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Turtle Dreaming Fire

Turtle Dreaming fire
It’s been a year of fire – campfires and fires in the garden. It’s great to sit beside a fire, gaze into embers, muse, discuss, contemplate, dream.

While sitting beside a fire beneath a silver moon while camping in Gloucestershre, I thought about my story, ‘Turtle Dreaming’ and how I could begin the story with a group sitting beside a campfire beneath a starry sky.

I’m glad that I’ve returned to the story. I’ve changed my drawing style a bit and it may all change again once the story has been hashed and rehashed. Anyway, I’ve drawn a picture that could begin the story. Here it is.

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Dancing in the woods

I’ve been riding a sinuous wave, up and down and then thrown about in some crazy whirlpool. Then quiet, life shifting below the cool surface of things. Blue butterflies again. And blue dragonflies; not so many this year it seems. Drawing a sort of butterfly mandala — a night sky of wings and stars.

Mary Oliver’s words seem so apt:
Butterfly Blue

“..to have wings
blue ones — ribbons of flame.
How I would like to open
them, and rise
from the black rainwater.”

Sultan Valad’s words too:

“…Sufferings are wings for the
bird of the soul
A bird without wings cannot take flight
So weep and groan and lament my friend
So you can free yourself
from this prison
And fly to that placeless
place …”

I’ve had such a need to feel free.

I thought,

What am I not doing? I paint, draw, spend plenty of time in the sunshine and out in nature. One thing I’m not doing is moving.

I went to the woods, with Kevin with a camera, to find a space to move, dance and be free!

I found a spot amongst sycamores and dog’s mercury, sharing sunshine with hoverflies holding their own in shafts of light.

It felt good to be moving. Here is my spontaneous dance in the woods. Perhaps I should have called this post “Bimbling about in the woods” :)

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Marine dreaming

Water: Origin of Life by Diego Rivera

Marine DreamingA recent television programme, Timewatch: Atlantis: The Evidence has fired my imagination. A summary of the documentary is as follows:

‘Around 1620 BC, a gigantic volcano in the Aegean Sea stirred from its nineteen-thousand year slumber. The eruption tore the island of Thera apart, producing massive tsunamis that flooded the nearby island of Crete, the centre of Europe’s first great civilisation – the Minoans. This apocalyptic event, many experts now believe, led to the eventual downfall of the Minoans, and provided the inspiration for Plato when he later wrote about the people of a mighty island, Atlantis, which sank beneath the waves and was lost forever, ‘in a single day and a night of misfortune’.

Minoan ceramic jar after Thera explosion

I’m once again back into drawing. I wanted the woman in my picture to be “awash in a pearly dream” of sea creatures – just like the sea creatures on the Minoan ceramics after the Thera explosion that caused a tsunami to reach the shores of Crete. I thought I could perhaps use the idea in my Turtle Dreaming story.

I have been inspired by other art namely Diego Rivera’s Water: Origin of Life mural, my favourite mural that sadly no longer exists as it was painted in Mexico City’s water system and has now been washed away. The theme was homage to the life-creating power of water. I like the hands, the myriad of protoplasmic life forms, the crabs, lobsters, representations to people and god-like figures and the cross-section nature of it.

And recently, I have dreamt of boats leaving their moorings and the arms of the harbour, setting out to sea on voyages into the unknown. It is good to feel as though I’m once again going somewhere :)

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Seeds….

Holding elm seedsThousands of elm seeds have fallen in great drifts in my street.

Wind dances
crazy seeds
A flitting,
chattering,
chase
on to steps and porches,
patios,
through windows,
like children, they play,
covering carpets
with the wild gift of
Spring confetti.

A girl scoots through an elm seed drift
as though through snow;

This is the time of Elm,
through its dance, it speaks.

Inside an elm tree

Brighton has many elms, they are famous survivors. We have possibly the oldest surviving English Elms in the world in Preston Park just down the road. They’re called The Preston Twins. Hollow giants, they’re home to bats and, if one is lucky, one may see a White Letter Hairstreak butterfly flitting among the canopy leaves in early summer. There are few mature English Elms beyond Brighton because Dutch elm disease has wiped out all but the odd one.

