Saturday 7 August 2010

Five chapters of summer

A LONG SPACE there's been between the last time I poured tea here and this! Life has brought a satchelful of wonders and works and wanders, so I hardly know where to begin! Perhaps if I rifle through this satchel and pull out chapters one by one?...



So first and most delightfully of all, I'd like to introduce you to a dear new member of my family! I am an aunt for the first time, and quite amazed to meet this beautiful little boy, born in July to my brother Jan and his Maria. This is Lukas Jacob Staines, here just one day old. I cannot quite believe it, since I remember waiting for his father to come home from hospital when he was the same number of hours old (and I was just two)!

We waited a while for him to come, and while we waited, I stitched him seven linen mice. Slightly patched, askew, and lace-collared, they hang all in a row from a piece of linen-wrapped wire (so that they can be hooked anywhere) upon which I stitched words... there's still space at the end for me to add his name, which at the time of giving, had not yet been decided! There are seven mice for seven stories (and the thousand different ways of telling them...)

(do click to enlarge these)

I so look forward to seeing this dear little soul grow, and to see familiar and new in him. He has his father's useful crooked little fingers. He'll be tall. And he will be loved ♥



And second, a painting! Made for Jericho and Hannah, who are wonderful artists and good friends too across the miles, though we've not met. This watercolour of the dear couple flew all the way to them in the Philippines, where they lose themselves in fascinating artistic endeavour, bluebell woods of their imaginations and sometimes run away together as cat and rabbit. I'm quite pleased with the blue of Hannah's dress amid my usual rust-and-moss pallette. And it is painted on Two Rivers hand milled watercolour paper from Somerset. It was a joy to make a painting for two artists who appreciate my work so, and who also make beautiful works themselves.

Here above you can see my progress: pencil, then light washes, then finer more concentrated detail, then done. (Although, in reality, as you can imagine, it took far longer than that!)



And third, a trip across the sea to Brittany! Do you remember these Arthurian-Breton gold and red and black and white paintings that I found such a struggle to finish a month or so ago? Well, they now hang in the most exquisite chateau exhibition in the middle of the Breton forest of Brocéliande, and I was lucky enough to join some of the English and French artists taking part on a trip to this Nest of Myth and see the exhibition opening amid a fanfare of wonderful events: horse displays, storytelling, harp recitals, Breton music. All the while we enjoyed hospitality of the highest order, with wines and food and good things apparently springing up whenever we looked round!

This is the chateau pictured above, seen from across the lake. We watched moonrise over this lake, and heard how many pieces of the Arthurian myth are woven through this place.. Here the Oak that held Merlin, there the lake that hides the crystal cave. We were taken by horse and cart to the Valley of No Return... but came back nonetheless, wide-eyed mostly at the generous funding and support the arts are given in France compared to the UK.

Inside the castle, the works were hung beautifully. I think I had warmed to my paintings after not having seen them for a while, though had I had paint and brush with me, I might still have been tempted to tinker.

There were beautiful windows all around, I looked out across the lake through deliciously atticy cobwebs, or soft summer-breezed curtains to see audiences being told tales below, and boys playing bagpipes.

I was delighted too to meet a jovial old elf called Pierre Dubois, whose book The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries I owned some years ago. I got to practice lots of French and learned many intriguing things from him about Lutins and all the mischiefs of their realm. Pierre was also responsible for a forbidden foray with a few of us beyond this Interdit sign to find a beautiful old myth-soaked Oak tree and this lilied lake.

We stayed in La Gacilly, a town full to the brim with art. There were photographic exhibitions in the streets, art and craft shops everywhere, and cobblestones and hanging baskets too.

And all of our work, along with tales of the making of the accompanying film were put together in a beautifully produced book of the exhibition. The show continues in France until the end of August and the film will premiere there in October. Then for the winter, the exhibition comes to Exeter in December, and we look forward to welcoming our French friends here then and returning their wonderful hospitality. Much appreciation goes to all who put such efforts into this wondrous sharing of legends.



Now fourth, I bring more artwork, and pages too. A while ago I wrote about hedgehogs, telling of their significance amongst Gypsies and the superstitions that bristle around them. This in turn inspired Sam Rawlings to make a piece of writing about the hedgehog, and I was asked to illustrate it. This handsome little booklet which houses my hedgehoggery is the latest in the short story series produced by London based Arts collective Lazy Gramophone. Their books are beautifully done, with thoughtful letterpress and an eye for a good font. I am delighted to be involved with such an enthusiastic and creative bunch. You can buy a copy of this limited edition publication here for £4.99.

And I am selling prints of my drawing here in my etsy shop. He is a shaman hedgehog, with not apples, but amulets, collected on his wise old spines.



