Post by Category : blog

24th December – Warning! Christmas Tree Cracker Jokes!

It was the Firs Noel –

‘Trees be with you, And also with you!’ said Firther Xmas to his wee elf, trying to think of a tree joke to enliven his Xmas cracker.

He’d been playing with his crackers all day and his hands had pins and needles. Firther Xmas was stumped. His crackers were a joke. Surely this was elemen-tree fun for an old hand!

‘Rudolph, how are we going to make this tired old tree stand upright?’ asked Firther Xmas.

‘Cover it in hornaments’ Rudolph quipped, giving his baubles a shake.

‘Fir he’s a jolly good fella!’ snorted Firther Xmas looking at the Claus in his contract.

‘It’s the last day before Xmas. I must finish this log today!’ he barked to his elf.

‘One tree-mendous pun and I’ll be there!’ he mumbled wondering if there was any mileage in a joke about coming from the North Pole?

Firther Xmas wished he was more like Spruce Willis. ‘There’s not much action in Xmas tree jokes.’ He looked ruefully at his crackers and wondered if he could finish now.

And with that Firther Xmas took off his Santa hat and put on his welly boots. He had lots of trees to plant this coming year and his tree jokes were making him green.

Merry Christmas and Trees on Earth!

May the Forest be With You!

Firther Xmas smiled to himself

‘I’ve still got it!’

******

My apologies for the terrible jokes.

Thank you for following this advent blog. Have a good Xmas and creative New Year. Here’s to hoping that lots of lovely, life-giving, glorious hardwood and native trees get planted world-wide this coming year!

Much love Kirsten x

The Christmas Story (With Bees) – Adapted and Illustrated by Kirsten Harris

My first video – I’ve been amusing myself over the past few days cartooning. I’ve never tried illustrating a story before, but a bee character showed up a few days ago and inspired an idea. I hope you enjoy the Xmas Story (With Bees). Sorry there is no audio. I am not a musician and sound is definitely a techno challenge too far at this point in time. I’m chuffed I managed to make a little video work. I hope it makes you smile… Kx

Advent Calendar – 22nd December – Death of a Horse Tree

Mid Winter, solstice, long dark nights, solitude, a time for reflection of the year gone by. Trees bare of leaves, their skeletons showing, shaped by the wind and time. Branches crashing to the ground in the arctic winds. Some trees will fall by the wayside.

To me the interest in a crucifixion image is not the religious portrayal of horrific torture and a reminder of how foul people can be to each other and the planet, but more the portrayal of the horizontal and the vertical and how the body is shaped by these forces.

This aligns with Alexander Technique thinking which teaches us to open our thinking in these directions. By developing our awareness of spatial planes our muscle spirals are allowed to unravel into length width with ease and our consciousness to be free. Things feel lighter.

The three days of the solstice are time to pay homage to the essential support deep within and ease out of the year by taking time to rest.

Death of a Horse Tree, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm

Painting inspired by Salvador Dali’s luminescent crucifixion painting in the Kelvingrove, Glasgow.)

The Snow Queen – Bee Your Own Magic

Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year – a time when the sun appears stationary for three days, inviting us too to stop, slow down, chill out, let go….

In the darkest times it can be hard to believe that light will return. Yet life freezes to get on with its own magical transformation. I love the thought of the Queen Bee overwintering under her horse tree gathering energy to bring life to all in spring. She is a reminder to us to take time over winter to constructively rest too.

For inspiration as to the most effective way to do this, check out this Body Magic link here because taking the time to lie in semi-supine, is good for the spine and helps you feel fine!

Constructive rest, aka semi-supine, is a way to care for our whole self and thus the best Xmas gift we could possibly give ourselves. By stopping we have time to dwell in our golden hearted loving natures and bee our own magic, letting go of all that constant doing and busy-ness to experience the gift of just being life itself. Alive without all the stories we tell ourselves or are being told.

Solstice – an invitation to bee the snow queen for three days!

Much love

Kirsten

Body Magic download link

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 20th December – I Only Have Ice Fir Yule

Today’s offering is a daft drawing which made me smile. Got to keep your sense of humour, no matter what! Humour is wisdom and makes everything look better, methinks.

I enjoyed making sure every snowflake was different. Worth remembering we people are all snowflakes too and there are always going to be differences – all the more reason for humour. Well, that was my thought drawing snowflakes, at least.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 19th December – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Bee!

Somewhere near you, overwintering in a dry, cold spot under a tree, sleeps a queen bee living on her fat supplies!

This summer I watched bees going in and out of this hole under a beech tree. The cartoon is inspired by the thought of the queen still there, safe for the winter.

I love the way it looks like a nostril in the ground.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 18th December – Wee Bee Kings

Here come the pollinators bringing gifts for all…. wee bee kings.

I know it’s not the right time of year for worker bees but I couldn’t resit the idea of bees as the three wise men, bringing the most important gift of all – life for all!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

copyright

Advent Calendar – 17th December – The Language of Wolves

Wolves howl to display togetherness. Howls are among many vocal sounds canines make as any dog owner will know. My dog howls when the 1pm Thursday siren sounds at Carstairs State Hospital or if she hears bagpipes! Crazy Maisie!

The Romans and Saxons reported Britain to be abundant with wolves. Wolves are now extinct here due to deforestation and active hunting through the bounty system. The last wolf recorded was killed in the 14th century in Kent.

We know deforestation destroys species and yet world-wide we continue to chop down pristine forest wildernesses. When will it stop? How can we get it to stop? Someone told me the other day they hate trees because they make a mess! Such ignorance makes me want howl in despair!

My only solution is to aim to find ways to keep planting trees and hopefully encourage others to do so too and somehow educate the tree haters! If a drawing or a bit of writing resonates and this advent blog sees someone somewhere deciding to plant a tree or motivates a group to come together to create a community orchard or woodland, it will have been a good idea. Personally this advent calendar is further pointing me to in the direction of art for trees. Somehow….

Sorry to be a bit mournful today, I’ll aim to draw something cheery and festive for tomorrow.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 16th December – Ding Dong!

‘The clearest way to the Universe is through a forest wilderness” John Muir

This cartoon of Ding Dong Merrily on High is inspired by the sparrows in my garden. The more trees we have, the more birds.

Though I am definitely not a musician I had to get the notes in the right place! Funny how the word ‘high’ is the lowest note!

‘Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky” Kalib Gibran

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 15th December – Baby Forests

Some paintings, like trees, take a long time to grow. ‘Cows at the Horse Trees’ is a learning curve painting and probably not done but has given me an idea…

Baby forests! Baby forests are like the woodlands planted to commemorate a persons life but even more positive! Let’s plant trees to celebrate new beginnings. Trees planted for each years crop of babies!

Baby forests could be a thing across the country, places to visit and see tree growth to help children understand and feel connected with the natural world and empowered by having a place in it, and of course have fun too. Forest schools with outdoor classrooms, as well as places of celebration for family tree planting ceremonies to welcome the new born child!

Average life expectancy in UK, trees and people –

Apple – 80 years

Oak – 350 years

Beech 180 – 200 years

Silver Birch – 150 years

Rowan – 120 years

Scots Pine – 300 years

Humans – 81 years

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Cows at the Horse Trees, Oil on Canvas, 40 x 50 cm

Advent Calendar – 14th December – Tree Lovers

For years I blamed a persistent cough on fumes from painting in oils. This summer a friend alerted me to the dangers of mouth breathing. He was resorting to taping his mouth at night to stop his habit. My cough is all but gone as I remind myself to shut my mouth as I walk and gawp at trees!

We need incoming air to be filtered by the nose for our good health just as we need trees to filter air for the well-being of the planet.

Are you a mouth breather?

Breath by James Nestor. Lots fo videos on the internet and a book.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 13th December – We Tree Kings

Although a tad ‘bah-humbug’ re the extent of commercial Xmas trees chopped, as opposed to a sea-change in thinking towards planting hardwoods for Christmas, I do love the smell of pine and will cut a branch to bring in.

Pine is an amazing natural healer full of Vitamin C as well as antibacterial. If you have a cut Xmas tree here are three gifts from your tree…

  • When the needles drop, boil in water then strain to spray on counter tops and floors for a natural, lovely smelling anti-bacterial spray.
  • Pine needles make a good tea or tincture and are full of vitamin C. For tincture leave in vodka for a few weeks and add a few drops to water when you need a boost.
  • For a pine needle foot bath, steep the needles, then bathe feet for 20 minutes in the warm water. The anti-bacterial properties will help clear any fungal infection in the feet as well as being soothing self care over the holiday period.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 12th December – The Happiness of Drinking Tea with a Friend

A few years ago a friend gave me some cut willow branches. Easy peasy trees to grow, literally cut branches and stick into the ground in spring. Now I have trees growing drinking up some of the wet areas of ground here. But more than that…

  • Willow bark tea is known as nature’s aspirin. Peel bark from fresh branches and boil for ten minutes, then steep for thirty minutes before drinking.
  • Cut branches in a vase make a beautiful winter display and will soon start to root to plant in spring. A reminder in winter of the promise of life held in a twig – a vase of magical willow wands! (Change the water once a week.)
  • Horses love to eat willow, a natural painkiller willow helps to reduce swelling and inflammation.

If any local friends would like some willow branches now or in the spring, please let me know, I’d be delighted to cut some for you.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

The Happiness of Drinking Tea with Friend, Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 60 cm. Inspired by willow pattern and an appreciation of the simple things in life. Available at The Tolbooth, Lanark Christmas Exhibition.

Advent Calendar – 9th December – The Clearing

Christmas is hard for lots of people when perhaps it could be about being light?

In the Christmas story three kings follow a star looking for a new born child. In my mind the three kings represent aspects of our psyche – love, creativity and hope are my choices. The star is light, inspiration, guidance and the child symbolises transformation and rebirth…

A horse rests by a stream. The flowing water clears away fear, stagnation, negativity… The horse is bathed in light. Wise father time is represented by the horse trees yet there is a chaos and confusion around him too, rooted in the past and habits of old.

The horse simply observes – by slowing down to let go he rejuvenates his inner light for the coming year.

Why cut down trees and cover them in artificial lights to experience the illumination they represent?

The Clearing – Pencil and watercolour of paper. Copyright

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 8th December – ‘When You Change the Way You Look at Things…’

‘When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!’ Dr Wayne Dyer

A horse contemplates a dandelion clock. A weed or treasure from mother earth? Underground horse spirits guard treasure, rich nutrients stored in the soil.

A true story – Two fields, side by side. Different owners. One with not a weed in sight, sprayed yearly with chemical weed killers. A good farmer? The other, more a meadow now, not sprayed in years, filled with a rich variety of wild flowers and grasses, alive with insects and feeding birds. Full of weeds?

It takes a mental leap to change the way we look at things, but when we do, the things we look at change!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 7th December – The Merlin Tree

Merlin, the sovereign’s magician, not so much one person but a wisdom tradition, a lineage from the heart of the ancient forests of Britain.

Merlin is an important mythical figure, a myth being an idea in which man tries to make sense of the world. He embraces many archetypes – shaman, healer, mystic, animal communicator, alchemist, wise man, hermit, sage, shape-shifter, environmentalist, teacher, green man…

Merlin, the myths tell us, was exiled to the Caledonian Forests, a period of ‘madness’ roaming the vast wild woods of Scotland, where he is enlightened and connects with his magical powers.

It’s fascinating how spending time with trees and wilderness are a process of initiation and enlightenment in so many traditions world-wide.

This drawing is inspired by Merlindale, near Drumelzier here is Scotland where it is said Merlin died.

Previous blog here.

Returned to The Merlin Tree today adding layers of wash to the pencil on canvas. Work in progress. 80 x 100 cm

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – December 6th – It’s in the DNA!

‘A tree excels at being a tree and no-one really knows how it does it. There is no way of imitating a tree, the only thing is to be one.’ Alan Watts

Spiralling DNA, the Tree of Life, branches as horse trees… A rider sits quietly contemplating spirals. Listening to space. Breath flows from the tree to the girl and her horse and back to the tree.

‘Everything that lives and moves and breathes, lives and moves and breathes in spirals.’ Don Burton, Alexander Technique Teacher

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar- 4th December – The Woodpecker

Prior to this Advent project I wrote a list of pros and cons re doing it. My lists were equal which led to this insight…In maths (not my favourite subject at school but I do remember this) a positive and a negative make a negative. Dah! Light bulb moment: do the Advent idea otherwise negativity will prevail!

How often do we do nothing because we don’t know if we can manage to do something, if it will be successful or where it will lead to? Perhaps creativity is this balance of positive and negative?

The Woodpecker – a dying horse tree – feast or famine? Life or death?

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 5th December – Clyde Dryad

The Dryads of Greek mythology are tree guardians. Hamadryads, nymph spirits of oak and poplar trees, are connected with river-side trees and sacred groves. When a tree dies a Dryad dies.

By planting native trees we plant spirit back into the land. Cash crop mono-forestry plantations have little or no spirit and do not guardian the land – more a destructive army of regular uniformity… (I should have called this project art-vent rather than advent!)

Though Dryads are usually depicted as beautiful young woman, Clyde Dryad is an ancient, gnarled crone viewing the world with her beady eye … ‘It’s not too late! We are not all gone!’ she creaks to the tiny money spider.

Inspired by the oaks on the River Clyde Walkway.

Clyde Dryad, Mixed Media, 12 x 12 inches

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 3rd December – This Too Shall Pass!

This too shall pass, such a useful thought in hard and stressful times! A thought that asks us to change our attitude in the moment and be hopeful, knowing that life is short and everything changes. Change is the only certainty.

Crows flock around the Horse Trees. Crows, intelligent, creative and adaptable, a crow feather worn as a head dress was used to amplify psychic abilities.

The Horse Trees are inspired by Scots Pines. Scots Pine is a native of the once extensive Caledonian Forest, the ancient temperate rainforest of Scotland of which only tiny fragments remain, and is the only native timber-producing pine in Scotland. The Scots Pine is known as a pioneer species, due to its ability to regenerate and thrive in poor soils and has a lifespan of 300 years supporting 172 insect species. A wondrous tree.

I wonder why then, do we see endless non-native pine plantations here in Scotland when it’s so easy to grow a useful native pine that also supports wildlife?

The horse finds shelter and comfort from the bitter wind. His gaze is turned towards the trees implying here is an answer – find creative solutions to problems. Don’t pass nature by! Everything we need is already here.

‘This too shall pass’ – attributed to Medieval Persian Sufi poets.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 2nd December – The Return

I started this drawing months ago but it wasn’t speaking. Today the crows arrived at the Unicorn Tree. Crows are intelligent, adaptable and symbolic of transformation. They also have a somewhat sinister presence. The crows brought the drawing to life and with them came an idea…

My dad told me that the beech trees we see lining many of the roads of Britain were planted after World War 1 to commemorate the dead. So many of these century old trees are now dying.

Why? Ditches not maintained so their roots stand in water or salting the roads damaging tree roots? I don’t know. Many fell during Storm Arwen this week.

Perhaps, following the death of so many during Covid, Britain could follow the inspiration of post World War 1 tree planting with a mass tree planting along our road ways again, so that one day someone else’s dad will tell them the story of why they were planted!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 11th December – The Embrace

Children hug trees. One girl stands beside a horse. ‘It is time to take action! We are ready!’ she says ‘ Show us the way!’ A prayer of sorts.

Fencing off areas within our horses fields to plant stands of trees is a gift to the future – trees to embrace and nurture the children and animals long after we are dead!

I am always moved to tears when I see people protesting about trees being cut down.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Advent Calendar – 1st December – Creating The Christmas Forest

Traditionally advent was marked with a chalk line on the wall ticking off the days until Christmas. I am marking advent with art, probably drawings, for 24 days as, I hope, a way to bring in ‘the light’ of ideas and inspiration.

There is something about setting an intention and showing up that lets ideas start to flow. I love that Advent and Adventure are the same word from Latin ‘advenire’ arrive and ‘adventurous’ about to happen.

This is something I would love to see happen… Christmas Forests!

Watching thousands upon thousands of soil acidifying cut Christmas trees being transported up Lanark High Street (and this only a tiny fraction of cut Christmas trees this year in the UK alone) an idea came to mind that I hope this drawing captures.

I have drawn a sock hanging outside on a washing line. One for each member of a family. In each sock is a bare root hardwood or fruit tree ready for planting in The Christmas Forest which, in my imagination, are a future concepts across the country. A place where people meet up at Christmas to plant trees and celebrate life. Giving a tree for Christmas as the best pressie ever!

Perhaps a few enlightened farmers who grow cash crop Xmas trees will see a Christmas Forest as a way of giving back – creating amazing woodlands for future generations by tithing a percentage of their land for Christmas Forests? They could sell the bare root stock to be planted on their land or vouchers or some such so it would be a win-win? It just takes a little willingness and imagination. I am sure Christmas Forests could become a thing!

Love

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Romance of the Falls – A Weekend with Turner – part 2

I ended the last blog wondering where Mr Turner was leading with forty painted postcards inspired by him. But I guess if anything it makes me more determined to think about what legacy I can leave. I am no Turner! The answer always seems to be to plant more trees. To let that be my footprint.

I woke up this morning with an idea where a community orchard could be planted locally and have sent an email about it. I have a good feeling about it. I love when ideas are just there on waking, as though planted.

In a funny way the most important thing about this weekend romance is that I listened to the whisper of an idea to paint on the postcards of Turner’s Falls of Clyde. Life (and my art) always seem to work best when I trust the ideas that come …. perhaps… arriving from ‘the gap in the quantum field’, also described as ‘the universal mind’ or the ‘governing intelligence’.

And that means allowing oneself to not know and be open, to simply be present to the flow… which, to my thinking, IS the journey of the artist.

I know it’s not cool to admit, but this whole Covid thing’s been a tad stressful. I do try not to let stressful thoughts run the show. By painting, painting, painting and exploring a multitude of creative ideas I’ve mainly been able to stay at ease though my arm has got sore! Dah!

However, thankfully and thanks to JMW Turner I realise the intuitive voice is still there. Now it’s time to action more ideas…

There’s work to be done. Trees to be planted and paintings to be sold in order to do it!

Forward and Up!

Kirsten x

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

****

A selection of postcards from JMW Turner and me!

https://www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Romance of the Falls – A Weekend with Turner

Postcard of The Falls of Clyde by JMW Turner
The original is described as Watercolour over pencil with some scrapings on two sheets of paper joined and laid down. 41.30 x 52.10 cm.

Joseph Maillard William Turner is described as the father of modern art. Every four years the Royal Scottish Academy of Art display a selection of Turner watercolours for about a month in a dimly lit room. Amongst the collection is a watercolour of The Falls of Clyde. I decided to approach the Academy to have a postcard made for an exhibition, The Romance of the Falls at The Tolbooth in Lanark. which took place four years ago.

JMW Turner painted our local beauty spot in 1801. My history of art lecturer at Bretton Hall, David Hill, was a Turner expert and author. I even did my degree thesis on The Turner Prize. An exhibition in the footsteps of Turner was an idea that had been in my head for years. Four years ago I decided to look for local artists and a wonderful exhibition followed.

I was excited about the postcard too. I had to buy in bulk as the Academy were doing a special print run. The response, however, was unexpected –

‘It’s a bit dull’, I was told and to my utter surprise no-one was in the least bit interested in Turner.

The other day I came across the pile of postcards in a drawer. Turner whispered in my ear…

‘We’re not finished yet, I’ll help you plant trees. Paint on the postcards…’

This sounds a bit odd but I listen to whispers in the wind!

This weekend I had an affair with Turner. A postcard is small and the original painting fairly large, so detail was hard to see, but analysing the image was absorbing. I definitely know the painting is NOT dull and Turner deserves the title the Father of Modern Art!

