Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A May Miscellany


A RARE REACH OF SUNLIGHT falls down through our cottage windows, illuminating a year's worth of dust and spider architecture. The rain has been unrelenting lately: crashingly deep rivers cascading down the gutters, and a blanket of grey that never really lightens the day before dark comes again, so this sun is welcome indeed. April showers are one thing but, as May begins, we long for long warm days again, and outside, and summer, and before this sunny respite, we'd begun to stop believing summer would ever come. 


Over the last months, I've been doing lots of little jobs, commissions and creations, had my work included here and there, and have quite a bit to tell. So, taking the opportunity of a sunlit desk on which to photograph things, here, in a sort of spring miscellany of doings, it all is...


First of all, a hinged bell-dancer, a paper painted shaman puppet of many colours...
She was created for an online exhibition of maquettes put together by the fantastic artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins (whose quite wonderful paintings can be seen here). Clive invited a host of artists and creators to contribute maquettes of their imagining to this little exhibition which you can see at his blog in several parts. I'm amazed at my fellow artists' pieces - in particular the work of Jodi Le Bigre, Peter Stevenson, Philippa Robbins and Janet Kershaw. 


I found the process of making these quite interesting - Clive had suggested that the making of movable figures like this really helps in the composition of a painting, and in the end, more dynamic figures. You can play with the positioning and find great personality in altering the movements to express a different feeling. 



The difficult part of making these for me was drawing the body parts separately. I realised I use relative positionings in a painting to evoke feeling, to conjure the character as I build the image; and so making a blasted-apart person forced me to work in a different way, which isn't a bad thing from time to time, is it?



Here the bell-dancer dangles in the momentarily sunny studio window beside fellow puppets and curios...


I also made a kind of wayfarer; he isn't quite finished, as he needs more attachments and accessories which I didn't have time to complete... and with an animation in mind, I left off the split pins and posed him just as he was.






I'm really grateful to Clive's generous spirit for putting together such an interesting collection of artists and encouraging playful creativity like this. Expect more hinged beings in due course, perhaps dancing to a tune or two.

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Next, Unfathomable Baba Yagas...
One of my Baba Yaga illustrations was included in this new book by eminent fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes - The Irresistible Fairy Tale ~ The Cultural & Social History of a Genre, published by Princeton University Press. I'm really very delighted to be included (alongside Paula Rego!) in this exciting new book, and shall add it to my teetering to read pile beside the bed.
(The art on the front cover, by the way, is by Kiki Smith.)


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Third, I'm happy to say that my work has been woven once again with that of my talented friend Polly Paulusma, (whose song The Woods I made my first stop motion animation for back in 2006). Her lovely new album, Leaves From The Family Tree features my painting Anja in the Horse Chestnut, hanging on the wall in the background of the front cover photograph. I also drew some horse chestnuty border designs for the album cover, and the painting is featured in full  on the inside booklet. Do go and have a listen (my favourite is Last Week Me), and should you like what you hear, please consider supporting a self-produced artist and her music.


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Fourth in the bag of miscellaneous doings... a logo for a picture framer. I was asked by Stephen Murphy if I could create a logo for his business that had the feel of a medieval craftsman, a little like the Bagpipe Society logo I created a while back. Here's the original drawing and the stages of it being logoified.

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And then, a painting of dreams... This little watercolour was made for Joy McCall, a regular and supportive customer of mine. She had long imagined these favourite lines by Langston Hughes in a painting and so this is what I made.





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Earthlines is a fantastic new quarterly magazine published by Sharon Blackie of Two Ravens Press, based on a croft in the Outer Hebrides, which seeks to create a platform for wild writing rooted in land and story. This first issue features a wonderful story by my Tom - The Bear Outside, illustrated in ink by me...




I urge you all to go and buy a copy this minute, or even better, subscribe. We're in excellent company in this magazine, as you'll see from the contents page of the first issue. There's an interview with Jay Griffiths, a review of Martin Shaw's book A Branch From the Lightning Tree - Ecstatic Myth & The Grace In Wildness, paintings by Catherine Hyde, writing and poetry by Em Strang and bardic damnation verse by Alastair MacIntosh, to name just a few choice delights. Rarely do you find such heartful, wildful, thoughtful, artful folks' work collected together so beautifully, I almost don't feel worthy to be included, though I hope to be writing a longer article for a forthcoming issue.


