Monday 21 November 2011

Week 46

Week 46 is a drawing of a dead bird.  We think it is a Carrion Crow. 
I was wondering what I might find to draw as we closed the gate and stepped onto the shore.  The light was poor as the blanket of grey clouds shielded the daylight.  The days are getter darker and often we need to switch on a lamp in the afternoon.  The tide was low and not due until later so we wandered along the banking with just a thin winding river.  I could trace the height of the tide by the patterns in the sand.  It seemed that there were only small fragments of seaweed and a few tiny shells stuck in the sand.
I could see a dark object in the grass, as I walked towards it I saw feathers scattered all around and knew what I would find.  It was a  dark bird, on its back with its eyes pecked out and revealing patches of pink flesh on the head.  The feet were contorted and made a dramatic shape with the sharp claws.  It was very much dead, perhaps shot or savaged by another animal.  I am quite used to seeing dead birds, drowned sheep and other signs of death, skulls and bones seawashed and the many crabs in the estuary.

We walked on and reached the boulders. The vast expanse of sand looked slippery and sloppy with deep footprints to prove it.  The boulders at sealevel are now very green and slimey,  leaves were stuck to the surface and trapped between the cracks and crevices.  I collected some black leaves, a few tiny shells and small pieces of seaweeds.  I  looked out to sea and realised how low the grey clouds felt.
I found some black feathers, my mind returned to the dead bird.  I felt that was my page but knew I couldn't take it home, so we returned and photographed it and I studied it long and hard before we walked on.
We wandered along my usual route.  The place reflects the time of year, dead dried plants, a silence and a greyness. The birds are few and far between,  not much life here any more.  The sea like a garden seems to have its seasons, and at this time of the year there is little to show for the tides.  The trains thunder past with lights on, each sends out a blast of air.  I felt a shiver with a slight chill to the air.  There is much activity as the workers sand blast the old metal bridge.  I nervously crossed the very high temporary bridge but stop to see the views from the top.  My head is trying to work out how I can best draw the bird.

It was a fascinating subject as I worked from the photographs,  my observations,  memory and knowledge of feathers.  I used the fine black ink pens, Uni pin by Mitsubishi, point 1, 2 and 3, which are water and fade proof pigment ink.  I am not advertising,  just  answering the questions I usually get about what materials I use.   I really enjoy working with ink pens, I love to draw and had forgotten how much I love working with pens and how lovely they are for recording the fine details.    Hope you like the bird.  I recorded two of the black feathers I found  on the second page.
I really like how it turned out.   Hope you do too.  Now just six weeks to go in my year recording my weekly shore finds.  I will need to be thinking of a new project.
As always thank you for the kind people who leave a comment, I always enjoy reading them.    Millyx

All photographs by my husband.   If you wish to use  my drawings,  please ask and  please respect my ownership and be kind enough to link back to my blog.    Thank you.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Week 45