And so fifth, and onwards! Life is full colour at the moment, and blooming with all kinds of delights. I am busy selling work, and making work, as ever trying to dream up projects in between the ones I must make for pennies. Next weekend I will be hawking my wares at the Harlequin Fayre in Norfolk. The next chapter, I'll tell of soon. It has wonder-books and earth-adventures and beloved patchworks and cauldrons of goodness and the threetoed footprints of Baba Yaga's house in it...


  1. wow what a post. Congratulations on being an Aunty - I particularly love the mice! x

  2. A post-full of enchantment, worth waiting for. I must admit, however, I stopped by here the other day to click on that tweet box thing and see where you were and make sure you hadn't been spirited away since the last post... sweet nephew, sweet mice, lovely journeys and castles and smiled with knowing when you wrote that your brought your brushes to the castle just in case... but WE all knew your work was beautiful!

    I particularly love the shaman hedgehog....!

  3. A tale from the Hermitage is always to be savoured, preferably with a large mug of tea to hand! So much to enjoy here, that Lazy Gramophone book looks fascinating, I'm very tempted.

    Thank you for keeping on weaving your stories.

  4. What a wonderful magic filled post. I enjoyed your words, your art, your photos - all are wonderful and magical. Congratulations on your beautiful nephew - there is something so very precious about a baby; also congratulations on all your wonderful art. I love reading your posts and having this fairy-like glimpse into your world.

  5. Great to see you back blogging; congratulations on all your wonderful news. Lucky Lukas to be born(e) into such a family. Newborn*e) always remind me of Ghibran ...
    "And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
    And he said:
    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
    You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."
    And then, your art ... Lanval and Tryamour are wonderful, maybe I'll make it down to Exeter later this year. The Arthurian legend holds a special place in my psyche. Gold ... I saw gold leaf being made in Kanazawa, Japan a week ago, the town's ladies polishing waxed pages before the gold was hammered to transparency. The more I see gold, the more magical it appears. And Hotchiwitchi ... made me smile.
    Welcome back :)

  6. Congratulations on being an auntie, and the Breton pictures are beautiful. Where will the Exeter exhibition be? Stunning, as always.

  7. Wow you have been busy.

    Congratulations on being an Aunt, you must be made up, love the mice that you made, what a beautiful idea.

    Your trip to Brittany looked amazing, sounds like it was full of inspiration at every turn.

    Have to say I love the hedgehog too . . . you have such a wonderful eye for detail.

  8. Oh, thank you so much, Rima! I have missed you, but always smile knowing there is a very, very good reason that you must be away. I am breathless from this post and so inspired. Bless you real good!

  9. Congratulations on becoming an Auntie. You've had a wonderful and productive summer by the look of it. Your paintings look spectacular hung in that chateau.
    Summer isn't over yet, I hope it continues in the same vein.

  10. I get to travel so much when I read your posts! My husband and I are older and have three dogs so we never travel anymore. But reading your Blog, I get to travel places I have never been and see Elves and Mice, Magic Hedgehogs and a handsome new Father with a beautiful brand new son! You give me so very much, thank-you!

  11. What a beautiful sweet child. Congratulations to all.
    It was so great to see a new post from you. Interesting.... because I wrote about you and your blog this morning. Please take a look. I'm sure you will have some new folks visit you because of it.
    I love the photos of your artwork in the making. So nice to see the progress and how you do your work.

    Do not be a stranger with your writing. We, who love your lifestyle and art, miss you when there is such a gap. It is so good to hear from you.

  12. Welcome back Rima!
    What a wonderful and enchanting post and it was a joy to read all the good news!
    Congrats on becoming an Auntie, your nephew is adorable and lucky to have an aunt like you who will tell him magical stories! And what a lovely present you've made for him!

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures of Brittany! Truly inspiring!
    That book looks very well designed and your work just looks amazing in it!

    Loved seeing your new artworks, most of all the hedgehog! :)

  13. Welcome back, Rima! Congrats on your new nephew. He's adorable! Thank you for sharing your journeys and new work with us. As always, I'm in awe of your talent and the way you live your life. Can't wait to see what's next.

  14. Thank you for sharing your most blessed and intriguing tales. Your world inspires my own.

  15. OHHH!!!! That was so worth waiting for, you have been busy! And delighted! The paintings look wonderful.

  16. Your nephew is beautiful. I wish you and him many happy adventures.

  17. Hello, as ever your entry is a wonderful mix of images and words, weaving a story that transports me somewhere else. I always look forward when the Hermitage appears in my inbox. I love the stories of the pictures, the castle and the hedgehog. The cat and rabbit is a particularly lovely detail. Still thinking about your previous entry on Old Women who Paint on their Walls - that would be a great adventure to visit all those places. I hope you'll visit my blog sometime and maybe even comment, the focus is on words and the mental pictures they create.

