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Remembering My Mother ~ Poem

Sunday, 30 June 2013

A little while ago, these canvasses were heading in a slightly different direction
but as always, they eventually told me the way to go... 
once i stopped thinking so much and tuned in to who they were for... 
the Mom being remembered...

in my mind were the colours of the white shores of Hawaii...
i printed some photos for colour inspiration...
don't you just love how the colours on the print have run & merged together? 

They are to form the background for the poem
 "Remembering My Mother" by Belinda Stotler...

just trying different ways to emphasise the last verse...
& then doing something totally different!
Actually it combines both ideas & I could see from the roughs where I needed to be.

Even when a death is not unexpected, it can still be incredibly hard for those left behind,
but this poem gave a little comfort through it's words...

Their Mom & Dad used to spend time together in Hawaii... 
on 'those white shores across the sea'...

There are many layers of colour & texture in these, giving plenty of depth in the background,
also the blue line of acrylic & the white splashes are raised adding even more...

two canvasses the same, or at least very similar.... 
one for my customer & one for her sister

Remembering My Mother
by Belinda Stotler

My Mother seems so far away from me,
On that beautiful white shore across the sea.

Yet I remember love’s soft glow upon her face,

And the feel of her touch and tender embrace.

When I am weary from the burdens I’ve borne,
And the path is unclear and I feel so forlorn,
I remember her loving support was always near,
And her advice made the path ahead seem clear.

When I feel there is no one who seems to care,
Or when the heartache seems too hard to bear,

I remember how she always stood by my side,
And would tenderly wipe away the tears I cried.

When there are moments of great joy and pride,
And I wish my Mother was standing at my side,

I remember she saw more than I thought I could be,
And know I owe my triumphs to her belief in me.

When I reminisce about the things she used to say, 
And I miss her and think she is so far away,

I remember what she gave lives on through me,
And one day I’ll see her on the shore across the sea.


Closer to Fine...

Friday, 21 June 2013

Sometimes a request comes through that leads to a lovely conversation as we talk about ideas, and often a story emerges that explains why a particular song or poem is special. Stacy enquired about possibly having two canvasses, one as a gift & one for herself with these words...We already knew that the colours were to be along the lines of the "Cloths of Heaven" one

I Went to the Doctor, I Went to the Mountains
I Looked to the Children, I Drank from the Fountains
There’s More than One Answer to these Questions
Pointing Me in a Crooked Line
And the Less I seek My Soul for some Definitive
The Closer I am to Fine

- Closer to Fine by Indigo Girls

And so... Stacy told me that there was a time in her life when she was feeling very down... about where she was in life, who she was & was afraid of the choices she wanted to make. I think we can all relate to that at some point can't we? Luckily there was a friend called Jack who sat her down, played this song & made her listen to the words, telling her to take them to heart. The song struck a chord & Stacy sat there crying through the whole thing... I always like to listen to the songs that I am writing from, but I hope that you will have a listen to this song, "Closer to Fine" by The Indigo Girls & take in what it's about.

Music video by Indigo Girls performing Closer to Fine 

Stacy says,
The song is not only about finding true happiness within yourself but about taking chances and not getting comfortable in your own fears. A month later, Jack unexpectedly died from pancreatic cancer. It just magnified the notion that life is too short. So I am keeping one for myself and giving one the other to his wife... he was a person who gave so much of his time, devoted to so many people... to teach them how to live and find inner peace. He was a husband, father, therapist, a marriage counselor, and someone who really cared.
Are you crying too? I certainly had to dab my eyes... and I felt honoured to be able to do this for her... 

This is what I showed Stacy as it neared completion...
just a few finishing touches to add

Both canvasses turned out similar, but not quite the same... it was only when i went to edit the photos that I realised I'd photographed the same canvas twice! Shame, cos it would have been good to show the subtle differences that crept in without me even trying.

