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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

On the Bright Side

Bright Side K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper 14cm x 21cm
Autumn. A Reduction.

  • Taught classes. Killed Clutch on the inside lane of a roundabout (fun). Had a level tow (very fun).
  • Traveled by train a bit. It doesn't seem to matter where you go by train in the North West, it takes two hours. On the bright side, it's beautiful.
  •  Read Martyn Bedford's Acts of Revision, easily one of the best books I've read lately. 
  • Considered Values. Avoided the internet. 
  •  Came creeping back, because I like seeing other people's work without traveling two hours by train.
There are so many ways of reducing visual information to essentials - I'm looking for ways of simplifying overall shape, giving weight to colour contrast, juxtaposing stillness with areas of energy and retaining the essential light of the moment.

Winter holds promise. It will snow...

Monday, 24 September 2012


Charcoal on Board - very small K Howell 2012
I was thinking of calling this project Fifty Shades of Grave, but I don't think it'll catch on.

I've concluded that monochromatic is the way to go for these - something about the weight of shadow works better. I've yet to find the silvery light I'm after, so I'll pursue that seriously now. And see what works. Definitely an inside job, as the rain pours down.

These forms are grounding, stable. Solid, and yet empty. Full of contradictions. Seriously wonderful to play with.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Dangerously Dysfunctional (Can we fix it?...Yes we can!)

Dangerously Dysfunctional K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper

I write a lot. What I struggle with (most) is rewriting. Well, rewriting effectively. However. I took copious notes while I was away spending time with words and lovely word-people, because wise words were being flung about. I came back and read the novel that needs rewriting. Saw the naked truth of out-of-sequence reassembly, intermittent failure and parts problems. All of which I knew.

Took said novel apart. Laid out the pieces. Refashioned some parts. And contemplated how to put it back together in a way that would ensure that the engine ran smoothly and accelerated on hills. Re-read the copious notes detailing most excellent advice. Considered my tools. And tried some things.

I then read the most astounding passage. Page 304 of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The narrator discusses internal blocks to affective understanding, or "value traps". He says,

"Of the value traps, the most widespread and pernicious is value rigidity. This is an inability to revalue what one sees because of commitment to previous values. In motorcycle maintenance, you must rediscover what you do as you go. Rigid values makes this impossible." (Robert M Pirsig)

Who, me? Ah. (*&%&^*^%).

It's magic when practical advice is echoed in fiction. I'm documenting this in the hope that it might be useful to someone else.

Monday, 3 September 2012

The Shark in the Cellar

Dogfish - it followed me home!  K Howell 2012 Charcoal on paper
      The smell was an effective reminder. I'd been meaning to draw it since it did a posthumous leap into the sandcastle bucket earlier this summer. But with all the distraction of a week away Writing (!!!!!), it didn't happen right away. The Dogfish Remains patiently continued to decompose in the cellar. Silent, fragile and fragrant.

      But today, at last, we spent some quality time together. I took the shark corpse out on our back drive and did some drawing. We share the drive with a neighbour, in front of whose garage door I had parked myself to draw. To his credit, he didn't bat an eyelid when he came out through the garage and had to negotiate me, my dead fish and children on various arrangements of wheels. I do appreciate my neighbours. All of whom will be pleased to know I've now disposed of the Remains. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012


One of the benefits of working on studies out of doors is the time spent away from all other demands and the resulting clarity of focus. It is refreshing and energising. It keeps studio work on its toes.

With this in mind, I'm heading off on a residential course for the next week to write. Just write. Only Writing. The very idea makes my brain go inside out with incomprehension. But there it is.

It's going to be weird. No question. But I think I can handle it.

Anyone interested in booking on the Painting with Chalk Pastels Course (13 September - 1 November) can still reach me by mobile (might be voice mail, but I'll get back to you, I promise!), and e-mails will be answered. 

So for now, Away we go!

Friday, 3 August 2012


Meeting of Ways K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper (Very Small)

     Summer is full of longer, more circuitous routes. Even our broadband is on holiday. I don't think it's the heat.
     A short drive home from a camping trip became an exciting day-long exercise in finding a way off a vehicle-mosaic M road. Probably beautiful and sparkly from the circling helicopters' point of view. On ground level, more of a study in passive/aggressive driving. But I digress.
     Work on larger pieces has stalled. In the short term, I'm doing tiny studies when the English summer will allow.
     Detours give us the opportunity to come at things from a new direction, with a new perspective. The trick is probably in keeping sane whilst time slides past And We're Not There Yet...

