You know that sense of stillness that seems to fall just before the first crack of thunder? It is full of tension, anticipation – I’d even say agitation. It is a precursor for a phenomena of nature that is sometimes paralleled in our soul.
The uncertainty of when, how loud and how close the thunder bolt will “fall”. The unpredictability of the next clap, breaking the intermittent (relative) quietness. Will it rain or will it not?
Recording the thunder storm earlier this week here in the Scottish Borders, I had a tangible experience of these stages and their synchronicity with the emotions we can encounter in the face of life’s uncertainties. Something all too familiar to us in the last 18 months.
However frightening, or invigorating, thunder may be, it will pass over. And if the rain does begin to fall, after the initial downpour, there can be a return to a feeling of inner quietude, with a faint, but lingering echo of the storm that has gone before!
Recently in Studio Hundy I have been painting a series linked to the Iroquois myth “Naming the Winds”.
At the beginning of time, Ga-oh the giant called forth 4 animals, each kept on a tight leash, to rule over the Four winds. A strong fierce Panther was summoned for the wild West wind - the maker of storms - splitting the clouds, tearing them to shreds, and snarling deep warnings over the dark sky.
We are very close to the midwinter solstice and the shortest day. Physical darkness predominates at this time of year – often during the daylight hours as well. We frequently encounter grey, overcast skies. What a delight it is when we see the winter sun, or perhaps an occasional rainbow.
Even the sight of the full moon’s brightness brings joy.
We yearn for the light in winter and as advent advances, I find myself more and more enjoying not only the warmth of the fire, but also the heart-warming orange glow of the embers.
Irrespective of our religious beliefs, this time of year is very often a time of preparation, and perhaps also reflection. For me, certain activities enhance the sense of anticipation – the printing of a Christmas card in Studio Hundy or cutting greenery from the garden for a garland or door wreath; these are all part of what makes the lead up to Christmas special.
The earth feels as if it is somehow “slumbering” now, but there is still a lot of activity in nature, particularly amongst the many birds that visit our garden.
What a fantastic treat I had earlier in the week when I was refilling the feeder on the tall birch tree. Just before I came down from the ladder, a Long-tailed-tit perched itself on a branch just inches away. A few minutes later a “flock” of 8 to 10 of these beautiful birds arrived. The message was out!
Such synchronicity, given the lino-cut print I had prepared earlier in the month as my Christmas card!
My partner Clare and myself shared our recent creative processes at a small Open Studio event in August this year. Plays were performed, words were literally woven, stories were threaded together and Studio Hundy opened its doors exhibiting a series of 4 artworks, “memory fragments” created out of paper.
These “Paper thin memories” were the culmination of a personal transformatory journey following the death of my father in October 2016. Working with papers and other related materials cleared from the family home, I was inspired to transform these “objects” – so tangibly full of meaning – into artworks of some kind.
A synopsis of the 4 pieces that arose as part of this creative process can be viewed by following the Exhibitions link – Open Studio 2019
April is always a month with great contrasts. These are often reflected in changes in the light within the landscape, as spring develops and the days get longer. When this contrast in nature reaches a kind of peak – with rain and sun, bright light and dark skies – something magical emerges in the form of the multi-coloured rainbow. I never cease to be excited when they appear, wondering at their luminosity and beauty, in the sky and through a prism onto the wall.
April has seen a hive of contrasting activities inside Studio Hundy as well. The Chinese ink picture came back from the framers, completing the series of artworks for the exhibition.
So I have turned to those final preparations – the labels for the 17 artworks, listing, pricing, sorting out insurance and making a comments book. Oh yes, and with a bit of wishful thinking in mind, getting hold of some red dots!!
There has also been time to be “the Artist outside Studio Hundy” enjoying the unfolding of nature in the garden. Watching fritillary nodding their heads in the breeze, celebrating the pulsatilla that has not flowered for 2 years coming into blossom and listening to the song of the wren that has taken up residence in one of last year’s swallow nest.
Willow-leaved Pear in blossom
Primula’s by the pond
Pulmonaria and Anemone in flower
Only a few days now before we pack the car and head up to Aberdeen to hang the pictures in the Foyer gallery in Newton Dee – Exhibition in 2017
One final picture to complete for the Exhibition. This is a large elongated landscape using Chinese brushes and ink. So today I have had the “paper roll challenge“! Yes some paper can be very difficult to handle and a large roll (1m wide and 10m long) is such a case in point.
However the paper challenge is small in comparison with the painting itself!! I have 6 or 7 versions of this painting already and each one just does not quite make the mark.
I am attempting to capture the simplest of “motifs” of the local Borders landscape using a range of different size Chinese brushes. I now know why it takes years to become a master of this technique. It is like a meditation. You have to prepare yourself before you commit the brush to paper; a kind of inner calm with resolve. There is no re-working possible. It is all in the spontaneous moment the brush glides across the paper and makes its mark.
Perhaps I should take note of the message above the roof light ……………. or our cat Horace’s approach to life in the summer in the hammock!
For many years I dreamt about having my own studio in the garden. In 2011 I was gifted some money and I did a lot of searching to find the best space for me and the location. Finally I started the build with help from my friend John, a local wood sculptor.
Studio build 2012
Studio Hundy was completed in 2012, so called because of its proximity to Hundy Mundy Folly here in the Scottish Borders.
It is north facing with lovely large front windows. I included a skylight during the build – a double glazed panel recycled from our house renovations – to give light from above. The studio space has given me the opportunity to explore and develop my artwork, or sometimes just sit and watch nature in the garden unfold as the seasons change.