Saturday, July 26, 2008

Toads and sprouted cobnuts.

A few times lately I've been moved to get out the colouring sticks. I used to draw and paint quite a lot at various times in my life. Than I discovered digital photography and my idleness realised it had come home. I always wished I could be more loose and imaginative in my style, I always end up labouring, and as often as not my pictures look as if they might be illustrations for (slightly weird) cookery or children's books, bold/unsubtle; I suppose I feel a bit the same about my photos. These are done in Derwent watercolour pencils, and I kept them to A4, so they'd scan. Photoshop and Picasa are handy for tarting them up a bit and ironing out somewhat the wrinkles in the paper which occur because I never think it's worth using good watercolour paper, then wish I had.

The first was done to illustrate a poem I wrote about toads, herewith included. This one obviously wouldn't do for a cookery book. Unless you were one of Macbeth's witches. Apologies to lovely (toad-phobic) sister for any distress caused.


From the fervour of their parents' pilgrimage
- who, in passionate self-abnegation, urgent
with procreative zeal, hung their spawn
about the pond in viscous rosaries -
are born toad tadpoles. Innocent
of the orgiastic rites from which they came,
these oblates feed on slime, slowly
putting on arms and legs, to undergo assumption
onto land. They'll live as eremites
in cells of earth and stone, unmortified
by cold and damp, until the spirit moves them to intone
their chiming canticles on moist spring nights
and calls them in their turn to make
their progress to the water.
[Still can't quite decide between 'eremites' and 'hermits' in that line...]
The other painting was of a sprouted cobnut I dug up in the vegetable beds. The voles bring them over from next door and bury them all over the garden, then forget where. Inspired by Marja-Leena's gorgeous scanner art, I tried to scan it, but it didn't really work, so I drew it instead.


Poem and cobnut were inspired by qarrtsiluni's new 'Transformation' theme, which is yielding some wondrous things, as ever. They've accepted some of my photos, which is nice, I'll say when they're up there.


Molly's brighter, and has bursts of cheerful energy, though she often flakes out immediately afterwards, and sometimes seems uncomfortable, and is a little distant. I was able to clean round her ear by giving her a gentle, warm, not all-over, shower, which rather distracted her from the fact it was actually the hurty place I was cleaning, and Betadine I was using. She has to go back to the vet next week and I don't know what they'll want to do, but in the meanwhile, we're all just relaxing a bit in the sense of relief. Thanks again for kind words and concern.


Anonymous said...

lovely illustrations, expecially the toad one, with the creature's hiding place on show and the cross section of the pond too.

Hope Molly is getting better

Anonymous said...

Beautiful illustrations! And far more personal than scans, I say. Please do more and share them here!

I wondered what a cobnut was and looked it up- a filbert or hazelnut. The squirrels around her plant them everywhere, even in my plant pots. I let one grow to a tree (but I never get any of the nuts).

I'm glad you and Molly are a bit more comfortable.

julie said...

Lucy, those are beautiful! Is there anything visual you aren't good at? :D

Laura Frankstone said...

Lucy, I've been AWOL as you've gone through these last anxious days. I'm so sorry your Molly is having problems---I'm hoping fervently for full recovery. We had a Molly, too---Mollie, actually--- whom we adored and lost too soon.
Your poem is brilliant, just brilliant. What a joy to read those words, paired so improbably and with such genius.
It will be such fun to draw together next year when I'm in Brittany---don't lose your colouring sticks!

katydidnot said...

you are incredibly talented.

Pam said...

Goodness me, those drawings are really beautiful - and the words too. You're so talented. I'm in awe.

So sorry that Molly is ill; do hope she's better soon. Ah, pets: so loved but so worrying. Cf children.

Pam said...

... and you're a bird expert too, I see from your comment on my recent post. Is there no end to your talents?

robinstarfish said...

I'm drooling. Please, where's the book(s)?

One vote for 'eremite' because I had to look it up.

Great to hear Molly's feeling better!

Julia said...

Eremites! And I love the cut out too, and the way the frog's eye reflects the moon and the stars. So glad Molly is feeling better too.

Rosie said...

