We are snowed here at Toad Hall. It is a lovely sort of prison of cool blue waters and icy bright snowscapes. When one hasn't anywhere to go, such days are appreciated.
I love the long shadows on days like this. Everything is so much more brilliant. The sound of the world is quite muffled and one can feel the only person in the world out here at the end of a point snowbound.
I keep myself company with animals. This has always been the case. Two aged dogs and an ageless cat people my day. Yesterday we added a new friend: a tiny silkie chick freshly hatched in my little incubator.Our little chi, Monty, has always loved new chicks. It is true this time and he is alwasy so careful with the little fellows. He sits very quiet and licks them. This year I am hatching bantams which are 1/4 the size of traditional chickens so he will hopefully remain friendly with them as they will be rather close in size.
I wanted to start this Summer's chickens earlier so I ordered my various fertile eggs before Christmas to be shipped to me. It is always risky business hatching eggs shipped through the mail, but I have done it often and with mixed success. This time, however, it was foolish to order during the busiest time for the post. What should have taken two days to arrive took over a week. And that this little darling (one of 24 eggs set) manage to hatch makes her rather an amazing chick.
I am not sure what to name her yet (hoping she is a "her") but somehow I feel like the name of a Goddess or powerful being should be her moniker. Nike is the Goddess of strength, but for obvious reasons do not want our new little friend to be named after a famous trainer/sneaker/tennis shoe.
The Roman equivalent of Nike is Victoria. I think this shall be her name. I love it for its English usage but also that in the Roman mythology she was a symbol of Victory over death, which this little miracle seems to be. I have another dozen eggs that are 4 days behind so I am hoping that from that clutch we get at least one more chick to keep poor Victoria company. My goal was 6 bantam hens for the Summer.
Being snowed in today and pondering the white beauty out my studio window lead to today's artwork. We see many animals romp about outside, though never polar bears and penguins. One takes artisitc license, certainly and I just had these two little fellows in my mind this morning. I had the idea to do a silly image that would be adorable on a t-shirt or bag. I hope you like it.
Have a lovely day enjoying whatever weather you have in your part of the world.
Sunrise at Toad Hall is a glorious event. One does not become bored with it. There are days of rain or gray mist when it is blurred like a hand run across a chalk drawing. In the Summer it can be so brilliant it cuts straight into your soul. At this time of the year, on a sunny cool Winter morning like today, it can be like a drop of pure paint pigment on raw shot silk.
It is little wonder I am a home body when one is lucky enough to rise and set their days on the sea. Yet, I am always a solitary creature. Though my days are often mixed with animals between Puss and the dogs, the endless birds that visit here and the occasional chicken I am want to keep.
When I began to return to drawing and art more consistently I started to feel the rhythms even more of this storied place. The rise of the sun, the smell of the bright sharp sea and cry of the gull is punctuated by the strong first rush of the coffee brewing. The dogs go out, sniff and rut about, trying to decipher the movements of the night inhabitants of fox, coyote, raccoon. Puss, in her feline way, strolls about and perches in the image of French Belle Epoch posters, making art at every resting place. The wave hits the shore. The bird cries out. The breeze makes a song of the dried leaves and tangle of now bald bittersweet, long stripped of its Autumnal jewels.
The coffee is done. The final perk has called us all back in. Puss, more dog like in her obedience than her canine companions, rounds us all up and in we go. The dark rich coffee is poured into the cup. One can't help but hold up the cup to catch the steam as it rises above the windows, the sea and cloud and sky showing off in the background. To the studio!
We quietly shuffle down the hall, after all we are early risers and must consider the slumber of others. At the end of the long hall awaits the studio, one the main bedroom of the house. I have made a sort of apartment down here. Much like the boudoir of the old French, where one could gather friends for intimate talks on soft sofas drinking rich chocolate and discussing politics or fashion with just the hint of a bed behind the screen. I have no such gatherings. It is Puss and dogs and me. The coffee cools on the desk, I draw away with occasional dreaming out the large window. Puss is perched and silhouetted in the sun on my desk. The constant companion to my creation.
