Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year in Review - Part Two


Before I embarked on this journey I was often asked, "Why London?"

One of my main reasons 'why London' was because of the accessibility of so much of the rest of the world. Growing up in Canada meant that the United States and Mexico were key holiday choices (besides the entire rest of Canada, of course) and the opportunity to visit places in Europe and Asia were not cheap or convenient. Besides that, there's everything the UK has to offer.

Despite easy access to these places being so essential on my list, I don't feel I did as much as I'd expected. This was largely due to a lack of stable income as I worked on securing a job that met the requirements of my visa. However, despite my sporadic and rather minimal income, I've managed to see and do quite a lot. There haven't been any particularly long breaks, but it's about quality, not quantity.

At the end of January my partner treated me to a weekend in Paris, where we managed to walk from our hotel to Notre Dame to the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower in just one day. It was a magical experience made all the more delightful by the novel 'Walks in Hemingway's Paris' which was the accompanying Christmas gift to the Paris train tickets. It was this trip and this book which got my mind set on this time abroad being like my very own self-run apprenticeship.

This idea and my own personal belief that putting conditions on things can only set me up for disappointment meant I took every opportunity for adventure as it came, regardless of whether or not it was something I'd planned to do or see.

As I discovered more of the UK with a camping trip in Dorset, several weekends in Cambridge and one or two jaunts up to Norwich, I began to see why my grandma's memoirs have such a sentimental tone. This country is beautiful, warm and comforting.

For my birthday I felt that a trip was necessary to take my mind off the fact that 2010 would be the first year I'd spend my birthday away from my family. I decided that Amsterdam would be my choice. I've always been curious about Amsterdam but it wouldn't normally have been high on my list of locations to visit as I don't drink or partake in any illegal substances. I am so very glad I didn't assume that was all Amsterdam would offer. It has been one of the absolute highlights of this year and picking a highlight would be difficult. I did have an incredible time in Rembrandt's house and the HomoMonument was a very emotional sculpture to visit.

As the year drew to an end my partner and I realised we would both have the 25th to the 3rd off from work. My parents would be heading back to Canada on the 27th so the two of us decided to book a holiday starting the day they flew out. Initially the plot was to go somewhere hot with a lovely beach and lots of sun. We searched site after site trying to find something just right. Searches mostly brought up Egypt. The problem with this was that if we were going to get anything for such a small window of time it would be hugely expensive and likely in a silly resort setting. If you're the sort of person who likes to be pampered in a hotel room in a resort which could be anywhere in the world, just for the sake of a relaxing escape, that's perfectly fine. I am not that person, nor is my partner. I like to explore and if I'm going to go to Egypt I want to spend time seeing Egypt. I want old ruins and authentic market places and rickety boats down the Nile. I want a camel ride and walking in the desert.

After searching for the umpteenth time we determined that perhaps sticking to the UK (sort of) would be more fun for this time round. We checked Scotland, perused Ireland and finally, upon discovering a brilliant hotel+flight deal we settled on Jersey. Jersey, one of the channel Islands, home of the prettiest cows in the world and steeped in history. There is beach which, although the ocean is too cold for swimming, is perfect for exploring tide pools and taking long, relaxing walks along. My lungs are free of the big city fumes and my ears are free from the near constant sirens and engines of London streets.

As I discover the lovely bits of Jersey art and history I'm clearing my mind and reviewing this past year.

It's been extremely difficult at times. There have been moments when I couldn't sleep because I was so homesick, moments where I've felt so lonely I thought I'd never stop crying, and moments where I felt that I would hop a plane without hesitation if it meant hugging my dad, brother, mum or an old friend.

But there have been absolutely gorgeous moments:
Like watching the Eiffel tower light up like a glitter ball after a long day of walking.
There were fresh fried prawns in garlic butter, better than any I've ever eaten before, enjoyed as a picnic on a hotel floor.
There were three adorable Indian Runner ducks sat next to me on a dock overlooking a pond. There's incredibly thick, delicious cream on fresh Scottish berries enjoyed in a lovely pergola at the end of the most perfect English garden.
There's been figuring out the tube and getting around to places that most Londoners haven't even realised are at their fingertips.
There's been mornings and afternoons spent in wonderful buildings full or incredible art, like the Saatchi Gallery, Tate Modern, V & A Museum or National Gallery.
The magnificent discovery of historic objects like the Rosetta Stone or Babbage's calculating machines.
There have been two wonderful rides on the London Eye.
There was finding Abbey Road with my mum and a long time family friend.
There was the first time I saw Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, and Royal Albert Hall.
There was the absolute delight of elephant hunting.
The wonderful entertainment of 'The Rise and Fall of Little Voice', 'Sister Act', 'Avenue Q' and Billy Bailey's 'Dandelion Mind.