I love the weird and wonderful toad, lurking in its cell...
glad Mol is on the mend

Anonymous said...

Both picture and poem are wonderful and entirely complementary. 'Eremite' because you've already established a fairly formal language register and also you need the extra beat in the line. I love 'viscous rosaries'.

Lucy said...

Thanks all. 'Eremites' it is then, it sounds rather like 'hermits' with an exaggerated west-country accent, which I suppose is what happened to the word when the Anglo-Saxons got hold of it... then the poncey 18th century lot must have decided to reintroduce it in it's original form.

Thanks also for good wishes to Mol; she's not bad. My fear is that she'll be pumped full of stuff and get better and then it'll all flare up again in a few months and be harder and harder each time to fix. But we just can't afford to think about that.

CGP - Thank you. I haven't forgotten your award, I'll do something about it soon.

ML - sorry, yes, we call them hazelnuts too, and filberts, though those are a more elongated variety I think. Cobnut is a more colloquial term perhaps.

Julie - thanks, yes lots!

Laura - now yours is the kind of painting I wish I could do, free and loose and immediate - I really have to work quite hard to produce th kind of work I can do, and I wish it were different. I haven't forgotten your maps and guides, BTW!

Katy - thank you dear, so are you!

Isabelle - yes, I'm afraid there is an end to them, I am crap at particle physics and not much good at throwing pots on a wheel, and that's just a couple of examples... but thank you anyway!

Robin - I'm quite chuffed to have caught you out on a word anyway! Thanks.

Julia - do you know I didn't actually spot that moon shape being repeated!

Rosie - we have somewhat mixed feelings about toads; their necrophiliac tendencies in the pond and suicidal encounters with garden forks and lawn-mowers have served to put us off a bit, but you can't just deal with nice things, I suppose!

Dick - yes that's rather what I thought, that I'd stick with the ecclesiastical kind of language, and it does scan better too. And it is quite a cool word, whereas 'hermits' is a bit worn, and moreover rhymes with 'kermits' which association would be somewhat bathetic! I love writing poetry, that one can deliberate at length over a single word, and it becomes the most important thing in the world. I think that's so profoundly civilised...

Unknown said...

I've always thought of cobnuts as a local word - Kent and Sussex. Did you find it further west?

I was interested to read that you used water colour crayons. I love using them and find them exceptionally versatile, as clearly you do. I've even tried using the equivalent oil based crayons with turps with similar effect. I hope Molly continues to feel better.

Elizabeth said...

Lovely SHOULD illustrate! I do love watercolor pencils, but you are right, they do tend to keep one "tight", so to speak. I am partial to tube watercolor when I want to be "loose" in my work...
I started out a calligraphy and Pen & Ink gal...I'm STILL trying to loosen up some!
Blessings to you and Molly, E

Roderick Robinson said...

Frogs on the whole get a good press, toads don't. Congratulations on helping to restore the balance. Another thing about toads - once you've learnt the French word you never forget it.

Avus said...

"The Toads and Cobnuts" - sounds like the name of a country pub!
It has to be "eremites" - it slides on from the "as" with such fluidity.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Love your drawings! And the poem! But, I'm a dope...I don't know what a cobnut is!!!

So very glad that Molly is feeling a bit better. Ear problems can be so disheartening. I do hope it clears up soon!

meggie said...

Yes, please keep eremites. It is just right.
So glad Mol is a little better, & you can relax a fraction.
As others have stated, your talents are multi!

Dave King said...

I am totally bowled over by the toad painting. I cannot tell you how much I like it. I would love it on my wall - there! What more can I say. I love the other painting, too, and am equally fascinated by the difference between them. Great stuff! Let's have more!

herhimnbryn said...

L, your art is gorgeous. I can see the top one 'done' in stained glass! And cobnuts! Nostalgia! Collecting them when I was little and eating the sweet nut inside the shiny shell.

Anonymous said...

Much charm in those pictures, Lucy!

And everyone wants "eremites" because you are being tugged strongly toward blank verse in this poem... Wallace Stevens wrote quite a bit of short blank verse.

Glad your Molly is mending and will keep you walking the wild.