Come into the Garden, Maude…

In response to Shafali’s Caricature carnival over at I have created a little tale…..

Maude paused, wiping the sweat from her forehead, her brightly coloured beaded earrrings jingling wildly. She leaned on her spade and smiled with satisfaction.

“You’ll never make a decent gardener if you don’t put in the spade work,” he’d said, his red moon-face pushed close to hers. “And never if you dress like that! Look at those stupid earrings!”

  She wondered how she’d ever found him attractive; perhaps it was his parsnips….

Well, look at me now, she thought. He should never have told me about the secrets to growing award-winning asparagus.

   “Folk-lore,” he’d declared pompously, “dictates that the best asparagus beds must have a body buried in them. Feed the roots properly. But you, you’ll never grow anything but more fat.”

  His sneering voice seemed to touch something primeval inside and that was when she discovered the true meaning of spadework. A single smart blow to the back of his balding head had ended those sneering put-downs forever, and the spade was very useful for digging the new asparagus bed. It had taken a while; perhaps she should have got him to do that before she’d been creative with her spade. Getting him into the hole wasn’t easy either; he was hardly a lightweight himself.

“Pot, kettle, black,” she’d muttered as she heaved him into the hole. It wasn’t quite deep enough but that foot peering out would soon be stripped to the bone by ants and then the corpse would settle deeper into the bed.

In any case, the newly planted asparagus spears would soon hide any untoward sights, but Maude’s eyes were firmly planted on the prospect of the bright red rosette at the Horticultural Show later that year, and she turned away before she saw the muddy toes twitch and wriggle and a cascade of soil rolled down the mound……

Working instinctively

I like to draw and paint a bit; sketch this and that, dabble with clays and so on.  I’ve put a few things on here and also at cafe crem but I’m fully aware I’m not much good in the grand scheme of things. I’m often too aware of an image in my head of what I want the finished creation to look like to actually focus on what I am doing and just draw.

The last couple of days I have done a few drawings that have contained rather more than I expected. The first I was sitting in the garden, mostly alone but for the bees and for a short while with my daughter. I let myself work without much conscious thought at all, making instinctive decisions rather than logical ones. I was pretty stunned by the results. The picture drew itself. Then yesterday I was out on an excursion with students to a local stately home and while sitting outside the Maze, I started drawing the trees and shrubs I could see from where I sat. I worked differently; using logical though rather than instinct. I didn’t bother finishing the picture. A little later, I found a rather lovely bench in a kind of pergola affair and there I started again, this time using a charcoal pencil and letting the pencil have a life of its own. The results were again substantially better than when I took control. Looking at the picture now, I can see where my conscious mind woke up and took control and said, “hang on a minute, that’s a wall there; draw it like a wall. That’s a yew tree; make it look like a few tree,” and where my hand and my eye just got on with sketching.

I’ve learned something quite useful here; my conscious mind can be a bit of a fussbudget and a control freak.

I wonder if I can manage to find it something useful to do (like my tax returns) while I get back into some writing, or whether I need it fully alert and active when I write fiction.

This merits an experiment…

Tree Mandala



I had a time some years back where I experimented drawing mandalas; well, sort of mandalas. I would meditate for a while and then begin to draw. I’m not an artist at all, and doing these drawings was about freeing something inside me, rather than trying to capture an image or scene. I’d been thinking about trees, obviously, and their place in my life, when I did this mandala.

I used the same design to paint on a medicine shield that now hangs in my study.  I know it doesn’t look like any tree on earth, but then it wasn’t intended to!