Monday, August 29, 2011

Goblin or Tree?

Just another little bit of writing here. 

Every time I go out with Elfie for a walk -usually in the evening -I hope for something magical. Brian does too. I know this is just such an obvious thing, but for me, by expecting something strange or wonderful or beautiful to appear, I find myself seeing all of those things in places I wouldn’t ordinarily even think to look. Strange shapes and colors that are unexpected, a pattern of twigs on the road, a gnarled tree that looks just like some sort of creature - all of these things are either magical or not depending on your perspective. By magical, I don’t mean sparkle and “glamour” but I DO mean looking at things with an open mind and perhaps even more than that, an open imagination. Doorways to imagination are everywhere if we care to look. I really believe that nothing needs to be ordinary, overlooked or dismissed. So -here’s a photo of a really weird bit of tree that absolutely looked like a goblin when I took the photo. Looking at it now, I can either see a goblin or just a weird bit of tree. Really? I prefer to see a goblin. So there.   

Here is Elfie looking exceptionally handsome. He sits in my chair, behind my back when I write at the computer. He was waiting for me to sit down and start writing as I took this photo. 

And finally -a photo of Toby that’s got to be about 12 years old. This is from a dinner party with our great friends Todd and Carol and their children Lillian and David. Lillian is looking on as Toby puppeteers Filbert ( the Big, Dumb Orange Thing). Filbert was one of the first puppets Toby made. They’re quite a pair. 

And from about the same time, a rather blurry photo of Toby on stilts with David. 

No -Toby was never destined to be a brain surgeon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We LOVE working together really! Upcoming Gallery Show

I’m late in writing this week because I’m still recovering from falling “up” the stairs after tripping over Elfie (the dog) who was quietly lying in the dark on the landing, chewing on his squeaky shrimp. It was one of those falls that happen in slow motion but there really isn’t anything you can do about it. I’m still a bit bruised and limping now but carrying on never the less. The shrimp has been banished to the kitchen.

We are putting the pages of the Troll book together now and it’s been a true test of diplomacy and love -long periods of quiet, punctuated by shouts of “ you’re putting that WHERE??? - it’s a RITUAL object, NOT kitchen ware!!!” - along with -“What do you mean you haven’t photographed it yet!!!” and “ you TOLD me that was where it went!!!” and ending with “ aaagggghhhh”.

We love working together really!

We just took a short walk on to the moor this afternoon. It doesn’t matter how many times we go along the same roads -there’s always something new to discover. Today we found a hut circle that we had only seen from a distance before. Hut circles are such magical places. The idea that you can stand in the living space of people that were there two thousand years ago is always moving and quite humbling as well. These huts would have had stone walls and the steep, thatched roofs (rather like hats). I’ve been in a number of reconstructed huts both on Dartmoor and in Snodonia and they are wonderfully warm and cozy although I’m not sure I’d want to spend a harsh winter in one. It always amazes me that we can drive for less than a mile in some cases and find not only hut circle dwellings but ritual stone circles as well -right here. It makes it easier to bear a summer of cold and not much sun!

The picture of our roof shows what thatch looks like (and would have even a thousand years ago) and you can see the new patch on it that our valiant thatcher did in a huge rain shower the other day. Thatch is amazing and with a bit of care, can last even longer than a regular roof.   

The roofs of the hut circles remind me of this drawing of Brian’s that I’ve found for this week. A conical hat (one of his favorite styles and very like the one he got at Faerieworlds ) that looks very like those roofs. The little guy on top has got to be one of those extremely annoying imps that hang around and do what ever damage they can before running away again. I think they lured Elfie and his shrimp onto the stairs -and they’ve been ruffling through the pages of the book as we try to make sense of it all. Very frustrating, but if you poke them, they bite. I’m sure that they are in cahoots with Buster (the cat). If that’s Brian in his hat (with imp) in the drawing, then I claim the lovely lady in the background.  
 This week’s picture of my desk is of a little troll that I’m just finishing for the book. He came together very quickly. Sometimes they just want to be born. I was working from a sketch that Brian handed me a few days ago and I could tell that he was ready to jump off of the page. 

More news about late Autumn. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I’m going to be talking about it quite a bit from now on because we’re so excited about it. Brian, Toby and I are going to have a three -person show at the wonderful Animazing Gallery in New York this December - opening on December 1st (2011) and running until February 12th (2012).
We are going to be showing and selling original paintings and drawings by Brian and Toby and I will both have figures - dolls and puppets for sale as well. We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Labyrinth (2011) and the 30th anniversary of Dark Crystal (2012) and all three of us will have work associated with those films in the show. We will also have other pieces and Brian will have paintings and drawings from many of his published books as well. It’s going to be a wonderful show! If you want to find out more about it, please go to the Animazing website for more info -it’s - . I’ll tell you more about it and other events that we’ll be participating in around New York at that time as well. It’s going to be SO exciting! 
 That may be it for now. I’ll try to write more this weekend -depending on the state of the book, the house, our state of mind, etc!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Troll Team

OK -revelation of the week. You have to hit the “return “ key to leave a facebook comment! Who knew? Obviously everyone except me. I’ve been blithely leaving comments on the site and wondering why they never show up. All I can say is thank goodness for Sarah who explained it all to me last night. I’ve begun to leave a few comments again with better luck this time -so if you were hoping for a comment and I didn’t respond -it’s very likely I did and just never sent it out into the realm that is facebook. As I said last week -I’m getting there slowly -I just didn’t realize quite HOW slowly! Oh well -I blame the faeries.

