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Starlight Blog

December 08

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snow leopard, from front cover of The Snow Leopard by Jackie Morris

Into the past, 2008

Further back in time, 2007

Dim and distant past 2006

Only a memory 2005


early morning studio chaos and getting desperate to move into the new space now.

1st April. This morning I woke to find Robin sleeping next to me having arrived in the small hours. He had put a box on my studio table. I was just about to get cross, I hate people putting things on my work table, or even touching things on it. He knows this. But it was a nice box. Inside was a present. A little baby, for me to take away with me when I travel, so that I can blog and email and keep up with everything, and write also,when I am away. A beautiful baby. So I said thank you. And then I told him off for putting it on my table.

my beautiful new baby laptop notebook tiny bundle of magnifisence

Finding it very hard to keep my hands off the baby as she is waiting in her box while I try and finish the front and back cover for The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb, first of the Rainwilds Chronicles. The gold is Palladian. looks like white gold but not quite so white.

The Dragon Keeper cover for Robin Hobb's new book to be published very soon by Harper Collins.

detail of Robin Hobb cover showing Sintara

Meanwhile the post arrived with a cd of the soundtrack for Juno, one of the best films I have seen for a long time, and the brochure for the Cheltenham Music Festival. Wow.

Cheltenham Festival Music Program 2009

2nd April. As the day begins there is a slow lightening of the air. A solitary bird calls across the fields. Night gives way to light but still a few stars pin a small scrap of night time to the western sky. The air is scented with yellow gorse flower heaven-scent, like coconut. Sweeter. Like the smell a bee's wing would have. Birdsong swells from solo to choral and the sky blushes in a pink day then deep blue and the blackthorn blossom looks like ancient Japanese prints and I need to find The Ink Dark Moon, somewhere on the bookshelves for these words that are a century ago and half a world away still speak such a beautiful truth.

Another everyday morning miracle falls into a busy day of children to school, art in the post and me at last and with relief to the dentist to see if they can fit me in before I head off to a monastery for the weekend. Tired. Worn out by dragons. Life is sweet.

gorse flowers, golden, the richest thing around, paints the cliffs with golden liht in teh spring and fills the air with heaven scent

blackthorn blossom against a blue sky.


Come quickly - as soon as

these blossoms open,

they fall.

This world exists

as a sheen of dew on flowers.



Izumi Shikibu

from The Ink Dark Moon



Even the sea loves the beach at Druidsden, so much she makes heart shaped rock pools.

at Druidsden beach the sea loves the beach so much it make heart shaped rock pools.

robin stenham and baby Charlie (just like a real person only shorter)

15th April. I realised when I was at The Federation of Children's Book Conference in Worth Abbey that I was not happy. Familiar feelings, a desire to sleep all the time, not wanting to do anything and many other signs all came together. Not a good time to have to go on stage in front of an audience. What I wanted to do was to go out and just say, "That's it. I have had enough. I don't want to do this anymore." I used to wonder why it was that people would stop working in publishing. I am beginning to understand.

Back home after a trip to Milan where again I slept a great deal and I still feel the same only maybe more so. Walking helps. The thrift is in tight pink bud and about to blossom. Blackthorn hedges are like banks of snow. Enthusiasm for painting is at an all time low. Best for a while to stop, gather together thoughts, feast on raw vegetables and avoid alcohol and hope that by the time I go to Hay festival I will feel more positive about publishing and books. Fingers crossed.

Later....... so I slept the day away, and received many words of support for which I would like to thanks everyone. I have juiced fruit and eaten raw veg and I think maybe something about finally writing how I was feeling has let something go. Waking in early afternoon I came down to my computer to many emails that were full of kindness and love, and a delivery of a big bunch of beautiful scented lilies from Robin. I began to tidy and have cleaned the kitchen (after a fashion, as cleaning is not and has never been one of my greatest skills) and I will continue and sort out what I can of the rest of the house. Outside the rain clouds that gathered, so heavy with water that it seemed the whole sky was a giant bruise, have burst and the rain is falling heavy. I have told my publisher that I will not do any more work on the book that have now finished twice. It is time to move on, and I feel like the rain clouds, a sense of release.

It is not that my mood has lifted so quickly. The blackness built for a while and words stayed locked in, hence the silence of many days. I will enjoy the peace of this evening and tomorrow will pick up my Ice Bear and move forward. Outside the kitchen window the blossom from the blackthorn is falling like snow and the wisdom of ancient Japanese poets is evident.

16th April. Today I walked the dogs and cats to the high hill top and then began work for the first time in my new studio space and it feels strange but good. High up in the house with fantastic views, I started on The Ice Bear again after months of working on Starlight. Progress is slow, but at least it is progress. Invisible electrician appeared, then disappeared in a flash of light again. He says he will be back tomorrow and that there will be light.

