Happy New Year readers and best wishes for 2020

New project for a new year………


My son and his wife put a small sample pack of various vellum in my Christmas stocking and I couldn’t wait to have a go painting on one. I have sent away for some pumice to scour the vellum before painting on it, but I could not wait for that to come before having a little experiment! This small picture about 5″ x 7″, of common gorse, picked off the hill, was done on calf skin vellum which is quite yellow as is has had no prepainting preparation. Even so, the colours glow as the surface is quite translucent.

Below, a poem by Seamus Heaney – “Whinlands” (from my recently acquired book). This readily describes the old gorse bushes that flourish on our hill, currently in bloom. It is burnt annually by the farmers to improve the grazing leaving vast patches of “bone, charred horn “……….

All year round the whin

Can show a blossom or two

But it’s in full bloom now.

As if the small yolk stain


From all the birds’ eggs in

All the nests of the spring

Were spiked and hung

Everywhere on bushes to ripen.


Hills oxidize gold.

Above the smoulder of green shoot

And dross of dead thorns underfoot

The blossoms scald.


Put a match under

Whins, they go up of a sudden.

They make no flame in the sun

But a fierce heat tremor


Yet incineration like that

Only takes the thorn.

The tough sticks don’t burn,

Remain like bone, charred horn.


Gilt, jaggy, springy, frilled

This stunted, dry richness

Persists on hills, near stone ditches,

Over flintbed and battlefield

I am not going to dwell on last year – not my best.

New beginnings from old . . . .

May you have a good (and healthy ) 2020.

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