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May 1st. After three years of working on the poetry book it is time to move on to some of the work that has been on hold over the last few months. There has been a relentlessness about trying to get the poetry book finished, but also a continuity of knowing everyday when I woke what I would be doing. So, now feeling a little like a ship at sea with no anchor.

Spent the day putting up bookshelves and moving books around, stringing paintings and taking them to Llys Meddyg in Newport, which is looking amazing, and to Carnhedryn. Still the house looked upside down with too many paintings leaning against walls everywhere and books all over the place.

Heard that a friend had died, Colin, a man whose memory for both poetry and song where enviable. Funeral on Wednesday.

May 2nd. Posted off the last pages for the poetry book to London. Wind like a lion roaring round the cliffs and blowing the blossom into blizzards. Lazy day getting nothing done slowly. Lovely article about my work in Artist and Illustrator Magazine.

May 3rd. Two days of no painting and I am now edgy and jumpy, aware that I have things to do that need to be done now and wanting to get back to painting. Heard from the designer that the paintings had not yet arrived in London. Are they lost in the post? Or just late being delivered?

Again the wind is wild. It seems such a short time that the blossom fills the trees with its flowers before the wind comes to scatter it.

Later.....Paintings arrived at the designers, much to my relief. Colin's funeral was a gentle celebration of a man who will be much missed by close friends. "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" was read and I remember Colin reciting "Fern Hill" to me when he heard that I was doing a poetry book, rolling the words around with such love for the rhythm and sway of the language.

 

 

In the evening I walked over the hill with Robin and the dogs and the cats. Two wimbrel flew over, calling across the valley to the sea, a badger walked carelessly towards us, unaware that we were there and we watched a buzzard carrying food back to its nest in the evening light.

4th May. Across on the other side of the peninsula flowers cover the cliffs. Yellow primrose and cowslips, great banks of golden gorse, white sea campion and pink cushions of thrift, pale blue squill and spears of deep green bluebell leaves with delicate dark flowers. Violets still hug close to the earth.

On the skyline of a field dotted with cowslips a curlew walked with high steps, silhouetted against the sky.

On the way home down the green lane that runs parallel to the sea, the water buffalo stood near the gate, and amongst them a tiny calf.

 

 

picture of a hare and the moon by PAul Howard, from The Walker Book of Classic Poetry and Poets, compiled by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Paul Howard

 

Back home I settled down to some painting and emailed publishers about an article I will write about illustrating poetry books. One thing led to another and I bought a painting from "Images of Delight" who I am exhibiting with next week in London. ( For more info about the exhibition click here).

The picture is from Paul Howard and Michael Rosen's book "The Walker Book of Classic Poetry and Poets". For more of Paul's work click on the hare.

firecrest, a watercolour painting with gold leaf by Jackie Morris

5th May. Standing in Glyn's yard next door in the sunshine a sparrowhawk flew past, fast, low to the ground and through a five bar gate, followed by swallows.

6th May. In the lane outside my studio blossom litters the path. Watched a peregrine hang in the wind, sharp and clear, lit from beneath by the evening light, hunting.

Have painted only one piece this week, still trying to get some order into the house and at last began to put paintings on the walls. Saw some beautiful watercolours at an exhibition in Milford, by a man called Eden Evans.

Sending lots of paintings to gallery near Bristol, The Magpie and the Mirror, today. Slowly order is being restored to the house.

image of a magpie looking into a mirror

Floss at Solva with gorse reflecting gold in the water

Some weeks are not meant to be easy. This was one of them.

8th May. Drains blocked and much as I tried to unblock them I couldn't so phone "Drain Doctor". Man came out all the way from Llanelli and rescued me from the blocked drain. Needless to say didn't get much painting done, but in between moments of sewage trauma did manage to draw out most of the mbf card.

9th May. Dentist, grumpy, chaotic, but did some painting.

10th May. Ten hour journey to Milton Keynes, dropping off paintings along the way. Got lost a few times looking for people in and around Narberth and ended up at a ruined mansion with peacocks. Beautiful and eerie with the peacocks strutting around and calling across a wooded valley. Spent an hour sitting on the motorway stuck in traffic, reading a book which is so good that when the traffic began to move I was disappointed and then arrived tired and grumpy and demanding whisky.

