Monday 22 December 2014

A home at Christmas

We went for a walk on Sunday and it felt so cold and damp and grey. The hedgerows are all neatly cropped and I only found this one holly berry on a mostly chewed up leaf. I brought it home in a bag with a bunch of ivy with clusters of their dark reddish berries.

I put water in a big jar and placed my ivy inside, with ideas to decorate the house. And to my surprise not only did I have a red berry on the holly but a beautiful ladybird on the leaf. I was amazed to see it and marvelled at it's tiny form, an unexpected guest for Christmas. It was certainly a precious gift. Either way I suspect she was hiding in the ivy which was growing on a stone wall and found her way to my home.

She was photographed and taken to my little ladybird hotel out in the garden. It is all the hollow stems from plants in the garden which I cut to size and put into a plant pot. I must have known we would have some guests because a few minutes later another ladybird appeared as I sorted out some dried seedheads I had collected a while ago and were in the jar I now needed for the ivy.

So she has also gone to the ladybird hotel for Christmas. While I was outside I collected long branches of green ivy from my garden. I always like to decorate with natural plants. It just feels right. Each year I twist the ivy through the old picture frame and add it to the mantle piece and let it dangle amongst the lights. Each year out come my postcards bought from an art gallery I visited on a holiday, together with my collection of favourite cards. A few simple lights, two new white candles and the greenery and I have transformed our living room into a cosy home for our quiet days over the festive time. It is so quiet and peaceful I can hear my finger tapping as I write this.

It is so dark and grey outside, it makes it seem even more cosy and warm. A warm fire as the wood burner glows.

I have been painting on a piece of firewood, I couldn't resist having a go and to see if it would take the acrylic ink. I used this branch of red rosehips.

I have left it for now and will work on it with fresh eyes.

And I have been painting a holly leaf postcard. I like the connection that this leaf was picked from my garden. I planted this variegated holly bush a few years ago in the garden and I am still waiting for it to grow bigger and be covered in berries. I used a berry I found on the shore.

Added another berry and then another. I was pleased with how it turned out.
As it has gone to a new home for Christmas, in New York, I hope it has arrived safely.
I did this sketch of a seedhead with my homemade ink and a dip in pen to try it out. Over the holiday I am going to find the time to try and draw with all of my homemade berry inks. This one is a brown walnut ink. My friend in Wales has a walnut tree in her Garden, so I asked her to save the walnuts for me. My jar of ink seems to have changed to a much darker brown colour so I am looking forward to trying it again with the same subject of the cow parsley.
So one day I went for a walk to a place I know where the cow parsley grow and are untouched by the hedge cutters. I wandered down the footpath to see if the cowparsley was still there and how it looked. I was pleased to find some nice specimens. It is quite a lonely place and it was lovely to know a little robin was following us along the lane. It was singing in the tree and as I was standing watching it. The photographer managed to captured it.
I really love this photograph. It is little moments like this, magical moments I feel so grateful to experience and I want to share it.
So this is my Christmas Card to you all
Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful time.
Milly x
With thanks to the photographer, my husband, for all his encouragement, and help with his beautiful photographs for my blog posts. X

















Sunday 7 December 2014


Expectation. This was the title of a piece of art by Gustav Klimt. It was on the card my daughter sent to me for my birthday. She wrote some lovely words, lots of wishes for me and a message, " Go for all the things you want in life and don't worry what anyone else thinks".

I wonder how I reached this milestone, looking back how quickly the years have passed. Then I realised how grateful I am to be healthy and live in a place I love and have so many good things in my life.

Shortly after my birthday I realised I don't feel any different at all. It is just a number. I expect to carry on doing all the things I love to do and one of them is walking and seeing views like this. Last Sunday we walked across the Marshes and wandered along the board walk. The trees have shed their leaves and we were now able to see this nest, the expert believes it maybe a hawk's nest. If you need help, it is in the centre of picture.

We walked through the marsh across the board walk and then along the footpaths.

Everything has turned brown, the rusty bracken and leaves line the footpaths.

The lovely big oak tree on the edge of the wood looking magnificent with it's out stretched branches. Every last leaf has dropped, making a thick carpet on the ground.

The sun was bright and the views of the hills seemed so crisp and clear. As we wandered through the footpaths in the woods it felt so peaceful. Then a loud scream of a pheasant would break the silence. I stopped to look around and see toadstools and leaves of every colour. I loved the blackberry leaves, lots of beautiful spotted patterns and deep burgundy shades as they turn. They ended up being my choice of things to draw along with some rosehips I collected from that lovely day.

