Poetry Painting and Bees at John Clare Cottage

I can’t think of a much lovelier combination. My idea of heaven with some very nice homemade soup and cake thrown in. With all my UK workshops I plan for rain, but hope for sun and we had a bit of both but were able to spend a good part of the day outside in the pretty courtyard garden, bee spotting and sketching.

Sketching in the sun

A Common Carder bee in the garden, possibly Clare’s “russet commoner”

Thanks to all who came and made it such an enjoyable day.

It really is the most beautiful and contemplative space. We looked at Clare’s poem “Wild Bees”,  talked about the possible identities of the bees he so affectionately describes, found some obliging bees in amongst the aquilegias, raspberry flowers, dog roses and herbs and made sketches and flower studies.

I am in the middle of designing a illustrated version of the poem, so more of that and his observations of bees later. John Clare was a complex and much troubled man and his poetry varies enormously but I read that one of the most-used words in his poems is “joy”. It is his obvious joy in the natural world, the keenness of his observations and the simplicity of his language which make his work so appealing to me.

His own likings for work that “breathes of green fields and open sky” and for solitude make him endearing.

Would I have liked him? I am not sure.
But he tells of things that I have seen and felt, in words I could not use.
Say it for me John.

“Sweet solitude, what joy to be alone
In wild, wood-shady dell, to stay for hours.
Twould soften hearts if they were hard as stone
To see glad butterflies and smiling flowers.
Tis pleasant in these quiet lonely places,
Where not the voice of man our pleasure mars,
To see the little bees with coal black faces
Gathering sweets from little flowers like stars

by John Clare

A Bee Print and Buzz News

Did you think I had been neglecting my bees? 🙂 ….now would I?
While there has not been much of a buzz on the blog, in the background there is quite a bit going on. I am planning some more bee paintings for next year and will be doing more workshops, another residency at Nature in Art (whooppee!!!) some more exhibitions and talks etc, including a lovely one day workshop at John Clare’s Cottage on June 15th and the wonderful Festival of Bees in Louth, Thursday, 23 May 2013.

One very interesting weekend, first in the diary, will be with the British Beekeepers Association, the BBKA at their annual meeting. I shall be there with my BUZZ paintings and a couple of short drawing/painting workshops.
That will be Sat 13th April.  I will be posting lots more details on the blog as the events are finalised. So for the shows and talks I am preparing a few more prints, booklets, cards etc.

Here is a simple two plate lino print which I’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks.  I have just printed the first few which I will then develop a little more, with different backgrounds, papers and colours and other additions. The possibilities are really endless.

image       image

My lino print of “Waving Bee”,  my logo, printed on a background of a beehive and the word “BEE”.. Grey and Ochre on Blue Grey paper. Image 12 x 9.5 inches
One of some new bee images for next year’s shows.

Bees are few and far between now but my bee house is dry and safe and I am still seeing one or two bumble bees and honey bees.
I am hoping for a good, kind, winter for the hibernating bumble bee queens and for the baby woolcarders and masons, who I hope will safely snooze the chilly months away, tucked up in their leafy, woolly nests.