Far away from home, hiding in a beautiful house, over the last few days I have settled to work, although I find myself painting when I should be writing. I’ve hung a bird feeder in the garden and have been rewarded by a slate-blue and peach coloured nuthatch, chaffinch, wren, robin, sparrow, both hedge and house, bluetit, coaltit, greattit, and all the while pheasants. I can hear blackbirds too and an owl calls at night.
My work table has changed over the few days I have been here. I’ve prepped a print to take to Kenilworth for a customer, and one to leave for Number Seven to add to their stock of my work.
On Monday I visited one of the few hand made papermills in Britain, Two Rivers, with Chris and Davina from number seven and saw how they turn cotton rag to the most beautiful textured watercolour paper.
It is a great delight to me that the paper is made from stuff called ‘stuff’. A great porridge like barrel of it, mixed with water from the two rivers well.
With trays they lift the stuff, and water is sucked away, then the paper is bedded onto felted sheets and placed in a press for water to be squeezed out and away. It is then air dried. Thicker sheets are easier to make I am told. I love the organic quality to this hand made artefact. The ink sits differently on the surface. I’ve not yet used it with watercolour. I love the deckled edges of it. Going to see how it takes to gold leaf next.
We had picked up a warm but dead pheasant on the road on the way there and Chris cooked it for our lunch.
I painted otters onto the paper, with well water, the same that is used to mix with the stuff to make the paper. With left over ink I painted a couple of otters on some of my usual Arches, to sell to add towards the crowdfunder total for Devon. Dulverton is so very close to Devon. Bellow are the two for the crowdfunder: £180 each. Email me before donating to the crowdfunder, with Devon Otters as subject matter, and top, or bottom otters, as desired..
There’s a wonderful map of the UK, created for us by Harry, and it shows where campaigns to place the Lost Words in schools has succeeded. So many people have worked so hard to get our book into schools so that all children and teachers can have access to it.And there are new ‘Challenge Cards’ for teachers, parents, libraries, anyone who wishes to use them, again written by Eva John and supported by our wonderful publisher, Hamish Hamilton.
I will be in Dulverton, signing books next Thursday 25th October. We have a Heartwood stamp we are using. If you can’t come you can still order signed books by calling the shop, Number Seven Dulverton. If you can come you will be sure of a warm welcome in a beautiful place.
My owl has been watching over me, beautiful Heathpoult, tawny, wise.
I need to go. I need to see if I can catch a nuthatch in lines of a pencil. Chris found a dead dipper after the storm. The feathers on its back shimmered like dark damask. Beautiful creature. Built to dive, swift in the streams, a dark and waterproof dart of a bird.
We didn’t eat it.