Tag Archives: Cat

Nessie the cockapoo visits Gledhow Valley

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Nessie the cockapoo arrives with a favourite toy. How did she know my favourite colour range. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Nessie the cockapoo has come to stay for a week whilst Helen and Janet are in California.  She arrived waving one of her favourite toys, which just happens to have a range of colours similar to those in a recent painting of mine.

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“Knight’s Tour Fragments”, acrylic on canvas. Exhibited at Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club Exhibition in November 2016. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Nessie is two and a half and lives in a village in Worcestershire in a house almost surrounded by common land.  Strangely, there are no cats in the village and no squirrels (although several years ago one appeared in the garden the day we arrived for a visit, and it was suggested that it had been a stowaway in our car).  Hens roam free in the garden – so where are the foxes?  No greater spotted woodpeckers, they are all green.

Nessie’s favourite spot in our house is by the French Windows at the back.  She watches the birds and squirrels endlessly, and it is good to lie down on the job.

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Nessie, the cockapoo, watching birds and squirrels. Why not take it easy?   Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

But Nessie is not used to seeing cats, and we have plenty of those.  Suddenly we hear barking and scraping at the window.

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Nessie spots a cat and all hell breaks loose.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Hopefully one of the foxes will turn up whilst Nessie is here.  We often see one or more during the day, and we even had one on the garage roof marking its territory.  Here is a photo of one in the garden in late January 2017.

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A Gledhow Valley fox in the garden in January 2017.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Nessie eats sensibly and feels that there my be more nurishment in the cardboard box than in the breakfast cereals themselves.

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Nessie tucking in to a cardboard box which had contained breakfast cereals.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Of course the highlight of each day for Nessie is the walk through Gledhow Valley Woods to the lake.

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Nessie, the cockapoo, can’t wait to go to Gledhow Valley Woods, and the lake, with Joan and me.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

We are used to seeing the odd rat scamper across the path by the lake, as well as seeing how well they swim.  One rat dashing across suddenly realised that Nessie was passing and took off, missing Nessie’s nose by a whisker.  I am not good at taking photos of flying rats, so here is one nearby wondering what is going on.

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A rat peeping from behind a tree on the banks of Gledhow Valley Lake.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Twenty ducks who were sitting on the bank and the path fly off when they see Nessie, and Joan has brought some oats to feed to the Swan.  There is only one swan left at the lake just now and it is still in its first year.

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Young swan, now living alone on Gledhow Valley Lake.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

We have been concerned for some months about the swans, particularly since the water level dropped after a digger cleared rubbish from the dam end. Large areas of silt have been on view where the swans nest.  Here are the adults and one youngster in late January 2017.

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Family of swans on Gledhow Valley Lake. Photo taken in late January 2017 before the adults abandoned the lake.  I hope the swans did not have to pull bread slices from this wrapper themselves.   Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

At the time of this photo, showing the two adults and the above young swan in late January 2017, the second youngster had been ostracized and was sitting in a corner of the lake.  When we were litter picking this Sunday on the monthly action day with Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods, they told us that soon after the photo foxes killed this young bird and then the adults left the lake.  One adult was found wandering in the Harehills area and the RSPCA took it to Roundhay Park lake.  A lady told us that the other adult was walking past her house in Oakwood, presumably heading for Roundhay Park lake too.  So we hope that things work out well for the adults at Roundhay and our young  survivor here in Gledhow.

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Nessie spots a cat she has not seen before. Henry adopts defensive mode.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist, Leeds.

On the way home from the lake, Nessie confronted a cat.  This is Henry and he stood sideways and seemed to double in size.  Nessie was on her lead, which was probable just as well for Nessie.

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Henry the marmalade cat from Gledhow Valley.  Dogs beware.   Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Anna and Emma, the children next door, went to the woods with Nessie today and had been looking forward to it for days.  Nessie gets on well with everyone.

She has enjoyed her holiday in Gledhow Valley and we are taking her back to the land of green woodpeckers.

Red Squirrel continuous line and Grey Squirrel photographs

Red Squirrel, continuous line with colour sequence. Mick Burton, Leeds artist.

Red Squirrel, single continuous line drawing with colour sequence. Mick Burton, Leeds continuous line artist.

This continuous line Red Squirrel, completed with colour sequence, is one of my pictures to be hung at the Leeds Art Exhibition and Sale put on for the 15th year by St Gemma’s Hospice.

St Gemma's Leeds Art Exhibition. 29 - 31 October 2015

St Gemma’s Leeds Art Exhibition. 29 – 31 October 2015

This colour sequence squirrel is the last of a series which began with my attempt to produce a continuous line drawing with a shimmering fur effect for the squirrel.

Continuous line squirrel from 1970, with shimmering effect of fur. Mick Burton, Leeds artist.

Single continuous line drawing of squirrel from 1970, with shimmering effect of fur. Mick Burton, Leeds continuous line artist.

