It seems like a long time since I was last here; I’ve had a birthday and bought a new(ish) car which we’re collecting at the weekend. Joe’s school sports day took place a few weeks ago and it isn’t long until the Highlands and Islands schools break up for summer.
I’ve been working and seeing friends and getting on with day to day things.
I have a few new stockists who’ve approached me asking if I’d like to have my work in their (very lovely) shops, so I’ve been doing some - but not enough - printmaking.
Joe’s a keen artist too. ‘Bedtime’ for him usually involves heading upstairs, singing loudly and tunelessly and sitting at his desk drawing endless weird and wonderful pictures. He’s very into animals and sea creatures (the more dangerous, the better). I’m constantly finding little studies on scraps of paper lying around the house.
Of course, he loves reading about these things too. He has quite the collection of beautiful books but we go to the library every week too. The book in the image below appealed to me as much as him, being an admirer of Emily Sutton’s wonderful illustrations. And no, it wasn’t Joe who scribbled on the front cover… He does love it though when I read him my old Enid Blyton books and naughty Mummy’s old clumsy Crayola scrawls are still inside for all to see.
I’ve been buying a few things, like the botanical pencil case (a birthday treat for myself) and lots of new inks. I generally use water-based inks for printmaking but tried an oil-based one in Prussian blue - one of my favourite colours. The finish and detail are amazing and I promptly ordered more tubes in yellow ochre, black, white and Rubine red, along with some potions for extending the ink and reducing the tackiness.
I’m having a few days this week to make some new prints and hand-bound journals.
A few months ago, I took delivery of a new ribbon for one of my vintage typewriters. One of them is truly ancient and more of a decorative object, but the other is a retro-looking Remington, probably from the 1970s. It’s pale green and actually works pretty well.
Anyway, I’d had this idea to type inspiring quotes and then print around the text. And I finally got around to it. Some journals, some prints. They’re going to be sold in a shop north of here (I’ll add the details soon).
I’ve been reading a lot too. I get beautiful books out from the library on a small but fascinating selection of topics: interiors, plants, natural dyeing and so on. But I’m also a big novel reader. The latest is The Two Houses by Fran Cooper, and before that Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst. The pile of books next to the bed is ever-growing.
We had a few weeks of hot weather in May, which meant pulling the rusty and faded but oh-so-comfortable sun loungers out from the lean-to. I spent a few blissful hours here and there reading The Colours of all the Cattle in peace with just the sound of the stream and the blackbirds for company. The smell of the hawthorn blossom was in the air too (it’s on it’s way out now, as are the bluebells, but the lupins and cow parsley are back).
I’ve been writing. Sometimes just a few minutes, others maybe half an hour or more of feverish scribbling. It’s a bit of a secret project but I’m determined to write as often as I possibly can. It’s one of those things where once you start, it’s difficult to stop.
So that’s where things are right now. The weather is unpredictable; sunny and breezy then wet and windy, sometimes in the same afternoon. It’s like a swinging pendulum, back and forth and back again. The wildflowers are blooming and all is green and fresh. The midges have returned. We don’t get them too badly here, but I do find myself hurriedly bringing the washing in, batting at the air around my head if the evening is a particularly cool and still one.
I think things are settling into a bit of a routine. Through the spring and summer, I go out to work. The long school holidays mean I’ll be taking Joe with me, and on my days off we’ll just be either out and about or home and pottering. Through late autumn and winter when the days are quiet I’ll make lots of prints, edit and archive photographs, write…
But this is one of my favourite times of the year when everything is lush and verdant: new ferns and bracken and leaves. Blossom and tall grass. Bright gorse and huge expanses of silvery cottongrass. And although the wild geese have flown, the swallows are here and swooping, performing their acrobatics around the house. The wild roses are back and the garden is edged with aquilegias. The minnows continue to dart about in the stream, much to Joe’s delight. Spring is slowly retreating as summer returns.