Enchanted October

“Retard the sun with gentle mist; Enchant the land with amethyst..” October by Robert Frost
October here in my neck of the woods can be magnificent, golden sun on autumn leaves, misty-moisty mornings clear to reveal blue skies, the smell of wood smoke, all is magical until the dreaded turning back of the clocks. The extra hour in bed is welcome; the dark evenings are definitely not!
Before the clocks went back we did manage to fit in a few grand days out. We drove a short distance over the border to Wales and visited Chirk Castle; driving through early morning mist and heavy grey skies it was rewarding to find ourselves in an enchanted place. The mist evaporated to reveal the castle and gardens in all their glory. I was particularly taken with a small tower, which put me in mind of Rapunzel. Chirk is a National Trust property and you can read more about its seven hundred year history here.
The gardens are truly beautiful and are filled with tall clipped yew trees. You can wonder past herbaceous borders and through woodland walks and on a clear day there are great views of Shropshire and the Welsh hills.
Work has kept me busy but I did manage to finish the hare painting that I started in the summer. A whole season has past and at times I thought the progress was more akin to a tortoise than a hare, I thought I would never finish it.
I bought a Canon iP4950 which produces incredibly detailed prints, the printer itself was very reasonably priced but as with all ink jet printers the cost of quality inks are almost as expensive as the actual printer and I am restricted to A4 size.
It did used to be the case that dye based inks had no longevity and could not be regarded as archival in the way pigment inks could but the new Canon Chromalife 100 plus inks are now expected to have an album life of 200 years or more. I did consider buying a pigment based printer but had to take into account the fact that they have a tendency to dry up if not in regular use. Forgive me if I sound like an advert for Canon, I assure you I am not being paid to say all this.
You can see the finished print here in my Etsy shop
There has been a little time to play and I enjoyed attending a book-making workshop with artist Louisa Boyd. The concertina books we made concentrated on paper surface manipulation techniques, including, cutting, scoring and piercing. Lou had pre-prepared the images we used and explained how she had used Thermofax screens to print her designs. As with all good workshops I came away buzzing with new ideas and a determination to do more screen prints. Lou also showed us some of her hand bound artists books and I encourage you to see her highly individual work for yourself here-
and she has a Facebook page here.


  1. Beautiful painting of the Hare!Your work is so calming and enchanting! Lovely photos of you out and about, yes those dark nights are certainly a bind, especially for dog walking, you have to set out so much earlier and it feels like the evening's gone when you get back! I'm going through a 'lost my mojo' phase right now, but enjoyed reading your printer tips, and about the screenprinting,just got myself a screen to do some at home, I should be fired up, but??? Hope you manage to do some! :)

  2. The hare is beautiful and the detail is amazing, no wonder it took so long. It seems that the dark evenings inspire me to get out my knitting and sewing and I feel like I have more time to be creative.
    The book making world is very inspiring and I do love notebooks, have bought so many ! It is a craft I enjoyed, like you it had ideas buzzing. I do love the hare book I made, a real sense of achievement when I completed it.
    Good luck with your new printer, you look like you are going to be busy.

  3. Acornmoon - this is a lovely painting - your hare is outstanding - hope your printer does well for you. Take care and God Bless.

  4. I have a niece who is into hand made books - looks like a fascinating process - I'm green with envy of your workshop!

  5. love the concertinas you made. Thank you for the link to Louisa Boyd's work. It's fascinating. Lucky you, being able to attend one of her workshops.

  6. You live in a beautiful part of the world, Valerie! I wonder who built the Rapunzel Tower, no doubt someone of whimsy, adventure and heart!
    Well done on finishing the Hare! Despite the delays, the painting seems to have turned out exactly as it should, down to the most minute detail! It's wonderful!!
    I'm wondering if you often take classes like you have with the Artist's books? Do you often learn other art forms, or is this a new thing? :)

  7. Valerie, we will turn our clocks back this weekend, but this week's visit by Hurricane Sandy has already seemed to shorten our daily sunlight. It's always interesting to get through this autumn light transition.

    I so loved your photos of the garden, particularly the one with the little tower. It seems like the sort of view that would inspire a talented artist like yourself!

    Your hare painting is marvelous, keeping your skilled light touch and balanceof detail and overall composition. Wow! And Bravo, too!

    Thank you for your critique of your new printer's abilities and what it takes to "feed" it. I do hope that it will serve you well. Do keep us posted in the weeks and months to come.

    Thank you also for your kind comments!

  8. Wonderful painting! We are very keen on the bunny brigade in this house. I have never been to Chirk, but it's on my list and sounds inspirational.
    I think you may be investing in a Thermofax machine next! I have had a few screens made for me and they are wonderful. The detail you can get is astonishing.

  9. My first thought on seeing the thumbnail for this post was 'Rapunzel'. What a magical place this is.

    Congratulations on finishing your painting. Sometimes, 'slow' is not a bad speed. It makes the painting more a part of your life and will hold so many thoughts and memories. It may sound romantic (or worse, soppy) but I think the love one puts into a piece often shines through to the viewer.

  10. Gorgeous, gorgeous hare. Thank you for sharing Chirk, somewhere I've always wanted to visit - maybe in 2013.....

  11. Does look like Rapunzels cell doesn't it?!
    The morning glory/hare is so lovely and evocitive of the high days of summer.
    Glad you're well and keeping busy.

  12. Lots of inspiration for your painting Valerie, the tower looks just like its come from a fairy tale.
    The autumn leaves look beautiful against that blue sky.
    It looks like a very interesting workshop.x

  13. Loved the hare painting and am most interested in your Canon printer.
    The concertina books are very appealing indeed.
    Also loved your trip to Wales. Things a bit rocky here still but we did get our power back last night.

  14. Wail of despair! Why, oh why, did I miss this post? It is a true beauty too just like your octobers. Your hare, and you know how much I love hares, is the king of all creatures; so much attention to exquisite detail.

    I've just become a follower (again?) so I will not miss another post.

    Warmest wishes,


  15. wonderful picture of the bunnies. I am always seemingly having printer problems. What a pain it is when its not working, and the ink seems to run out so quickly

  16. your work is so detailed I am not surprised it takes awhile. Sometimes we simply cant get in the mood. At any rate I love your work and visit often to see what you are working on