and a badger.
Here is another tawny owl picture that I might make into a card:
Pearlescent and moon-painted, dusk is falling. In a corner of the park a male blackbird perches in the naked branches of a sycamore tree, yellow bill, eye a ring of gold. He flicks his tail and starts to sing an enquiring, fluty song. Listen…
I’m very pleased to have a second piece of writing, A Song at Dusk, along with a picture in February’s issue of Preston Pages, one of Brighton’s free magazines :)
The original A4 illustration above is available to buy, unmounted, mounted, framed or unframed. Contact me if you’re interested.
At the beginning of the year I decided to design some new t-shirts. Finally I’m getting round to it.
My first new design is Dusk Night Dawn. I’m always drawing deer and this time I thought I’d add the words Dusk Night Dawn (the title of my book!), as I really like these times of day.
There is another deer t-shirt in my collection, Deer Tree t-shirt:
Other t-shirts in my shop include a special Great Crested Newt T-shirt favoured by ecologists.
I’ve been told there is free shipping this weekend…just in case you’re tempted :)
If you have design requests, just drop me a note and I’ll see what I can come up with.
People often leave furniture and bits and bobs in our street so one evening late last year I went out in search of some wood to make a shelter for the pigeon that had adopted us. The pigeon, who we named Beaky, had been sitting day and night in the corner of our balcony getting very wet.
I didn’t find anything suitable for Beaky but I did find a small bureau standing in front of a house with a notice on it saying “Free. Please Take.”
I phoned Kevin who came up with the car and we took it home. Here it is:
Now I have a new space to write and draw in among the plants. It’s become a special corner of the living room where I keep my wildlife treasures – feathers, eggshells etc, my art and writing bits and pieces all lit by a little paper star light my sister gave me for Christmas :)
It’s amazing what you can find in the street!
I’ve been making papercut cards. There have been a few birthdays this month so it’s been good to make cards instead of buying them or using one of my printed cards.
First I made some of my greetings card images sepia in photoshop and printed them out, two of each.
I cut out the images and stuck them on to a folded pieces of white card, one outside and the other inside.
On the campfire card I cut out areas between the trees on the top layer creating a layered sepia card of a woodland campfire.
I played around with some of my other designs.
The glued image can snag a bit when cutting which doesn’t happen when I cut my altered books and box frames which may be because this card is quite thin. I’ll find a way of clean cutting them and try a few other things out soon.
i’ve recently received a lovely long letter from a friend and it’s made me think of letters. I like anything to do with letters – apart from bills of course. I love writing and receiving them. I’ve kept many letters from the distant past including a brief handwritten one from Sir David Attenborough and an official one from Buckingham Palace! (This was a reply to a letter I wrote to the Queen when I was about twelve.) But letter writing has as good as died out – or so I thought. More on that later.
In the Netherlands a trunk of 17th century undelivered letters was rediscovered in 2015. Apparently the trunk belonged to a postmaster and postmistress who were central in the international communications of the time. None of the letters were ever delivered and were still sealed. In the 17th century the recipient paid the postage so if they were uninterested, dead or away the letters would remain unposted. The website about the project has some lovely photos that include the ones below.
There’s something sad and romantic about them – unrequited love, words lost in time, words never heard until now, coversations from times gone by. They are beautiful to look at too – pink, cream, handwritten with seals, sometimes with drawings and folded so carefully; someone went to a lot of trouble. They hide secrets and those secrets are now being revealed.
Sometimes when I write letters I like to insert leaves, feathers, pressed flowers, cuttings, photos or drawings in with them. I think – and hope – the recipients appreciate this. But my letter writing opportunities are very few these days. I remember when I travelled through Africa in my twenties, before email, mobiles and the like, I looked forward to the next poste restante where I could pick up my mail. It was all out of date but so special to receive it didn’t matter.
