Unripe Medlar fruit seen last October at RHS Hyde Hall Garden, Essex. The fruit is usually bletted, softened by rot, before it can be eaten. As I was painting this from a pen sketch I realised the fruit reminded me of something else. I have since discovered Medlar, (Mespilus germanica), was known in medieval times as the ‘dog bottom tree’.
For more gardening information and recipes visit
Painting using acrylic ink and indian ink.
Marina di Chioggia fantastic pumpkin, fleshy folds of dense nutty sweet orange flesh, originates from Chioggia, Italy. I use it for coconut and pumpkin soup or oven baked vegetables for pasta or rice.
Initially I added this to the list of regulars grown in the vegetable garden because of the connection to Italy and memories of a good holiday in Venice but I now know the value of the fruit and it is there on merit. (Just as I wrote ‘fruit’, I had to check to see if it was fruit or vegetable).
Definitions of fruit and vegetables –
This is an oil pastel sketch for development into an ink painting or print.
When I am clearing the last of the summer produce from the vegetable patch I leave the french and runner beans hanging for a few weeks longer. The ripened seeds are dried off, so they do not go mouldy, and stored ready for sowing next spring. As the pod contracts and expands it takes on a different form, easy to overlook as often hidden behind curling leaves, but if noticed it is a good subject to add to the sketchbook.
‘Purple bean podding’ is an ink painting, acrylic and indian, worked up from an oil pastel sketch.
PS I do not know the true name of this bean but I call it Purplette.
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.
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
Seen last week an exhibition of new artwork, small oil paintings and large charcoal drawings by Ian Hay. “A mile from the Mercury” continues until 9th November at the Digby Gallery, Mercury Theatre, Colchester.
I chose to post a photograph of two sketch books accompanying the exhibition as it can offer an insight to an artists creative process. Ian Hay was tutor for drawing at Colchester Institute when I was a student of visual studies for two years and our small student group had a lot of fun, regular life drawing and drawing outings. Useful preparation for when I went on for further studies at Ipswich Art School.
Artwork can be see at
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.