Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It wasn't ALL gardening

I did take some time out to do a bit of sketchbook work. This is the same piece of garden shown in yesterday's entry only its a drawing this time. In case you're wondering about the white line down the centre, that is the division twixt two pages. The drawing is not complete but is statement enough.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Clearing a Welsh Wilderness



The garden of my daughter's house in Bargoed is huge. Its more like a park for size and it extends steeply up a mountainside. It is rather more than she can handle on her own. When we arrived it was plain to see it had become not a little overgrown. There were brambles in among the breacken and those brambles would not have been out of place in a scene from a Tolkein fantasy epic. One particular one that extended down the stairway shown here was as thick as my arm and about twety feet long, I kid you not. They were vicious thorny things. Anyway, to cut the long story short, a week and two sore backs later, my wife and I had cleared things somewhat.

We had intended to visit some tourist spots in Wales, such as Brecon, Llanthony Priory and so on but we got too engrossed in the garden. We did go to Merthyr on a rain Monday to look at the "Sea Pictures" exhibition. The gallery was very busy and they had hung my show well. Not as I envisioned it but it was just as striking nonetheless for that. In fact it turned out far better than I imagined. The show runs until the end of the month. You can visit the gallery link here.
We both had a good holiday even if it wasn't as planned. Apart from the first couple of days being very wet, the rest of the week was glorious. In the evenings, while my other half watched a bit of TV I took to wandering in the local woodlands. more to stop my back stiffening up than to admire the scenery.
Eliie and the kids returned after we had gone back to Lancaster. She told us later she was more than pleased with our efforts.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

All Change!

The Welsh contingent have returned home to start the next stage of the long school holiday. They go off next week for a caravan trip.
But I don't get to see the last of the Welsh connection just yet. I and my other half will be in Bargoed looking after the Guinea pigs, Rabbit and any other menagerie members they have.
We should get a chance to look at the hill country around the Valleys a bit more and to see how my show is doing in Merthyr.
Above all, it means the pair of us can have a holiday alone together sans kids, grandkids or whatever.
Meanwhile it leaves the plumber free to get on with replacing our bathroom suite. Shades of WITN?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cerian's Pictures

Painting No.1 Mixed media on Anaglypta paper. Length about 130 cm.
Painting No.2 Dry media on photocopy paper. A4

As promised in the previous posting.

Beachcomber

A full week has passed since my last posting. Doesn't time fly when you're busy? The Welsh branch of my family are up here in Lancaster for a week or so. That's kept me occupied with two grandchildren. Rhys is now seven years old and wanting an adventure or two while his younger sister, although only four, wants a piece of the action.
In the earlier part of the week, my wife took them both to various venues such as the canal to feed the ducks, (they must be the best fed ducks in Lancashire!) and to an amusemnt park or two. So while I was free, I took the chance while the weather was good to go down the coast on my bicycle and do a bit of beachcombing at Cockersands, part of Morecambe bay. Here you can see it at low tide. The tide goes out some ten miles in places. You need to know what time the tide starts running. It comes in very quickly. Thirty knots is not unknown. Indeed, Morecambe Bay's activity rivals the Severn Estuary.
But it has a beautiful quality in its wildness despite its closeness to civilization.
A close up of the sands photographed from the safety of an adjacent rock platform. I have too much respect for the sands themselves to venture on them alone. I love the way the sky is reflected by the water and the way the image is broken up by the sand bars. I think a painting is in the offing here.
A plank of driftwood whose cavities are filled with small stones from tidal activity. Nature's own artistic creation. ready made art, eh? It is all around us, you only have to know where to look.
The art of beachcombing is to look for nothing in particular. Most of it is the joy of the open air, in this case a stiff westerly breeze, the multple sounds of the various wildfowl and being alone.
This enjoyment solitude is a bit of a paradox. I always want to bring someone to share this joy with me, but then the solitary quality will be lost. Bit of a koan there.

A couple of days later.....
Rhys is keen on drawing and has obvious talent even at this early stage. I took him to the local park in Lancaster for a morning's drawing where he produced some interesting work. Yesterday we took a bus ride to Morecambe Town and he too indulged a bit of beachcombing. He got back to Lancaster with a rucksac full of odds and ends including enough feathers for him to just about make a pair of wings for himself. Just like Ikaros.
No, maybe not; we all know what happened to him, don't we?

As for Cerian, she had to be in on the act too, but I think she's a la'al bit young to go beachcombing just yet. Instead we rolled out a lenth of fine grain Anaglypta and taped it face down on the table. Then with paints, pencils and anything else that works she drew a picture of random objects; a girl with pigtails, seagulls, a dayglo green sun with an orange corona, and a lot of ordered zig-zag lines to make up an abstract pattern. Interesting. I'll take phote ASAP.

So that's the story so far. They stay for a few more days before returning to the Valleys. Then next week-end it'll be our turn to go there.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

To Throssel tomorrow.


I head up to Throssel tomorrow for the Avelokiteswara (Kwan-Yin) ceremony. The picture is a water colour I did some years back circa 1999 - 2000, of the West Allen valley viewed from the Youth Hostel there and looking towards where the monastery lies.
There is a carload of us going. We all meet up in town for the pickup. Hope it doesn't rain...
...leastways while we're waiting.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

From an old sketchbook


Leafing through some of my old sketchbooks I came upon this one. As the title suggests, I was on the moors between Brough in Westmoreland and Middleton-in Teesdale in County Durham when it was drawn. The drawing, helped by the date reminds me of what was going on at the time. For all it is a bleak scene and the aftermath of a rainstorm, it is a happy picture.
March 19, 2004 was three days after my 64# birthday. I had been ill with an overactive thyroid gland from the new year and had been staying at a cottage in Whitby by way of convalescence. It had been something of an idyllic week.
My wife and I drove back to Lancaster via Barnard castle and over Stainmore to Brough before joining the M6 at Tebay. We had taken a scenic route. The car climbed the hill out of the Tees valley in torrential rain but when we crested the summit, the rain had stopped and a watery golden sun cast its pale light on the scene. We stopped. I drew this, quickly, into a 15 x 15 cm sketchbook. I haven't used this image to develop the idea further. The sketch itself per se says it all.
As we say in the Zen tradition, "Nothing added, nothing taken away." It is enough.