stories and illustration

December: Walking in The Hirsel

Today I walked up to the Hirsel with my camera, and went round the lake, then home through the dusk. A couple of years back I sold a painting of a pheasant walking on the frozen lake, cut across by reeds so it was half hidden.  It was in a terrible frame, so I reduced the price, but was a tad touched that someone had taken to the painting, which I thought had quite a strange image, but one that I had actually seen. At that time I didn’t keep any record of my paintings as I was surprised to sell them, but this year I have taken photographs of my work, however naff the quality of the images. I don’t know whether this keeping records alters my attitude to my work.

The Hirsel is an estate where one can wander freely at any time, with only the grounds round the house being marked Private.  Scotland apparently has no law of trespass, so there is never a feeling that one should scarper across open space trying not to be seen.  There is so much open space in the Scottish Borders.  This is a record of a cold walk in December, on a beautiful estate. At the moment I am still taken with the sky, but perhaps water, reflections and shadows will be themes for when the warmer weather, and the calmer skies, arrive.

I used to only take photographs for details I needed for illustrations, but since the advent of digital cameras I can indulge myself, standing in the dark taking a picture of a frozen puddle, and trying to look what I am doing, as the last cars from the Hirsel go slowly by, trying to negotiate the speed bumps.  Actually a camera is quite useful, as is a notebook, as I discovered when doing pictorial maps in Berwick, and negotiating my way through strange corners where I suspect I was an intruder.

December 12, 2012 Posted by | Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Hares and Fields 1

The hares and the wheatfields haunt me from the summer.  The hares up on the edge of the wheatfields disppeared soon as I glimpsed them, unless I was far off looking through the field glasses.  They are large, lanky, and have dark backs which I haven’t painted in on the boxing hares.  These paintings are tiny. Perhaps it is because I have become so used to working on the small rectangle of the picture books. The flute-player is the little spirit who disappeared from a larger painting, which still has two hares in it but didn’t want any people. I like living creatures in a painting but it needn’t be a person. Today I took some old paintings into Kelso to be framed for exhibition, they were from the Twenty-Six Rabbits books that Orchard Books published some years ago, and the details in those  old illustrations is surprising.  They used to take me three weeks to complete each double page spread.  We only had one table at the time, and I was always trying to avoid getting remnants of spagehetti sauce on the pictures, or stopping the cat walking over the top of them with small muddy paws.  The composition is of the Twenty Six Rabbits books is basically pattern, with action and character. I had a picture of the boy who loved a hare looking at the hare fleeing, and I was going to take it to be framed, but for some reason I wasn’t ready to show it; partly because the treatment is very loose, and there are elements to the figure that I did not feel happy about – but I also had a protective feeling towards the drawing, I want to hang on to it for the moment.  Maybe because it is for an as yet unpublished book, or is a very personal painting at the moment.  I am getting framed instead a smaller drawing, of the boy running after the hare, about which I had less of a personal feeling, but I like the energy.

December 5, 2012 Posted by | Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment


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