I've also done a lot to stick with that idea of this being an apprenticeship. I took that course at Chelsea, attended drop-in sketch classes at the NPG, learned how to do an acrylic portrait at a class taught by Sadie Lee, attended a talk with Antony Gormley and sought out all the fantastic public art I could (Thank you Henry Moore!) I also pulled out a few of my manuscripts, began editing them and found someone to help. The thing of which I am most proud this year, however, has been the completion of ten more 24X36 inch depictions of the Major Arcana of a tarot deck.

Looking back it seems incredible to have accomplished so much in just a year. I am my own worst critic and I can easily get caught up in feeling like I'm just not doing 'enough'. I may not have done exactly what I thought I might this past year, but I certainly feel that I've done enough, and the mystery of it has been half the fun. Who knows what 2011 will bring.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Year in Review - Part One

... 2010 ...

On December 13th my parents arrive at the Heathrow Airport. I booked the first three days they were here off so I could show them London and spend as much time as possible soaking up their presence. I did see my mum back in May when she and a friend surprised me a week after my birthday, but I had not seen my dad since he left me at the airport to board my flight to London on January 7th.

I fully appreciate that I am one of very few who would choose to have their family in their life even if they weren't related by blood. Any abilities I have to know my own mind, pursue my dreams and try without fear of failing have come from my adoring parents and wonderful brother. Skype has not been a suitable substitution and I was so very much looking forward to seeing my parents again and showing them all these things I've discovered about London whilst also discovering new things for myself.

Day one we caught a cab from Heathrow to their apartment, which was equidistant between Russell Square Station (Piccadilly) and King's Cross St. Pancras (Northern, amongst others.) We explored a bit of their new, temporary 'hood, stopping for lunch at Giraffe. They got some groceries, where my dad was able to marvel over the abundant and incredible cheese selection and the high fat content in the cream, in Waitrose and then headed back to their apartment. At this point the jet-lag, long flight and altitude change caught up full-force. Whilst they napped I made tea and squidged myself into a corner of their kitchen where I could read a book as they had a rest. It was lovely having them in the next room, let alone in the same city.

The entire time they were over my days were packed. We had a wonderfully fancy dinner with my partner on that first night, which took us down by Holburn. I showed my dad the viaduct and began pointing out all the incredible architecture of London I have come to love.

On Tuesday I got to show them both my very favourite view of London, one I discovered when I first came to 'test' the waters back in November 2009. This time round it featured the Norwegian Christmas Tree.

We also stopped into St. Martins in Fields and went down into the Crypt, both places my partner showed me over a year ago now.

It was a chilly day so we made our way past Leicester Square and up Charing Cross road and then over to the British Museum. This was a museum I'd been to ages ago but not spent a huge length of time at. Unlike on my last visit, we started from the top and worked our way down. My favourite bit was the Japanese artifacts, where I discovered Netsuke.
The next day we met at High Kensington and spent the morning in the Natural History Museum and the afternoon in the Science Museum. Again, both are museums I've been to before but both were ones I couldn't wait to show to my parents.
In the Natural History Museum we spent most of our time in the whale room of the Mammals wing, a room which has been closed when my partner and I came back in the Spring. Of course there was also the Mineral wing and the Dinosaur wing, which I had yet to discover. We did manage to pop into the Mineral wing, which stretched so far back I suspect one would have to spend an entire day there if they wanted to see all it had to offer.

After a nice lunch and a quick stop at the Gift Shop we headed around the corner to the Science Museum. This museum has become a favourite of mine ever since I discovered the ever-so fun SMLates on the last Wednesday of each month. I have made a special effort to explore the museum as little as possible when I go, instead focusing on the activities and lectures provided for the SMLates themes. I did this because I knew my dad would be the best person to see this museum with. I loved his face when he saw the Apollo 10 Moon lander and the Rocket. He was giddy like a little kid when the Wells Cathedral Clock struck the quarter. It was difficult to pry him away but fortunately the museum closed so we were asked to leave.

