Painting in Words - I was once asked if I wrote from experience or from imagination - I replied both: my writing is inspired by nature, art, and memories of real events, times and places, coloured by imagination - vivid pictures painted in words - sometimes somewhat hesitantly expressed as ekphrastic prose, poems or as haiku ...
Walking in the footsteps of Richard Jefferies ... “I was not more than eighteen when an inner and esoteric meaning began to come to me from all the visible universe, and indefinable aspirations filled me. I found them in the grass fields, under the trees, on the hill-tops, at sunrise, and in the night. There was a deeper meaning everywhere. The sun burned with it, the broad front of morning beamed with it; a deep feeling entered me while gazing at the sky in the azure noon, and in the star-lit evening —' The Story of my Heart’.”
A Year in Haiku - In the evening light the hills glow golden brown; a Barn Owl hunts the woodland edge, picked out in the last rays of the setting sun - the sky to the west a faint wash of blue tinged with orange-pink. Yet it is still not-quite-dark. The Super Moon, rising over the hedgerow trees, splinters in their branches; throwing short spooky shadows across silver-washed fields; a shooting star - fizzes - a firework across the winter-spring sky ...
[…] There were grass-grown tumuli on the hills to which of old I used to walk, sit down at the foot of one of them, and think. Some warrior had been interred there in the ante-historic times. The sun of the summer morning shone on the dome of sward, and the air came softly up from the wheat below, the tips of the grasses swayed as it passed sighing faintly, it ceased, and the bees hummed by to the thyme and heathbells. I became absorbed in the glory of the day, the sunshine, the sweet air, the yellowing corn turning from its sappy green to summer’s noon of gold, the lark’s song like a waterfall in the sky. I felt at that moment that I was like the spirit of the man whose body was interred in the tumulus; I could understand and feel his existence the same as my own. He was as real to me two thousand years after interment as those I had seen in the body. The abstract personality of the dead seemed as existent as thought. As my thought could slip back the twenty centuries in a moment to the forest-days when he hurled the spear, or shot with the bow, hunting the deer, and could return again as swiftly to this moment, so his spirit could endure from then till now, and the time was nothing […]
halcyon days —Artist Credit The Featured Image is of ‘The Wittenham Clumps’ by Paul Nash. He was passionately drawn to places in the landscape with ancient, mystical connections such as the Avebury stone circle and The Wittenham Clumps, and painted them many times
ancient mounds and hills
instinct with spirit
The Magic of Birdsong: A fine fresh morning - the sun streaming through the bedroom window - slightly open, the red and white gingham curtains moving gently in the morning air - dust motes caught for a moment - faerie dust, shining like tiny golden stars; the incessant chatter of House Sparrow and the garbled chuckling, whistling and mimicry of Starling from the cottage eaves and chimney pots; Green Woodpecker laughing from the nearby Ash; And Cuckoo calling from the copse across the fields - a Messian symphony. The scent of early spring - apple blossom and garden flowers in the warming sun. A heady romance. A childhood memory as real now as it was then - For this moment at least I am transported - there in the trees and fields around - what is that if not magic ... the magic of birdsong.
Charles F. Tunnicliffe, OBE, RA (1901-1979) was probably the best illustrator and bird portraitist of the last century. His work across a breadth of media – watercolour, pen and ink, woodblock engraving, etching and scraperboard – and across a variety of subject matter, has stood the test of time and is widely collected.
If you grew up in the fifties like me you probably read Ladybird nature books and collected Brooke Bond tea cards – all illustrated by Tunnicliffe. You might even have read the Puffin edition of Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter, with its cover and beautiful illustrations also by Tunnicliffe.
Eric Ennion (1900 — 1981) was born on 7th June 1900 at Kettering in Northamptonshire, the son of a country doctor. In 1904 the family moved to Burwell on the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens where, after studying medicine at Caius College and St Mary's Hospital, he joined his father's practice in 1926.
Another post in my series of short biographies about artists and writers inspired by Nature and the Countryside. Basil Ede was born at Bookham, Surrey, on February 12 1931, and developed his love of drawing at an early age, later on becoming widely regarded as one of the worlds great wildlife artists.
Another post in my series of short biographies about artists and writers inspired by Nature and the Countryside: Allen W. Seaby (1867-1953), watercolorist, woodcut artist, author, and illustrator.
Allen Seaby was born in London on May 25, 1867, the son of a cabinet maker and carpenter. He studied color woodcut with Frank Morley Fletcher, a pioneer in England of woodblock color printing by Japanese methods, at the School of Art, Reading University. Seaby joined the staff of the University of Reading in 1899 where he became professor of fine art and later head of the art department.
Here, for all who know the Downs – their wandering pathways through fields of yellow and green, blue yet often lowering skies, are the Downs on an English summer’s afternoon. Rowland Hilder - The Downs.