Friday 6 January 2012

New Year, New Energies

'The Red Deer Guardian'
Watercolour and ink
16 inches by 12 inches

£175 + postage

After a prolonged absence, my muse finally returned this morning! The ideas have been jostling about on the peripheral edges of my mind for a while, but I've not been able to see them clearly. I put it down to the general Christmas and New Year 'brain fug', but I just couldn't quite shake it off. However, this morning I woke up feeling energised and vital. Coincidentally, the stormy weather and deafening wind had also gone, leaving a bright dawn and a strange stillness that feels pregnant with life and energy. I keep half-expecting to find that the garden has burst into song, Disney style, next time I look out of the window!
A dog walk and brisk workout digging and clearing debris from the stream in the Further Fields, which had become blocked by the raging torrent earlier this week, and consequently was flooding down the road, shook the remaining cobwebs from the dusty recesses of my brain this morning, followed by a meditation , and the muse burst back in.(No, I don't meditate often, I rarely pause for long enough, and I had almost forgotten how good it is for sharpening the mind)
Those half glimpsed ideas are pouring out, fully formed and brightly coloured! I just need to get them down on paper now :)
So while I'm working on that, I'll show you what I've been up to while the muse was away! The owl-daughter and I made our first attempt at a plush monster. This was a Christmas gift for my nephew (he named the monster 'Mark') and we had great fun making it.
Align Centre
Then of course there was the traditional Christmas lurgy, which thankfully only I got this year. It entailed lots of sleeping and sitting by the fire, accompanied by the cats. (I don't know why Beetle chooses to sleep in this 'face-plant' position, but it is always his sleep style of choice)

And then there were the Christmas books! I got lots of wonderful books this year, and I'm only just starting to make inroads on them. One of my new Year's resolutions is to attempt to read more academically this year. There is so much I want to know, and I have a list as long as my arm of 'wanted books'. One that has been on my wish list for a while is 'Thursbitch' by Alan Garner, and I was thrilled to be given it this year. Alan Garner was one of my earliest loved writers - I'm sure many of you are fans of 'The Weirdstone of Brisingamen' and (my personal favourite) 'Elidor'. Aside from the fantasy element, the thing I loved most about his writing was how he evoked such a clear, strong sense of place. However, I only recently discovered his adult works, and this, 'Thursbitch' lived up to all expectations. I can see that it might not be every one's cup of tea, and I'll admit it is challenging, but I loved it, and it's the first book in a long time that has made me want to go and research it's references thoroughly, understand more of the history and folklore behind it, and then go back for a second read. There is a great site here, which points you in the right direction for further reading. So that is more books added to my 'wanted' list!
And finally, a wander around the second hand bookstore at proper job yielded yet more paper treasure. The pile is growing far faster than I can read!


Terra said...

I love this painting and that charming monster you created. I see you like PreRaphaelites, or at least bought a book, and I found a great blog that shows their paintings, sketches, etc. If you want to know its url leave a comment on my blog since I don't have the url memorized.

Bovey Belle said...

Ah books - close to my heart indeed . . . I can remember Elidor, and my children all reading it, but that''s as far as I got with him as an author. I have had The Quest for Arthur's Britain and my husband has quite a collection of books on Arthurian legend and of course we live in Merlin country here . . .

The Pre-Raphaelites are my eldest daughter's passion and they have rubbed off on me too, though I did think that The Last Pre-Raphaelite, which I picked up yesterday to browse in Waterstones, looked fairly solid reading. Perhaps I won't get that for Tam after all as she is a slow but remember every word reader. . .

Enjoy your book heap, as I am here! And a Happy New Year to you and the horses.

Rima Staines said...

Happy new year Danielle!
I love your painting.
I too adored Thursbitch, and would recommend the Stone Book Quartet and Strandloper to follow on.. really powerful stuff. We also have an excellent book of Alan Garner's essays - "The Voice that Thunders" which amid my tall to-read pile...
Hugs from the next hill xx

Dartford Warbler said...

Happy New Year to you all and to Cats and Ponies!

Alan Garner is a new author to me and sounds like good one to try.

We have The Quest for Arthur`s Britain too BB!

Several of my Christmas books were about Edward Thomas, Eleanor Farjeon and their circle. I am a closet Edwardian.....

Kath said...

Happy new Year Danielle, may 2012 bring all good things to you and your family.
That photo of Beetle is one of the sweetest things I've ever seen :-)
I was really pleased you put new photos up of all the ponies.
I'm looking forward to seeing what you paint this year.

Danielle Barlow said...

Thankyou Terra - I just popped over!
BB- my husband is a 'slow but remember every word' reader. I whizz through them fast, but have to go back for re-reads!
Rima - I'll add them to my list. I have his collected Folk Tales to do first. xxx
Dartford Warbler - I'm not sure Thursbitch is the best one to begin with if you are new to Alan Garner, a lovely evocative one is 'The Aimer Gate', no fantasy, but a magical sense of time and place.
Kath - Beetle does look very sweet, but I can assure he is not! However, he does his best to make up for it by being constantly under my feet, and stealing everything he possibly can :)

Windsongs and Wordhoards said...

Glad to hear your New Year has fired up with a burst of creativity! I love the colours in that painting, beautiful clear singing blues, lovely hues...
I too loved Alan Garner but I didn't know he did adult literiture, I shall have to go hunting for that, and re-read some of his others while I'm at it!
The monster is fantastic fun, looks like he was fun to make too!
Carrie... :)

gtyyup said...

Every time I stop by it's like visiting a shop that has so many things to see you never see them all! Your paintings, stuffed monsters, cat with the face plant...all so fun to see!

Wishing you many blessings in the New Year~

PS~Still love gazing at the lil' pony pulling the loaded cart you painted...something I truly treasure.

Valerianna said...

Happy new year, Danielle - lovely painting. I'm glad for book recommendations, and I wonder if kitty suffers from cold nose syndrome? Whatever, its a very determined and cute way to sleep!

Freyalyn said...

Now you've sent me off on an Alan-Garners-I-haven't-got hunt!

bright star said...

Lovely books,what would life be without them!Ilove the Pre Raphaelites and have done since I was in my teens..Happy New Year!

Jess said...

Hi Danielle, I'm pleased to hear your muse had returned. That's a lovely painting. I thought mine would be waiting for me after christmas but it had hidden itself away until yesterday! I've been reading books that for some reason,I couldn't get into last year. I think it's a change of mindset, or a change in inspirational influences around me, I don't know but it's great when it captures your imagination isn't it? Here's to a creative new year!
Jess x

A mermaid in the attic said...

Happy New Year Danielle! I've been looking at Thursbitch on and off on Amazon, and think I will have to get it, I loved Alan Garner's 'children's' books. I do have Amal's 'The Honey Month' though, and that is a real treat, enjoy!

Karen said...

Happy New Year Danielle!
Glad to hear your muse has returned fresh as a daisy for the new year. I've been reading a lot these past few weeks and enjoying more time away from the computer. Happy reading! Lovely painting too! x

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

I love that you are going to do some landscapes whether sketches or paintings. I think I have mentioned in the past how much I love your "non-animal" work also. Looking forward to what you create. I started last year to do some "non-animal" pieces, must be something in the creative air :)

Books are so close to my heart and there is nothing like going to a used bookstore and finding treasures! I keep a couple of piles of books to be read. Drives my husband crazy!

Have had major computer problems so not on my blog or FB much. BUT, have gotten some art pieces, bookmarks and serious works further along!

Have a happy and creative New Year!


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