I have been working on this all week, an hour here and there. It is painted in acrylic ink and a number three brush. I wanted to capture what I saw, the ways the edges of the leaves change colour to the deep shades of red, burgundy and the spotted shapes and patterns. They were once green leaves but to me so much more beautiful in this stage of decay.

Drawing capturing the details of the bramble leaves.

The first frosts have had a dramatic effect on the state of the rosehips, some black, others caved in and crumpled like a piece of paper.

I was feeling hungry and took a snack out of my pocket. As I unwrapped my fruit and oats bar the sheep all came rushing towards the fence. I think the rustle of the paper and possibly the smell attracted them, I felt mean eating it with so many hungry eyes looking at me.

Today is so grey and there are hailstones bashing against the windows and icy winds blowing off the shore. It is lovely to see the blue sky in these photographs from last Sunday. All taken by my husband.

My finished page in my square book. And I will just share one of my birthday presents. The lovely stool with my hare drawings, made by Sally's Sporting seats, in the beautiful "Peony and Sage" linen fabric.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my drawings.

Hope you are all keeping warm. I am wearing my warm wool scarf and bird brooch. Sitting by the wood burner and feeling very cosy listening to the wind! weren't expecting a picture of me, where you?

Thank you for all the lovely comments that all of you write and send me by email, I really appreciate them and enjoy reading them. Hope there will be many many more years of Drawings from Nature. Millyx




















Monday 24 November 2014

Following the Tide.

I really love wandering along the shore and scanning the ground and the sand banks to see what I can find. Of course it reflects the time of year with so many wind blown natural objects all mixed up with the sea treasures. After a high tide I collected a bag of finds. It has taken me a long time to finally complete this in the wide landscape A3 sketch book.

A delicate piece of seaweed and a leaf, my hand armed with a fine sable brush as I slowly strive to capture them. The leaf was totally dry and curled up by the next morning and reminded me of why I am happy to spend the time meticulously recording all the detail.

Then I added the rusty brown seaweed with the fat bubbles and a black sycamore seed. They always fascinate me, how something so delicate can survive this environment.

The second page links in with every red berry I found that day. They were in different states of repair, but I like to record that. No longer the perfect bright red berries they once were. Now damaged, wrinkled, some rotting and with blackened skins. But hopefully the tree has sown the seeds.

The mussel shell with so many tints of pale colours was fun to try and capture. I remember picking it up from the muddy sand, half buried, my finger rubbing and poking the wet sand from out of the shell to see the inside. I am pleased to call it finished, a memory of that day.

Another walk on the shore last Saturday had me once again collecting some bits and pieces. The tide had just gone down, it was very very muddy. My footprints sunk down into the soft squelchy slippery sand. I found pretty pink shells, leaves and seaweeds in tiny pools of water. The sand was covered with rippled patterns and I became a child again, lost in the wonder of this place. It felt like every minute was precious in the fading light.

Collecting treasures from the sand I am not sure what I have until I get home and wash and sort my bag of finds. Look at the colours and patterns of the bright pink feathery seaweed. Tiny pink shells and seeds and leaves scattered on the sand. I found different coloured mermaids purses and a papery thin Honesty seedhead. A piece of Seaweed covered in barnacles, a green twirling species I had not found before and so many blackened leaves.

We watched a fisherman with his young son pull three flukes from a line. The young boy was delighted with his fish, knee deep in mud and oblivious to the state of his clothes, having such a good time. The birds were also finding food from these mud flats. The geese were there and two white Egrets were an added bonus and added interest to the day. I guess I found food for my soul just being there.

And as the sun sets so early in the afternoon we made our way home quietly enjoying the last light of the day.

I washed my finds and sorted them out. It was the green seedweed that gently rocked and moved in the water that caught my eye and I immediately sketched it.

I managed to start the painting of it that same night and added more on Sunday trying to capture what I saw. Almost finished now.


The seashore holds such fascination. Every day it changes and we have been lucky to have such mild weather for this time of the year. Beautiful days and amazing coloured sunsets, there for us to gaze at, before we are quickly plunged into darkness around 4pm.


I hope you enjoyed visiting and seeing my seashore drawings and photographs. A big thank you for the comments which I love to read. See you soon. Millyx

The lovely Saturday afternoon mud flat images were taken by my husband and the rest by me on my iPad. Thank you for visiting. Hope you are still enjoying some fine sunny days. Anita , seen the weather in Michigan, deep snow! Keep warm.