Thursday 24 May 2012

Strawberries in the garden

It feels like Summer. We are enjoying a wonderful week of sunshine. Of course,  it has to be enjoyed while it is here!  We had a walk on the shore and for once I never collected anything to draw,  instead I just took in the views and I felt so calm and peaceful  as we slowly wandering along the shore.  We sat on the large boulders and watched the birds on the sand, the ducks sieving in the water and the oyster catchers.  I felt really happy just looking around and enjoying the moment.  I had been to my Tai chi class and I have no doubt that also was contributing to my very relaxed state.  The sunshine seems to have such a huge influence on everyone, when you wake up to a sunny day.  Then we have had the strange creeping fog each evening,   changing our view of the estuary and sometimes it totally blocks out everything.

  We have woken in the early morning to views of the fog, then it all disappears to a wonderful bright day like today.  It is fascinating to see how it changes our estuary.
   I bought some English homegrown strawberries. They smell, look and taste like strawberries, the kind of strawberries my Dad grew when I was young. I wanted to draw them, so sat at the kitchen table and started a new page in my square sketchbook. I painted it with acrylic ink and a number 3 brush.  I could smell the sweet strawberries, I was transported to Dads garden.
Then I did the pencil drawing of another large strawberry. I liked the fact that they are all different shapes and have bumps and damage marks, real strawberries as nature intended.

I was thinking about the wild strawberries we used to find when we were children. They are so tiny and yet they have such a beautiful flavour like nothing else. The scent lingers on your fingers. I found an old sketch book, the drawings of those tiny wild strawberries dated August 2004. I know they grow in August because it would be in the school holidays when we picked them and ate them each year.

And I found I had drawn a pencil one too, placed in the middle of the page.  Just a minute I have some growing in my garden, or is it too early ?
The tiny white strawberry flowers will give me some of those precious fairy strawberries later in the summer.
And then I remembered that last year I was drawing a strawberry which was used by Kimberley Bell on Fabric, at "Peony and Sage" website. (Link in my side bar)
Picture copyright of  Peony and sage....used with permission of Kimberley Bell.
So after I had finished my page,  I sat outside in the sunshine with a bowl of strawberries and ice cream, yes they were delicious. The garden looked lovely, bees were buzzing, an orange tipped butterfly flew by and lots of white butterflies. It is nearly  time for the Snake head Fritillary seed heads to ripen and I will collect the seeds, then we will cut our wild flower patch.

It is not a perfect garden, but the birds and the insects and me,  all  love it. 
 I am hoping to have lots more days sitting out in the garden eating strawberries and of course some gardening too.  Hope you like the page.
Thank you for the lovely comments which I always love reading.                             Millyx

Thursday 17 May 2012

Butterfly Love

If you follow  my blog you will know how I love butterflies. This week I have been drawing the Orange tipped butterfly.  We have had some very wet days but also some bright sunny moments when I go for a walk.  On my travels around the village I keep seeing this lovely butterfly, it settles on a flower and I creep up to look and thats fine.  The minute the camera comes out it takes flight and a hide and seek game begins, before you know it has you here there and everywhere trying to take a photograph. We did manage one along the hedgerow.
the Orange tipped butterfly in the centre of the photograph
There has been so many this year, dancing around in my garden and everywhere I go I keep seeing them.  I managed to have a really good look at the beautiful pattern on the underside of the wings on a very still butterfly which settled in my garden. I really wanted to catch it and put it in a jam jar to draw but I knew it would never let me catch it... and even if  I could,  it would just feel too cruel and I would free it.
One of my favourite oak trees
After the interest in the Oak Galls I decided to try and find some of them to show you.  I tried the large oak tree pictured above and searched the ground hoping there might be some but with no luck. Later we found such a tiny tree with several still attached to the branches.
oak galls.
The gall is a wasp which lays eggs on a bud and the grub lives inside the oak apple or gall.  The ball is formed by the secretions made by the growing wasp.  Eventually the insect grows from egg to grub to insect and I expect eats its way out. The ink is made from the galls boiled and some source of iron.  Under this small tree I picked up the two tiny oak leaves. We found a different  place where lots of young oak trees have seeded from acorns from a larger tree.  The sun was shining and I loved seeing all the red glossy lady birds as they crawled in the oak leaves.
Two of the beautiful red ladybirds in the oak leaves
 We were lucky enough to see a birds nest,  well the expert spotted it and took the picture from quite a distance, but you can see the young birds.
A little face looking out of the nest
Of course it is bluebell time, so I took a slow walk through the  flowers and enjoyed the moment.
And the scented blossom on a Crab apple tree
So here is my page in my square book of the underside of the Orange tipped butterfly and the two little oak leaves and a single red berry which I found.  The berry is in such good condition having survived the winter. I found it in the grass under the Hawthorn tree which is now covered in fresh green leaves and buds ready to burst into the white flowers which will eventually be the red berries again at Autumn time.

