Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Autumn's Bounty

Autumn has arrived in a blaze of glory. The world looks and smells different, and strangely, it sounds different too: even though most of the leaves are still on the trees, somehow the acoustic has changed. Someone was shooting in the woods this morning and the echo reverberated for longer, but was softer. Perhaps it's just my imagination.
There are two cottages in the stable courtyard; one occupied by Walter, a horseman and milker of cows who sadly lost his wife a couple of months ago and the other by Stuart who I met for the first time today. He seemed shy and friendly; perhaps because of his news - his wife, coming out of hospital today has given birth to a baby boy. Stuart is strong, he works outside and his joy was gently evident. I spent the day working on two harvest paintings; one in oil, the other the big (5' x 5') mixed media of Ripon cathedral from Studley. I may post a picture tomorrow.

Thursday, 20 October 2016


I saw it first in Giles's workshop: squat, bulldog legs and growling empty amongst tired tools.
A cast iron fire-dog fed on trees, it had coaxed fruit ripe in the greenhouses of Norton Conyers until supermarkets dazzled us with shinier, shapelier, taste-free options like fruity page three girls.
It is a Jotul 118; built in Norway and designed in the late 1930s by the artist ├śrnulf Bast. It reminded me of the Bankdam-Crowther in J.L.Carr's 'A Month In The Country and like Carr's hero Tom Birkin, I'm looking forward to cajoling it to life and learning of its caprice and foible.

Perfectly timed for the recent drop in temperature (can't have an arctic artist), Dougie the sweep and son Paul arrived to infuse life back into the Norse fire-breather on Monday. In an effort to have as little impact on the fabric of the building as possible we'd intended to put the flue out through an already broken pane in the window. It soon became apparent however that we would have to make extensive alterations to the frame and louvres which appear to be original to the building so we ended up going straight up through the roof which has clearly been replaced in recent years and would, we felt, be the better option. The experts did the clever stuff, I replaced the broken glass in the window and all was finished in an afternoon.

So - here we go: for the first time in many years the Jotul 118 gets fire up:

It made for a lovely environment to work in Yesterday and we'll see how it copes as the autumn turns to winter.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Latest Painting:

'Fishing Boats, Scarborough', mixed media on canvas 100cm x 100cm.

Oft' maligned, Scarborough is one of my favourite seaside places: Mrs S. and I visit often and it always has something new to give. Yes it has something of the 'kiss me quick' culture, but the harbour that gave rise to this painting is as lovely as any in northern Europe and high above the harbour crouches the magnificent Scarborough castle with stupendous views of both the north and south bays, out to sea and inland to the moors. Just outside the castle walls is St Mary's church which is the final resting place of Anne Bronte who died at the tender age of 29. It seems she'd come to Scarborough for it's health giving air......Hmm!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Indian Summer

A beautiful autumn day with warm sunshine and a chill in the shade; Mrs S. and I wandered the garden and sat watching insect industry: