Issue #32: June, 2023

Pilgrim's Rest by Ann Richmond - A dreamlike artwork featuring an armoured Red Fox, Hare & Toucan. Painted in the artist's unique style... Framing available.

Dear Subscriber…

How are you doing? I have to say that, since we last spoke, much has happened! Not least, Ann suffering a bout of ‘Internal Shingles’ (wowser: it’s a real thing). So that was fun…

Oh, and that was quickly followed up with a brace of summer colds that were so punishing, we began thinking it was a bout of Covid! Luckily that turned out to be not-the-case, but all this explains why we’ve not been in-touch for a few weeks! Oh, and as I write, we’re both suffering with really bad hayfever; I think it’s my first bout in over ten years, so it must be bad at the moment… I hope you’ve been enjoying better health?

Undaunted, we’re roaring back with a beautiful, soulful work. ‘Pilgrim’s Rest’ is a sequel to a much-loved (and very early) entry in the Collection and the few who’ve seen this one, have fallen under its spell. We only hope that you feel equally inspired!

This Newsletter was originally going to contain THREE new pictures, but two are still at the framers, so I shall put out another one very soon. We’re cooking up something big, which I think is going to surprise you all, so I need to get all the housekeeping squared-away first!

After sharing details on the new painting, there’s news about Open Studios 2023…

Last year’s event was amazing for us, so we’d like to see even more of you return this July 😉 Oh, and while I remember, there’s a good chance that a documentary filmmaker will be spending one of the weekends with us, in an attempt to put together a ‘day in the life of an Open Studio’…! When we get it in the diary, I’ll let you know the dates in the NEXT newsletter, in-case you don’t want to be caught on-camera when you visit…

Okay, that’s enough rambling: Let’s get on with it!


In the beginning, there were
‘The Pilgrims’…

I’m guessing that, as our mailing list now numbers around a THOUSAND(!) people, there are going to be a fair number who’ve not had the chance to rummage through our archive… So the following explanation is for you! If you already know about ‘The Pilgrims’, then feel free to scroll on down…

After finding a new direction with ‘Keeper of the Keys’, we decided we shouldn’t devote any more time to producing ‘straightforward’ wildlife work. From ‘Keys onward, we’d only be looking at fantastical themes.

Which brings us to The Pilgrims. For those of you brave enough to venture into the ‘Archive’ section on the website, you might’ve seen a diptych of Hares, entitled ‘Into the Valley’. Their vivid magenta & purple horizons are of note here. There was something intriguing & just plain different about that offbeat colour choice, that fired Ann’s imagination. At the time, she’d been toying with the idea of painting a lone Fox in a similar wintry landscape. A rough, painted sketch was even attempted, but progressed no further; doomed to languish on the ‘might be something one day’ pile.

Doomed, that is, until Ann realised that one way of getting this project up-and-running, might be to add that same rich background to the old sketch! The difference it made was electrifying.

Other changes brought things together, but of one thing we were certain: adding another Toucan, would add continuity back to ‘Keys. Ann also insisted that there should be a Hare too, given that – at the time – that’s what a healthy chunk of her collectors had come to expect. Besides, I also think it paid homage to the very paintings that’d inspired this swerve in direction. With that settled, it was time to consider accessories…

The balloon? Another, obvious nod back to ‘Keys’, albeit in a different colour. The amethyst in the Toucan’s beak, was a nod back to those worn by another early work, ‘Count Pugsley’. The streamers? Well, we thought they might be a subtle reference to the ‘The Whisperer’s’ flaming, wild hair. Thinking about that last one, leaves me questioning whether we might’ve been a little too obscure for our own good!

What else? Well, the stylised head-lamps worn by both the Fox and Hare, were inspired by the deep-sea Angler Fish, which uses a similar – though entirely natural – bioluminescent lure. This ‘bright idea’ would return in many guises… Oh, and I should give special mention to the Fox’s armour, for this was the first time that Ann explored the idea of ‘weathering’. “After all”, we reasoned, “These hardy characters might’ve been travelling through the wilderness for a long time. Of COURSE things might get a little rusty & weather-beaten…!” The verdigris on the Fox’s rear plates, still impress me even now.

Which brings me to the one idea I need you to take away from ‘Pilgrims. The notion that we don’t need to know WHY these characters are trudging through the snow… In some ways, it might almost be a disappointment to have that explained for us. Instead, the picture grows in stature, through the power of our own imaginations. For we are free to project our own emotions into their struggle.

As they trudge, so do we. Through life. As they carry their precious gems & wisdoms, so do we. Through life. And as they keep to their purpose and direction with a dogged stubbornness, so do we.

Through life.

