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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


studio table in August. Working on Dragon's Haven by Robin Hobb, on a sunny day.

1st August. Too many days of rain but this morning, blue sky and sun warmth. Walking dogs along the path by Porthlliski we met Welsh Black cows, curious. The fields were full of green gold, but today I am thinking of things that are red.

Welsh Black cows on the coast path

greengold in a field by the sea

Ruby red shoes that glitter and shine, cherries, so sweet, so juicy, and the wings of a dragon.

Scholl sandal in glittery red and gold, so comfortable and retro

Heeby the red dragon, stretching her wings and preening.

4th August.

Red dragon white gold, book cover for Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb, showing Heeby, the red dragon preening her wings.

British summer time, a view through the studio window in the middle of the day with rain pouring down, yet again. More like November than August.

Some days a so full of distractions that it takes all day to get to work, and when I look back on what it is that has ept me away from my studio, from my painting, I can find nothing of any substance.

6th August. Yesterday I spent a day driving to Bath with Hannah to go shopping and wander the streets in an aimless fashion. Mr B's was as ever an Emporium of Reading Delights and once again the lightened my wallet and burdened me with bags of books. I now have Wolf Hall, and uncharacteristically started reading it. Wonderful. We met Joanna Nadin for lunch and she is lovely, and has two books out this week. Good to get together to talk about work. I learnt some very useful things. Home again to sunshine and a day in the studio finishing off a piece for The Ice Bear. And Tell Me a Dragon has arrived. They have some in Mr B's in Bath and I will be stocking the shops in St Davids with signed copies.

Bath, writing on the wall

Raven from The Ice Bear by Jackie Morris, to be published by Frances Lincoln in 2010

8th August. Moth filled evenings give way to butterfly dancing days and finally feels like summer has forgiven us and come back to play. Could this be because I almost have a full complement of slates on my roof ? Almost, but not quite.

red glow from a fresh butterfly

bright fresh beautifu;l peacock butterfly

blue dragonfly for a book cover.

bull seal courting cow seal

grey seals, mother and child, Pembrokeshire, August 2009

seal swimming in clear water over kelp

10th August. Seals gather. Overhead ravens fly. Buzzard circle and mew. Small flocks of bell voiced linnets flit and flicker through the bracken. Dragonflies rattle wings. Already the nights begin to draw in and moths dance in the twilight. So far the nights have not been clear enough for star watching. Clouds blanket the night, soften the milky moonlight. I should be close to finishing the Ice Bear now but am barely half way through.

The house seems as if it will never be finished.

detail of a dragonfly wing

copper bear on cloud sky

14th August. Walking yesterday in sunshine and bluesky and the air smelled of honeyed heather and meadowsweet, and was filled with the brush of butterfly wings. Finding all the chaos of building too much and the demands of signing books and delivering breaks up the day too much and so I cannot settle to work. As a result not at all happy with the new spread from The Ice Bear, of the raven with the amber bead.


loosestrife and meadowsweet, bluesky and sea


raven with amber bead

Meanwhile I have most of a roof and something of rooms inside but all seems so far away from ever being finished.

house with most of a roof and windows back in.

Tell Me a Dragon is selling well in the shops locally. The woolen Mill at Middlemill near Solva are happy to supply signed copies. The books are full price and postage will be added, but they do have most of the titles in print. The photograph below shows the kind of thing I do when I sign a book. You can contact the mill by email or through their website.The one below that is Heddle, half of the cat duo that run the mill, Heddle and Bobbin, posing for a photo for the cat blog. Minutes prior to this Heddle was snacking on a small mouse.

signed copy of Tell Me a Dragon

Heddle, failing to be impressed by anything other than the fresh taste of a young mouse.

Distracted when delivering books in the Pebbles Bookshop, St Davids, I bought David Wilson's new and very beautiful book, with a very familiar photograph on the cover.

David Wilson's book of photographs of Pembrokeshire

17th August. Over the weekend the cats made an appearance in The Financial Times colour supplement, and wish to give their thanks to Tom Cox for a wonderful article.

Maurice helping me to write and giving Robin a hard stare

Madness fell in as the building work suddenly became too much for me. On Saturday I took time out to go and sort out some of the things that needed doing, but found that the shop where I had bought my flooring from was closed, and anyway I had forgotten to bring the details with me, hat I hadn't measured either the bathroom for the tiling, or the kitchen for the table, but bought a table anyway and hoped it would fit, and that I had forgotten to bring the camera, which needs cleaning and a new lens cap and just about every other thing that would have been useful. Frustrating!

Back home I found myself putting vases of flowers amongst the rubble.

roses from the garden in amongst the rubble

At the moment the kitchen looks like the photo below, but it begins to take a shape in my head. I only hope it is the right shape as I will have to live with it for a long time. Larry, Robin's dog, does not like the house as it is, no he does not like it, not at all. But the cats do so love their new scratching posts!

the kitchen with big posts that hold up the house.

17th August. A cold despair crept over me from yesterday evening and gathered around. Today I wandered through the day and then was rounded up by ginger cats and herded to a warm place, not of my choosing, the home again, having worked out how the raven needed changing. It seemed that I couldn't move on until this was addressed. This will be the third time that I have painted, or tried to paint, this spread. Sometimes it seems so like one step forwards and two back. And then there is the house, which creeps and creeps and creeps towards something. The front of the house does indeed look like a dark cave inhabited by trolls.

Now the children are both with their father and Rosie has gone with Hannah so there is just me and the six cats and two dogs at home and that feels good. Tomorrow I will paint late into the evening because I have found a horse to head off on.

window sill with Robin's flowers and JAne Muir cake lady sculpture

27th August. Results day, and Tom and Hannah both have GCSE results to get, then school uniform. Looking back through the last few postings life seemed pretty drear. Things combine to stop me painting and this is driving me mad. Hannah's birthday was a lovely day, with sunshine and sea and friends, but difficult in a broken house of rubble and dust.

Over the past few days when I have felt utterly at the end of my tether I have found that it is indeed possible to go a little further, but amidst all the chaos I have found beautiful things. Iris's tiles (seen below, with links to her website which is lovely). I hope to scatter these among slate tiles on the floor and also to talk to her about more as we do some work together. Flowers from Robin. So kind. So thoughtful. Sunshine on hawthorn berries, blue sky and bird song.

tiles by Iris Milward, a hound and a hare

tiles by Iris Milward, a dragonfly and a chough

blue hare, ceramic tile by Iris Milward

31st August. It is raining. Hard rain beating on the roof, cold. In the garden the rose hips are full and red and shining with rain. Trying to paint, and in the half of the house that is broken the builders are painting, making doors and beginning to put down a floor in Tom's room. My head hurts and I feel sick but I am trying to paint, glowing amber beads in the shape of a broken heart, fallen onto snow, watched by a distant snowy owl.

close up of amber beads from necklace made by Diedre Woolgar.

a broken heart of amber beads fallen on the snow

snowy owl in the distance on a painted landscape




©Jackie Morris