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my studio atthe beginning of October, full of dragons

1st October. The skies are full of birds and wind blowing wild and stripping the trees of their tattered autumn leaves. All I can do is try to carve out time to finish the dragon book and it is like wading through treacle.

Have avoided the blog and computer for a few days trying to get to grips with work, but found on my camera this beautiful photograph of Charlie, gentle natured baby with extraordinary eyes, from his first birthday party and though his birthday was September I wanted to keep his photo here. He is such a star.

baby Charlie, Robin's grandson, with a peck of birthday cake on his lip.

A parcel arrived today with note cards from The Snow Leopard Trust. They are lovely and can be purchased by contacting the trust.

notecards from The Snow Leopard Trust

all the dragons from Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris

2nd October. Sunshine, hay bales, the wind and black rooks everywhere. Piece in the Western Mail on We Are All Born Free today. Almost finished dragons, but not quite. Has been a very long run up to this one and daunted by the fact that I have to go straight on to another two books.

3rd October. There are times when you are almost at the end of a book when life becomes very strained, wanting to be finished so desperately, but wanting to hang on to it, to start again, to do it all different. For some time I had been working on an alternative cover and having finished the inside I decided to finish the new cover and grit my teeth and put all in the post. Over to the designer and editor from here. So, the red painting of the dragon's eyes is the front and back cover, but, but, but.......

the eyes of a fierce red dragon

...it wasn't working. The dragons inside the book are benevolent and kind, and this one looks as if it could kill with a look. So, time to start again. Or was it? Was I just trying to put off the awful, blissful moment of finishing? Finally making the decision to scrap what was a massive painting representing hours and hours of work I felt as if a weight had been lifted, and so started work on doing it properly. The red one had gone wrong. The painting was heavy and ugly. I had wanted a reflection in the eyes but chickened on whether I could paint it or not. So far so good, a lighter touch, looking better. Fingers crossed. If only I could paint with crossed fingers.

benevolent eyes of a cake eating dragon. front and back cover for Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris

close up of front cover in progress for Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie morris.

4th October. Finished. Maybe finished, maybe not.

front and back cover for Tell Me a Dragon, showing big dragon eyes and a child reflected in them

big dragon eye detail

back cover big dragon eyes detail, except I like better than the front so maybe will flip

Except I like the back better than the front so have flipped the image and think it looks and reads better this way round. I wrote this book about 6 or 7 years ago and my publishers have been very patient. So now it is off for exciting adventures in Frankfurt Book Fair. Feeling a bit lost, but have a house to tidy up and a studio to tidy. Planning permission came through for the new studio and so next move is to have detailed plans drawn up and get builders and when the studio is built will have my first ever open studio. Maybe. Meanwhile I can feel another dragon book coming on and a walk on the wild and windy beach with two old dogs and a restless puppy.

Big dragon eyes flipped for cover. Reads better this way round.

10th October. I began to tidy the house with good intentions beginning with the chaos of my own bedroom. First I had to move books which meant I had to make space for them. After several trips to the dump (sorry, recycling centre) I had cleared the top of one cupboard. Then I became distracted by one of the books, Sacred Rituals by Eileen London and Belinda Recio. The muse took hold of me and dragged me reluctantly away from the housework and back into the studio where I found that even my biggest drawing board wasn't big enough for what wanted to come out. The result is the start of a series of meditative paintings of labyrinths. I bought Through the Labyrinth by Hermann Kern from a bookshop in Stow on the Wold, Wychwood Books.

I have learnt a little about labyrinths and have a hunger to learn much more and a yearning for more hours in the day.

The beach in the morning in the gloaming light is full of curlew that rise with their haunting and lilting song into the dawn sky.

labyrinth made of beach pebbles, seven pathways, watercolour, Jackie Morris

the moon at sunset over Carn Lliddi

honeysuckle in the rain in October

11th October. While the rest of the United Kingdom was bathed in autumn sunshine we endure drizzle that soaks through everything. It is not cold enough for a fire so the house is full of wet clothes and wet dogs after walks. In the garden the honeysuckle that climbs the skeleton of an old pear tree is heavy still with flowers, and water. It smells better than wet dogs. Max has been very ill all week but seems to be fine now, though Maurice seems to be going down with the sneezles and weezles. The week has been a strange one, feeling a little lost without the daily waking to paint dragons, but I have walked in the dusk and dawn, seen the moon rise while the sun was setting, enjoyed steady painting of the Labyrinth that has sparked off many ideas for more, quiet time knitting (so far undisturbed by cats trying to help) and worked on a new text about a small puppy, prepared a print with gold doodles and delivered work to my framer for the exhibition in Milford Haven in December (the Torch Theatre).

preparing a print for mounting in my studio

goldleaf labyrinth on beach pebble from Aberbach, in the garden, in the rain, on a misty moisty morning.

pebbles underwater at Aberbach, Pembrokeshire

16th October. So far a week of fragmented working, doing roughs for The Ice Bear and inching towards Starlight. Today though the day s beautiful with sunshine and huge skies I am troll like with a headache. Walking in the afternoon at Whitesands we found a young seal resting in the cave at the very end of the beach.

Outside the studio the bird feeders are getting busy as the autumn begins to nip with cold. There are coaltits this year, and a firecrest, so tiny. The sky is full of crow caws and starlings begin to gather, while on the airfield the skylarks are still letting their tumbling song fall to earth.

