The Fascination of Sloe Globes

I am fascinated by the sloes. Every time I go for a walk I pick a few more.
The colour version I painted last week (Shine and Bloom) just made me want to draw more.
Last year I wrote in my Walking Diary:

In every sloe there is a small world. Tiny continents nudge up against each other, swirling grey cloudscapes wrap themselves around others, some shine like black buttons, nearby branches leave scratches and striations. Your fingerprints are left on the ones you pick…imagine obliterating those small lands so casually.”

Imagine indeed. This year the tiny dusty worlds are back in all their infinite variety.


On Sunday I sketched them, before making the last reduction cut for the Berry Print, you can see the progress over at Printdaily.

The last cut was a rough (very rough) approximation of a world map. We love to find imagined landscapes in things, don’t we.
They are the possibility of escape,  the potential for a different life. Mountains of another place appear in cloud banks on horizons.
Miniature deep canyons are cut by rivulets of water in the sand,  muddy flood pools clear to reveal tiny wet underwater lands with waving grass, and shimmering contorted other worlds stare back at us from reflections.


Sloe World 1 : Pencil, Image 8 x 6 inches

I am going to make a series of drawings of these little worlds. Some have split, some have split more, their contents spilling out. Some have more sea than land and some more land than sea. One day I may jump ship and set off to seek my fortune in one of them, so it’s good to know the terrain in advance. I still walk with my small notebook. Not everyday, but when I do it is illuminating. My notes are full of creative ideas. Many will never be pursued but some, like the sloe globes, will.

Shine and Bloom

Yesterday at my Barnsdale class we looked at some techniques for painting the shine on berries.  The hedgerows have been laden with them this year. Hips and haws, the brilliantly glossy red berries of black bryony and dusty blue sloes. I made a couple of small samples of hips for the class, along with some colour swatches.


I had picked lots of odds and ends for the class and today I decided to make a study of two sloes before they died.  They are so attractive on their lichen covered twig, with the one little shrivelled fruit  on the far end.

bg sloe

Sloes on lichen covered twig  watercolour on Arches HP. image 8” x4”

And a few more !

A  small gallery of some more shiny, glossy, sheeny, bloomy, fruity things from the early days of this Pencil and Leaf blog. I
am slowly trying to get a website together and have been sorting out old images. It’s nice to see them again.
They are memories of steamy happy days at Leu Gardens in Orlando.  I would sometimes refuel for the cycle ride home with a few hand picked snacks. A caffeine hit from Yupon Holly leaves, vitamin C from Surinam cherries, and acerolas, delicious loquats and guavas, fresh carambolas and the curiously textured cocoplum.

acerolas  2 red grapesbalsam 2 balsam apple bw balsam pear 1 bay bean colour  buddhashandetc  clerodendron blue seedpod cocoplum2asian eggplant cycadfinal copysurinam cherrycoral beanfin cherry sketch gardenia pod2easter orange finished fruit   loquat mission figs2 mosiac fig fruit  passion fruit persimmon  ramb col  ochna pom smallblackberry 2

And two more recent drawings of the wild plums at Grafham

wild damson bd      wild damsons col bg

Another couple of berries tomorrow.