I have a treasured memory of seeing a Red Squirrel, when I was four, sitting on a wall next to our cottage at Arncliffe Hall, in the North Riding, where my Dad was Head Gardener to Sir Hugh Bell just after the War.  I thought that completing alternate shading with copper paint would best reflect this colour in this picture from 1970.  My daughter Kate said on the phone today that she remembered this picture being in the hall when she was young.

Red Squirrel with copper alternate shading from 1970. Mick Burton, Leeds artist.

Red Squirrel, single continuous line drawing with copper alternate shading from 1970. Mick Burton, Leeds continuous line artist.

I have many clear memories of living at Ingleby Arncliffe from the age of nearly two, to four and a half when we left.

Falling out of my pram outside the local shop and crawling up the step was the earliest. There was a three legged cat, then at Sunday School one of the stamps I collected was “The Light of the World” by William Holman Hunt (my first taste of the Pre-Raphaelites) and I won the child’s sprint on sports day on the cricket ground.

In the famous terrible winter of 1947, I remember Dad helping to dig a trench in the snow drifts down to the village.  It was amazing to walk along the trench and not be able to see out.

 I once watched a pig being killed in the yard by the cottage and the workman laughed as he squirted me with the pig’s bladder.  This memory came back years later when, as a young police constable, I attended my first post mortem (of a coal miner who had been in an underground tunnel collapse).  My sergeant stood with me and assured me that it would be just like a newly killed pig being cut up, if I had ever seen one.  I said “Yes, I saw one when I was four ! “

I only see grey squirrels now, mainly helping themselves to the bird seed Joan puts out.  With Gledhow Valley Woods at the end of the garden we can have five of them at a time.  Yesterday, a young squirrel was chased by a cat and ended up on the trellis a few feet from our dining room window.  Joan chased the cat away and called to me as the squirrel was too scared to move.

I took some quick photographs whist it was still there, but it became apparent that it was not going to move and was looking at me pleadingly.  So I went out and shepherded it into the bushes.  Here are some photos of a shimmering fur tail.

Young Grey Squirrel from Gledhow Valley Woods. Three feet from my window after being chased by a cat. Mick Burton, Leeds artist.

Young Grey Squirrel from Gledhow Valley Woods. Three feet from my window after being chased by a cat. Mick Burton, Leeds artist.

Young Grey Squirrel not daring to move, even though Joan had chased the cat away. Mick Burton, Leeds artist.

Young Grey Squirrel not daring to move, even though Joan had chased the cat away. Mick Burton, Leeds artist.

Young Grey Squirrel, imploring me to stop taking photos and do something about the cat. So I went out and shepherded it to the bushes. Mick Burton, Leeds artist.

Young Grey Squirrel, imploring me to stop taking photos and do something about the cat. So I went out and shepherded it to the bushes. Mick Burton, Leeds artist.

Sod’s Law tempered by Nature in Action

I have been improving the lawn.  A bit of filling a deeper area with soil and re-seeding.  It took a few weeks and the green grass had appeared and it looked good.

At this point, the roofer came to re-cover the top of the back bedroom bay window.  We first asked a builder friend of ours to do the job last autumn and he said that his business partner was a roofer and he would do it.  We had to get rid of the wasps first.  Then there were delays due to the frost – the resin reacts badly to frost.  We kept chasing and then a third person was now going to do the job.  Finally I rang my friend, who was upset at his associates for letting us down.  Later that day the third person rang and he would do the job in two days, and actually arrived (I found out later the gist of the conversation that had taken place, builder to builder ! ).

He brought two young blokes who actually did the job.  They had not been up on the roof long when I noticed a white plastic lid spinning down from the roof.  It landed slap bang in the middle of my newly seeded grass, which was about 10 yards from the house, inside downwards.  I told the lads and one dashed down the ladder to grab the lid back, saying that “everything would be ok”.  They completed the job and went.

Three days later we looked out of the bedroom window and saw a round white patch in the middle of the newly seeded area of lawn.  The grass blades had all turned white.

White patch on newly seeded area of lawn, caused by resin from roof.  Mick Burton photo.

White patch on newly seeded area of lawn, caused by resin from roof. Mick Burton photo.

We realised that although the resin may be vulnerable to frost it could be lethal to grass.  At the time I was reading a book entitled “Sod’s Law”, sub-titled “Why life always lands butter side down”.  I was also reading a book I had borrowed called “Time” by the nature and landscape sculptor Andy Goldsworthy.  He sets up sculptures in natural surroundings and watches how they cope with the elements.  In his early days it might be a “frost shadow” or a continuous line drawn with a stick on the beach.  I wondered whether Sod’s Law or nature would win in the battle for my new grass.

“Sod’s Law” by Sam Leith, Atlantic Books.

Two days later, Joan called me to the window.  Standing in the middle of the white patch on the lawn was our local blackbird.  It had brought a piece of bread and had dropped it.  He spent 10 minutes on the patch pecking away.  Had the resin lured all sorts of bugs and worms to the surface?  Could I class this as another of my Black and White creations?

Blackbird standing in white patch for 10 minutes, finding all sorts of treats.  Mick Burton photo.

Blackbird standing in white patch for 10 minutes, finding all sorts of treats. Mick Burton photo.