I didn't see them all day Thursday as I had to go back to work and had a few things to do in the evening, like updating my blog with the newly imaged work my parents had brought over on a disc. It was quite difficult to go an entire day without seeing them, but just knowing they were in the same city was really, really lovely.

Friday was another work day but I arranged to go to Borough Market when I was off and meet my parents at Southwark Cathedral. During my November visit my partner introduced me to Borough by taking me for breakfast at Roast. It is a gorgeous little market which I have come to adore. Where else can you get fresh hand-dived scallops with bacon bits for breakfast? It was also where my mum surprised me back in May. I was happy to finally show it to my dad, who paid for the photographer's license so he could take pictures of the glorious interior of Southwark Cathedral, most notably the Shakespeare stained glass.

Afterwards we caught the train to my end of London and met my partner for dinner in one of the city's best Indian restaurants. Nothing like a curry to give my dad a taste of an authentic London pallet.

The weekend was spent shopping in Wimbledon on Saturday and entertaining friends who dropped by for a Christmas Warm-Up on Sunday.

On Monday they met up with me after work at Tate Britain. I was giddy to share the incredible Fiona Banner instalment there with my dad, as he is a huge airplane nerd. It was also fun to show them Chelsea, where I took my digital design course in the autumn.

We caught the bus behind the Tate and my dad got to sit on the top deck for the first time. It was a great first-time ride as it took us up through winding narrow roads and popped out right next to Westminster Abbey. Then we went up Whitehall, past the Houses of Parliament and assorted lovely memorials to Trafalgar Square.

We got out at the square and met my partner for dinner at the National Gallery Restaurant, one of the best places to eat in the area. We had a delicious filling meal before going over to the Wyndhams theatre, where I saw Avenue Q in the autumn, but where Bill Bailey is currently performing Dandelion Mind. It was a brilliant night and a lovely way to start the week and a fabulous final show for to take in on the West End in 2010.

Tuesday was another day during which I worked and did not see my parents. They managed the National Portrait Gallery, where I used to go for the free friday drop-in sketch classes, and then met some of my dad's book forum friends in Leicester Square and went book shopping up Charing Cross Road.
On Wednesday I took the train to Elephant and Castle and walked up to the Imperial War Museum, a museum on my list of To Do's that I'd been holding off on until my dad came over. It opened at ten and I was a bit early so I wandered around out front as I waited for the museum to open and my parents to arrive. I discovered a stunning Tibetan Peace Garden installed when the Dalai Lama came to visit London. Further up the path was a graffitied piece of wall. As I approached it I realised it was a section of the Berlin Wall and for a moment I was so awe struck I couldn't really move. These moments were more frequent when I first came to London. Every day was a discovery of something new and wonderful that I'd always dreamed of seeing. Things that took my breath away because of their beauty or because they were so rare and wonderful.

When my parents arrived I showed it to them and they seemed as delighted as I. But it was what we found indoors that truly was a wonder. Airplanes hung from the ceiling, a rocket, miniature submarine and assorted cannons littered the floor. We decided to start from the top and work our way down as we had in the British Museum. The uppermost floor and lower most floors held my two favourite things in the whole building. At the very top is a new exhibit which features men and women awarded the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. I have always loved the look of different medals and it was incredible to read the stories of the people awarded them.

Downstairs were two 'experience' exhibits: The Blitz and The Trench. The Blitz involves sitting in a bomb shelter and then being shuffled out into the burning streets of London. The Trench is one you walk through, which was similar to the trench exhibit at the Memorial War Museum in Calgary. Both exhibits were very well put together and I really can't recommend them enough.

And then there was Thursday, my last day at work and the day my partner and I surprised my parents with their first Christmas gift: Tickets to a Christmas Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. This was just as much a treat for me as for them as I'd not yet been to this glorious venue. It really was marvellous, the most wonderful bit being when the fantastically huge organ would play it's loudest notes. I relished the vibration as it came up through my feet into my chest.

The final very English and very special treat to my parents (after presents and a fantastic Christmas lunch, of course.) was on Boxing Day. We went to a pantomime, a long time English tradition which none of us had ever experienced before. My partner secured tickets to a pantomime at the Wimbledon Theatre, starring the infamous David Hasselhoff.

Glorious. A glorious way to discover new things and a glorious way to revisit my favourite bits of London, this time with my parents next to me.


Sunday, December 26, 2010


I really do enjoy painting shoes. I don't know what it is about them but from the conception of the design to the finished project, when I'm working on a pair it's almost impossible for me to think of anything else.

