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A special visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon on my 10th Blog and FB anniversaries – they are connected.

My visit to The Magical Town of Crickadoon….(AKA Crickhowell Wales) turned out to be particularly special.      It also happened to coincide with my 10th anniversary of blogging and involvement with social media.        I write about both these events together as they are connected…..

The view from my bedroom window on the first morning.       My first impression – a river of mist floating across the Usk Valley.       Magical, and even more so to observe the mist lifting, slowly revealing the beauty beneath.

20-11-15 - 1 (190)watercolour/gouache sketch – The Usk Valley where the Black Mountains meet the Brecon Beacons. 20-11-15 - 1 (493)This visit was the first time since I left Crickhowell, twelve years ago, that I was able to completely relax and allow myself the joy of visiting old haunts and connecting with dear friends.

 

 

The 16th century bridge spanning the River Usk.      I have walked over this bridge so many times….and like the surrounding hills and landscape the colours and atmosphere constantly change.

80503814The market Town of Crickhowell has a population of approx 3,000.      It still has the butcher, baker and candlestick maker and much much more.     A manageable and vibrant community.

High Street Crickhowell 

Crickhowell-148295When I lived there in my little cottage on Mill Street I was able to walk everywhere, including to twelve (or was it thirteen) pubs? – all of which served good food – from pub grub to fine dining and everything in between.      That is still the case.

This little watercolour sketch looking over the town up towards Brecon was painted shortly after I arrived in Crickhowell (1994) from the Castle Motte.   131500_307466586024705_32046251_oSo why you might ask did I leave.       In 1999 I began working on a project for children which used the power of art and colour to teach about environment, homelessness and many other social issues.      Had it been successful, it would have solved long term financial issues.    After what looked like a very promising beginning, in 2003 it was clear that the project was not going to work.    A very sad moment for me.

However – ‘None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out…..’

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This precipitated a move to London, my base for the past twelve years.       France was to be my next permanent move….but once again circumstances and personal responsibilities caused my plans to be changed.

 

From my sketch book on this trip…The light over the Brecon Beacons changes by the second. 20-11-15 - 1 (479)All of which brings me to ten years of blogging and social media…………

Ten years ago in the midst of this change, I had heard about blogs, but didn’t have a clue of what they were.    I knew nothing about social media, until my daughter suggested that I join something called Facebook.    My response  – Why not?

As it happens, my decision to get involved was a life saver.     Given that this period has been somewhat fragmented, blogging and social media have allowed me to continue working, and at the same time meet many new and interesting people.    I would recommend anyone who is going through a time of change and upheaval to use consistent blogging as a way to bring a sense of stability into life.

I also believe that had social media been in play when I began my project in 1999, things might have worked out differently.   No regrets – simply an observation.

Having a base in London has also been very good for my work and again I have met wonderful people….

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However, I am now free of personal responsibilities and can move forward unencumbered, which is why my trip to Crickhowell this time around was so special.

I have no idea what the future will bring….I am one of those people that tries to live in the moment and take each day as it comes…..however, we do have to make plans, and it is my hope that I will now spend longer periods of time in places liked Crickhowell, Saorge France, Portugal etc.

As I continue to work and travel, I plan to do much more plein air work and of course record the people who I encounter along the way.

Ella sketching. – pen and wash

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I wish one and all a beautiful beginning of Autumn.

Magical hummingbird symbolise for me the ‘unseen magic’ in our world.      

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A Biento

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st September – beginning of my new year………

1st September always signifies for me the beginning of a new year.     After a period of reflection during the slower summer period, September is when I start to get excited about my new work goals for the coming months.

I am pleased to report that the magical hummingbirds (tiny flying jewels)  are definitely in place this year….symbolising for me the unseen magic in our world.

watercolour

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Speaking of which, I have just had a very special time with my friends who live high up on a hill outside of The Magical Town of Crickadoon in Wales, overlooking the beautiful Usk Valley, where the Brecon Beacons meet the Black Mountains.

Watercolour painting – overlooking the Usk Valley

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Along with sketching, relaxing, eating superb food – and enjoying good conversation – I had time to reflect.

Early morning watercolour/gouache in my sketchbook….

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I left London, filled with it’s fast pace and noise on a very hot summer’s morning….and arrived in Wales to find cooler temperatures, sweet tasting air, and the sounds of Mother Nature……

The sounds of sheep in one of the fields beneath where I was staying…

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The ever changing landscape….is a joy and excellent for honing observational skills.       I remember when I first came to this area 23 years ago, I was mesmerised by the colours and constant changes in light.

The clarity of early morning light….   

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The atmospheric quality of misty evenings and mornings……

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And the beautiful sunsets…..

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To top it all the resident cat, Tarantino, who is now 18 years old, completes the picture.     He is so very sweet…..

watercolour/gouache sketch of Tarantino

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sketch of Tarantino sleeping….watercolour/gouache

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Although I need routines and rituals – (they give me the freedom to create)………more and more I am able to go with the flow of life.     I find that in doing so, I am can follow life’s clues more easily.        I tend not to miss those  little gems of information – and moments of deep intuition.       

