Moths…and an M.A.

The last few weeks have been extra, extra busy.. with another excellent sun drenched trip to Amsterdam, our last Easton meeting for this year and the consequences of my decision return to study. Study ?…Yes! I need more.
Learning stuff is, without doubt, my drug of choice. It can be almost anything and I am never happier than when deeply immersed in reading, research and visual experimentation.
Over the last few years I have been on just a maintenance dose, a bit of a drip feed of new ideas and practice. But earlier in the summer I decided to give in and go for the full shot.
So I am studying for an M.A. in Book Arts and Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University, just for the sheer delightful delight of doing it.
My art practice is going to get a good shake out and possibly a good kicking. Just two weeks in now and the brain is beginning to crank into life again.  “Go brain!”…. I will post something of my progress as things develop.



Moths and the blogging dilemma
Printmaking will play a central role in my study and the printmaking experiments are continuing, so with the set of Fenland images in mind  I’ve been posting intermittently about some experimental Moth prints over on Beautiful Beasts.

To blog or not to blog? Blogging about things often presents me with a dilemma. Recently I have been experimenting and reading, so the images, such as they are, are not that special and I am often reluctant to post experiments lest the casual viewer, who has not read the text, thinks that:- a:They are finished images (unlikely) or, b: That I love the images and am super proud of them.(even less likely)

At the moment it’s not so much the images as the experiments that I’m interested in. Some images are just marks on paper or cut shapes which don’t make for good blogging, but to get back into sharing my thoughts which I have to do over the next two years and to also plug the yawning gap in the blog, here are a few stages of the moth trials…..

Although not part of the M.A. directly, I have been looking at Fenland moths in connection with Willow trees and started off with a few sketches of general moth amazing variety I find! These are locally recorded moths so encompass the Great Fen area as well as our small hilly plateau.


Many Moths …pencil on A4 sketchbook. and a couple of colour note sketches….


Some pattern sketches

mothpatternsbg_thumb6 patterns2bg_thumb2

And more drawing development:

mothsbwbg_thumb1 mothsbw2bg_thumb1

And a couple of plates, cut and proofed once:


Plate One and proofs.


Plate Two


Plate Two proof


I cut a mask for the first plate, but unfortunately I can’t remember why…I guess it will come back to me or something else will suggest itself along the way.

The intention is to combine the plates with other images or just with each other and see what happens. “Play”, “Serendipity”  and “Chaos” are going to be my constant companions over the next couple of years… :)…It’s the endless possibilities that are so thrilling.. More exciting moth images to come.

Dancing Woodland Fairies and a Noon Fly

On Friday afternoon it was hot and still. I walked to the woodland edge behind the reservoir where, in the dappled shade, the wild things were resting. The mining bee colony was quiet. The birds were still.
A huge bumble bee was snoozing on a log and a beautiful noon fly had folded its golden wings to take a break in the sun.
However not everything was sleeping because dancing all around the emerging leaves of the scrubby oaks and sycamores was a shimmering cloud of tiny moths.

“Enchanting” is the only word to describe these exquisite little things.
Of all the tiny pretty creatures in the natural world these might just be the ones to persuade you that fairies could exist.

When you look closely you see their wings are have a metallic sheen, their tiny bodies are gorgeously adorned with long black spiky hair and their antennae impossibly long and white. They dance and settle, then dance again.
Caught by the light and set against the dark woodland interior, their glimmering wings change from gold to pink to blue to green to bronze. Fabulous.
But, reluctantly leaving the realms of the fanciful, this cloud of silvery flying things are the males of little Green Longhorn moths or Adela reaumurella, one of our day flying moths, swarming,  as they like to do on a nice day.

If you want some hard facts and dissected moth photos go to the excellent  British Lepidoptera species page.
If you prefer to live in magic land stay here for a while.

At some point I would like to try a painting, but how to capture that delicacy? I made a couple of sketches which seem inadequate but I do think a loose watercolour would be the way to go, to keep their lightness and insubstantial nature.  More sketches to come.

adelabg      adela bg

The dancing Adela reamurealls.. (which sounds a bit like a circus troupe!)
Watercolours in my sketchbook.

I  also took a snap of the handsome noon fly,  it was, just after, noon..

The USA Bee Count and the UK Butterfly Count

Tomorrow the 16th of July in the UK and the USA our pollinators are getting some close and welcome attention. It’s the second year for the Butterfly count in the UK and the first for the bee count in the USA. If you are interested in joining in go here to the UK Butterfly Count:

“Why count butterflies? Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses. That’s why counting butterflies can be described as taking the pulse of nature.”

and for those in the USA the bee count is here

“The count is a citizen science campaign to map out bee populations in every zip code in the United States, because in-depth, collaborative knowledge of bee populations could help mitigate the havoc wrought by CCD. You can check out the count in your neighborhood below, and “attend” the Bee-a-thon to learn more about getting involved.

Meanwhile today I have had a day in the sun, mooching about at Paxton Pits and saw a few butterflies, some bees but not so many as last time as the brambles are almost done.

There was some excitement about a sighting of the Norfolk hawker dragonfly which I didn’t see but I did bump into Andy Fountain who works with the charity Inspire.

More of them and their work later but while chatting to him he pointed out this pretty thing. It’s not a butterfly but a day flying moth. It’s very small and I think it’s a Mint Moth… again, I think, Pyrausta aurata. The excellent Adur Nature has a good page on  pyralid moths This one it seems, loosely translated, means  “gilded fire winged”. Perfect!

and while I am on the moth theme there were lots of these!

cinn moth cat

Some Cinnabar moth caterpillars Tyria jacobaeae making short work of the ragwort. they will of course become the beautiful cinnabar moths.


(Photo © Ian Kimber  ) from the UK Moths website here. I will be counting my butterflies and bees tomorrow and until the end of the month.