The blackbirds have been busy recently. They built a nest behind the small willow under the eves of the garage 10 feet from the kitchen window.  We were looking forward to the view of the chicks, but next door’s cat kept sitting on the garage roof just above the nest.  So they built another nest in the holly bush higher up the garden.

The blackbirds always provide much entertainment.   Last year we saw one fill its mouth full of worms in the front garden.

Blackbird last summer with a mouth full of worms.  Mick Burton photo.

Blackbird last summer with a mouth full of worms. Mick Burton photo.

Show me a real Green Cat.

 

 

Cat who slept on a heap of old green paint. Daily Mail, December 5, 2014.  Mick Burton, continuous line drawing.

Cat who slept on a heap of old green paint. Daily Mail, December 5, 2014. Mick Burton, continuous line drawing.

I always thought that Green was a natural colour for a cat done with my continuous line drawing, but I never realised that one would appear. Here we are, in the Daily Mail report on a cat who is actually green and wandering around quite happily. It turns out that the cat slept in a garage on an abandoned heap of green paint.

My original Green Cat was created in 1969 as one of four animals sold to J Arthur Dixon Ltd., a greetings card company that was based on the Isle of Wight.  They produced sets of Notelets with them on, sold in little cardboard boxes.  Here are the four designs.

Green Cat, continuous line drawing and alternate shading, by Mick Burton.  Notelet design for J Arthur Dixon Ltd, Isle of Wight, 1969.

Green Cat, single continuous line drawing and alternate shading, by Mick Burton. Notelet design for J Arthur Dixon Ltd, Isle of Wight, 1969.

Golden Horse, continuous line drawing and alternate shading, by Mick Burton.  Notelet design for J Arthur Dixon Ltd, Isle of Wight, 1969.

Golden Horse, single continuous line drawing and alternate shading, by Mick Burton. Notelet design for J Arthur Dixon Ltd, Isle of Wight, 1969.

Blue Elephant, continuous line drawing and alternate shading, by Mick Burton.  Notelet design for J Arthur Dixon Ltd, Isle of Wight, 1969.

Blue Elephant, single continuous line drawing and alternate shading, by Mick Burton. Notelet design for J Arthur Dixon Ltd, Isle of Wight, 1969.

Red Lion, continuous line drawing and alternate shading, by Mick Burton.  Notelet design for J Arthur Dixon Ltd, Isle of Wight, 1969.

Red Lion, single continuous line drawing and alternate shading, by Mick Burton. Notelet design for J Arthur Dixon Ltd, Isle of Wight, 1969.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I continued the Green theme for a cat when I started producing my own greetings cards in 2013. This time I used colour sequence from yellow, through greens to blues.

The narrative on the card is about a cat that we had who used to get into all sorts of scrapes. His real name was Sandy and he looked a bit like the cat in the background in the Daily Mail photo above.</strong

Ragamuffin, green cat, continuous line drawing with colour sequence.  Greetings Card (front)  by Mick Burton.

Ragamuffin, green cat, single continuous line drawing with colour sequence. Greetings Card (front)
by Mick Burton.

Ragamuffin, continuous line drawing with alternate shading.  Rear of Greeting Card by Mick Burton.

Ragamuffin, single continuous line drawing with alternate shading. Rear of Greeting Card by Mick Burton.

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Black and White Alternate Shading

010. 1966-9. Cat, or Ragamuffin. Alternate shade, black. Whilst doodling at work (I was articled to a Chartered Accountant) I was already using alternate shading on some drawings.   I realised that if you initially shaded one outer area on a continuous line drawing, and then worked alternately through the doodle, all outside areas became shaded.   Bridget Riley’s Optical Art (or Op Art) in black and white, with its shimmering effect, suddenly appeared in the early 1960’s.   I started black alternate shading on some of my new figurative drawings.   I now realise that most of Op Art was abstract to make the most of the effect, whereas I was doing animals, people and landscapes.

My Lion in particular produced its own shimmering effect.
016. 1967-9. Lion. Alternate shading, black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To extend the scope of my continuous line drawings, along with the alternate shading, I had a go at a landscape based upon the countryside where I grew up near Ripon and called it Skelldale.   I could walk along the banks of the River Skell upstream to Fountains Abbey.

006. 1966-7. River, Skelldale. Alternate shading, black.

An exception to the abstraction in Op Art was Zebras (in 1937) by Victor Vaserely, in which he used the black and white stripes of intertwined zebras, and it was one of the very first Op Art pictures.   He then became largely abstract in the 1950’s.   He was unknown to me until several years after I started in 1965.

This was In about 1971 when I walked past Christies Auction house in London, when taking my pictures to an exhibitions agent, and I saw through a window some black and white abstract drawings which had a similarity to mine.   I went in and was amazed at the variety of drawings, so many having aspects which I had experimented with.   The lowest estimate was £14 and I considered leaving a bid, but I decided that it was a lot of money (then) and that I had similar ones at home (stupid boy).   A week or so later I read in the newspaper that Vaserely had been selected to design the emblem for the next Olympic Games (1974).   I should have left that bid !