Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Ghosts of Oxford

There is something about Autumn and Oxford that seems to go hand in hand.
An energy hung in the air. Ingrained in the stone. Centuries of thought and knowledge. Ideas sparked and creations birthed. The ghosts of so many minds, gathered in one place. Seeping between the streets and buildings like blood in veins.
Maybe it was because of the time of year, just a few days until it was Halloween, when folk speak of the veil being thin?
It was a good energy. The kind that you absorb deep inside to refill your own creative well. So we soaked it in and we wandered and browsed in book shops and sipped hot chocolate.
 Our main reason for going was to catch the Tolkien exhibition 'Maker of Middle Earth' which was in its last few days at the Weston library. I had been meaning to go since the summer when it opened, but never got around to it. So it was a last chance, before it headed off to far off lands.
So over the misty mountains we went...
Through the door,  or past it at least.
And into a lovely exhibition displaying Tolkien's sketches, paintings and notes. His desk and chair, old tobacco smoking pipes and paint set were on show too. It was wonderful for a short while to be immersed in snippets and details of his world. How incredibly small his writing was, so perfect and the attention to detail was a joy to see.  Sadly photographs inside were not allowed, so instead I will share the postcard set that I bought, which shows some of the art work which was on display.
Although the exhibition has moved on now, you can browse Tolkien items to buy in the Bodleian libraries shop here including the postcard set that I bought.

Afterwards we headed to the Eagle and Child. This is the pub where Tolkien used to meet up weekly with C.S Lewis and other writers to discuss their works in progress.
We sat in the very spot, ate lunch (a veggie burger, just incase you were wondering ;) ) and enjoyed a drink or two.
It was a lovely day out and I got to tick off the Eagle and Child off of my long list of things to do and places to visit.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Painting Toadstools And Jack O Lanterns

October offerings.  
I've decorated my wind fall birds nest with colour, to brighten up the fading days.
On the previous blog post, I had an urge to paint toadstools. I've seen quite a few out and about and some in the garden but sadly not any fly agaric which I was hoping to spot. 
So instead I painted some...
It's good to step away from whatever you are doing sometimes, just to be indulgent and fill the creative urge. I added a robin for a finishing touch, just because... ;)
Sunday's walk lead me to this magical Briony plant twining among the hedgerows. There were some fallen berries, so I popped a couple in my pocket and planted them in a pot when I got home. This would look so beautiful in the garden and would hopefully spread in the wild hedgerows nearby too. Fingers crossed they germinate? Does anyone know if they are easy to grow? 
This evening the little pumpkin tea light holder was lit. It's the first year I think that I haven't got around to doing a real one. I was going to today, but decided to use the time on painting instead.
As a child, pumpkins were never as popular like they are now.
Instead we made Jack o lanterns out of ‘mangel wurzels’ These if you don’t know, are sort of like a turnip or swede. A couple of nights before Halloween us naughty children from our estate would go to the local farmers field and pull our lantern out of the ground. Running home with them in the dark, like a scene from Harry Potter, they looked like stolen mandrakes covered in mud. Once home we would leave them by the back door until Halloween, then we scooped them out, carved a face added a candle inside and threaded string to the lid to carry around. They normally lasted until Bonfire night.
🎃Happy Halloween 🎃 Happy Samhain✨ May your pumpkins and jack o lanterns burn bright tonight! x 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Conkers, A New Painting And The Shoes of A Different Era

Where did those Autumn children go? Those who collected these woody treasures in excitement and laughter, in competition to get the biggest and most perfect winning conker to hang on a string?
All grown up, with children and grand children of their own, yet I'm sure there are conkers in their grown up jacket pockets, or on their window sills just like my own?
There were so many on our walk, we just couldn't resist stopping for five minutes to have a play.
As we left I'm sure I heard the faint echoes of that laughter of years ago? And I smiled remembering.
I love Autumn with it's fungi. 
 Golden leaves and bright berries
There are late jewels in the garden. Flowers that are having a second wind in this mild October weather after being held back in the hot dry summer that we had. They shine even brighter now everything else in the garden is falling asleep in muted russets and brown.
During dry days I've been saving seeds for next year. And making sure I put them in marked packets and keep them indoors. Last year a cheeky mouse feasted on all the sweet pea seeds that I had saved as I left them in the greenhouse.
On my desk...
I have been longing to paint Autumn things! I have a huge desire to paint toadstools!  However am so behind on my winter paintings, they will have to wait for now. 
I took some 'in progress' shots of one of my paintings recently completed. 
You can see how long I've been working on and off on this one, as I'm still wearing sandals in the photo. :/ I painted it A3 size though which didn't help with speed, as I had forgotten just how long that size takes to paint.
Here's the finished piece....'Spellbound in the Forest'
And a close up...
Although I haven't finished (it's sort of) partner painting yet, I've made this one available as cards, a print and a notebook as I felt time is ticking on and some folk like to get a head start on their Christmas gift organising?
You can find all my new additions to the Etsy shop here.
Wooden Hanger Update
I've had some people messaging me recently regarding wooden hangers ready for Christmas.
I'm so sorry to disappoint, but I won't be doing any this year, as I just haven't had the time.  My little shop has done soo well, which of course I'm extremely grateful for. But being busy comes with a price and this year I've just found it really hard to find the extra time to create as much as I would have liked. It's hard as although I'm busy, I've not reached the stage where I can afford to employ help to pack orders to free up my time. This is also why I haven't (as promised to some) organised my wholesale either. So, a big rearrange and organisation needs to be done soon. And a new batch of wooden hangers will be first on the list for the new year.

******
I am guilty however of taking two days off to be an artist of a different kind a few weeks back.
We often get film crews come to our little village and it's been used for numerous movies and tv dramas. Being a villager we sometimes get the chance to be background artists or what they used to call extras. This was the case for me.
The late September weather was in our favour as I stepped into shoes of a different era...
Back to 1928
 to celebrate
and cheer the kings royal artillery.
and band
I'm not going to show you myself in full costume, but will tell you that I looked more like a Mary Poppins than a Lady Mary ;)
Can you guess what the movie is?
It was Downton Abbey! which should be coming to the big screen next year.  It was a fun two days, making memories with my Son and Daughter, who also got to be extras too!

Until next time...
I hope your October is filled with magic?
X