The raised gold & silver line down the side really sets it off.
I've blurred the dedication at the bottom for privacy

I'm always intrigued to hear what the recipient thinks... Stacy was teary when they arrived, then she had a lovely visit with Jack's wife who was 'amazed'. I imagine it would have been a healing visit for both of them, cos I'm sure there's a bit of Jack's healing energy in both of these canvasses helping them both be more than fine! I hope so.

"Closer To Fine"

I'm trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
The best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all
Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it, I'm crawling on your shore.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind, got my paper
And I was free.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

I stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I'd been the night before
I went in seeking clarity.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

We go to the bible, we go through the workout
We read up on revival and we stand up for the lookout
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine




Lindisfarne Gospels... on the radio & in Durham

Saturday, 15 June 2013

size approx 365 x 275 mm (14.3 x 10.8 inches)

Tomorrow evening, Sunday, 19:45 on BBC Radio 3, there is a radio show discussing the Lindisfarne Gospels

The Lindisfarne Gospels are one of the world's greatest books and among the most important works of European art of the first millennium. Created on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne around the year 700, they are normally housed in the British Library in London, but for three months this summer, the Gospels are returning to the North East for a major exhibition in Durham.
David Almond visits the British Library, Durham, Newcastle and Lindisfarne itself - a location he has adored since his boyhood - to explore the meaning of the Gospels to himself and to his fellow North-Easterners.
There's more about the Sunday Feature radio show here 
The Lindisfarne Gospels in Durham site is here

They will be on display in Durham from 1st July to 30th September
At the centre of the exhibition in Durham University's Palace Green Library is the gospel book itself, written in honour of St Cuthbert. In addition many fabulous artefacts from Anglo-Saxon England will be on show including ornate gold objects from the Staffordshire Hoard, intricately carved stone from Lindisfarne and silver from Hexham, alongside some very special medieval manuscripts such as the St Cuthbert Gospel and the Durham Gospels. These items place the Lindisfarne Gospels within a wider context of Anglo-Saxon creativity and show how incredibly complex and elaborate Medieval craftsmanship was.

This also sounds interesting:
There is also a smaller, complementary exhibition entitled Exploring the Lindisfarne Gospels on display in the Wolfson Gallery, also situated in Palace Green Library. This exhibition tells the story of how manuscripts were made and will also be used to display creative responses to the Lindisfarne Gospels made by local artists. 
The British Library blog has more information and you can get a great look at more images on the British Library digitised manuscripts site here

The St Cuthbert Gospel (formerly known as the Stoneyhurst Gospel), the oldest intact European book, is also discussed on the radio show (more about this gospel here)

 size 138 x 92 mm ( 5.4 x 3.6 inches approx)


I often wonder at the scribes who wrote books of old... some, no doubt were merely doing a job, maybe because they were good at writing, or this was simply an assigned task, or maybe because they hated it... sent to the scriptorium as punishment for some other misdemeanour. Sometimes the scribes possibly couldn't even read, just copying the shapes of the letters, often in books that were to be gifted to some noble-person who couldn't read either, but the possession of such a treasure filled with magical marks that few could understand was a symbol of wealth.

The Lindisfarne Gospels though, are filled with passion... colours & patterns are woven together to create so many visually appealing pages. And the St Cuthbert book, written to be entombed with him... surely not written begrudgingly. If they were alive today, would the scribe or artist be sharing their work on blogs & internet... describing each stage or critical design decision? Pondering the use of language or material? Did these men write & paint purely for the glory of God and St Cutbert rather than for self or satisfaction? Would they look at us as being self-indulgent in our ramblings & explorations, or would they be mixed media addicts, just as excited to share? 

In a way, these books are an early version of the internet... one of the early ways of sharing thoughts & information... each page & illustration leading to wondrous new worlds that only hint at the possibilities beyond the words. I hope those ancient scribes will look fondly on us modern ones as we try to convey thought & feeling, no doubt muttering under their breath that we have it so much easier than in their day!


