SOMETIMES my paintings take new and unplanned directions, either because I am deliberately trying to break my own rules, or because the project calls for me to step beyond them, as in this case.
These watercolours were done as part of a collaborative project between myself and my good friend, the Scotland-based poet Em Strang. Her poems are wonderful - wild and gentle, quiet and frightening, and I was delighted with the prospect of making images to go with them.
But here's the thing - illustrating poetry is really hard! A poem, when it really works and has power, makes its images in your imaginal realm, where they can flit and morph as such images should, just beyond the reach of gravity and the crushing weight of collapsing the wave function. Knowing this, it was very hard not to step on the toes of the poem, and to illustrate but still leave space for the unsaid.
Thus I painted outside of my usual edged style, losing myself to the chance happenings in the watercolour, trying to find the hook in each poem that caught my heart.
I ended up with strange images, some of which I really like, and some of which I'm less sure about, but all of which feel very outside my comfort zone.
Having talked it over with Em, we both agreed that these images weren't quite what the poems were asking for, though neither of us know quite what are.
I shall try again one of these days, perhaps, to track down that elusive animal in these beautiful poems, and record its pawprint in paint.
Meanwhile, I continue my learning of what it is to really illustrate words, making companion images that work alongside the poem or story, but do not duplicate it or reveal a mystery that needs to stay hidden.
For now, I have put these little paintings up for sale, along with a few other original paintings and drawings in my shop.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about these images, and about your experiences - both success and failure - of illustrating poetry.
And do sniff out the wonderful work of Em Strang, as well as on her blog, she has a few pieces of writing and poetry at the Dark Mountain site and in the books. In October she will also be running a weekend writing workshop in Cumbria with Susan Richardson ~ Writing Root & Claw.