Sunday 26 May 2013

A Forest of Pencils

IN SLAVIC MYHTOLOGY there is a shape-shifting spirit of the forest called the Leshy (Леший). He protects the wild animals and birds and the woods, and can change his size from as tall as the tallest tree to smaller than a blade of grass. He is sometimes described as shadowless, with blue skin, glowing eyes, a long beard of vegetation, and he wears his shoes on the wrong feet. Leshys are known to be friendly but mischievous tricksters, leading people astray in the woods, hiding woodcutters' axes, and tickling people to death. Peasant folk would often make pacts with them in order to keep their cattle safe, or attempt to disentangle themselves from a Leshy's tricks by turning their clothes inside out and swapping their own shoes to the opposite feet.

This pair of pencil drawings I made recently depicts a forest lurking with Leshys of varying sizes. One even has his feet on back to front. These were all done with a 0.5mm HB propelling pencil and were drawn at slightly smaller than A4 size.

They were made for a wonderful new publication - Tiny Pencil - a journal dedicated solely to the art of the pencil. I was honoured to be asked to be part of this project, curated by artists Katriona Chapman and Amber Hsu, who have put together a  really beautifully produced collection of amazing artwork, printed on lovely paper. And this is just the first issue - all based around the theme of forests. Here below are a few of the pages. You can buy a copy here, and read an interview I did with the folks at Tiny Pencil here. You can find out more about all the artists whose work is featured in this issue of Tiny Pencil here. If you'd like to buy prints of my drawings you can find them propped in the branches of my emporium here.
Into the Woods We Go... 

Rima Staines - In The Leshy Forest - Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - front cover art by Nick Sheehy, back cover art by Krisyna Baczynski
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - artwork by Stuart Whitton
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - artwork by Rachel M Bray
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - artwork by Yoko Tanaka
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - artwork by Vanessa Foley
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - artwork by Alexandra Higlett
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - artwork by Lisa Evans
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - artwork by Raymond Lemstra
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - artwork by Caitlin Hackett
Tiny Pencil Issue 1 - Forests - artwork by Sigrid Rødli

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Rhymes and Pigments of May

CAMPION, Stitchwort, Celandine, Jack-by-the-Hedge, Forget-me-not, Cow Parsley, Vetch, Bluebell, Pink Purslane, Kingcup, Wood Anemone, Yellow Archangel, Cranesbill, Bittercress, Buttercup, Daisy, Ramsons, Primrose, Wild Strawberry. May's Flowering is welcomed in: an incantation of names; at all the margins a bright jostling for the sky.

This time of the year rings like a happy bell in me. The hedgerow calls loud again, painted in bright daubs, scintillating in sun-patches. Flowers turn and wave. The Plant Names say themselves over and over as I learn new ones and my feet go one after the other, and Macha sniffs for scuttering things in the undergrowth.

The light wakes us all up for the long coming days of summer doings and Mother Goose turns a page in her Rhymebook.

To welcome in the May, we meet with our people at the top of a hill to drum up the Beltane Fire.

May comes in fast when it comes. All the sharp new green rushes up around me. I take joy in it, lane-stomping without a coat in the warm green breeze which rustles the oak. And, wanting to while away the lengthening days out in the No-Longer-Winter, I remember all the things I should have been preparing for ages before now!

Every year the summer trails begin in May, with my favourite fair of the season - Weird & Wonderful Wood in Suffolk. 

I have been making some little paintings on wood to sell from my stall this year. An odd trio - just two or three inches in diameter, these are painted on pieces of Yew and Beech I got from a furniture maker at last year's fair. 

They're colourful, story-full, and a little bit strange. 

The Sleeping Tree
Sky Riddle
The Kerchief
I also have a new stall sign half-painted, to be completed somehow between now and Friday, in between driving nearly 400 miles! Tomorrow we must pack the van with tents and wares and chattels and set off toward the sunrise. This photo below, by the way, is taken in my new trapdoor-accessed studio space in which I have been spending happy painting days, May sunshine pouring across my drawing board, nesting birds chattering outside the window. I shall tell more of this place anon, as promised.

Further on in summer, there are exhibitions, storytellings, gigs and festivals to fill our days. I shall whet your appetite with this poster for a show I'll be taking part in down here on Dartmoor at Greenhill Arts Gallery in Moretonhampstead with quite an array of talented and renowned artists from England's South West (six of whom are local to this village!) : Alan Lee, Brian & Wendy FroudTerri WindlingVirginia LeeDavid Wyatt, Hazel Brown, Paul Kidby and Neil Wilkinson-Cave.
There'll be some wonderful events running alongside this mythically-themed exhibition, which you can read about on the Green Hill Arts Gallery website. Tom and I will be storytelling, as will the wonderful Martin Shaw of the Westcountry School of Myth and Story, there'll be puppet shows, music, talks, craft workshops, coffee with the artists, and many other wonders. It'll be on for over a month, so do come and see if you're down this way in the summer. 
Widdershins lettering courtesy of me :)

And with that I shall leave you. We have miles to go and much to do before next weekend's fairing. Hoping for sun, good roads, full pockets and interesting byways, we go East...