I have a few interesting wabi sabi letters that a friend, who buys old stuff from auctions, gave to me. They’re written in an Indian script, possibly Tamil or Kannada as there’s a Mysore letterhead. I’d love to know what they’re about.
I like the idea of doing a letter writing project that would involve leaving a letter or poem inside a library book or hidden in a crevice somewhere in Brighton for someone to find.
Leaving something behind, a trace, a message from what will one day be the past appeals to me, like messages carved on beech trees or chalk cliffs, like ghost signs on buildings…remnants….
I would also like to leave one beneath the floorboards in my flat for any future occupants to find. A sort of treasure.
I was pleased to find a letter writing organsation, More Love Letters, which arranges for letter writers to send letters to people who would appreciate a kind note, a wish or a letter at a difficult time in their lives. When I get around to writing one I shall include a Memory Tree book and one of my cards. Which makes me think, if you know anyone having a difficult time who would appreciate a card – and perhaps one of my little books – from a stranger do get in touch. x
As I do both drawing and writing these days, I’ve decided to create a new blog for my writing – pieces that have mainly been published elsewhere online (a few in print too) along with anything nature inspired.
The new blog is called From the Fields and Woods.
I haven’t had a lot of practice writing book reviews, but I thought I’d try. Here’s one I’ve written recently:
I am drawn to water and freshwater in particular. Inspired by Roger Deakin’s “Waterlog”, I was keen to read “Turning”, a swimming memoir by Jessica J. Lee – and really enjoyed it.
The author, a Canadian with British-Chinese parents, is living temporarily in Berlin to write up a thesis. Feeling depressed she turns to swimming in the hope that she’ll heal a broken heart. She decides to set herself the challenge of swimming in 52 lakes around Berlin over the course of a year. With just her bicycle and packed lunch she sets off during breaks in her writing to swim in a lake every week, sometimes using the train and often alone. Swimming in all weathers, she likes winter the best and occasionally has to break lake ice with a hammer. Her relationship with the lakes grows as the environment subtly changes with the seasons.
Swimming becomes a way for her to find a sense of belonging in a new city. She hopes to find solace and gain an understanding of herself by literally immersing herself in the landscape. The book works well in various ways. For example, the author’s experiences, memories and feelings are reflected in the landscape and water with the use of simple similes and metaphors,
“I’ve been angry with myself for losing my equilibrium, for confusing swimming with love. I’ve been furious at myself for sinking… Feeling as clear as the day, as deep as the lake.”
When she swims, the language is sensual and lyrical but hints at her deep hurt,
“…The lake feels cleaner on your arms, less like velvet, more like cut glass.”
She has a keen eye for the details of the natural world, illustrated when her current situation as a newcomer to the region is accentuated by some wildflowers she notices,
“I’m struck by a tiny flash of pale pink in the green. Himalayan balsam… They are aliens here.”
During her explorations she encounters the ghosts of Berlin’s past as well as her own. Musings by writers such as Theodor Fontaine and the research of water scientists interweave with the author’s story.
Water permeates the book; cities, countries and continents are linked by their lakes and the author’s history. Relationships ebb and flow, sometimes serving as anchors, sometimes causing grief. Her present story shifts to her past and back again until we are acquainted with her life – like the stratified layers of a lake.
In the last chapter Margaret Atwood’s “Surfacing”, is mentioned, an influential book for the author. Perhaps this could have been introduced earlier in the book.
Like Roger Deakin in “Waterlog”, Jessica J. Lee successfully gets “under the skin of things”. But her story is markedly different. “Turning” is beautiful book about lake swimming, loss, resilience, solitude and finding a sense of belonging.
Recently I’ve visited the Knepp Estate to witness the fallow deer rut. I wanted to experience it this year to write about it for the book I’m writing, Dusk Night Dawn.
I went with my partner, Kevin, and we were in luck, stumbling on a rutting stand with a few males with magnificient antlers paralell walking. Then the fighting began. My photos came out blurred because of the dim, dusk light, but they’ve caught the primal energy! :)