My house is filling up with little owls, lining up on curtain rods and mantelpieces. Their soft tweedy hooting whispers round my bookshelves and up the stairs.
I have been making these to string around my daughters bedroom. At her request it has been painted dark green, and is becoming a forest before my eyes. Originally I had planned to paint twining honeysuckle over the walls, but instead these owls appeared.
They just keep breeding and breeding - I can't seem to stop myself making them ( and I feel weirdly as if I have fallen into an Alan Garner story!)
Mostly my time has been taken up with ponies and children in the last couple of weeks. We have been lurching from one vet's visit to another, and I dread the arrival of the bill.
Perry and Kestrel have become firm friends, which is heartwarming to see.
Finally I have had a couple of days to myself and have thrown myself into the latest commission piece. These are not my dogs, though Lunil and Bil look remarkably similar to Daisy and Pie! This is one of my birthday trades, and it has been swirling around in my head for weeks. I have been itching to get started properly, but I suffer from the frustrating problem of not being able to be a painter and a mother at the same time. I just can't switch mindsets quickly, and end up spending large amounts of time doing both, badly. I get slightly panicky when real life commitments pile up, and I can't see clear days ahead for painting. Everybody suffers as I get snappier and snappier. I feel horribly guilty for saying it, but it was a welcome relief to have the children go back to school on Monday. I have had TWO whole days to paint uninterrupted, and it is wonderful!
This piece brings together several influences. Illuminated manuscripts and fairisle knitting patterns. And Gold. I have been wanting to work with gold for a long time now. I have never yet found a satisfactory gold paint, so I think the answer lies in Gold leaf. This is a new medium for me (and makes me rather nervous) but I think it is the only way to achieve the right effect. I have been studying pictures and puppets brought back from Thailand in my younger days, and I love the stylised images with beautiful detailed gold leaf work. The British Library has a fantastic digital collection of illuminated manuscripts online HERE
I am planning to have a gold background to the dragonboat, making this look like a page from a modern illuminated manuscript. The gold leaf is ordered, and I have been reading tutorials on technique, so I can't wait to start playing with it. Of course, the master of this technique is the fabulous Jackie Morris, whose watercolour and gold leaf paintings are absolutely exquisite!