My discoveries –

  • Every single mark and shape is different. Turner doesn’t seem to repeat a brush stroke anywhere. They are ever inventive.
  • There are structures within the structure. Light and dark compositions laid down in big bold areas. Following the lights I started to see the painting differently to following the darks.
  • The picture planes are all different – drawing them I found Vorticism and Cubism.
  • Painting big areas of lights and dark with bold brush strokes led to Impressionism, Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism.
  • This is a ‘colour field’ painting of sepias. I played with notans, simple black and whites, and discovered that Turner is telling us he’s not interested in the naturalistic colour of trees or water but tone and composition. He is abstracting the landscape rather than painting exactly what he sees. I watched a Tate Gallery video on his process and learned that he started most watercolours on duck egg blue paper, a mid tone. So he was both adding and subtracting at the same time.
  • It is absolutely beautifully painted. For all the abstract qualities it is unmistakably The Falls of Clyde. A well observed ‘plein-air’ watercolour, probably worked up later in the studio.
  • The eye is funnelled down from the large light area of sky and then zigzagged across the picture. Turner is totally in charge of what he wants us to look at and how he wants us to experience the scene.
  • The lack of drama in the sky creates more drama in the waterfall by contrast.
  • Then I started to see my ‘Horse Trees’ in the painting, perhaps not surprising as they are inspired by the same windswept trees and landscape here in South Lanarkshire. Turner hadn’t painted horses but I seem to see them in everything!
  • Abstracting the big shapes I also found a bird.
  • I found a pin prick of brighter light at the top of the fall contrasted with a strong straight shadow line which seemed to suggest both the light source and vanishing point and to be the centre of the Golden Mean.
  • The horizontal lines are divded by the Golden Section. The darkest dark lies a third of the way up the painting.
  • Turner has rendered water in several different ways – fast falling water, misty water, flowing water, spray, still water, water in light and shadow. It’s truly amazing when you start to look at it. He seems to have achieved this through strong directional lines and dots that describe rocks which like a Zen garden define the space and flow.
  • The rocks at the bottom of the falls are dynamic too. There are no completely horizontal lines on the earth plane, which adds to the sense of drama as the ground is falling away too. Random rocks have a sense of presence and arrival at the foot of the falls at some point in the distant past. Nothing is unobserved.

Mr Turner….how are you going to help me plant trees?

As I write this I wonder if the ever growing group of artists and creatives that have come together via The Tolbooth, gathered by following in Turner’s footsteps, will be the answer? An art forest perhaps?

****

And lots more…. forty so far! More to follow in the next blog.

Thanks for reading.

Kirsten x

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

The Horse in Motion – After Muybridge

When I drew ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ (see below) I looked at this early still animation by pioneering photographer Edweard Muybridge (1830 – 1940) for the differences in the horses movement.

The Horse in Motion by Edweard Muybridge

This week I decided to pay homage to Muybridge with a large mixed media painting. Again I was interested in the differences. This time, as well as the differences in the anatomy of the horse in motion I wanted to attempt to paint each horse differently yet to create a unified whole. I wanted it at first glance to be an abstract piece and then for the horses to reveal themselves with a sense of movement.

I thoroughly enjoyed painting it.

Two people have seen the finished painting in person so far and both without prompting said the same thing which made my hear sing – “It looks like a black and white animation.’

The Horse in Motion – after Muybridge
Mixed Media on Canvas, 150 x 100 cm
Original Available
Detail from The Horse in Motion – after Muybridge
Detail from The Horse inD Motion After Muybridge
Detail from The Horse in Motion After Muybridge
If Wishes Were Horses by Kirsten Harris, Available as a hand signed and titled print.
Click here
Work in Progress – I go a bit wild to start off, then get more refined as I go along!
The finished painting – ‘ The Horse in Motion, after Muybridge’

To see all the artwork that I have currently for sale please click here.

Thanks for reading

Kirsten x

Dusting my Whimsies!

I love things – old things, odd things, quirky things, kitsch things, inspiring things, hand made things! It’s deeply unfashionable to like things in this world where minimilism is seen as spiritual and billions of tons of stuff are dumped into landfill every year!

Dah!

I am an unashamed lover of things!

A few weeks ago I decided to follow my enjoyment of collectibles as inspiration to make art, thereby giving myself the perfect excuse to carry on being a collector of stuff and nonsense.

It all came about at the car boot sale where I found myself entranced by a box of Whimsies, small ornaments made by Wade. I collected them as a child, eagerly spending my pocket money buying one a week but they had long since disappeared from my life.

I somehow found myself buying the entire box of Whimsies. 115 of them to be precise! Utter madness, but great fun having coffee with mum and going through the collection. Steptoe and Mum! It was worth the buy just for the laughs and memories evoked of those days back in Nork!

Later I told a friend and fellow thing lover about my crazy purchase and her spontaneous response was ‘Omg, you’re going to have to dust them!’ ‘Yes! I’ll be dusting my whimsies!’ I quipped back and we burst into hysterical, delightful, childish, fnar, fnar giggles.

And so an idea was born.

Introducing ‘Dusting My Whimsies’….

They make me smile…

‘This Little Piggy Went to the Car Boot Sale’ Mixed Media
‘Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be?’ Mixed Media
‘Oh Duck!’ Mixed Media

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Confessions of a Terrible Alexander Technique Teacher!

Travelling Forward, Acylic on Panel, 30 x 30 cm

I have a sore arm from too much painting! 

Thank goodness for some Alexander Technique skills to fall back on to begin to undo the holding caused by holding a paintbrush aka magic wand, obsessively for months! 

A paintbrush for me is a transporter.

While painting I am at peace, in the flow, happy. All the stresses of the world just melt away. However, stupidly, I have completely over-done enjoyment of being transported to somewhere unknown, expansive and full of potential at the expense of my poor arm. Weirdly my neck is free, my shoulder mobile, just one point on my mid arm is ‘ouchy!’ Wake me up at night ‘ouchy!’

So, my point in writing – it’s not that as AT teachers we  have to have constant, perfect, queen-like poise, or that the complexities of being human don’t get us into a bit (or a lot) of shambles at times, but more that there is something about the freedom and release  brought about by Alexander Technique skills that allows us to follow a flow and actually BE passionate. It allows the flow to unfold without putting up obstacles.  Poise is not an end in itself, it is a place of potential…

This week I started wondering why my arm was sore beyond a repetitive movement. I have painted for ever and this hasn’t happened.

My insight – I’ve  started to feel that I shouldn’t be painting more as I have made so much artwork over the past 18 months. Thus I’ve set up a mental pattern of resistance that is creating tension as I paint. ‘I’m painting but I shouldn’t be painting, I have all these paintings – how am I ever going to sell them, who needs paintings when the world is in crisis…’ kind of thinking. 

Human are complex and our thinking effects us. We can set up tension patterns without even realising it. Then to make matters worse we set up a double bind and start to ‘beat ourselves up’ for being in pain – ‘terrible Alexander Teacher, I should know better, maybe the artwork is all shit..’etc.

Now the arm has become the obstacle to painting that I created with my thinking. A self fulfilling prophecy! Now I can’t paint more because it hurts.

Does anyone relate?

So today, I celebrate my sore arm and the fact that I have produced a ton of artwork and thoroughly enjoyed doing it! Art work that I hope will all sell in due course and raise money to plant trees. Today I let go of mental resistance and let my arm come back home! Today I let myself be free to be free. Free to paint or free to just lie on my back and look at the sky and visualise the future forest that my art will create. Today I let negative thoughts melt in the rare Scottish sun!

www.kirstenharriart.co.uk

Painting for a Space – Sheildhill Castle

Map – I printed a medieval map and then extended the contours with paint for the entrance hall. Shieldhill is written as Scheelhil.

It’s wonderful to have the chance to make art for a particular space in this case Sheildhill Castle, Quothquorn near Biggar, here in Scotland.

Too often old buildings are over modernised internally, and although the outer walls tell you the age of the building, as soon as you go inside you could be in a modern building.

I think Shieldhill has achieved the blend of old and new well.

The tartan for the soft furnishings was designed for the castle by local mill Calzeat of Biggar.

For my part I aimed to think about the main feature in each room and highlight it through the artwork which all has a local twist.

The entrance with its ancient stone flags called for graphite grey pencil drawings. Each drawing tells a little local history, from the Grey Lady of Sheildhill, the castle’s ghost to ‘On Tintock Tap’ a traditional rhyme.

On Tinto Top there is a mist
And in that mist there is a kist
And in that kist there is a cup
And in that cup there is a drop
Take up that cup, drink of the drop
And set up camp on Tinto top

The art in the hall includes two large paintings of horses. I wanted to tie in the colours of the imposing wooden central staircase. Horses seemed apt as the Clydesdale Horse originates from this part of South Lanarkshire.

The panelled room contains paintings inspired by Medieval tapestries. The Medieval theme is in keeping with the age of the heart of the castle. The Tree of Life hangs over the fireplace flanked by owls.

In the dining room, with it’s beautiful exposed stone walls, hang a series of canvases based on the local landscape. One illustrates the expression ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ which was first recorded in the 1700’s by neighbour to Shieldhill, James Carmichael of Carmichael.

If Wishes Were Horses by Kirsten Harris

I loved the opportunity to create art for the castle. The new owners of Shieldhill have created a wonderful welcoming atmosphere, well worth a visit.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

The Grey Lady of Shieldhill

Crucifixion – After Dali

This painting is very loosely based on ‘Christ of Saint John of the Cross’ by Salvador Dali housed at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow. It obviously looks nothing like Dali’s luminescent masterpiece, but I looked at the work as a starting point for the feel I somehow wanted to attempt to convey.

***

My painting represents the tree of life dying. The boughs of the tree are horses. It is about my desire to do something useful for the planet. And the most useful thing I can think of to do as a self employed artist is to plant trees.

The painting came about because a friend asked me if I had ever painted a crucifixion. I hadn’t, but decided to.

I have had it hanging in my bedroom since I completed it a few months ago. I find it comforting, benign and protective and yet a call to arms, to action at the same time.

A tree or a crucifixion?

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Original art and prints for sale.

Crucifixion, Horse Tree by Kirsten Harris, 100 x 150 cm, Acrylic and Copper on Canvas

Jurassic Art Blip

Time is a weird concept isn’t it? Now, this present, can’t just be a tiny sliver, a knife edge, between the past and the future. Time is vast. Unfathomable. We are not separate from the past and future, but somehow linked on a multi dimensional continuum. Time travels like the light from a distant star.

Painting dinosaurs I realised how little anatomy has changed over millions and millions of years. The more I painted these incredible beings the more mind-boggled I became. This one 50 million years old. 100 millions years ago this one walked the earth…

Our individual Earth walk appears to be the teeniest tiniest blip! Or is there something else going on for it feels vast while we experience life and important too.

Apparently scientists have discovered that life as we know it could be a holographic projection, but I don’t really understand that concept! All I know is that I seem to want to project something onto canvas while I am here, and plant trees and be around my animals.

Chickens are apparently the closest living relative to T Rex. Chickens are adorable!

This summer’s joy has been seeing children loving Jurassic Lanark dinosaur trail around town and New Lanark World Heritage site. So many excited children captivated by dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are an enduring fascination for children and I understand why kids love them.

‘Lanarkausaurus’ on display at The Tolbooth, Lanark until end of August, part of Jurassic Lanark.

Some of the work on display…

And my favourite quote of the exhibition from one little boy to his dad – ‘That’s a proper painting!’

****

Breath

First Garden by Kirsten Harris, Acrylic on Board

We all know that trees are the lungs of the planet, but did you know that it’s unhealthy to mouth breathe? Notice if you do it! Mouth breathing can cause of a lot of problems.

There is a fascinating new book on the subject called Breath by James Nestor which I thank my talented potter friend Richard Price for pointing me at.

I thought my long term cough was caused by the effects of years of oil painting but it seems that I had developed a habit of mouth breathing. The cough is miraculously disappearing with my awareness of this ‘dangerous’ habit.

****

Todays job – Order fencing material to fence off a swathe of land to plant trees and trust someone will miraculously show up to help me create the fence! Will keep you informed. I am on a tree planting mission!

Prints and Artwork available at www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

To Earth We Return

To Earth We Return by Kirsten Harris

Why do humans find it so hard to accept that none of us are getting out of here alive? Me included! Life is short!

My dad told me that all the avenues of beech trees in Britain were planted after the first world war to commemorate the dead. A row of these ancient trees border my garden. For years I have photographed the trees around the farm behind me on my daily winter walk. Many of them are dying now. These trees, both beech and Scots pine, plus living with horses have inspired many of my drawings.

Before I die I plan to plant a lot more trees. I thank the horses for that desire. I have art to make to do it!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – prints and original art

****

Tree Lovers – Will You Help me Plant Trees?

Tree Lovers by Kirsten Harris

We are heading to autumn and I hope to plant a lot more trees. Will you help me? 

These prints of tree drawings will pay to fence off an area of land to protect the young trees and get more planted. I am on a mission and asking for help! It’s just one artists attempt to do something directly useful for the planet. 

I will blog about ideas and inspirations in the drawings over the coming days and be making more tree art too.

It is time for me to get focussed again! I have been developing my art but not really promoting it during Covid, as it seemed somehow irrelevant in a time of crisis. But this morning I feel focussed again. By keeping my purpose in mind, promoting my art is easy. My purpose is trees! That’s important!

All these prints are available on my website with many others and lots of beautiful original art.

Will you help me make a difference?  Trees for the future for someone else to love after we are gone!

Thank you so much in advance. I look forward to hearing from you.

Perhaps a print would make a nice gift for someone?

Best wishes and big kisses

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

All prints are £20/$28 for A4 size 21 x 29.7 cm

£30/$42 for A3 size 29.7 x 420 cm

Postage £5.50 worldwide. 

PS I will be putting lots of new work on my website over the next few days. Keep an eye out for something you like. xx

*****

All printed on white art paper

Lanark’s Closes – Astronomy, Magic, Superstitions and Alchemical Brews

The illustrations for Lanark’s Closes house a veritable ark, with two dogs, two magpies, a cat, lion, unicorn, horse, several chickens and an elephant! But I wanted to add some less obvious details too.

Astronomy – The drawing for Hunter’s Close shows a telescope pointing at Orion’s Belt. David Hunter was not only the first person to install electrical lighting in his shop in Lanark but an enthusiastic astronomer he was commissioned by the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh to make a telescope.

Locating Orion’s Belt is the easiest way to find Orion, the hunter. I chose Orion as a pointer to Lanark’s coat of arms with its two hunting dogs when the Forests of Lanark were Royal hunting grounds.

Orion’s Belt is also known in British folklore as Jacob’s Rod, Peter’s Staff, The Golden Yard-arm, The Ell, the Yard Wand, Our Lady’s Wand, the Magi, the Three King’s, the Three Mary’s or simply the Three Stars.

Magic – The dandelion clock in each drawing symbolises wishes and hopes for the future. Who hasn’t blown on a dandelion clock and made a wish? I believe in the power of positive thinking and positive intentions. Mind magic! We create our own reality with our thinking. Or as Einstein famously said “The most important decision is life is to decide whether it is a friendly or hostile Universe!”

The saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ was first recorded in by James Carmichael by Tinto in the 1700’s. In several drawings a magpie holds a single seed, the seed of a good idea is indeed magical.

Alchemical Brews – Brewery Close led to Gilroy’s, The Brewers. I decided to add the formula for brewing, or how to make a potion, to the drawing in the hope that it might interest someone. Brewed dandelions are an incredible medicine for lots of things too! For those who like a more simple brew, the kettle’s on in Ritchie’s Close!

**

Superstition. Two magpies for joy appear in every drawing. Does anyone else say ‘Good morning Mr Magpie’ if they see a solitary magpie to counter ‘one for sorrow?’

The spider that appears in the window of McKenzies Close is not only a reference to the weaving industry but a money spider, creating abundance! One dead magpie lies on the floor, symbolising the demise of this once huge industry in Lanark.

Lucky horse shoes appear in the image for Duncan’s Close, which is also a reference to Riding the Marches every year during Lanimer week in order to retain Lanark’s Royal Burgh status. Duncan’s Close housed both smiths and stone masons. One dog has a paw on a March Stone showing the importance of the symbolic stone.

**

Close Encounters opens today at 10am at the Tolbooth Lanark. The twelve original drawings for the street history panels are for sale alongside drawings of the backs of the Closes by Ronnie Cruwys.

Beware of Bull – Close Encounters with the Community Bull!

Bull’s Close, Lanark was so named as it was where the community bull was historically kept. I love the idea of a community bull! It’s easy to forget that farm-yard animals, especially chickens, lived amongst people in towns.

During lockdown many people have returned to keeping chickens and growing their own vegetables, including me, and there are an increasing number of community gardens, which has to be a brilliant thing.

I’ve also noticed that during lockdown people seem to have got kinder too. Have you noticed that?

Truthfully, I’m dreading a return to noisy skies with people flying around the planet filling their bucket list! The only bucket I’m interested in is the one that holds black gold, ie compost and manure, and is used to grow plants and trees. Creativity not destruction!

My fantasy is a community art forest. The vision is that we plant native and hardwood trees and the forest has interesting art in it too, beautiful seating, planting that frames views… An inspiring place on many levels.

Anyone want to help make something like this happen locally? There will be plenty of enthusiasm!

Do you have a piece of land that would be suitable that they would like to put in trust for an Art Woodland/Forest? (‘You don’t get if you don’t ask!’ my grandmother told me!)

In Japan there is a new healing art called ‘Shirin Yoku’ aka Forest Bathing, where folk are encouraged to be in and with nature. What a brilliant idea. A forest heals people and the planet!

Writing about the community bull has inspired me to share my thoughts. Thank you bull! Slow down, be in nature, stay in your home area more as a long term decision, support local, plant trees…

There is so much beauty to explore locally. It’s not sustainable to run around the planet in crazy self serving ways for much longer!

We are the spoilt and spoiling generation!

Let’s not talk about ‘getting back to normal’ but create an extraordinary thoughtful future for all the young folk. It is terrible to know, from my visits to primary schools to talk to children about their vision for Lanark in the future, that these young souls are anxious about the planet’s future and feel helpless.

Close Encounters with the natural world is the way forward! Please do get in touch if you want to help me find a way to create an art forest for the future!

Love Kirsten and Lanark’s Community Bull!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Bull’s Close, Lanark.

Cobblers – More on Illustrating Lanark’s Closes

Lanark’s Closes led to a network of workshops and small businesses. Now they lead mainly to carparks, such is progress! I can’t help thinking, as an artist, that it is small businesses that help keep communities alive and vibrant. Lanark thrived as a market town for 600 years due, I am sure, to these small businesses.

Ritchie’s Close shows a tin smith at work, the tools of his trade around him. If you look closely, a door opens to a school room, once also in this close, with two children on their way to school. A tin kettle boils on an old stove and a tin mug sits on the windowsill.

Thomson’s Close shows both a public house and a coil of rope from the rope works that it led to. And yippee, I had managed to get a unicorn into the drawings. Happy me. The magpies fight over a bit of string, or is it a worm?

Thomson’s Close

McKenzies Close shows the weaving trade. Textiles have been hugely important in Lanark since Medieval times, with Unesco World Heritage site, New Lanark, just down the road. A spider’s web echoes the spinning theme.

McKenzie’s Close

Wide Close and Bernard’s Wynd both show the shoe industry. Next to the elephant in Wide Close a family look out from a shoe shop, and Bernard’s Wynd has the word ‘Cobblers’ in the window. I can’t resist a bit of humour in language. Bull’s Close, home to the community bull, has a sign with the words ‘Beware of Bull!’

By this time I had given myself the challenge that the name of each close should be somewhere in each drawing.

Bull’s Close
Bernard’s Wynd. Spot the Medieval window arches!

Supplying stout shoes to Glasgow and America – wouldn’t it be wonderful to see regular markets in the Castlegate again? They’ve been held there since Medieval times after all!

As I hope you can tell I had a lot of fun with these illustrations. The original drawings are for sale at The Tolbooth Lanark, if anyone would like to invest in a bit of Lanark’s history.

A lovely bonus to this illustration project has been getting to know Ronnie Cruwys of Drawing the Street who too has a passion for history and the clues of what went before us in our built environment. Ronnie has painted the backs of the closes. We hope to see you at Close (but not too close) Encounters!

