caralockhartsmith

stories and illustration

Crow on Coldstream Bridge

Crow

February 8, 2015 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rooks and Nests

Rook Wood

This wood, that lines the Tweed from Lennel up to Lennel Cemetary, is quiet in the winter, but then in Spring the rooks take over, cawing endless, wheeling about the trees then settling in the top-most branches.  The nests are there, like growths in the trees, all the year round. Birds seem to make more noise on fine days. I found it hard to capture the rooks in flight together with the nests, but got a clearer image of two of them at the top of this battered-looking tree:

rooks and tree

Strange how different species of crow behave so differently.  The rooks do stay together in big colonies.  Crows are more solitary, though you do see them sharing road kill.  I was pleased yesterday to have two jackdaws feeing on the bird table, though they flew off quick when they saw me peering at them between the leaves. In an old house I once lived in the jackdaws would nest in the chimneys.  Every now and then a jackdaw fell in, and would descend, scrabble by scabble, till it appeared, blinking, filthy, in the fireplace.  One jackdaw started flying round the room early in the morning.  We had pale cord curtains, and big sooty prints of jackdaw wings were imprinted on the material as it flew round in a panic at being enclosed.

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Leet Water: Reflections

amar10

Crow Reflection

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walking the Norham Path

January Sky 1

Finished the commission I have been working on, so since there were flashes of sun between the clouds, I decided to take the camera out, and to walk along the English side of the Tweed, on what I think of as the Norham Path, though Norham is several miles away and I have no intention of walking there.

I was told by a fellow blogger, when I posted pictures of a lone swan sailing round and round in a pool at the edge of the Leet, caused by the flooding, that single swans like this were usually in some kind of trouble, as swans mate for life and are not usually alone – I hoped that this swan had gone upstream, where other swans are hanging out, but sadly no, it is swimming up and down the same stretch of The Tweed, keeping near the bank:

Swan

Climbing up Nuns Walk I see this great tit in the branches of a tree that leans over the water:

Great Tit

I cross over the bridge between Scotland and England:

A Border Bridge

Down below, on the other side,  the water races over the weir, and the heron is back at his staging post (saw another further down, but this is the one that I look out for. If Scotland becomes a separate country from England, maybe this heron should be employed as a border guard, or at least a passport officer.

It is still quite early, but already the light is drawing in, as I take the path down into the wooded path on the other side of Tweed River. Now I am in England. The trees are still grey and bare, but some hazel catkins are out:

Grey Scene

DSCF1281

I worked out how to take close-ups with the new camera, but now I’ve forgotten: however, nice to see the pretty catkins, so early in the year.

When I get to the stile I climb over and try to capture the varying light, as the sun comes and goes. It shines on Cornhill on Tweed, away over the fields:

Cornhill1

Cornhill 2

Shines on the ploughed hill:

Ploughed Hill

And flickers over the hills, making them look like 19th Century landscapes:

Light over Hills 1

Fields and Hills1

Then I  point the camera towards the sun:

Winter Sky

I climb back over the stile, and decide to go back, but not before taking a picture of what may be called A New Broom:

Broom

The first yellow of Spring.

The sun has almost set, even though it is only four o’clock, as I know because the bus that travels between Berwick on Tweed and Galashiels passes me as I cross over the bridge:

Sun over Tweed

It has been invigorating to be out and about with the camera once again, and to see the first signs of the Spring, though storms are forecast over the next few days.  My last portrait is of this crow sitting in a tree beside the Tweed, which makes a nice endpiece; then I turn upwards towards the house:

Crow

January 22, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

River, Crows, Flowers, Herons

aug5ok

Crow Over Cornfield

Whenever I get near the crows, they hop away just too far, or fly away just too quickly – I wanted to get an Adieu Vincent image, but instead managed to capture this serene-looking crow flying  on its lonesome high above the barley. The swallows zip about, coming out in photographs like flyspecks.

I am walking late in the afternoon, feeling a need for some fresh air.  I climb up the muddy path to the Lees, and there is the rustic signpost in the distance.

aug1

Close-up it looks more sinister:

aug3

I take some pictures of the hills beyond the barley, beyond the curve of the river, as when I do the illustrations for The Midnight Hare I want to use authentic scenes, even if I move things around, as there is a difference in atmosphere when real places are used.  I use a kind of generic shorthand for horizons, and I think it is about time to get rid of this generic shorthand way of dong things.

I like the way the coloured fields fold into each other, and the way every angle changes the light:

aug6

aug8

aug9

This contraption has been sitting at the edge of the barley for some time. The crows perch on it.  What is it for?

aug10

Down by the river, my thoughts change, and I think about other work. Last year I painted a canvas, now sold, based on the flowers that grew on a bank on the other side of the Lees.  Seeing the flowers along the river bank, an idea comes to me to paint a similar canvas, but with for background the deepest colour of the river at the top, fading down to an earthier but still darker colour at the bottom, with some of the pale grasses thrown over this canvas, and the names of the flowers painted on top of this: marsh woundwort, rosebay willow herb, st John’s wort, balsam, ragwort, sorrel, peppermint … won’t think or talk about ths any more, as if I work something out completely beforehand I lose interest in the process and don’t get round to carrying it out….

The High Bank, August Acrylic SOLD

aug12

aug13

aug14

It is at this pont that I see a heron (that grey blob behind the grasses):

aug16

As I creep nearer, I see that there are two herons, standing on stones in the river shallows:

aug18

Now I am fairly close, but my camera doesn’t have much of a zoom, and also there are all these grass stems in the way.  I am nearly on top of the herons,  going creepy-creepy softly-softly, and am just gtting ready to rise slowly above the grasses and at last get a shot of some herons close up, when a woman and her dog go by on the path above the riverbank, and with a clatter of wings, the herons fly off across the river, and of course when I try to photograph them all I get is empty water.  A tad peeved, I walk on, and just as I get to the spot where the two herons were standing, a third heron flies up from its shelter in the lee of the bank. Off guard, I just shrug and move on.  Foiled again.

By mistake, I take a photograph that is of somethig unrcognisable, but is like some delicate voile in natural dyes, or an abstract watercolour:

aug20

Time to go home. Grass is growing thick and flaxen, it bends in the wind, I wonder how to paint this abundance:

aug23

aug22

The fields at ths time of year remind me of opening lines of “The Lady of Shalott”:

                                                 On either side the river lie

                                                 Long fields of barley and of rye

                                                 That clothe the wold and meet the sky

                                                  And thro’ the field the road runs by

                                                  To many-tower’d Camelot….

Nice one, Tennyson.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

   

%d bloggers like this: