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Into the past, 2006

Further into the past, 2005

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Jackie Morris

1st September. Last few days of August disappeared in a haze of painting and walking and watching the seals grow. The spring tide pulled the sea back so far that the coast looked so very different. The sea carved out a pool where a seal pup played. So different from the storming sea of a few weeks ago that stole away the life of a new pup.

Lament, snowy landscape with musicians and polar bears

Buzzards and red kites and a long drive to The Mumbles to pick up paintings that had been in a gallery near Bristol that has sadly closed. Hot day. Came home to find that Hannah had cleaned and tidied the house and Tom had walked the dogs.

The Snow Leopard continues to sell well and had its first review, despite not being out until October, and East of the Sun and West of the Moon teeters on the brink of finding a home with a publisher.

Tormentil covers the ground in places, alongside the paths and threaded through bracken and gorse, reminding me of A Spell for Sleeping by Alastair Reid, one of the poems in the Classic Poems book.


Each day there are more seal pups on the beach, and more seals gathering to pup.

3rd September. I have decided that I am "Lost in Transition". I cannot pull myself together and gather my thoughts and get on with the work I should be doing. I stumble from day to day with a head full of bears, wander up and down the hill to see seals, and back again. Overhead buzzards call and today a peregrine flew past so fast we saw nothing but a blur and heard a loud rush of air. Bullet bird, so fast. Meanwhile buzzards few lazy circle dances and raven flipped and flew upside down for devilment in a clear blue.

sunshine on gold, a late field of barley swaying in the early autumn, late summer sun.

At the end of the day, at a crossroads, a barn owl, caught in flight in the car headlights, hushwing ghost bird hunting the hedgerows. A day of birds and seals and a stoat.

The Gribben at Solve, Pembrokeshire

4th September. Seduced by sunshine into walking too far after dropping off Hannah for school it was to be a day of slanting sun and birds again. Sea so blue that every cliche that could be thrown at it would still not cause a ripple. Like a mirror, like a mill pond, hardly a sway in the water. Choughs, red-legged, six in a field, a family of raven, a kestrel on a fence post.

Black Rock, Solve, blue sea borrowed from the Mediteranean

Honey sun slanting to set over cliffs above the seal beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales.

In the evening the sun slanted again across the sea, and we walked too late. In between some painting was done.


7th September. Sunshine, walking, seals and still water. Tomorrow I will be 46 years old. Today I walked by Treginnis. Last time I was here the wind blew hard and the water boiled like a raging cauldron. Today it was still, calm and full of sunshine. A sleepy seal hung in a sheltered pool. Out at sea Grasholm was white with gannets. More seals on the catblog.

Came home to a pair of faux leopard fur boots, a beautiful, tiny, stone bear and books and a calendar of Inuit art from Belinda Recio at True North Gallery, an invitation to go to Paris from Gautier Languereau to sign books at a book festival. Feeling blessed.

Seal swimming in a still pool near Treginnis.

Updated the Snow Leopard page of the website yesterday as the book is now officially published.

Larry running in the sea, reflected in the water on the beach.

Feeling blue and spending time walking and trying to pull myself together not very successfully, but, walking in sunshine, and met a huge horse with great liquid eyes.

a horses eye, close up and liquid brown, the biggest horse I have ever met.


11th September. Seals, sunshine, painting. Still got the blues, but, walking in the evening saw a drowsy, pollen-dusty bumble bee, sleepy in the late evening cool sunshine.

pollen-dusty bumble bee working late in the cool evening sunlight while porpoise thread the sea with white lace in a frenzied dance with the fish.

Took photographs and then walked on. Out at sea there was a splash, close in, the another, white water in a still sea where there were no rocks. I stopped and watched, another, then another, in a line of breaking white water. Then the sea erupted into a boiling mass of white frenzy as porpoise feasted on fish and the water was white with excitement. They leapt and splashed and moved away from the shore and were a wonderful sight to see, breaking through the surface of the sea.

on the beach the early seals are beginning to moult their baby coats for grey, taking to the water more each day

14th September. Listening to the radio and a phrase jumped out at me. " Being an artist is living your life out loud". So, the last week I have been wretched and miserable. Today it was suggested to me that it is quite possible that I am entering the phase of life known as the peri- menopause. For some reason that I cannot understand this has made me feel much better.

