Storm Arwen

of course she is the main player this last week. we were lucky in Cupar, a few trees down, but no power cuts. the lights flickered a lot on Friday, but I was terribly relieved when I switched on the light on Saturday morning and found we were still connected.

also I have just (at last) got the little greenhouse up, having found an odd job man, and as I had gone down the cheaper road of ordering horticultural glass, I was very worried that it wouldn’t survive the 70 mph gusts we were forecast.

on Saturday morning it seemed that a few things had tumbled about, but the greenhouse was intact.

I don’t have any shelves yet, I wonder when they will arrive. I ordered this in the spring. so some tender things have gone in there; there won’t be any protection against frost but perhaps not having cold winds blasting them will help. if there are intense frosts I’ll get out the woolly liners I used last year to protect all the baby prairie plants.

the studio is pretty cold, one day this week it was only 1C (I have a reflective halogen heater so spending 10p on electricity, as my new smart meter tells me, gets me to 11 or 12C which is bearable). the next day things had warmed up outside and everything inside had condensation on it. this painting is going to take a long time to dry enough for me to do the next stage – I used a slow-drying medium. reminding self not to use it in the winter any more.

I brought this plastic pot with four pink pelargoniums in it indoors and installed them on a metal tray table in the bay window. I love them! they are giving me far more pleasure than they did outside.

before the storm I decided to have another go at Ariadne’s bed in the wood, turned it on its side and drew a reclining nude partly from sketchbook, partly memory and imagination, with a small brush on a long stick. all those colours coming through the drawing made me hesitate about going any further, but I girded my loins –

I’m so glad I did. there’s a lot left of the original layers but I think they talk to the new paint. I am very happy with this and have brought her indoors out of the cold studio

and put her above my bed

so I can listen to her and the wood at night

as for the real wood

this one big larch had gone over just before the entrance to Owlet wood

and there were one or two small dead silver birches blown over, and some branches off,

but on the whole surprisingly little damage.

on Sunday morning there was a small amount of snow. the blackbirds busy taking the last of the rowan berries and digging about in my pine-bark-mulched flower beds, chucking bits of bark everywhere. I’m very pleased to see coal tits along with the blue and great tits, pecking at the sunflower heads. my garden begins to be a wildlife refuge. there was even a male bullfinch yesterday. the cotoneasters have lots of berries which attracts thrushes as well as pigeons and blackbirds.


walking down along the river there were more trees damaged

two small alders across the path had to be ducked under and further along a beech had lost its top two thirds.

on the whole there’s not anything like the damage we saw in 1987 in the hurricane that hit the South of England, except today I was told that three hundred acres of pine plantation has been flattened in the northern part of Tentsmuir Forest. I remember seeing a plantation gone like that in 1987 in Suffolk. once one goes they all go.

at Kemback there was quite a bit of debris – twigs and branches cleared on the road verges –

the good sound mature trees seem to have stood up to the storm pretty well

a large limb had ripped off this one

some young highland cows had escaped their rather small field, trampling the electric fencing and were sampling the woodrush in this patch of birch

and the sudden rise in temperature (this was on Tuesday, air temperatures went from from freezing to 10C during the day) gave rise to mists blowing across the hills

on the northern side of the wood the path was blocked by several fallen trees

though there were a lot more lying beside it

mature Douglas fir on the edge of the wood

and to get past this oak we had to scramble and duck through the branches and then under the main trunk

possibly a bit dangerous in retrospect

this beech tree must have been diseased I think

though it stands out on the edge, perhaps more exposed

we had to make a steep detour to get around it. what a rending splitting and cracking that must have been.

big beech trees are awesome, great demigods of the woods

a small oak gone here

it will make a different opportunity for life than the one it has been.

and a truly ripped and rended Douglas, almost folded by its own weight.

I wrote “Arwen” on the side of this small painting in charcoal

there is something of the woods in this one. both are additional layers, have been work in progress paintings waiting to be right and done.

today we went to Tentsmuir; it has been closed with many fallen trees in the rides and paths, but luckily today they had opened the car park

the sea was quite wild and the incoming tide was creaming up the beach

penning us in against the dunes

not many people there

something large and white on the horizon, maybe a ship?

so great for Bims to run without the need for a muzzle – with only mad packs of the professional dog-walkers about I took it off, it didn’t seem fair.

at last a resolution on this one. After Kimura, green and yellow fields with thorn hedge. 44 x 60 cm.

and a middle layer which brought lots of ideas for colour combinations

I watched a programme about Bridget Riley, one of the great innovative artists of the twentieth century, now in her nineties and still painting, still pushing herself.

as with the impressionists and post impressionists, she uses the juxtaposition of colours to produce the impression of other colours.

also I was very interested in how influenced by the landscape she is – the shapes and movement in it.

it made me think I should work harder on my colours.



  1. Fabulous photos and comments regarding the storm, and memories of 1987 too. And great photos and descriptions of your paintings, as always. Thank you!

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