Also yesterday I finally phoned Jackie in Welwyn Garden City. She was kind enough a few years ago to let me visit her beautiful leopards and draw and photograph them. Ever since the book was published I had been meaning to send her a copy, so I called to get her address. Among other things she told me that Shadow, the leopard I based the paintings on, had died last year. He was a magnificent creature, with a deep dappled coat of silver and wild eyes.
2nd May. Trying to keep sunshine and wind in the sunflowers picture, working hard. Walked around Porthlliski Farm along he cliffs and watched kestrel hunting.
Later, evening light on the Dowrog searching for the silent flight of owls. No owls, but kingcups and lady's smock flowers, mud and deep pools, grasshopper warblers and the sound of an owl, and the first cuckoo I have heard this year, clear and calling across the moor. Picking Hannah up from work at 9.30 stood on the bridge by the refectory watching bats dance in and out of the light in swooping flight. Now the kids are home and in their rooms, pretending to go to sleep but reading books. Perfect day.
3rd May. Sunshine and warm wind.
6th May. Warm day full of sunshine and gentle hot winds. Woodland brown butterflies and this morning a cuckoo called from over the moor. Painting, reading, walking and playing the urban version of "Dances with Wolves", a game called "Struggling with Cushions" as first I remember where the laundry basket and spare sofa cover is, at the laundrette since before Easter, and then I struggle to put the clean covers on. The cats are worried that small dragons fly through the bushes outside. All day they have sat and watched for them.
Have been working on too many paintings at once and so decided today to finish one as I have four different paintings at different stages. Today, dragons.
7th May. Walking on the old airfield where the sky is full with lark song, and whitethroats and linnets. The grass is long and dotted with yellow cowslips and I remember as a child picking buckets of these yellow flowers to be made into sweet heady wine.
Help to move 140 horses from their winter grazing to the farm, a river of horses flowing and the sun so warm, then home to try and stay in the studio and paint. Too much to do.
8th May. Red kite over Treginnis today and it was a day for hawks. Kestrel, kite and in the evening a buzzard flying low beneath the twilight leaf canopy in the woods at Abermawr. The heat of the day has pulled out the sweet smell of blue, and in the twilight gloaming the flowers look dark. The wood is awash with blue and birdsong and emerald fresh uncurling leaves. The twilight chorus is as beautiful as the dawn chorus. Driving back over the Dowrog no sign of owls but cuckoos compete in song.
Back home trying to concentrate on Christmas card for the MBF and read 'Assassin's Aprentice' by Robin Hobb again and even the second time around the book is compulsive and the weather so warm and the bench in the garden by the honeysuckle beckons, and swallows are singing and the cuckoo is calling.
9th May. Apple blossom heavy with dew in the morning garden. Coastal bluebells, deeper in colour than the woodland flowers, dark blue stems, heavy with water drops.
Visited a friends and they have built the most beautiful chicken house of stone and wood with a living roof and places for ferns to grow.
14th May. A few days illness finally floored me, but not before I had walked to the top of Carn Lliddi, also known as Garn Y Wlad on old maps as people thought that you could see the whole of the world from there. On a clear day you can see all the way to North Wales and Ireland. But this was an early misty morning walk before the heat could bite into the day, past the old tombs that look out towards Ramsey.
Yesterday the cats were visited by Sunila from Switzerland, an illustrator who loves cats and dragons. They took her for a walk to the top of the hill and there was a red kite circling slow. Beautiful.
MBF card almost finished and feeling better though no energy. Staying awake is a challenge.
15th May. East of the Sun and West of the Moon is with two publishers at the moment and I have promised myself that if it gets a publisher I will be profligate and indulgent and commission a weather vane from Greens Vanes who make the stunning weather vanes pictured below. Each picture is a link to their site. I always think that it is good to wake up and know which way the wind is blowing.
17th May. So, after almost a week of feeling unwell out onto the cliffs with book and above Ninewells the ancient fort is a soft bed of flowers. What better place to sit and write while choughs wheel overhead. The valley is in a snowdrift of may blossom. My head is full of swans and witches and nettles and hounds.
More or less finished the new circle of hares. To see a larger version click on the image. This one will be made into a limited edition print soon.
Yesterday I took my camera to Narberth to the Celtic Vision camera Shaman. For a while I have had black specks on my images, and have dirt in the camera. Ivan suggested that as I am a messy person (not quite how he phrased it) that I would benefit from a tool called an arctic butterfly. With such a romantic name how could I resist. He showed me how to keep the shutter held up so that I could brush the dirt off my sensor with the arctic butterfly. Brilliant lesson. ( I still claim it was mostly ginger cat hairs!)
31st May. Sometimes the world flows by too fast. Illness and an exhibition have kept me from the computer, not serious illness but wearying. The exhibition was hung and looked wonderful with Cath's stones complimenting the paintings. The preview was busy, and the days that followed. St Davids Cathedral rang with music. Good friends came to stay and food was cooked and shared and the kids are all growing up lovely and beautiful. In the garden tents were put up for guests and then the rain poured from the darkest clouds. Cats sulked as there were teenagers all over the sofa, taking up space.
Jane made new prints for me, the three hares with snowdrops, a new big bear print, and just to see what would happen a huge canvas version of the three hares about a meter square. Next time I have an exhibition I think I will have two or three large canvas prints.
Hay festival was interesting, signing books in the Redhouse Childrens Book Award, but I decided that I do not like driving very much, although I did see a red kite at Brecon.