Sunday, May 29, 2011

Haworth Parsonage Revisited

I have done another Haworth for the ABNA show. Slightly smaller with transportation in mind. It's a tighter composition and has the addition of Victoria and Adelaide, the Brontë geese exiting stage left. The moors are darker and the moon has a yellowish tinge though it probably doesn't show up much on the photo.

Comparing the two reminds me a bit of those spot the difference pictures you used to get in comics years ago.
I did consider putting Black Tom, the Brontë cat into the mix but haven't so far. However, there is still another 24 hours before I take this to the framers - anything might happen!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

British Naives

It's that time of year again - parcelling up some pictures for the annual Association of British Naive Artists show in St Ives. Actually it isn't because the date has been brought forward so it's not nearly a year since the last exhibition  ... Pictures to arrive by June 14 deadline. 
Anyway, I am away tomorrow to my friendly local framer with these:

Three of them are on paper so would be a liability to send to the UK behind glass so I am going to see how they look with the unbreakable synthetic alternative (whispers: "plastic") but the sheet I was shown last week looked good.
I may send in the Haworth collage too but haven't decided yet.
The show runs from July 9 to 22 at the Crypt Gallery.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bookmarks and a stroll around town

This is what is on my table this morning:

One bookmark design finished and the next at the assemblage-and-chopping-and-changing stage. And the book I borrowed last week, Haworth Harvest by N Brysson Morrison which is an enjoyable and untaxing read, devoid of the dreaded footnote disease and full of interesting little nuggets. I just wish it didn't smell of old (this is one of my daughters' most withering descriptions). Or should that be wuthering?

I called in at our local modern art museum the day before yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find the collection had been changed since last time when I must say the preponderence of crusty, dusty fifties and sixties abstracts in various shades of mud and deterioration had detained me less than 10 minutes.

This time around I was bowled over by two tiny Eileen Agar pastels, one of which is below:

Not a very good reproduction I'm afraid as I was taking the photo undercover. In real life the colours sang out and here they look more like they are doing more of a bit of a muffled hum. Agar spent the winter in Puerto de la Cruz for several years in the 1950s. As did another British painter I admire, Dot Procter. 
And here is another picture I was taken with, by Canary Island artist Lola Massieu:

The collection is housed in a beautiful 17th century mansion overlooking the fishing port, and was once the local customs house. It deserves to be better known and better visited. Unfortunately it suffers from another disease I am averse to (see above), namely acronym disease. The letters MACEW will mean absolutely nothing to 99% of people but that is the big sign under which the building labours (standing for Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Eduardo Westendahl). So potential visitors who don't go a bundle on figuring out word games simply pass it by. There was just one other person strolling around when I went in. 
The woman on the desk, who was very knowledgeable about the paintings and artists, seemed touchingly pleased to see us.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Haworth Parsonage pet picture

I finished this today. 
At least I think it's finished.

Not terribly happy with this photo as I am missing about an inch of empty space to the right. One day I will get around to finding out how to crop images instead of just bunging them in as they come on the camera.

Anyway, it depicts part of the Brontë menagerie: Flossy the dog, Victoria and Adelaide the geese and Little Dicky the canary. There were cats too and a falcon and other dogs but I think it had to be a case is less is more for this image. Paring back is generally the best bet.

The animals seemed to have mostly belonged to Emily and Anne. Charlotte could, apparently, take them or leave them. Patrick Brontë their father had a couple of dogs called Cato and Plato in his last years. 
I quite fancy doing a picture of those three. Possibly outside the church. In the snow. 

Mmmmm ... time to do some thinking with my biro and book.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Back to the drawing board

Spending time gathering my thoughts and ideas in my doodle book, as you see, and happy to have abandoned yesterday's aberration.
I picked up a book about the Brontës in the library this morning. It smelt rather old and musty and hadn't been taken out in seven years, but the first sentence I read was this:
"Emily's interior life was as spacious as the landscape that met the gaze from the field path behind the parsonage and against so ultimate a background everything was simplified."
I really liked that.
So I have brought it home to give it an airing and see what emerges.

More scribbling, most probably ....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When you're in a hole ...

stop digging.
So I am.

I followed up this (which, you may recall, I was happy with):

With this (which I am decidedly not):

Hence the miniscule photo, ha ha. 
I soldiered on, hoping it would come together ar some point (which often happens) but I have now admitted defeat. 
Life is too short. 
 (On the other hand it has helped by pointing me in what I hope will be the right direction for another Brontë image).
... I hope.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Haworth Parsonage, Autumn Evening
I finished this piece, pasting the final leaf on, at about 2 o'clock this morning. Obsessive or what? Anyway, I am fairly happy with it and it captures the atmosphere I was after. Gone are the dog and the plethora of graves. It would be too easy to always plump for a strictly bleak and tragic view ... coloured by our knowledge of how their brief lives played out. It's autumnal, yes, but happy autumnal I hope. Before the advent of the grim reaper down Haworth way.

"My home is humble and unattractive to strangers, but to me it contains what I shall find nowhere else in the world - the profound, the intense affection which brothers and sisters feel for each other when their minds are cast in the same mould, their ideas from the same source - when they have clung to each other from childhood ...", said Charlotte Brontë in 1841

Detail showing the sisters
So there she is clinging to Anne by the side of the parsonage, Emily striding out across the moor in the background. The three large birds? The sisters' soaring imagination, with the distant Branwell perversely flying in the opposite direction, poor thing.

And there they are again, inside the plain, solid, somewhat comfortless house (their father brooked no curtains or carpets for fear of fire, apparently) looking out of the windows.

I once read a Freudian interpretation of Wuthering Heights, the author of which had counted the number of times that windows and doors featured in the work. Having lived with the facade of Haworth Parsonage for a couple of weeks I have to say that windows were an architectural feature the Brontës must have had an awful lot of trouble ignoring in their day-to-day lives.
They certainly had me cursing with the fiddly panes.

Eight years after Charlotte Brontë wrote the lines quoted above, she was to write to her friend, wryly laughing off the suggestion she take a companion (her siblings having died in the intervening years):
"... the young person whom I might request to come and bury herself in the hills of Haworth - to take a church and stony churchyard for her prospect - the dead silence of a village parsonage - in which the tick of the clock is heard all day long - and a grave, silent spinster for her companion ..."
Needless to say she didn't wish the fate on anyone.

Now that does sound a grim and tragic scenario, but even that isn't as grim and tragic as the one which would be the lot of their father who outlived them all by six years,

I feel a bleaker parsonage picture coming on ....