Buns and Pies – More Waffle on Creating a Series of Illustrations

The commissioners had wanted a different type of art for the panels that were going to adorn the town – serious, proper art! I would have to hope that Lanark, which always seems a good humoured and chilled-out kind of town, would respond to a bit of quirky humour instead. It’s odd being second choice artist when you think the original choice of artist was better qualified for the job too. That very human odd couple, ego and self doubt, would have to leave the room before getting on with the job!

Veitch’s Close had been home to a popular baker.  I had already established my supporting cast of characters, (blog here) so warm Scotch pies and begging dogs for the next illustration. The dogs, that reoccur throughout the series, are taken from Lanark’s 600 year old heraldic coat of arms. I reckoned they must be hungry! 

The drawing is set in the 50’s when men wore flat caps and women scarves. After a year of lockdown hair – bring back the scarf! 

In the original drawing I messed up the spelling of the word ‘Scotch!’ Working in pen and ink, this is a disaster as it means redrawing the whole thing. Lovely Jenny at Lanarkshire Print House came to the rescue and deleted the clumsy word on photoshop, then posted out a print so I could rewrite ‘Scotch’ for the artwork to be printed onto the panels. Thank you Jenny!

My favourite bit in the drawing is the dog sniffing a chicken poking out of a women’s string bag. 

Hopefully the drawing gives a sense of gossip and chat as people queue for their buns and pies. Nothing much has changed has it? We’re still prepared to queue for a warm Scotch pie!

Close Encounters opens on the 26th of April at The Tolbooth Lanark. All twelve original artworks for the Lanark Closes street art panels are available to buy alongside Ronnie Cruwys’s beautiful and atmospheric paintings of the backs of the Closes.

Two Dogs, a Cat, Two Magpies and a Dandelion Clock – On Illustrating Lanark’s Closes

When I was asked to illustrate the history of Lanark’s Closes I was provided with some factual info about their past. I love history so found it interesting but also dry, as these things often are. I needed to find a way to give the information some life through illustrations that hopefully both children and adults would enjoy.

I began by looking at Lanark’s heraldic shield. Lanark is a Royal Burgh. On its 600 year old heraldry I noticed two dogs. Here was the start of an idea.

Lanark had been royal hunting grounds in Medieval times so this is why, I presume, the dogs are on the shield. I decided the dogs would appear in each cartoon providing a bit of fun and mischief but also linking into the long past of Lanark. Six hundred year old dogs were going to be given a new lease of life and turned into cartoon characters.

Now I had dogs I wanted a cat for cat lovers. Around the corner from the high street is the statue of ‘The Girnin’ Dug.’ The local story of neighbourhood feuds involves a cat chase, so here was my cat.

One idea was leading to another but now I had a cat I wanted two birds. I chose two magpies to symbolise ‘two for joy’ as I wanted the panels to be positive for the town. Lastly, I added a dandelion clock.

Much of my artwork over the past few years has been inspired by the saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses’, which was first recorded by James Carmichael in his book of Scottish proverbs in 1628. The Carmichael lands lie just outside Lanark by Tinto Hill, from where the Clydesdale Horse originates too.

So the dandelion clock acts a kind of signature of my artwork plus referencing more local history, as well as a positive symbol of hope, wishes coming true and transformation.

The dandelion clock too as a reminder of the huge importance of wildflowers as pollinators for bees. I sincerely hope that people will stop seeing dandelions as weeds but as the miraculous plants they are!

Now I had a cast of characters to use in each panel to link the Close illustrations together and attempt to bring to life the hustle and bustle of a busy market town over the centuries.

The historical facts could now wrap around these repeating elements. I really hope locals and visitors to Lanark enjoy the set of 12 drawings. Here is the first pre – drawing I made to bring the dogs to life.

I think we need to name Lanark’s two dogs!?

www.kirstenharrisart.com

The original artwork is going on exhibition and is also for sale, including this first pre project drawing of the heraldic shield …

Open Wide – More on Illustrating Lanark’s Medieval Closes

When I was asked to illustrate the history of Lanark’s Medieval Closes, for information panels to be displayed in the street, I was shocked, to say the least! I am definitely not known for images of buildings! Animals yes, dandelion clocks yes, horses yes, buildings, no! Perspective, Argh! ‘Steer clear’ has always been my motto!

I suggested another local artist but was told that she’d been asked and turned the job down saying she could draw buildings but felt she didn’t have the imagination to bring the history to life. So number 2 choice happily said ‘yes’! A job during lockdown and a challenge sounded more than fantastic!

It was obviously time to learn to draw buildings, take on perspective and create narratives. Sack the perfectionist, I decided, and create some comedy and fun to illuminate the history. A bit of possibly dodgy perspective wouldn’t matter and at least there was an elephant in one of the histories so I knew I would be able to do that!

The backside of the elephant was no problem having painted hundreds of elephants. I decided an elephants bum was funnier than a head poking out of the Close. Cartooning people in historically apt costume made me smile and wonder about the lives of folk in the past. So just a matter of some windows and an arch. Bingo!  First one done.

I realised this project was already a lesson to learn not to say ‘I can’t’ do something, ie draw buildings, just because I’ve never done it before! How often do we do that in life? Anyone relate? My mind and art were being opened wider by the Wide Close.

Wide Close was one of the gates to Lanark when it was a Medieval walled town and has a much bigger opening than any of the other Closes because of this.

So why an elephant in central Scotland? Here is the story from a book written in 1895 for anyone who plays the lottery or like me, loves elephants.

I haven’t rewritten it as the style it is written in is a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy the story. 

Close Encounters opens 26th April at the Tolbooth Lanark. The original illustration are for sale with a certificate of authenticity. There are only 12 illustrations up for grabs and 12 paintings of the backs of the Closes by Ronnie Cruwys. Her paintings remind me of Van Gogh. Just fabulous! Poster below.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

We look forward to seeing you at this celebration of a little bit of the history of the Royal Burgh of Lanark.

Time Passages

Medieval Lanark – a walled town

The Tolbooth on the left. Notice the thatched Medieval cottage to the left of that

I love the idea of time travel – finding portals that allow you to travel into a history that’s still alive through fragments in the environment. Clues like echoes or ghosts of souls that trod before us. 

Lanark has twelve remaining Medieval public waythrough ‘time passages’ in the form of Closes (covered alleyways) from the High Street, then the King’s Highway.

Two years ago I visited 5 local primary schools and did a ‘town planning’ art project with the children. The children were asked how Lanark could be a better place. Classroom teachers then developed the ideas with the children which led to a wonderful exhibition at The Tolbooth.

Linking ideas of art, history, landscape, street design, architecture, environment, play, nature, gardens and community…  the children worked individually and in groups and came up with BRILLIANT ideas.

Seriously, I think children should have more of a say in the decisions that go on in the community. Their ideas were both creative and imaginative as well as thoughtful and loving, showing a high level of concern for others and the environment. 

One simple recurring theme was that Lanark’s Closes were dark and scary. Since then the Closes have been sympathetically painted in a light colour and lighting has been installed. During lockdown I was commissioned by Discover Lanark to illustrate the history. The panels were put up in town a month ago. 

Bull’s close, where the town’s community bull was kept! The Tolbooth is at the white building at the bottom of the high st

Each panel has information about the history, and ‘underground’ type map and an illustration that I hope is a ‘time passage’ in itself. Hopefully children will no longer find the closes scary but find humour and a history treasure trail in the drawings.

The more I looked the more I found. If you look at the entrance of Bernard’s Wynd, the entrance is set back to the level of the original Medieval wall. The higgledy piggledy Medieval town was later straightened out with buildings required to be built forward into a straight line.

Interesting to note how the Tolbooth still sticks out. Perhaps it was too important at the time to be changed. I believe it was council rooms then! Although looking at the thatched buildings in the old postcard it looks as though there may have been a close running in that direction that was built over when straightening occurred. Just noticing that now looking at the postcard in the context of the closes. More clues! Love it!

The line of the enclosed Medieval building at Bernard’s Wynd continues through the inside of The Horse and Jockey pub next door. Will definitely need to go and check that out when doors open.

At the back of Bernards Wynd are stone remnants of two arched Medieval windows, the house where William Wallace is believed to have stayed while in Lanark.

The Tolbooth is opening with Close Encounters on 26th April to celebrate Lanark’s historic past.

Exhibited will be 12 beautiful atmospheric paintings depicting the backs of the Closes by restoration architect turned painter, Ronnie Cruwys of Drawing the Street and the 12 original illustrations for the street panels. Plus historic photographs will be shown on the screen.

All original artwork is for sale – twenty four opportunities to invest in a little bit of Lanark’s history!

Ronnie and I look forward to seeing you there. 

Thanks for reading

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.com

See all the close images below poster…

Spring – The March Hare

This painting started as one thing and became something completely different.

It was inspired by seeing a hare and spring springing in the garden with the first snowdrops and an incredible blood orange snow moon at the beginning of the week. The idea of life’s potential about to burst forth, almost vibrating with energy yet still contained by winter’s chill.

This painting emerged over 5 intense days. It wasn’t planned. Or rather I had a plan and it went in a completely different direction.

It is loosely divided into the four elements –

Earth, the hare and dandelion clocks.

Fire, the sun and eye.

Water, the sea and fish and

Air, the dragonfly and seeds.

I allowed myself to stay in not knowing where I was going and enjoy exploring acrylic on board.

Some symbolism –

The Hare – rebirth, resurrection, dawn, fertility, spring, immortality. A hare or maybe the white rabbit of the magician?

The Dragonfly – wisdom, light, transformation, adaptability. Connecting with our own courage, bringing more joy into our lives. A pollinator.

The Fish and Sea – flow, fertility, swimming your own course despite the currents. Environmental awareness.

The Teardrop or Raindrop – My grief for how we treat nature, desiring to do more to help. Renewal, cleansing, healing.

The Webs – The interconnectedness of all things. The importance of insects and pollinators. Creation. The spider spinning magic, connected to the number 8, the sign of infinity. Beginnings and endings being interconnected. Life and death.

The Moon – Tides, time, seasons. The feminine.

The Dandelion Clocks and Seeds – hope, new beginnings, abundance. Wishes and the magic of life. Wishing to plant more trees this spring to allow the magic of nature to flourish.

Toadstools – altered states of consciousness, seeing beyond the mundane.

The Eye – seeing the truth, seeing beyond illusion, the eye of god, being alive. The great mystery of life! There is a trinity here too with a creature of the air, earth and sea, each with an eye, yet the smallest one, the dragonfly has a human eye. We need to take responsibility for what we are doing! I remember as a child that when we went out on a Sunday in my dads car the windscreen would be covered in insects. Now that never happens. With no insects we have no life on Earth.

Not too much symbolism in this painting then! I didn’t realise I had painted so much in until writing this blog. I definitely had fun painting it. At one point I had painted a horse, deer, badger, highland cow, cat and a random fried egg in the scene, but they all got painted out.

Spring – The March Hare, Acrylic on Board, 50 x 60 cm

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Twenty One

The greatest Virtue is to follow Tao and Tao alone.

The Tao is elusive and intangible.

Oh, it is intangible and elusive, and yet within is image.

Oh, it is elusive and intangible, and yet within is form.

Oh it is dim and dark, and yet within is essence.

The essence is very real, and therein lies faith.

From the very beginning until now its name has never been forgotten.

thus I perceive the creation.

How do I know the ways of creation?

Because of this.

LAO TSU

*****

Decluttering my studio this week and not painting or writing – un muddling my studio and brain! Finally prising my mind open to embrace acrylic paints and have beginners mind and experiment. Instead of saying ‘I can’t use them’, ‘I don’t like them’ and ‘I prefer oil’, I’m saying ‘I wonder what I CAN do with them’ and ‘they are not toxic, hurrah!’.

It feels so good having got all the half finished unresolved oil paintings out of the way last week. It feels like a new beginning AND the snow drops started blooming this week too. Spring is springing in more ways than one.

Simple shifts of intention and clarity of focus can be hard to find but look so easy written down. I have struggled to get here! It is long overdue to embrace working with acrylics as my lungs can’t cope with oil any longer.

I had a couple of sheets of 8ft x 4ft ply delivered and am waiting for a new fine tooth saw to arrive to cut it up into boards to paint on. I’m moving away from canvas too. A whole new beginning. A whole new practice!

So in the spirit of the Tao I am embracing the formless and the unknown, allowing my art practice to change and actually feeling excited about acrylics at long last! Yay! Faith in the unknown!

This painting made a weeks or so ago ‘Walking with Trees’ is acrylic, pastel and pencil on paper. I found myself enjoying the flexibility I found. A stepping stone drawing.

****

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Twenty

I’m stepping back from the business end of art to enjoy art’s fun.

In a world where it seems ‘all about the sale’ and making a living, it’s been a challenge to disentangle from trying, but I’m feeling my inner flame beginning to burn brighter the more I do. It’s exciting! What a challenge it is to return to the self and quieten the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’.

It’s as though social media was beginning to extinguish my flame. The addiction of sharing and getting ‘likes’ is a nonsense but it’s kind of what happens, I’m ashamed to say!

From starting out as an artist to being an artist now, things have changed so much. From painting quietly and showing work in progress to the odd visitor to the studio to sharing regularly on social media and going world wide instantly. No longer an artist in a local community but part of the world wide stage. It’s kind of exhausting. Exhilarating but exhausting.

And the ‘to do’ list to so called ‘being successful’ gets longer and longer too. I fail at so much of it!

The business end seems to engage a different side of the brain – business feels like ‘the serious adult’, art ‘the happy, playful, creative child!’ It’s easy to get stuck in the middle somehow where neither are really working.

So I’m really trying to listen to how uncomfortable all the art sharing has got for me and allow the creative arty child to have time to herself.

As FM Alexander said “If we keep doing the same thing in the same way we will get the same result.” To change and give ourself new choices we have to stop, pause, allow ‘non-doing’ and see what happens.

This verse seems to invite a disentangling from brain nonsense and be OK with what you are feeling.

“I am nourished by the great mother.”

What a beautiful line!

I didn’t realise the horse I spotted in the photo of the puddle before going in studio showed up in a painting until this morning. I had another fun day resolving old work or in the case of this simply painting over something.

Tao Te Ching – Nineteen

Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom,

And it will be a hundred times better for everyone.

Give up kindness, renounce morality,

And men will rediscover filial piety and love.

Give up ingenuity, renounce profit,

And bandits and thieves will disappear.

These three are outward forms alone: they are not sufficeint in themselves.

It is more important

To see the simplicity,

To realise one’s true nature,

To cast off selfishness

And temper desire.

LAO TSU

****

The Tao Te Ching is loaded with ideas so selecting what resonates.

‘To realise one’s true nature’

I think that art is a kind of seeking of one’s self. I guess it’s what motivates to keep making artwork. The joy of ‘Aha’ moments, happy accident, skills coming together, letting go. The pure sensory pleasure of colour or paint on canvas. The thrill of an abstact line turning into something recognisable. The expression of pure feeling…

Great week in the studio resolving problem paintings – the also rans in the reject pile. Quite a big reject pile – I seem to have a lot of problems, some going back ten years!

I want to clear my studio to really learn how to work in non-toxic acrylic paint. So resolving oil paintings seemed like a good plan and instead of wanting to burn the problem paintings I felt on fire this week.

It would appear artists creates problems to solve. A crazy game but the best fun when it comes together.

Simple ideas applied – design, differences and values.

The work came alive and with it me too!

It’s the best feeling being in the zone. Dubbed the zone by children I taught Alexander Technique to at school discovering it was something they could access for themselves through a bit of Alexander Technique ‘forward and up’ thinking. A real ‘life skill’. I used to feel on fire every time I taught.

Today – intention to pack my oils to the shed and create space for acrylics! This is BIG! This is putting myself into being a beginner as I really don’t like acrylics or know what they can do but my lungs really, really don’t like oil paint!

I am finally motivated to give acrylics a real go, rather than simply fiddle half heartedly.

Beginners mind! The first three ‘give up’s’ in this verse perhaps instructions as to how to find it!?

****

These four paintings of speeding cheetahs were part of a series I did about ten years ago and had got stuck with. Happy with the energy in them now, and they definitely portray the feel of shifting forward and my ignited energy this week. Although they don’t really represent themes I am interested in painting now, my ‘finisher/completer’ is doing a happy dance!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Seventeen

The very highest is barely known by men.

Then comes that which they known and love.

Then that which is feared,

Then that which is despised.

He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.

When actions are performed without unnecessary speech,

People say, “We did it!”

LAO TSU

*****

Detail

Tao Te Ching – Sixteen

Empty yourself of everything.

Let the mind rest at peace.

The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.

They grow and flourish and then return to the source.

Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.

The way of nature is unchanging.

Knowing constancy is insight.

Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.

Knowing constancy, the mind is open.

With an open mind, you will be openhearted.

Being openhearted you will act royally.

Being royal you will attain the divine.

Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.

Being at one with the Tao is eternal.

And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

LAO TSU

****

I’ve spent a few days sketching ideas for the mural, but I think writing down what I want to achieve might start to clarify ‘ten thousand things!’

So, what do I want to say? My Shirley Valentine wall moment!

Vibe – fun and magical, a place where the children can find imaginative freedom. Smile generator.

Scale – The bigger I can make it the more impact and fun. Need scaffolding! Wheelchair height detailed elements, bigger shapes higher up.

Comical elements – in the form of good ideas and the way I draw – expressions, action etc

About – the natural world and freedom of imagination

Incorporates – wildlife, trees, flowers, animals, birds, insects and perhaps a magical unicorn too. So much potential as to what to paint and how to paint it that the ‘ten thousand things’ become overwhelming. Let ideas rise and fall until I see what is left. I love the words in this verse – ‘the way of nature.’

The Way of Nature – a working title for the wall!

3d elements – planters planted with brightly coloured real flowers. Real nesting boxes attached to drawings of the trees. Eric said he would make some boxes. Could attach bird or other cut out shapes to the front of the boxes, so the nesting holes became mouths. Other 3d ideas?

Colour – Paint the walls a colour first. Get rid of the white! Maybe section areas into key colour elements and get help from the groundsmen to do the big painting job! Good plan. Pale greens and blues for one wall. Maybe reds and brights for the other.

I am realising that good planning is key to the success of this

So here is a thing –

Anxiety, caused by living in the future!

Depression, caused by living in the past!

Creativity, freed by living in the moment!

So my task is to keep staying present with ideas and let them come. That presence is what I think is meant be ‘constancy’ in the verse.

The wall will start to come alive with the planning I do now. Keep planning! Enjoy the planning! It’s a learning curve.

I’ve noticed moments of anxiety over the past couple of days when I jump too far ahead with the project and moment of feeling low when I think because I’ve never done a huge mural before I’m not capable. Past and future mind games. Best avoided by noticing and letting go. Lying in Alexander Technique Constructive Rest for a few minutes usually changes my mind!

This mural is a wonderful challenge – learning loads already.

So another thing – fear and excitement are much the same feeling. Label this excitement, so as not to keep hitting the wall!

Photo – second wall that I can paint.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Fourteen

Look, it cannot be seen – it is beyond from.

Listen, it cannot be heard – it is beyond sound.

Grasp, it cannot be held – it is unintelligible.

These three are indefinable:

Therefore they are joined as one.

From above it is not bright;

From below it is not dark:

An unbroken thread beyond description.

It returns to nothingness.

The form of the formless,

The image of the imageless,

It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.

Stand before it and there is no beginning.

Follow it and there is no end.

Stay with the ancient Tao,

Move with the present.

Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of the Tao.

LAO TSU

***

I started to think in earnest about how to achieve a huge mural in the spring. Something I’ve not done before. I visualised standing before it smiling, a photo being taken, the children happy, inspired. Creative visualisation before the event.

And then an epiphany walking past two big paintings on my wall.

‘Just be you! Paint your art!’

It doesn’t sound much of an epiphany, but it’s as though I had blocked the flow thinking I should be someone else ie a mural artist who knows what she is doing!

