The past few days have been taken up with making frames, cutting mounts, buying glass and putting it all together, making sure labels have the correct information. A short notice opportunity for exhibiting artwork at Dedham Vale Vineyard 30th November – 1st December, made me put aside creativity and focus on the presentation. It’s a distraction but in truth for me, it makes sense financially, time wise and patience, to do my framing a few at a time. To have work ready for small exhibitions is a bonus and also it gathers work long term for a solo exhibition Spring 2014, (lots of space, great! or could that be aargh! lots of space – more work to be done). Getting an idea as to how the paintings will look as a group instead of stored in the plan chest drawer is a reality check worth doing sooner than later.
Grey sky, gloomy light, rain, conspired to increase the vibrancy of the autumn leaf colour – a beautiful day if you do not have to work in the fields.
Information for Dedham Vale Vineyard, (Constable country) please visit
Last year a friend took down lengths of vine that she had used in an installation of contemporary floral design and paintings at Chelmsford Central Library. At the end of the exhibition and no sales, I had a very large canvas painting to wrap and pack in my car, parked on a busy road, traffic wardens around to give parking fines if they thought you were taking too long. But the bag of discarded vine cuttings came with me. All rooted, grew rapidly, (bit rampant), and this one fruited. Small grapes even when ripe but the birds liked them. ‘Brant’ is a decorative vine , grown for it autumn colour.
‘Vine – small fruit’ is an ink painting worked up from an oil pastel sketch.
On the heathland there are wooded areas and clearings where gorse and heather grow. It was out, away from the oak and birch trees, I found the hat shaped fungi, looped over with low growing bramble.
“Fungi with bramble and heather”, acrylic ink and india ink on watercolour paper. One in a series of paintings of plant forms, fruit and seed heads. I prefer to work on groups of paintings, each connected to the other by subject matter or ideas and from my own experience.
A photograph taken on a fungi hunt was used for an oil pastel sketch, which was then reworked for my ink painting – ‘Fungi and acorn’.
Exmoor ponies are now kept on Tiptree Heath to help maintain the balance of plants and growth specific to heathland. 2013 has been described as a ‘mast year’ for England – heavy crops of nuts and fruit. This is evident on the heath where the bumper crop of acorns are cleared from areas grazed by the ponies, limiting the amount of nuts eaten.
Reference for mast years visit
My seasonal studies continue after I went on a fungi hunt at Tiptree Heath organized by the Essex Wildlife Trust and supervised by a Mycologist from Colchester Natural History Museum. Approximately twenty people searched the heathland and in two hours collected 50 different fungi. Of these only a handful are good to eat, a few more are edible (would not make you ill), but some are highly toxic.
With very little time to draw I took photographs for reference. I find working from a print out of the photograph restricts my preferred way of working so I make quick sketches from the image on my computer, using pens or oil pastels. This approximates to drawings made outside and is my starting point for further development into an ink painting.
Essex Wildlife Trust
Colchester and Ipswich Museums
Agapanthus plant form – individual flower heads emerging from the bud.
Agapanthus no.2 is an ink painting developed from a sketchbook study. I draw with colour in my sketchbooks as it is another responsive element for expression of light, weather, heat, colour of the subject or my energy. I use the black ink in the paintings as a network, loosely overlaying the colour beneath, defining the form.
Continuing my seasonal studies through sketching or photographs, I look most days for any changes in the garden, something that has done its thing, a fling of colour or shape, maturing into another form or the promise of a new happening. This is the fat flower bud of an Agapanthus still tightly closed against the unstoppable spilling out of the individual flower heads.
Agapanthus bud no.1 is an acrylic ink and indian ink painting developed from an oil pastel sketch.
On a walk with sketchbook and pens you can get a lot of drawing done that may also be useful for artwork development, (plus it gives you a reason to stand still and look without other people thinking you are a bit odd). If I have a focus and an idea of what I might see, this is a walk of attention and observation, trying to get the most from being somewhere at a particular time and not missing the moment.
Rose hips ripening no.2 is an ink painting developed from sketches made using brush pens and chunky felt tip pens. For any painting I want it to be as light resistant as possible, but in my sketch books this is not an important factor.
Continuing my current series of ink work this is the second plant form study of Honesty (Lunaria), seed head ripening. These self seed around the garden and I feel are a useful addition in the early summer with the white or purple flowers. The tender green seed pod discs evolve picking up purples, pinks and reds as it matures to its end of season form. The silver translucent remains now stand, having shed the brown seeds.
Wikipedia has interesting information for the origin of both names – Lunaria and Honesty but there many other names this plant is also known by.