Here I have been, for what seems like weeks, unable to settle, dipping in and out of painting, walking and thinking. Understandable in between books, lost in transition, too many things to do and too much to think about. Longing for solitude and peace of mind and feeling like I am sliding into the black pit of despair. Surrounded by beauty and wonderful things, seals and porpoise and butterflies and birds, the wind like soft silk on the skin and the guilt of being miserable.

My parents came to visit and we spent a lovely day walking and moving some paintings around. Tom is now taller than my dad! They stayed at The Waterings as my house is too small and full of cats for them to squeeze in. Lovely room, fantastic fishpond and the grounds are beautiful. So peaceful, like an oasis.

La Panthere Blanche has been shortlisted for an award in France, Egmont are knocking themselves out on production for Singing to the Sun, Can You See a Little Bear, the board book arrived today and looks splendid, and yet..... and yet... I still managed to be miserable and sunk under a headache.

Until I talked to Jude, and when she mentioned Peri-menopause the clouds seemed to lift and my head stopped hurting and I am beginning to feel almost happy again.

But, I have a print and a very expensive painting both lost in the postal service at the moment. There was a time when I had confidence that sending something by Special Delivery would see it arrive on time and in good condition but over the last few weeks things have been late and now over £3000 worth of art is "missing" and despite being supposedly traceable the Royal Mail have no idea where either item is. I have a headache!

Looking forward to finishing the work for the Korean publisher and getting on with the dragons.

black kitten cat
black spaniel

Can You See a Little Bear? the board book, small, but perfectly formed, and though I am tempted to say that at least the paper on this one is thick enough, I wouldn't be so bitter and unforgiving!

Little Bear Board Book has a publication date of December 2nd.

common lizard in early morning sunshine.

three small sparrows flying, for Korean book which is almost finished.

18th September . After a long delay the painting of the Snow Leopard, lost in the post, was found and delivered to its new keeper. It took ten days to travel from the post office to an airoplane, much less time to make its way through customs and the American postal service. So relieved that it is not lost forever and now has a new home, and I don't think it could have gone to a better one.

Unfortunately the print is still missing along with a whole bag of post on special delivery to the post office in Marlborough, which would suggest theft rather than carelessness is the cause of the loss in this case. Unless the post office has misread "Marlborough" and sent it to "Mongolia" by mistake.

But with the safe arrival of the leopard and her child one less thing is there to distract my attention from painting and an image made it through the foggy cloud of chaos that has been my thinking of the last few weeks. So when the Korean book is done I am going to paint a big big dreaming bear.

much enlarged pencil sketch of a dreaming bear, inspired by a friend's wedding dress, a love of tetemic polar bears and reading The Tale of Gengi, which has nothing to do with bears but much to do with love.

This morning there was bright sunshine and cold air. A tiny goldcrest flitted through the blackthorn twigs, fresh green like a new leaf in the early autumn changing world. A jewel of a bird. Cold. I filled up the bird feeders for the first time this year and the memory of winter hung in the air.

Found a card in a local shop, with a picture of an owl and set off on a journey on the net to find more images by Linda Wright. I was delighted to find a whole gallery of beautiful birds in flight, barn owls and falcons and eagle owls with comical chicks. All stunning.

barn owl in flight, one of the many wonderful images of birds by Linda Wright, photographer

22nd September. Hannah has gone off on an adventure to France with the school. I try not to worry. Tom and I headed for the hills on a gray day, and as the tops were wreathed in cloud we went to see what autumn was doing in Tycanol. Past the craggy tors of tumbled stone with the sunlight and cloud shadow racing over the hills we walked down into the twisted oak trees of the ancient forest. So far the autumn colour has barely kissed the green, but some leaves fall and the rain patters the leaf canopy over head as squirrels scramble and leap. Birds are all around and treecreepers scale the sides of moss covered trees. The star moss throws emerald light skywards. Boulders made into soft sculptures by the depth of bright jewel mosses. Magic. There should be wolves here, not just the memory of wolves.

