It's the spring bank holiday weekend and rain was forecast so yesterday I quickly took lots of photos of the garden before it's turned into a bedraggled mess. The hens accompanied me like home-counties ladies critically inspecting the blooms at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Well it's Sunday afternoon and for once the forecasters weren't wrong...
They're trying to make me feel guilty so they get invited in to dry off - sorry girls, you'll have to go and sit under the hen house.
I spent the afternoon cutting the block for a new print - Radio 4, cup of tea, best way to spend a few hours when the weather is like this. The linocut is of a hare leaping over the fields - a common sight around here and one that is always thrilling. Just as you spot a hare crouched in a furrow in an instant it stands up and starts to run over the field, faster and faster, flying along. You can just catch sight of the large eye, black tipped ears and long, strong legs - it's not surprising that hares are thought to be magical and mysterious animals.
I am working my way through a long list of illustrations for a GCSE History book, it's the fourth book I have illustrated in this particular series and I've learnt such a lot about 20th century USA, crime and punishment and medicine from neolithic times to the present day and now conflict and politics of the 20th century. Some things are obviously fun to illustrate - such as the squalid reality of a medieval street scene - I loved devising the scenes of market stalls and children playing in the mess on the river bank. But there are times when I have a list of maps and pictures which on first reading don't inspire at all - the Schlieffen Plan, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the Six-day War, Blitzkrieg - I have to admit the prospect didn't fill me with inspiration! At times like this the only way is to work through the list in order and after a while I always get pleasure from the details - choosing a typeface and colours for the maps, researching clothing and hairstyles, etc. And then even a picture I was not looking forward to working on, such as Stuka dive bombers in a "blitzkrieg" attack, becomes a depiction of fields and trees and bridges; a choice and colours and textures - it takes a bit of work to find but there's always pleasure in the detail.
I've just come back from a short holiday in France. My first visit to the stunningly beautiful Pyrenees - the historic pilgrims' way to Santiago at St Jean Pied de Port and the Atlantic waves crashing onto the rocks at St Jean de Luz.
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