On 21st October the radio program I made with White Pebble Media will be on air on radio 4. For listing and tuning see BBC website

sealpup, not long weaned, in a tidepool on Whitesands Beach

sealpup, not long weaned, in a tidepool on Whitesands Beach

sealpup, not long weaned, in a tidepool on Whitesands Beach

sealpup, not long weaned, in a tidepool on Whitesands Beach

17th October. Early morning Whitesands Beach, waiting for the sun to rise and the moon to set. Painting a new labyrinth and head hurting so much.

early morning moon over Whitesands Beach, Traeth Mawr, Pembrokeshire

labyrinth, watercolour painting with hare

detail of pebbles walls and golden hare labyrinth

Early evening sky , sunset light with a jigsaw sky and the winter branches of the ash tree, where bats hibernate in winter in the smallest cracks and crevices. Autumn sunlight burning the winterwood bright.

ash tree branches fragmenting an evening sky.

22nd October. Yesterday choughs, jet black with bright scarlet clown beaks flew over opal sea. In the small wood of thorn trees a symphony, bone branch rattle in gentle wind, dry leaves falling and the flutter of sheltering birds wings. Beautiful. Today a musical cacophony of starlings in the winter ash tree branches. Birds filling the tree like singing leaves.

labyrinth with hare growing too slowly

first painting for The Ice Bear, new book with Frances Lincoln, raven and polar bear and the shadowy following arctic fox

a patch of light on a Pembrokeshire landscape lights up golden autumn fields between home and the Preseli Hills where the blue stone of Stone Henge came from

starlings on winter branches

flight of starlings

23rd October. Cold, drear rain, gray heavy sky. Painting for The Ice Bear, first page of a new book.

raven and the ice bear from The Ice Bear by Jackie Morris, to be published 2010 by Frances Lincoln

Almost four weeks of sick cats and it looks as if we may be through a bout of cat flu. Bella looked after Pixie and made sure her face was clean and she was warm. She has also been teaching Rosie, although Rosie seems to have decided that Kiffer is her special cat friend.

Head still full of labyrinths and minotaurs and time to carve out hours to write.

Rosie learning all about cat care from Bella, black and white collie and beautiful mongrel with the finest eyebrows sitting on a sofa with teh smallest ginger cat

25th October.

Ffion and Claire looking through the printouts of Tell me a Dragon over a glass of wine.

sunrise over Whitesands Beach in Pembrokeshire on a windy day in October

 

26th October. Quiet. Outside birds come and go at the bird feeders. The wind is cold, clouds build to rain and a storm tonight. Inside painting the hours away and thinking of hares and labyrinths, minotaurs and monsters.

The new labyrinth has Ariadne's thread following the pathway between the walls of pebbles to the centre. The labyrinth has a single path that doubles and twists and turns its way into the centre. Unlike a maze you cannot get lost, and yet people would take a thread, called a clew, into the centre and follow it to get out. The golden thread, called a "clew", became a "clue".

Labyrinth with hare and Ariadne's thread in gold leaf, Jackie Morris, watercolour and gold leaf

detail of hare labyrinth with Ariadne's thread in gold leaf

28th October. Last night the sky was glittered with stars pricking holes in the dark of night. This morning I found a fallen star, hanging from the tree in the early morning sunshine. Walking with the cats in the morning sunlight cloud shadows lit bright emerald islands over the land. Yesterday I should have been in London for the launch of "We Are All Born Free" at Waterstones in Piccadilly, but for some reason I could not drag myself away on that 10 hour round trip to travel through London by tube to Piccadilly, where the stars are blocked out by the brightness of neon, preferring instead to stay cosy by the fire with a great curl of cats and then walk in the fresh morning with raven song falling from a sky filled with castle clouds. Missed a good party though I think.

a star in the garden in the early morning light

a patch od emerald light on the early morning Pembrokeshire landscape

A film has been made using artwork from the book, and is being shown in cinemas all over the country. It was premiered at the launch of the book last night and can be seen here on the web. And now it is early in the evening and already getting dark. The sky is heavy and ice stones are crashing down from it now and again. The sky is a heavy dark blanket of cloud, looking so much like it should snow and the birds have been coming and going from the bird feeders all day stripping them of seed. It is cold.

30th October. Yesterday I was bored bored bored, something that doesn't happen very often, and a little depressed, but then a little depressed is ok, not too bad, can be dealt with. I waded through the day, walking in the morning with lapwings and chough, raven and snipe, and in the evening became scared by the weather, another thing that is unusual for me, but the rain was something like a monster. In between painting I played on the Egmont website, testing their new author blog set up by giving Max the tabby his own blog. Late in the evening I found that Singing to the Sun had been awarded a gold award by The Jenkins Group at The Moonbeams award, which is wonderful. It shares the award with Arthur of Albion, published by Barefoot books, a book which I saw in the making whilst visiting the Barefoot offices. The roughs were stunning, the finished book a treasure.

polar bear and child from The Ice Bear, written and being illustrated by Jackie Morris

close up of polar bear painting, watercolour, mother bear and her child embrasing

And I have just remembered that it is my sisters birthday and her card and her present are both in a box in my bedroom. Oh dear.


 

 

 

 


©Jackie Morris