Walking back up away from the woods we look back to see the stones of Pentre Ifan standing proud in the fields.

gray sky and tumbled rock on the high hills above Tycanol Woods.

Twisted oaks, moss covered, Tycanol Woods.


Bear, woman, gold, trees, winter, sleeping, unfinished watercolour.

Pentre Ifan, burial chamber, just visible on the field's edge.

Thick moss and autumn leaves, Tycanol woods.

23rd September. Painting, seals, walking with Tom around Treginnis. Kestrel hanging in the cliff edge air. Bright white gannets and baby seal all round and plump.

unfinished painting of woman and bear and hares in a winter landscape.

detail of a hare from the painting above.

24th September. Steady painting and almost finished the artwork for the book in Korea. Only one more painting to go. Meanwhile the bear waits patiently for colour.

Moon. Taken at 7 am with a clear blue sky, turned black by exposure, full and round and magical.

25th September. Full moon, shadows softened by clouds, but the wind blows fast through and the shadows are crisp and deep. Hill stands out in the pale moonlight, drained of colour, and the sky is moonbleached and the starlight is dimmed by the bright white moon. Wind cold, autumn, still with a memory of summer from late honeysuckle flowers.

26th September. Lost in quiet moments of writing. Evening lying on beanbags with wolf blanket for warmth watching Dances With Wolves with Tom. One by one the cats come and settle until a blanket of cats in stitched together by kindness and they purr a quiet symphony of contentment.

27th September. Shelter from a curtain of rain by the burial chamber on St Davids Head. Across the valley the rain sweeps but behind the chamber all is dry. There is a story here, but it is locked away in memory and time and now only the stones remain.

rain falling over Porth Melgan

burial chamber on St Davids Head, Pembrokeshire, close by the ancient remains of hut circles.

29th September. Walking up the lane to the top of the hill. A gentle veil of rain falls. The green and the fresh thyme flowers and the pink stars of campion and the mild air and the balance of light and night almost belie that it is autumn. Slugs curl in a lover's embrace. Only the bright blackberries threaded through the hedges and the dark purple sloes give truth to the season.

logo for Monro's books in Canada
front of the shop, elegant facade of Munro's Books in Canada
inside Munro's
Snow Leopard cover, fave of a leopard

30th September. Yesterday was lost to tiredness and signing books and making bread. Hannah arrived home at 3.30 am from France having been caught up in traffic delays. She looked French and taller and lovely but tired.

I have 200 books to sign , books to be sold to shops. Rather than travel all the way to London to trek around bookshops so that the managers can tell me that "yes, they have the books in, but no, they can't find them. So sorry." I decided to get the books sent to me and spend the time when I should have been traveling around London walking here and painting instead.

Meanwhile across the world in Canada it is wonderful to see The Snow Leopard being championed in Monro's Books in Victoria, British Colombia.

It always seems like some kind of magic to me that something that starts out as the whisper of an idea caught on the wind can be threaded and woven into a story made of words and paint and then travels across the world. So what started in my head, on the side of the hill, to the sound of birdsong, is then prowling a shop in a country I have never been to. The next stop is out of the shop and into the dreams of a child.

I love books.

Many thanks to Munro's for being so beautiful a shop and so elegant.


walking with the cats to see the seals. Pixie posing perfect on the coast path sign. Fr more of the walk go to the cat blog

Last day of September, castellated wall of the ruins of the brickworks at Porthgain

The last day of September started like autumn with dampness and gray sky but gave way to the memory of summer and a sky so blue, and the sun still warm. Early evening in Porthgain the sun slanted through the castellated ruins of the brickworks in Porthgain.













©Jackie Morris