In the case of this pair it was a great advantage. I only managed to purchase them on Wednesday and I figured, between all the museum visits and other plans with my parents plus my day job and preparations for Christmas, I'd not have time to start them, let alone complete them. But on Christmas Eve, once all the food was sorted and the house was tidy, I found a window of just enough time to get them painted, photographed, wrapped and under the tree!

I'm utterly chuffed with the design, which I've titled 'Spitfire'. I love that the pair of shoes I purchased just happen to be shaped like the wings of their name-sake design, making the pattern I chose to do suitable for the tongue.

One of the most satisfying pieces of art I've ever done.

..and one of the most satisfying gifts I've ever given.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

London Journal - Christmas 2010

'In The Beginning' by Mike Chapman

And here it is, Christmas day. Two years ago, after watching 'Love Actually' for the umpteenth time I suggested to my parents that Christmas in London might be quite fun. My mum agreed and said she could see it as feasibly doable for 2010. I immediately began looking into the cost of such a trip so I knew how much to budget for. The more I looked into it the more it seemed silly to only go to London for Christmas. Sure, it would be great for my parents to come out for a holiday, but I could easily go for four or six months. It was something I'd wanted to do for ages and I had recently realised that life is for living and putting something off just isn't sensible when any one of us could be dead tomorrow. I plotted and planned and began to discover that four to six months was an impractical length of time for a trip to London. If I was going to go I should go to live and if I was going to live I'd need a visa and the minimum duration of a visa would be two years.

And then I went to Palm Springs and against all expectation I met someone I would soon fall in love with. The Universe is a lovely unpredictable and beautiful place and happenstantially this incredible person I'd met and fallen for lived in London. Things were in motion and it was obvious that my plans to go to the United Kingdom were meant to be.

A fateful car accident resulted in an unexpected insurance payment which covered several debts and shifted how soon I could move. And then it was January 7th, 2010 and I was on a plane, flying 4,000 miles from the city I'd been born and raised in. 4,000 miles from my friends and family to a new city and a very different life with different adventures and a new love.

And now it's Christmas 2010 and my parents are here, as planned. My partner cooked a delicious traditional English Christmas lunch which we have all just finished eating. Now we're continuing to work on the jigsaw puzzle of the 12 days of Christmas, after a brief skype session with my dear brother and sister-in-law in Canada.

This is what I love best about Christmas.

May your Christmas be full of warmth, love, good food and the best company.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Netsuke - Miniature Japanese sculptures which originated in the 17th century. They were used as decorative toggles.

I want to learn how to make them. If anyone knows of someone in London who teaches this, please do let me know!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Imaged work!

This entry was published without editing as I am suffering from the flu. Apologies if it makes very little sense or none at all.

It seems so very long ago that I completed these cards. I suppose in a way it was. The Star was completed in May 2009 and The World in March 2009. Looking back on my entries is very interesting as I didn't post much about the Star painting and absolutely nothing about The World. Of course, at that point I didn't know much about marketing my work and how to let people know exactly why I was creating it. I suppose, at the time, I was just making it for myself, without considering that my blog readers might have an interest in the process or the meaning.

I suppose now is as good a time as any to redeem myself, as I certainly hope I've come a long way from then. I know I can see how my painting has improved, at least, although I still have a great fondness for both of these cards. The originals reside in Canada and I do miss having them on my wall, although if someone were to love one of them enough to want it on their wall I wouldn't object.

But I digress. This is to get the meaning across, to share my motivation and to explain why I painted these two cards in the way I did.

As it was the first of the two which I completed I will start with The World. In the Major Arcana this is the 21st of 22 cards starting at 0. It's suitable that this is the final card of the Major Arcana as it's meaning is a sense of completion. It represents unity and accomplishment. This is shown by the universal symbol of a circle, in this case, the Earth. Traditionally it also includes Leo, Taurus, Scorpio and Aquarius. These are representative of energy, matter, time and space, respectively. As I wanted to have only one animal used in the symbolism of this card I chose to portray these four as stars.

My choice to use a turtle was two fold. I see them as extremely wise, steady creatures. This is a very powerful and wise card and I see turtles as very serene, strong animals. I am also a huge fan of Terry Pratchett, so this is a nod to him.