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

 (As You Like It , the Bard)

Friday, 20 July 2012


           Stairs, unlike broadband, never fail to connect. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Doors of Perception

Portal K Howell 2012 Charcoal/oil pastel on paper 14 cm x 21 cm
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. 
So says Goethe. 
And then comes the development work.

 I love the simple magic of doorways. A door is choice and possibility, the unexpected and undiscovered just beyond the threshold.
This is a reconstructed Saxon arch, and while it appears to go nowhere (it's part of a freestanding wall, the building no longer extant), it offers a whole new view through its frame. A Portal. From here to somewhere else, furnishing a glimpse of the Other Side (In this case, a shifting tide and Cumbria ).

Paintings are coming along Slowly... so many possible doorways!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Still Waters

Coming Up For Air K Howell 2012 Pastel study 13 cm x 13 cm
     Still playing with the stone cut graves. There's something about the  quality of the reductive anthropomorphic shape filled with water. Says it all, really.

     This study shows a calm, still puddle,  but it's often windy on the headland and at times the water in the graves is quite choppy. A mini tempest brewing, creating all kinds of interesting and beautiful patterns. I've been messing with ideas to build a series of paintings for ages, and it's becoming clear.

     Water contributes 65 - 90% of the mass of human cells, along with carbon, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus and trace elements. It's the phosphorus I have my eye on right now - and I think I can see where this is going. Finally. As all alchemists know, pissing about does pay off.

Monday, 25 June 2012


Stump K Howell 2012 (tiny study) Pastel on Paper
Torrential rain last week and now the sky is a careless, indifferent grey. Maybe that's what I like about living here. The unpredictable, intense flashes of sunshine that never last, but are more interesting for their infrequency. Well, it's a theory.

I've painted this stump before - it looks totally different now, having entirely shed its bark. It's looking more vulnerable and exposed. Fibrous. I suppose what caught my eye was the dance of supple limbs around the ragged remains. An intricate, rented world momentarily brightened.

Moving on with some larger acrylics which are building slowly, but hopefully will be ready for a tiny local exhibition next month. They are twin paintings, exploring paint application and dancing with the devil in the detail, it seems. We'll see what emerges.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Congratulations, Lucy Watkins! Lucy's painting has been selected for the Royal Academy's A-level Summer Exhibition online, which is quite a feat! There were over 1450 entries, and Lucy's piece even has a room named after it.

Having seen the actual exhibition of A-level work, I think everyone deserves congratulating, as the developmental work, sketchbooks and finished pieces are really wonderful. Great to see! Keep it up, lovely people...

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Seven Good Things

Persistent Fog K Howell Acrylic on Paper 2012
Life goes in so many directions. My thoughts are in several places on various projects and refuse to cooperate and regroup for anything resembling a blog post.

So here's some things to love, instead:

1 Fog: it makes the ordinary surprising.

2 Simon Armitage: what he does with words is Magic.

3 Writing books with magnetic closures. A tool that is also a toy! (for those of us who never cease to be amazed by simple mechanisms...)

4 Chewable Vitamin C. And they're legal.

5 David Blackburn's pastel landscapes. Genius.

6 Placebo. Who knew? I'm slightly obsessed. Slightly, mind.

7 Rocket. Related to cabbage, and yet...

Seven is a good number. Let's leave it there.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Loping Branch K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper 28cm x 28cm
A blistering day. It's unusual to be slowly baking whilst working outside. Lovely for those of us with reptilian inclinations.

This branch was bone dry, brittle. But so marvelously contorted. Most interesting is the way the energy of growth is etched into its being. Such is the nature of wood, but it's so much more fun when it's twisted!

Once, I designed a tattoo of three hounds running in a circle, a typical Celtic unity symbol. The idea was that each of the hounds could be mistaken, in some aspect, for the quarry (a deer), but not so clearly as to be Obvious. Their tails all became twining vegetation that filled the empty spaces, interlacing everything together. I was a child, it was a phase and no, I'm not wearing it.

But looking at this branch, I remembered creating that particular design vividly. And zoomorphism has stuck with me. Quietly. Under the skin.

Wishing us all more of this weather...

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Figure K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper

This character caught my eye.