Then off to the urban life in London.

photo at Piccadilly Circus

11th May. Long day in London meeting publishers and then off to Waterstones in Piccadilly. Very busy exhibition and lots of people to talk to but I was very disappointed by the fact that Waterstones didn't have any of my books out on sale with the exhibition. Does sometimes make me wonder why I bother and I just end up feeling churlish and moaning. When they did see fit to find some they were snapped up quickly. Which was nice.

 

window at Waterstones, Piccadilly

After the exhibition Robin and Clare (Robin's very beautiful daughter) and Andy, her boyfriend, and myself went to the Millennium restaurant in Grosvenor Square. Clare has been working there. We sat down, had our menus taken away and were then treated to a glorious feast of wonderful food including the most delicious sorbet, after which we had a tour of the kitchens. In another part of the hotel a masked ball was going on, and when I went off to the ladies to "powder my nose" it was full of nobility! I have never felt under-dressed in a toilet before! Or been quite so close to so many ball gowns!

13th May. Visited James Mayhew to drop off a painting. On the way had a phone call to say that our black cat, Bird, had died in the night, with a small vole by his side. He was a good cat, would curl around my chin like a beard every morning and get in the way when I was trying to read. He would always greet visitors and sit on them and allow them to stroke him and knew well how to cough up a fur ball at the most inappropriate times. Hannah said once that " He used to be a bird, but he ate his wings", so it is to be hoped that he now has new wings.

 

Later on Saturday we walked by the river side, willow trees full with fresh leaves, through fields knee deep with golden buttercups, bordered by huge chestnut trees heavy with flowers. By the river's side a huge platform of a swan's nest sat in the reeds, a jumble of twig, reed and flotsam, and on top, spread wide across the eggs the warm swan, white against the dark river water.

The sky was heavy with the weight of water but threatened rains held back for a while. Over a field a kestrel hung in the sky and cows waded into the river down stream.

 

swans on a nest, Stony Stratford, England
14th May. The road home was a long one. Though the cats were there to greet me it seemed empty without Bird. Hannah wept all evening when I told her.
photo of a path through a field of buttercups at Stony Stratford, England

15th May. Back to work, picking up where I left off on the Musicians Benevolent Fund Card. Long days of colouring in.

watercolour painting showing progress so far on the Musicians Benevolent Trust Christmas Card 2006, watercolour by Jackie Morris

Shadows and ghosts at windows.

And then one working day later.....

watercolour painting of Musicians Benevolent Fund Card 2006, in progress, by jackie Morris

16th May. In a wonderful moment of serendipity I met a children's book seller from Baltimore yesterday, Deborah Nelson, in St Davids on a pilgrimage from Baltimore. Looking forward to making the journey to Baltimore some time in the not too distant future. And today Deborah and her party are visiting Ramsey Island, magical land of strange dreaming and I continue pulling figures out of the MBF card.

17th May. More painting, listening to Cara Dillon's beautiful music. Not sure whether the card is turning into a symphony or a cacophony.

watercolour painting in progress for the Musicians Benevolent Card 2006 by Jackie Morris

18th May. The bluebells at the top of the hill are different from the ones in the wood at Abermawr, bluer, with dark blue-purple stems and more delicate. Painting all day again and still listening to Cara Dillon and "equation", probably the best album I have ordered by accident for a long time, with a wonderful version of Yeats's "Clothes of Heaven".

musicians benevolent trust card for 2006, work in progress, watercolour, Jackie Morris

20th May. Two days later and still listening to music. This time Seth Lakeman and magical stories about a woman who turned into a white hare. Also Kate Rusby.The weather is still full of rain and the green lane that leads to the top of the hill is like a tunnel of emerald light.

watercolour in progress, mbf card 2006, by Jackie Morris

21st May. Sunshine and wind, sitting on the cliff top as the wind rippled rivers of kingfisher colours into the sea surface. MBF card almost finished and having painted hard all weekend again I face that feeling of disappointment at how things have come out not looking as I wanted them. Difficult to see the image as a whole and suffering the inevitable feelings of anti climax on finishing, maybe too critical, maybe just the rainy day blue, maybe just tired. Next painting will be better and full of ideas and spin offs.

