It’s always a good day when I stumble upon a new-to-me artist to love. More often than not, the artist in question turns out to be from the UK.
Anna Pugh was born in 1938 and hails from Kent, “the Garden of England.” An esteemed British folk artist, her work shows her deep affinity with plants and animals, both a central part of her life growing up as the daughter of a veterinarian and a devoted gardener.
I love the stories she tells in her paintings, whether a scene of the countryside or coast. Her finely detailed and beautifully textured depictions of flora and fauna and the changing seasons are infused with an element of whimsy and the surreal. Alongside a dog or chicken one might find the occasional unicorn. Who would not be charmed with titles like “Hang Gliding in Heels” or “Bugs Do Pilates”?
“Blue is therefore most suitable as the color of interior life.” ~ William H. Gass
THE LAND OF BLUE by Laura Mucha
Across the valley, it waits for you,
a place they call The Land of Blue.
It’s far and near, it’s strange yet known –
and in this land, you’ll feel alone,
you might feel tears roll down your cheek,
you might feel wobbly, weary, weak.
I know this won’t sound fun to you –
it’s not – this is The Land of Blue.
It’s blue – not gold or tangerine,
it’s dark – not light, not bright or clean.
It’s blue – and when you leave, you’ll see
the crackly branches of the tree,
the golden skies, the purring cat,
the piercing eyes, the feathered hat
and all the other things that come
when you escape from feeling glum.
Across the valley, it waits for you,
a place they call The Land of Blue
and going there will help you know
how others feel when they feel low.
As the poet explains at her website, this poem was written for a poetry workshop in response to a painting she saw at the National Gallery in London. The painting featured two mountains with a “land of blue” in the distance. She thought perhaps people went there when they were sad.
Though initially written as a children’s poem, Mucha’s observations about sorrow — that experiencing it ultimately helps us develop compassion and empathy — certainly applies to adults as well. I was also reminded of how Mr Rogers stressed the importance of honoring children’s emotions and encouraging them to speak freely about what they were experiencing.
I do love how art begets more art (which is why I’ve always enjoyed ekphrastic poetry). In Mucha’s case, her emotional reaction to the painting inspired her to explore often untalked-about-feelings within the safe space of a poem.
Every day I look at a lot of art, listen to music, and read inspiring words, both poetry and prose. How effectively a piece is able to instantly make me feel something is a good gauge of its worth.
I agree with William Gass that blue is most suitable as the color of interior life. Picasso comes to mind, with his famous Blue Period.He was going through a profound depression after the suicide of his friend, but just as Mucha suggests about the nature of despondency, he was eventually able to move past his dark mood in a few years.
Although blueis quiteoften associated with coldness and melancholy, we see through the works of other artists that the “land of blue” may also be one of peace, serenity, calmness, reflection, and deep, abiding beauty.
1. Just in case you’re suffering from the winter blues or cabin fever, drink in some of the gorgeous colors, patterns and textures of Este MacLeod’spaintings.
Born in South Africa, Este now lives in London, where she creates beautiful, stylized landscapes, florals and still lives. What a master of layering and composition! There is a certain dreaminess about her work that nourishes the viewer. Shake off the blahs, wake up and embrace the world in living color!
Limited edition prints, notebooks, tea towels and originals are available for purchase at her Etsy Shop.
2. New Book Alert! Sometimes you find the nicest surprises in your mailbox. Recently, THE BOOK OF YAWNS by Carolyn Blasinsky (Blazing Sky & Co., 2018) magically appeared.
This adorable board book is just the thing to get the little ones to wind down at bedtime. Full color photographs of eight wild and domestic animals show them practicing the fine art of yawning. Their facial expressions, whether weary, drowsy, or comical, are just plain priceless, and the simple, repetitive text saying “night night” to each animal is hypnotic.
The thing is, after you’ve turned a few pages, you start to get sleepy too. Yawns are contagious! Whether in the forest, ocean, open plains, arctic or back yard, these creatures demonstrate what we all have in common. I especially like the monkey, tiger and seal. Guess who the last animal in the book is?
I asked Carolyn, who is my neighbor, to provide a little backstory about the book:
I’m a graphic and web designer and have always wanted to do a children’s book – I was just waiting for the right idea to strike. With a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old I read to them nightly and one book showed a character yawning which made us all yawn and I thought – what about a book all about yawns?! Children love animals and it seemed like the perfect combination. I like simple books that are easy to read (for tired parents at night) and love great photographs and clean, beautiful design. Plus – it helps get my little readers sleepy and ready for bed! My kids love the book and I’ve learned a lot in the process. It’s been an interesting project!
A special treat for animal lovers, THE BOOK OF YAWNS is the perfect new baby, shower or toddler gift. I would *yawn* tell you more *y -a-w -n* but I really need *y — a. –w — n* to take a nap.
When you’ve got the blahs, the perfect way to *WAKE UP*and have some !!FUN!! is with a little Mouni Feddag. 🙂
A self described “drawing person born and based in the UK” who is also “very nice,” Mouni’s distinctive style is all about vibrant shocks of color and a wry humor that examines the human condition with loads of quirky details. She’s like a sketchy doodler gone wild. 😀
Though she was born in England, she moved to Frankfurt with her family when she was nine, and has been back and forth between there and various cities in England ever since. She graduated in 2014 with a Degree in Communications Design from the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt.
She claims that studying in Germany helped solidify her style, a reaction to the “somber, melancholic, and over-conceptual work” she saw in the classes she took. This prompted her to make “silly, pretty things.”