The epiphany said – let it flow, it will come, you cannot push water into the pool, it flows into the pool and becomes a pond. You can do this.

I walked, feeling excited, laughing at my own idiocy. Biting wind, drifting snow. Then started drawing out ideas, letting them flow. I know now that it will come together and I will enjoy the process, no longer scared and overwhelmed. It’s as though I have found the straight line, the path, my brain no longer bouncing from side to side with possibilities.

The straight line – self worth.

‘Stand before it there is no beginning

Follow it there is no end.’

Later a conversation with an artist friend and a penny dropping. A great big AHA moment.

Me – You’re the queen of perspective

Ronnie – I just think of a clock face

Me – (penny dropping) OMG, I CAN do perspective. A clock face, that’s BRILLIANT!

I am looking forward to drawing from life today, playing with the clock face. And to continue letting ideas flow for the wall.

Tao Te Ching – Thirteen

Accept disgrace willingly.

Accept misfortune as the human condition.

What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?

Accept being unimportant.

Do not be concerned with loss or gain.

This is called “accepting disgrace willingly.”

What do you mean by “Accept misfortune as the human condition”?

Misfortune comes from having a body.

Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.

Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

LAO TSU

****

Stop: head on books, knees up, hands on rib cage, let go. surrender, allow. Let things give for a bit. It’s called Constructive Rest.

My Alexander Technique table. Maisie just in from the snow, letting go.

‘Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.’ Lao Tsu

Care is needed: our beautiful planet is in crisis, the way we are going is unsustainable. Time to choose another way: allow oneself to stop, to be unimportant, to care.

A call for action!

“If we stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing does itself” FM Alexander.

It sounds easy, but we are all so identified with our habits, the past, in our sense of self, our needs and aspirations, we forget to question appropriateness.

I hear people say ‘when things return to normal.’ Normal is heading for disaster! Disgraceful destruction and selfishness!

The world has slowed down a bit. That has to be good for the planet, surely? Maybe the virus will help us see that everything is everyone’s problem.

‘Care for all things.’ Lao Tsu, The Book of the Way.

What can I give?

Not, what can I get!

****

Alexander Technique audio here.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Twelve

The five colours blind the eye.

The five tones deafen the ear.

The five flavours dull the taste.

Racing and hunting madden the mind.

Precious things lead one astray.

Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees.

He lets go of that and chooses this.

LAO TSU

****

Two words resonated – five and feel.

Five senses, five fingers, five toes, five sense organs. Balance between the hands, balance between the feet… feel!

Be guided by feel.

Feel is riding a horse. Feel is sensory, intuitive, mysterious. Feel is something to open up to and allow through balance and trust.

Feel, developed for me through The Alexander Technique, yet since messing up my toe, the confidence in my abilities eroded. Time to let that go! I can balance despite!

Feel is the flow of a paint brush, the calling of a colour, an idea wanting to be born. Feel is trust, breath, life itself speaking through you. Listen for feel.

Feel is not the emotions; it’s more than feelings.

Feel is a kind of inner awakening. A knowing that comes through allowing not by chasing or hunting.

This winter, snow most days. Every day the snow is different – crystalline, icy, wet, sticky, slushy… different feels. The last two days, powdery snow for the first time. Blue skies, warmth in the sun, spring around the corner.

I rode my horse, Angus, not ridden all winter with the ground so muddy or icy, rutted and hard. Yesterday and today, perfection.

He hasn’t forgotten the feel we’ve built between us. Neither have I. We were both happy. Blissed!

And a realisation – stop putting yourself down for not being good enough! It is all enough. It’s perfect.

Let go of ego’s nonsense. Comparison feels bad. Comparison blocks feel.

Today, I commit again to feel.

After riding, I up-cycled a small book stand with chalk paint. It belonged to a dear horsy friend, Jen, who died recently of Leukaemia. I painted roses either end.

Why did I want to paint it? It just kept coming into my mind to do it. Listen to what you are being told.

This morning I know why it felt right to up-cycle it. The book stand is symbolic… keep up-cycling one’s life with balance, feel, love, trust and gratitude and most of all enjoy the ride.

A perfect circle.

Thank you Jen!

****

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Eleven

Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;

It is the centre hold that makes it useful.

Shape clay into a vessel;

It is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room;

It is the holes that make it useful.

Therefore profit comes from what is there;

Usefulness from what is not there.

LAO TSU

******

The words of the Tao opened a flowing morning. The spokes of the wheel, creative ideas. Keep returning to centre. Let go when done. Allow the door of the day to open and take shape.

Two drawings for my Horses and Tree of Life Calendar. I made a beautiful sample for 2021 but never produced it. With Covid it didn’t feel right to send calendars around the world! Now redesigning.

I wonder if it will get over the door this year or will it become something else? I hope to plant trees though my art.

The sample calendar I gave to my neighbour. He phoned on Hogmanay asking if I had a calendar, superstitious to go into the new year without one. I gave him my sample and asked him to plant trees. He told me in the past he hates trees. With luck, my only 2021 calendar might do good.

Strengthening intentions – finding ways to plant trees in places where they are not there!

***

Seasoned Hands by Kirsten Harris
Exploring and idea of four seasons through trees.
Tree Lovers by Kirsten Harris
I love the lips! The idea of lips and the breath of life that trees give.
****

Tao Te Ching – Ten

Carrying body and soul and embracing the one,

Can you avoid separation?

Attending fully and becoming supple,

Can you be as a newborn babe?

Washing and cleansing the primal vision,

Can you be without stain?

Loving all men and ruling the county,

Can you be without cleverness?

Opening and closing the gates of heaven,

Can you play the role of woman?

Understand and being open to all things,

Are you able to do nothing?

Giving birth and nourishing,

Bearing yet not possessing,

Working yet not taking credit,

Leading yet not dominating,

This is the Primal Virtue.

LAO TSU

****

One line – ‘Are you able to do nothing?’

The art of non doing – Alexander Technique.

Tired yet still striving. Why?

Lockdown with no job, yet restlessly pursuing. What?

The how to finding flow – stopping!

If I didn’t have animals I would have stayed in bed.

To do nothing

Or to non do and allow. Trust.

To be, not being lazy.

Walk Maisie. Slow down enough to see. Walking the question ‘are you able to do nothing?’

On the way home – a zero in the snow. And then a spiral.

81 verses in the Tao.

8 – infinity.

1 – at one, the one…

The infinite feel that is present within each of us when we let go. The feel of the infinite – Alexander Technique hands on, riding in balance, a spiral, simply walking the snow.

‘Everything that lives and breathes and moves, lives and breathes and moves spriallically.’ Don Burton

*****

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Translation of The Tao Te Ching – Gia-Fu Feng, Jane English

Tao Te Ching – Nine

Better stop short than fill to the brim.

Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt.

Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it.

Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow.

Retire when the work is done.

This is the way to heaven.

LAO TSU

*******

The woodpecker tree. Mid winter, a tree dying but not dead. A call to plant trees. Knowing what to draw.

The drawing started more complex but rubbed out branches and two horses standing beneath it. Simplifying. Creating decay. Allowing space. These drawings take hours.

Heart shaped holes. Valentines day in February. A drawing for next years calendar.

And then more work on a painting already framed. The remains of the paint used in a quick 5 minute colour sketch of the remains of the day. Twilight sun reflecting from the roof of a red barn way off in the distance.

A breakthrough – inspired to do more quick landscape paintings.

A day with direction.

The Scots Pines in the background are some of the trees that have inspired my horse tree drawings and paintings.
Drawing inspired by this woodpecker eaten tree.

Tao Te Ching – Eight

The highest good is like water.

Water gives life to ten thousand things and does not strive.

It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

In dwelling, be close to the land.

In meditation, go deep in the heart.

In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.

In speech, be true.

In ruling, be just.

In business, be competent.

In action, watch the timing.

No fight: No blame.

LAO TSU

****

Go backwards to go forwards – words come to mind.

Walking backwards – remembering how it enlivens the back, empowers forward walking, changes habits. Imagining Alexander Technique hands on my back, calling my presence back, back to your back, come home.

Maisie looked confused, wondering which way we were going? Good question Maisie!

Another day spent tidying artwork, looking for space, slightly frustrated. I want to sit down and paint and let the beautiful words from the Tao flow through. A day’s not long enough! A lament!

Again – go backwards to go forwards…

I work on a painting in oil for a short while, adding a layer. Backwards to resolve. Backwards to complete.

Then walk Maisie. Bitterly cold wind, a hat, a hoodie, the hood of the coat. The words – slow down enough to see.

It takes time to slow down. The irony doesn’t escape me, days pass fast. So much to do, self care a challenge. Maisie needs to run. No time for the Tao!

The beech trees are dying, their ancient feet in water. Remnants of wire scar their trunks, grimacing faces. Tree people.

I photograph the same trees over and over for years.

The last photo homeward inspires.

The woodpecker had eaten a tree.

An idea for a drawing pops.

And there it is! Reconnecting to an idea during first lockdown: I attempted to write a children’s story to illustrate. A story felled when a friend pecked holes in it. I cried, heartbroken.

No blame, time changes everything.

I’ll paint to plant trees.

****

******

****

Painting – ‘Ascension’, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm Work in progress.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Seven

Heaven and earth last forever

Why do heaven and earth last forever?

They are unborn

So ever living.

The sage stays behind, thus he is ahead.

He is detached, thus at one with all.

Through selfless action, he attains fulfilment.

LAO TSU

****

I didn’t paint yesterday, creativity ‘unborn’, instead I moved paintings around, searching for space. It is a year since I agreed to do an exhibition in a castle and framed a lot of work.

There was an old lady who lived in a shoe, she had so many paintings she didn’t know what to do!

Covid cancelled that exhibition of course.

Choosing to detach from social media for now. Untangle the web! Caught like a spider and finding no joy. Time to step back.

‘If we keep doing the same thing in the same way, we get the same results.’ FM Alexander.

Honour ones own feelings, all of them. It sounds so easy yet we forget and override ourselves.

Backing up a horse to find power, elasticity, forward motion… step back, detach.

‘Back into your back!’ as we say in the Alexander Technique world and follow your joy!

“Wherever you are, what ever you do, be in love.’ Rumi

****

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Six

The valley spirit never dies:

It is the woman, primal mother.

Her gateway is the root of heaven and earth.

It is like a veil barely seen.

Use it; it will never fail.

Lao Tsu

*****

Another cold day. Wind stealing energy. Walking with Maisie, feeling low, thinking about the word ‘valley’ in the verse.

Allowing down. Falling down. Going down to go up, like a ball hitting the ground to gain energy and momentum. A space surrounded by mountains, obstacles.

Finding one’s feet to allow the push of earth to take us up. Actually allowing descent, the lows, not fighting them.

Valley, a metaphor for death.

A surprise realisation of rekindling passion for the Alexander Technique through the Tao. I’ve not taught since messing up my foot.

A fallen tree. Enough roots holding the earth to still grow. Deer prints to the stream.

Resting, holding one of the huge boughs in my arms. Something unexpected. The tree moved on my shoulder easing in the wind, spirals of fluid falling, pulsing, down the branch to the ground. Feeling stunned. The branch seemed too huge to move yet alone to have such a sensitive voice. The feel of a tree. A release through my shoulder to the ground. A burden falling.

And then the green man…

****

Later, a layer to a large painting – looking for chiaroscuro, depth and warmth. Vandyke brown, alizarin crimson, linseed oil, turps.

Cold hours in the studio absorbed, driven crazy by anatomy. A horse going up to go down. A crown above its head – symbol for these times.

A front hoof striking my leg two winters ago in enthusiasm for hay, a mistake, a dent in the leg, a muscle spiral weakened… and I am sure the cause of the plantar plate in my toe weakening, snapping like a twig.

Words releasing judgment – I am the painter not the painting.

Resurrection, 100 x 150 cm, Oil on Canvas

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Five

Heaven and earth are ruthless;

They see ten thousand things as dummies.

The wise are ruthless;

They see people as dummies.

The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows.

The shape changes but not the form;

The more it moves, the more it yields.

More words count less.

Hold fast to the centre.

LAO TSU

****

The verse made me think of the sea, the wind, the forces of nature. Another windy bitterly cold day. I felt tired, low.

I found abandoned paintings of seashells in my studio and reworked the small canvases into seascapes.

I wondered why I had given myself the task of going through the Tao Te Ching, The Book of the Way. But I feel rudderless, drifting, and the words are considered sacred, holding meaning to be understood. It is a way to learn from – lessons in the flow of nature.

Does the word dummy means quiet?

or

People are foolish how we treat the planet, dummies indeed.

‘The more it moves the more it yields’ an Alexander Technique like phrase. When we fix our bodies we become stuck in our attitudes, our emotions, our life. Most people are fixed, held together by tension. ‘Yield’ yet ‘hold fast to centre’. Move from the balance point that aligns everything. It is so simple yet a challenge to return to.

I miss the children I used to teach, I miss teaching.

‘The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows’ – the tides, the tides of breath. A sea shell washed up on the shore.

‘The shape changes but not the form.’ We are all connected by breath, by life, on our small precious planet. Now more than ever we should see this truth!

***

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Four

The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used but it is never filled.

Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things!

Blunt the sharpness,

Untangle the knot,

Soften the glare,

Merge with dust.

Oh, hidden deep but ever present!

I do not know from whence it comes.

It is the forefather of the emperors.

Four Feathers, Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 40 cm
Letting Go, Ink and Acrylic on Paper

Tao Te Ching – Two

Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness.

All can know good as good only because there is evil.

Therefore having and not having arise together.

Difficult and easy compliment each other.

Long and short contrast each other;

High and low rest upon each other;

Voice and sound harmonise each other;

Front and back follow each other.

Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.

The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,

Creating, yet not possessing,

Working, yet not taking credit.

Work is done, then forgotten.

Therefore it lasts forever.

LAO TSU

***

Heat, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 30 cm

The words seemed like the point of a pen becoming a line then getting tangled to make a shape before remerging as a straight line and coming to rest. Quick drawings, concentrating. One line drawings.

Later in the day, the sun shone and although temperatures are still well below freezing I wanted to paint in oils, to unleash some emotion. My unheated studio was so cold I painted really quickly looking for the essence of the subject. A hot subject and a subject endlessly challenging – zebras – the horse with stripes.

During the day my mind swung from thinking that being inspired by the Tao was a brilliant idea and perfect learning, inspiration and guidance for now and the horrors of covid to being utterly pretentious. But the games of contrast the mind plays are in this verse so… onwards…. with gratitude for a quiet life and life itself.

Stay safe,

Love Kirsten

https://www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

TAO TE CHING – A Journey

Maybe, like me, you feel you need some wisdom and guidance in your life right now but don’t know where to turn or who to turn to. I suspect I am not alone in feeling somewhat lost. Yesterday I picked up the Tao Te Ching from my book shelf.

Reading the first few verses I had a thought that I would like to see if I can do a drawing responding to each verse over the next weeks. There are 81 verses.

This ancient text seems like the perfect wisdom to the challenges of the present time. Letting the verses inspire through drawing seems like a perfect way to aim to embody some of this wisdom.

Lao Tsu, was an older contemporary of Confucius, and keeper of the imperial archives at Loyang in the province of Hunan in the sixth century BC. Taoism is concerned with spiritual levels of being. It has been translated more frequently than any other book than the Bible. The edition I am using is translated by Gia-Fu Feng.

I have no idea where this art journey will go and I set off with trepidation and excitement, and trying to let go of any fear of not doing justice to such a timeless text but just to try and be with the words for the next 81 days or so. Yesterday I thought I would be doing a 28 day project, but it just got wings!

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu

ONE

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.

The named is the mother of ten thousand things.

Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.

These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness.

Darkness within darkness.

The gate to all mystery.

TAO TE CHING – Lao Tsu

Egg Pyramid by Kirsten Harris

I made the egg shapes dipping the inners of toilet rolls into ink and printing them. They seem to make the perfect egg! Who knew?

Half a Dozen Eggs by Kirsten Harris
or The Tao Te Chicken!

Drawing – A Line Around Thoughts

‘Drawing is a line around my thoughts’ Gustav Klimt. 

I love this quote. It expresses drawing so clearly. Following a line, a train of thoughts, as the hand draws across paper, as the mind flows through the hand, allowing oneself to see where thoughts lead.

Drawing is a withdrawn, introverted pursuit – simply being quiet and drawing. What a brilliant word withdrawn is though – to disentangle, to draw back, and with that a sense of power like an archer drawing back a bow.

Drawing, although simply following a line, can be a great adventure. At its best it’s drawing down inspiration from some mysterious space. Worlds appear before ones eyes as you discover shapes, let ideas flow and bump into characters along the way.

For the last three years I have completed a drawing a day in February and would like to do the same this year though this morning I feel I need to clarify my intentions and set a goal as Covid continues to confuse and upset with close friends in hospital. Art starts to feel irrelevant. Yet, somehow Klimt’s words stand out like a beacon.

‘Drawing is a line around my thoughts.’

Withdrawing into a flow of line is probably the simplest and best idea for the coming month yet this year feels really challenging.

An easy flowing line – a peaceful flowing life, a clear intention and as the Japanese say an expression of an open heart.

We use the expression ‘to draw a line’ meaning to create a boundary or close something down.

Where does one draw the line sharing artwork? I don’t know at the moment. It feels egoistical, nonsensical and unimportant to keep sharing online. Yet withdrawing from connecting with people and the wider world one of the only ways we can doesn’t feel a positive option either, so I am coming to the conclusion all I can do is hope to do some good through drawing and see what happens 28 Drawings Later.

Here is my starting place intention – I want to continue to plant trees this year, to continue to do my tiny bit for the planet in this beautiful corner. I also want to paint a large outdoor mural in the spring for children with complex needs.

So hopefully drawing through February will help to both clarify my ideas for the mural (something I have never done before) whilst creating a folio of drawings to keep raising funds to plant trees into the future.

So I choose to not withdraw from being online, which part of me really wants to, as the slowness of art and the speed of social media have always felt like uncomfortable bed fellows, but aim instead to move fearlessly forward into February with Klimt’s word to inspire and see where I get to 28 drawings later.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe Kirsten

Some of January drawings –

Mountain Art

Glencoe Mountain Rescue by Kirsten Harris, Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 80 cms approx

A few years ago I started chatting to a random stranger parked next to me. He was fixing a cable to the front of his Land Rover and talked about fundraising for Glencoe Mountain Rescue to buy them a new Land Rover. His friend had recently tragically died in the mountains. I spontaneously offered to paint something to auction towards the fundraising. This is the painting.

The book cover is something I drew at the start of this year for my good friend Susan, who has climbed every Monroe in Scotland. The Aonach Eagach is, apparently, one of the scarier mountains to climb!

Though I suspect my relationship with mountains will be largely artistic, I thought I would bring Susan’s book together with the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Land Rover painting.

We are so lucky here in Scotland to have such an amazingly stunning landscape and brave volunteers who are willing to risk their own lives when walkers get into trouble in the mountains.

Link to Susan’s book here, recounting some of her adventures hill walking in Scotland.

Swimming the Aonach Eagach by Susan Jack

Available on Amazon

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

How to Fail as an Artist! 12 Fool Proof Steps to Failure!

Sometimes I have a dreadful sense of humour but I guess it’s good I can still make myself smile. So here is – How to fail as an artist! 12 fool proof steps to failure!

