When it seems the day has never dawned

I have not done today the things I meant to do. Dark and wet, cold and miserable, I begin to understand why swallows fly south before winter. This is no weather for owls. And although there is some comfort to be taken in the election results when I hear the voice of Trump, how he speaks to people, how he talks to the media…. well…….

The weather is true Mrs Noah weather. Outside the paths remind me of how some of the words came, as pathways turn to streams and roads to rivers.

This is the path to my house and the road to the path, singing with water fast flowing down the road from a spring that flows when the water table rises.

This week James Mayhew and I heard the fantastic news that Mrs Noah’s Pockets, written by me, illustrated by James, has been nominated for the Greenaway award. James’ first time, for the beautiful illustrations. The Lost Words, written by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by me,  also has a Greenaway nomination, AND a Carnegie for the words. Robert’s first time.

Today I sought solace, distraction, peace of mind in ink and in pigment.

Sketches of tumbling otters lie in my book from a film I took of an otter swimming. It was the only way I could ‘see’ the movement, understand the shape.

First I painted small otters, made from spring water from Devon, 25 x 10 cms. The top two  otters are for sale for The Lost Words for Devon. These are 25cms x 10cms and otters are sumi ink and spring water- £180 each. To purchase, send me an email, With ‘Otter,Devon’ as the subject matter, to secure and then, once confirmed, donate to the Devon Crowdfunder.

The third pair of otters are for the Doncaster campaign. Again 25 x 10 cms and again £180, but please email to secure, with ‘Otters, Doncaster’ as the subject matter.

In Doncaster they have made a wonderful film to accompany the appeal. Love seeing the animated whole body encanting of the enchantments.


Then I turned to the Bideford Black, the 300 million year old pigment made by plants, made by time. With pestle and mortar I crushed some of the pigment, mixed it with ‘gum water’ bought from Cornellissen some time ago.

I had seen on Samhain, a picture of an otter, found beside the road by someone, I wish I could remember who, and taken and placed on a bed of gold autumn leaves. It stayed with me, and I wanted to honour the small, wild life also, and so, with ancient pigment and spring water I painted the curl that I remembered her body being placed in, so that she swims now forever in memory and in paint. And with gold leaf I gave her a halo.

Now I am offering her for sale. She’s a big otter, approx 75cms x 57cms. She’s on thick, beautiful watercolour paper, and if framed should be floated so the deckled edges show. She is £1 200, bideford Black, Spring water and white gold leaf and is called In Honour of Beauty, Samhain 2018, and the buyer will be asked to donate the money direct to The Lost Words for Devon. But please email me first to secure, with Samhain otter as subject, as the artwork is an original piece. I do love how the black pigment sits on the paper.

Next, hares, of Bideford Black and spring water.

Top- 25x10cms-£200 to Doncaster Lost Words. (SOLD)

Middle- 25x 10cms- £200 to Doncaster Lost Words campaign.(SOLD)

Bottom- 25cms-10cms- SOLD.

Again email me first to secure before donating, with ‘hare’ in the subject line.

Have I painted myself back to a peaceful mind? No. Not yet. But I guess that’s what keeps me painting.

Outside now it is dark and wet. The road sings as the stream tumbles down it. Time to read.

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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5 Responses to When it seems the day has never dawned

  1. Beautiful beautiful beautiful creatures. You are a most very generous lady.

    • Jackie says:

      Thank you, but these people who are crowdfunding and then working so hard to get the books into the schools, with resources and everything just amaze me.

  2. Sarah says:

    Oh how fabulous. I have no money left now to contribute, ( I have bought a few beautiful other Lost Words crowdfunder things) but honour and recognise the beauty of these. I do hope people buy the wonderfulness.

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks Sarah. You’ve been an amazing supporter of both the book and campaigns. Please share on your facebook page if you can, spread the word. All hares gone now but all otters seeking new homes.
      Might get the big otter framed up for me if no one buys her.

  3. Bernie Bell says:

    “When you’re troubled, send your mind out on vacation
    Let it wander, like the wild geese, in the West.”

    from ‘Mighty Re-arranger’ by Robert Plant.

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