The figure is carved on the base of an Anglo Saxon decorated cross, the rest of which was destroyed by Puritans. There's some nice foliate scroll work on the sides of the truncated base. In that way, I thought it fit right in with my tree stumps and fallen trunks.

 The sandstone carving is over a thousand years old. And what is interesting is the way that all extraneous detail has been eroded, and we are left with the presence of the figure and its piercing stare. Which I like. 

Is it male or female? Is it a mother and child? My five-year-old is convinced it's Megamind. It doesn't really matter. It's human energy staring back from long ago. And that's amazing. Compelling.

Today's adventure becomes tomorrow's half-remembered dream.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Fresh Air

From Inchfield K Howell Very Rough Sketch
Still experimenting and playing with possibilities. Mostly, I've been making a mess. But the fresh air is beneficial.
It's been one of those weeks when most skills  have been Misapplied.

A baby starling plummeted to its death outside our back door. This was a landmark occasion, because it is the first recorded bird death in the vicinity for which our cats have not been responsible. I thought it was a Remarkable thing and presented it to the children as such. Best not to parent like an artist.

Resident nine-year-old decided to enhance a part of her school uniform. I'm all for that, lovely idea. I just pointed out that whilst the decoration was very nice, the marker would wash out. And maybe that would be for the best anyway, since she had misspelled one of the three words, and the message was confusing. Tears ensued. It is not good to parent like a writer.

I thought writing was generally literary, owing to being constructed with words. But literary might also mean writing like an artist, which might make the writing less compelling.Who knew?

So I was expecting one of the Galleries I'd contacted to get back to me with "The painting is too narrative," but no. The lovely gentleman said my work was not for them, but that I should "continue to work to satisfy myself and not a fickle market." Which is fine advice and a lovely reminder. But still...he probably meant too narrative.

So when all else fails, Fresh Air.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Lasting Impressions

Impression K Howell 2012 Mixed media
Three observations:

 People can be amazing. For every disappointing encounter, there are many more who make a difference in whatever small way it takes. 

There's something to be learned from everyone, and everyone has something to learn (except when we're driving. Something about metal on wheels with engine power makes us Always Right).

Beauty is fugitive. Sometimes you really have to look for it.

A surprising week. And I must get back to work...

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Point of Departure

Headland K Howell 14 cm x 21 cm Charcoal
     Playing with charcoal and oil pastel. The sticky oil pastel collects the charcoal dust in rich deposits, allowing you to scratch it away again if you choose. I love the variety of marks you can make with charcoal. I forget about the distinct lack of colour.
      I'm building a collection of sketches to use as a Point of Departure. Strange to see my table covered in shades of grey, but every few years it happens. I pick up a piece of charcoal and wonder why I ever bother using anything else.
     Also strange that this study is a Landscape. I mean, I'm playing by the rules. There's a foreground, a midground and a distant horizon. This is unusual. I'm not sure what to make of it.
     As you can see, I'm still a little in love with those stone-cut graves. But there are Others coming...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Ups and Downs

Moon is Downstairs K Howell Charcoal on board 6cm x 13 cm  
     Stairs always give a space a lift. This set is incredible. Worn by time, this staircase is reverting to an organic, natural shape. The carefully cut stones have been hollowed by footsteps and collecting rainwater, the sharp edges lost over the years. I talked about an old painting of a new staircase-in-progress here. These stairs are nestled in a ruin dating to the 8th or 9th century. Some contrast.
     The stonework I've been looking at is amazing. Red sandstone hewn by Anglo Saxon tools and weathered by the elements. I've lots of development work to do, but it's satisfying  to be en route.
     Do you have a favourite flight? 

Exhibition at the Lancaster Environment Centre is on until 16 June 2012. A thumbnail gallery is available to view on my website .

