Three and a half weeks on from the Spring Equinox, the clocks have changed and the light is gradually increasing. Signs of new life are abundant and buds in all shapes and forms are beginning to “blow”. An old English word:
blow3 /bləυ/v. & n. archaic. v.intr. burst into or be in flower. n. blossoming, bloom (in full blow). [OE blõwan f. Gmc]
Whilst not often found today, this word – for me – encapsulates nature at this time of year (Photo-gallery: Buds in Spring).
I came across its use in a song at our regular Thursday a capella singing group:
You have to believe that buds will blow,Believe in grass in days of snow,That’s the reason a bird can sing,On its darkest day it believes in spring
As spring unfolds and buds burst into bloom, bird song also brings the joy of new beginnings.
A sound recording I made in our local valley in 2017 brings something of that joyous spring calling to life.
With the gentle sound of the Eden water flowing in the background, the light was slowly fading and the various songs being sung resonated, as if in preparation for another new day.
After Candlemas the first two weeks of February saw the skies clear, the sun bring warmth and the crocuses bloom.
Primroses, that had started to flower even in January, shone brightly in their profusion.
The icy scenes we’d seen on the Eden water on 1st and 2nd of February (Photo-gallery: Ice on Eden water) melted away in a moment and it seemed the reluctant winter had been pushed away – Spring had arrived. Even the bumble bees agreed!
Not the case; early March has seen the return of cold, windy and wintery weather. Not like 2018, with heavy falls of snow and drifts 6ft deep in places, but the temperatures have dropped dramatically and today light wet snow is falling from a grey sky.
Our seasons are fickle these days and keep us guessing what may arrive next.
In the mid-point of Winter, when the ground is often under a layer of frost, there is a very gradual stirring of nature’s activity. Snowdrops appear, greeting us with their bright white petals; a promise of the new light of Spring to come.
On Saturday evening (2nd February) we celebrated Candlemas in our garden, bringing forward some of that promised light to the apparently dormant earth. A spiral of candles, laid on the crisp ground, symbolised the potential that the earth has to offer as winter gradually fades into spring.
Our fire bowl kept us warm, heated a delicious squash & chestnut soup and created the link that Candlemas has to the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc – the first fire festival of the year.
A clear dark sky was flooded with stars. Sirius, bright and clearly visible below Orion’s “belt”, twinkling in colours ranging from blue to red.
Explorations: landscape and the soul has officially opened and will now run from Monday 1st May through to Friday 26th May 2017 in the Foyer Gallery, Newton Dee, Aberdeen Exhibition in 2017
The pictures were unpacked on Thursday after their long journey from the Borders.
Decisions on the sequence were not as difficult as originally anticipated. We created 4 possible scenario’s and with help and input from various people from the community at Newton Dee it became obvious which of these worked the best. Friday was spent with tape measure, spirit level and a good eye for minor adjustments hanging the pictures and putting up labels.
An informal preview on Saturday afternoon saw a small gathering in the Foyer Gallery. I – as the Artist now outside Studio Hundy – spoke about the research process involved in the transformation of the artwork from naturalistic landscapes to expressionistic abstractions and beyond.
The 17 artworks are the culmination of a number of years work and to see them together in the lovely light filled gallery space at Newton Dee was a real joy.
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
Just 3 weeks to go before setting up the exhibition in Aberdeen (Exhibition in 2017). So today I thought it would be good to check how I am going to approach the “picture transport challenge”. Yes, after the recent “paper roll challenge” this proved to be a lot trickier!!
I decided it would be best not to stack 17 layers of glass on glass, however well padded, but rather to see if my portfolio and picture stand from Studio Hundy would fit into the back of the car.
The measurements indicated it would be a very tight fit, but I wanted to avoid dismantling the frame and reassembling it in situ inside the car. After various attempts, the stand decided to loosen itself and ……… hey presto ……. the solution; once it had concertinaed it fitted and could be brought back to a snug fit floor to ceiling.
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!
I’m in the final stages of preparation for a Solo exhibition of my artwork during the month of May. The show will be in the Foyer Gallery at the Phoenix Community Centre in Newton Dee Camphill Community, Bieldside, ABERDEEN AB15 9DX.
The theme of this exhibition is the transformation of landscape through the artistic process. Changes from the naturalistic to the expressionistic Exhibition in 2017.
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.
Folly at Hundy Mundy
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.