now the wood is coming to life I am discovering plants that are new to me. this delicate white flower with clover-like leaves is wood sorrel.

I’m finding violets in lots of places too … the edge of lawns and in the woods

I’ve been spending a lot of time in there drawing, and I hope to keep going back to that. it’s a tremendously varied place, much of it still mysterious dark conifer plantation

opened up by frequent mossy rides and owned by the deer – this roebuck seemed as though he would stand there looking at me and the dog for ever as long as we didn’t move – and by the mountain bikers. I hardly ever meet any but there are steep trails I scramble up and down.

other parts of the wood are new growth birch or sycamore, their trunks encased in moss like furry green socks, the ground pocked with rocks and fern humps

the larches are vivid green with their new needles, from a distance the wood can be seen to be peppered with them

there is deer fencing which is breached in many places, but also allows egress through these tall kissing gates.

they are quite a feature

I have to work out how they can come into the paintings

as the wood is pretty much left to itself there are fallen trees lying amongst the rest, and like this one, they are often still alive, sending up new trunks, or just converting branches into uprights.

now it’s spring the wood is full of birdsong. willow warblers station themselves singing that marvellous sweet dribble of notes everywhere, they have the wood drawn up into territories.

another part of the wood has these magnificent great douglas firs, their soft needled branches draping the air like dark witch hair, so many Rapunzels.

then we get to the end of a finger of the wood reaching over to Dura Den and emerge to this view, away to Balmullo and huge Tentsmuir forest, sit on a wood planked hunt jump over the ditch and hedge to contemplate and see what I have drawn.

B does not like sitting still for long

my little four winds pocket book also has its uses

back in the studio there’s a big canvas started, tacked to the wall. the biggest I have painted for a couple of years. having the wall, and a roll of canvas allows this freedom, but it has its own complications and restraints. I have chosen more of a letterbox format than I am used to.

it progresses, in between walks and more drawing

I resist the first pretty stages and keep going

there is a blue reminiscent of B’s satin brocade collar and the sky in that view from the hunt seat

a lime green

varied and encouraging some subtlety

some of the big bold lines disappear

reds come and go – this is venetian red, an earth colour which is quite opaque until one brushes water and medium into it –

eventually I have this – and take it off the wall and roll it up, possibly to get it stretched professionally when the time comes. rolls are easier to store, I can keep them in the roof here.

there are so many more inspirations in my head – a deerstalker’s tower in Kilconquhar which triggered something like this –

watchtower in the wood

these nets of air
stirred by your migratory flitting
your routes flown
flanking my listening post
hedging high rafters
unpinned braids coloured ribbons undone
untwist the curling strands outside
resist the trap, pitch into this draughty
circle, blow, cry high
scrape noon’s height, ease
low, splay wings in bursts
confessed, I’m unwound
the rain hurls itself
unbound.

something to do with Rapunzel and the yet to arrive swifts. there was a swallow two weeks ago at our hunt seat. but one swallow does not a summer make, as we all know, and I am still protecting my seedlings from frost at night.

there are still cherry trees in flower all around, these tall natives seen from my window, gean here in Scotland – Prunus avium – and the various Japanese hybrids suburban and urban – very uplifting when spring is so slow and we have cold days and nights, with midsummer only six weeks off.