  1. Don’t finish anything. It’s safest to not start at all.
  2. If you make the mistake of starting don’t show anything to anyone.
  3. Think everything you do is terrible.
  4. Develop worry while you paint, especially whether people will like your art or not. This will help you mess things up.
  5. Think everything you do should be a masterpiece and then despair that it isn’t and give up.
  6. Copy other artists artwork or style. Definitely DO NOT develop your own style on any account or there is a distinct danger of failing at failing.
  7. Compare yourself to other artists, preferably negatively then beat yourself up for being a useless artist. Even better if you broaden that to being a useless human being. Who needs artists anyway!?
  8. Refuse to sell anything and/or don’t put prices on your art. This is a moot point as you won’t have shown your art to anyone so it shouldn’t ever become a problem.
  9. Don’t take any risks with your art and definitely do not experiment with art materials! You don’t want to accidentally succeed!
  10. Be scared to waste materials. In fact fear is an excellent emotion to develop to guarantee failure. White paper is very scary after all and art materials are scarily expensive! Best to just leave them be, they’re doing no harm sitting in the cupboard.
  11. Procrastinate. That kitchen junk drawer really does need tidying up!
  12. Most importantly, absolutely refuse to believe in yourself so that you don’t happen upon your own confident style. Follow the first eleven steps and this one should be easy!

For goodness sake do not sign up to my blog or you might get more of this nonsense!

Just kidding…

Stay well, stay safe and stay creative.

Love

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Ear Worm

I have an ear worm that I want to clear.

In conversation a friend said she feels she is not a successful artist if she has doesn’t sell and has art ‘hanging around’.

A worm lodged and started to grow. The little wormy voice started telling me I am not successful because I have not been making an effort to sell and have a Covid cancelled exhibitions worth of art stuffed into every nook and cranny of my home.

My wardrobe is full of paintings. Clothes? Who need clothes, art lives in wardrobes! My spare room, stuffed to the gunnels, no friends can visit anyway. Brimming cupboards, heaving drawers of drawings, framed paintings tucked under the bed, every wall space full. In fact my walls look as though an army of worms has attacked there are so many nail holes from hanging and rehanging over the years. 

But truth be told, since Covid I haven’t felt right about proactively marketing my work. I have sold a few pieces when people have approached me, and exhibited in one group show locally when lockdown eased, but somehow, rightly or wrongly, I have had the idea that I shouldn’t expect other people to put themselves at risk delivering parcels for me, and stay home meant stay home. I even produced a calendar that I decided to postpone until 2022. I have also been shielding my mum in her 80’s.

But I want to release the ear worm that is telling me I am not successful because I have a house full of art. Insidious little beastie begone!

I started to wonder if art actually exists if it’s under the bed, or in a cupboard? Does art only exist if it is seen, like Shrodinger’s cat?  And even, due to lack of space, should I stop painting and do something else?

Or is the purpose of art the glimpses at the mysteries of life that one experiences in it’s making? I think success for me this morning as I aim to let go of the poky little ear worm is that I wake up and want to paint and draw and for that I am grateful.

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and the voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh.

‘Oh No!’ Oil on Canvas by Kirsten Harris
This was painted and sold years ago, but feels apt!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

In Praise of Chickens

2020 is summed up by the word chicken for me. Just before lockdown I bought two from the farm up the road. Enter Bunty and Jinty. Red, next doors hitherto quiet cockerel (I didn’t know they still had one) soon appeared cock-a-doodling joyously on the fence and pretty soon there were chicks. Gorgeous, fluffy, miraculous chicks. 

My previous encounter with chicks was on a school trip with the nuns to Greece in the 70’s. It was Easter. Chicks were being sold on street stalls in plastic see through eggs with little air holes in. I bought one and called in Henrietta, after one of the nuns, which led to an encounter nun wrath.

Any ex convent girls out there will know that nun wrath is not a pretty sight! Red faced, shaking with rage, after a lot of furious berating, Sr Hen pinched me hard telling me to cry and dragged me back to the stall to return dear sweet Henrietta and get my money back. Naughty me, I am still laughing.

Most of 2020 was spent building things for chickens, a chicken circus of ideas to amuse (me mainly) plus attempting to keep the hens from escaping their field, finding them escaped, bribing them back home, drawing them, watching chicks grow and generally marvelling at these wonderful, generous birds that used to be worshiped and are now treated so miserably so often in our society. 

Now the chickens are in avian lockdown. I didn’t mind me being locked down but felt mighty miffed at Bunty, Jinty, Barbie, Cindy and Action Man’s liberty being curtailed. No more running around the paddock for the cheerful chooks.

Have you ever seen a chicken run? They’re comical and chickens are much more obedient than my dog, Maisie, which wouldn’t be hard –  the chickens actually come when I call. They are now enclosed in a crazy sculptural run made from an old poly tunnel sliced in half, lengthwise and attached to the side of my house with a tunnel to it from their existing roost.  Looks mad, but hey ho, it’s temporary and works and was free to make, entirely constructed with someone’s chucked out stuff. 

So, whilst I marvel and feel somewhat in awe at how others have embraced online teaching and learning, online exhibitions, online meetings and somehow found a new way forward via online and I haven’t and feel like a Luddite and a bit lost with finding my way forward in the new paradigm, I want to start 2021 in praise of chickens, because they really did keep me amused and busy all year, and I’m truly grateful for that. 

Here is a small selection of some chicken art made in 2020 …

2021 – Let’s make it a clucking good one!

Happy New Year

Love Kirsten and the chickens xx

Chicken Love, Chalk Paint on Board by Kirsten Harris
Learning to Fly by Kirsten Harris
Black and White print available
Chicken Rhythms by Kirsten Harris Chalk Paint on Board
Bunty, Chalk paint on board
Chicken Halloween by Kirsten Harris
Print Available
hawser
The Chicken Circus by Kirsten Harris
Chicken Thumbprints by Kirsten Harris
Watercolour on Paper
I love you by Kirsten Harris
Chalk Paint on Board

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

The Girnin Dug

Camp, The Girnin Dug

Lanark is home to a nearly 200 year old statue of a  dog called Camp, known locally as The Girnin Dug. 

Camp, a large black and white dog, was the beloved companion of Deacon John McDonald, deacon of the dyers trade.

As a sign of wealth, merchants would aspire to a town house in the Medieval Castlegate, at the foot of the high street. Building his town house, Deacon McDonald found his neighbour, Miss Mary Inglis of Vere House, objecting to both his new house and his loyal but boisterous dog, Camp.

One day in hot pursuit of a cat, Camp knocked over Miss Inglis in the street.  Shortly after Camp was found poisoned. Miss Inglis was the prime suspect. 

Deacon McDonald used art as revenge. Saying nothing to Miss Inglis he instead commissioned a snarling, grimacing, gurning stone statue of his faithful friend, which he erected on the gable end of his new house, staring directly into Miss Inglis’s morning room, her favourite place to sit and watch the world go by. 

Local legend says Miss Inglis eventually blocked up the window. The Girnin Dug still girns at 15 Castlegate.  Vere House is demolished. 

20-20 Vision – The Haggis Party – Profile of a Hill

The Haggis Party, Pen and Watercolour on Paper

My latest few blogs are collections of art on specific themes. Certain themes recur almost without thinking. So these blogs are a kind of sketch book for me or mini exhibitions. (Apologies in advance for my poor photography of some of the images.)

Tinto Hill here in South Lanarkshire with its distinctive profile, is a daily view and over the past three years has shown up repeatedly in my art in cartoons, drawings and paintings.

Tinto is a hill with history.

Birth of the Clydesdale
Oil on Canvas
100 x 150 cm
The Clydesdale Horse originates from the farms at the base of Tinto. In this large painting, bleak winter weather storms over Tinto as the powerful Clydesdale horse blows in on the winter wind. Painted with copper and gold acrylic paint and overlaid with oil paint to create what I hope is an atmospheric painting.
When Dreams Fly
Available as a print, £20/£30
The saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses, pure men would ride’ was first collected by 1676 by James Carmichael. The Carmichael Estate is at the base of Tinto. This drawing is part of a series of artworks based on the expression. The dandelion clock is another recurring image in my artwork.
blog here

.A Magical Moon
A unicorn stands at the top of the hill.
The Unicorn is the symbol of Scotland.
Original drawing available
Link to this and more original unicorn drawings here
The Dream
A girl gets ready to ride up a mountain. Never stop dreaming or attempting to climb mountains!
Pencil on Paper
Original Artwork Available
Blessings
Available as a black and white hand signed and titled print
£20/30
Angel seeds, angel wishes, hope and life.
Nineteen Corvids
Drawn during lockdown for an exhibition in Lanark
Available as a hand signed and titled print
£20/£30
blog here
The Wishing Tree
This painting portrays trees and dandelion clocks and another recurring theme that of horse trees.
Mixed Media on Canvas
Available
The Haggis Party
Ink and Watercolour
A bit of daft fun. Harris’s Haggises!
Framed Original Available
Horse Landscape
Acrylic on Canvas
This framed painting is oil on copper so changes in the light. It is much more interesting in the flesh than in the photo.
Available
Make Moosic
Pen and Ink
Link to this and other original cow drawings Blog Power of Cow – here
If Witches Were Horses
Available as a print
£20/£30
The poster for an exhibition I organised in Lanark. I have been working over the past few years with The Tolbooth Lanark to bring together artists in this rural area and create a vibrant art scene. The idea for this is based on Hokusai’s famous portfolio 36 Views of Mount Fuji.
The Path
Oil on Canvas
100 x 150 cm
Very loosely based on a Hokusai print. I keep doing more work on this painting, so although framed who knows if it is actually finished!
Available

If you are interested in any of the artwork in this blog please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes

Kirsten

kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

20-20 Vision – Eye Level – Dogs

20-20 Vision – Eye Level – Dogs is based on my wee scruffy designer mongrel Maisie, aka Crazy Maisie, who inspired a previous blog 101 Life Lessons from my Dog, link here. I was Maisie’s third home as a 12 week puppy. She was, to say the least, hyper active – literally bouncing off the wall. I love her to bits! She is now six. During lockdown I spent a lot of time clipping her with a tiny pair of scissors and drawing her too.

This collection were all drawn from life in the garden over several days during lockdown, April – May 2020. I admire Picasso’s fluid line drawings – the way he makes a simple line look so easy as it flows out, the result of years of observations and skilled hand to eye coordination. It ain’t easy, I got better as the days progressed.

***

24. Flat Out by Kirsten Harris, Postcard size, Ink on White card. £20
25. Eye Level by Kirsten Harris, Original Drawing. Postcard size, £20
Cultivate Fascination, A5 Print £10
Spring is Magical Pen and Watercolour, A5, £30
Follow Your Nose, Pen and Ink, A5 Size, £25
Playing Ball in Fun, Pen and Watercolour, A5, £35
Silence Speaks Volumes, Pen and Watercolour, A5 size, £35
Meditating is Bliss, Pen and Watercolour, £40
Power Naps are Essential, Pen and Watercolour, £40
This is drawn on white paper despite the bluish tint on the photo
26. Postcard size original drawing. £20
27. Postcard size original drawing £20
28. Postcard size original drawing £20
29. Postcard size original drawing £20
To buy and keep Maisie in an endless supply of balls, email me at kirstenfharris@btopenworld or PM me via my facebook page Kirsten Harris Art.
With very best wishes Kirsten and Crazy Maisie. x

Previous 20-20 blogs include The Power of Cow, Get Back on Your Unicorn and My Top Twenty Black and White Prints. More to follow – horses, cats and chickens soon. The original drawings in these blogs are not available elsewhere.

Lots of original paintings on my website. Thank you for looking. Kx

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Maisie ball in mouth, chasing a crow

20 – 20 Vision – Get Back on Your Unicorn Gallery

Welcome to my Unicorn Gallery. 20 Unicorn drawings and cartoons from £20 as part of my 20-20 Vision project, drawing a weird and challenging year to an end. I expected everyone to be talking about 2020 vision this year not viruses, so thought I would create a 20-20 vision personal art project and challenge to keep moving forward smiling.

A bit about unicorns…

The unicorn, a mythological horse found in antiquity, is the symbol of Scotland, chosen as the beast powerful enough to stand up to the English lion. 

In Medieval times unicorns were believed to heal sickness but the wild woodland unicorn could only be captured by a virgin.

The virgin myth is thought to represent the Virgin Mary and the belief that the healing power of the unicorn was associated with miracles and thus represented Christ.

Magical healing ‘Alicorn’ powder made from the tusks of unicorns was sold in Europe as late as 1741. Unicorn horn (narwhale horn) was an extremely precious commodity. 

It would be easy to laugh at this if it wasn’t for the fact that the Chinese sickeningly still use endangered rhinoceros horn for medicine. Bite your own finger nails for all the good rhino horn is going to do to cure you!

I started drawing unicorns to illustrate a daft Alexander Technique inspired poem I wrote for the children I was teaching the Alexander Technique at The Edinburgh School of Music. Well one unicorn led to another…

Here are twenty fun original cartoons and drawings of the wonderful mythical unicorn. The third of my 20 galleries, links at end of post. Prices for original drawings from £20. I think some of these would look wonderful in a child’s bedroom.

To buy just email me at kirstenfharris@btopenworld or PM me via Facebook messenger on my page Kirsten Harris Art.

I hope you enjoy my unicorn gallery…

Bee Up!
Pen Ink and Watercolour
21 x 29.7 cm
£30
Prancing the Night Away
14.8 x 21 cm
£20
Prancing the Light Fantastic
14.8 x 21 cm
£20
Come Prancing
14.8 x 21cm
£20
Moon Shadow
25 x 25cm with mount
Watercolour and ink
Mounted with a black mount
SOLD
Flower Power
Pen, ink and watercolour
21 x 29.7 cm
£30
Think Up!
Pen and Colour Pencil
£20
If Unicorns Made Wishes
Pen, Ink, Watercolour
21 x 29.7 cm
£75
The Unicorn Tree
Pen and Ink
21 x 29.7
£100
Wee Three Unicorns
Pen, ink, watercolour and coloured pencil
12.8 x 21 cm
£20
Get Back on Your Unicorn
Pen, ink and watercolour
21 x 29.7 cm
£30
The Owl and The Unicorn Tree
Pen and Watercolour on Cartridge Paper
21 x 29.7
£100
Princess Wishes
Pen, Ink and Watercolour
21 x 29.7 cm
£40
The Colour of Hope
Pen, Ink and Coloured Pencil
£55
Balancing the World
Pen, Ink and Watercolour
£45
Unicorn Moon
21 x 29.7cm
Pen and Ink
£50
Even Unicorns Need a Back Scratch
Pen, ink and Watercolour
21 x 29.7 cm
£30
A Magic Moon
Pen and Ink
21 x 29.7 cm
£55
Once In a Blue Moon
Pen, ink and watercolour
21 x 29.7 cm
£50
Does My Bum Look Big in This?
Pen and ink and watercolour
£30

Next collection of 20 drawings and cartoons on the theme of cats! Or maybe dogs… or chickens…

Stay safe,

Love Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

kirstenfharris@btopenworld.co.uk

Facebook – Kirsten Harris Art

Check out my 20-20 online galleries to date, a chance to collect original artwork from £20.00. You can reserve art if you want to follow this series. Thank you for looking. Kx

20 – 20 Vision – The Power of Cow Gallery here

20 – 20 Vision – Top Twenty Black and White prints here

20-20 Vision – The Power of Cow

Tough at the Top by Kirsten Harris
14.8 x 21 cms
£20

I love drawing. It underpins everything. It’s a zone, a skill and a challenge. When the hand eye co-ordination works and the line really starts flowing drawing is a wonderful place to hang out. A place to realise ideas through images.

In 2019 everyone was talking about how wonderful 2020 would be, 20 – 20 vision and all that! It went a bit pear shaped but the year’s not over!

My new 2020 vision is a desire to make people smile with my art.

Winter has definitely arrived here. With the wild wind and the nights drawing in, an idea blew in a few days ago.

I will do themes for drawings. 20 at a time, priced from £20. Original art for the price of a print. First come first served!

I don’t tend to sell my original drawings, let alone for twenty quid, but these are extraordinary times and I feel inspired. I’m hoping to channel my inner Picasso, the master of the fluid line!

I feel more fired up with enthusiasm than I have been all year so I hope I will draw 2020 to an end with vision.

My first theme is – The Power of Cow

I have been drawing cows for 10 years. Cartoons, daft drawings, ideas and the odd oil painting of Highlanders in between. Selling my cow drawings online is new to me. Cows have always been local. My lovely vet, for example, has a collection of original cow cartoons.

Join me, support me, make a collection of original art. Why not?

20 – 20 themes that I intend to draw and explore include – horses, cats, chickens, dogs, unicorns, hares, birds, Christmas and angels… and who knows what else. 20 drawings on each theme, from £20. (26 US dollars)

I will post out original drawings worldwide. If you wish to follow me and make a collection over the next couple of months I can reserve drawings for you and post in one go if you like.

Postage and packaging will be charged at cost. Drawings will be no bigger than A4 size. Maybe original art for gifts this year?

Wish me a good fluid line and I hope we connect between now and the end of 2020!

2020 – you are a challenge! Well, I am setting myself a challenge that actually interests me, so there!

Stay safe, love Kirsten

To Laugh is Human, To Moo is Bovine by Kirsten Harris
14.8 x 21 cms
£20
Cow Therapy, Try Mooing by Kirsten Harris
£20
14.8 x 21 cms
Seriously, try mooing, it feels great. Lol
Cow vid Nineteen by Kirsten Harris
£20
14.8 x 21 cms
Gotta love a bad pun!
Mood Moosic by Kirsten Harris
£20
14.8 x 21 cms
Make Moosic by Kirsten Harris,
14.8 x 21 cms
£20
6 Cards with envelopes £10
Limited Stock
I Herd it Through the Bovine by Kirsten Harris
14.8 x 21 cms
Pen on Paper
£20

To buy just email me at kirstenfharris@btopenworld.co.uk

Look out for my next 20-20 drawing project. I think I will be doing 20-20 Cats next. Sign up to my mailing list to be first in line or is that feline!

Stay safe, love Kirsten

Moon Cowlendar by Kirsten Harris
Pen on White Paper
21 x 29.7cm
£50

Email me at kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

I Miss You by Kirsten Harris
£20

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

COPYRIGHT

On Tintock Tap

On Tintock Tap by Kirsten Harris, Pencil on Paper

ON TINTOCK TAP – Traditional Rhyme

On Tintock Tap there is a mist,

And in that mist there is a kist,

And in the kist there is a caup,

And in that caup there is a drap;

Tak’ up the caup, drink aff the drap

And set up camp on Tintock Tap’

The traditional Lanarkshire rhyme, On Tintock Tap or On Tinto Top is for me less a rhyme and more a riddle. It could be suggesting that there is great wealth buried under the 4 metre high Neolithic/Bronze age cairn which is believed to be the biggest in Scotland and has never been excavated but I like the idea of it being a riddle full of symbolism.

Musings on the Symbolism –

Tintock/Tinto – Red fire hill. Fire symbolises energy, life, the inner spark, passion, sexuality, courage, determination, action and risk taking. Tinto – the divine fire hill. Fire serves as a beacon, seen from afar, especially from the top of a hill. The ancient Beltane festival and the Baal Fire are associated with Tinto – traditionally lit across Britain on May 1st to bring prosperity. Beltane, the time of dancing fires, when cattle were driven out to summer pastures. The simultaneous lighting of fires stretching across the landscape connected people, a giant fire calendar of hope. Many think Tinto looks like a giant breast the cairn being the nipple. Mother Earth herself.

Tintock Tap– climbing a hill or mountain symbolises the will to succeed, ambition, success and reaching your highest potential. The top of a mountain is the closest we can get to ‘heaven’ on earth. We are lifted by mountains. Mountains symbolise eternity, constancy and stillness.

Mist – symbolises a veil, the hidden, the ethereal, the mysterious. What is shrouded in mystery on the top of Tinto? Mist is a slow drizzle that blurs and distorts our vision preventing us from seeing clearly. Mists are like foggy thinking and lack of clarity. What can we find when the mists of perception clear? What visions for the future can we create?

Kist – A treasure chest. Here is a mystery within a mystery, the mist contains a treasure chest. How do we find the treasure and open the chest? Is this the treasures of the heart? Or something bigger than the individual?

Cup – Cups symbolise the spirit, receptivity, the heart, love, emotions, water, the holy grail, suggesting that the top of Tinto is an important spiritual place.

