Tag Archives: Drawing

hʌɪbəneɪt

Hibernate

early 19th cent. (earlier (mid 17th cent.) as hibernation): from Latin hibernare, from hiberna ‘winter quarters’, from hibernus  ‘wintry’.

1  (Of an animal or plant) spend the winter in a dormant state

1.1 (Of a person) remain inactive or indoors for an extended period

Many of the animals and plants have lost their rest time this year, while I have been pulled inside, further motivated by the strong weather in these parts.

In the city we forget about seasons, barely break the momentum of our summer stride, neon lights sustaining our wilful avoidance of the planet’s rotation. Our energy levels and motivations dip, and we often forget to ask why, berating ourselves for a loss of performance, productivity, and drive. In the countryside, no such illusion persists. We are as subject to light and cold as the next creature. The vulnerability of ageing, injury, and loss, sit more clearly somehow. The cycle of life shows more vivid.

So on those days I haven’t been working on my studio space, and my extremities complain against the cold at each furtive attempt at plein air practice, I found myself prone to hibernate. Trying to structure my days with research and method, reading up on this land, on Carravaggio (Helen Langdon), and Ruskin (Elements of Drawing); drawing; returning to some rudimentary exercises; completing some ‘artists admin’ i.e. sharpening my pencils, cleaning my paint tubes, or stretching paper.

interior with chair 28 01 16 wmJust in time, before ‘the fear’ firmly gripped me again, I remembered the words of a good friend: ‘When you can’t paint outside because of bad weather, just go back to those little interior paintings of yours’.

The more I painted, the happier I felt, and with the growing enjoyment of working with oil again, the pleasure intensified. What a relief…

‘I have a predilection for painting that lends joyousness to a wall ‘ (Renoir)

Northern Soul at Christmas

christmas rose copy
Christmas Rose

I’m pleased to say I’ve got my drawing hand back in since I’ve been up here. So many interesting lines to navigate, from determined hawthorns and oaks bracing against the wind, to wild mushrooms, curious livestock and dramatic rocky outcrops.

fir cones
Fir Cones

So when I was commissioned for a few more designs for Christmas cards earlier in the winter, my usual humbug mentality about the season was dispelled. This client is an avid gardener and likes unique botanical compositions. I seek out an appropriate specimen, and then set it on a board, rearranging it until some pleasing rhythm is revealed.

Then I can employ one of my favourite mediums, the classic dip pen and black ink, usually on a heavy watercolour paper. This detailed work is an almost meditative experience, and I love the excitement of feeling the right course of the line first time. Obviously it isn’t always plain sailing and sometimes your attention will drift, or the intensity of the practice has you chewing your left hand off. Still, the discipline is something I still relish, and I’m glad that the output is well received.

By now I expected to be trudging through snow, charcoal and ink in hand with armfuls of chilly scenes to share. And yet, there is the small matter of climate change that now makes such expectations unreasonable. Thank you for following my Northern Progress these past months; I will have some more wintry offerings in the New Year. In the meantime I do hope that you too are fortunate enough to enjoy a Merry Christmas..