My design for The Star is one of my personal favourites. I originally drew this dragon as an idea for a tattoo. I chose to have a tattoo artist design the dragon which is now happily displayed on my left shin, but I still loved the dragon I'd originally drawn and wanted to put it to good use. Because the Star is such a wonderfully comforting card, and because I have always drawn and written about dragons from a place of fond childhood memories, it seemed a suitable choice.

This card is about the future, but not what is going to happen or not happen. It's about the pure simple fact that everything will be O.K. It's representative of hope and the knowledge that tomorrow is another day. This is something I've found to be an extremely important lesson in my life to date. Nothing is forever can seem like a very scary realisation, but in this card it is meant to be a great comfort. Nothing, no matter how uncomfortable, heartbreaking or difficult is forever and the future stretches before us as pure potential.

Both of these cards are available to purchase through my website. You may purchase the original(s) or get a print, poster or card. Despite my earlier miffed musings about RedBubble I have decided that for now it will be the way to go. I am looking into building my own site where I can sell the prints directly without a middle-man, but that's in the future. The bright, beautiful future.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


The Judgment card represents change. In Buddhism understanding and embracing change are extremely important. The teachings of suffering due to attachment are hinged on the understanding that everything is impermanent. The Judgment card represents accepting this impermanence and embracing something new.

This is the first time I've used text in one of my tarot cards. I do like incorporating my writing into my art, but because these cards are based so strongly on symbolism, I've not felt the need to bring in words. With this one, however, I found a Buddhist quote which I felt fit the mood and meaning of the card extremely well.

I chose a hare because they adapt to their surroundings and the change in weather by changing their coat each year. I have also always thought hares are a symbol of strength and it takes great strength to train ones mind to be comfortable and accepting of change.

I don't know that I'll finish another tarot card this year. I've only three left: The Chariot, Justice and the Wheel of Fortune. My parents are arriving for Christmas holidays on Monday and between visiting, work and Christmas things I don't suppose I'll have a lot of time for painting. Still, I've done ten cards this year and this final one certainly fits the time of year. Change is constant but I think we all become a bit more aware of it as a new year approaches.

London Journal - The Royal Academy

The criss-crossed meeting of Piccadilly, Oxford and Regent street are always a mass of tourists out shopping. The streets are lined with shops and run into the theatre district of Leicester Square and the restaurants of Soho. It is an area I would normally avoid as I can only liken it to a giant outdoor shopping mall and one of my least favourite places to be is in a mall. However, walk a little ways down Piccadilly and tucked back from the road is the courtyard of the Royal Academy.
The intricate stonework instantly caught my eye. It reminded my of the Louvre, as did the lovely statue at the entrance. A choir stood to one side of the door, a charming addition to the setting. Christmas carols filled the night air and before going in a moment had to be spent enjoying the lift of so many voices.
But it was chilly and the purpose was to go inside and see the Glasgow Boys, an exhibit that will soon be finishing it's run at the Royal Academy.

The thing about London is that there are so many exhibits with limited runs that one sometimes doesn't know which to go to. Most of the special exhibits also have a ticket price, which makes me more discerning about my choices.

I'm ever so glad I went to see this one. I've found a love for Guthrie, Lavery and Bastien-Lepage. The use of light and dark, the intricate detail combined with the bold brush strokes and the mottling of colour was charming and beautiful. It was enough to actually make me think I might have another go at oils. It's just a thought and at the moment, my plan will remain a secret.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Peg and Horatio

Today I decided to take a break from editing, painting and stress by indulging in a little Sculpey fun. For Christmas this year my adoring girlfriend got me a lovely ornament. It's a little sled made of wood and wire, hung with a piece of wool. This gift was wonderfully thoughtful as last year she came to Canada for Christmas and one of our afternoons was spent on a hill. She stood at the top with one of my more sensible friends whilst myself and two less-than-sensible friends hurled ourselves down said hill on all manner of sledding devices.

London is considerably less snowy and hilly than Calgary and so this little token showed thought and love for something I love very much.

Any reciprocal gift needed to be considered with the same care.

Initially my plot was to find something in a shop. During the week I had the opportunity to pop into a store and take a look. It was one of those year round Christmas shoppes (With the all important double 'P' accompanied by an 'E' on the end) that tries to maximise on the commercial appeal of Christmas each and every month. Usually these places hold an abundance of every ornament imaginable and the high level of shoddy crap they sell is balanced by some relatively decent products. I scanned the shelves, knowing exactly what I was looking for. Less than thirty seconds and I knew I'd not find it here, nor anywhere else. Already my planned gift was coming together in my head and I knew there was only one way to go about it.