One night, Ursula dreamed of the bear. It was made of ice and river-wood and the bones of otters, full of pebbles and pine resin and the lost songs of bees. It towered over the house. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

~ from The Bear Outside by Tom Hirons, published in Earthlines, Issue 1, May 2012


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And now to some forthcoming doings, which I must tell you about...
Next week we're off on the yearly expedition to Suffolk and my favourite Weird & Wonderful Wood fair. Please stop by and say hello at our tent, should you be in the Eastern Angles and wishing for an afternoon amongst dendric delights.


And then later in May - on Saturday the 26th - we're holding a storytelling event at Stone Lane Gardens here on Dartmoor (where I took these photographs of an early flowering pink rhododendron by the water). These gardens are a specialist birch and alder arboretum which transforms into a sculpture exhibition between May and October every year. There are many rare species of birch and alder to wander amongst, collected from all over the world, and for one weekend there'll be parked amongst the trees two restored Gypsy wagons, at the steps of which Tom will be telling stories. They'll be Gypsy folk tales, from lands as far or near as Russia, England, Turkey, Wales, India, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Scotland... and I will be providing the (East European Gypsy) music (on accordion) alongside my talented musical partner in crime, Lisa Rowe of Hazaar (on fiddle and accordion). There'll be delicious food  cooked over the fire and home brewed cider under the sky. If you're in the South West, do grab a ticket, it's going to be a lovely evening. If you're not, cross your fingers for us that the rain stays away.


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As the rain clouds scud away from our skies, and we enjoy the drying puddles, the sparkling blades of grass, and the shadows of window panes across the desk, I'm making lists of What To Take on our journey to the east, and practising tunes, meeting weeds, attending weddings, planning paintings and more besides.  


Macha keeps watch over these hills as the green comes on, as the sun stretches her arms in the once more cloud-free skies and says to us this is May, may it begin...



41 comments:

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

So, so many treats to see here! I'm saving this post till teatime when I can sit at my leisure, over a bowl of fresh strawberries, and savour each delicious photo and word!

I'm crazy for the little hinged woman and man.

Happy May!

Charlotte said...

Oh my, what a wonderful cornucopia of work. How lovely to share. I love your macquette puppet. There is something so marvellous about them. Your wayfarer reminded me of Oliver Postgate's lovely Welsh men in Ivor the Engine.

Have a wonderful time in Suffolk, if you ever stop by the Midlands, Nottingham way I will happily snaffle you for story telling and music. Have you ever fancied a day in school?

Lois said...

I am so inspired to make my own little Maquette. Thank you for all that to ponder!

Denise Adorian said...

Your blog is hard for Me to turn away from.Love the art and story telling.So many fun people to learn about too.Keep it up.Hugs and blessings to you, Denise from Coffeebeery Cottage.

Katalin said...

when I saw the first picture, I immediately thought of Baba Yaga, and you have not read your story

very important

Valerianna said...

Love seeing all the wonders you are working, Rima. I'm excited to try my hand at a moveable puppet... I think my new studio needs a grandmother to watch over it. I, too, was wowed by Jodi's piece, wonderful!

Wish I could come to the storytelling eve, I do pray for the rain to stay away! Have a wonderful May.... blessings from the forest.

Cindy said...

Ah, spider architecture. In the fading afternoon sunlight I found a wonderful creation twisted amongst the chair legs. Spider architecture! Thank you for bringing a smile to my face.

Bodhi said...

Just adore your artwork. Each piece is a story in itself. Blessings to you.

by Teresa said...

Hello Rima, greetings from far away Oregon in the Americas. I love your work and your lifestyle. I'd just love to be at that fireside! Alas, I'm too far away. Something draws me to the Gypsy wagon.. I just did a post on the Camas Lily, here in Oregon... would love for you to see. The Native Americans used the root to grind and make bread and shared some with Lewis & Clark, have you heard of their voyage of discovery? ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Mo Crow said...

Wow! your shaman bell dancer is a fabulous piece of wild magic Rima, thank you for this sharing!
Namaste

gz said...

More beautiful work to inspire me and keep me going- Hold fast to your dreams truly says it all.

Blessings Be.

Sandie said...

Lovely art work and photography. I especially like the 'Dream'.
Your dog is lovely too!

Happy creating,

Sandie xx

femminismo said...

All of this is totally wonderful! I am so inspired by your hinged figures and the glorious photos and the illustrated poem by Langston Hughes. You did a marvelous job. thank you for showing us all this.

Ms. said...

