Saturday, 25 February 2017

Painters and poets and their subject matter

'The Thought-Fox' by Ted Hughes: a close reading
Article by:
Neil Roberts

Literature 1950–2000

Published in Ted Hughes’s first collection, ‘The Thought Fox’ is a poem as much about poetic inspiration as it is a vivid impression of the animal. Here, Professor Neil Roberts explores the poem’s use of allusion, imagery and rhyme.

‘The Thought-Fox’ has a special place among Ted Hughes’s early poems. Although it wasn’t the first poem in The Hawk in the Rain (Hughes’s first collection, published in 1957) he later moved it to first place in his Selected Poems. It is at least partly a poem about writing poetry – one might say about poetic inspiration. In his collection of radio talks, Poetry in the Making, he wrote that he composed it after writing nothing for a year. So we might see the fox as representing the renewal of the poet’s imaginative powers. We should be cautious about accepting everything Hughes writes about his own poetry. In Poetry in the Making he also writes that ‘The Thought-Fox’ was ‘the first “animal” poem I ever wrote’.[1] It wasn’t: he had written and published ‘The Jaguar’ the previous year. But this does show us that he thought the poem was especially important. When he read it in public he used to introduce it by telling the audience about a dream he had had two years before writing it, when studying English at Cambridge. He believed that academic study of literature stifled his creativity, and in the dream a burnt and bloody fox, the size of a man with human hands, entered his room, put a bloody hand on the essay he was writing and said, ‘Stop this – you are destroying us.’[2] When he wrote ‘The Thought-Fox’, he may not have been thinking about this dream at all, but it is significant that he later made the connection.

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For me at least, poets describe their angst so much more easily in words than a painter can ..this conversation above about Ted Hughes Thought Fox is an example of that. How we take the initial words as a descriptor of the Fox but in reality we are really reading about Ted's angst and ultimate joy at creating...despite the turgidity of academic study...mmm does an art degree liberate you into creativity or stifle it...Many years ago now maybe 20 or so I did a sequence of paintings based around Ted Hughes work and its something that I am keen to return to....not so much as an illustration more as a commentary on my own work as it takes place.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Painting of North Iceland Flatey Husavik and the schooner Haukur by Rob Miller

North Iceland Flatey, Husavik and the small schooner Haukur
Oil on Canvas by Rob Miller

Its taken me over a year to get from the stage of small watercolours to an oil painting of the jetty at Flatey, Husavik a small island of the North Coast of |Iceland. We sailed there as part of my birthday celebrations to do some bird and whale watching on the small schooner Haukur. Haukur is part of the North Sailing Fleet based at Husavik. The views from Flatey were exceptionally wild I spent a lot of time trying to sketch and photograph the experience. Ive already blogged these but will be uploading an Iceland experience page onto my web site 

Flatey as the name suggests is a very flat Island bedecked with puffins and many other seabirds, It is a place of cultural heritage with an ex monastery and an ex library.  The views across the sea of  the iced mountains of the main land stretched on forever. Of legend is the spot where an Icelander was last eaten by a polar bear which are no longer at the top of the islands food chain due to the receding ice thanks to global warming. The island is only inhabited in the summer months except for a small band in the deep winter. The old houses are fascinating, restored in many cases.  More to follow.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Paintings of Innominate Tarn Haystacks by Rob Miller RSA

Innominate Tarn  autumn aprox 24 x30 cm,
Watercolour available from G1 Gallery Windermere

Innominate Tarn
oil on canvas 30x30cm

This location is just an hour away from Lingholm over the Newlands Pass  . I've painted this beautiful and wild location a number of times and every time its a different place the light changing constantly, its not to far to take a small pochade box with oils  and make a day of it. There are plenty of vantage points and views along the path from Buttermere. The tarn itself or should I say collection of small tarns were made famous by the Blackburn Fellwalker and amazing Lake District Guide writer  Wainwright  who wrote that Innominate was the place where his ashes should be scattered. Ive pasted below a part of a walk by Tarns Walks which gives a great route description along with photographs. I have some prints of the tarn available on my website and more prints on my Lingholm Artist Residency Site

Tarn Walks Innominate Tarn Haystacks

Distance/time: 12.4km/7.7 miles. Allow 3.5-4.5 hours
Start: Lake District National Park pay and display car park behind the Bridge Hotel in Buttermere (grid reference NY174169)
Ordnance Survey Map: OL4 The English Lakes North-western area
After the walk: Croft House CafĂ©, Bridge Hotel and Fish Hotel, all in Buttermere
What to expect: Lakeshore paths, stony bridleway, rocky clamber, fell paths
Walk outline
The easy walk beside Buttermere makes for a gentle warm-up for the climb on to Haystacks. After ascending to Scarth Gap, the route clambers up the fell’s rocky western ridge. On the summit, a well-used path keeps to the northern edge of the fell, passing Innominate Tarn along the way. The descent uses a relatively quiet path on the southern side of Warnscale Beck and then returns via the lake.      

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A painting of the Isle of Jura Scotland.

Here is a painting from my new series of seascapes. This one is based on a moment remembered near Jura "Hebrides . Sea state Calm . light rain clearing force 1-2 variable. I first sailed this way with a group of friends some 20 years ago on a typical Scottish drizzle day. Enthralled by the view from the sea and the magic of the names which I had read as a kid in adventure books and later as a teenager in my Geology A level texts. 

Sailing was a different feeling than the one that I had on previous trips to the highlands when my focus and been purely on climbing and mountain walking. You can charter a yacht as a whole boat find your own skipper or simple book on board a yacht and lend a hand on the ropes if you feel in the mood, an amazing way to see the Hebrides is on board an old boat such as the classic  Eda Frandsen. There is  also a modern yacht charter   and a link to Jura Development as well as the nearest yacht club Tay Vallich..  

I'm hoping that the new series of paintings that Im doing reflect this as well as the storms that we experienced later including a ripped mainsail, huge Scottish Trawlers and being stranded ashore.