1st December. Woke early to hailstorm and dark sky and it seemed that the brambles were holding pieces of the night in their tangled branches. Later they let it go, back to the darkness as the sun came out.
Busy hanging exhibition at The Pebbles Yard Gallery in St Davids, and signing books for them.
Meanwhile, returning to my car I spotted these two cats, which made me laugh so much I had to take a photograph. Only when I resized it for the website did I see the sinister green eye watching, waiting, in the background. There is a story hidden in there somewhere.
Later, went into the shop and found that there were more cats, a whole cattery! And some of them have jobs!
3rd December. This is what I did yesterday. Got up early and made stock for a soup from pheasant bones. Took the children to school and walked dogs then loaded more paintings into the car and drove to the Torch Theatre to hang my exhibition. Worked all day with Alison Hayes ( artist who is currently working on wildness with sound and vision) to hang all the work, then drove home in time, just, to collect children from school. Fell asleep waiting for them to come out. Back home, made fire, cooked supper of pheasant pie, leek soup. Caught a rat that the cats had helpfully brought in from the cold. Just a baby one, almost cute.
This is what I didn't do yesterday. Any painting.
A bit worried about Christmas as any of my friends who have seen the photo of the strange cats in Welsh costume have said, "well, we know what to get you for Christmas", so I fear I will have enough salt and pepper pot cats dressed in traditional Welsh costume to play chess with!
5th December. Today Sara Lloyd Morris came round with her new jewellery, before she went to The Pebble Yard Gallery. She had hares and moons and landscapes and I bought a necklace of a masked hare in a landscape and two beautiful earrings. I think this is the start of working together, but I fear that over time it will cost me a great deal of money. There is something very magical and talismanic about these pieces of work. If you are interested you can contact Sara here and see more of her work at her website. Sara is sending more images through of the new work so watch here for more.
6th December. Not the best day I have ever had, but much improved by watching the dvd of Prince Caspian and then seeing the moon silver the sea over Whitesands.
7th December. Druidstone Hotel had their annual Bazaar and the sun shone and the sea rolled lazy over the beach. I read Singing to the Sun while Andy played the fiddle, a wonderful way to read the book and something I think we will try again, with Singing to the Sun and other books.
While I was selling I couldn't help taking a photo of a girl captured in the pages of a story ( Andy had left the book open on his music stand)
9th December. Yesterday Oliver Postgate died. When I was young I would watch The Clangers, Bagpuss, Pogles Wood and Noggin the Nog on television. Time would stand still. There is nothing today to compare to the beautiful craftsmanship and story telling of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. Visit the Dragon's Friendly Society. This is a place where dreams were made.
Working on Starlight, happy painting, all day long, a dragon, green with red hair. While I have worked I have listened to the radio and all the main news programs have had words of Oliver Postgate and his programs and his stories. None have mentioned that despite still being unsurpassed by anyone working in television today the BBC have not commissioned anything from him in twenty years. None have mentioned his pacifism, his anti nuclear stance. One mentioned the add put in the papers by the Clangers about climate change, but seemed to treat it more as a joke. Would be lovely to hear his Desert Island Discs again. We don't know what we've got 'till it's gone.
10th December. Early morning rising as Hannah is going to the Clothes Show with school. Five hours there, five back, a busload of teenage girls. Not my idea of heaven. On the way to school a badger trundles down the road and over the hedgebank. After dropping Hannah off Head down the beach. Dark, dark, as the moon has set, dark as the inside of a dragon's cave, but white waves mark the line between sea and sand. Stars glimmer back from the wet beach so I seem to stand in the sky. At the end of the beach I watch a shooting star arc across the deep blue, the first I have ever seen in the morning. The sky lightens and the dawn chorus on the beach is curlew song, wild, mournful, beautiful. Always around the world the sun is rising somewhere and the birds are singing to greet the day. A symphony of bird song wrapped around the world.
11th December. Watching the sunrise over a winter land, small birds singing. Everyday miracles so often go unnoticed.
