Daily Drawing: Back to Some Observed Drawing

Paul Foxton over at Creative Triggers has an exercise this month, observed drawing from Nature. He calls it “Seeing More Deeply”. How true! I was talking to one of the Gardeners at Easton last week and although he is not an artist, he felt that drawing  plants had made him understand more fully the structures, growing habits and characteristics of each individual.

More understanding equals more appreciation, as well as respect and downright awe, for the intricacies, cunning, inspired design, ingenious function and sheer beauty of natural forms. I have joined in with Paul’s workshops before and now, free from college and commercial work for a while, I thought I would have a month of, almost, daily drawing.

Quite a bit of my time is spent working on ideas for prints which involves simplification and design, so it’s nice just to draw what is in front of you without those extra decisions.

And of course, it is very good practise and feeds into the ever expanding knowledge bank of forms, ideas and skills. So here are the first 5


1st July : Bird cherry, a small group of leaves and an unripe cherry.

2nd July: A little hoverfly, obligingly very still on the tiny olive tree flowers. I think its a “marmalade” hoverfly


3rd July: Borage Flower…. beloved of bees..


5th July: Small field poppy pod with pollen beetle


6th July: The annoying but very dainty weed, cleavers. Galium aparine It has other wonderful names, goosegrass, stickyweed, robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy and Velcro weed. There is also a tiny bug on one of the stems.

All are pencil in an 8 x 8inch sketchbook.

Leaf of the Day; Poppy, Bench and Tree

Today is Remembrance day, Armistice day, Poppy day and I have been doing some remembering, just walking, in the sun, in the quiet Gardens, in the company of squirrels, woodpeckers, lizards, a few visitors and a very beautiful basking black racer snake.
Here and there are useful benches for those who are flagging and need to rest. Or for those who just want to stop, sit, admire and enjoy. Many of the benches are “in memoriam” and today I thought how nice that is. I met a lady some time ago who is remembering her mother with a bench at the Gardens. “Why? Was she a garden lover?” I asked.. “Oh yes, she loved the garden. When it was a private house she used to ride her bike through here, much to the annoyance of Mrs Leu!”. Poor Mrs Leu, now about to host the young trespasser’s bench.. but I don’t suppose she minds at all.
I have taken many photographs of the benches.

I am interested in their stories and touched by their sentiments. This one, away from the path and under the stately camphor trees is one of my favourites. I also see there is one unclaimed in a particularly nice spot near one of the heavenly scented Champaca trees. That would be a lovely place to be remembered. I think I should start saving.
Others have remembered loved ones at the Gardens with the gift of a tree. Now there’s a thought. I would like to be a tree but which one and where? I would like a view and I would like to be a useful tree, shelter from the sun and rain, food for the animals, home for the birds and fun for kids. Beautiful would be nice too so I think a Horse Chestnut comes close. A Horse Chestnut, planted in English parkland with some sheep to look after. I know just the place.

And poppies, pretty blood red poppies… what is there to say about poppies today except “remember”.


Poppy Day Poppy

Leaf of the Day: 1 hour Poppy

The last day at West Dean and I am so sorry to be leaving. It is the most beautiful place and I am thinking of stowing away in an attic room.. I could help clear the tables .. they would never notice.
I spent the morning finishing off the leaf and packing and taking some more photos of the park and the gardens. Yesterday as a break we did a quick and very useful exercise, working out of doors to collect information for a study to be completed indoors. There are times when you cannot pick the plant or flower that you intend to work on, so it is essential to be able to make studies in the field.
We had an hour to make a good tonal sketch with water soluble pencil and then, without using pencil a colour study. The theory is that you should be able to make a good finished painting with this information. ( I w0uld take photos as well! )
The self seeded oriental poppy I chose was quite impossible to colour match in the brilliant sunshine, its vivid orange-red petals so very vibrant. I don’t think I have ever seen a painting that has ever really captured this colour…. to be honest nature’s colours usually have the edge over any painting. The artist has to bring something else to the image.

The course has been excellent and fun, and I hope I will be able to put some of Sandrine’s beautiful and apparently effortless technique into good use.
You can see some of her lovley work on her website here Sandrinemaugy.co.uk and she is a regular contributor to the Artists and Illustrator’s magazine.


Oriental Poppy Sketches