Tuesday, 2 November 2010

She wanted owls, not flowers



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!

17 comments:

Karen M said...

I know what you mean about how difficult it is to switch your mind from family to art. I went way too many years with mostly unfinished work. But then it seems too soon when they are off on their own, and your time is your own again!

Barbee' said...

What a delightful and interesting post!

Trekky said...

The commision painting looks fantastic. I can't wait to see it finished!

Terra said...

Your painting is taking shape beautifully and the idea of gold leaf is wonderful to behold. I agree with you that Jackie Morris is a greatly talented artist.

Julia Guthrie said...

Oooh gold leaf will be a fabulous background for this!
Jackie's work is truly gorgeous :)

I have conflict issues between 'life' & art aswell...I can only do one or the other, my mind just won't work properly to focus on both.
Weird isn't it :)

Freyalyn said...

Oh, I just love how my painting's coming along. Magical! Your trade is nearly finished, I just need to sort out the thumbhole facing or otherwise.

I read 'The Owl Service' at far too impressionable an age - your post brought all the feelings I get when I read that book back. Can't wait to see the finished bedroom.

PG said...

Lovely owls! I spotted the clever Alan Garner allusion at once, great book.

Clare Wassermann said...

A most beautiful painting. I like the owl's "tweedy hoot" - very evocative. I know exactly what you mean about not being able to do the parenting and painting thing at the same time - I feel totally the same way.x

Karen said...

Danielle,
your painting of the dogs is just fantastic! Can't wait to see your daughter's bedroom with all the owls

Karen said...

Love the owls! and they are such characters :)
I have only used gold leaf in tiny amounts. Never done a background as you are about to embark on. Good luck with it. It will truly set that picture off beautifully.
Maybe one day I will give it a go too? :) x

Kath said...

Wow, that painting is going to be fabulous!

Dan said...

Oh, The Owl Service! I loved that book! Your commission is absolutely fantastic!!
Dan
-x-

Swan Artworks said...

Your commission piece is looking fantastic! I love the border too...
I'm glad its not only me currently struggling with the balance of children vs work vs art!
I've got 3 or 4 commissions stacked up now and am panicking because between work and kids I can see no way of getting a free day to get started on any of them!
You're right Jackie's gold leaf work is wonderful... I'm glad you're going to give it a go too...

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

I understand how difficult to switch your mind from one thing back to art. Been my problem all year. Also know the dread of the vet bill, have one to deal with this weekend :(
Love the watercolor of the two dogs, can't wait to see it finished.

Laume said...

Owls have been finding their way into my life a lot this last year. I can see their influence and the direction they have been gently prodding me but I'm still pondering the "why owls?" as I don't think my relationship with them falls within the traditional symbolism. The owls you are making for your daughter's room are really sweet. What a lucky girl to be able to sleep in a forest. My granddaughter's room is like that and I'm planning on turning our master bedroom into a combination Titania's forest bower and shabby Paris apartment chic. Just as soon as I find the time....

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

The owls and the painting are wonderful!

Merri said...

well duh, who WOULDN'T want owls all over the walls??? these are great, they just reminded me of owls that my mom used to sew for me! in fact I'm pretty sure I still have one - in my brother's attic - I'll have to find it next time I go visit.
You're so talented!
- The Equestrian Vagabond

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