The ornament I gave would have to be one I'd made.

Today I got out my box of Sculpey, which I've not touched since a commission in the Spring to make a dragon. I've put my sculpture on a back burner as, more often than not, producing little colourful creatures makes me feel like a factory worker on an assembly line rather than an artist. I don't mind making a one off but that rarely happens. It takes away from it being a creative process when I'm making ten of something.

But this ornament is a one of a kind creation straight from my heart and imagination. It was so well received that I was inspired to make another one. Both were promptly named (Peg Robin and Horatio Hare) and now hang proudly at the top of the tree.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mixed feelings

I got my first sale through RedBubble!
At first this was just a hugely exciting thing because I've been promoting it like mad and eagerly awaiting the moment when that email notification would come through:

You've sold work on RedBubble!

I was thrilled to go check my account and see what had been purchased. It turned out not to be a single sale but two sales. Someone has bought the posters of 'You Are Worthy' and 'Untitled Buddha'.

This double hit seemed extra exciting until I scrolled down to see what I'd made. My heart sank.

Thing is, I pay for my art out of my own pocket and a lot of why I have to work for someone else is because art is expensive. There's the cost of supplies: Brushes, paints, pallets, an easel, canvases, pens, pencils.
After that there's my time, which can be five to eight hours per painting. Got to factor that in.
When the painting is done there's the fact that not everyone can afford an original so giving them options is a good idea. Why not have posters, canvas prints and cards available? Of course this means getting a high quality photograph of the work which can be reproduced easily. This is another cost and one which made me see the reality of why some art is so expensive. Unfortunately a lot of artist undersell themselves out of a sort of desperation and as a result they just never make enough for their art to be more than a hobby.

I want my art to be more than a hobby and I want people to be able to buy it easily and I thought I'd done my research properly and RedBubble was the way to go.

Before moving to London I found a company that took high quality photographs but also provided prints upon request. It meant I didn't have to pay for the print until I'd sold it and I could put it at a price that meant I got a reasonable profit. It also meant I needed to be able to pick up the prints and transport them to the buyer, which was fine when I lived in Calgary and I was only selling to people who lived in Calgary.

I've made myself a bit 'international' and I liked that RedBubble offered the ability to sell work in most major currencies. They also take care of the printing and shipping, which seemed like a bonus. Then I saw what it really means. Those posters have earned me a total of $11.


I guess we all have to start somewhere but this revelation has me thinking that Redbubble might not be the way to go after all since the cost to get those paintings imaged so they could be available as a poster was five times as much as I made from that sale. Of course I don't make enough off my artwork to have the time to make these sort of sales myself. And thus I'm stuck in a circle. The profits from RedBubble aren't enough to live off of, or even to purchase a single canvas with. I have to give most of my time to a job that has nothing to do with creativity whilst also keeping me from having the time needed to commit to getting more of my work sold and more of my stuff out there.

Or maybe this is just the first step. It's tiny and it's seemingly disappointing right now, after a long day in an office, but in a few months time it might be something entirely different. It could be a moment of 'I've come a long way from that first sale of RedBubble now that I've made my fiftieth sale on RedBubble.'

That is the thing about life. We can't really judge what's good or bad until the very end and even then, I suspect we might just realise that binaries don't work and life just Is.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Another bit of writing

I didn't get loads of feedback on the last excerpt I posted but the few who had something to say seemed to enjoy what they'd read and wanted to read more. This is promising!

As a result I've started going through all the writing I have saved to my computer. I have short-stories, a few paragraphs of something started but not yet finished, and my novels, both in progress and completed. I discovered amongst them the first story I ever transferred from a journal to the computer.

When I was ten I wrote this story as part of an assignment in class. I suppose I liked it well enough but my mum insisted it was one of the most beautiful things she'd ever read. I expect that's part of her job, but still, I saved the story.

Yesterday I found that story. I considered editing it but decided I'd much rather post it as is. A story I wrote at ten, typed up at twelve, and re-discovered at twenty-five. I dedicate this post to my mum.
A Dragon mum with baby I made in High School
Dragon Tears

My name is Kristen. I live in the kingdom of Gwaldwin. I have lived here all my life.

Tonight I am happy, despite the sorrowful story that happened here so very long ago.

