Here be Midnight

Friday, 30 April 2021

Badger Light

 I've always had a fondness for that dear old badger from Kenneth Grahams 'Wind in the Willows'. and, I have very much admired his grand Victorian home beneath the earth - nearly always depicted with cosy chairs and a glowing fire. All the niceties of the Victorian era without the stuffiness -I seem to  remember he didn't mind elbows on tables and that was such a relief to me as a child.

The cosiness of his home, I would even go so far as to say, has inspired most of my furniture choices - when I have had the choice . Small tokens and gestures towards creating my imagined version of that safe haven beneath the old oak in the Wild  Wood.

Today I live in the woods myself...which I am so very grateful for. My home is very small- more like Moles than badgers, but the hug that the surrounding countryside gives every time I look out of the window is a blessing I will never take for granted.


Here is another picture from  the Forest lullaby series, that celebrates the blue hours. A Badger at dawn going home with his  lantern.




Sunday, 14 February 2021

The Forest



 I am extraordinarily lucky. I live within the sound of the river and have a forest of old beech and ash, oak and pine hawthorn and rowan on my doorstep. It has been my sanity and my magic.

The forest and its creatures are my extended family, my neighbours, my kin.


And so here is another little forest lullaby painting, a pipe smoking rabbit from the forest.



One puff for sorrow,

two puffs for wonder

three puffs for magic

four puffs for slumber

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Remembering Innocence, Wonder and Magic through the language of the Heart

 

For as long as I have been painting there has always seemed to be an innocence about the work that I do. I have made some attempts to try and bring about an 'edge' to it, to make it more grown up, but none have been successful, so far.

Despite all that Life has brought before me, sadness, loss, grief, fear, all the usual suspects, the sense of wonder and magic about the cosmos and all its manifestations refuses to leave. Yes, I am regularly naive and some might say un-worldy, but it occurred to me that maybe that is not always a bad thing.

I have felt for sometime now the limitations of intellectual analysis of everything that surrounds us.  Where once I was interested in quantum physics and its shared ground with what we loosely term spirituality now I am more inclined to be in awe of the moss climbing the tree trunks. The sublime magic of  frosty branches decorated with icicles or the deer on the path that looks me straight in the eye, for one moment soul to soul with another being. Our insatiable desire to dissect things, to fix things, to understand things. To judge things. These well regarded and many times useful strategies have woven a spell that leaves our natural magic in the shadows, but I feel its time for being remembered is close at hand.

The language of the heart is the language of alchemy. Turning grief to gratitude, fear to joy, sorrow to grace. It only loves, and through that 'mind-free' love, magic and wonder is revealed, and for me that is where peace and joy is found.


Having been ill for so long, I did think that maybe the illness would change this. That it would bring more of the dark, more edginess, but it is not to be so.


Here is my first little painting of the year. A tiny mouse named Petrushkin.




Petrushkin mouse minds the hours,

He keeps them safely tucked up in bed,

And while they sleep soundly,

He walks the forest paths to fill his heart,

With tree and moss and rook,

Until divinity is in a dew drop,

And the gods whisper sweetly in the trees,


mouse-kin

soul-kin

bliss-kin

all-kin

this-kin

so-kin



no-kin

 

Friday, 25 December 2020

A Gift From The Old Burrow

 


Dear Reader, I know I have not been here very regularly at over the past few years, but I wanted to share with you a little of what I have been doing very slowly as I have been convalescing. 

So here is my little Christmas gift to you. It's a little pilot magazine with art, stories and musings about the Imagination. I hope you enjoy it.

The Old Burrow e-magazine Winter 20/21


Warmest wishes to you and your loved ones,


Catkin

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Spring Cleaning In Autumn


As often happens, the urge to prepare for Winter grows stronger at this time of year. The need to make things clean and comfortable for the hibernation time ahead.
This year it seems to have extended to The Old Burrow website.
While not much has been happening at the surface here, a lot has been happening below ground...