We’ve been extra busy working on the Troll book this week. Deadlines loom and we seem to progress by inches. I’m hoping that it only SEEMS like that. We must be making progress really! Brian has been photographing “troll artifacts” which has turned our kitchen table into something that looks like the aftermath of a strange but really interesting archaeological dig - If any of you know the program “Time Team (a favorite of ours) then this is ‘Troll Team”. Our neighbor came over to deliver some eggs (from the chickens we can see from our livingroom window) and she took one look at the table and backed out shaking her head -obviously not a fan of the strange and slightly worrying. Lovely eggs though.

We did have a day out. We try to take one day off a week and DO something apart from working. We are members of the National Trust, which allows us in to lots of Stately Homes, beautiful gardens, etc. and we’re determined to use our membership more often - so we’ve been exploring a bit. We chose Dunster Castle, which is in (aha) Dunster, near Exmoor and the North Devon-Somerset coast. It’s a beautiful, small town that those of you who watch Agatha Christie’s “Poirot” may recognize. Anyway -some pictures of Brian for you -even one that reminded us of Labyrinth. And palm trees -quite a surprise, considering it’s Exmoor (we do have them on the South Coast -hence the name “English Riviera”).




Here is the sketch of the week. We all know that children shouldn’t stick things in their ears - but that doesn’t seem to apply to Froudian creatures.

And some more nice Highland cows. I’m only showing you because I like them so much.


The sun just came out! This is quite an event. We haven’t seen it in a long time. Actually not seeing it makes having to stay in doors and work a bit easier -but, now that it’s here, I think I’ll take advantage of it and go for a walk with Elfie.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Siren Song of the Studio

Another week is ending and Brian and I have been working every day on the troll book. There are so many advantages to working at home but I think the biggest disadvantage is never really being able to walk away from work. The siren song of the studio is SO seductive (say that fast) and no matter where in the house we are, we can both hear it calling from our respective studios day and night. “Just one more bit of painting - just another adjustment on a costume” - and worst of all “-just one more look on the computer!” 

When the weather permits, we take the car and drive out to the moor in the evening with Elfie (the dog) and just walk. It’s just about the only time that the call of the studio is silent. Having said that -we usually go right back and use what we’ve just seen and experienced in what ever piece it is we’re working on. I’m not complaining (no, really I’m not), I love being able to wander in to the studio at any time and pick up from where I left off earlier, without having to think about getting there or making time for it.

After talking about the spotted ponies I wanted to photograph, and not finding them again, I’ve been driving around, looking for interesting things to show you all. I went out by myself on a very misty early evening a few days ago and came across a herd of beautiful brown, shaggy, long horned cows. They just emerged from the mist at the side of the road. It’s always quite eerie to see animals walking through the mist. There are sheep everywhere too, but this one was nice enough to stand still while I took a photo from my car window - just before I almost drove into a stone wall as I was looking at the sheep. I did eventually find the spotted ponies again, but it was very late at night as I was returning from our monthly Faerie Godmothers evening in Chagford. It was far too dark to take photos of the ponies but at least now I know they DO exist.

If any of you remember a “Faerie Magazine” issue a few years ago that had six faery godmothers from Chagford in it - well, that’s us. We get together monthly to talk, eat, catch up on each other’s lives and send out healing energy. I highly recommend it! Every once in a while Brian gets to be an honorary faery godmother too -but then, he IS special!
Here’s a photo of Brian, taken this week when we went walking in the beautiful gardens of a stately home near us. The trees were absolutely enormous and the trunks beautifully twisted. They reminded me of the whomping willow from Harry Potter.

Brian took his troll sketchbook back to work from so I couldn’t steal a sketch from it this week. I scanned this drawing that I have pinned up near my computer instead. I’m never quite sure if this little creature is wearing a bathrobe and slippers or a trench coat. I’m inclined to think it’s a trench coat. Perhaps this is the Philip Marlowe of the faery world. I used to think he was the embodiment of my depression, (not Philip Marlow - this creature) but really - he’s much too cheerful (or perhaps I’m just not depressed). I now think of him as the faery detective. I haven’t actually asked Brian who he is. He’s probably something completely different, but I’ll just keep my illusions!
That’s it. Done. Here’s one more photo of Elfie sitting on a chair in our kitchen. He never sits on his haunches - he sits on his bottom with his legs stretched out in front. Cute but strange -but then what else would you expect from our household.