When the art has been done and the drawings spent, I take my walk. The paths of wood and shore, salt marsh and open field round here lend themselves to a good ramble. I am alone now, no animals save those wild beasts in the tree and field. The quiet hush of solitude punctuated with the white breath in and out and woven with bird song. I often stop at the beach which, in the Summer, is dotted with friends and neighbours little sailboats. Here the yacht club meets. The terminology has the grandeur used mostly tongue in cheek by we of the point. There is no clubhouse merely a beautiful strip of sandy beach with a wooded clearing perched on top bounded by an open field. Pic-nics on lawn or sand, or seeking shade under the trees are norm in the Summer here.
Now, empty of its boats, save a few upturned and pulled far from the hungry sea, it is all mine. The gulls and waves my companions as I have a perusal of the days "treasures". The cool sand sifts through my fingers. The soft round turn of the stone, and a bit of sea glass might be found. Shells, endless shells, pile and collect up. They are indeed treasure to me, and are a continuing changing art installation on the window sills, counters and open spaces of Toad Hall. The finest treasures found free among the drying seaweed.
Back home there are books and sofas upon which to lounge, windowsills to place plant cuttings to dream of the coming Spring. There are even fresh tomatoes from the plant brought in before the first frost, happily giving up its fruit and growing on in the sun of Toad Hall's tall windows considering it an eternal June.
A day in the life. Boring for most, I am certain, but full enough for me. Yes, for a home body introvert, Toad Hall sets the rhythm and tone of one's day. In many ways we are kindred spirits, a bit weathered, often cool and quiet, but happy to share their gifts to those willing to make the trip down the long tangled road.
The sun sets and another day is done. A quiet life is a good life.
This is the lotus pattern of Catherine Holm design enamelware. It is a mid-century dream. The lotus pattern was not actually designed by Grete Kittleson for the company. Catherine was said to not really be a fan of the design, but it is the most popular pattern in the Catherine Holm enamelware line.
How I came to know of it and now love it is when we inherited Toad Hall. When it was our turn to live here the house had been sitting empty for about 6 months and my hubby's Mother had been feeding the cat, (now our dear Puss) out of one of these bowls.
When I first saw the bowl I gasped at its simple beauty. These are the two bowls here in the mustard yellow colour. They are heavy enamelware. They have the feel of the lovely vintage farm sinks or an old bathtub and they really ware well. My MIL was using them to feed the cat because she would set them outside and they just happened to be in a cabinet here and she thought they were garbage.
The truth of course is that because they are so durable they didn't mind being out in the cold rain and snow for months at a time full of catfood and knocked about by racoons and other wildlife. I know am very proud of them.
I collect a few patterns of mid century china. They are all practical and were not considered very up market in their day, but I love them none the less. My latest china pattern I have collected is the Swiss Chalet Alpine pattern.
The blue in it goes well with the vintage blue in my other dishes and it has a lovely avocado green in it as well. These leads me to my coveted colours for any future Catherine Holm Lotus enamalware: the blues and greens. This coffee pot is dreamy and I really think the blue and green go quite well together and bring in the colours of the Swiss Chalet.
This all inspired today's artwork. I was thinking of animals with bowls, after yesterdays drawing of a hedgehog with a pyrex Butterprint bowl, and considered my new love of the lotus pattern. I happen to love French Bulldogs and if I were to get another dog, I think it would be one of them. And thus was born today's drawing. I saved it both with a white and a blue background. I might have to order it myself for my kitchen as a clock or a pillow for my living room.
Having recently begun to do artwork every day has made me miss blog posts. It has felt good to return to a daily schedule. I think, therefore, that I shall park my daily thoughts and work and musings here.
This morning I started out the new year with my morning walk. I am lucky in our surroundings, as it is a very quiet private area that is mainly used in the Summer. The houses of our neighbours dot the landscape but are mainly empty this time of year.
It was bright and sharp and cool this morning. The kind of morning that you see your breath and don a hat and gloves, but feel the warmth of the sun on you as you meander along My walk is a wander through wood and field and often finishes on the shore. I took our beach back home. Here you can see the old brick path and our neighbours dock and as you turn onto the beach back to our place you can see our old Boat house peeking out of the trees.
My daily scribble today is a hedgehog in a vintage bowl. On my walk I was thinking how lovely it would be if we were lucky to have native hedgehogs as does England. I also collect the pyrex butterprint pattern and thus was born today's drawing.
I lived as a 1950s housewife for three years. Click below to see that project.
Donna Davis is a painter and printmaker living by the sea. Her work deals with women, history, the seashore, and moments in time. Follow along to see the process behind the product.