I have a few new projects going on at the moment but one is going to be particularly delightful; drawings paintings and prints of pigs. Chris is writing about pigs in his new blog Salute the Pig blog.
Chris likes pigs.. a lot. He was brought up on a pig farm and has an affection for them as both animals and providers of delicious food. I should say from the start that we are not vegetarians but we like to know where our food comes from and part of the reason for the blog is to find pig breeders who are kind and ethical.
We decided to begin with the wonderful Mangalitza pigs because, as a close relative to the old Lincolnshire Curly Coat pig, it is the only pig I know anything about. I was introduced to the splendid and sadly now extinct Curly Coat many years ago when illustrating Lincolnshire Country Food.
I will write more about it as the drawings develop..but you can read about the Curly Coat / Mangalitza connection over at Chris’ blog. We had a very encouraging start with a visit to Brian and Sylvia at Rectory Reserve, based appropriately in Lincs, who breed Mangalitzas. They have a wonderful and charming bunch of pigs who live in an idyllic spot.
I have not really been up close to pigs before but they are quite captivating. They watch you with bright attentive eyes, are lively and friendly and are extraordinarily lovely to touch.
At this stage I am just exploring what a pig looks like so these are my getting-to-know-you sketches but what struck me most about these Mangalitzas are their fabulous ears; long, floppy and wavy edged in the mature pigs, pricked and alert in the young pigs, some with curls and wispy ends… they are just gorgeous.
Initial Mangalitza Sketches
Two sketchbook pages, pencil and pen and ink . A4
And Two Beautiful Ears ..
A small study of the curliness. pencil 6×6” in sketchbook
You will find lots of info on the internet about the Mangalitsas, also known as Woolly Pigs or (irritatingly) Sheep pigs.
They are handsome and very engaging…much more on these and pigs in general soon.
Sitting sketching in the dining room, I had a good view of the other magnificent weeping tree in our Lincolnshire garden. This weeping ash has been the same as long as I can remember and we moved to this garden thirty two years ago. In the summer this beautiful old tree makes an almost perfect enclosed circle with its leafy branches, a secret den of shade, dark and cool inside. In the spring when the light can get to the ground under the bare branches, aconites and snowdrops push up between the ivy and fallen twigs. We always watch the tree for its first leaves.
” Ash before oak, we shall have a soak.
Oak before ash we shall have a splash”..
Thankfully the black buds of the ash are normally the last to appear. When I went home last year in May it was just getting its first leaves. Weather lore is another fascinating subject which I will no doubt return to and the superstitions about trees are legion. A couple of rooks kept returning to caw in the branches. I am very fond of rooks.
Again with this drawing I misjudged the size of the tree and it is spilling off the edges of page. I have taken some photos of the twisted stems of the trunk which I hope to use for a large painting in due time.
I am still regarding these sketches as warm ups. Its just a good discipline to try to do something every day..this one is with a felt tip pen. It was a difficult job scanning it, as the paper is just slightly bigger than A4. I had to do it in 2 halves and deal with shadows on the paper, but I think it’s OK for a sketch.
Weeping Ash..with rooks!
Yesterday I went to see an old friend, Eileen Elder. She has researched and written articles and books about Lincolnshire customs, language and food, two of which I illustrated many years ago. “Lincolnshire Country Food” was a delightful little book packed with information about the history of Lincolnshire country people and their food and recipes.
It has long been a real favourite of mine, but sold out and has been out of print for many years. I had decided it was long overdue for a reprint and Eileen has agreed, so this is now one of my new projects. It was so good to catch up on what must be 20 years ..we could have talked for days. It reminded me yet again how much I love Lincolnshire its history and its landscape.
So “Leaves of the Day” today is just this little margin drawing from the book from 1984.. soon to be back in print one way or another!
Talking to Eileen about my illustration course she reminded me of the connection between Revesby Abbey in Lincolnshire and Sir Joseph Banks the great naturalist who accompanied Cook on his Australian expedition.
With them went two artists, Sydney Parkinson and Alexander Buchan, who both sadly died before seeing England again, but Parkinson made at least 1300 drawings on the voyage before contracting dysentery and dying at sea in 1771. What incredible lives these people had. My next trip to London will include a visit to the British museum to see his drawings.