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

At the Edge

Memory (a study) K Howell Pastel on Paper

     Some places are so hauntingly beautiful it's impossible to articulate the experience and equally impossible to not attempt... I spent some time on the headland at Heysham, Lancashire . The sort of place you stand and see Forever. Chill-inducing and unforgettable.
     Under the constantly changing sky and just beyond the reaching tide, there are these Human Memories carved in the stone of the headland. More like space left behind than graves, these shapes set in stone fill with rain water and reflect the sky.
     Some 12 years ago, there was a brilliant artist's residency in Heysham; Andrea Gregson took clay casts of these stone graves, also producing mixed media pieces using fabric, with shells and found materials filling the void shapes. Beautiful.
Anyway, the memory pulled at me, combined with the fact that the Human Void shape kept cropping up in my tree trunks.
     So very glad I went back. The visitor's Centre was closed, but I'm hoping there might be some photos on display from Andrea's residency. I'll check on the next visit...
     I seem to be thinking about time and memory, and look forward to playing with this Edge of the World landscape. If you've never been, I'd highly recommend dropping everything and going.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Blue Skies

Split Beech K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper 14cm x 21 cm
      Catching my breath. I'm working on Other Things right now, but this tree caught my eye. It's remarkable. I enjoyed the shapes it gave the sky and the push/pull nature of the split trunk.
     Spring seems to be the right time for messing with new ideas, trying things out and playing. I'm preparing a few canvases as well as boards for variety and have spent more time than I care to quantify looking for the extra staples I'm sure I had. I've decided I like the look of nails better anyway, even if it's labour intensive because I hate shopping that much (Except for shoelaces, paint and books. Obviously.).
     It's a strange relief after preparing work for exhibition and dealing with it as product to go back to the raw material and start from scratch with the vaguest notion of what might happen this time. Like packing a bag for a journey and leaving, without actually buying a ticket anywhere, just thumbing a lift and hoping you don't get picked up by a psychopath. So where am I going? Well, I'll have something to show for myself sometime soon. In the meanwhile, this tree. Call it continuity.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Exhibition Notes

 A Body of Work Exploring Our Human Connection With Trees

Trees are our still, silent counterparts, rooted in the landscape. Our ladders to the stars. Trees have long provided a metaphor for the human condition as we search for our roots, branch out in new directions or turn over a new leaf. Their seasonal transformation can remind us of both our aspirations and our mortality. They stand as monuments to bare existence, dedicated to growth. Feet in the dirt, looking for the light, we are all, to some extent, planted here.

We share some similarities in design with trees, our basic physical structure of trunk and limbs and our interior landscape of branching blood vessels. I play with these likenesses in raw material and organic form. My work often has a narrative element, hinting at the mythic resonance suggested in tree forms. Some of the paintings describe human-shaped hollows in deadfall trunks, alluding to the Norse creation myth of Ask and Embla. According to the Poetic Edda, Odin drew these first two people from fallen Ash and Elm trunks. I frequently play with the idea of decaying wood bursting with life and being transformed through the narrative process of human imagination. It is a curious life we share with trees, sometimes stricken, always striving.

I work in the woods, drawing inspiration from being immersed in the landscape whilst making studies. Sharing the air. These initial studies are often done in chalk pastel because of the intensity and portability of the medium. The fragility and ephemeral qualities also appeal; chalk paintings can be ruined with a sneeze or a stray sleeve! Some of these studies become finished pieces, some I use to create larger paintings in oil or acrylic. Most of the time I choose to work with acrylic because of its flexibility and fast-drying properties. I work in layered glazes, energetic brushwork and dry over-painting. I tend to use a bent, slightly corroded palette knife to drag and scrape paint, sometimes needles, brush ends and sticks to scratch the surface. Working this way, I try to find a balance between building and revealing colour, coaxing a painting into being. A piece is finished when I feel the raw material has been remade to express something of my experience in the landscape, complete with growth and erosion, infused with the strength and energy of the inspiring trees. Animate and resilient.

I’ve included blog posts written about particular pieces, and I hope these give you some feel for where the work is coming from and how it comes about in specific instances. Your comments are most welcome; please take a card with my contact details or leave your thoughts in the notebook provided.

Thanks for having a look!

Many thanks to the LEC for hosting this exhibition. Please contact the artist with any queries about the work or sales. 


Visit the website Friday 23 March for more details...

