Saturday, 29 January 2011

week 4. Feathers

Here are the pages for Week 4. I loved the shapes of the battered and tatty looking feathers and decided to arrange them across the double pages. We have many different birds that visit or live in the estuary. I know from my experience that in the summer months the feathers will be pristine and plentiful, so lets show the scruffy winter ones. We always know when the geese arrive with their distinctive noise. Look up to the sky and there will be the V shapes as the Greylag geese fly in and land on the grassy shore. It is often hard to see them on the ground as they blend in so well, then a low flying jet blasts across the sky and in those few seconds they panic and frightened by the noise fly up and circle around in total confusion. I could hear them calling across the shore but could not see them, but I was thrilled to see a Kingfisher, if only a blue flash flying along the river. In this estuary, the fresh water rivers from the mountains flows into the estuary, the main river is the Duddon from which it derives its name and then sea water flows in with two tides each day. The estuary attracts much bird life and the two swans who have raised a family here were swimming along the tidal river. I am not a great bird spotter but I love finding the feathers.
I drew my collection in pencil and then used acrylic inks. I wanted the fine detail of the feathery shapes so I used the number 1 sable brush. It was rather slow progress this week completing the feathers. The problem of white on white was solved with yellowy or grey to capture the paler feathers. I love the brown striped feathers, this one was a little green but I kept it a little cleaner. Thought you might like to see my colour palette. In the end I was really happy with this page.

I can't believe how quickly Saturday comes around. Today is week 5 collecting. It was a beautiful clear day with a hard frost. Football was cancelled so I had some company. The seaweed, oak leaves and feathers were all frosted. I liked the frosted seaweed which looked like pieces of white lace. The feathers felt strange as frozen shapes, they soon melted in my jacket pocket back to their soft textures. I saw many oak leaves with their familiar shape, but they looked so pretty edged with white frost. Today the water was so low that the old remains of a jetty from days gone by was visible, where slate from our village quarry was taken away by a flat bottomed boat. Old pieces of blue and white china and broken glass bottles were visible on the seabed. Yes, we fished out some bits and pieces, maybe they will appear on my pages. Today I found lots of shells. We were able to walk across areas which last week were completely covered with sea water, large expanses of sand with wave ripple patterns, bird prints and lots and lots of shells uncovered and stuck in the sand. The many tributaries and deep gullies were dried up today, but exposing the dangers of this shore and how deep the water is when the tide is in. I fear the sand and often feel nervous, too many childhood memories of sinking sands getting my feet, then ankles stuck and the panic. My steps kept to the very dry areas and if sheep or human footprints are deep it is a no go area for me. I know this shore, but I also know the dangers. The village and the shore are seperated by the railway line. The sea is eroding the grassy banks and the railway line has recently been protected with a stronger barrier of limestone rocks at vunerable places. I found a seaweed growing on the limestone boulders and collected a sample. As I sort out my treasures I suspect the shells will feature strongly for week 5, wait and see.
Thank you for the comments, hope you like the feathers. Millyx


Dan said...

Hi Milly
Your feathers are beautiful, and I really enjoyed seeing the palette you created them from too! Thanks for showing that - I'm not an artist, but I am totally fascinated with how a painting is created from individual colours.
We have to be careful of the tides when walking on our estuary too, and I understand your caution!!

Raining Acorns said...

You've absolutely captured the look and feel of these feathers, although I must say that, under your expert hand, they aren't tatty anymore!

MILLY said...

Thank you Dan and Raining Acorns.

Raining Acorns. I moderate the comments now because I was getting lots of spam here, it does seem to have worked and stopped it.

Frances said...

Hello Milly,

I really enjoyed reading your reporting about your walk, and the possible sandy dangers, and the blue and white china treasures, and the changing shoreline, and ... well, all of it, really.

You know that I do love my city, but when I read about what you can see on your walks, I know that your natural surroundings are so much richer than ours.

The feathers you've defrosted, drawn and painted are lovely. As with the earlier seaweed curves, I love the shapes of the feathers.

Like Dan, I also very much appreciate your showing us your saucer of paint. It convinces us of your alchemy!

I did venture over to Central Park today, and much is still under our layers of January snow. Mostly the color scheme was Breughel-esq black and white. Very graphic. I took some photos before my gloveless hands demanded warmth, and hope to do something in my sketchbook with those photos.

You continue to inspire me, Milly!


martinealison said...

Beau travail que celui de vos plumes... je trouve qu'il y a une certaine énergie en elles... après tout elles auraient tant à nous raconter avec tous les voyages qu'elles ont du faire... Bisous

Diana said...

wow Milly, they are gorgeous, your feather sketches, I look forward to your sketches each week and the descriptions of finding your treasures are wonderful too. Makes me feel like I'm there too. Thank you for sharing your amazing work, Diana

Tammie Lee said...

your feathers are wonderful, i love all the details.

Pondside said...

Yes, I like the feathers, but I look forward to the shells and shards too!

Posie said...

Fantastic feathers Milly and a lovely piece of writing too, I felt I was on the beach with you.

Michelle Palmer said...

Milly this collection is just wonderful! This is my favorite one... well, they're all my favorites!
Wishing you joy in your art this week~

wandering said...

These feathers are just beautiful.. I have just sat here pouring over them with my eldest (who is 8) - it really is very special, your work.

(I saw a kingfisher too, this week! And a little egret. I don't know that much about birds at all, but I do like looking at them..)


Wanderer said...

Hi Milly
Your illustrations are brilliant as usual but these feathers are by far the best so far (can't wait to see the shells) your weekly posts keep me inspired to practice, practice, practice.

The addition of the description of your local area is a great benefit too, giving a feel for where you items came from (so much so that we have booked a cottage in Coniston)
Kepp up the good work
Steve x

MILLY said...

Thank you everyone for the lovely comments.
Steve, if you and your family make it to Coniston and the weather is good you will have to visit some of the beaches. Let me know nearer the time.

acornmoon said...

Your feathers look so real it is hard to see which is drawn and which is about to fly away.

Those sands are treacherous, especially around Morecambe Bay, but they are also very beautiful and make for huge skies.

ellie said...

Catching up on your beautiful blog ! Absolutely lovely. I do love your compositions ! X Ellie X

Carol Creech said...

Just catching up on looking at your posts. These feathers are so beautiful and flowing! I can hardly tell your paintings from the actual feathers. Great stuff!

Tammie Lee said...

I love this series you are doing. Each one is a treasure.

Diane said...

I love these feathers!