Thursday, 2 June 2011

Cushie-dous an a keekin-gless

  These days have been for strolling sunny pathways and picnic lunches on trees uprooted in the recent gales.  I've been baking bread, eating marzipan in the churchyard, and taking trips to the art gallery timed to beat cloudbursts.  A pair of old polyurethane ink rollers turned to an orange puddle on the window ledge, but they were in such bad shape already that it didn't matter and the colour of the mess was secretly a delight. 

  A couple of weeks ago I was commissioned to illustrate a lovely Doric language story called 'The Last Een' by Linda Smith.  It was this year's winner of the Toulmin Prize, an annual literary competition in the North East of Scotland.  Not being from Scotland, it's always interesting for me to puzzle my way through the Doric. I love finding words like watergaw (an incomplete rainbow), stammygaster (a great and sudden disappointment), and shargar (a stunted person).  (The title of this post would be 'Wood Pigeons and a Mirror' in English.) The story and my illustration can be found in this month's edition of Leopard Magazine.

   Many families of herring gulls have been nesting in the chimneys across the street for the past while.  And yesterday, drawing by the window, I looked up to see that one family were nudging along a new chick as it wobbled up and down the roof tiles.  While it hasn't been helping me to concentrate on the things I should be working on, it's lovely watching the little guy sticking out his wings for balance and trying to run up the rooftop, or flopping exhausted on its belly and falling asleep before it can renew its efforts to climb upwards.  Meal times have been exciting and noisy spectacles, attracting extra gulls, and making it difficult to talk on the phone. 

   Oh ho, who can believe it's June already?


  1. Great illustration - and wonderful words! I, too, would be very distracted by the gull family.... I have a chickadee pair nesting in a birdhouse close to my studio, watching them go in and out, in and out is enough distraction!
    Happy June!

  2. I recognized your work instantly. I love it. 9 birds and 9 faces, faces like numbers on a clock, around the face looking in the mirror, 9 is the number of change and time and reflection change us, movement is brought by the birds in a scene that looks motionless. She will dance :-)

  3. Congrats on your commission Jodie I'm looking forward to following your link your illustration has me all curious - even more so after reading what Stille Linde says.

    How about that little chick, some have a hard start to life but then they have to be tough to withstand those seas and winds. Blends in well with the slate roof*!*

  4. Thanks, you three!

    Valerianna, lucky you! Chickadees are so charming and I love their little bird chants, I'd no doubt be distracted too.

    Barbara, Thank you! My husband was laughing too saying that I even managed to sneak a giantess in somehow. It's always fun to illustrate a story by someone else, because it is a sort of meeting between two peoples' imaginations. I hope the writer liked it.

    I am hoping they will get the story online soon... so far only the May issue of the magazine is online, and the story I illustrated is in the June/July edition. Oh well. Maybe they wait until the print edition is no longer in the newsstands?

    The chick is already getting so much bigger. I am sure it is growing faster than the drawing I've been working on! It's much better at walking around now too... so I'm sure he'll be a hardy fellow one day.

  5. That's a beautiful illustration!! I love the words you mention too, especially watergaw. I want to find out more about Doric now! I hope the chick is doing well.