Thursday, 15 March 2012


There will be more on the website soon, once the actual work is on walls. Virtual Preview:
Friday, 23 March 
Do drop by, have a virtual drink, and leave a link to your work!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Mounting Excitement

Adrift (Hammerhead Shark Form) K Howell 2012
 Pastel on Paper 28cm x 28cm
     If you've ever worked in Framing, you'll know that getting the mount right is pretty fundamental. The word overcut still sends a chill through my system.  But there are so many ways to be inadequate when cutting mounts. My supervisor, when I was training, used to quote the cost of the sheet before I cut anything; just to clarify what was at stake. Rather drained the joy from playing with a razor blade.
     So I have this pile of work to be prepared for exhibition, and I need to cut mounts. It's a bit like renting a suit for an Occasion. The sharp, finished edges give pieces the protection they need to go out into the world. A mount gives work some breathing space within the clear boundaries of the frame.
     Cutting mounts is enjoyable for a repetitive task, because by the time you've cut three perfect sides, it becomes Vital that the fourth cut be exact. And to keep things running smoothly, there's lighter fluid. Exciting!
      So I'm not really thinking about putting work Out There so much as I'm looking forward to the curious thrill of cutting mounts.
More exhibition details soon.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Under the Skin

Grove K Howell 2012 Acrylic on Board 40cm x 61cm
     In view of the weather - strangely tired of the ubiquitous grey, lovely as it is - I've been working on a piece based on a study from last spring. There's a wood I frequent that has some clumps of very young trees. I love visiting this little grove because the sinewy trunks are electric and crackling with growth. Still spindly, they are finding their feet. So to speak.
     This piece is not dissimilar to a polarised light micrograph of human skin with hair follicles. (See here at the Science Photo Library, credited to Dr Keith Wheeler.)
     The landscape we live in gets under our skin - but maybe it was always there? Do we recognise design similarities on some level?
     I'm working on another tree portrait now and a winter take on a nearby grove that are both much darker, so this was an interesting sidestep in anticipation of spring, and the world refreshed.

Monday, 20 February 2012


Lightly Here K Howell 2012 Acrylic on Paper 36cm x 26cm
      In slick February mud, a crater-basin  collects the rain and grows a flat forest...
       One of the advantages to having an unadopted road nearby is the infinite capacity for puddles. They constantly change shape and colour. Each one contains its own shifting microcosm, a small reflection of the surrounding world.
     Trees don't move around much, being rooted in the earth the way they are. But they can turn up in unusual places.
     Puddles are transporting! Even without wellies.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Sum of its Parts

Oak Queen (Detail)  K Howell 2012 Acrylic on Board 61cm x 92cm
     In any creative endeavour, we're looking for synergy, aren't we? We want to make something that proclaims itself Complete and more than the materials, time, energy, inspiration and technique that go into the making. Greater than the sum of its parts, as the saying goes.
     Well, I'm posting a detail of a finished painting. For a few reasons. It's large and will probably look ridiculous reduced to a thumbnail. Looking at something as a reduced, flat image, rather than 'life size' in a large space can be dispiriting. I don't want to see this piece reduced right now. I enjoyed the process, and need to take the real thing by surprise a few times to see what's there. 
     So, there it is. I hope the part is indicative of the whole, and I hope one day to see the whole and make an assessment of its state of completion in view of the sum of its parts.

Monday, 6 February 2012


Before the Snow K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper 28cm x 28cm
     Please check out the sidebar of blogs to visit. Hopefully it will grow as I find my way about, but it's a start.
     In the meantime, my Lego duties continue. I don't want to boast about how I'm spending my time whilst four-year-old is poorly, but I know the names of all the Octonauts. And today, it seemed he had turned a corner and was properly recovering. When I ventured to get paints out, he was aghast. What are you DOING? WE are playing cards!
     After a stack of books, he decided we must watch a knight film. A knight film? We watched Henry V. He loved it. He has decided he's still very unwell. He's pretending to sleep now, but I know he's organising tomorrow's agenda...

Monday, 30 January 2012

Trees are People too

Twisted K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper 14cm x 21cm
     I'm putting together exhibition proposals, and decided to Google my summary statement of Painting trees as a metaphor for the human condition. The first link that comes up is to Mary Hrbacek's work, so whilst I was gutted to find my agenda may not be completely unique (Surprise!), it was fascinating to see another take on themes I love, and I hope you enjoy them too!
      The anthropomorphic form of trees makes it easy to identify with them as creatures. And in trees, the resilience,  damage, variety and beauty is much like we find in humanity. The nature to strive and flourish. The infinite capacity for transformation.
      Trees may not travel in distance, but their journeys aren't far removed from our own. In the immortal words of the Kaiser Chiefs:

Well it's time honoured tradition
To get enough nutrition
Stay alive until you die
And that is the end of you!
(I've rambled on about tree/human affinities before, in raw, lingering disquiet, life and limb, branching out, and about inspiration)

Monday, 23 January 2012

Winter Sun (and winds of change...)

