Saturday, July 30, 2005

Galadriel's Mirror

If you're familiar with Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" then you will remember where, after their adventures in the Caves of Moriah which resulted in Gandalf falling to his apparent doom, the party of hobbits and and others emerged on the east side of the Misty Mountains and entered the enchanted forest of Lothlorien.
Lorthlorien was ruled by the elven queen, Galadriel. She possessed a mirror which reveals the truth.

The mirror of Galadriel can appaer quite unexpectedly. A small quantity of rainwater gathered in the hollw of a fallen tree branch reflects the sky. So by looking at the forest floor you see the sky. Look closely and you reveal yourself.

Seriously though, in the forest the light is fairly subdued and any water that catches the light will surprise the eye. After a shower of rain, if the sun comes out the trees glisten like they are covered in diamonds. In Zen we say a single dewdrop reveals the whole universe. Likewise droplet spangled trees resemble those described in Buddhist visions of Heaven. Jewel trees.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Family of Blog - keeps growin'

Two more have joined my circle of Bloggers. There's Iain who now lives in Japan and there is a (Buddhist) monk who I have not seen for a number of years as he has been in a monastery in the USA for a while but now lives in Wales. Why not visit their respective Blogsites?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Luneside Portrait Project

Portrait at Luneside
Originally uploaded by Thole Man.
At Luneside Studios in Lancaster we have just completed a portrait project in which we each did a portrait of a fellow artist in the Studios. The results are on display at the Theatre Gallery in the Duke's Theatre in Lancaster until July 30.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Cathedral Grove - Drawing

Cathedral Grove - Drawing
Originally uploaded by Thole Man.
This is an on-site drawing taken from my sketchbook of the so-called "Cathedral Grove". The sketchbook is A4 size. At the far end is a tussock of grass which caught the sunlight and was the most brilliant bright green, almost fluorescent.

Cathedral Grove

Cathedral Grove
Originally uploaded by Thole Man.

It was another artist living in Byrness, Sue Moorhouse, who coined the name for this particular fire-break. She too paints the forest. Not surprising, seeing she actually lives there. But she, like me agrees that the forest interior has that cathedral like quality about it. Looking along this fire-break is indeed reminiscent of some nave or quire. The branches that form the forest canopy almost mimic a vaulted ceiling. This image will become a painting/drawing somewhere along the way.

Kwan-Yin in the Forest

Kwan-Yin of the Forest
Originally uploaded by Thole Man.

In my room at Byrness I set up a small altar of Kwan-Yin, the compassionate Bodhisattva. There were no candles available nor any of the other usual bits 'n' bobs. The shelf on which the figue stood was only three inches wide so I was a bit limited in scope. However, as can be seen, I gave her a backdrop of pine sprigs and a few cones. The figure stands about six inches high. I think it made for a very peaceful looking image.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Back to Lancaster

Sunday afternoon. Back in Lancaster after a longish train journey from Hexham. The train got into Carlisle just two minutes AFTER the Lancaster train left. So an hour or so's wait for the next train.
Back home here, waiting for Brenda to get back this evening from her trip to Riga. The forest now seems a world away. However, tomorrow I take two films in to Jessops for processing after which I should be able to get some new pictures onto the Blog.
Watch this space........

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Early morning in my room at the Hostel. I sit on my zafu and face the wall. The silence is exquisite. I am alone. The hostellers have not yet risen. I become aware of the natural rhythm of my breathing and take care not to count the breaths as this will inhibit its natural cycle. As the scripture says,
"...even the slightest twitch will surely break the rhythm."
Later, after all the hostellers have gone and I have finished clearing up after them, I am alone in the forest. I am doing a detailed drawing of some tree debris on the forest floor. As I work I become aware of the very forest breathing as a huge living organism.
All life is interconnected. Meditating in a place like this only makes you acutely aware of it.
Its this interconnectedness of all things that is sound of the "Golden Bell that rings but once" that I referred to in an earlier Blog.
When body and mind are in harmony, one is in harmony with all things.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Walk on the Wild Side

Took a nice long walk deep into the forest along a footpath that meanders its way towards Kielder. Its well away from the regular tourist spots. It was so quiet I began to wonder if my hearing aids had packed in! I did a few drawings and took a lot of b&w photos. the weather was showery making it perfect conditions for the midges. But I went onwards, undaunted.
It really is great being out and alone in the wild places knowing your fieldcraft is essential and to enjoy using it.
Got back rather footsore about half an hour before I was due to open the Hostel. We're half full tonight, Mainly Pennine Way walkers.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Forest's Secret Formula

The Border Forest at this timeof year is notorious for its voracious midges to say nothing of the clegs as well. The former aren't called flying piranhas for nothing. And the clegs? Barracuda at least. Between them they can reduce a man to a hand flapping maniac in minutes. You can use Autan, Jungle Formula, Skeeto, they all work; - for a while. You spray the stuff on and if you leave as much as one square centimetre of untreated skin, they getchya.
But here in Byrness the foresry workers have and unfailing formula....
Mix equal portions of Meths, Dettol and Baby Oil together and apply to the skin. OK you end up smelling like a cross between an operating theatre and a chip pan but by 'eck it works!!!!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Here at Last

Byrness YH does have a computer but the internet is dial up and exceedingly slow so I shall probably only put in a couple of postings.
Left Lancaster in torrential rain but up her in t' far north its gloriously hot and sunny. For how long? Dunno. Enjoy it while it lasts I say.
Nice to be back among the tall pine trees.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Into the Depths of the Forest....

On Saturday I'm heading up to Byrness, about 15 miles from Kielder to look after the YH there. It is deep in the forest so no prizes for guessing what I'll be doing during the day, - apart from cleaning the Hostel and making ready for the next evening's arrivals!
IF the computer there is working then I'll kep this Blog posted. If not, then you'll have to wait 'till I get back.


While I was in Silverdale near Lancaster last Sunday I did quite a bit of fieldwork. One of them is shown here. It has I admit, a bit of an Anne Sudworth element to it. But this is no fantastical image. The Sun's strong light filtered through the forest shade and picked out elements in a surprising manner. So perhaps her images aren't quite so fantastical after all.

This picture is A5 size (15 x 21 cm) on and A4 size mount. It is drawn in black ink using a technical pen[Rotring] on tracing paper with white cartridge backing.

Originally uploaded by Thole Man.


Originally uploaded by Thole Man.
Anne Sudworth, an international artist who lives in the NW of England currently has an exhibition running at Lancaster UK
Her fantastical images show illuminated trees as if caught in car headlights or picked out by an independent light source. Some of her images include faeries and wizards. In some way her work reminds me of the Pre-Raphaelites but there the similarities end. Visit her her website here and see for yourself. Personally I like her stuff. But then, looking at what I do, I would, wouldn't I?