Seeds of Inspiration

“Dreams are the seeds of change.
Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.” (Debby Boone)

I have seeds of inspiration…

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Roots to the Sky – Upside down tree

Roots to the skyI have been inspired by my visit to Seahenge to draw two pictures of the tree that links two worlds. Neither drawing quite captures what I wanted to convey, but I like the bright blues and the birds – free to fly wherever – in the colour version. I included a few figures of “souls” in the pen and ink drawing, small amongst the other-world branches, like dancers.

Roots to the Sky

The figures remind me of a project I discovered a while ago called “TreeSpiritProject”, by photographer Jack Gescheidt.

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Turtle Dreaming….a storm, a woman and a harp

Woman with harp, stars and storm

Waves, angry as hounds, crashed on the shore…

I’m progressing slowly with my “Turtle Dreaming” story. I’m trying to write and illustrate the story at the same time, but it’s still in the first draft stage, changes can happen any time. So far there’s a young woman, a harp, a storm, a turtle, a whispering moon and I’d love to include shipwrecks, smugglers and underwater “other worlds”, but I’ll have to see how it develops!

Click on images to see previous posts about the story.

Turtle in waves

Embracing the waves

Woman Walking steps

Turtle with girl thumbnail

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The Long Man of Wilmington

The Longman in snow Cut into Windover Hill in the South Downs, is a giant figure known as The Long Man of Wilmington. He is one of two hill figures in Sussex, the other being a white horse. On a grey day soon after Christmas, I took a walk to the Long Man to take his photo in the snow, a “Ghost Man” on the hillside.

I wanted to visit the giant again as I had been asked by a friend to do a painting of him. I have illustrated him before for a chapter in a book on archaeology and folklore. The image I did then can be seen on my website here.

I’m intrigued by the stories and mysteries surrounding The Long Man. Some theories suggest that he represents Beowulf fighting Grendal, others say he may have been a god or hero, a pilgrim, a Roman standard bearer or some sort of fertility symbol. The Long Man is situated on a ley line and it has been suggested that he was a “Dodman”, someone who laid out the original ley lines with his two staves. The Long Man of the CoalsThe staves may represent the “gates of dawn”, or a gate through which he is passing to either heaven or the underworld. Perhaps there once was a real giant and the hill figure is a memorial to him. Another story says that there was once another giant who lived nearby on Firle Beacon. A battle started between the two, rocks were thrown and the Long Man was killed. Perhaps the giant was a protector of the area, created to frighten people away from important flint mines and burial mounds. According to local folklore, King Arthur fought and won a battle at Flossenden on a nearby hill-top, where there are supposedly entrenchments and a cave.

I was interested to learn that Windover Hill is said to be one of many places on the South Downs haunted by “Black Dogs” which follow you around, the sound of their paws stopping and starting as you do. All these legends satisfy my desire for stories at this time of year.

I saw no black dogs or apparitions in the village of Wilmington. My only fear was negotiating the ice-rink car park!

My painting is now finished and is with its new owner. I called it “Long Man of the Coals” as it looks as though he’s emerging from fire. (It could also perhaps be called “Long woman” ??) Today I did a drawing in pen and ink that I’m calling “Long Man of Wilmington and Black Dogs”. It’s more fanciful than my previous Long Mans – I was inspired to do it when I stumbled on “May” by Eric Ravilious, which I think is such a great image.

Long Man of Wilmington with black dogs

Dogs, wolves….it is also a full moon tonight, referred to by some as the Wolf Moon.

“..they come from the hills far away
Where the setting sun hangs low in the sky
Where eery caves echo and sigh
Where the sleeping bodies of soldiers lie.”

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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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Polina Semionova and newspaper dancers

Newspaper dancer 3Newspaper dancer 1Newspaper dancer 2


I believe, sometimes, that the ultimate is to dance.

I didn’t realise I liked ballet so much until I stumbled upon a youtube video of Polina Semionova dancing when I was looking randomly for dance videos. It entranced me so much I had to keep playing it over and over again. I’ve been a fan of Sylvie Guillem and seen Carlos Acosta, but I’m not normally a fan of traditional ballet – it seems so unnatural to be up on pointe. I’ve changed my mind now, I’m a fan, so I’m posting this youtube video and have used it to make some sketches that I did on old newspaper. I like the texture created by the newsprint and the way that it looks transitory and transparent. But I know I haven’t done Polina justice!

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