Hey diddly dee, the artist's life is free (in the most important ways that is)--oh what a cache of wonders you always share--I do do love the puppet pair and so much more--would that I were able to sit by the fire and listen to tales spun by such fine weavers--i want to give you something in return--Dir. Natalia Mirzoyan, Russia, 2008, 10min
One of the most beautifully drawn animations I think I've ever seen. Like a recurring dream, this one tells the tale of a small boy's search for his teddy bear where he discovers a place of lost childhood dreams. Really very touching, and haunting imagery you won't soon forget.
My Childhood Mystery Tree
http://youtu.be/NzcXzR6BHAA

May blue skies shine for thee

Ronnie (RR) said...

Where do I begin? Your puppets are fantastic, I love the way they jump to life and dance about the page.Such wonderful characters.
Well done for having your work published. I am looking forward to Weird and Wonderful wood. I would have loved to come to the story telling evening but instead I will hope the sun comes out for you and then the moon shines bright.

Heather said...

Another amazing post Rima. I love your bell dancer and can imagine the fun you had arranging her in various poses.
Congratulations on having your work included in the Fairy Tale Book, as well as your success with the album cover and logo whose designs are so fitting for their tasks. Hold Fast to Dreams is enchanting. More congrats to you and Tom for your work in Earthlines which looks and sounds most interesting.
Hope the weather is kind for your forthcoming events.

Els said...

Always glad when there's something to read from you again ! Your bell dancer is great in all these different positions, coming to life really ...
It's fantastic to see your work in so many places!
Thank you, for a wonderful read !

Fimbulmyrk said...

It´s hard to pick out just one aspect of loveliness;-). The puppets certainly qualify, and I love your older works as well, especially the Baba Yaga illustrations. Your drawings and paintings have this earthy, positive darkness that I have come to love.

Rima, you are certainly inspiring me. Your drawings, wonderings and wanderings are simply great, so great, in fact, that I took out my sketchbook again and resumed storytelling after a long time being "in hiding".

For that, I wish to give you my heartfelt thanks.

Andy Letcher said...

All wonderful - love the shaman puppet, and the wayfarer, and the logo, and the book by Jack Zipes - woohee!!! xxx

Tracy Stokes said...

Hi Rima, wow, I love, love, love your bell dancer puppet. I think it's my favourite thing of all your work that I've seen. Thanks for showing how it was constructed, I'm inspired to try making a puppet too. Stranger-love from Cape Town.

Maggie said...

Thank you for that beautiful post that brightened my morning. The Langston Hughes poem watercolor is absolutely beautiful, as is all your work.
Maggie

Philo Logia said...

Looooooverly as usual, Miss Wee-muh!
Those puppety figures - fantastic.
The line you quoted from Tom's story I read thrice over :) And you illustrated it perfectly.
It's beautiful there. When we travel in that direction someday, I'm going to have to schedule it so we can gallivant through the Weird & Wonderful Wood Fair (it's like my business name almost!)

While I was reading your post (you referenced back to 2006 somewhere in there), I thought: How nice to have kept this blog for so long and written so well in it. Do you ever click back to random dates just to see what you were doing then? I know I would :)

Big hugs, it's time for lunch here! I'm thinking seafood.

x- Tiff
(Zen Forest, Wonderful Wonky Wood, etc)

Victoria said...

Rima please, don't ever again say you did a simple "logo" (for the framer), your illustrations are so magical and beautiful that they will never be something as commercial and simple as a Visual Identity, that thing nowadays has lost its own magical nature and even if there are some designers that take it seriously, the majority leaves it to the function and contemporary aesthetics.

I tell you this because I'm a Graphic Designer and I feel completely in love with the handmade. Personally I prefer it over the illustration software.

You do truly an artistic and memorable thing, timeless, innocent, and again beautiful illustrations. Artists express, designers find out solutions.

You're a magnificent artist Rima (:

Velma said...

the frivolous spring teases this year, yet our birds know exactly what's up: time to make nests, rasie chicks. a heron pair at cornell ornithology lab have four dr. suess chicks who entertain me no end (web cam). i love seeing where your work travels, rima, thanks.

acornmoon said...

I absolutely love the illustrated dream quote, you have created something very special.

I hope the sun continues to shine in your direction.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is a joy to behold. The picture-framer sign is terrific, full of both delicacy and determination.
I also loved the Rise and Root image. Marvellous work altogether -- and a lovely lurcher to boot.

Purpletreebird said...

Your posts are a treat and delight and as I'm about to leave for Devon in a minute I shall keep this one and savour your words and pictures for when I return home. :) I couldn't help have a small peep already and I lOVE your hinged lady!! I see animation beckoning you again in the future? ;)
I look forward to reading the rest properly soon!
love Jess xx

laoi gaul~williams said...

may it begin indeed....

Raggle Taggle Gypsy Girl said...

