Tuesday, 21 July 2015

High Summer

As Midsummer moves into 'high summer', I have continued to walk, snatching moments in the late evening, when I can find a little breathing space from the chores and stress of life.

I am constantly enchanted by the ever changing play of light across this landscape,

The low evening  light turns everything to gold.

 Even the humble nettle appears jewel encrusted in the light of the setting sun


I try, endlessly, to translate this light show into paintings!


Cator Beeches

Woolfold 3


Greenawell Ridge

Woolfold 2

Hound Tor
 Jackdaw Lines

Several of these originals are framed and heading off to adorn the walls of The Mill End Hotel.
Evening is also the best time to see all manner of wildlife. This doe is often to be seen in the ponies field on the edge of the woods. I crept right up to her on this occasion, across the field in stealth mode (wearing my invisibility cloak), even Captain didn't notice me, and he is usually the first to sense me arrive.

I've also managed a few more cards for the Oracle Deck. These are all part of the earth set.


 Excepting 'Mr Grumpy', who was a reject for the deck. I had some over-  complicated thinking going on, and decided to buck against the imagery I was being given for the hare, and take it in the direction I wanted instead. So I painted two versions in tandem. Out came Mr Grumpy! But he wasn't right for the deck - I could see as soon as I had finished that the Golden Hare below was a perfect fit, and captured the energy of the card just right.

Luckily 'Mr Grumpy' was immediately snapped up by a customer, and has a home where he is much appreciated!


Wednesday, 6 May 2015


I stepped away from the Oracle Deck for a couple of weeks, because another painting was calling out to be worked.

I had intended this to be a rich and earthy green painting, but the paint had other ideas, and as I laid down the rock face behind the figure, the flowing watercolour chose ethereal pink tones instead.

Frustrating as watercolour can be at times,  I love the way it runs and granulates, layering colour, surprising you just when you think you know your paints well enough to predict their actions.

Lifting out bramble tendrils.

And putting in fabric patterns.

Small details, which disappear in the big picture, but are seen clearly close up.

'Guardian of the Greenwood'

The woods truly are greening here, bursting into life over the may day weekend.
( I forgot to take my camera to the Jack in the Green celebration, but I'm sure you will see the pictures on the blogs of others in our community)
Seething with life - quite literally - this is a giant wood ant's nest, over a metre high, the surface of which is constantly changing as thousands of ants go about their business.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Bonehill and Honeybags

I've been out walking a lot. Walking is a meditation, a soul soothing, a chance to put thoughts in order, or a chance to put them aside.
For me, the walking, the intimate knowing of the land, and just as importantly, the naming of the land, the poetry of place that enables you to lay a map out in your head, is something I've been obsessed with since childhood.
When I was 10 or 11, and first allowed to ride out on a borrowed pony alone, I spent hours carefully copying out sections of the Ordnance survey map, marking bridlepaths and greenways, learning the names of the crossroads  and the tracks, keeping these tiny maps first in the inner pocket of my tatty old jacket, and then, when they disintegrated from use, I kept them in my head.
This fascination with names and mapping continued on - always reading stories about historical routes around our land. A book called 'The Driftway' by Penelope Lively captured my imagination when I was about 10, and by the time I was 14, I had found myself a copy of 'The Old Straight Track' by Alfred Watkins. I studied local maps, learned place names, walked and rode old drovers paths, step after step after step, each footfall taking me deeper backwards into the past as I imagined all the feet that had trod that path before me.

This last couple of weeks I've been wandering over Bonehill Rocks, where I met a pair of Ravens, and on over Chinkwell Tor and Honeybags. Each hill has it's own character, it's own spirit of place. Though perhaps here, at Bonehill, there are many. Everywhere you turn, there are faces in the rocks.

I was tempted to paint them, to draw the characters out of the rocks

but Brian Froud does it so much better than me:

Instead, I played around a little with some rock studies,

trying to capture  the cold wintery light.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Winter doings

It's been a busy winter.  Ordinary tasks seem to take over in Winter - feeding and caring for the horses, walking dogs in the rain, and just keeping the family fed and looked after. I'm an unsociable bod, and when the days are short and the nights long, I am impossible to drag out from the fireside of an evening.

Although I am always happy to be out walking these bleak and beautiful hills in the daylight hours.
I love the way that you can feel them responding to the light returning, in the same way that I feel myself respond, and by Imbolc you know for sure that life is springing again. Even if it there are no visible signs, you can almost hear the energy just below the surface of the soil, the sap rising in the trees.

Here, in our mossy cloaked valleys, there is green even in the deepest winter.

Although the moors themselves are bleached bare, bones exposed.
Such harsh beauty.

However, winter does mean I get much more painting done than I manage in summer! I've been working my socks off, and am well on  the way through the Oracle Deck project. 12 of the 13 Moons are  completed. (I introduced them here: Thirteen Moons project  )

And all 8 of the wheel cards.

As well as that, I've had work published in the new Earth Earth Pathways Diary diary (my favourite ever diary!)

and I have had a couple of book covers published. You may remember , a few years ago, I painted a little picture of Beltane Hare ? Well, that has become the book cover for Moon Song, a brilliant and magical novel by Elen Sentier. There is an excellent review by June Kent, and purchase links for it HERE

And then I went on to paint the cover for Following The Deer Trods, also by Elen. This is a sequel to her book in the Shaman Pathways series, Elen of the Ways. Elen Of The Ways 'fell into my lap' a couple of years ago,  in the way that fate has of giving you just what you need, when you need it! It is a fascinating, well researched and insightful view into our own native spiritual heritage, and it led me to meet and subsequently go on to work with Elen Sentier.

Now, I've got several exciting projects and collaborations in the pipeline, but nothing I can share yet. In the meantime, I've got seeds to plant, and ponies to ride, and a pack saddle project to finish!


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

How to make a dream come true .......

Now, many of you will already know about the Hedgespoken project, as Tom and Rima have been doing their utmost to publicise it in order to make their dream come true.  However, for those of you that haven't yet heard, their plan is to turn this Bedford truck: 

into this fabulous travelling home, and stage, bringing their blend of magic and storytelling to far flung places, and quiet corners of this island:

In order to make this happen, they need to raise an awfully large sum of money, and so, on a sunny autumn day, friends and family wandered along to the little woodland, dressed in their best raggle taggle finery, and in between feasting by the fire, they all helped to make an amazing little film for them.

(photo by Annabel Allison from Wax Films)

We rode out there too, taking Will and Captain, dressed in their best circus pony outfits!

The fey daughter and the owl daughter (living up to their names) wore splendid outfits, mostly made by my sister, Angharad, of Atelier Bee.

A particularly owlish owl daughter with William.

And a quite otherwordly fey daughter, with Captain.

Both ponies took it in their stride - they are well used to this sort of behaviour ;)

And were mostly concerned about how they could muscle in on the feast.

(Virginia Lee and Marja Lee)
Masks, moons, and music didn't phase them in the least, outlandish outfits and fire sticks were considered normal,

But this, the dancing deer woman, bothered them deeply. Not person, not animal, the tall swaying two legged stag silhouette, really disturbed them. Even when she came to talk to them, and show them that it was a human underneath, they were not totally convinced.
Both Captain and Will kept one eye on the 'not person' for the proceedings.


Everybody made music,

and practised their circus skills (this is the Wolf boy, my son)

and ate lots!

While Tom told stories,

And the amazingly talented Annabel, turned a magical day into an equally magical little film!

So please, if you can spare a penny or two, please help them on their way, by donating HERE and even if you can't, if you have been entranced by their dream, please share it far and wide.
Thankyou :)

And if you would like to come and meet Rima and Tom, and many of the other equally talented people who featured in that film, then come along to our Winter Artisan Fayre, in Chagford, on Saturday the 6th of December, where there will be much Christmassy cheer, and many beautiful goods to purchase, and large quantities of homemade cake!


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