17th April. Time to eat humble pie and try and do cover again. Not happy, not feeling at my best and ousted from my studio anyway by the electrician who beamed in and is now bringing more light to the space. He has the bluest of blue eyes, like the blue of harebells. I have three things I should be doing:

1. Painting polar bears.

2. Writing about dragons.

3. Trying to pull out yet another idea for the cover for Starlight.

So, given that I can't get in to my studio perhaps is it time to take out frustration on the mess the trolls have made in the house.

18th April. Just when I am feeling down life throws something beautiful my way. An email from Karen tells me that my weather vane is completed. She is showing work with me in St Davids Cathedral Refectory in May and as an act of reciprocity is showing my work in her studio in Hereford. Sometimes whatever comes your way life is still good.

weathervane by Karen Green of Greensvanes, a beautiful bear in copper

weathervane by Karen Green of Greensvanes, a beautiful bear in copper

weathervane by Karen Green of Greensvanes, a beautiful bear in copper

19th April. Still in awe of my weather vane. I have never commissioned a piece of art before. I love Karen's work. The sun is rising on a beautiful day where the grass is thick with dew. I found the moon this morning, riding in the blue early morning sky. Would so love to just sit on the hill, but I have too much work to do and before that I need to restore some kind of order to the house that is a bit like a rubic cube. So today I have to paint the walls so that I can move the book cases so that I can shift the plan chest so that I can clear the back room so that Ben can put the floor down so that I can move my bedroom in to there so that Ben can put new floor in my old room so that Hannah can move her bedroom down into there so that the roof can come off and my studio will be complete! And all that with only minimum punctuation!

early morning light and sand glows and glitters. Long shadow of playfull puppy

water ripples, sand and water and light in the early morning

Rebecca coming round to try and restore some sense of sanity and order to painting and moving

22nd April. For the past few days have been painting the room that used to be my studio, moving book shelves and books and painting the wall at the end of the new studio. Busy days. Also walking on the beach in sunshine warm enough for summer, watching butterflies, peacock and orange tip, and listening to the morning song, a praise to the sunrise, of birds. Thinking about the Musicians Benevolent Fund card, and realizing that time is slipping through my fingers, and waiting for grids for the cover of Starlight so that I can do the whole cover over again.

Picked up all the paintings from Tenby yesterday and by some miracle of organization on Ffion's part they all fitted into her big red van. By a similar miracle they all fitted into my house, though it wasn't because of good organization on my part. So many lie wrapped and dormant, waiting for the next show, but some are now hung in a random fashion on my walls.

In the evening Hannah and I drove with the three dogs to St Non's and walked the cliff tops in the late twilight. So beautiful. That side of the peninsula is so very different. The white sea campion flowers glowed in the gloaming. Must go back over with my camera ( which is looking very battered and worn, maybe time to get a new one soon).

So, the room that was my studio is now freshly painted, though in my haphazard and slapdash way I wonder why we didn't just paint around the bookcases!

bookshelves cover the corner Rebecca and I painted and I wonder why we didn't just paint round them?

And the space where I used to work is now a cupboard under the staircase that rises to the heavenly loft space of my new studio. And the builders ask me if I am pleased with it but I can't find the right word to say how pleased. It is wonderful and light and I cannot wait to be granted the peace and quiet of mind to do my first few paintings there. I have owls waiting to be finished and the Icebear back on hold while I finish the never ending Starlight Sailor.

My lovely Robin sent me a big bunch of lilies to grace the studio but I fear it will be too warm there for them and they will go over too quickly. They are the perfect colour for the room and their scent rises up the stairs and fills the loft with perfume. Their scent reminds me of him. It is Robin's birthday on Monday.

my old studio space, now a staircase and library room.

end of the studio with paintings hung

Hannah sitting on sofa in studio

Hannah came to look at the studio. "This room and the room down stairs look like a real person's house," she said. Hmm.... what does that make me, fictional mum?

27th April. Rain has turned to bright sunshine and I am utterly intimidated by everything I have to do this week. Still waiting for the go-ahead to do the finished cover for Starlight, though I am not sure what the problem is. It would seem that the designer is trying to put the type in the right place and to the right size and maybe choose a more elegant font, and needs to make sure that there is enough space, but not sure now why this needs to hold me up. I am quite fed up with the whole thing and trying not to let that show in the art. Looking forward to seeing the book redesigned though as looking through what I have in the way of proofs at the moment sets my teeth on edge and makes a noise in my head like chalk on a black board.

The new moon is the Blossom Moon and the apple trees in the garden have beautiful blossom. There are whitethroats and wheatears, chiffchaff and goldfinches around and grasshopper warblers and skylarks in plenty on the old airfield, and cowslips and primroses. Off to walk the dogs and search for flowers later in the hope that when I return I can at least have the go ahead for the back cover. In the meantime I want to draw and paint owls and am looking to get a barn owl box fitted to the end of the house when the rendering has been done and the house painted.

29th April. Last night I watch the hill silhouetted against the remains of the day. Close behind the new moon pulled the deep blue night across the sky, scattered with stars. The balance of light and dark was such that the crescent glowed bright, but I could see the whole of the moon.

drawing of two owls flying. 425





©Jackie Morris