"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Last Daily Sketches

The last few daily sketches for this month:


Monday 27th July: One of the stones from the reservoir edge again. This is my favourite.


Tuesday 28th July: A single flower from the very beautiful wild flower, Meadow Clary which I grow in the garden. The colour is stunning.


The flower positions the pollen bearing stamens in the top part of the flower which rub against the insects who push into the flower looking for nectar. The anther is like a little serpents tongue.. nice!
It is classified by Plant life as near “Near Threatened” due to loss of habitat. But you can buy it! Please do.. it’s gorgeous, mine came from Bee Happy Plants:  https://beehappyplants.co.uk/bee-plants/salvia-pratensis/. It has begun to seed itself around too.



Wednesday 29th July : A couple of seed heads from another ace bee plant, Birds foot trefoil. The individual pods dry and twist to scatter tiny, tiny, seeds.


Thursday 30th July: A Selection of Bird Cherries from the tree outside. Not many are still green. They are just about edible ..the birds have already started..


Friday 31st July I am about to shift my focus and it’s back to the lovely bees for a while. Some sketches and simplified designs from a deceased little Bombus pascuorum the Common Carder bee.
I am hoping for a small booklet in about 3 weeks time if I ever get to grips with InDesign.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Week 4: Daily Sketches

Sometimes in a very busy week it’s hard to get round to the quick sketches, but it is a good discipline and to be honest it’s not that difficult to find half an hour. No time to agonise about what to draw either!


Monday 20th : Agrimony a very common  plant round here, with sticky burred seed capsules. Excellent pollen for bees and hoverflies with some curious medicinal uses..


Tuesday 21st: More flints. Encouraged by Anna another student at college I have bought some coloured pencils again, having been with out them for a few years. I have mixed feelings about them but they are sometimes lovely for sketching. More flints to come.



Wednesday 22nd : Yellow Rattle and Seeds. Fascinating semi parasitic plant which helps clear land by thinning out grass.The seeds spilling out of the papery pods were unexpectedly large.



Thursday 23rd. The Black Feathers: I have had these two very beautiful black feathers for a while now and eventually have worked out what they are. They are turkey feathers. I must have picked them up in the winter near where the local farmer keeps a few turkeys every year. I am going to do a coloured version sometime. They are very handsome, with a beautiful dark sheen and very soft downy fluff on the shaft.


Friday 24th. Pigeon skull. I know this because the pigeon died in the garden over a year ago. It lay under the hedge undisturbed before I added it to my very small skull collection. I am hoping for a mole next year. …)


Sat 25th: Feathers 2 Another couple of feathers this time pheasant I think.

Just a few more sketches to go.. I wonder what Paul’s next monthly challenge will be??

In between I am working on a “quick” 3 week project challenge to design, illustrate and make a small book, which entails learning how to use InDesign which is proving to be very slow…The sketches are much easier!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Week 3 Sketches

Continuing my daily sketches for July. There are a few rules. They should be quick. Half an hour to an hour and just something I have seen recently and found interesting, mostly to do with the natural world. The purpose; to observe, record, explore and just see what ideas come along through the sketching. Many do.
The drawing, the making marks, the use of colour on paper, however basic and perhaps unpromising are the key. Nothing is a mistake or wrong or good or bad, it’s just work. Visual notes. More stuff for the visual memory bank. 

Seed pods are endlessly fascinating:

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Monday 13th: Campion Pods. Red Campion pods are on closer inspection, exquisite little urn shapes with rolled back edges containing a treasure trove of seeds. The Bladder Campion pods are papery and translucent showing the large black seeds inside


Tuesday 14th: Herb Robert  or by its most sinister name “Death come Quickly” … why??? . It’s a delicate little weed that loves my garden.

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Wednesday 15th: Convolvulus. One of the many types. This is the large white one. The flower buds are beautiful. Tightly furled. More drawings I think.. 


Thursday 16th: Cacti at Cambridge Botanical Barden. Little thumbnail sketch just to remember the soft blue/grey/greens but I was most interested in the shapes.




A5 sketchbook notes 

The Gardens are interesting, but the Glasshouses, with their steamy jungle smell, dripping mosses and clambering vines, filled me with a wave of nostalgia and longing for my familiar old botanical friends in Florida. Ahh….

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Friday 17th: Flint. One of the black hearted flints that have been unearthed by the recent works round the Reservoir. I love these mysterious things. This one has milky clouded spots. There will hopefully be more drawings.



Sat 18th:  Enchanter’s Nightshade This dainty little plant carpets the nearby wood. It has delightfully tiny hairy seed pods. Its Latin name is Circaea lutetiana which accounts for its wonderful English name as the enchantress Circe, supposedly used the plant to turn men into pigs. Hmmm…
Anyway it’s not related to the dangerous deadly nightshade. Transformation is, I guess, preferable to death.  

Monday, 13 July 2015

More Daily Sketches

Week two of the daily sketches …

6th July, little marmalade hoverflies, which are everywhere at the moment. They are so dainty. I was thinking it might be difficult to explain the name to anyone who does not know what marmalade is.


7th July, some more stems and a few seed pods.