It is David Almond, author of Skellig, Billy Dean & so much more, that will be talking about the Gospels on Radio 3 tomorrow. I love hearing him talk; be sure to watch some of his videos on the site if you have time.

This "meet the author" video talks about his approach to writing & includes a bit about how the Lindisfarne Gospels feature in 'The True Tale of The Monster Billy Dean'... take a peek here 


Luxury New Baby Cards

Thursday, 13 June 2013

 It's a little simplistic to call these "cards"... they're more of a concertina style book backed with a gorgeous handmade lokta paper.

This little baby has a Polish mum, so we have a card in English for Mum & Dad, 
& a Polish version for one set of grandparents from the other...

 The silvery glints really sparkle when they catch the light.... I used Schminke aluminium powder dropped into the wet gouache. I spotted it when I was looking for the gold powder in my last post & just had to try!! The aluminium has larger flakes & is slightly brighter, I think, than the silver powder I usually use (also from Schminke).

A strip of sanwaa tissue across the back of the book, with it's gold & silver flecks, 
co-ordinates nicely with the metallic shimmer of the lettering.

All tied together with silver twine!
There's a lovely blend of textures in these little books, making them a delight to hold...
can you see the laid-lines of the bamboo mould that the paper is dried on?

When open, they measure 6" x 16" / 15cm x 40.5cm. I folded these to form the concertina (or accordion) effect, but they could just as easily be rolled to form a scroll!

Thanks "G" from GN Jewellery for her time in translating for me!


Paved with Gold

Sunday, 9 June 2013

I've had quite a few pieces to do recently, that were decorated with gold powder. When the colours are similar, it's so much easier to work on several back grounds at the same time, moving from one canvas to the next whilst one layer is drying.

This is my favourite gold powder that I've had this for years (a little goes a long way). I much prefer the deeper shade of rose gold to the yellow gold. I had a panicky day last week when I couldn't find it.... 3 times I searched the box where it should be... and every other place in the caravan where I possibly could have put it.

Knowing it would 'turn up' but also needing to get one particular canvas out in a hurry I hit the internet to try & order some more... in vain. I had no idea where I'd originally bought it from & couldn't for the life of me think what was written on the label. Usual art & calligraphy suppliers drew a blank & all I could find anywhere was the yellowy gold powder in various shades.

When I eventually gave up & started getting paints out, guess what was under the first thing I lifted out?  Yep, patently obvious, totally un-missable, exactly where it should be... phew! Annoyed but relieved, I started work.

Things were going great. Until I dropped my pot of gold. Clouds of gold dust spilled everywhere.... half a jar of precious dust at least... All over 2 canvasses & the yard. And me & the dog.

Sweeping just seemed to spread it around... and i thought that if I vacuumed, being so fine, it would just go straight through & blow out again. So I swilled it with water & gradually chased it into the cracks in the concrete & back into the earth.

It took ages... But was very pretty to look at! And so now we have a seam of gold right outside our back door & sparkly bits still catch the light all over the yard. Heheh... i think it's great :-)

It was only when I took the top photo that I thought of entering the exact text on the label into the search bar... which led me to The Stencil Library. Of course! At one point I had a trade account with them, I've been there, but had totally forgotten about buying my gold powder (& metal leaf) there. 

Pale Rose Gold Gilding Powder... here
Gold/aluminium/ copper leaf... here

And that half a jar or more that I spilt? I'd already used more than a quarter & there's more than half left. Like I said, a little goes a long way & I just proved it! There's barely any gone, but it looked like absolutely loads... i really was expecting to be left with just a few grains...

It is the most delicious colour...

... i often just sprinkle it onto wet paint, then as the paint dries it binds the gold into itself or onto glue. Any excess can be brushed off after it dries. I will also mix it into gouache or watercolour to add some glints of gold, or mix with water & a touch of gum ammoniac to write with.


Paper Deliciousness...

Friday, 7 June 2013

available here



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