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2007

photograph of Whitesands Beach on a winters day

1st March. St Davids is full of daffodils and people making leek and daffodil ice cream. The Welsh flag is flying in the wind above cross square.

Can You See a Little Bear has been long-listed for The Greenaway award, along with many wonderful books, and I continue to paint poems.

Have a very few roughs to do still as some of the poems are drawing a blank, but most of all I struggle with Kipling's "If". It may be the nations favourite poem, but it is not mine!

Hannah read a book this month that she loved so much. I couldn't get her to go to sleep at night, get up in the morning and she shriveled like a prune in the bath while the water went cold rather than stop reading Cat Kin by Nick Green.

Cat Kin has a fantastic review from Amanda Craig on Amazon books, though I was led to it by the Achuka web site, as the book is at the moment a self published book.

 

 

 

from The Jabberwocky, watercolour painting for the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems by Jackie Morris from The Jabberwocky, watercolour painting for the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems by Jackie Morris

Later the same day snow fell, not for long, but we hope for more.

StDavids, Pembrokeshire, on StDavids day in the snow, March 2006

6th March. A difficult week has gone by with a neighbour and friend being very ill. Now he is in hospital and his house is empty and waiting for his return.

 

photograph of studio with daffodils, Jackie Morris Today was a day of sunshine. I stuck a note to the door in a final attempt to try and get some peace and space to work and painted daffodils for the poetry book. The daffodils come from the farm down the road and each day or two I walk down with the dogs across Treleddyd Moor with the dogs and snipe and woodcock and pheasant fly up from the golden grass, then I walk back with arms full of tight budded daffodils that burst into balls of sunshine in the house. And my studio smells of sweet flowers.

The poetry book cover arrived, with a few spreads and it all began to seem more real. Not easy to photograph, the colours being much richer but it looks a bit like the image below.

cover for the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems by Jackie Morris

 
daffodils, watercolour painting by Jackie Morris for the Wordsworth poem for Barefoot Book of Classic Poems

procession, painting for the introduction page of The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems by Jackie Morris

 

painting of lions running down the stairs from Custard the Dragon, Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, illustrated by Jackie Morris

13th-14thMarch. Yesterday the wind was sharp as a knife and fierce, today the sun so warm it strokes the skin. In the early morning the call of geese sounds across the common and as the light begins to fade they call again as they settle on the ponds.

Painting for the poetry book still, Custard the Dragon, and now only 15 more double page spreads to do, though yesterday painting was interrupted by rescuing a feckless but handsome red setter that was trying to get run over in the St Davids.

watercolour painting of Custard the Dragon from The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems illustrated by Jackie Morris

watercolour painting of a little white house from the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems illustrated by Jackie Morris

15th March. There are days when you wake up and the world is washed clean and looks beautiful, everything more sharp, feeling more alive and awake, the gray of the ash tree limbs standing out against the green of the field beyond, water drops clinging to grass and twigs like diamond drops in the mist. Beautiful.

16th March. And there are days when you are just too tired to think, head full of cotton wool. Painting pirates and trying to stay awake.

17thMarch. Walking at Tremynydd Fawr towards Abereiddi past an ancient house with beautiful outbuildings and pigsties in the garden. The sky tried to throw snow down over the fields but the wind whipped it back up to the clouds. The hedge banks have new growth of purple twigs, and the banks are pillowed still with snowdrops and delicate wild daffodils. Dogs run wild to the cliffs.

Back home to carry on painting pirates I realise that the brown stockings the dog is wearing are made of cow dung, not mud!

 

painting of a pirate for Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash, Barefoot book of classic poems illustrated by Jackie Morris
watercolour painting of trench warfare, World War One, for The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems illustrated by Jackie Morris

19th March. A weekend of war poems, Break of Day in the Trenches and The General. Another step closer to finishing the poetry book. Another walk in the winter landscape bitten by the cold east wind. The fields look bleached, grass bitten down close to the roots by sheep.