8th and 9th July. On a bike ride we were rather fortunate to find a dead mole, (see mole drawings and print posts from a couple of weeks ago) Unluckily it wasn’t in very good shape. Something had chewed at it and it was beginning to decompose. But not to be deterred this time I brought it back and made some sketches before the smell and the circling flies made me call a halt.
However it was such a good opportunity to get a better understanding of those extraordinary feet. Big, almost scaly and spade shaped with long claws. If you have ever held a mole you will know how very strong they are.
I now regard  drawing a dead thing as an honourable tribute, so can just about cope with the yuk factor. It is now under the apple tree with the hedgehog and a shrew. I have buried it in a box with thoughts of preserving the skeleton. My internet search history could be misconstrued



10th July Dog Rose. I think the last one in all of Grafham …. I had thought there would be plenty of dog roses left but I could only find one. The little rosehips are already forming. I am wistfully thinking it seems too soon.


On Saturday 11th we had mussels in wine, garlic, chilli and tomatoes… this time with a few langoustines thrown in. I can’t quite believe I have never drawn one before. It’s one of those things you are sort of expected to draw when learning. They are really delightful both to draw and eat. I have saved a couple of claws to make more detailed studies.

The drawings take between a half an hour and an hour. I like to make them quick. They are usually on A4 sketchbook so something similar. This week, pods and some quick loose brush paintings… and a dancing Owl.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Daily Drawing: Back to Some Observed Drawing

Paul Foxton over at Creative Triggers has an exercise this month, observed drawing from Nature. He calls it “Seeing More Deeply”. How true! I was talking to one of the Gardeners at Easton last week and although he is not an artist, he felt that drawing  plants had made him understand more fully the structures, growing habits and characteristics of each individual.
More understanding equals more appreciation, as well as respect and downright awe, for the intricacies, cunning, inspired design, ingenious function and sheer beauty of natural forms.

I have joined in with Paul’s workshops before and now, free from college and commercial work for a while, I thought I would have a month of, almost, daily drawing. Quite a bit of my time is spent working on ideas for prints which involves simplification and design, so it’s nice just to draw what is in front of you without those extra decisions.
And of course, it is very good practise and feeds into the ever expanding knowledge bank of forms, ideas and skills.

So here are the first 5


1st July : Bird cherry, a small group of leaves and an unripe cherry.


2nd July: A little hoverfly, obligingly very still on the tiny olive tree flowers. I think its a “marmalade” hoverfly


3rd July: Borage Flower…. beloved of bees..


5th July: Small field poppy pod with pollen beetle


6th July: The annoying but very dainty weed, cleavers. Galium aparine It has other wonderful names, goosegrass, stickyweed, robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy and Velcro weed. There is also a tiny bug on one of the stems.

All are pencil in an 8 x 8inch sketchbook.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Almost Back to the Blog...

After a fascinating Spring Term of exploring and developing more and more ideas for the MA Course, I have a break for the Summer.

The most interesting aspect of the course so far has been the good shaking-up my creative brain has had. Many many experiments are beginning to open up possible new directions. More of all that soon.

But I am definitely back to walking and cycling and down by the reservoir the young corn is growing fast. So are the swans who seem to spend most of their time in the field, I am presuming they are snacking on the new shoots.

Sometimes you can only see their heads. I made a few sketchbook notes to get going again…

A tiny colour study..maybe something will come out of it..

Thursday, 5 March 2015

More Joy Than I Can Imagine

That’s what the first Bumble Bee in the garden brings me.

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Busy Buff Tailed Queen

Add to that the creative brain exercises that that the course requires and the arrival of a heater for the freezing garage/print room making the realisation of those exercises more possible.

And I am slowly getting more and more familiar with prints and their endless and fascinating variety.


A few trial prints. It’s all trees, grasshoppers and the surreal world of the garden. More to come when something is more resolved.

This term is rushing by.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Bees, Blossom and a Fat Baby Bird.

I am busy working away on some prints and other things but last week I saw the first bees in the Garden for 2015.  


9th Feb: First Bees

I have a small winter honey suckle outside the kitchen door and 4 honey bees were backwards and forwards on a sunny warm afternoon. Huraahhhhh.. It is cause for much rejoicing and worthy of recording.

And then here is the first blossom from our Bird Cherry Trees which I will be making some work about this year. We have been chopping the trees back and I had brought a twig inside to hopefully draw. One week later and it is in bloom. The trees outside are poised…


On Saturday we went into Cambridge and had  look round the fascinating Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. As well as an excellent small print show (see The Power of Paper), the small museum is stuffed with fascinating and very sketch-able things. Favourite on Saturday was the exquisite baby bird carving. It does not have a label but is in a case which invites the viewer to make up their own minds about the possible story behind the enigmatic objects it contains. It looks Japanese in its elegant simplicity.


A5 sketchbook, pencil

This gorgeous little carving with its pleasing curves and that big wide baby bird mouth reminded me so much of the baby robins we see in the spring.  It’s the sort of thing you long to pick up and hold in your hand.  There was also something of a winged flying saucer about it and it sparked an old memory of those sherbet flying saucer sweets, from a time when day-glow rice paper and sickly sherbet seemed like a good idea. Hmm.. not much has changed then...

Anyway it has all made Spring seem not too far away now !