Though it happened long before my brothers or myself were born, I know the tale off by

heart. My father has told it to me a thousand times over on nights when I could not sleep

or whenever I was ill and the night after my mother died. He always began it the same


Once upon a time on a night of great turmoil, your story began.

Many houses had been burned. The knights rode through the streets slaying all who were

not loyal to his majesty, Harold the Wicked, as he is remembered now. My father, a

painter, earned what little he could with his talent. My mother, a servant to a noble

family, was earning even less, being a woman. So they could only live in the smallest of

cottages with the smallest servings of food. They couldn’t afford to disobey the kings


My mother was pregnant with me at the time. She was also very ill. She had a fever that

ran high and her body was wracked with violent shivers as she lay bundled beneath what

few blankets they had. my father saw death upon her face. He knew what had to be done

to save his beloved wife but it was terribly dangerous. It would be a long journey with

many perils, but the greatest would come upon reaching his destination. He had to go to

the great mountains, a seven days journey, and he would have to get and bring back the

tears of a dragon.

That night he left the cottage, knowing he would have to move as quickly as possible. He

knew my mother may not be alive upon his return, but if he did not go she would die for

certain. He wrapped her in all the remaining blankets and left what little food he could

manage to collect, along with the freshest water he could find, near her shaking body. He

left her with two farewell kisses, one to her fevered brow and one to her soft sun browned


My father traveled quickly. He knew his wife had very little time left on this earth.

Despite the small misfortunes he encountered along the way he did not slow down. He

traveled at night even, so he could perhaps cut the time it would take him in half. So, on

the fifth dawn of the fifth morning since he had left, my father, tired and bedraggled,

arrived at the Emerald Caves, where the mightiest dragon known was said to live.

My father entered the largest cave. He knew that the Queen of the Dragons would be

here. After lighting his lantern he walked slowly down the dark passage of the damp

cave. It got warmer as he went further. He could hear the dragon snoring softly. Soon he

was upon her, a massive looming shape in the shadows. Her sides moved up and down

with each breath. My father came as near to her as he dared and sat, waiting for the

mighty creature to awaken.

My father shook himself awake and looked around. The dragon was gone. His lantern

had burned low while he slept, but there was still enough dim light to see that the

looming shape was no longer present. Slowly he got to his feet and left the cave. He

found the dragon outside, sunbathing on a patch of course mountain grass.

He approached her and said in his loudest voice, “Dragon! Awaken from your slumber!”

The dragon did not move and so my father said, “Dragon! Mighty dragon! Awaken and

grant that I may have some of your tears?”

The dragon slowly lifted her red, scaly head and looked at my father. She yawned and her

foul somewhat sulphurous breath caught my father off guard. Then she blinked her

golden eyes lazily and rested her head back on the ground.

“Dragon, wondrous, mighty, dragon! What must I do to have thee grant my humble

wish?” pleaded my father.

The dragon did not move. She only opened her eyes and gazed at my father most lazily.

My father was in great despair, having not planned for such a predicament. He sat on the

ground and put his face in his hands. suddenly, he had an idea.

My father looked into the dragons glistening eyes and began to tell a tale. It was a sad

tale of stupendous and beautiful dragons fighting in terrible battles. One dragon in

particular was the strongest and fastest of them all. She fought bravely and won every

time. She won the final battle most victoriously, only to die a short time later while

giving birth.

As he finished the story my father looked up to see the massive dragon with her head

bowed. A huge pearly tear had run down her snout and was ready to fall with a great

splash. My father grabbed the jar he had brought and caught the tear as it fell. Then he

sealed the jar and thanked the dragon profusely.

When my father arrived home he found the town in ruins. The small cottage was half

burned but his wife had made it onto the street safely. She lay there, nearly dead. My

father dropped to his knees beside her and opened the tear filled jar. He slowly poured it

down my mothers parched throat and over her pale face. She swallowed weakly and lay

still. My father wrapped his arms around her and they slept, side by side, until the sun

came creeping over the valley.

As the suns first rays danced over my parents faces my mothers eyes fluttered open. She

stretched and my father woke as well. My mother stood very slowly. Her body was as

healthy as the day she was born! My father hugged her happily and they kissed. I was

born a few months later.

My mother died giving birth to my youngest brother when I was eight. That was seven

years ago this very day.

I must go now for it is almost midnight. Every midnight on this sorrowful anniversary of

my mothers passing, I turn into a dragon and my mothers spirit and I fly across the sky,

hand in hand.