To coincide with the subject of the poems a friend sent me this information:

 

Amnesty, IANSA and Oxfam have just launched a global
campaign aiming to stop gun running and control the arms
trade - and they need your support now.  Simply go to:
http://www.controlarms.org/million_faces/en/index.php/register?s=563833

Later the same day we all went for a walk from Tretio to Pwll Caerog across the fields, and the wind was still cold. A beautiful walk and good to find new paths and get away from the drawing board. Silver streams rushed down towards the sea, the ferry swung in close to the land, stone walls softened with lichen marked the way. And then I stepped in mud, up to my knees and got stuck! I tried to get out but my boot came off, deep down in the clinging, sucking mud and I stood on one leg, flamingo like but without the grace,sinking in deeper. Robin came to the rescue and delved deep in the dirt to pull out my boot and I put my foot back in and tried to lift the other foot out and out came my foot, again without my boot and this time there was no saving me. How elegant I was, covered in mud and wallowing like a hippo. I would love to say that Robin was a gentleman and didn't laugh. However he was gentleman enough to rescue boot number two and escort me to a safer place. All of this while a herd or curious and frisky bullocks watched, sniggering behind their hooves!

Safe at home I continued to paint after washing off most of the mud, glad to be at home and safe from mud, bullocks and humiliation.

watercolour painting of dragon and friends for The BArefoot Book of Classic Poems illustrated by Jackie Morris
Jellice cats dancing, watercolour painting for The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems illustrated by Jackie Morris
Jellice rats dancing, watercolour painting for The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems illustrated by Jackie Morris

26th March. Hit by the blues with the weather a blanket of gray. March has been one of the hardest months. Painting away and day after day and trying to finish in time for the book to be published this year, starting early in the morning and finishing late at night.

Meanwhile Glyn, my neighbour has been very ill and is now back from hospital and needing care and company. But I think the final icing on the cake was discovering that the remaining stock of How The Whale Became has been remaindered by Faber. Six years ago I was working night and day under very difficult personal circumstances to get this book finished, much in the same way as with the poetry book, and now I find that the publishers did not think it necessary to let me know that they were going to sell off the remaining stock or offer it to me. So, if you want to pick up a bargain go to the Post Script web site. I feel a sense of disappointment about this, and it is not very encouraging as I find myself working away on the poetry book, though I can almost see light at the end of the poetry book tunnel.

Jellice cats sleeping, watercolour painting for The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems illustrated by Jackie Morris

I heard this week that Swansea Wordplay Festival has been cancelled for this year. I will miss this festival so much, not only because it is the most local festival for me, but because it is the only one dedicated to children's books alone, and is a great opportunity to get together with writers and illustrators, the children are always so interested and inspiring, and for many other reasons, not least the chocolate torte at the Windsor Lodge Hotel. It seems that Swansea council has a series of events planned over the year as a replacement for the festival so I eagerly await an announcement of what their programme of events will be as it will have to be pretty brilliant to come half way to matching the success of Wordplay.

On a better note there is a lovely article on my work and its relationship to the landscape in the Countryman Magazine.

Even Bella the dog has the blues today!

Found a wonderful web site full of peace and beauty. Ashes and Snow.

31st March: Yesterday started at 6.15. I had a room full of paintings and the back of a volvo, and had to get one into the other. Fortunately I decided to put the paintings in the Volvo, and then began a curious dance through the mud that passes as a path to my house trying to squeeze as many paintings into the car as possible. Fortunately the rain that had been falling all week stopped for a while. Then off to Carmarthen with my good friend Jude to the National Botanic Gardens of Wales to hang the exhibition that starts on April 1st.

We worked all day with the help of Les and the bee keeper and Maureen to hang the show and had a great day, though so tired when I came back from lifting and holding huge paintings I could barely lift my arms. In between hanging I did a radio interview for Swansea Sound, and almost managed to sound coherent.

The gardens is a wonderful setting for an exhibition, and would be a fantastic place for an Easter Egg Hunt. Very peaceful, though busy, with beautiful rolling hills around. To see the exhibition click on the doorway on the left. The painting at the bottom of the gallery page is the one that got away.

Back to painting today for the poetry book, and the sun is shining so I will walk the dogs on the cliffs. Sadly, when I walked on Wednesday I saw that the wind and the rain of the last week have taken their toll on the chimney fawr at Maes Y Mynydd and after at least a hundred years of falling into decay the lintel over the fireplace gave up the ghost and the chimney has fallen.

I did hear a piece of good news yesterday. Nick Green who wrote Cat Kin has been signed by Faber so if you have a copy of the self published version well done and hang on to it as hopefully the book will go from strength to strength.

next...............

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


©Jackie Morris