Leaf of the Day: Ants, and Water Plantain, Day 6

Some time ago I wrote about repatriating some ants to Leu gardens which, I know, had arrived here in the Bulls Horn Acacia thorns. (reason here) Since then, Pedro gave me another beautiful thorn with, of course, a couple more of the caretaker ants. These I have re-homed in remote parts of the apartment complex but I seem to be stuck with one that won’t leave. I have put it outside now many many times but the next day it is back, so I give in and now seem to have a pet. I am not particularly fond of ants but my Buddhist leanings stop me just squashing it. There only seems to be this one at the moment so for now we have a truce. If the extended family arrive for a prolonged stay I may have to reconsider my largess.
It is a slender delicate little thing, extremely adventurous and fearless and spends a large part of the day running around my drawing table. I felt sorry for it the other day and gave it some honey which it spent all day eating. I didn’t see it the next day so presumed it was sleeping off a massive honey hangover, but today it was back.. it’s name is…Ant. It will feature in a painting soon and it’s quite nice to have this diminutive little companion for a while. Painting is a solitary business.
It has been scampering about all day today and has been a welcome distraction from watching paint dry. However it’s day 6 and I hope only one more day to go. I think it would be wise to stop anyway and get on with something else. I have made some mistakes and some progress but I always say that if you are happy with just one square inch of a painting it has been worthwhile.
I plodded on with the leaves but by lunch time I just had to get rid of the masking fluid. This may be a mistake, but I was just fed up with seeing the blue stuff and its sticks to your hand too.

Accidents?.. well 4 so far, one aphid which fell off my model and left a green smeary mark and 3 colour spots, one where I had paint on my hand. another where I dropped the brush, and the inevitable mystery one. All are on the parts of the paper which have to stay white .. but hey!..there is no point in worrying.
After another trip to find another flower head I started the stem. The green seed heads are quite a different green from the leaves.. really bright emerald but for this painting and in view of the comment the colours of my last submission I am keeping them subdued.
As I am writing this I have just noticed my other delightful studio companion, the house gecko. They are amazing aren’t they? Just like moving fridge magnets.. Hmmm …how compatible exactly are geckos and ants?


Water Plantain, Stage 3

Leaf of the Day: The Hairiness of Leaves and Gecko`s feet

I am returning to leaf morphology today so I have ten small drawings of various kinds of hairiness (pubescence to use the correct name) which also give me some more practice with pen and ink. Hairs in botanical terms are, by the way, referred to as trichomes.
You only have to think about leaves to realise that they do all feel different, we describe them as leathery, waxy, prickly, furry.. etc. However, the correct botanical language and names are wonderful, descriptive and Dickensian. I am sure somewhere a character must have been described as having “velutinous” hair. Some are very bizarre, some you can associate with the everyday. “Floccose” is easy for anyone who went to an UK Indian restaurant in the 1970`s to remember. Yes!…that obligatory deep red furry “flocked” wallpaper. Wallpaper is another favourite subject of mine and just out of interest, a flocked wallpaper was made a few years ago that reacted to ambient noise by changing colour, and now Jonas Samson has developed wallpaper that emits light.. very beautiful ..see here

Here are the 10 different types of hairiness from my drawing, there are more!

Echinate… beset with prickles.
Tuberculate… warty or with tubercules
Strigose… with bent over (appressed)spikes
Stellate… with star shaped hairs
Floccose… soft woolly tufts of hair
Velutionous… dense soft silky hair
Tomentose… matted soft woolly hair
Unicanate… hooked points
Scurfy… scale like particles
Hirsute… stiff bristly hairs

The often unnoticed surfaces of things are, of course, brought to our attention through a microscope. Here to illustrate the surface of a leaf is the beautiful image of a blade of grass from David Kunkel’s Microscopic World, at the Astrographics.com website. The images show in wonderful colour and detail another fascinating, and to an artist, inspirational world. See more here. I especially like the “gecko foot/toe hairs”. I have a lovely little gecko who lives in my studio room. Apparently he gets around the ceiling by rolling and unrolling the hairs on his feet! I will regard him with heightened wonder and respect now!

Ten Leaf Surfaces