Drop – the mist has turned into a drop of water. Life itself. Is this a drop of blood, holy blood or the millions of drops of water that make a river and humanity. The human body is mainly water. Water is linked to the moon which governs tides. Emotions are symbolised by cups. The ebb and flow of the tides of life are alluded to. Water finds a way, water flows, water finds a course to the sea, to the whole. The mountain has been endured to drink from the cup. Is this to quench a thirst, physical or spiritual?

Set up camp – A steep path represents a journey that requires energy to persevere to reach the goal. To set up camp is an invitation to stop, to meditate, to look and experience a new or different perspective. To contemplate the journey made thus far. To be present to the beauty around us.

The astrological elements are represented in this verse – Fire, air, earth, water. Where better to study the astrological clock, the stars, the moon, the directions of Earth but from the top of a hill.

Tinto Hill is the defining landscape feature of this part of South Lanarkshire. It is in itself a map and marker. The rhyme further suggests Tinto is a place of spiritual importance.

Perhaps there is gold hidden under that cairn on Tinto Top. Wanlockhead, the source of pure Scottish gold, is within sight of Tinto or maybe the treasure referred to, is within.

On Tintock Tap by Kirsten Harris – Detail

In my drawing a rider has reached the top of Tinto Hill. She looks over the landscape. She has found great treasure. It is not actual gold that fills her heart it is journey that has made her rich. She knows that true riches are in the experience of loving life itself.

The hardest part of this drawing for me was the script, it took me hours to do and then I realised I had missed out a line from the verse and had to rub it out and start again. Drawings too can be mountains to climb.

On Tintock Tap by Kirsten Harris – Detail

Currently on Exhibition at The Tolbooth Lanark alongside photographs of Lanark Closes and other pencil drawings based on local history.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

A Closer Look – A Photo Document of Lanark’s Closes

There’s so much history on the doorstep.

Not long after lockdown eased I decided it would be fun to take my eighty something mother, who had been shielding, on a tour of Lanark. She has only recently moved to the area. We decided to make a doorstep adventure.

Having once lived in York, I told mum that Lanark’s Closes are like York’s Shambles. Lanark’s Closes go back to the Medieval era too, so it seemed a reasonable if exaggerated comparison. Lanark’s Closes unlike York or Edinburgh’s Medieval narrow streets have been largely neglected. More buildings are scheduled to be knocked down to be turned into car parking or are in a perilous state!

One Sunday morning we had our first outing for months. It was an interesting walk. I took photos. We had a lovely morning looking for history by walking up and down the Closes, first one side of Lanark High street, and then the other.

Some Closes, I learned afterwards, are adopted way-throughs by the Council, others not. Other old alleys are now hidden behind locked doors to the High Street, so inaccessible.

Nowadays Lanark’s Closes seem to mainly lead to carparks. In the past they would have led to workshops and industries including breweries, skin works, rope makers, boot and shoe makers, public houses and more. So much history erased! But the evidence of activity and life through the centuries is still there if you take a closer look.

That evening I shared a few photos on my Facebook page and was amazed by the response including The Tolbooth Lanark asking to exhibit the images.

‘A Closer Look’ is this walk. My mother features on the poster for the Tolbooth exhibition, much to her amusement.

***

All photographs Copyright Kirsten Harris
Prints available on request

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Painting ‘Too Big’ and ‘Too Small!’

During lockdown I was kindly gifted two large canvases by a friend, as they were ‘just too big’ and some mini canvases by another friend as they were ‘just too small.’

They say – don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and I was delighted. Here’s what I did with the too big and too small canvases.

I’m enjoying a palette of earthy colours and using copper, gold and silver paints.

***

These two paintings are 100 x 150 cm. I had the initial idea of surrounding the rearing horse by foals, but at this stage it doesn’t feel necessary. I usually leave the work for a bit when I get this far as I get kind of ‘eye-blind’ as to whether it needs more work or not. This style of painting is done standing up in my studio (aka ex garage) and is very spontaneous and free flowing. I do no underlying drawing, but just draw with paint.

Ascension by Kirsten Harris.
100 x 150 cm

After the weeks painting big I found it strangely addictive painting on a very small scale and was sorry when I used up all the wee canvases so bought some wooden blanks to make some Christmas decorations in order to keep painting small…

***

I think I may turn out to be the only person in the world who likes my Christmas decorations as they are very muted. But I had fun quietly sitting painting angels, fairies and winged horses and right now doing something you love seems to be a very good plan! I haven’t got another one. Self unemployed might be an apt description if I wasn’t a work-a-holic artist!

And now to make up this week. Maybe paint something a sensible size that is neither ‘too big’ nor ‘too small!?

Stay safe

Love

Kirsten

Ascension – On Exhibiting

Ascension, Work in Progress, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150cm

I miss people and I miss exhibiting. The social aspect of art is a big part of the creative process and I miss it. 

In April I was due to have a one woman exhibition but like so many other things a Covid fall-out.  I was looking forward an arty party in a castle – an opportunity to see old friends and meet new people. A chance to dress up and be a social butterfly. What could be better? Making art is a solitary business. 

Solipsism questions whether art or indeed anything exist unless looked at? Do my paintings exist stacked in my studio? They are certainly not alive in anyone’s minds or life carefully stored in neat rows. A castle’s worth of artwork locked in turret! There is no sharing of energy, inspiration, passion or joy if the work is not seen.

So, by extension, do I exist painting alone in a ‘turret’ in South Lanarkshire, Scotland? 

To be an artist is perhaps to be Schrodinger’s Cat, both dead and alive simultaneously. Van Gogh’s sunflowers are alive in everyone’s minds. You can visualise his work this moment with ease. His living presence is palpable in both the brilliance of his brushstrokes and your mind right now, yet he is dead. 

To be an artist is the only job in the world where people talk about you dying when buying. Surmising your art will be worth a fortune when you pop your clogs. I always laugh. It seems like the best thing to do. 

Yet paintings do seem to gather energy by being looked at. It’s hard to explain. It’s as though the presence of the artwork is increased or revealed by the viewer’s gaze on it. The more a painting draws a person in, the better it seems to have succeeded as a living entity. The more a painting is looked at the more it seems to gather energy. 

As an artist, meeting people energises and inspires. So many amazing encounters at exhibitions, lasting friendships made, insights shared, stories told, laughter enjoyed. I learn about my artwork from you, from what you notice, what you say, how you react. I miss it. I miss you. It’s a really important part of making art. Without it the creativity process feels incomplete, like cooking a delicious meal and then not eating it. It’s the reason I organise a yearly community exhibition for local artists too. I need the input of people.

I guess like many people I too feel a little lost right now or perhaps just a little philosophical. This blog offers no conclusions as to what happens next. I just wanted to say I miss you. I miss meeting people. I miss spontaneous interactions and conversations and I miss exhibiting. Perhaps it is a strange thing to say in this world of ‘everything is online!’

Meantime, my default position is – paint, for this too shall pass! I am so grateful to have painting.

Stay safe and hopefully see you soon! 

Love Kirsten 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Allowing Hands

This drawing is an attempt explain something about the anatomy of the hand in relationship to riding. For those of us who ride English style we have been taught to hold the reins between our fingers where the digits poke out from the webbing of the hand. But there is no joint at this point and therefore no true movement.

Joints are the main movers! Without a joint at the point of contact with the reins the conclusion must be that we are blocking out horses and the flow of energy forward!

I believe it is really important to understand this. 

Turn the palm face up. The joint is in the middle the palm. 

Turn the hand over you will see that corresponds with the knuckles.

My thought is to experiment with holding the reins further back in the hand to rest at the joint, the mechanism of movement. It feels a little odd to begin with, but I think you will find increased feel and forward flow and your horse will feel happier.

The joint is where the feathers and dotted lines are. I’ve drawn the dots on a curve because everything that lives and breathes and moves, lives and breathes and moves spirallicaly.

The feathers under the horses chin are to remind that head – neck – back poise is dimensional, it has ‘sides’, an ‘underside’ as well as a ‘top line’. (None of these are places as such. Poise is balance in movement, not a place or a posture!)

The hard lines that create the outline of the horses head in the drawing corresponds with where the digits meet the palm, where we traditionally hold the reins that I believe creates a block.

Any block at the horses head will block the free balance of the poll, the primary movement of the body, or in Alexander Technique speak ‘the primary control.’ We want to allow the poll to freely lead the roll of forward movement, forward and up into poise and power over the earth.

I hope this bit of hand anatomy helps? Do let me know what you notice with your horse if you experiment with how you hold your reins.

For more you can apply to your poise and balance in riding you might like to check out my media downloads here. 

My three titles are – Body Magic, Breathe and Walking with Your Horse. Each download 50 minutes.

Best wishes,

Kirsten 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Art

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

A Local Ghost Story

The Grey Lady of Shieldhill Castle by Kirsten Harris, Pencil on Paper

Are ghosts real?

At Quothquan near Biggar sits the historic Sheildhill Castle, seat of the Chancellor family for over 750 years. The tower built in 1199 still forms the heart of the current building, dating from 1820.

The Grey Lady, a daughter of the family, is said to haunt the building.

One story goes that the girl was raped by a soldier during the second half of the seventeenth century, known as the Killing Times, when Charles II tried to impose Episcopacy on the Scots.

A second story tells that she fell in love with a lowly farm worker, and became pregnant. The ashamed family locked her in a room. When the baby was born it was taken from her and left in a field. The grieving girl never recovered from the trauma and when she died her spirit remained at Sheildhill.

Reported sightings of a Grey Lady, who appears to be searching for something, have included various rooms in the castle, the roof and grounds.My drawing depicts her waking the grounds.

I have used the heraldic symbols that appear in the stone above the front door of the castle and incorporated them into the landscape. As well as ancient weeping ‘horse trees’ silently aware of her presence and responding to her grief.

Detail from The Grey Lady of Sheildhill.
The Grey Lady of Sheildhill Castle, pencil drawing by Kirsten Harris
Weathered stone on front of Sheildhill Castle

And for a bit of added spookiness some gravestones from nearby Dunsyre Kirkyard.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Bum to the Wind!

Weathering the Storm by Kirsten Harris

I’ve been thinking about how important it is to to keep a steady course in the midst of a storm, and that maintaining a steady course is a balancing act that requires courage, patience and trust.

I notice people sail mentally into the eye of the storm and then wonder why they feel anxious, stressed, depressed, lost or fearful.

In a storm, find calm waters. Anchor up if you can. Still your mind, still your body. The calm waters are within.

Or be like a horse!

Horses stick their bums to the wind to weather the force of the storm, resting in the most sheltered spot they can find. As my friend nicely put it, ‘animals blend’ with a storm.

Trees rooted to the ground, blend too. Weak rooted trees fall!

I drew this image last year but it seems apt for where we are in 2020, so thought I would share it.

Love Kirsten

Breathe – lessons in the Alexander Technique – link

Body Magic – lessons in the Alexander Technique – link

Walking with Your Horse – lessons in the Alexander Technique link

Perspectives on Drawing

How the Cat Got Nine Lives, Ink on Paper

I have been doing a lot of illustrative drawing recently and to my amazement have just discovered I CAN draw buildings which has inspired me to want to blog about drawing…

  • Ideas arrive in the process of doing. They appear when we show up.
  • White paper and sharp pencils are things of beauty.
  • Like snowflakes, thumbprints or leaves individuals have a unique line to draw out in life.
  • Drawings communicate ideas that words can’t always express.
  • A line on paper is a moment in life! When we enjoy and are truly present to what we are drawing, with no critical thoughts, the lines transmit that love and other people feel it.
  • Allow, allow, allow… space, time, pleasure to engage in the process.
  • Illustrative drawing is a way of conveying ideas. Illustration was something I didn’t think I could do as I studied painting and art history at art school. Illustration was a different subject! DAH! Drawing and attempting to communicate ideas has revealed and released a limited mind set over recent years for which I am truly grateful!
  • I CAN do perspective! I thought I was rubbish at drawing buildings but have really enjoyed creating street sets for ‘dramas’ to unfold in recent commissioned drawings (which I will share at a later date.) A bit of a revelation and reminder to NOT believe everything one tells oneself! How often do we say are rubbish at such a such and not even try? Negative self fulfilling prophecies are to be erased!
  • I love drawing! I knew that, but in a time of computer generated art and so many ways to ‘cheat’ ie marking out grids, projecting images onto paper, tracing etc, there is something wonderfully compelling, challenging, comforting, grounded and happy about letting the brain flow through the hand and out onto paper to find ideas and lines. No cut and paste for me! The style of drawings in this blog start as messy scribbles – hatchings of ideas that become more refined as I scribble and play. Balanced lines start to emerge from the chaos, ideas start to form. I then ink up the image which is a little like balancing on a wire, as there is no room for mistakes at this point and then erase the explorative pencil lines.
  • I truly believe it is absolutely impossible to be unhappy, stressed, worried or anxious about anything and draw! Drawing is high functioning brain work. The opposable thumb, that allows us to hold a pen or pencil, is considered the most advanced aspect of human development! To draw allows no space to think about anything other than drawing.
  • I think this is why prehistoric cave art is so captivating. We see in these amazing ancient drawings the human intelligence and presence of our distant ancestors. They speak to us, connecting directly through the images from the distant past, communicating ideas forward through time.

Ok, time to get back to the drawing board!

Love Kirsten

(all artwork Copyright of the artist)

Dawn Magic

All the drawings in this blog and many more are available as black and white hand signed prints. I post worldwide. Original drawings also available. www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

If Wishes Were Horses

Trust

The Guardians

The Journey

Artist Seeks Flow!

‘How the Cat Got Nine Lives’

Flow, we all want it, but can we always find it?

Flow, that wonderful feeling of ease and spontaneity, when life seems to magically take you forward. It feels great doesn’t it? And it really doesn’t matter what you’re doing because it all flows together seamlessly.

And then there’s the times when you wonder ‘where did the flow go?’ Things seem awkward, frustrating, uneasy, unsettling. Kind of like walking through thick mud and rough terrain, whilst getting caught on thorny branches. We try to grab at flow and it just doesn’t work!

So, how do you find flow?

Do you just make a start at something? Do you decide to have a day off, go for a walk or lie down and rest? Do you pray to the gods of flow to come to the rescue? Do you work on untangling yourself, finding easier ground to ‘walk’ or analysing the mental, emotional or physical blocks that are blocking the flow? Do you talk to a friend, tidy the house or set an intention?

All of these and more are no doubt good strategies…

Flow, when the paint is just the right consistency and applies to the surface with ease

Flow, when your hand draws well and lines have fluidity

Flow, when ideas simply arrive

Flow, when the painting takes you on an unexpected journey and tells you what to do

Flow, when your ego is sound asleep and you’re in the present moment, alive to the creative process not giving two hoots what the end result is

Flow, when you don’t run out of loo paper and have good food to eat!

Flow, when there is a sense of purpose in your art and you’re committed to it

Flow, when you trust the process and that and that alone is enough

Flow, when you allow life and creativity to happen

Flow, when you honour your voice and your life and don’t think it needs fixing or improving

Flow, accepting and enjoying what is

Flow the only way to go!

And here is the dictionary definition ‘…moving in a steady continuous stream or a supply of something…’

I love it!

Moving … steady… continuous… stream… Allowing a steady stream forward. Energy from within, energy from without… allowing the continuous supply of inspiration to move steadily through us…a stream of consciousness, like this blog! Trusting the rainy July Monday morning flow!

The Merlin Tree

This drawing is based on the wizard Merlin’s connections with Scotland. Legend tells that Merlin died at a small settlement called Merlindale at Drumelzier near Broughton, not far from where I live. This drawing is inspired by a visit last year.

About my drawing…

The three moons symbolise Merlin foretelling he would meet his end by threefold death – pierced by stake, suffering by stone and drowning by water.

Merlin is said to have died at the fork of the Powsail burn and the river Tweed, a beautiful magical place with a timeless atmosphere. An old thorn tree marks the spot, thus ‘The Merlin Tree.’ Certainly the name Merlindale appears on ancient maps, so who knows, maybe it is true.

Peering through the railings protecting the gnarled old tree, which replaces an earlier one blown down in a storm, it’s just possible to see a plaque, overgrown with nettles, commemorating Merlin’s death. I love the way Scotland, so rich in history, totally underplays such fabulous legends. You have to know how to find this place.

Tinnis Castle, an ancient hill fort, is in the background of the drawing. The story goes that Merlin fled from Tinnis before he was killed, having revealed a secret. I have used a bit of artistic license and relocated Tinnis geographically so it could be in the drawing, in reality it is behind the line of sight.

Three foxes form the trunk and deer make up its’s crown. These two animals are associated with the Merlin legend being the animals that Merlin is said to shape shift into. In Celtic mythology the fox represents quick thinking and wisdom as well as observing yourself and others whilst remaining unnoticed. The deer represents the gods of the forest and wild animals – the Celtic god, Cernunnos. Merlin was supposed to have spent many years wandering the forests of Scotland.

The wizard is also in the tree. The idea for this came walking in the fields behind my house when I spotted Merlin in a windswept beech tree and took the black and white photo below. I had walked past the tree hundreds of time and never noticed the figure.

Inspiration for The Merlin Tree. .
Nature says it so much better!

The foxes look towards Merlin for wisdom. The roots of the the tree and his hands are one and the same, connecting with the earth. His hands reach towards fungi, pointing towards shamanic altered states of consciousness, and of course I had to draw some dandelion clocks to represent the whispers of legends down the centuries.

This artwork heralds a new technique for me, working pencil on canvas, which has an unexpected fluidity. I made this drawing at the beginning of lockdown, sitting on the floor surrounded by pencils. Luckily I had bought loads of pencils from the car boot sale a couple of weeks earlier for 50p! A pencil point lasted about 2 minutes drawing on the rough surface of canvas, so I sharpened about 50 pencils and after a couple of hours drawing, it was a boring half hour sharpening pencils again.

Apt perhaps that pencils are surrounded with wood. Little magic wands!

‘The Merlin Tree’ by Kirsten Harris, Pencil on Canvas, 100 x 120 cm

www.kirstenharrisart.com

The Merlin Tree
Detail – The Merlin Tree
Detail – The Merlin Tree
Detail – The Merlin Tree

Further reading ‘Scotland’s Merlin – A Medieval Legend and Its Dark Age Origins by Tim Clarkson

Is it True?

Is it true?

I’ve let external criticism get the better of me and it’s been painful!

I’ve felt like the child who, having spent hours happily building a fantasy sandcastle, covering it with shells for windows and doors, building pebble pathways, constructing channels and fetching buckets of water from the sea to make a moat, has an adult walk over it, not noticing the sandcastle let alone the pleasure and delight of creative play, leaving the child bereft, distraught, dismayed and hurt. 

‘Not good enough!’ is the decree! Old voices emerge to bite one hard in the bum!

‘Ouch!’ 

This morning, after a week of attempting to recalibrate by furious tidying, I ask ‘Is it true?

On whose authority do I decide whether something is right or wrong, good enough or not, or true? Who do I believe and why? 

We are being asked to make these decisions in new ways at the moment. So many different opinions. On whose authority do we decide anything in life? 

And so, I commit to rebuild my ’sandcastle’ and keep creating because at the end of the day my choice is to trust my heart.

The Fate of Paintings

Me and the Chinese Ambassador

Artists want their artwork to find homes and be loved, For the art to become backdrops to lives and talking points. To be looked at and dreamt into. For owners to see what the artist saw and find inspiration and joy. This is the ideal, but after paintings leave the studio their fate is not always so straightforward. 

I love art history. I love documentaries about lost paintings that have been re-found or wrongly attributed or simply vanished without a trace to turn up on the other side of the world hundreds of years later and programmes about paintings still missing. It always seems quite shocking and the detective trails can be amazing. 

Washing up yesterday, mulling things over as you do, I could see, even in my career, how this happens. 

So far I have had one painting stolen from an exhibition at Perth Racecourse. It is now on the police stolen art register. 

A portrait, burned in a house fire. Weirdly only the face survived, which was, so I heard, thrown into the garden with all the other debris and then the burned remnant of the portrait was also stolen.

