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The calligraphy of hares, and other ways to fill a quiet weekend

February 26, 2011

After a day in Edinburgh yesterday, I am very happy to be having a quiet family weekend at home. Since my head injury, my natural hermit tendencies have definitely grown stronger. (That’s my excuse, anyway.) While it’s lovely to meet up with friends at a party or to enjoy the faster pace of the city for a day, I feel quite drained afterwards and need a period of quiet to restore my equilibrium. So I am lucky that this is what we have had today.

On our morning walk, we took a new route through fields which are full of livestock for most of the rest of the year. It was refreshing to see familiar landscapes from a different perspective, and to ‘meet’ some trees which we normally see only from a distance.

In a crevice of a fallen oak, we found vigorous baby nettles already starting to grow (boo!),

(my son is pointing to the moss - the nettles are bottom left)

but on the way home again, we found that the daffodil shoots have, well, shot in the past forty-eight hours of mild weather (hurray!).

Back at home, my younger son and I both love to spend an hour drawing and painting at the kitchen table.

I must admit that one of the great attractions of art, for me, is the materials. A mug full of pencils and paint brushes, a new sketch-book, a box of paints: they are things of such tingling beauty and promise, don’t you think? My favourite item of all is my battered tin box of Reeves watercolours which once belonged to my Dad. He passed it on to me when I was still a child, and I have loved using it ever since.

Even my son’s new plastic box of children’s paints, though, is pleasing in its simplicity. I love these luscious discs of solid colour. I wonder which of these boxes appeals most to you?

While my son drew a house with a beautiful garden (roses on one side, carrots on the other), I returned to my exploration of hares. I’ve had them on the brain for a while. (No jokes about being hare-brained, thank you…) Perhaps it is to do with the coming of spring. They keep appearing in my sketch book, sitting watchfully,

or running under a crescent moon. I have a lot of work to do on getting the anatomy right, though. This running hare looks more like a deer; probably because I have far more opportunities to watch deer in the wild than hares.

In my slightly obsessive drawing of them, though, I discovered how easily their leaping form can be simplified to a couple of swift brush strokes. Compare the more realistic versions at the right of this page (below) to the increasingly pared-down ones on the left.

My final attempts were nothing but a streak of colour.

It made me wonder if there is – or ever was – a language in which ‘hare’ or perhaps ‘leap’ were represented by a two-stroke hieroglyph like this. I can easily imagine it.

What else have we been up to? Well, after lunch, while Daddy and the dogs had a snooze in front of the rugby, my son and I made brownies. This is a job he loves, for obvious reasons, all of them involving chocolate.

Later in the afternoon, then, once we had all had another play outside and so on, we were able to treat ourselves to a particularly scrumptious tea by the fire.

It may not make the headlines, but a day full of quiet contentment like this is one for which to be very grateful. I hope that you are having a lovely weekend too, however you spend it.

See also: March: haresHappiness is cake in the garden

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. maryz permalink
    February 26, 2011 7:26 pm

    Your “spare” watercolor depictions of the hares are wonderful!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 26, 2011 11:37 pm

      Thank you very much, Mary!

  2. February 26, 2011 7:55 pm

    This sounds – and looks – like the most perfect day. There is much to be said for taking time to restore the equilibrium, as we both know.

    The photo of the Reeves water colour tin brought back so many memories of my childhood and my paintbox and set me wondering what had happened to it. Discarded, along with many other precious possessions (like my Nureyev scrapbooks,lovingly compiled in the early 1960s), by my mother when she went to live with my brother and his wife in the 1980s. The moral of which is: be careful what you leave behind at your parents’ house.

    I no longer have small children to walk with; these days, my walking companions are dogs (three today) and friends but I often come back and bake. Today – cinnamon flapjacks. I love the warm, spicy aroma when they are just out of the oven.

    Your beautiful hares, by the way, are quite magical.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 26, 2011 11:46 pm

      Ah, what a happy coincidence. I checked your blog this afternoon and was wondering how you are at the moment. I’m so glad to hear that you are managing dog-walking and home-baking – both are good for body and soul, aren’t they? Especially the smell of warm cinnamon flapjacks, which are one of my favourite things to make (and eat!)

