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I read 'Bonnie Dundee' (and was a little surprised to discover about halfway through that I'd read it before.)  It's a story with likeable protagonists and an interesting plot, though I think the shape of the plot was sometimes just a little disconnected - or perhaps that's not the plot, it's the period of history in which the story is set, with nobody really seeming to achieve very much but a great deal of galloping about and posing dramatically on horseback. against stunning landscapes. 

 There was a particular scene that I decided I wanted to have a go at painting:

"It was a soft heavy-scented gloaming, and when I looked back I could see the taper light apricot in the windows... and when I looked forward again the cream curds of elder-blossom were beginning to shine to themselves among the dark of their leaves, in the way of pale flowers at dusk. But when I came down the bank, there was someone, something, sitting there already in the crotch where the two limbs parted. A girl in a gown that was pale almost as the elder flowers, and yet seemed made of webbed and dappled shadows.

For an instant my heart lurched within me for was it not Midsummer's Eve and the tree an eldern tree... 

Then I saw that it was Darklis, wearing a gown of print stuff with little flower sprigs all over the whiteness of it..."

Darklis in the elder tree (click for bigger)

A detail (click for bigger) 

I am *fairly* pleased with it - it's not quite right (any help with working out *why* it's not quite right gratefully accepted).  I think part of the problem may be that it is an *elder* tree, and elders don't usually get big enough to sit in several feet from the ground.  But that said, my mental image of it from the passage didn't have that problem, so perhaps I just didn't draw it quite right.  I think the dress and hair are about right for the 17th century but again, tell me if I'm wrong. 

I'll also admit now to the two stories I wrote for sutcliff_swap :
1) A Singing Magic - about Flavia, from the Lantern Bearers 
2) With a Strange Majesty - old Aquila falls at the battle of Badon Hill. Lantern Bearers retrospective from a Sword at Sunset viewpoint. 

It took me aaages to write the first one, and I was filled with dilemmas - how to explain Flavia's decision to stay with her husband, how she knew how to brew drugs to knock the guards out, why she didn't escape before when she had supplies and equipment to help Aquila do so, how she might change as a result of her experiences,  what personality to give her husband, who had no canon name and was described only as a 'laughing giant', and of course, the most vital question of all : where she gets her dog from. :-D

And then the second story just rushed up and seized me unexpectedly by the brain.  I wrote it in a tremendous rush, and alas! I suspect it is actually better than the first one.  I did almost no research for it, apart from doing some poring over maps of the White Horse Vale to try to work out where the landmarks mentioned are.  

I could see where the British forces were stationed at Uffington hill fort, but I was a bit baffled by where she thought Caer Berywen, the other fort she places at the other end of the British lines was,  or indeed why the Saxons didn't just go on West past the White Horse Vale and turn South somewhere around Swindon instead.  But White Horse Vale is such a great location for the Battle of Badon Hill I think I can forgive her taking a few liberties with the geography. 

In other news, demon_rum and The Captain, who are both apparently minor rain deities, came to visit with their clouds.  We took them to a beach, where it rained a lot, and Yogi Lurcher enjoyed herself enormously (and the rest of us, a little less).  Then we took them to Plymouth,  where the clouds rolled away for a short while, so we (and all three dogs) ate pasties.  Also eating pasties were Francis Drake and his wife. 

I asked them if I could take a photo and if they were dressed up for a special event, and they kindly gave me permission to do so, and said, no, it wasn't a special event, they just felt that Drake and his wife fitted in well in Plymouth. I felt this was a thoroughly splendid reason to be dressed in white tights.  We saw them again later, sitting under the walls of the Citadel and looking out to sea.

Presumably watching out for Armadas. 