Week 45.  We had our first frost last Monday night.  It made me realise I still had bulbs to plant, so I quickly organised a trip to buy some spring bulbs and get them planted before it gets too late.  After a busy session and lots of gardening I am hoping to have a lovely display of colour in Spring 2012.  There is still a lot more to plant but they are going in pots and can be done later.   Then we have had many  nights with disturbed sleep due to the new railway bridge, more on that later. 
My double page has been hard to complete due to the poor light and my tired eyes.  On Saturday I was busy with more jobs and left it a little late for my walk at quarter to four in the afternoon.  The sun was really low and I realised it would be dark very soon.  I felt a sense of urgency as I walked briskly along the banks of the tidal river.  The sun was in my eyes and it was hard to see as the reflection in the water was very bright.   The sun was a beautiful buttery yellow and the sky had long wisps of creamy coloured clouds.  The sun was so low,  it cast long thin shadows across the shore, mine was about ten feet long.  When I turned around and had the sun behind me I could then search for things to draw.  I found feathers but what a tatty selection of specimens they were,  but all the better for drawing I thought.  The seaweeds were equally worn and torn.  It reminded me of when I was drawing the hedgerow objects, the way the leaves and plants all start to decay at this time of the year.
Our bridge wrapped up like a parcel.  It is a dark sky over the shore.
It was getting darker by the minute as the sun sank out of sight.  The sky was a pale pink and the town across the estuary looked like a little toy town as it  silhouetted against the sky, the tall church spire standing out so clear.    The grasses on the shore seemed to glow,  the shapes of their pale cream stems and drooping leaves suddenly stood out in the greyness.   I walked close to the fence by the railway line as I made  my way  back to the railway station.   A loud train rattled by with its lights on and as I glanced across I caught sight of all the structures of the plants and seed heads as they silhouetted against the sky.   I reached and picked several different stems.   I met a local dog walker with his three dogs, as we exchanged hellos he remarked it was not so easy with three black dogs in the dark.  The lights were bright on the station.   We have a new temporary bridge whilst our old metal bridge gets repaired and painted.   The new bridge looked huge,  a huge towering structure  which  has taken many nights to build.
The men worked through the nights  on a bright floodlit  station,  to make sure we are safe crossing the lines.  The little lights twinkle everywhere in the darkness as I glance around the dark dark estuary.  

painting the dock leaves

I have used my acrylic inks and a fine number 3 sable brush.  All colours mixed from sepia, yellow ochre, green , brown umber, red and a little white.   Hope you like it.  It feels like a true reflection of the time of year and a few more wobbly lines because of the poor light and my poor eyes!

As always, thank you to the kind people who leave such lovely comments.                Millyx

Monday 7 November 2011

Week 44

Week 44.  On Saturday we had a beautiful day, a day to just slowly stroll along the shore and take in the views.  The grass looked so green, the sky a soft shade of blue and the sun brightened up the day.  The daylight seems to quickly pass  by,  I guess if I was young I would not complain as it was Bonfire night  and the evening can't come quick enough with the excitement of fireworks and bonfires. 
It was enough for me to have a clear blue sky to look up to.  Before the afternoon was over we sat on the grass banking as the reflection of the sun twinkled in the water, it sparkled and  I had to close my eyes from the glare.   It was such a clear day, and as the day turned to night,  it was perfect to view the displays of brightly coloured fireworks in the sky,  all around the estuary.

Most of my finds were brown, the hornwrack seaweed,  leaves,  a mermaids purse  and I was thrilled with the duck feather  half brown and half white.  Just two red berries today and one sycamore seed.  I loved the old bottle washed up on the sand no doubt by last weeks high tides. 

The birds were enjoying the sunshine too.

I picked the dried seedheads from the side of the railway line, most of the wild flowers and plants are dead and brown. I decided to use just brown inks for this weeks drawings, as I am going on a pen and ink day on Tuesday. I thought I would experiment and  play with different ink pens.   The acrylic ink was  diluted with water and used in an old fountain pen, it flowed smoothly.  I used the PITT drawing pens with sepia inks and a little bit of paintbrush work with my acrylic ink. I also dipped the nib directly in the jar of ink.  It was interesting to see how the white paper shows through the ink,  all the white is the paper.  I had fun experimenting with different lines, strokes and marks using the sepia inks and I do like the different results, even with wobbly lines using the pen nib just dipped in the ink. Of course I couldn't resist doing the berries in red.
   Hope you like it too.

 Thank you for the lovely comments.  I always enjoy reading them.

Also thank you for the people who sent me messages regarding the fabrics.  It was through this blog that Kimberley Bell, a talented interior designer contacted me and asked if I would like to work with her.  I was delighted to draw some different natural subjects which Kimberley has been able to use in her designs to become part of her beautiful range of linen fabrics. I was thrilled to see  my drawings translated into fabrics.    Kimberleys Website is
Her new fabrics are beautiful and it was such a wonderful experience and  pleasure working with Kimberley and being part of her new venture.   I wish her every success with "Peony and Sage".  

Photograph from peony and sage website.