Another painting of elephants was also destroyed in a fire along with most of the other contents of the owners house. Scary stuff!

I heard that one painting, a painting of a big lion, came back onto the market and sold at a reputable contemporary art auctioneers under the wrong title. It sold as Three Flying Giraffes! How on earth did that happen? 

I know my artwork has reappeared in contemporary art auctions several times now.

I’ve heard that paintings have been the cause of bitter argument about ownership during divorce. Or given to now grown up children who want to take childhood memories with them into adulthood.

I heard about a collection of paintings that were lost in a house clearance after a death when the family just sold the contents without seeing what was in the house. 

One gifted painting sold on Ebay to raise money for Glencoe Mountain Rescue and several sold at charity auctions for Save the Rhino amongst other charities.  

Three paintings have been damaged in transit, one by the postal service, one by a helpful friend and one by me.  Paintings are definitely safest hanging on the wall! 

Two paintings were gifted by Edinburgh Zoo to the Chinese Government when the pandas arrived. I wonder if they are still hanging in the Consulate in Edinburgh and Embassy in London or are they now in China? I will probably never know!

No doubt there are other odd fates of paintings that I don’t know about and more paintings will gather stories into the future but hopefully most will still be treasured and enjoyed long after I am dead.

Being an artist, the only job where people talk about you dying and being successful!

********

If you would like to come to my upcoming exhibition here in South Lanarkshire, please do email me to be put on the invitation list.

Horizontal and Vertical Directions

Crucifixion’ by Kirsten Harris, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm

A jockey friend asked me if I had ever painted a crucifixion? Answer no. But I had been thinking about the symbolism of the vertical and horizontal planes and so decided to attempt this classical and religious subject. Gulp!

‘Crucifixion’ is inspired by Salvador Dali’s (1904 – 1989) famous 1954 Crucifixion painting ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ at the Kelvingrove Gallery, Glasgow. My aim was to follow Dali’s musculature, structure and chiaroscuro as I placed the horses into the tree and then let my painting emerge.

I painted over a few days just before lockdown and put my shoulder into spasm doing it. I guess it was an intense process! A large painting. Dark, yes, representing my fears for the way we are continuing to crucify the planet, but, fingers crossed, hopeful, expanding and uplifting too.

The horizontal plane is our relationship with earth.

The vertical our relationship with the up that’s up there, the big up, deep space, the unimaginable hugeness. 

When we engage both the vertical and horizontal directions in our thinking we have expansion and freedom. Lengthening and widening! Lengthening and widening akin to a cross. Lengthening and widening which allows physical well being. Lengthening and widening into awareness of the space around us!

Two metres, twenty metres, two thousand dark and light years!

Holding awareness of both the vertical and horizontal is a necessary consideration for riding horses as these thoughts release the spiralling movement of muscle into length and allow freedom and flow for both horse and rider.

Forward we move and the horizontal plane travels through us.

Up, we think and we release the spring of life engaging our movement up and over the ground. 

The horses in the tree hold space open for us to love through all dimensions of time and existence…. Animals have not forgotten how to love, nor do they leave a hideous hoof or paw print like the dirty destructive foot print man has made. 

*****

Ascension by Kirsten Harris Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm

‘Ascension’ was painted over lockdown and is loosely based on a painting of Jacob’s Ladder by the another Spanish painter, Bartolome Estaban Murillo. (1617 – 1682)

Horses ascend a ladder, seven steps skyward, to be greeted by horse angels, whilst other horses emerge from the seeds.

It is a painting about love of heavenly horses!

The seven steps of the ladder are symbolic. 7 days of the week, 7 chakras, 7 deadly sins…in fact the number 7 is significant in every major religion. Buddha rises and takes 7 steps, The Koran speaks of 7 heavens, Hinduism has 7 higher and 7 lower worlds, Muslim pilgrims walk around Kaaba in Mecca 7 times…  7 is a prime number and so it goes on… 7 is also associated with our short term memory and attention span…It appears 7 is a magic number!

Whilst appearing to be about death and other dimensions, I hope this painting has a lightness and wistfulness to it that it invites us all to think about what small things we can do to make the world a better place. 

That we too are delicate and beautiful like shimmering dandelion clocks and the wings of insects and our time is short. That we all hold our own magic and we must learn to use it.

For example the resurgence in interest in individuals, including me, in growing food during lockdown is wonderful.  In the darkness miracles take place. When we stop rushing thoughtlessly and are forced to consider our place on the planet we can make different hopefully kinder and healthier choices.

Deep in the grass there is hidden a Mother horse. She was central to the painting to begin with, but as it progressed her presence became more subtle, something to find…

********

If you would like to be invited to my upcoming postponed exhibition in a wonderful castle here in South Lanarkshire please do email me or subscribe to my blog to stay in touch.

And now to paint…

Thank you so much for reading.

Nineteen Corvids, Unicorns and The Tree of Life

Corvid is the family name the crow belongs to. The crow not only symbolises death but also intelligence and destiny. I wanted to make some art to mark Covid 19. The Crow became my image. In numerology 19 becomes the number 1 which symbolises new beginnings.

The nineteen crows in the drawing aim to suggest peoples different experiences of lockdown, the rainbow coloured leaves hope and new growth. At the centre of the drawing is our local hill, Tinto – mountains to climb, the birds eye view. The dandelion seeds represent wishes and dreams, but also the spread of the virus and ideas.

The majority of the drawing depicts empty skies. Hardly a plane flying, hardly a car, just the sound of the wind and the birds. A space, a chance to breathe…

********

The second version of Nineteen Corvids is inspired by Medieval art, which I thought was apt as the Medieval era was a time of plagues and pestilence.

The Tree of Life, the lungs of the planet, life so precious! Two rabbits cuddle at its base. A vine of love wraps round the tree. Can we transform destruction to love and growth?

The water of life flows, abundant with fish. A kingfisher and swan guard the precious water. The kingfisher is said to be the first bird to fly from Noah’s ark after the deluge and is considered a symbol of peace, promising prosperity and love. Swan represents our ability to retain grace. A beautiful and elegant bird yet incredibly powerful. The colour white represents purity and the frog cleanliness and healing.

And so the river of life flows on, flowers grow. Spring turns to summer…

The three unicorns remind that life is ultimately mysterious – birth, life, death. The unicorn, an ancient mythological horse is found in antiquity and is the symbol of Scotland, chosen as a beast powerful enough to stand up to the English lion.

In Medieval times the the unicorn was believed to heal sickness. The wild woodland unicorn could only ever be captured by a virgin. This myth is thought to represent the Virgin Mary and so some believed that the healing power of the unicorn and its association with miracles represented Christ.

Magical healing Alicorn powder made from the tusks of unicorns was sold in Europe as late as 1741! Unicorn horn (narwhale horn) was an extremely precious commodity.

It would be easy to laugh at this superstition if it wasn’t for the fact that the Chinese sickeningly still use rhinoceros horn for medicine. They might as well bite their own finger nails for all the good endangered rhino horn is going to do them!!!

And so…

Do email me if you would like to come to my upcoming castle exhibition here in South Lanarkshire in due course or join my blog to be kept in touch.

Best wishes,

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk 

A Bit Medieval

I have been making art to fit frames as the picture framer is closed and I had some antique frames in the studio.

Medieval tapestries were the initial inspiration for these paintings and it struck me whilst painting that everything is a bit Medieval at the moment.

We are living in the time of a ‘plague’ and the only option for toothache, which I have, is extraction and then only if my face has swollen up like a sheep’s bladder, which it hasn’t! The skies are blissfully silent of metal and bird song is a wonderful to listen and paint to. Getting into the Medieval vibe has been creative time travel this week locked in my tower!

The owl is a symbol of change and intuition and the unicorn a Medieval symbol of purity and grace.

‘Pensive’ is for everyone living alone. ‘Beak to Beak’ and ‘Good Friends’ are about respect and equality. Gosh we need that in the world! Have we progressed at all?

Painting ‘The Tree of Life’ is a contemplation about my place on the tree of life and my continued determination to plant trees whilst I am here. There are over 30 birds as well as other animals in the painting. I slightly regret that I didn’t have a better quality board to paint on, but needs must, so I used what I had. I hope it lasts the tests of time as I loved painting it.

The frame used to house a painting of my great grandmother so have subtitled it ‘The Great Grandmother Tree’ and hope she doesn’t mind that I have pinched her frame! I have a matching frame, and plan to do The Great Grandfather Tree next …

Stay safe!

With love, Kirsten

Art work painted on hardboard using chalk paint and wax…

Going Backwards to Go Forwards!

I’ve been ‘excavating’ my studio as my friend calls tidying up!

Tidying up art style means going through every canvas and seeing if I can finish or polish it.

Years ago I met an artist shaman in Zimbabwe who told me to finish every painting I start as a key to success. It struck me as a very good, simple and yet challenging advice.

Even though I am mad keen to get on and make new work towards my postponed exhibition I have been going backwards to go forwards.

Thoughts drift through my mind as I paint like this phrase, going backwards to go forwards. In horse riding a few backward steps is a good way of gathering the horses energy to go forward with more power. Yesterday I revisited a series of car paintings (now added to website) that were languishing inside a box. As I did more to the series done over 5 years ago the thought that the past is getting resolved kept reoccurring. Energy expended then is being honoured and completed and traumas such as dad’s death from cancer, healed. Art is like that. It kind of talks to you.

And sometimes it just takes years to finish a painting.

I remember years ago I was working on a big lion oil painting. I couldn’t work out why it didn’t look finished. It took a friend to look at it for about ten minutes and then exclaim ‘there’s and ear missing!’ Dah! We both burst into laughter. A few more licks of paint and the painting was done! And then the friend decided he wanted to buy it.

This small thistle oil sketch was half done. I had sketched out the shapes in paint and abandoned it to the eaves of the studio. I thoroughly enjoyed finishing it the other day and it has given me ideas for new work…

And as I have been excavating my studio I see that a robin is nesting in the eaves, flying in and out of an open window. How wonderful life is!

Walking into Ideas

My art has become increasingly about ideas! I guess I’ve spent the first large number of years of my life learning how to paint and draw and now I want to express ideas and do more with my art.

So where do the ideas come from? Truthfully, I walk into them in the field. The ideas for drawings, projects or blogs just pop into my head. I do the same walk most days. The fields behind my house have become my source of inspiration.

For a little while in the summer the farmers cows live there and out of respect I don’t go, but for the majority of the year I am the only human visitor. It’s my own private wildlife sanctuary, my source of inspiration, my talking woodland, my stream of consciousness, my flowing viewpoint.

I love these fields with all my heart. They are ancient fields, many of the beech trees are dying and reeds are taking over the ancient paddocks. Remains of wire, where fences once were, have grown into the trunks of many of the beech trees. Victorian clay drains lie on the surface having been trampled to destruction by the cattle. The ground is rough underfoot testimony to Scottish wet summers. And the fields are full of wildlife. It is perfect habitat – a shallow stream, grassland, trees. Deer, badger, moles, woodpeckers, hare, duck, wrens, owls, duck, geese, wildflowers. The fields are alive.

This is ‘my’ remote island retreat in central Scotland. A burn more or less surrounds the area making it inaccessible to the casual visitor and a stream and stone wall separate it from the far end of the next farm.

These fields are my heaven on earth. They teach me, give me ideas and restore my soul.

In my big abundance manifestation fantasy dream heck why not think big vision, I buy these fields and create a wildlife sanctuary, allowing re wilding. With no cows eating the young saplings as they start to grow the re wilding happens quickly. I restore the ditches so that the beech trees no longer sit in floods causing them to die and pull up any ragwort that has blown in. And beyond that I surround the land with love and give it to nature and the animals.

Four years ago I was in the field admiring a dandelion clock when my mother phoned to say dad had died. Time stood still. The fields took on a whole new resonance.

This past year I have hobbled around the fields with a torn plantar plate in my foot, needing to walk despite pain and it’s never failed to be worth it. Then, returning home nourished, spending the rest of the day drawing or writing ideas that I have walked into in the field.

And these days as I walk I dream that I will manifest the way to buy the land and be a custodian of a wildlife sanctuary. Ahhh! It’s good to have ideas!

And tomorrow I will draw…

A few of the thousands of photos I have taken in the field!

Messages from Dog

I sketched Maisie from life everyday last week to get more fluent at drawing dogs. Yesterday we went for our walk and realised we were in the same bit of field as a week ago when ‘the sky’ told me to draw Maisie for a week.

‘Oh why not? I’ll lie down again!’

Looking at the sky feeling the muscles in my back let go the wispy clouds started forming dog shapes.

‘Ha! I’ve learned how to draw dogs, a sure sign if the clouds are turning into dogs.’

And then as suddenly as the idea to draw dogs a week ago came, a title for a series of drawings popped into my head – Messages from Dog!

Here is the start of the series…

Note to self – lie in the grass more often! I get ideas that way.

Chill by Kirsten Harris
Copyright


Dog Blog – 2 – Sketching from Life

I am drawing my dog Maisie, a little Cockerpoo, this week as an exploration of drawing, character and line.

Today more lighting sketches drawn from life with two thicknesses of pen. Maisie does not keep still even when she is resting she keeps moving, ever alert, so it is a challenge…




All images copyright of the artist

Dog Blog 1! Lightning Sketches

How am I going to learn to illustrate dogs?

My plan –

1 – don’t go for finished product

2 – do lightning sketches to work out how to draw hairy hyperactive dog Maisie

3 – see if a character starts to emerge

4 – observe and draw as fast as possible

5 – don’t make up lines

6 – do at least 14 drawings a day



Meeting of the Sky Gods


Last week clumsy me damaged a painting. It upset me but in the big scheme of things seemed trivial. Last night I spent half the night dreaming that I should repair it and to repair it by adding horses in the clouds. 

As I painted the three horses and restored the painting it seemed a metaphor for the world right now. 

We can’t return to ‘normal’ because normal was destroying the planet. We have to do better! 

I hope and pray we move forward in a more conscious loving way where we pay more attention to the earth and take more care of nature and each other. 

As my friend said the rip in the painting is like a hole in the ozone layer. 

So instead of a straight forward seascape this is now a meeting of the sky gods determining our future. Will we commit to consuming less, caring more and taking care of our wonderful earth? 

There’s no turning back, we have to
go forward and make things better! 

Much love and stay safe
Kirsten 
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Original seascape with rip and damaged frame


restored and improved painting

Portraying Movement

This is an edited version of a 5 day free class given via FB to a local art group during lockdown.

Day 1

Find a photo that speaks to you of something that portrays movement that you would like to paint.. running animals such as cheetahs, horses are favourites of mine, but it could be cars or cyclists, people, weather, the sea etc. Have fun looking for images

Day 2 

– When you have found your inspirational photo decide some words you would use to describe the kind of movement. For example flowing, fast, jumpy, swirling etc. 

Is there more than one kind of movement in the photo? If so describe the different movements 

– then with the minimum amount of lines on a bit of paper (printer paper or back of an envelope will do) draw lines to describe the direction of movement. So you may have a curved line, of several swirly lines or a couple of straight line etc. For example a photo a leg might be moving in one direction and an arm in another. Then you might need to use arrow lines to map it. 

Add your words to your simple lines. You now have a simple direction of movement map and words.

You may find you want to turn you abstract movement map  into an abstract drawing or doodle, but only think about the movement, not the subject. Stay abstract.

Day 3

– You now have your words and direction lines. Stay abstract and work out what medium best describes your words. If your word is glide or flow or swirly for  example find ways to paint in colour those words.  You can experiment with different media to find out what works best for this image – ie watercolour, pastel etc 

Let the brush follow the directional lines you’ve mapped out. This will help give the flow of movement in your finished painting. 

– task 2 – spend the rest of the day playing with actual movement your word describes. 

Gliding round the house or whooshing your arm or hand for example. So a bit of actual movement. Have fun with it. See if you can physically find a feel of the movement. This will help with your painting.

Day 4

A photo captures a static moment in time, a painting can do more than that. 

I think it is important NOT to have strong outlines if you want to portray movement in a painting, or your work will just look like you have copied a photo!  We will add detail in due course but it’s amazing how little detail you need for people to read an image.

So today colour a whole sheet of paper using your 

– direction of movement (your map)

– feel (the words you are going to think about as you paint, ie floaty, flowing, whooshing, punchy, fast…) and let the background and foreground mix together. Almost like camouflage. This will be quite abstract again.  

Think transparency, now you see it, now you don’t! There’s a dancer or dolphins there and now there isn’t. No hard edges! 

You will be getting to know your subject doing this and might be amazed by what you come up with. So think about colour and brush stroke that expressed the energy of movement you want in certain places.

And most of all have fun! Go for it! Swirl and twirl, whoosh and float, punch and walk some paint about…

Day 5 – the finished painting 

If you watch something move 

– you are not going to pick up every detail. So stay loose as you add detail

– you are going to have blurry or broken edges

– the movement is going to leave a trace of where it has been in the background. So let the colour of what has moved ie a piece of red material flowing in the wind, leave traces of red paint strokes in the background as though it’s shedding a bit of itself as it moves

You can add as much or as little detail as you like to your finished painting. It is your painting but If you feel you are losing  the sense movement refer back to day 4. 

This gestural painting is the feel you are looking for as you add detail. Balance your painting between detail and directional flow of the paint. The background now needs to have the directions of movement in it as you add detail to the foreground/subject. This will keep the sense of movement and give a feel of where the movement has already travelled.  

– think movement

– keep your arm nice and loose as you paint (I often swing my arms before I start painting to loosen and warm up,it definitely helps!) 

I really hope this has helped and all makes sense… 😄Most importantly have fun painting and go for it…

‘Boldness has a genius to it!’ Goethe 

Stay safe my friends ❤️

Extra notes – You may feel you have lost something of the abstract joy of day 4 in your finished painting, so there is a great value in having another go. I wrote a blog a while ago called Why Do Artists Repeat Themselves? (link here) and here is another blog on portraying movement link here.

Have fun and happy painting!

Visit me on FB at Kirsten Harris Art

How to mess up your back and create pain whilst thoroughly enjoying yourself painting!


1 – Decide whilst an arctic storm is blowing that it’s a really good idea to go into your unheated studio and work on some large oil paintings that you thought were finished and had framed but have now decided to change.

2 – Repeat this behaviour  pretty much daily for three weeks whilst three storms bring wind, rain, snow, sleet, hail, flooding and fallen trees.

3 – Because you have become sensitive to oil paint having painted obsessively since a student, decide to paint as close to the open door as you possibly can, allowing the arctic wind to whistle in thus ensuring good ventilation which you wouldn’t have in better weather. Realise you may have an oil paint addiction and be partially insane!

4 – Because you have put so many layers of clothes on to keep warm the layers keep riding up at the back and the overlarge overtrousers keep falling down. Not so much builders bum as artists bum! Get chilled to the point of being bone cold but keep going because you decide to shove a hot water bottle down your front.

5 – Whilst painting exercise the dog at same time! Repeatedly throw the dogs ball out of the open door at an unnatural throwing angle whist the majority of your attention is still on your painting. This is pretty much guaranteed to create a weird ouchy kind of twist that will eventually cause your back to go into spasm in the middle of the night. You don’t notice what a stupid movement you are doing as you are too engaged in painting and Maisie, who is hyperacive is being entertained which is a big plus.

6 – Between painting battle mud! Dig, barrow, sweep, move as much mud as possible. As the storms have created terrible conditions mud larking is a necessity. If you get your timing just right the weather will get much much worse whilst doing outdoor work. Find yourself singing mud glorious mud as the sleet hits you horizontally in the face and wonder if you remembered to put moisturiser on this morning.

7 – Don’t do any stretches or other warm ups before you do any of the above activities. Warm ups are for exercise freaks! You are only getting on with life, it’s not like you’re going to the gym or anything! 

8 – Whilst painting remember to have lots of ‘this painting is crap’ and ‘not good enough’ thoughts. This is pretty much guarenteed to cause your neck to tighten and create a domino effect of muscular tightness throughout the body which will aid in helping your back to seize up!