All of which, brings us to…
Pilgrim’s Rest…

After a run of ambitious paintings, Ann decided to take some time to reflect on the journey so-far. Perhaps, revisit an early work and catch-up with the subjects to ‘see how they were getting on in their own journeys’. So it seemed obvious – and appropriate – that of all our early artworks, it should be to our Pilgrims, that we return. Like some of you, we’d grown tired of wondering ‘What’ve they been up to?’

Well, wonder no more, for I’m very proud to introduce you to ‘Pilgrims Rest…’!

Let’s start with the Hare, shall we? Doesn’t he look regal with his little crown? I wonder what THAT might mean? He’s begun to make camp for the night, but strange things have begun to happen! For high-up on this exposed wintry mountainside, have appeared a stream of fireflies: drawn to his head-lamp’s glow…

The answer lays in one of their most precious possessions… This storm-lamp holds a cloud of very special – and hardy – fireflies, that stream out at night. Attracted by the glow of the head-lamps, they add a warm & cosy glow to any camp: even in the depths of winter.

The Fox might’ve removed his helmet, but the fireflies are still attracted… This is also a good view of some of their luggage; can you spot the little repair?

In ‘The Pilgrims’, the Toucan gripped an amethyst in his beak. Since then, however, he’s acquired a little bag! This close-up gives us a grand view of the streamers, the balloon’s string & the Toucan’s ‘crown’… So that’s another regal character, is it?

It was the Fox, which gave Ann the most headaches this time around. There’s so much reference material out there these days, that you’d be forgiven for assuming that getting the right starting point would be easy. Right?

Err, no! So, she ended-up doing it the ‘old-fashioned’ way: making sketches and tweaking things ad nauseam, until she got what she was after. But doesn’t he look beautiful? Have you noticed the steam coming from his nostrils?

It was a challenge for Ann to go back to the original armour design. For one thing, her technique has constantly changed over the years, becoming more ‘polished’. But the original’s ‘Verdi Gris’ patina was always a point of pride, so here we are… Those scales look as rusty as ever!

Now we’re getting somewhere! Regular collectors will know that in the World we’ve been building these past few years, Owls have come to prominence as Guardians of their piece of territory. ‘Pilgrim’s Rest’ is no exception. Look closely at that cairn in the background and you’ll see it’s a close-match for that seen in ‘Pearls of Wisdom’.

In that painting, the Owl was the main focus, dispensing wisdom though his magical pearls. In Pilgrim’s Rest, wisdom comes in a different guise…

For here we see the Owl’s sigil: a weathered old Celtic Knot. Again it’s similar in purpose – if not design – to that seen in Pearls’. It’s a clue that this campsite has been used for a long time… And, that the Owl who guards it, is merely the latest in an ancient & revered line…

Which also must mean, that our Pilgrims are by no means the first to have welcomed its shelter…

Rather than offer guidance in the form of ‘Pearls of Wisdom’, the Owl directs travellers to this inscription. Picked out in subtle, gold letters we have a quote from John Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’…

Translated, it reads: ‘This hill, though high, I covet to ascend.’

If you’re interested, the full quote reads:

‘This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.’

Isn’t that beautiful?

I imagine that by the time any traveller reaches this remote camp, these are the very words they need to hear. What is it we say, about any difficult endeavour? ‘It’s always darkest before the Dawn’?

Our Pilgrims have been out in the wilderness for a long time. Yet still they doggedly walk on. Not knowing where – or when – relief will come. Only, that they must keep walking until that day. There’s a peace that comes from knowing that you’re on the right path. From knowing that, in your heart, that you’re doing the Right Thing.

Among final details to savour, I bet few of you will have spotted this little Fieldmouse looking on from the shadows?

Couple of things here… First, have you spotted the ‘Hare’ in the patterns on the Moon’s surface? Moon Dancer was the inspiration for the way it looks here. Also, the delicate way that Ann has painted the balloon’s skin, suggesting it’s translucency?

We know a lot of you truly appreciate these little touches!

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Because of our participation in the Marlborough Open Studios, we will NOT be appearing at any Craft Markets in the Cirencester Corn Hall throughout July…

However, we’re due back in August, so more dates to be confirmed later-on..!


‘Work-in-Progress’

Flutterbies…


Well, that’s it for now: we hope you enjoyed this month’s Newsletter. I’ll be sending out something ELSE quite soon: Stay Tuned!

If you find yourself at a loose end and you’re able to visit us in Cirencester’s Corn Hall one Saturday, we’d love to see you!

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Ann paints animals wearing ornate armour & Gary unearths wonders with AI. We ship both Original Artworks and our superb Fine-Art Prints worldwide, from the Otherwurlde Studio, here in Wiltshire, Southern England.
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