The last few weeks have been very busy and, with hardly any internet connection, very frustrating blogwise. However in my makeshift studio at my father’s house, (rickety picnic table with clip light fixed to hoe handle) I could at least work on my two bee commissions.
It gives me great pleasure to work on commissions because they are a chance to make paintings which are very personal to your clients. We will discuss the whys and wherefores at some length and this collaborative approach means they will have a painting which is just for them and has a resonance and meaning beyond just the image.
So Liz and I had discussed which bee and why and decided on the Grey Mining Bee which is such a favourite with its beautiful black and white silky coat and secondly the lovely Early Bumble Bee with her smart red rump.
There were several things which made these choices special to Liz. She particularly wanted the ginkgo leaves to be included as she has a magnificent old ginkgo tree growing in her garden. So the leaves I drew are from her tree. The hawthorn leaves were from the local hedgerow and the two little bees had been found near Lincoln, which was a strange coincidence because Liz once lived near there many years ago.
I had written about the Grey Mining Bee Andrena cineraria before (see “The Glamorous Grey Mining Bee”) Here is Liz’ bee hovering above a sprig of hawthorn, a favourite flower with this and many other early bees.
The Grey Mining Bee Andrena cineraria and Hawthorn.
Watercolour and pencil 9 x 9”
I drew and wrote about handsome the Early Bumble Bee here “Bombus pratorum …and Mr. Sladen” and included Sladen’s poignant piece about the death of the queen. It’s a lovely piece of writing as is all the writing in his wonderful book about bumble bees, The Humble Bee' It's Life History and How To Domesticate It. I now have the reprinted copy which also contains the facsimile of his first handmade bee book. It’s completely charming.
Here then is Liz’ Early Bumble Bee flying up through the ginkgo leaves which are catching a light spring breeze. Bees do not forage from ginkgo trees but Liz’ garden looked to be a haven for wild bees and I just know she will be seeing these pretty bees in the spring next year.
The Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorum and Ginkgo leaves.
Watercolour and pencil 9 x 9”.
I am so delighted when people commission a bee. It’s not perhaps the most usual request but gives me hope that bees are getting a higher profile and winning a well deserved place in people’s hearts. I am really looking forward to the day when bees outsell fluffy kittens…OK, I know… I may have to wait a while :). There is more work to be done to popularise bees, their undoubted charm and tireless good works and I will be continuing that next year both in the UK and in the USA…
But, for the next few weeks I will be somewhere completely different, I will be seeing what is happening in New Orleans for a while! Bees ? I hope so. What else? Who knows. It will just be a voyage of discovery!