Our friend Andrea from N. Carolina is here at Ty Isaf for a long-planned poetry writing retreat. When Andrea opened her suitcase she presented me with this surprise…
…the My Dream Farm coffee beaker!
Yes, our clever friends Anita and Andrea have plundered the Artlog for images to decorate a nifty pair of coffee beakers for us, and now we’re the proud owners not only of a My Dream Farm beaker, but a Ghost of an Ox Visits the Broken Plough beaker too. But why stop at these? This enterprise has been inspirational to me regarding potential decorative uses for my paintings, something that had never crossed my mind before. We could have a range of My Dream Farm bed linen. It would make a great duvet cover. And then there could be a My Dream Farm bath towel and matching shower curtain.
I have seen the future of merchandising, and it’s red and blue!
(You do know I’m kidding don’t you? But I love the beakers.)
After yesterday’s long dash from Cardiff to Machynlleth to deliver My Dream Farm, my driving seat adjusted to ‘minimum leg-space’ in order to accommodate the exceedingly large painting crammed in behind me, I was in need of a bit of unwinding with the aid of a cappuccino. (Haven’t been drinking much coffee of late.) So here, as a final farewell to the ‘My Dream Farm posts’ on the Artlog, is the longed-for moment of calm once the painting had been safely deposited at MoMA Wales and hung. The photograph was taken outside the Quarry Café at Machynlleth. I’m behind the camera. There were just the two of us. My companion looks as whacked at the end of the day as I did, though he hadn’t done any of the driving!
Art for Children opens at noon today, and so I must go and get myself ready for that. Jack will be tethered in the little courtyard to one side of MoMA Wales, where if past experience is anything to go by, he’ll reap the benefits of being where people step outside in good weather with plates of the sandwiches always produced at these events. We keep a regular eye on him, but he’s usually surrounded by admirers proffering him tidbits! And afterwards should they go up into the gallery and look very hard at my painting, they’ll find Jack’s likeness… albeit very small… presiding over the comings and goings of My Dream Farm!
… at last!!!
My thanks to Philippa Robbins for taking the photograph.
Well, it’s done. The goats, flocks of sheep, ducks, doves, horse and dog have been added to the painting. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Peter is away and won’t be able to photograph it with the tripod camera before it goes to the exhibition tomorrow, and so a full-size image for the Artlog must wait a while yet. (I can take details of the painting that are good enough for posting here, but my pocket digital can’t make an adequate image of the entire composition without distorting it.)
So, here are the last images of My Dream Farm that you’ll see on the Artlog until the exhibition comes down next year, at which point Peter will take a good photograph of it and I’ll be able to post an image showing the entire painting.
Doves, ducks, a horse and two goats join the menagerie…
…not forgetting Jack!
Oh my but this is a race to the finishing line. Peter hung the exhibition on Friday, leaving a space for the still unfinished My Dream Farm. If all goes according to plan the frame for the painting, made by my regular framer in Cardiff, will be delivered here on Tuesday. That gives me until Wednesday at the latest to finish the painting, get it into the frame, delivered to the gallery and hopefully, hung! This is cutting things very fine. No room for mistakes. How do I get myself into such scrapes?
It’s probably evident to everyone that the hilltop town of My Dream Farm is based on one of those German toy towns, very simple and made of wood, that have been the playthings of children since time immemorial. You can purchase them still… or their descendants… neatly bagged in mesh and redolent of package-stuffed stockings at Christmas. I have one myself somewhere but couldn’t for the life of me find it in order to model for the hill-top town in the painting, and so the one you see in it is partially remembered and partially re-imagined.
But while looking for the elusive toy, I dug out this rather spiffy version from the same tradition, though with the usual scattering of houses padded out with the more surprising contemporary elements of garages, factory and warehouse blocks, cars and even caravans. It was, as these things so often are, a gift that came at Christmas, packed in a neat canvas bag and given to me by Peter’s brother Martin, his wife Christine and their daughter Megan. Isn’t it splendid?
Photographed on the radiant blue windowsill of our newly decorated bedroom!
I love the patterns you can make with this type of toy.
Detail, photographed this time on a piece of red card.
And finally, a couple of images of the ‘Goose Girl’ toy based on the principle of extending tongs. Close the tongs and the geese flock around the girl. Open them and they race ahead of her. This was the inspiration for the goose girl in My Dream Farm, and the bee skep-like tree was the model for the apple trees in the orchard.
I imagine that by now the overall scheme of the painting is beginning to be revealed to you from the various details posted here. Still a long way to go yet, but at least now I can see how all this is going to look when complete, which is more than I was able to do when I started out on it. My goal was to make a landscape that could take any viewer on a journey through it, and I feel on that level I’ve succeeded. While I knew it was always going to have the quality of an illustration, I wanted it to be painterly too, though I think the panel will need to be viewed in person for the brushwork to be enjoyed.
But most of all, I wanted to produce something that I would have loved as a child, and in My Dream Farm I think I probably have. I know for a fact that I would have lost myself in the lanes, farm buildings, town, orchard and woodlands of this painting.
Next to be done, the farm barn, just creeping into the detail below.
Yesterday you may have noticed a laggardly bird at the bend in the lane trailing behind the others, and another even further behind, just visible over the parapet of the bridge. Today the flock has got even more out of control and one naughty goose has escaped all unnoticed into the cover of the apple orchard. The goose girl is clearly not concentrating, probably daydreaming of her swain instead of taking her charges in hand. Up in the river a little boat tugs on its tether in the turbulent water. Is it about to be swept away, perhaps taking the old jetty with it?
This painting is taking on a life of its own!
Our neighbours’ geese very kindly agreed to pose for the flock in the painting. They were most obliging and didn’t hiss at all, even when Jack took liberties, cocking his leg on the goose house!
Making progress here. The landscape begins to be populated.