Wednesday, 5 January 2011

When Icicles Hang by the Wall....

 Sugarloaf from Bailey Park, Abergavenny,
Christmas Eve, 2010

We’re having an unusually cold winter here in the UK with the mercury hitting record night-time lows before Christmas and far more snow than we’re used to. Apparently it was the coldest December in Wales for 100 years - but also unusually sunny and dry.

Even though the snow in Abergavenny is now confined to the mountain tops and large heaps around the edges of the main car park, the weather remains cold and miserable as we seem stuck underneath the motionless grey skies of anticyclonic gloom. December’s sunshiny ‘deep and crisp and even’ seems to have given way to January’s bleak ‘earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone’.

Shakespeare’s description of winter – ‘When icicles hang by the wall...’ has also been passing through my mind. And when I was leafing through my artwork from school a couple of months ago, I noticed that one of the poems/stories we had been asked to illustrate was that very poem!

So here it is:

WHEN icicles hang by the wall,
    And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
    And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
To-who!—a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

 ...and my teenage illustration of it!

The icicles in my painting aren’t exactly hanging ‘by the wall’ and I don’t understand where the light source for the shepherd’s shadow is coming from - the lantern doesn't seem to be giving out enough light for such deep shadows. But I think if I were to paint this subject today, I’d use an almost identical composition though maybe I would try to include the owl and even Greasy Joan, keeling her pot (if I knew what 'keeling' was!). I would also probably avoid quite using quite so much grey.

But on the other hand, there does seem to be an awful lot of ‘greyness’ about the weather just at the moment and I find it quite depressing! I much prefer snow and sunshine!

I took the photo above on Christmas Eve at about midday, on my way back from last minute shopping. A few hours later, I returned to the park with my son, who had just arrived from York and fancied some fish and chips - the one type of food that I didn't have in house! This time, as we crossed the park on the way to the chipshop, the setting sun was lighting up Sugarloaf so that it looked as if it was on fire - a spectacular sight that I've never seen before! And would you believe, for once I didn't have my camera with me! My son took a few shots with his mobile phone but without a zoom, the mountain looked like a very distant pink dot! I rushed home and fetched my camera - but too late! The sun had almost set and everything looked a very dull pinkish grey -

So perhaps I should make a New Year's Resolution to carry a camera with me at all times  - just in case!



Betsy Grant said...

I love your teenage illustration!

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Betsy. I wish I had time to try it again and see how it would differ!

Country Mouse Studio said...

I love the illustration just the way it is. We have been getting a miserable winter too.
When we moved here to the mtns we were told that light was called alpenglow. It sure made a beautiful photo. You should paint it :O)

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Carole - I'll add your suggestion to my ever-growing list of 'things to paint'!

Jean said...

We also are experiencing a cold and much early winter. Dang...we even had a white Christmas. The first in 100 years!!!
I also love your painting. Glad I'm not the only one that doesn't always understand the words of Shakespeare.:)
Ooo...I love the pink light on the mountain.

Mary Anne Cary said...

Thanks for your kind comments on my blog. I love your photos. Looks cold, but beautiful, and the pink is stunning even if it's a small amount. Awesome painting you held onto, brings back a special time in your life for you to enjoy1

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Jean - pleased to see you again and thank you for your comments. I'm amazed that you had a White Christmas!

I'll see if the internet can tell me what 'keeling' a pot means!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Mary Anne - thank you for stopping by!

Yes, the painting was done at school before I started having any doubts about my ability to paint. That came when I got my second lowest mark in Art at 'O' level, aged 16, when we had to draw balls of string and such like that didn't interest me at all!