Wednesday 22 August 2012

folk tales, peeling walls, and wolves in nighties.

The last few days...

I've been enjoying the (temporary) solitude of my new studio. Wandering the halls like a cat, poking my whiskers into each corner...

down each hallway...

into unexplored rooms.

Finding walls which remind me of Pompeii,

or of lichen on the granite tors of Dartmoor.

Landscapes of the imagination.  Full of mystery, of story.

I ordered this book on a lark.  "Thistle & Thyme" by Sorche Nic Leodhas (1898-1969) an American librarian and storyteller of Scots descent who retells Scottish folk tales in a delightfully playful way, capturing the cadence of the language, and the wit and imagination of the folk who first told these wonderful tales.

As I was reading one of the stories to my boys, I slipped quickly and unwittingly into my Grandfather's heavy Scottish brogue.  The author has captured the music of the language beautifully.

These stories take place in a wilderness and landscape which I'm craving in soul-deep way.  An ache and a whispering song in my bones.

For now, though, there is no shortage of outdoors.  A rare wood fire on the top of a hill with the shadowy bulk of the Alps and an incoming lightning storm in the distance.  Returning home that night with the smell of woodsmoke in our hair.

Meandering back to the studio...and my first studio purchase - a kettle for the makeshift tea kitchen.

Everything sorted, painting has begun.

The studio desk.  View out the window.  Green idyl to the right; non-stop traffic to the left.  So it is.  (The key ring one of Ren's lovely leather creations from her shop Fairysteps.)

Meandering back to stories.
As I was organizing, I came across this doodle in a sketchbook. Wolves in nighties.
Guess I was kind of wondering what they do when they're not, you know, eating grannies...

Just adding it in the name of silliness.

Think I'd better stop now.


  1. The space looks GREAT! Happy painting.... and drinking tea in there. Tea breaks and spacing out (maybe dreaming about wolves in nighties) is important work in a studio!

  2. I love your studio! So romantic!

  3. I was hoping for a studio update ~ such a fascinating and lovely space. Glad to see you're happily ensconced, tea and all! Those stories sound delightful, too!

  4. Yes, Valerianna, sometimes it is so important just to *be* in a space - to allow for things to percolate beneath the surface. And I'm a firm believer in daydreaming.

    Thanks, Sonia, I'm lucky to have found a spot so romantic. Very unlike my last two basement studios - thank goodness!

    I'm really loving the space, Donna. And the stories: I hadn't heard of the author or the collection before, but so glad to have come across them.

  5. A marvellously inspiring space. I love walking in empty buildings, feeling the history and character of the place

  6. I share your love old and empty spaces, Gwynneth, the stories they hold within their walls...

  7. These walls are beautiful! I like how the storybook cover,the walls and your paintings go very well together. I've never come across this book before,sounds interesting,like fairy tales the world over Scottish stories can be quite scary. Having just come back from visiting mountains a bit further north,I'm getting into gear for seasonal changes. Early autumn is one of my favourites.

    Enjoy your new space!

  8. Seems like magic is inhabiting your new space with you. I can easily see you conjuring up some great art and a good cuppa tea ... thanks for taking us with you! <3

  9. An after the tale of Thomas the Rhymer included in Thistle and Thyme? I ask this because the countryside I've shown in my current post is Rhymer country. Thomas is supposed to have lived nearby and his gravestone is at the foot of the Eildon Hills close to Galashiels.
    I may follow this up later.


  10. I love the walls in your images... looks like they could be individual paintings

  11. Lynn, i love the quietness of the images of your new studio space, it will be a place for much creating me thinks. There is something inspiring & exciting about growing into a new space isn't there. I love the sound of the book you are reading, just my cup of tea, my shelves are filled with many similar as Scottish folk tales, history & the old ways. They are my absolute faves I just finished reading a book called "The furrow behind me" translated from gaelic, tales of a Scottish crofter & loved getting lost in stories of life long ago.

  12. Thanks, Jan! I'm looking forward to seeing what the space inspires.

    Hi Ruby. I've been away a couple of days, so I've only now had a chance to answer. The only time I've been in Scotland (so far) was in November years ago. Autumn seems to be the season to really get a sense of the atmosphere there. I can't wait to go back - want to show my boys.

    As for the book, no Thomas the Rhymer isn't in the collection. One of the things I like about it, is that she gives the area that the story came from, or is associated with. I really should get myself a map of Scotland and place them. (Just the names of some of these places sound so whimsical and lyrical to my ears: Beatock near Dumfries; Glenluce on Luce Bay; Ardfainaig in Perthshire; Ballachulish near Glencoe...wish I know how to pronounce them properly!)

    I love crumbling places, places that show wear, history, life, Donna. I really could make paintings of the walls and floors!

    Hi, Ruthie. I'll certainly look up the book you mentioned. I have more books about English and Irish tales, but I find there's something different about the Scottish ones, a mood, an atmosphere...something I can't put my finger on, but which quite speaks to me. I shall have to look up more of them. Your library sounds an absolute dream!

  13. Gorgeous space and post. Thank you for the peek into your new studio.

  14. Thank you, Aria!
    I'm feeling very much at home in the new space.