Mary and the Leopard go to the Circus

Mary said, “What’s this?”

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And I said, “it’s a very old tin of paints, Mary. From when I was a little girl.”

And Mary said, “Yes, but what is this a picture of?”

And I said, “It’s a circus, Mary.”

Mary looked at the tin for a while. She loved the colours and the lady on the horse and the little dog with the strange ruff around his neck.

And I watched and saw how much she loved the colours and I said, “Mary?” And Mary said “Yes?” And I said, “I have a book about the circus. Would you like to see?” And Mary said, “Yes please.” And Leopard came too.

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It was a big book. Full with all kinds of pictures. And we talked about how the circus would travel around putting on shows, and how people would come from miles around to see the jugglers and acrobats and animals and the beautiful ladies and the clowns. Huge crowds of people.

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And Mary said, “Can we go to a circus?” And I said, “Yes. There’s a circus I have wanted to go to for such a long time. It’s called Gifford’s Circus. Let’s go and see them.”

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And so we went, and Tamsin came too and all her family.

And Mary bought the tickets, and it wasn’t long before she was inside the ticket hut helping the beautiful lady to sell tickets.

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There were circus wagons and a tent. There were clowns and tumblers and a man who was so strong. He climbed up high on balancing chairs and we watched as his shadow made patterns on the roof of the tent.

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And men juggled with fire.

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At the interval Mary and Leopard helped to sell refreshments and played on the wagons. Mary climbed the ropes that held the big tent up. It was so exciting.

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After the interval we watched as a beautiful lady rode a spotted horse. And just for a moment all the world lived inside the canvas walls of the tent and time stood still. It was beautiful.

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The horse moved so fast he was like a giant blur. A gentle giant in a sawdust ring. And a lady spun around making patterns in the light. And men jumped up high and balanced and tumbled.

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It was all so exciting.

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And on the way home Mary said, “I’m glad there were no tigers. Or leopards. Or Bears. They didn’t look happy in the pictures in the book.” And I said, “Yes.”

Leopard yawned, worn out by the adventure.

Mary said “The circus is a bit like walking into a dream.” And I said, “Yes.”

And Mary said, “Will you paint a circus?”

“I might,” I said.

Then Mary said, “Tonight I am going to dream of the circus.”

Sweet dreams Mary.

 

 

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Deadlines.

For the last two years or so I have worked hard and none stop, producing paintings for Song of the golden Hare, Something About a Bear for Frances Lincoln, book jackets for Robin Hobb’s books for Harper Collins, card designs for Help Musicians and Suffolk Wildlife Trust and calendar pieces and illustrations, written a book and compiled the photographs to accompany the text, as well as working on paintings and wandering the country from Cornwall to Penrith working in indie bookshops and galleries. I have pushed hard to meet deadlines, sketched, re worked covers, sometimes 3 or 4 times to get them right, promoted events, talked about books.

Today I have finished the last piece of work in what seems to have been a marathon of painting and talking and doing.

Tomorrow I have to drive to Torquay. The exhibition at the museum closes this week and I am doing 2 talks on Tuesday, and a day with schools on Wednesday.  Contact the museum if you are interested in coming along. Will be signing books on both Tues and Wed.

Going to leave the painting I have just finished to rest for a few days then send off to Help Musicians for repro.

And this evening I am going to have a rest and read a book. After I have finished packing.

The card has creatures and characters woven through it. The book monkey is there, sitting on my drum that I still hope to get restored. The fox from The Strawberry Fox is there two, but is now in love with cherries. The eel hound is wandering, and the angel cat has grown a halo to match his wings. He still rides the strange wheeled horse. Inside the floating house a minstrel lives, and the flying tiger from Cavalcade has returned, bring the peacock and an owl. And always, hares. Much Smalt was used in the making of this painting. I will leave it to settle then finish hen I return. Sometimes you just have to walk away for a while, to get a sense of the bigger picture. I feel a little fragile.

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#ThisBook

This book changed my life.

I was 14 years old, home from school, avoiding school dinners, watching Pebble Mill at 1. Nicola Bayley came on, painting and talking about her book, Tyger Voyage, written by Richard Adams.

I had wanted to be an artist since the age of 6 and been told all the way along that I couldn’t be. I was miserable, 14, unhappy at school, with exams looming.

I decided there and then I wanted to be an illustrator.

#ThisBook changed my life.

thisbook

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#MyPembsPlace

There’s a # trending around about Pembrokeshire and I was asked if I wanted to join in. #MyPembsPlace

I have wracked my brain to try and come up with what was required, a picture, holding up a piece of paper, with the place on, like this, from Jane Johnson, below.

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But I couldn’t. How could I chose when I can’t think where  #MyPembsPlace is. It’s kind of the whole of Pembs. I love the sea, but also the woods, and the hidden winding streams. I love the hills, and the stone circles. I love the rocks, the lichens, the wind twisted trees. I love the shape of the land and the feel of the air and the smell of it too. I love the sea, colour, scent, taste of it and the cold touch and the tumbled waves of it. I love the heather in late summer, the honeysuckle hedges, the birds, the badgers, the wild of it. I love the small cottages that cling to the land under a sky so big. I love the wild roses, the stonecrop the stonechat, the lark, the birdsinging sound of it. How can I pick one place when every corner of it is so beautiful and so full of beauty?

So much so that I came to visit for the first time 22 years ago, for a weekend, and never left.

