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A butterfly trapped in stone….?

LabradoriteA couple of weeks ago I had some Shamanic healing. I was told to choose a stone from a selection of different stones and crystals laid out on a lovely homemade felt square. I felt very drawn to a dark stone that seemed to have a mere hint of blue to it. When I took it and examined it more closely, the stone flashed the most beautiful irridescent blue at me. The rest of the healing ceremony was interesting – but it was the significance of the stone that I took away with me. I found out that it was Labradorite.

According to The Crystal Bible, Labradorite is said to be a highly mystical and protective stone, raising consciousness and connecting with universal energies. It is a stone of transformation and esoteric knowledge. It calms an overactive mind, energizes the imagination and dispells illusions.

Morpho on bootI couldn’t help thinking about a butterfly trapped in stone. The stone flashed like a butterfly, a Blue Morpho. Morpho is a genus of brilliant irridescent blue butterflies found in Central and South America. A meandering path of memories came to me of my visits to Costa Rica and Ecuador where I’ve seen many Morphos before. Perhaps, those places have more to teach me…? I feel like writing a story about a butterfly trapped in stone….watch this space :)

Release the butterfly. If there’s such a thing as a totem animal, I think mine might just be a butterfly right now – even a Morpho. Perhaps the butterfly is teaching me that changes can be good and bring freedom, lightness and detachment. Perhaps it teaches me to listen to my soul. (Psyche means both soul and butterfly in Greek.)

I recall a few memorable butterfly encounters. I spent years butterfly monitoring at a nearby nature reserve. I became very familiar with the chalk downland butterflies, mainly the “blues”, including the fabulous Adonis! It is like a meditation walking through grassland with butterflies flying up all around, noting each one and moving on. Walking through tea plantations near Munnar with Kevin on a visit to Kerala in India, a swarm of light blue butterflies as far as the eye could see enveloped us. A joyous occasion! In a forest in Mexico, I came across a strange butterfly that made a clicking sound with its wings. I found out that it was a Cracker butterfly, genus Hamadryas. And then there were the stunning Morpho butterflies.

River of Memory 2

Blues of Morphos, Adonis butterflies and labradorite have ignited my passion to paint in bright blue. I’ve developed my “River of Memory” painting to make it somewhat more aqueous – they could be ‘swimming’ with butterflies instead of birds. I’m not sure I like the dots, I may have to merge them somehow.

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New Year

Woman Moon BirdA quiet end to the year, a year of reflecting, writing and blogging. I stood on the balcony when the pips struck twelve and watched as hundreds of orange lanterns took to the skies. One floated quite close by from the garden next door to join the magical scene. And then fireworks on the horizon bursting forth above the silhouettes of roofs and chimneys. It was so mild compared to the recent snowy spell; I was just in a light long sleeved top.

The New Year has started well. We saw friends who took home some of my recent paintings and were curious about some of my early stuff. It was fun bringing out from storage, a large red painting that I haven’t seen or thought about for years. My last few paintings have been light or of vibrant colours but now I seem to want dark paint….and stories. Perhaps illustrative paintings. I want to continue with my Turtle Dreaming story and it would be good to finish it this year. The “Dreamcatcher Woman” in my last post was the start of painting on wood once again. It’s not a good painting but I like the depth and darkness, the hint of ocean about it. The song just came into my mind while I was scanning in the photo. Here is the next piece, “Woman, Moon, Bird” also on sanded scaffolding board.

I shall put up the end of year paintings soon if I can finally finish them. Meanwhile, wishing much happiness for the New Year ahead.

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A visit to Chagall’s windows

Chagall window

Chagall window detail

At last I have managed to visit Chagall’s beautiful stained glass windows at All Saints church, Tudeley near Tonbridge in Kent. They have been a source of inspiration to me for past projects and I can see that they will be in future as well.

We drove through many old villages, houses with crooked chimneys and blackened beams, and through woods bright with autumn yellow. Yellow is definitely a colour I’m noticing right now in nature, paintings and other things but it was the blues of the windows that I was keen to see. They didn’t disappoint.

All Saints, Tudeley is the only church in the world to have all its twelve windows decorated by the Russian artist Marc Chagall. According to Chagall the windows were inspired by Psalm 8; despite being jewish, Chagall found the Bible captivating. I wondered why such a small, simple church in an otherwise ordinary area was favoured with the work of so great an artist, so I looked up the story behind the creation of the windows.

The windows are a memorial tribute to Sarah D’Avigdor-Goldsmid, a 21 year old woman who died in a sailing accident in 1963 near the town of Rye in Sussex. She was the daughter of Sir Henry and Lady D’Avigdor-Goldsmid who lived nearby. Apparently Sarah had been enchanted by Chagall’s designs for the Hadassah windows, exhibited in Paris sometime before the accident. This led her parents to ask Chagall if he’d be willing to create the east window in her memory. Chagall was very happy to, and ended up creating all twelve windows.

In the magnificant east window Sarah lies adrift in the arms of the blue sea, a peaceful figure, while a few figures watch or mourn and Christ on the cross hangs over them all. I love the blue.

“The colours address our vital consciousness directly, because they tell of optimism, hope and delight in life” says Monsignor Klaus Mayer, who uses Chagall’s work in mediations and books.

“In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.” Marc Chagall.

