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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.

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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.

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