13th December. There is a dance that happens every morning, every evening, a dance to the music of birdsong. It is the dance of light and dark, of the sun and the moon. This morning the dance was extraordinary. The moon was closer to the earth last night than it has been for years, brighter with the sun's reflected light. In the night even though the cloud was a thick blanket covering the heavens the light still shone through with a deep harebell blue. This morning, before the sun had risen the light came from the west, the full moon glinting through the clouds, the sky the dusty blue of a butterfly's wings. As the sun rose the emphasis of light changed. But before that the moon setting over the sea lit a path of silver on the blue. This morning at the beach the light danced to the plaintive song of the pied oystercatchers.
Always in the dance there is a moment of balance when the night and the day touch as equals. It is good to be able to find this moment.
16th December. On Sunday I drove to Bath, handed over artwork to Tessa and woke early to travel into town with her. I had books to sign in the office, a meeting and lunch with Frances Lincoln and books to sign in my favorite shop in Bath, Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights. In between this was Christmas shopping and meeting my sister.
Today back into Bath to finish off the shopping while the artwork was scanned and then home. I saw an angel in the park standing with a ball in her hands waiting to play. The gates of the park were locked so she waited in vain. A man cycled past me singing Bohemian Rhapsody. It made me smile. There was a tree with golden leaves still clinging tight like bright gold. Steam rose from the river water at Pultney Bridge. When I lived in Bath was young. It is still a very beautiful place.
Just before I left I called in to Victoria Art Gallery where there was a wonderful exhibition by a wood engraver called Colin See-Paynton. Black and white and full of so much colour and movement. In a corner as I entered there was the most beautiful sculpture by Sophie Ryder, a treasure.
Somewhere along the way I lost my tiny soapstone bear that I carried with me everywhere. He was carved by an Inuit somewhere in the far North lands and was special. Still hoping he will turn up having slipped from a pocket into a bag or the car or the office at Barefoot, but otherwise I face a small lesson in letting go.
19th December. Struggling with time management at the moment. I would be happy to paint all day, need to get Starlight done without rushing. Times like these make me feel very much a single parent. There are still presents to be bought for people and I have to pick up and post prints to people and the trolls had taken over the house. Hannah has been cleaning and tidying, putting up and decorating the tree which now glitters in the corner and we hope does not become a dog snack for Rosie.
Flying fish and mermaids fill my head as I try again to catch a dragon as the dragon spread for Starlight has been rejected. Feels a little like one step forwards one step back and I have enough rejected art now to make a whole exhibition.
I had not realized Christmas was less than a week away.
It is heartening that even though the book is not finished Barefoot are already working on ways to promote it with all kinds of interesting ideas including paper boat competitions.
21st December. So glad to say that I found my bear, safely tucked away in a corner of my bag. Pleased as he is a sort of charm for working on The Ice Bear which is the book I will work on after Starlight.
Into the longest night of the year and from now the days will begin to lengthen. In Bath I bought a tiny Pocket Lunar Almanac which has names of the moon in and when the full, quarter and new moons are. We are now in The Long Night Moon and the next is The Ice Moon. Wonderful. Moon poetry. Books are lurking and circling around me, a whale book, a child in the woods book, The Summer Puppy and more dragons. But first I need to get through Christmas and finish Starlight and remember to put out pies for the trolls at Christmas.
So pleased to have my bear back.
26th December. Over at Three Beautiful Things, a blog that I have enjoyed, that brings calm into busy days, a love story unfolds with slow grace. So good.
Here the boxing Day weather has been golden and beautiful and the day full of horses (as well as the garden!)
31st December. Christmas came and went with peace but also worry as my mum was taken ill and went into hospital. Fortunately, in some ways, she was staying at my sisters so dad had Christmas with Max and her family and they visited mum twice a day. On Saturday traveled down with Hannah and Rosie to visit and found her looking frail and ill. She would rally and then slip back a bit, but now is out of hospital and sounding strong again. In between hospital visits we walked on the iron hard frosted earth around fields and remnants of wildwood, in golden light. Daisy, my sister's dog, ran rings around Rosie, and put up a deer.
Back at home yesterday and into the studio but the house is so cold. In the evening Robin and I walked the dogs at Abermawr where the crescent moon was caught in the winter branches, and one bright shining star adorned the sky. Under the trees the earth was sheltered from the frost and rooks clamored, breaking the twilight stillness with raucous calling as they began to roost in tree tops.
On the last day of the year we find a dead black headed gull on a rock at the beach, feathers sparkling with frost.