I have felt a change happening for a while now and to be honest I think it is still in progress. I write as much as I paint these days - a restriction and probably a gift of the ill health that I have been passing through. Last time I was very ill was over 14 years ago and that was the time I learnt to draw and paint - because there was literally nothing else I could do. So I like to assume it is a rough but guiding hand from life to grow in a certain direction. Lets see how it turns out....

Meanwhile you might like to take a look at the website. There are a few new pages to meander through and a bit of a new direction in that the Imagination seems to be as much a focus as the gifts it brings. I love the quote from John Keats...


'Imagination is a Monastery and I am its Monk'





A rough sketch - more bears and ruffs and stars.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

A Cloak of Velvet Darkness






I don't honestly know why I keep painting stars, but they appear in my drawings and paintings just as effortlessly as my dog appears by my side, wherever I walk, or sit.

It's a quiet appreciation. One that I wear next to my skin, usually covered up by the thick garments of everyday activities and conversations.

I have half-heartedly looked into the meaning and symbolism of stars but these days I have less enthusiasm for the type of brain bending research and analysis of which I will more than likely never be certain.

More absurdly is the fact that I rarely see them. When the stars are shining in their cloak of velvet darkness I'm very often sitting by the fire sipping chai and watching something nostalgic and spacious on the telly.

But I know they are there, I never forget. Shining homecoming jewels that decorate the canopy above our tiny smoking chimney-pot in the woods. They remind me of my smallness amidst the magic of the universe and there is something about feeling small in Natures miraculous vastness that leads me to feel whole and centred.

So maybe, on reflection, I do know why I paint stars so often and why I like the characters to hold their soft gentle light in their hands - little portraits of wisdom and contentment, magic in the mundane, the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I'm fairly sure this is yet another illustration for the slow growing tale 'Troll Song'. In this chapter Unn has grown a little and has voyaged across the seas to foreign shores in search of the wise folk who dwell in woods in may places across the Underworld. She is becoming fearless and content in her homeless wanderings and the stars who have watched her journey across both worlds cannot help but want to be near her...



'Starlight danced in her hair as day settled into night. Her heart ached with both beauty and sadness."Show me" he said. And so she did ...'




A chessboard floor - inspired by Alice through the looking glass











Oh starlight,
What is it that binds you to my eyes?
That makes me remember what I am
And forget all Otherness

My heart flickers as softly
as a well settled home-fire
And I glow from deep within my being.




Friday, 8 February 2019

Sidetracked by a Bear and a Red Flower from the Universal Imaginarium


Creativity moves sideways, it is by its very nature almost always unexpected as the mind gives way to that special place that allows things to flow without reason or judgement. I guess that's why we love it so much. Time out from that mind of restricted being and hey presto, the world is full of magic again. From this space every creation in this Universal Imaginarium is wonderous in its own right and joy returns, and from my perspective sanity too.

Last blog post I mentioned my having to get to grips with my pencil again...literally a new grip. When one finger refuses to play ball, well I have nine others to use. Not easy but possible. So I did start the painting and it is, for now, going reasonably well. But, because it is slower than usual, creativity exploded in another direction and so little sketches appeared and then a little paint. And, so I told myself, it's only a little one - 10cm x 10cm - and gave in.

In truth it's always been this way, two or three pictures going at once, two or three books. The creative juices nibbling away at blank paper as and when it feels to do so.

So here is the Bear and the red flower that drew me into the woods again.








 I'm not sure what it is called yet - the amount of puns available to play with are endless. The first to arrive was 'Bear my Soul', then there was 'Bear with me' and courtesy of my daughter 'Bearer of Good News'.

A little edit -  It's decided - I found the poem I wrote at the time it was painted...

Bear my Soul


In all the world
I love our solitude the best
the deep warm dark
of this long forgotten
brings my heart to its resting place
 and you bear
and all the world
'is' my soul.

Oh, and just a little sneak peek at the bigger one still in progress...