Yellow Door and brown paper

The Yellow Door gallery in Dumfries is exhibiting entries to its portrait competition at the moment. Last week I had a lovely surprise when they awarded my self-portrait first prize! The exhibition is on until Saturday 1 September.

Self-scrutiny, oil on canvas

And here is an irrelevant drawing on brown wrapping paper photographed from a flattering angle. Still experimenting/playing with non-representational drawing, and the way lines can create apparent depth.

Mixed media
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A morning walk

We (me and the dog) were on our usual slow morning walk up the lane, stopping a lot so that she can read the news on the wet grass. As I crested the hill and looked down the other side, there was a flash of white wings in the sun. Dipping and tilting, they came towards us up the gentle slope of the road, between green hedges. Closer and I could see it was a barn owl, being harassed, or herded, by a magpie. It veered, then disappeared over a gate into the field.
I ran to see if it was still visible, but it had gone. I walked on, for a field’s length or so and then turned back. And there it came again – alone this time – gliding above the road towards me. I crouched in the shade of the hedge, hoping it wouldn’t notice a human, and it kept coming, silently, till a few yards away, it lifted up again and dropped into a different field. I stood and walked on as quietly as I could.
And once more it appeared, from further up the lane, coming towards me, pursued this time by a gang of jackdaws. They all passed over my head, the noiseless owl and the high-pitched shouting jackdaws, following the lane down to the dip at the bottom and out of sight.
I hope the owl has found somewhere more peaceful to roost for the day.
I’ve no owl pictures of my own of course, but here’s a link.

And here’s some pics from yesterday of a different walk and a different lane:

Real people

photo2955

After spending a good part of last year despairing about the state of the world, today was the day that I had arranged to go out and find people to sign my nomination form to stand as a Green candidate in the local elections. This is my small gesture of resistance.
In order to stand you need ten people who live in the electoral district to sign a form saying you are fit to stand. Not a huge number, but still a little daunting as I only had a couple of definites and the rest would require knocking on fairly random doors. What if a door was answered by the real life version of an internet troll?
But it turned out to be one of the more uplifting days of my year so far. Obviously not everyone we approached was willing to sign the form, but everyone was polite and friendly and did not seem to mind being disturbed on their Saturday morning, even if they were still in their pyjamas. People behind the doors of old stone-built houses and neat new-builds and a static caravan were happy to sign the form, clear that they wanted to support the idea of democratic choice (or even to support the Green Party).

So I ended the day having spoken to some total strangers about politics, about pets, about local history, about medicine, about the parlous state of modern democracy, about feeding potatoes to cows… and all of them were civilised human beings – not a troll in sight.

Spring

Photo2111
drawing before adding wash

Life has been rather full lately, with work and Easter and getting things to exhibitions … but this morning was clear and calm with a thin frost quickly thawing, in the hedges nesting birds singing and squabbling. The hawthorn is in leaf, green in the sun and there are two swallows on the telegraph wires, newly returned from Africa or other points south. The lambs are getting bigger. Spring is sprung. Time to stop and breathe the clean air.

Indian ink and wash with wax resist
Indian ink and wash with wax resist

Weather – changeable

Today I imagine if you could look down from above

the land would be seen between fast-moving stripes of sunlit cloud.

From down here it has been a series of darks and lights

wind-driven, one minute throwing hail and rain and (now) wet snow at us,

then bright sun, doubly bright as it bounces off the wet road.

At each break in the cloud another optimistic dog walker sets out,

like those figures in a German weather house, to hurry back before they are caught by the next sweep of stinging wetness.

As I write snow is swirling and the sky is sliding from dirty grey to a kind of yellow as the clouds pass

and now over there it’s bright again and a washed blue rises up to high emptiness.

There goes another dog and friend, disappearing up the lane before the sky refills, to hide the setting sun.

Photo1988