I doubt that I could read at the time, but I already knew that I LOVED books and the thought of being somewhere cozy in which there was nothing to do but look at them felt, oh, so right.
So here we are. Every comfortable chair in this house has a good reading lamp and there are piles of books, as well as eight or ten which are on the go - books bought, borrowed, three-dimensional or digital. Nirvana. The only other place in the world which I find quite so perfectly comfortable is, believe it or not, a room in a church basement with stacking tables and chairs.
On the same day every week up to thirty-five of us meet there and paint our hearts out; this has been going on for 52 years although with a changing cast. I could and do paint at home but it's not nearly so much fun as being immersed in the collective talent, all of whom have a delicious sense of absurdist humour. Last week one of the members, the multi-talented Louise Scott-Bushell, had introduced us to scratch-boarding. Exacto knives flashed and many delightful and disparate images emerged from the black. I did a small sketch of Jewell for Jon as a wee Valentine's Day surprise (which he ruined by rummaging on my desk for something. Oh, well. ). This week, many of the others had already ramped up to complicated and exquisite pieces. I worked on the value study for another horsey oil but spent much of the day snooping at what everybody else was doing with their scratchboards.
Here is the sketch of "No-surprise Jewell." Multiply any good feelings you have about it by ten and you get some sense of what the others produced yesterday. This badger gal felt both graced to be in their company and completely "at home."