  18. Lovely as always Rima. Lukas is gorgeous !! I can remember my own darling boy in those first few hours with his grumpy puzzled face. It is a magical, sacred time.

    Your paintings looked fab in France - I'm glad you had such a good time and braved the "zone dangereuse" !! Love the hedgehog too, and Jericho & Hannah's picture. You go from strength to strength.

    As always you are welcome here if you pass by on your way to Norfolk :0)
    Much love from us all.

  19. Well, if you're going to return with posts as wonderful as this, then the long absences are forgiven! The painting for Jericho and Hannah is so magical, it bought a lump to my throat; and I really wish someone had made my daughter a mouse-strung story banner - I'm sure your nephew will love it dearly.

  20. Love everything chapter! Please ...Go on with your charming fairy tales!
    My ears are waiting!

  21. Every time I come to your site, and read your words, and view your art, I feel spell-bound and enchanted for awhile. Thank you so much!!

  22. It's always a delight to see a new hermitage post...congratulations on becoming an aunt!
    Adore the hedgehog print!

  23. Congratulations on being an aunt! He's a lovely baby.

    As always, your artwork is beautiful and I, too, love the hedgehog. Wonderful!

    I've always liked bagpipe music, too. I had neighbors who were members of the local pipe and drum corps. Fun!

  24. I've come to the point now in my blog-reading where I look for a new post from the Hermitage much like one seeks a hand-written letter in amongst junk mail in the postbox.
    Like getting out of town for some fresh country air, it relieves my media overload.
    Congrats on your nephew, and the exhibition.

  25. I am so glad to see you've posted prints of Hotchiwitchi in your Etsy shop! He is all sold out at the moment so please do put up some more when you are able.

    It sounds like a lovely trip. Thank you as always for your words and images.

  26. P.S. I forgot to say--congratulations to you and your family on your beautiful nephew!

  27. It is so wonderful to see another post from you, O Weaver of Worlds, especially after checking back here nearly daily! I can't help myself; I am truly a fan.
    And as a fan, I'm interested in the pieces in your Workshop on your main site... Are the game and herblore book for sale?
    [Please respond at my url, it's my email :)]

  28. Lukas looks so perfect at only one day old - congratulations to you and his parents. He will love the mice - such a lovely idea to weave stories around them. I do like those twisty trees in Jericho and Hannah's wonderful painting. Your other paintings look very much at home in those beautiful surroundings - the visit to Lanval must have been an amazing experience. I love Hotchiwitchi too and am looking forward to your next post. Good luck in Norfolk.

  29. thank you for sharing your world yet again Rima

  30. What a lovely summer you have enjoyed, Rima. Your words are like a fairy tale each time. Your lightness/happiness is evident and I'm so happy for you! (:

  31. It sounds like the summer has offered many good and delicious adventures to you! I am glad to hear it! Can't wait for the next installment!

    Erin :)

  32. Rima, I've enjoyed receiving your packages in the mail lately. Another package I received lately was HEX Magazine which had one of your paintings in it, and I realized that two other artists of another type were contributors as well: it was nice to see dawn & nils & your faces in the front :] Be well -- you are a shining light; a piece of wood amongst the plastic.

    Love to you

  33. Ach, Rima, another great post. What a blog! My favourite by far.

    You walk in beauty and leave magic in your wake.

  34. Congratulations on the birth of your nephew; may he bring you and your family much joy.

    Also, thank you for sharing your art and delightful travels!

  35. Congratulations on the birth of your nephew...:)

    I love your mice. Today I just finished knitting seven little chickens.

  36. So good to have you back and lovely news about your nephew. It looks like you've had a wonderful summer--you deserve it!!


  37. Another wonderful post. You always transport me to a magic place Rima, I look forward to your posts immensely. Congratulations on becoming an aunty, and Lukas is so lucky to have such a wonderful aunt who will tell him tales of magical mice and wee folk and show him all the wonder in the world. I love Hotchiwitchi too, and Hannah and Jericho's painting. Beautiful, so beautiful!

  38. How wonderful Rima! I can well remember when I first became an Auntie,and he's SO beautiful!

    It was lovely to hear of all your latest adventures. Your little house looks as though you have sprinkled it with your own particular magic, I love the view of your desk and window.

