The rabbits are about their business of softening

One of my favourite things about living in the shepherd’s hut was looking out on the rabbits in the morning and evening. I even watched the fox stalking them (and failing).

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Rabbits (from Portrait of My Father in an English Landscape, 1998)  

George Szirtes

The rabbits are about their business
of softening. They congregate in gangs
by hedgerows as if waiting for an event
of greater softness to overtake them.
The cloud overhead grow rabbit scuts
and bolt across the field in evening dress.
The whole sky is purpling with the scent
of evening. A clock opens and shuts
time out. Flowers bend on a single stem
and wind plumps wings to leaves.

(Practising light and shade on a non-real rabbit)

A Drawing A Day

In March I followed Veronica Lawlor‘s ‘A Drawing A Day’ course on Sketchbook Skool. I still haven’t finished it, but I am loving it, and learning so much. It is great to have just one tutor who has constructed the course to be cumulative and progressive. I love her work and will get her book which I think the course is based on at some point. These are my favourites from Week 1 ‘Line’ and Week 2, ‘Marks’.

A Printmaking April

I have spent April going to printmaking groups – some by Bristol Print Collective, and some at the Greenbank Print Club, both of which I will definitely be going back to.

Painterly monoprinting near Bristol Marina – using caligo inks, and playing with different mark making tools, water and inks. The layers build up, adding more each time. It’s a process of playing and seeing what happens – at this stage for me it’s unpredictable and uncontrolled, which makes it all the more fun.

Botanical book making at Arnolfini – it was part of BABE (Bristol Artists Book Event) which I loved.

We made folded concertina books, using a pasta machine to apply pressure, and using dried flowers to create different textures. I added the poem using alphabet stamps later. It is so satisfying to produce a book, though what came through the pasta rollers was hard to predict and impossible to control! Photo credit of the printmaking process: Bristol Print Collective.

All that is gold does not glitter…not all those who wander are lost…  J.R.R. Tolkien

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And this is from mono printing at the Greenbank pub! The figure is from a sketch I did years ago on my Art Foundation course. The phrase is a work in progress – I want to make a print of the Loving Kindness meditation – May I be happy, may I be healthy, May I live at ease.  

Chickens, chickens, chickens

Chickens don’t really stay still. As part of Roz Stendahl’s week (also Sketchbook Skool) she really encouraged us to have a go and offered support about how to draw something that continually moves. I loved it – and was much more successful using watercolour than pencil or ink. They are all quick, gestural sketches, and there can be no overthinking or hesitation – you have to jump in! Yet also, you have to make time, and slow down, because you have to wait for the animal to get back in the same position again, before you can gather any more information. I like spending time observing animals, and seeing how they react to my presence.

Three months in a Shepherd’s Hut

I spent May – July 2016 living in a Shepherd’s Hut. I loved living in a small space, with minimal things, and opening the doors onto the chickens, sheep and alpacas each morning. So much so, that I am even considering moving into a studio apartment img_0177permanently! I liked living with minimal possessions, and spending less time cleaning and tidying! If you have less space, you have to have less stuff – and you just keep what you really need and love.

The kitchen was a challenge – one of those where  you are forever lifting things up and trying to find a space in order to put something down. I did this picture was part of a Sketchbook Skool class from Beginnings. The tutor was Tommy Kane, who draws incredibly detailed pictures which take hours and uses lots and lots of cross hatching. I am not a big fan of cross hatching (not really patient enough) but I experimented with it here and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

One of the best things about living here was having live animals available to draw at all times. And sometimes they would just come and ask to be drawn – the alpacas would just sit outside my door in the evening, and still be there in the morning, looking at me curiously. It was fun to get out of bed and just paint straight away – you have to seize the moment before they decide to head off somewhere else! I found the sheep totally impossible to draw – perhaps because of their whiteness, or my lack of enthusiasm for the creature – all my attempts look dull, clunky and lack life.