Saturday, 26 March 2011

Monday, 21 March 2011

Cornish Folklore

I have begun a new sketchbook project that is based on the myths and folklore of Cornwall. The wind has carried many tales and retellings of ancient history. I aim to visit standing stones, haunted coves and fairy dells, wild woodlands and sea-lashed cliffs. I will document my findings, collect fallen treasures and work on bigger and more detailed paintings.


Pixies (piskies) are mythical creatures of folklore. They are considered to dwell in the areas around Devon and Cornwall, usually depicted with red hair and pointed ears, wearing layers of green and a pointy hat. Some say that the origin of the name pixie comes from the Swedish dialect pyske meaning wee little fairy. Others have claimed that due to the Cornish origin of the piskies the term is possibly Celtic. Pixie origins have also been connected to Puck; a mythological creature sometimes described as a fairy.

They are said to be helpful to humans, sometimes lending a hand with the housework. However, pixies are not completely harmless as they have a reputation for misleading travellers (lured astray / pixy-led), the remedy is to turn your coat inside out.
Pixies are said to be uncommonly beautiful; some have distorted and strange appearances, some have goat-like features and some are coltish in character.

Pixies are frequently confused with fairies, sprites and other creatures of the fae, but they are quite different. Most can be described as having heart shaped or angular faces, strong lines and a short stocky build (earth pixies). Air and water pixies are more slender and ephemeral. They range from child sized to a small tree dwelling size and are often ill-clothed or naked. They like to dance in the moonlight amongst the standing stones. A fairy ring of pixies, grinning from ear to ear under the haunting moon.

Excerpts from nature diary:

March 15th
Country footpaths, sunlit fields, daffodils growing on hedges, the most perfect stream with wild overgrown branches, fungi, ivy and lichen, two ponies at a fence, forty two white ducks on a pond, goats and chickens, mud streaked pathways, swans building their nest on a remote island, steps leading up to the cliff, gorse and heather, rabbit burrows, sea gazing, a mermaid cove.

March 24th
The scent of the ocean, riverfront houses, a peaceful village with narrow roads, the winding river of Helford, gulls flying the azure skies, moored boats, hidden creeks and footpaths, fifty four arduous steps that reach miles of open fields, newly planted trees, bird song, longing for boat rides on calm water to observe whales and dolphins.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Wood Beyond The World

I call this place the wild wood, it is unruly and untamed. The trees sway and creak in the chill easterly breeze, the air is filled with strange voices, whisperings and foraging in the thicket.
After waiting expectantly for a goblin or wood sprite to appear, the raucous noise turns out to be a blackbird or song thrush scurrying in the undergrowth.
The forest floor is caked with dried mud and puddles of rain water, vines and ivy creep along tree bark and crisp browning leaves await the arrival of sunshine for nourishment.
An atmospheric stillness falls over the land and root tendrils snake around my feet as I follow the meandering pathway.
I step into the cave and the air shimmers. Silhouettes begin to form as I glide into a sylphlike ethereal veil; the otherworld.

Nature observations ~
A squirrel pauses at the foot of a tree to nibble on a nut uprooted from the soil of winter.
Horses graze in the pasture; a stallion and two adolescents.
Daffodils (Narcissus) scattered amongst the long grass, bowing their petaled heads.
A cluster of wild snowdrops hidden behind a fence.
The fluty song of a thrush as it trills happily from the bushes.
Leafy glades riddled with ancient mine shafts.
A vast pond full of water creatures; frogs, frogspawn, toads, eels, tiny fish.
Hazel catkins swaying in the wind and scattering golden pollen; a sign of spring.