    Blessings and hugs

  39. What a sweet baby! Congratulations to you and your family! :) Your work is always amazing.

  40. Dear Rima, I’m sorry for being so late with my comment! First of all - congratulations on the birth of this beautiful baby boy to all your family! I wish Lukas to be healthy, happy and surrounded by people who will love and support him all his life! Those lace-collared linen mice are gorgeous! Well,this is the beginning of your life as an auntie!:) A wonderful idea for story-telling… I’m sure they’ll survive through the years, but it’s interesting how they’ll look like after 10 years?!
    Everything that has happened to you, the wonderful painting for your dear friends, the magic trip to Brittany and the amazing and friendly people you have met there– everything speaks to me about your life this summer but about you,as well! A person who doesn't stop searching for beauty and creating it!
    I like the wood with scary branches, but I don’t think that Jericho and Hannah will lose themelves like Hansel and Gretel, ‘cause they have a direction that follow together!
    Your painting on the wall of the castle – how nice to see it again. As if it’s always been there! It was obviously an exciting experience spending these days in Brittany!
    Oh, and that sweet hedgehog!
    This is the first shaman hedgehog I’ve ever seen! It was interesting to “discover” the objects he’s wearing with him!
    I'm waiting eagerly for the next chapters of your Summer Novel!
    Rima, when you have time, please, read my two posts about Vladimir Dimitrov-Maistora - a Bulgarian artist, whose paintings I would like you to see! Thank you!

  41. Each chapter of this post read like it's own story. Love the hedgehog, the beautiful baby, the mice, the villages, the flowers, all of it, and you at the center of it, spinning like a leaf. Beautiful.

  42. What lovely news all. There is a light in your posts lately that illuminates all the hidden motes that float happily around us everyday.

    As I plucked elderberries from their clusters, fingers stained, I thought of your post last year on elder flowers. Wish I had thought of it sooner!

  43. Hello Rima! Thank you so much for this very precious work. I still cannot believe I actually have your wonderful work within reach, when before one just admired it on your little blog. Congratulations on your cute little nephew from the bunny and me. I also have a chubby niece of three, Sybilla--I guess I can relate on how we must resist pinching their cheeks too much. Cheers for your recent successful exhibit! As ever, your double panel paintings are astounding!


  44. Lost In Woods Of Wonder... Simply beautiful...

  45. such a lovely blog and such a nice post, i was really hooked by your blog and enjoyed reading it a lot, life is like that only, we love somethings we hate some but we go on living with those whom we love

  46. Rima this is beautiful as ever! Congratulations and warm greetings and hugs!
    Aleksandra :)*

  47. Congratulations on the wee one...they are a wonder are they not?
    I read with interest that you are exhibiting here in France. Would that I were close enough to come and see your work in living color! I am taking note of the artsy little town you visited and hope to go there myself next summer. We have planned a trip up towards that area then. Someday, maybe someday our paths will cross and I will consider it a bright day indeed!

  48. Isn't Broceliande simply beautiful?! I loved it. Did you see the Fairy's mirror lake?

  49. Congratulations on becoming an aunt!
    Broceliande is amazingly gorgeous, thanks for sharing the pics ;)

  50. What a delightful string of life pearls you’ve been lucky enough to delight in!
    And that hedgehog is simply the bee's knees! Love it.

  51. So much warm magic here, Rima. A pleasure to read on this hot,sticky night. And a happy, happy welcome to Lukas. He is a beautiful boy, with many wonderful days in his future, I'm sure.

  52. Congratulations on welcoming such a beautiful little nephew!I couldn't help going aaahh...!
    Can't wait for the exhibition to come to Exeter - will really try to make the trip down there... :)

  53. Rima, honestly, you are one of the most inspiring people I have ever read about in Blogland. Every time the whole stricture of "modern life" starts to crush me a bit, I come to your blog, and breathe in deeply. I rambled the roads for almost six years....and sometimes I wonder why I ever stopped. I'm hoping there will come a day when I will do it again, and create art as I go.


  54. Everything about this post was worth waiting for. How beautifully you live your life.

    I have nephews and nieces - no children of my own - and they are so precious to me. Congratulations of the beginning of a wondrous relationship.

  55. This is all so very beautiful...if you are looking for some enchantment please come and visit the Hilltop...greets..The Dutchess and Company

  56. I quietly read your blog in the background, and have just come back to this post after some time to see if you can tell me anything about the wonderful Arthurian exhibition moving to Exeter. I can't seem to find anything about it anywhere, and I'd love to take a friend down there.

  57. Rima,
    If you would like, I nominated you for a "seven thing" meme.

    Your blog is the most unique and interesting thing I've ever seen, and anything you write wil lbe inspiring.

  58. I have so enjoyed catching up with your news. Congratulations on becoming an aunt to a darling little boy.

  59. The best word I can find to describe your site is "Enchanting". Thank you!

  60. This is such a beautiful blog...

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  62. congrats on the beautiful baby.... always a delight to come back here.... re-read..... but am longing for a new post, rima!

    hoping you are well... adventure is often necessary, but the way can be shrouded in mist; the road filled with potholes and rocks. Am hoping that your road is not like that, but is filled with mossy banks and trees that beckon you to sit and dream awhile.

    whatever shape your road is in today, I hope you'll soon find time to pour a cup of tea and chat with us. friends listen to all stories, even when dragons make a huffy appearance.

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