January wizzed by in a haze of work starting on the first. I had been asked by Resurgence Magazine to illustrate an article, The Schumacher Lecture by Satish Kumar, about the balance of mind, body and spirit, amongst other things. The deadline was 2nd Jan and I had been worrying about it over all of Christmas. Lacking one image that would sum it up I decided that I would have to do 14, so New Years Eve was a sober affair and the next two days were spent working hard trying to paint too many images in too few days.
Meanwhile I have been working on The Barefoot Book of Classic poems for some time, but now the content is fixed and I just have to decorate all 128 pages by the end of this year, so for most of the month I had my nose to the drawing board painting and working on roughs and trying to get ideas for a cover that would make the book stand out. Work seems very pressured. There are two other books to do as well, and some days go better than others. The most frustrating day was when the cat walked all over the painting for the Flower Fed Buffalos with blue paint all over his paws. A good lesson in keeping the studio door shut! I did the painting again the next day and it was much improved for the practise I had had the day before and I didn't lose my temper when my daughter said that she liked the one with the paw prints as it added a certain something to the picture.
Much time has also been spent waiting for publishers to come back to me on new texts and ideas for books, and waiting for approval of roughs and watching paint dry.
The poetry book was briefly interrupted by a friend who found a lapwing. Couldn't miss the chance to get a close up view, and then couldn't paint anything else until I had this image out and onto paper (to see a larger image click on the picture below)
Walking has been good, though the weather at the beginning of the month was wild and windy. Hannah, Daughter who is now covered in blue cats paw prints seeing as how she liked them so much, decided to do a sponsored walk to raise money for tsunami victims, so I started to walk a bit more in preparation for a long walk. The days are beginning to lengthen and walking in the early morning light when mist makes islands of the rises in the land is magical. There are still loads of snipe and woodcock and curlew around calling mournfully across fields, and the hawks are hunting the hedges for the flocks of linnet and goldfinches. Barn owls bring everything in to silence in the twilight as they hunt the edges of fields, and the moon hangs transparent in the daylight sky.
Before setting out to walk I read a poem and carry it in my head while I search for an image to illustrate it. Walking and thinking go together well.