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Sunday 22 April 2012

Easton Workshops and a Painting!

It’s been a VERY busy week. The Empty Garden has been begging for attention, so seeds have been sown and plants lined up for planting and more lists made.  I held one of my “Bugs Beasts and Botanicals” painting workshops at Easton Walled Gardens with Judith, Michael, Sue, Elaine and Lucy. Thanks all for coming and for your fantastic input and enthusiasm. It was so enjoyable.
The workshops are all about looking..looking hard and looking again and appreciating and developing ones own abilities, aptitudes and enthusiasms.  I am going to write a post about them in more detail soon.

I have another full days workshop at Easton this coming week. I would just like a little more sun if possible… but to be honest just to be up at Easton is so inspirational and such a delight, whatever the weather.

And at last I got down to painting the gorgeous Buff Tailed Bumble bee. She is surveying her prospects from a Mahonia leaf. It’s number one of my rather delayed commissions. I have not had time to scan this one and irritatingly it is too big to scan in one go so it involves lots of faffing about with for now photos will have to do. 


I particularly like the way bees pause on leaves to take a break .. I am also thankful because you can get a good look at them..and of course, them at you.

The garden has been full of solitary bees and the valiant mining bee from my last post was prospecting in the lawn again. Thanks to my very knowledgeable bee mentor Alan Phillips, I think it is the lovely Andrena nitida, just one of the over 230 other British Bees I have yet to paint…!

So much to do, so little time!

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Monday 16 April 2012

A Tawny Mining Bee and thanks to Nature in Art.

I am back from my 10 days over Easter at Nature in Art, having met so many interesting and bee friendly people and made quite a few converts too.
I am also much more knowledgeable about honey bees and the great work done by Bees Abroad. Their observation hive was fascinating.
One day I arrived early to hear the bees making an extra loud buzzing, easily audible from behind the closed shutters. When Brian opened up, it was clear the excitement was caused by new loads of pale pollen arriving.   A frenzy of waggle dancing was going on.  If I read their directions correctly they were collecting from the nearby rape field which had just sprung into flower.

Brian, one of the project leaders of Bees Abroad, works in Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana. He wore a very cool African robe and hat on a couple of days and will be giving a talk tomorrow night (Tuesday) at the Museum. entitled “My Beekeeping Exploits”. Will you be appearing fully kitted out  Brian?? :)

The Bee Exhibition “Winged Saviours” continues at Nature in Art until April 29th and here is a brilliant winged photo of director Simon Trapnell from the local newspaper

bee exhib rview

Back home in the Empty Garden we are busy trying to make it not quite so empty and I will be posting a list of wildlife friendly plants I am trying soon… but, joy of joys, a brilliantly ginger Tawny Mining bee, Andrena fluva, paid a visit to the Shed. Her freshly emerged colours are wonderful. The photo does not really show the difference between the colour on the thorax and on the abdomen. One is deep russet and the other a brighter ginger.. very beautiful !

I can’t find any traces of her typical nesting volcanoes in the grass but later that day another mining bee was trying to dig a burrow right in the middle of our hard packed and unforgiving mud patch of a lawn.  I felt very sorry for her, we can barely get a fork into this concrete hard surface. I watched her valiantly trying to excavate a hole and longed to give a helping hand but common sense must have prevailed and she flew away, hopefully to find somewhere softer to dig. Again she was brilliantly coloured with paler ginger thorax and black shiny abdomen with small white hairs on her legs.

I took a few seconds of film and although not in focus ( I WILL improve) was good enough for me to see her broad face with white hairs.  I hope to get an ID and will update this post. She seemed not at all concerned by my presence… if she noticed me at all.
Happy digging little bees!

Friday 6 April 2012

Bees and Flowers, A Week at Twigworth

I am in the middle of a fantastic week here at Nature in Art at Twigworth Glos. Eight lovely artists joined me at the weekend for 2 days of drawing, painting and talking about all things art and nature. We drew bugs, beasts, twigs, flowers and plants,  found ground nesting bees, watched huge bumble bees in the willows and mahonias, spotted hairy footed flower bees on the pulmonaria, saw little mason bees peeping out of holes in the walls, watched bee flies and hover flies and more. We exchanged ideas, knowledge, stories and painting tips and, as always, I learn as much about painting, drawing and life from the company of such interesting and accomplished people as I hope they learn from me.  Thank you Lyn, Sally, Margaret, Owen, Hazel, Lyn, Sarah and Penny for making it such an really enjoyable weekend.

Now I am Artist in Residence for a week and sharing a room with the Bees Abroad Charity. They have a fantastic stand and the observation hive is riveting! I am learning so much about honey bees both here and abroad.

Brian also has a small piece of a stingless bee’s nest from Ghana on show along with some of the microscopic bees.. ( black specs on the right!)

In the next room there is a display of excellent work from Gloucestershire Botanical Art Society. A few bees and bugs have crept in there too.


I have a selection of “Buzz” paintings and sketchbooks and of course my well travelled models who are doing a great job in promoting the understanding of our wild bees. Even timid children who think they are frightened of bees cannot resist a close encounter with a little mason bee.

Out in the grounds there are Bumble bees all over a big yellow Mahonia.    
Kevin has put up his bee boxes.

and… delight! delight!… the hairy footed flower bees are whizzing around the pulmonaria.

We are all here until Easter Monday. Do come along and have a chat if you can. I can tell you the home made quiches and cakes are wonderful!

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