Reading "Pigs Must Eat on Sundays" the Ben Hartley Notebooks, beautiful small observations and drawings from an artists notebooks, published by Green Books.

mbf card, 2006, watercolour painting of musical city with hoopoes by Jackie Morris

It is very difficult to decide when such a large piece of work is finished. Bird the cat flies in the top left corner.

 

23rd May. Early morning, walked the cliffs in wind and sunshine to find a rose, small and hidden behind a rock, low to the ground. The flowers are perfect white. On a sunny evening with no wind the perfume from the rose would fill the air, but now I bend down and breath in the sweetness, most beautiful of scent. The magic of the hidden flower makes me wonder what it would be like to be a bee and come upon this giant, sweet orb.

Two choughs sit on the path, black from the darkest night in their feathers, beaks and legs red as rosehips.

A curtain of rain sweeps across the bay. Soon the honeysuckle will add to the medieval carpet of flowers that covers the cliffs. And everywhere I walked Seth Lakeman's White Hare followed me, stealing my soul and wandering through my imagination.

Followed rainbows along the road all the way to Birmingham.

photograph of children working at computers writing stories in Birmingham

24th May. Working in a school all day teasing stories out of children. In a day they wrote twelve stories filled with wizards and witches, dragons and unicorns and mermaids. Working in pairs they planned and wrote and typed up their stories, all the time with a gentle hum of concentration.

25th May. Painting with different children today, illustrating the stories from the children the day before, and again there was an air of quiet concentration at all times. Now we have twelve stories and twenty four illustrations and the staff are going to put them together to make a book. I was so impressed with the way the children worked on both days,the way they thought about their work, and crafted their stories. Many wrote openings to their stories that I would have been proud of.

The stories held dragons of all kinds and Chimera and mermaids and even a chihuahua, which took some looking up in the dictionary! The paintings included a witch in the wood with a spooky atmosphere brought about by the detail of shadows of tree branches, colourful dragons and pencil dragons.

 

26th May. The journey home was a long road to travel. In the morning teenage school girls struggled with wind, rain and umbrella, clouds snagged on tree covered hill tops. I drove through the rain with music playing.

Almost home and the road suddenly turned to chaos in front of me as there was a sudden, slow colliding of metal, steam and breaking glass. I sat in a still moment of time and then left the car to see if I could help, caught a man as he almost collapsed and lay him down by the side of the road, and tried to get another to sit down and be still. So helpless, I had no idea what to do, but police and ambulance came quickly and I left, to get out of the way for people who were more useful, feeling helpless and shocked but also so confused by how things had happened, how time had slowed and how a few seconds of time can change everything.

Back home I still couldn't make any sense of what I had seen.

 

 

 

watercolour of a dragon
pencil drawing of a dragon
watercolour painting of a witch in a wood
watercolour painting of a wolf
photograph of dog and small ginger kitten

27th May. Back home and settling in a new kitten from St Elvis Farm near Solva. Already it is facing up to the dogs and batting them on the nose if they are too familiar. It is just possible to see it as it perches on its favourite place on top of the chair on the sheepskin rug. Unfortunately this is also Pixies favourite place and none of the cats seem that pleased to have little Elmo amongst them. But Hannah had a look of pure joy on her face when she saw him for the first time.

Meanwhile in all the bank holiday traffic Mr Griffith's old cat, a tattered old battered pirate of a cat called Ebrill, who despite the fact that I had never seen him stand up, would walk miles to court the lady cats at Upper Porth Mawr, was hit by a car and passed away to court the lady cats in the sky.

 

30th May. The rain has swelled the grass to a green lustre and wind wrinkles fields like wind on water. Late evening a thin syckle moon hangs in a clear sky. Hannah has made a website.

www.hannahstowe.co.uk

31st May. Walked dogs around the headland at Treginnis and sat for a while watching porpoise rise and cut through the surface of the sea, sometimes jumping out and splashing. Huge black ravens flew overhead and gannets burned with the brightest whiteness.

When the kitten sleeps he sleeps like a toy, fast in a deep sleep of the young. Settling in with the other animals, though the cats are still wary Bella seems to be happier and Elmo seems to think that having such a big friend is good and that she makes a fine cat bed.

bella and Elmo the kitten settling in together, photograph of kitten, very small, sitting on dog, much bigger. Cute.

photo of Tom and Hannah on the rocks watching porpoise in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire, 2006

next..........

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


©Jackie Morris