*******

Mad artist! Me? A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! I enjoy it!

Three Angels by Kirsten Harris, Oil on Canvas, 80 x 100 cms. One of the paintings I have reworked. Not sure if it is finished yet…

Extinction Rebellious Art!


What if all we need to do to create change and stop destruction is to learn how to stop. Sounds simple enough. Just stop, or pause and take a bit of time out to think about what we are doing. Stop to create space to allow something new to happen. Stop the stuff that doesn’t work.

Stop burying our heads in the sand!

Stop pretending that the holiday you need because you are ‘exhausted’ is not going to add to the destruction of the planet. Stop to take a moment or two to consider whether what we are doing is really for the highest good or coming from our own ego needs. 

Truthfully I think I am suffering from environmental anxiety. 

Contemplating the Earth Walk by Kirsten Harris
Available as a hand signed print

I heard anxiety described as being too aware of the echo bouncing, as though sound is trapped in a cave reverberating from the walls but not going anywhere. That made sense to me. I hear talk about environmental concerns but no real change in behaviour. ‘Oh but we recycle so it’s OK to go to 5 star hotel in India for a fortnight.’

I am not exemplifying myself here because I know that changing habits is difficult and these are socially acceptable habits –

‘We’re having a fabulous week in Thailand darlings … skiing in the Alps … trip to Disneyland…visiting Australia…bucket list…flying half way round the world to attend a self improvement course.’ But are we really thinking about the costs to the environment!

What if I spend the money for one trip to plant a bee friendly place instead? What if I spend free time picking up rubbish? What if I save extra cash to plant trees? What if we said fuck it to the bucket list and started a plan it and plant it for the planet list instead!?

In Nature We Find Ourselves by Kirsten Harris
Available as a hand signed print

One older man said to me ‘Oh planetary destruction is not my problem, I’ll be dead by then!’ Another person told me ‘I hate trees’ they make a mess! 

‘Not my problem’ and ‘one person doesn’t make a difference’ are common forms of thinking that are part of the problem!  

And what about that gym membership – grown men and women running on treadmills watching TV in air conditioned environments whilst other people are struggling. It’s kinda immoral!

So how about – This is my problem and what can I do to make a difference?

Now that’s a powerful question! Dare I say it – that’s a rebellious question in this day and age of unquestioned consumerism and travel.

My thought is to start by stopping for a little bit –  your wise higher self will start coming up with amazing, exciting, challenging, creative answers for you. We can all find inspired ways to make a difference.

To learn the art of stopping Alexander Technique constructive rest works for me – lie down in a warm place to let go for twenty minutes and allow for ease and renewal. Letting yourself stop can take practise.

Today, the big picture with all the problems we are facing can feel overwhelming. It’s much easier to ignore the inconvienient echo from the environmental scientists reverberating in the distance and just stay busy – plan another distraction. Not my problem! I won’t make a difference.

For me, stopping, is a definite start in the process of change and creativity.

Stopping takes us out of habitual activity and allows time for ways to move forward with courage and for grace to be revealed.

We really can start to make a difference by simply stopping. We have to start somewhere.

Stop and let go into an open zone in yourself where you can ask the question – ‘What can I do to make a difference?’

It is powerful question, a prayer almost. Answers will come…

The Guardians by Kirsten Harris
Available as a hand signed print

Postscript – Thanks for reading!  I hesitated to write a blog asking people to question the unnecessary travel they might do, but it’s time to let my inner rebel have her say. Time to be braver. I am not asking people to stop travelling but to question whether that next trip or holiday is really necessary or could they do something more rebelliously joyously environmentally friendly instead that might give you more long term satisfaction and peace of mind.

My solution for environmental anxiety is make art about the environment – and use the money I make to plant trees. I am also in the process of developing educational art workshops for primary school children locally, focussing on the environment and self awareness skills for 2020! Holidays, what are they? Every day is a gift when you open your eyes, ears and heart to it.

I truly believe in the power of the individual that combined make a powerful collective consciousness for goodness. Individually and collectively we can and do make a difference.

Merry Xmas and Happy Stopping!

With Love Kirsten x

To Earth We Return by Kirsten Harris
Available as a hand signed print

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Art

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

Only Do the Good Ones!


My dear departed dad once asked me ‘Why don’t you only paint the good ones?’ He was trying to be helpful, and it made me laugh. If only!’ I said! ‘If I could I would!’ 

Sometimes I know when I have done a good painting, but sometimes it seems not. When I had finished drawing ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ I felt critical of it and was going to redraw it, but was too lazy and just shared it on my Facebook page anyway. People went crazy for it sharing it more times than any other image I have drawn. Looking back I remember being 100 percent absorbed and present working on it, studying the pioneering photography by Edweard Muybridge of horses galloping as inspiration.

Sometimes I will make an image that I really like and no-one responds to it. Leaving me to conclude ‘What do I know!?’

I paint and draw several days every week and have done so for years and years, ever hopeful of getting better at art. It is what I do.

So here are some drawings that I think are good ones and the one that I didn’t realise was good until all the facebook shares. They are all available as prints and I am ever grateful for the support my art has received over the years. Thank you from my heart as I endeavour to ‘only do the good ones’ aiming to plant a forest with the proceeds. Art for trees’ is my long term mission, my ‘if wishes were’, in this short life.

The Guardians
To Earth We Return
How to Make a Dream Come True
Dandelion Clock
The Magic Forest
The Happiness of Grass
Contemplating the Earth Walk
In Nature We Find Ourselves
If Wishes Were Horses

A4 Prints are £20
A3 Prints are £30
Printed on high quality art paper
Hand signed and titled
Shipping worldwide

Contemplating the Earth Walk

I am thinking about feet! I tore a plantar plate in my toe about 5 months, a toe is now floating. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but it has made walking very difficult. It is funny how injury clarifies what is important! Tree planting for me!

A foot is a powerful symbol for taking responsibility. We talk about putting our foot down, standing our ground and walking our talk!

A footprint fossilised in mud on a shore, the barefoot earth walk of our distant anscestor’s, inspires. Human and dinosaur footprints fossilised in the same layer of sedimentary rock seemingly disprove the view that humans and dinosaurs didn’t walk the earth at the same time. Anyway chickens are dinosaurs aren’t they!?

A pair of feet, an individual short journey on planet earth. Can our walk here be meaningful? It is what I am contemplating, how does one do that as a solitary artist?

When you can’t walk or drive you notice how much rushing around is taking place on the planet. People in a hurry, squawking about environmental crisis but still jumping on airplanes and ‘living the dream.’

So my thinking is – if we all cut down the amount of travelling we do, even just a little, and used any extra money we have to plant trees and give something back to the environment, then planet earth might stand a chance. That is what I am trying to do, on a personal and community level.

I have approached the local council to make a piece of land available for tree planting, to then use art and my experiences as an Alexander Technique teacher (think mindful awareness in action) to work with primary school children to teach the value of trees and our relationship with them. I recently did a series of one-off art work shops with primary school children and was deeply moved by the level of fear these young people are experiencing around environmental issues. I want to empower children by creating opportunities to be involved. To see that the act of planting even one tree is an act of love that has a positive and far reaching impact. That a tree teaches so many things. That their actions make a difference. The project is moving on and other agencies are getting involved and I have high hopes of it coming into fruition. Fingers and toes crossed!

Planting trees and making art about it, is work in progress. I’m on a tree planning mission for the rest of my life – Art for Trees! Your support is hugely appreciated.

All these images and many more are available as black and white hand signed art prints. £20 A4/ £30 A3 plus postage. Prints that plant trees!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Horses and the Tree of Life by Kirsten Harris


To Earth We Return
In Nature We Find Ourselves

Contemplating the Earth Walk

Feel

I am going to start writing a few blogs about the meaning behind my drawings. Hopefully, if you like the drawings, you will be able to find your own meaning too. My drawings more and more reflect my interest in horses, symbolism, teaching the Alexander Technique, positive thinking, tree planting and the environment and more. It has taken me years to find a visual language to bring my ideas, thoughts and feelings together. I am very happy with how things are progressing.

This drawing, Feel, is about how it can feel when we are faced with the challenge of the unknown. It’s about letting go of holding so that we can move into the potential space that is the future freely and with confidence. There is both hesitation and poise in the image. Have you noticed how the feeling of fear and the feeling of excitement are much the same? 

The hand suggests lightness. Light with each other, light with horses. 

There is a saying, whenever we point a finger at someone, there are also three fingers pointing back at ourselves! And another saying ‘Let go and let god’ advises us that we need to trust for the magic to happen. So this drawing is about trusting and taking responsibility for our deeds and actions and not blaming others, and especially not blaming our horses. 

This image also indicates how to develop feel. Great feel can be developed with practise, your hands are incredibly intelligent. Your hands are genius in action!

Only minimal effort is needed in the hand to lightly hold them forwards. Let go of all that is unnecessary. The horse, small like a bird, delicately sits on a finger symbolises lightness, up flow, sensitivity, poise and freedom. The finger points forwards and upwards – a direction for life, a direction to travel into freedom, a thought to which the mind and body responds. One way to develop sensitivity and feel is to start to think forward and up into the space around you as you let go…

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk
prints and original artwork 

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique for riders. 
copyright

Four Winds Medicine Wheel


‘Four Winds Medicine Wheel’ by Kirsten Harris 


I thought I would write a little about my drawings. ‘Four Wind’s Medicine Wheel’ is about emergence into light from darkness. It is about the mysterious deep space energy from which we all come. The element represented is air, the mind. The intuition of the moon calls us to look within to find our power.

This image is a meditation for our energy centres, asking us to allow our chakras to spin freely. Meditate on the flow of movement, the circle of life in the image to allow your chakras to move in good health. If we are blocked anywhere in our system we cannot be fully empowered. A sick population is controllable and passive. We are asked to become powerful, to move our energy forward and outward. The horses gallop us into our power to release our fears, asking us to be the winds of transformation, so much needed on the planet right now.

The feathers are a call for sensitivity. Travel light and in light. We are bodies of light. East, South, North and West, we are all connected. We are one. The horses can return to darkness, to the void or spiral out into light. We have important choices to make. In what direction do we spin? And the horses of course represent power. We need to harness our power and work as a herd, a community, a loving whole and not against each other and the planet. ‘From all directions come into your power medicine and save us’ call the horses…
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk
Available as a print 
Words and Image Copyright Kirsten Harris

The Happiness of Grass


The Happiness of Grass by Kirsten Harris

I have been thinking a lot about grass! As you do! Under a powerful microscope grass looks like it is smiling. Grass is amazing stuff. Grass is happy and it sure has tenacity. No matter how trampled and muddy, parched and burnt or just plain sad and worn out it looks grass finds a way to go up to the light and just keeps on growing. It recovers and rejuvenates when sometimes you think it is just not possible. Grass is definitely optimistic! 

And of course ponies love grass and that’s another lesson. Too much grass and its richness will make a horse sick, too little and the horse will die. 

Grass is a great symbol and reminder to be balanced in what we take from the planet. Grass will happily give and give and give, but don’t take too much or the earth will be sick and so will we. We need to be balanced. We need to pay attention. In my mind grass holds the earth together. 

And is the grass always greener on the other side? 

Grass doesn’t seem to worry about where it grows, it just grows happily everywhere and anywhere, it really isn’t judgemental and is very forgiving. A little bit of nourishment from Mother Earth, light and water and up it goes. Just like us…

So my drawing is in hope of the continued happiness of grass! 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk
Prints and Original artwork

Heart in Hand – Destination Freedom

Riding horses is a destination not a position

Art is a destination not a position

Love is a destination not a position

The open hand is a destination not a position

Forward and up, the way of poise, is a destination not a position …

The open hand is an attitude of the heart and mind through which freedom, love, spirit, destiny and balance flow…

The open hand channels the loving heart and communicates our intention….

The open hand listens in the present moment…

The open hand allows connection…

Being present, heart in hand today determines our future destiny, the destination forward and upwards that is life revealing itself…

Heart in hand is the future flowing us forward…

When we take a position we block the flow of future possibility and thus that of our relationship to the world.

The challenge is to free ourselves from the position and limitation of our habitual self and our ego to be balanced and free in movement, to love what is, to be the heart of the open hand that allows us amongst other things to be the horse in his truth.

The challenge is to meet our art, our heart, our horses, our friends, our lives, ourselves with wonder and joy to the presence of the living soul moment by moment.

Let Yourself by Breathed by Kirsten Harris

L

Let Love by Light by Kirsten Harris

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – prints and artwork

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

copyright Kirsten Harris

No Room For Doubt!

No Room for Doubt!

‘There is no room for doubt in art!’ Sean Scully

The opposite of the word doubt is confidence. Other words to describe the opposite of doubt include belief, conviction, trust, definiteness, faith, ease, truthfulness, solution, calm, clarity, knowledge…

At art school we were encouraged to be bold, to be confident, as a key to being an artist! That was the main input. Express yourself no matter what!

‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has a genius, power and magic to it.’ Goethe

In the documentary “Unstoppable, Sean Scully and the Art of Everything’ Sean says ‘There is no room for doubt in art!’ He describes doubt as an entirely unhelpful emotion that gives you nothing and creates a block. He says to be an artist you need to be driven, not care what anyone thinks and not doubt yourself.

I needed to hear those words! Maybe you do too?

I AM AN ARTIST not a doubter! I needed to be reminded to not doubt in order to reconnect with conviction, trust and ease to the flow that drives me forward. Luckily I have never had a problem with motivation up until the past couple of months when I have let doubt creep in, like an unhelpful ear worm, due to a whole bunch of events colliding, including an attempted scam where, despite my body screaming at me ‘there is something wrong’ I doubted what my intuition was shouting with almost disastrous consequences. Thankfully I woke up in time! However it left me traumatised and doubting myself.

Art is about exploring connections with life, love, god, creativity, spirit, whatever you want to call it. Art is about faithfully being yourself, whatever and no matter what! What else can you be!?

‘Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.’ Lao Tzu

We are often ‘taught’ to doubt, to not trust our intuition, to not trust our self, to not have self worth, to be humble and hold back, to not be at ease, to have fear, to give our power away and accept authority without question.

A whole load of (negative) events caused me to allow myself to doubt and block the flow of my art and therefore my life. DAH! How ridiculous can a girl get!? Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

‘If you stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing can do itself!’ FM Alexander

There is no room for doubt in art (or life). It is utterly unhelpful! Having faith and trust in yourself is a good thing, not an arrogance.

Art can transform experiences, trauma, disillusionment, hurt. Art can reconnect us to passion, to love, to life. Art can deepen our understanding of the experiences we have! We just need to show up wholeheartedly to the process and the solution is in front of us.

It is time to clutter clear doubt from my studio!

Time to just embrace that despite feeling a bit broken, including physically from breaking a bone, I can make art and be creative from where I am right now. The pain can have expression. What else? How else can change occur? That is clarity instead of doubt!

It’s a choice – confidence or doubt. Approaching art with definiteness that the years of knowledge and practice allow is an act of faith. In committing to the process the flow finds you …

Let go, make art!

I thought I would share these thoughts as doubt can show up in many areas of our life and I agree with Sean Scully – there is no room for doubt!

Trust your intuition! Trust yourself! Trust your heart! Trust your art!

Forward and up! Love Kirsten

(The image is a painting called The Moon Woke Me, Oil on Canvas)

Prayer to my Horse

PRAYER TO MY HORSE by Kirsten Harris

My horse, I am honoured by your presence and stand in awe before your divine beauty

May I be worthy of your trust

May I have sensitive wisdom to understand your language, so I may dance the dance of life with you

May I have hands that do you no harm

May I be a leader of graceful courage and clarity when you need me to have direction

May I grow in awareness and feel so I may learn to harmonise with your flow

May I be open to hear the lessons you bring

May you forgive my mistakes

May I be present to your timelessness and make time for your presence

May I have the discipline to be balanced

May I be patient, calm and kind

May our breaths embrace the elements and seasons as we travel the distance together

May I learn to remember how we are all connected on our beautiful planet

May our bodies grow old together, healthily and happily

May I be a fearless guardian of the earth so you may always have a home

May we both be free to experience the powerful intelligence of our peaceful wholeness together in harmony, friendship and love

May my heart be open to the Universal Love that is you, my horse

May my spirit by open to the Great Mystery that is you, my horse

May my mind be open to deep space so I may experience the Great Awareness that is you, my horse

My horse thank you for Being Present, I love you.



Illustration IN NATURE WE FIND OURSELVES. This and other horse prints and original artworks are available on my website
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

copyright Kirsten Harris

In Our Hands

(I shared this originally as a facebook post on my art page Kirsten Harris Art. I wanted to write something to go with the drawing and to write from my heart about horses. I thought I should post as a blog here. I hope you enjoy it. ) 


‘In Our Hands’ by Kirsten Harris

5 Thoughts – 
1. Our hands have immense sensitivity. Can you let your hands be neutral? Do your hands know how to listen to follow your horse or do they control and bully? Do you use your hands to pull at your horse’s sensitive mouth and head? Or do you allow the energy of your heart-brain and the elasticity of your body to move through your hands into a flow of union and connection? 

2. Can you sit in balance on a chair, easily for a prolonged period of time without discomfort? If not, learn to do so before you sit on a horse. You are only bringing your inbalances to your riding and teaching your horse tension otherwise. You will create imbalances. Find your own poise first and then you will find the poise of your horse. It’s magical when it happens and totally worth the work on your self.

3. Horses are teachers for our heart and soul. We have much to learn from them. If you feel anger, frustration or ego around your horse walk away. Take wise counsel, breathe, let go. A horse is not a sponge for your unprocessed stuff. Negative thoughts and emotions do not belong around your horse

4. Be patient and learn to be at ease with yourself. Meditate. Listen. Let go. Horses will teach you about timelessness, unity, flow, courage, the divine, non verbal communication, boundaries, energy… Horses will teach you how to think into the vastness of the universe and the great mysteries. Be patient with yourself and your horse. Learn to get out of your own way to allow the door of knowledge to open. There is plenty of time. It is all you have. Enjoy the process. 

5. It is OK to feel fear. You and your horse are both flight animals. It is not OK to take your fear out on your horse. Let your heart be open and soft. Love your horse with all your heart. Let your ego dissolve so you are pure around your horse. Be a child of wonder and awe in his presence. Be fully present. Enjoy what you are learning and experiencing right now. Don’t compare your journey with your horse with that of other peoples. The journey of ‘should’ and ‘ought’ will only get in your way. You and your horse are both unique and marvellous. Your horse is an honest loving mirror into your essence, your soul in space right now if you dare to peek. Do you love what you see? 

Written and drawn with love
Kx

copyright Kirsten Harris 
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Artwork and prints
www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

Share Button

Messages from Trees

‘In Nature We Find Ourselves’ Drawing by Kirsten Harris

 

Messages from Trees –

  • Breathe deeply of me I am the lungs of the world, my health and yours are one
  • Let your spine flow upwards and your limbs flow outwards in the sky
  • Life will shape you and sculpt you as you grow, it’s 100 percent OK to be you
  • Allow yourself to be ‘rooted’ in the earth
  • Feel your connection to all things, all life is one
  • Observe in all directions
  • The more you observe the more you will see
  • The light and seasons are always changing and you with it. You too are seasons of light
  • Though you were once but a seed you are a mighty presence and still growing
  • Be shelter and safety, warmth and home for others
  • You too are a guardian of the planet
  • Be kind, and let your kindness spread like a canopy
  • Sometimes the winds of life will be strong, you can endure
  • Transformation is inevitable
  • Find truth in being present to where you are
  • Lie under the spread of a tree and let your imagination fly
  • Trees are Life!

 

I AM ON A TREE PLANTING MISSION!

**************************

Hand signed and titled black and white prints are available of my artwork.

Free postage worldwide if you purchase more than one print. There are plenty more on my website. The prints are black and white despite my dodgy photos! : )

 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Art

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

FB – Kirsten Harris Art

FB – The Daily Ease Alexander Technique

The Whisper of Trees by Kirsten Harris