Great to see all the wonderful things you have made, it is all very inspiring as usual.....Really love the puppets and the story-telling night looks wonderful wish I was a little closer and I would definately be coming.....Good luck with it all......

Kate W. said...

I'm on visual delight overload! What fabulous images!

jodi said...

Oh my, how busy you've been! It's so wonderful to find a wealth of beautiful artworks all in one post. I loved your maquettes and I can understand why you didn't want to pin the second one together. It is so very nice to be able to move them about freely, shortening and lengthening limbs at will. Though, peculiarly, those little pins were one of the things I coveted as a child... I was always looking for projects that I could make so I could wrangle a few out of my teacher... they seemed so filled with possibility!
Thanks so much for the sweet comment about my maquette too. I am over in Canada now and just trying to catch up on everything, but very soon I'll get around to writing a maquette post.
I'm sending you my best wishes and plenty of good luck too for your upcoming events!

mokihana said...

Wonderful to keep my site on your doings. We are well, still Vardo people, rooting nicely in the woods, writing tales, sailing virtual Story-Canoes and growing lovely things to eat.

Smiles are big as bowls your way, and across the waves.

Mokihana and Pete

Michelle Barnett said...

Next weekend necessity draws me back from my settled grown-up home in the Midlands to my childhood home on the Norfolk-Suffolk border. This celebration of wood is a new to me, but it sounds wonderful and only adds half an hour to my journey so now I'm determined to include it! Come Saturday lunchtime you may find a slightly bashful 23 years old hovering round your tent, hoping to make your aquaintence. After following your blog for the past... it must be three years by now!... I don't think I'd be able to resist :)

Michelle

Pippa said...

O dream Rima! So so beautiful, I just adore the split pin puppets. Line and I spent a Christmas cranking out pin puppets and I forgot how amazing they are for conjuring playful poses for painting! Got the itch to rustle up some more now. Hope you are so merry and moonbeaming magical one, so very enchanting work as always, lots of love x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Hita Hirons said...

Oh Rima, I adore your little maquettes! And I love the way you were playing with your shaman, putting her against all those different backgrounds and in different positions. Will you be selling her? Or prints of her for people to put together themselves? When I was little I had a book of line-drawn and water-coloured dragons which I religiously cut out and pasted together to form the finished piece. And even though I hadn't drawn them, I had a real sense of ownership and satisfaction when they were done, and hung them up in my room so I could look at them endlessly. It would be so much fun to make a book like that! Maybe I'll do one of Indian princesses and yogis and elephants and peacocks and so on. As if I'll get round to it... But it's a nice dream!

And your soft grey bird against the snowy wilderness; what a poignant and necessary message. When we tell ourselves to grow up and stop dreaming we kill a bit of ourselves, don't we? I always love your writing, too.

Good luck at the fair in Suffolk! I'm sure you'll have lots of fun : ) and write another lovely blog for us about it in the fullness of time. xxxx

Anonymous said...

Reading about your work, your stories and tales, looking at your pictures and your photos...is always a little bit like reading a poem to me.

Thank you. I am so glad having found this site.

pRiyA said...

Hi Rima,
I was wondering if you could show us a few pages from your sketchbooks and journals, how you keep them. This is if it is not too personal or private. I cannot get over the beautiful journal where you draw and collect information on herbs and plants. I'd really love to see more.

A Magical Whimsy said...

Hi, Rima
You artwork always astounds me. There is a reverence about it that fills a spot in my heart that revels in the poetry of it all...a poetry that is deep and lasting. I adore the elephant marionette and the horse marionette in the photo of your window. How blessed you are to have your artwork published on the album cover and in the fairy tale book. I grew up reading Baba Yagas, she was almost a terror to my younger brother and sister when Baba Yaga was in her Chicken Leg House...so scarey! Your illustration captures the essence of her witchiness!
And as always, I love where you live. Lovely, lovely photos~
Have a divine weekend!
Teresa in California

The Indigo Vat said...

Your shaman dancer and wayfarer puppets are so full of wonder and strength. I would love to see them moving, telling their stories. Do you think you'll ever make a puppet show? I can only imagine the beginnings of how beautiful it would be, with music and tales from the otherworld. Thanks for bringing out the strange wild magic, its dark and its light, of the world. Always makes my day brighter.

Jayne said...

The finger crossing must be working as the sun looks bright for the weekend. Here's hoping it stays that way for you. So many lovely things to admire in this post - what stays with me the most is your gorgeous cottage windows and the lovely bear illustration, of him cuddling around the house. You have such a lovely talent. :)

whitey said...

Love the dancing lady! Your art work always is amazing to me.