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
19th Aug, 2012 16:25 (UTC)
Francis Drake
That's odd. Yesterday we saw 20 pirates having pasties in Portsmouth. (Or, rather, we were having pasties when we saw them. They were sitting in a cafe, but I didn't think to examine what they were eating.) Clearly something about yesterday shouted "Dress up in historical costume and go to a naval port and sit around consuming food in public places!"
19th Aug, 2012 20:04 (UTC)
Re: Francis Drake
I am pretty sure that every day calls for dressing up in historical costume and eating in public places. (Whether those places must be in a port is optional.)
20th Aug, 2012 08:24 (UTC)
Re: Francis Drake
It sounds like an entertaining way of life!
20th Aug, 2012 08:24 (UTC)
Re: Francis Drake
Hmm. I feel a little cheated now that we only saw Sir Francis and not his entire crew...
(Deleted comment)
20th Aug, 2012 08:27 (UTC)
Well, I can see how you could be sick of the whole subject by now anyway:-D

You have to respect old people who think 'hmm, bingo? No, I'll dress up as a historical character and wander around eating pasties, that will get me out of the house' :-D
19th Aug, 2012 21:45 (UTC)
Ooooo, I read the discussion about Flavia, but I haven't read the book (at least, not within living memory), so I couldn't comment. It will be interesting to read the finished story.

Sir Francis Drake and his wife! I love the second picture -- they almost look like ghosts!

I think your painting's very effective, especially the colouring -- you've really caught the essence of the passage. The only bit that troubles me slightly is that I think you've made her lower legs a bit short. I used to sit at the very front in a life drawing class (because my eyesight's rubbish) and, when the model was sitting, her lower legs, knees to feet, used to take up about half the drawing, and if she was lying down she'd have enormous feet!

Edited because my iPad thinks it knows better than I do...

Edited at 2012-08-19 21:46 (UTC)
20th Aug, 2012 08:29 (UTC)
Aha - thank you! I see what you mean. I may have another go at those lower legs, they are indeed too short.

Probably I should have found a photo reference for them, but I think originally I'd planned for them to sort of vanish into the shadow (plus, looking up photo references is SO frustrating - I can never find someone positioned from the right angle and it takes forever!)
1st Sep, 2012 21:32 (UTC)
What Ningloreth says about the legs seems right now I look at it again, and poss also the feet should sort-of dangle down more rather than being quite right-angle-ish? But having said that, I rather like the sort of slightly stylised, formal pose that this makes me think of, seems quite appropriate for a figure originally mistaken for an uncanny, mythical being :-) The thing I felt was slightly off was the proportions of the arms: her left forearm seems very long, esp compared to her upper arm, and her right arm seems significantly shorter overall, though some of that might be foreshortening, if her arm/the branch extend somewhat foreward as well as to the side. I *hate* proportions of body parts, could never get them right (and lets not even go into hands and feet!) Bah. BUT! I love the look and feel of this piece, the shadowy twilit trees and grasses, and especially the dark ripply water.
1st Sep, 2012 22:18 (UTC)
Hmm, of course they are! It's so hard to see these things until someone else lets you borrow their eyes, thanks.

I have already adjusted the legs in the original, I'll have another whack at the arms too.
21st Aug, 2012 23:37 (UTC)
I suspect it is actually better than the first one.

I don't think they can really be compared, but I assure you that they are both quite, quite excellent, and I am extremely glad you wrote the Flavia story.
22nd Aug, 2012 11:03 (UTC)
Oh, I enjoyed writing both. I was just thinking what a different writing experience it was between them, they were really at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

The Flavia story was hard to write, it involved a lot of thinking and research and deliberate attempts to put of myself into the heads of various characters. I felt that what I got at the end was very much MY version of the story, and the characters I wrote were my characters (they were partly shaped on people that I know, probably more than on Sutcliff's not very detailed sketches which were my starting point.) It was a thought-out-by-me story, so an absolute pile of fun to write.

Whereas Aquila at Badon - that didn't feel like I was building a character or thinking out a storyline. That was like someone was feeding the words and images into my head and all I had to do was type. No research needed, no careful thinky thoughts. Like magic: exciting, unpredictable, uncontrollable...

22nd Aug, 2012 15:40 (UTC)
*nods* It's interesting how that is sometimes!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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