And the shadows steal over the hill... K Howell Acrylic on Paper

     Last week we had a dazzling and brief day of winter sun. So very cold.
     This wasn't the painting I wanted, but it's what I ended up with. A little Stiff, you say? A little Awkward? Let's blame the uncooperative frozen digits, shall we?  
     January is an extreme month. John Updike describes it brilliantly in "January",  from A Child's Calendar:

The days are short,
The sun a spark
 Hung thin between
The dark and dark.

      It's the right time of year to drag the heaps of studies out for an overview, which I'd intended to do. I'm developing larger acrylic paintings on panel, and want this series to work together as a body. Well, bodies. Time for the method in the madness.

     Instead of this crucial bit of analysis, I found myself aiding and abetting with the production of pugiones in the kitchen. I have to remind myself, no, I don't have ADHD, I have children. And they've decided to be Roman Assassins. It's that sort of day. Beware the Ides of March...

Monday, 16 January 2012


Broken Birch K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper 14cm x 21cm
     Howard Hodgkin says, I don't think you can lightly paint a picture.
     A painting is the product of such focused energy. It's a ritual that is repeated again and again, and each new painting has all previous experience behind it, somewhere. Each empty page, canvas, board becomes an investment in understanding.
     When the process goes well, there are Discoveries, Epiphanies and Exciting Accidents. Other times, it's hard work, reminding ourselves of what we know and seeking out something new in the activity.
     A painting is a serious effort. And yet, on the face of it, it does seem a frivolous way of living. Sitting in the woods or in a studio, making a mess; all for the magic of conjuring an image, an impression, a feeling, a memory onto a blank surface. We are so lightly here. Why compound that reality by chasing the elusive?
     At least as artists, we can rest assured that our investments won't cripple an economy.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Dreaming of Yew

The yew is a tree with rough bark,
hard and fast in the earth, supported by its roots,
a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate. 
     So says the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem. 
     The yew has a healthy grip on life and, despite its longevity, is often associated with death.
Knotty Yew! K Howell 2012 Pastel on Paper 9cm x 11cm
             Commonly found in churchyards, yew may have been planted as a reminder of long life, or to discourage farmers from allowing livestock to wander onto church property, the poisonous foliage being a disincentive. Which brings us to the fact that almost every part of the yew is poisonous. This might account for its charm. The beautiful red berry-like arils are an exception. They taste quite nice. The seed inside is highly toxic, but obviously those can be avoided. Birds don't digest them, just pass them on through their droppings.            Yew wood was commonly used in the production of longbows, but since much of yew is knotty and twisted, suitable yew staves were being imported to England as early as 1294, part of a trade that was to deplete the forests of southern Germany and Austria of mature yew trees by the 17th century. Happily, the rise of firearms relaxed the demand for the supply of yew wood. Imagine where we'd be without guns.            Yew bark is extraordinary. The gnarled, twisted trunks create their own landscape to negotiate. Hence the study.            As Wordsworth wrote of the dualistic nature of these splendid trees:
Of vast circumference and gloom profound This solitary Tree! -a living thing Produced too slowly ever to decay; Of form and aspect too magnificent To be destroyed.
     Do you have a favourite yew? 

Monday, 2 January 2012

For the rain it raineth every day...

Wet Day K Howell 2011(barely) Pastel on Paper 28cm x 28cm
     A slick end to the calendar year; time has washed past. The quality and variety of the rain has been astonishing. I thought I missed snow, but I love the rain.
     But why this foolish attachment to atmospheric necessity?

1 The Smell: is indescribable, beyond anything and simply invigorating.

2 The Impact: it stings and weighs you down, but ultimately leaves you refreshed.

3 Reliability: It Will Rain, and the Rain Will Continue. Isn't that a soothing thought?

4 Aesthetics: Behold yonder branch from which a droplet hangs. This is pleasing.

5 It Will Rise Again!: Fallen droplets are assumed into the atmosphere, allowed to collect, and are respent upon the world. There might be something in this idea...

Yes, the rain makes us wet. Yes, it leaves puddles at the edge of the road, carefully situated near bus stops. But rain is Inevitable! Necessary! Embrace the Rain! After all, the dog shit on the pavements doesn't clean itself up...