      I can understand the box of paints opening up a flood of memories. It is sad that precious things inevitably get lost along life’s way (oh, your Nureyev scrapbooks…). Funnily enough, it was only seeing my own photo of my paintbox on this page that made me realise quite how much it means to me: I find myself feeling rather self-conscious about revealing it, as if it were something very intimate. It also occurs to me that I would love to try making a painting of the paintbox: a rather circular exercise, I suppose.

  3. February 26, 2011 8:19 pm

    Oh how I love your hares, so beautifully rendered, I love the page with them all leaping about. I also feel the same way about art materials, I have pots and mugs of brushes and pencils and they are like old friends to me. I am also lucky like you to have my fathers’ old watercolour box, inherited when he passed away, carrying on where he left off. What a lovely day you have had.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 26, 2011 11:51 pm

      Thank you – coming from someone as talented as you, that is a precious compliment.
      What a happy coincidence that you, too, have your father’s paintbox. The feeling of continuity is very pleasing, isn’t it?

  4. February 26, 2011 11:05 pm

    You drew great hares!Love the sitting one as well, looking over his shoulder a tad grumpy as if to say: Gve me some privacy, will you?

    I actually have the same thing about art supplies. Love the look of them and the smell too. Smell of those choclate brownies must have been good as well 😉

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 26, 2011 11:54 pm

      Thank you! I like your interpretation of the grumpy hare: it reminds me of the series of ‘disapproving rabbits’ on cuteoverload.com!
      Really, I think there must be a lot of us out there who have a thing about art supplies. Art shops and book shops: both places to get lost in for hours. And yes, the brownies did smell good too – pity this isn’t a ‘scratch’n’sniff’ blog! 🙂

  5. February 27, 2011 3:21 am

    Gorgeous pictures, all of them. I loved the hares & the brownies especially. I’m having a quiet weekend like that as well after too much socialising over the last few weeks. I must admit, my “too much socialising” is pretty mild but I’m a hermit at heart & just love being at home cooking, reading, pottering in the garden. Just as you’re looking for signs of spring, I’m looking for signs of autumn & planning all the soups & stews I’ll be making in the months ahead. We’ve had a few almost crisp mornings in melbourne in the last week or so & I’m itching to get out into the garden & plant bulbs.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 27, 2011 7:39 pm

      Thank you, Lyn, that’s really nice of you to say so.
      The coming of spring and of autumn have a similar feeling of new beginnings and energy, I think. In a way I think I prefer autumn – cosier clothes and all those comfort foods you mention!

  6. February 27, 2011 9:15 am

    I love your hares too – but I have to say, what a perfect sort of day it was for you all. If that is being hermit like – there should be more of it!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 27, 2011 7:39 pm

      Hear, hear! 🙂

  7. February 27, 2011 3:57 pm

    I was just thinking the same about your battered paint box. Love the hares

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 27, 2011 7:40 pm

      Thanks very much! Hope you’re keeping well.

  8. February 27, 2011 6:24 pm

    Brownies and painting what a perfect way to spend the afternoon. It reminds me of days spent with my Grandma who taught me to paint with water colours, and was an amazing painter. We would spend many happy afternoons painting away or baking lots of yummy foods.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 27, 2011 7:42 pm

      Those sound like lovely memories to have. My granny, too, was a wonderful amateur artist – and she used especially to love drawing trees, funnily enough. Perhaps my appreciation of trees is genetic!

  9. February 27, 2011 7:48 pm

    What a lovely way to spend a day! Love the hares!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      February 27, 2011 10:12 pm

      Thanks! 🙂

  10. Deb permalink
    March 1, 2011 9:01 pm

    I know what you mean about the art supplies, I have a jar full of paintbrushes, along with watercolors and color pencils. I love the idea of painting, but lack much courage to just begin to paint. Why do we loose that as we get older? My children always just began with great abandon and drew and painted constantly. I’ll take inspiration from your wonderful creations and just begin.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      March 20, 2011 5:31 pm

      You’re right, we do lose it, don’t we. I drew constantly as a child but rarely now. We become more self-conscious I suppose – and more pressed for time perhaps. It’s very enjoyable, though, just to sit down and draw and to remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be fun.

  11. March 19, 2011 5:30 pm

    I love your depiction of hares. They are one of my favourite creatures. I find them quite magical and haven’t really explored why. Your water colour leaping hares are wonderful – but my favourite is the hare looking over his shoulder!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      March 20, 2011 5:32 pm

      Thank you, Sian. It’s rather intriguing that so many people sense something magical about hares. I don’t know why either.

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