Lords and Ladies – acrylic and indian ink painting reworked from an oil pastel sketch. The Arum Lily berries were ripening to a brilliant red on the purple and green stems, bare of their own leaves but surrounded by the tangled undergrowth.
Thumbnail size fungi, (depending on the size of your thumb), in wood chip mulch at RHS Hyde Hall Garden, Rettendon, Essex. At first I saw only the silvery empty cups and wondered what they were. Then on closer inspection I could see more but with ‘eggs’ that had not been dispersed. A fungi hunt in autumn led by an expert mycologist opened my eyes to the range of common fungi, but I still wonder how I have not noticed these until this year. Field Bird’s Nest – Cyathus olla.
I used silver acrylic ink for one thin wash before adding more layers of orange and blue. Silver ink can give a grey tinge but it worked well for this subject giving a subtle metallic sheen.
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
Fungi – Fly Agaric – Amanita muscaria, found on Tiptree Heath in a clearing between Birch and Oak trees. Heavy rain can wash off the white fluffy spots, (veil), leaving a red fungi surrounded by white fluff dots on the grass. Before the mature fungi collapses, no longer red, it flattens out, curling upward.
My ink painting “Fungi – Fly Agaric” presented a challenge – how to show the fluff dots sitting on the surface and not as flat white marks.
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.
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.