So, where, if pushed, really pushed, would I say is #MyPembsPlace?

Well. It’s here. Home. With family, friends, cats. A place to visit,  a place to live. Pembrokeshire. Beautiful.

Where is yours?

home

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Hound: for Suffolk Dog Day

dogHound, for Suffolk Dog Day.

Watercolour.

33cms x 12cms

This piece is being auctioned for Suffolk Dog Day.

If you wish to take part in the auction then leave your bid as a comment below. When there have been no more bids for 48 hours I will contact the last three people who have commented to see if anyone wishes to offer more. Then the piece will go to whoever has bid the most. The winner sends the money direct to the organisation and when I have confirmation from them I will post the artwork ( anywhere in the world.)

The reserve is £75

Please share this post. Thank you.

You will have to click on the title of this post to unfurl the comments and see where the bidding stands.

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Hare: For the World Land Trust

goldenharewltSmall Golden Hare.

Watercolour. 19cms x 6cms

This piece is being auctioned to raise money for the World Land Trust. 

If you wish to take part in the auction then leave your bid as a comment below. When there have been no more bids for 48 hours I will contact the last three people who have commented to see if anyone wishes to offer more. Then the piece will go to whoever has bid the most. The winner sends the money direct to the organisation and when I have confirmation from them I will post the artwork ( anywhere in the world.)

The reserve is £50

Please share this post. Thank you.

You will need to click on the title of this post to unfurl the comments below. Bidding now stands at £70.

 

( Auction now closed on this piece, and winner of teh auction is Lynn. Many thanks to all for taking part.)

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Two paintings, two charities.

While I was away in Suffolk at The World Land Trust I produced two paintings, one in The World Land Trust Gallery, on the last day of the exhibition. A small golden hare.

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The second was at the wonderful Aldeburgh Bookshop where I painted for a day, talked to customers, listened quietly as people browsed, was nosy about what books were being bought, signed books etc. The bookshops was a wonderful place to work. At first it was so quiet which gave me time to concentrate, then all of a sudden I became visible to the people there. And they realised that they knew my work from the cards I have done every year for the Help Musicians charity. By coincidence I had worked on the rough for this year’s design the evening before, while watching Frankenstein on video ( yes, video) in the World Land Trust flat in Halesworth, so was able to show them the sketches in my sketchbook. We soon sold out of all books other than The Golden Hare, of which there was a large pile. And in between conversations I painted.

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Usually when I paint I leave the picture with the bookshop, a kind of thank you to them for allowing me in and letting me take up their space. Mary had said that she wanted the picture to be auctioned for the Suffolk Dog Day.

So, now I am offering these two paintings for auction. The auctions will work like this. The two images are posted on two separate blog posts.

Reserve on the hare is £50.To bid on the hare click on the link below and leave a comment on THAT page, NOT HERE! You will also be able to see the highest bid.

The World Land Trust hare is here. (Click on the words for the hare post)

 

goldenharewlt

 

 

Reserve on the hound is £75. To bid on the hound, click the link below and leave a comment on THAT post. Not this one. You will also then be able to see the highest bid.

The Suffolk Dog Day Hound is here. (Click on the words for the Suffolk Dog Day post)

dog

If you wish to take part in the auction then leave your bid as a comment below the picture you are bidding on. When there have been no more bids for 48 hours I will contact the last three people who have commented to see if anyone wishes to offer more. Then the piece will go to whoever has bid the most. The winner sends the money direct to the organisation and when I have confirmation from them I will post the artwork ( anywhere in the world.

Both are watercolours, original artwork.

Please share the two posts.

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A bedtime story.

Mary sent her sister Emily a copy of The Ice Bear. Karin read it to her.

 

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A Labour of Love

It has taken years, walking, thinking, photographing. Today I should be signing off Cat Walk with the publisher and watching as it is sent off to the printers. A bittersweet journey through memories for me. A celebration of cats.

The intro, by Tom Cox is just perfect, and contains a quote that I want on a tee-shirt.

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I met Tom for the first time in the early days of blogging. I had a ‘cat blog’ that I used to practice writing. He had Little Cat Diaries. Wandering back through the blog can be dangerous, a distraction that might eat your time. It began in 2007. 7 years to find a publisher.

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Early days, when the world was ginger.

2010, with Tom Cox squashed to the ground by Kiffer.

More 2007, with kittens.

 

So, now the book is almost done. You can get a flavour of it here, and there will also be a calendar and cards. The book will be launched at Solva Woollen Mill and Cover to Cover in Swansea. The cats won’t be there. They will be home, doing cat things.

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In the meantime, I can’t be the only person who has noticed that as a menopausal, middle aged woman of a certain roundness of shape I have become invisible in the world. I also seem to have the words ‘patronise me please, I so love it when you do’ written in ink across my forehead that is, if men actually realise I am there at all, only visible to men, and a few women, of a certain age. Anyway, this is what Tom wrote, of cats, but I think it also applies to menopausal women, of a certain age,

“You think you’ve got the measure of me,” says the glow. “You will never get the measure of me. I might look kind of cuddly but I know stuff you couldn’t even dream of.”

Bless you Tom, and many thanks for a wonderful intro to Cat Walk.

 

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Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb, USA and UK: Two covers.

 

 

Top cover, US edition by Alejandro Colucci

Bottom cover by me, with a great deal of help from Jane Johnson, Natasha and Emma at Harper Collins and Dominic Forbes in HC studio.
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