My friends and I talked about time and the fast pace of 21st century life.    Sally then said something  which I found to be quite profound.     “We do things because we can”….We get in cars and drive long distances simply because we can.   We are able to keep in constant contact with one another through new technology…simply because we can….. 

Of course,  just because we can, doesn’t mean that we necessarily have to do it!:)     Which means that discernment is ever more key to sane living.

Watercolour from my May visit to Wales. 

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I realise more and more that no matter how much we mere mortals try, we can’t control the timing of things….We can make plans, but in doing so we have no idea what other plans are being made around and beyond us.      None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out………’

Always reminding me to stay in the present moment like the magical hummingbird.

watercolour

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A Bientôt

Taking a break

Brecon Beacons National Park – wales.  – watercolour/gouache 

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I can hardly believe that it is the 11th August which means I have now begun my ninth year of blogging!      Thank goodness I listened to my intuition because through this medium I have learned a great deal,  met some wonderful people…and all in all feel richer for the experience.

Table Top – overlooking Crickhowell (aka The Magical Town of Crickadoon) Wales.  watercolour

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I usually take a break from my schedule at this time of the year.    Time for some R & R and also time to prepare for autumn – one of my favourite seasons.

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I will be back here at the beginning of September, hopefully with all sorts of new images and news….

Capturing the ever changing light over the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains, Wales.   Watercolour/gouache. 

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Of course the hummingbirds will still continue to spread their magic.   – watercolour

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A bientôt

 

Monochromatic Underpainting for St. Edmund’s church, Crickhowell, Wales

Monochromatic underpainting for one of the two panels in St. Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell, Wales.

church panel underpainting

I lived in Crickhowell, Wales (aka – The Magical Town of Crickadoon) from 1993 til 2005.

In 1995 I was commissioned to paint two large panels for St. Edmund’s, the ancient church which sits in the middle of Crickhowell.

Because I wanted the panels to tell a story, I began work with monochromatic underpaintings, which allowed me to compose the paintings before adding colour.     These  formed a  foundation block showing the tonal range and overall rhythm of the composition.        During this process, changes can be made and indeed many were on both panels before colour was added.

The two finished panels….`My friend Cyma Horowitz standing with me beneath the panels.

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When I was commissioned to paint the panels, I was given the following passage from Song of Soloman as inspiration.

‘Arise my love and come to me for the winter is past the rains are over and gone.      Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, and the turtle dove is heard in our land’  (Song of Solomon 2:10-12) 

I had already fallen in love with the outstanding natural beauty of the area and its people, and so this passage resonated with me.     My daily walks prompted a sense of deep gratitude and celebration.     Using symbolic imagery, my goal was to integrate these feelings with the words from the passage and I particularly wanted the paintings to speak to the children of the area.

For example, the egg shape window in both panels represents new life; the peacock – everlasting life; the calla lilies – trumpets,  and so on.    The children of the area are depicted as angels.    Many of the animals represented I knew and loved.     The church spire and 16th century bridge that crosses the River Usk are included.

To the left of this detail is Bumble the golden labrador.    Bumble introduced me to the people of Crickhowell as I took her on long daily walks.   Christeve the Cat is front and centre and a friends beautiful sheep dog sits to the right. 

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As I added colour, I took into consideration the colours used in the stained glass windows and alter dressings – therefore seeing the church in its entirety as my canvas.

I see the underpainting as a metaphor as I compose and establish new rhythms in my life today.

A bientôt

The gift filled with simple and profound wisdom.

For my 60th birthday, almost nine years ago…….my dear friend, Rosie, gave me the book Buddhist Offerings 365 Days by Danielle & Olivier Follmi.

It’s a book that I always keep at hand, for its simple and profound words of wisdom.

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Most of us have spent our lives caught up in plans, expectations, ambitions for the future, in regrets, guilt or shame about the past.    To come into the present is to stop the war.  From Buddhist Offerings. 

This is a rapid sketch which I began by sketching over an old painting…one that I didn’t like much anyway….such a feeling of freedom:)

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True love for our neighbours will be translated into courage and strength.   The more we develop love for others, the more confidence we will have in ourselves.   The 14th Dalai Lama. 

Because I am working over an old painting, I am using watercolour and gouache….Remember, watercolour is a transparent medium and gouache is opaque.

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Without the rigidity of concepts, the world becomes transparent and illuminated, as though from within.   With this understanding, the interconnectedness of all that lives becomes very clear.     Sharon Salzberg

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During the 12 years that I lived and worked in the Magical Town of Crickadoon, which sits in the Usk Valley between the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons….I studied the play of light upon the surrounded hills.

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Have a beautiful weekend, filled with colour and of course magical hummingbirds….

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A Bientôt