The story is very sad but has been made into something beautiful with glass and light. It has sown seeds of inspiration in me for the continuation of the ‘Turtle Dreaming‘ story that I began creating and illustrating earlier this year. Embracing the waves

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Night Garden

Cave garden altered book

In the night gardenI’ve continued with the idea of a cave garden. It doesn’t make much sense having a garden in a cave where there’s no light, its as crazy as carpeting pavements. Still, I decided to create cave garden pages in my altered book and found some grass specimens in one of my collections; barren brome, wild oat grass and the ‘clapping hands’ of couch grass decorate the pages. I liked the idea of being in a garden inside a cave and looking out at a landscape and sunset. The page is really just a rough start but I thought I’d display it anyway.

I haven’t got around to visiting a garden yet although I have in mind a place called ‘The Breathing Space’ where a friend has created a willow dome and made it a place for people to go to meditate and enjoy nature. You can see her blog here. Instead I stayed in and worked on a few illustrations on the garden theme. Here is one of them called ‘In the Night Garden’. I’m aware of the children’s television programme of that title, but I don’t care!

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The old moon in the new moon’s arms

I’ve been pondering the moon in my pictures. The last illustrations I did featured a full moon but it was new moon when I did them. I looked through some of my other pictures – for example my “Wooden Man” – and there are many crescent moons and all of them sit facing to the right. Wooden man

My boyfriend told me that the moon doesn’t look like this in the northern hemisphere evening. So I checked out the moon the other night. It is currently waxing, creeping up high and visible in the western sky and it was definitely facing with its glow on its eastern side. My photo doesn’t show it very well. Crescent moon

However, I don’t mind which way around it is in my pictures…

Another thing I’ve heard about the moon at the moment, is its “earthshine”. How lovely, the moon picking up the glow from the earth! This is also known as “the old moon in the new moon’s arms”. There’s something beautiful about that! I couldn’t see any earthshine last night but I’ll know to keep looking in future.

Another special moon feature I saw once was over Victoria Falls. It was quite a long time ago and I vaguely remember the thundering waters. I went out at night with a full moon, and there it was, a moonbow glimmering magically over the waters. It was very special. Moonbows are lunar rainbows formed by light from the moon instead of the sun. They are rarer than rainbows but just as beautiful.
Writing by the Moon

Here is a picture I did last weekend entitled “Writing by the Moon”. I enhanced the blue colour in photoshop and now it has an underwater quality to it!

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Gazing at the moon again…

I’ve a fascination for wood at the moment. I’ve been photographing trees and gathering wood to paint which is now drying in my kitchen. I found a log and a flat piece with knots like flattened souls staring out at me on my allotment. The odd woodlouse finds itself lost on a desert of lino, but I think I’ve shaken most of the wildlife out. While I wait for them to dry, I’m turning to some illustration. Today I’ve finished two pictures, both feature trees and the moon as usual. This one has a girl transfixed by a full moon beside a wood full of eyes.
Girl and the moon

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Angel altered book

I’ve turned once again to my altered book. I was listening to the duet Panis Angelicus by Cesar Franck, which is one of my favourite pieces of music. It was one of my mother’s too. I remember her when I listen to it and it means “Bread of Angels” in latin.

Ephesus faceAngel statueI kept thinking of flying swans so I decided to give my book wings. They looked like stone angel’s wings before their wash of blue, so I found some photos of angel statues I took a while ago in a cemetery and a haunting, “gasping”-faced statue I took at Ephesus in Turkey which I particularly like. I printed out copies and stuck them in along with some latin lyric scraps of Panis Angelicus. I tore up a page of notes that I’d made for my “about me” page (that I’ll put up soon) and stuck the pieces on to the wings. I intend to do more with shreddings, scribblings, fragments, messages and murmurings in other projects.

Angel altered bookHere is my stone angel swan carrying the night on its back.

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Blue Goddess finished

I received my Amharic translation yesterday, I felt so pleased, it was as good as I’d hoped. The words translate as “Blue Female God”. I know that this art piece isn’t similar to the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox art that I like so much, but it gives my work a connection of a sort. (I was going to visit Ethiopia a few years ago with my boyfriend, but our passports went missing while applying for visas so we never made it. I’d still love to go…..one day…)

Anyway, here’s a photo of the script and my finished “Blue Goddess”. I have another piece of scaffolding board ready to sand down and work on. I think that I may keep to a similar theme.
Blue Goddess with Amharic writing
Blue Goddess written in Amharic

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Blue Goddess

The “goddess” theme has returned again. I’ve been working on a “Blue Goddess” which is painted in acrylics on a piece of wood. I visited the Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project hoping to find a good piece of driftwood. I liked the idea of the wood having ‘come from the sea’, it makes me think of shipwrecks, figureheads etc. I really enjoyed rummaging through their wood collection and found a suitable driftwood piece, but it was a bit expensive for my initial experiment. I finally decided on a cheap piece of scaffolding board, liking the fact that it was cracked and had knots. Back home I sanded this down ready to paint.

Inspirations for Blue Goddess

I kept having an image in my mind of a face that I can only trace to Chagall’s paintings or rather, the women in his paintings. I’ve been inspired by other things too: Fayum Mummy portraits — because they’re ancient and painted on wood panels; icons; blue buddhas; blue ‘durgas’ and lots of other blue things. The wooden statue featured in the book “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd also came to mind, as it was bestowed with sanctity.

My Blue Goddess is not yet complete. I want to inscribe it at the bottom with the words “Blue Goddess” written in Amharic. I have no real reason for choosing Amharic other than I like the script and Ethiopian religious art. I’m hoping to hear back from someone with a written translation. If you can help with it let me know!

This is what it looks like so far – with a manipulated digital version on the right!

Blue GoddessElectric Blue Goddess

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