  And I painted a butterfly on a brown tag.
 There is something so beautiful about a butterfly.  I have captured it using my acrylic inks and a number one   sable paintbrush.   I might finish my little butterfly patchwork one day, as seen in the first picture, I printed each butterfly using  fabric paints. Hope you like my page.
As always thank you for the lovely comments which I love reading.                                           Millyx         

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Sand, Sea and Shells.

We went for a walk to one of my favourite Beaches. It is a long stretch of beautiful sand , and the day was perfect with sunshine and a clear blue sky. The wind was another matter , it was icy cold! In fact it was so cold we took a different footpath to gain some shelter behind the sand dunes, a walk we had not taken before. We found the Gorse with its sweet smell of coconut, a whole area blooming with the bright yellow flowers.
The beautiful yellow gorse with the Lakeland hills in the background.
We walked past several small ponds, some had ducks on, some were full of tadpoles and we also saw tiny violets growing in the sand. We also saw sheep with young lambs grazing between the dunes. We eventually climbed to the top of the sand dunes and back onto the beach with the fantastic views down the estuary to the hills.
Looking into the estuary.

Looking across the mouth of the estuary toward Black Combe, the hill we look out on to at  my village.


We now made our way back along the long sandy beach where I searched for treasures. The high tide had left a huge tide line full of seaweed, shells, feathers, ropes, rubber gloves, shoes and many other interesting objects. From this tangle I chose the two lovely shaped shells which revealed their intricate form, not normally seen in a complete shell. We saw masses of seaweed but I just chose a few tiny twisted pieces.
I would have liked the fish......but left it.
The walk back to the car.
Now you can see how far we have just walked along the sand.
This is where I found the tiny shells by the waters edge.

I used a special ink given to me by Patrick. He made the brown ink from Oak galls which he had collected in our village. I drew the shells with my dip in pen and the ink directly drawn onto the paper. I liked the soft quality of this ink, its an old fashioned recipe.

I wanted to show the detail and simplicity of the shells by using the fine nib and the brown  ink. It is a slow relaxing technique, dipping the pen into the ink each time you want to draw a line. I am pleased with the results.

Thank you for the lovely comments I always enjoy reading them. For those of you who would like to know, this is Walney Island Nature reserve. Hope you enjoyed the walk.                                           Milly x

ps. see photograph at bottom of  blog,  the same beach.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Beach Finds

The other day we went to the next village to post a parcel. It is  a few miles along the coast and was once a fishing village so there are still a few boats about. We decided to wander down to the shore and have a look across at the views.  The tide was coming in and it was a cool breeze, the clouds were low and it seemed as if might rain.  We sat for a while and then we decided to wander along the shore in the direction of our village, looking towards the Lakeland hills. It is a flat sandy beach,  with pebbles and stones and the sandy banks are suffering erosion from the sea.  There were all kinds of objects washed up, shells, seaweed, rope, mussel shells and odd shoes.  The sand was full of pebbles, stones and shingle and my first piece of blue and white china.
I start searching for treasures and we were not disappointed.
We found lots of different pieces of blue and white pottery, and pieces of sea washed glass.  The glass was all different colours and shapes, some had words and numbers from when they were bottles. I love finding the blue pottery,  I see a cream coloured flat shape and it looks quite boring, I pick it up and turn it over to reveal a beautiful fragment of a design and it gives me such a thrill.
Now my husband  is being enticed by the birds running along the sand and stones. He knows it is ideal territory for nesting, so he is keeping his eyes open and walking carefully.  He called me over to see what he had stumbled  upon.  At first I could see nothing and as he pointed,  I eventually focused on the little nest on the ground with three eggs.  It was so well camouflaged in the stones.  Why do you find things when you have no camera, next best thing his phone.
It was the nest of a" Ringed Plover". When we arrived home he looked it up in a book and it said they  like to build their nest on "shingley beaches",  so a perfect place to see them.  Then a little later he found a second one.
I can not tell you how hard it was to see  the nests on this beach amongst these stones.
they just look like four pebbles. 
He made sure he did not touch them and also brushed over his footprints near the nests to help keep their location a secret.  The birds were not far away, no doubt watching us. It was a real privilege to see the nests.  We then kept our distance from the area where they were.  We heard a Skylark singing high above us over the reeds. With my bag of treasures we turned around and walked back towards the village and to where our car was parked.  On the way back I carried the blue snail and the two tiny twisted pieces of seaweed in my hand, I knew they would be interesting to draw.

So here is the drawing from  our lovely  beach walk.
It is drawn with my acrylic inks using a number 3 and 4 sable brush and a dip in pen on the seaweed lines.
Hope you enjoy the walk on the beach.Thank you for your lovely comments.
All photographs on beach by my husband on his phone.                        Millyx