Sunday, 22 April 2012

H is for...


I'm not really sure what to say about Hobgoblins. It's a name that gets mentioned quite frequently yet I suspect a lot of time it's used as a generalisation. Hobgoblins are really hearth spirits, like Brownies, who live in kitchens, near either a fireplace, or in more modern times near the cooker or hob. I suppose anything with the term 'goblin' as part of its name is going to get some bad press, not least because the Puritans used the term to refer to Satanic forces, which is a shame I think, as all they want is a warm place to sleep and a little bit of cake now and then. Like Brownies they are small creatures who tend to be seen wearing tattered clothing. It is uncertain if they have the same attitude to new clothes as Brownies as so very little has been written about them. But they certainly don't have the same attitude to work. They are more like unpaying lodgers.

© Shona M MacDonald 2012. All Rights Reserved.

However, despite the lack of tales about them, their name has been associated with and used for all kinds of things from beer to computer games and comics, folk music to pubs and, most weirdly a Marxist journal (?).

I hadn't realised it had been so long since my last post. I have I, J, and K ready to post over the next couple of weeks, hopefully followed by a little peek at my painting techniques with the letter L :)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

G is for ...


Every good garden should have one!! Given their popularity I find it quite odd that there aren't really any good stories or old folk-tales about Gnomes. You see statues of them in gardens all over Britain and yet there are virtually no detailed accounts of encounters with them. I suspect that a lot of people mix them up with Dwarves, as I've seen several Disney Dwarf statues being sold alongside Gnomes. I'm sure this would annoy both the Dwarves and the Gnomes as they are different creatures altogether.

© Shona M MacDonald 2012. All Rights Reserved.

 It was the 16th Century alchemist Paracelsus who is credited with first using the name Gnome to describe Earth Elementals who lived within the earth itself. I wonder if, perhaps, his perceived superior knowledge about them made other people shy away from writing about them in anything other than more modern children's stories. Yet despite this they have earned their place within Faerie mythology. Ask most people what they think a Kelpie or a Spriggan look like and they will probably stare at you blankly, but everyone knows what a Gnome looks like and that they are connected with gardening and the earth.

When I did a google search for Gnome, once I'd got past all the GUI computer speak (which took a few pages I can tell you!) I found that there is now even a Garden Gnome Liberation group fighting to free Gnomes from garden oppression!! This put me in mind of a story that featured on several news programmes here in the UK when I was a child. Someone had their Gnome stolen from their garden and a short while afterwards starting receiving postcards from his Gnome from all over the world. If my memory serves me right, the was Gnome eventually returned to his garden complete with a little suitcase covered in travel stickers. I'm not sure if that says more about people's fondness for Gnomes or the eccentricities of my fellow countrymen!

As we're talking Gnomes I'd also like to add a quick shameless plug for a company in the US, called Gnomeworks Puzzles, who make the most exquisite wooden jigsaw puzzles (I know because I've got one), including ones featuring some of my artwork.

H, I and J will be following soon and I've created a bit of 'walkthrough' for L to let you see how I put these pages together.