Art Journal: Peony petals, the first flowers of spring and a teapot

Welcome to my art journal, where I write about my drawings and how my little garden, the fields and woodlands close to my home and the seasons influence my art practice.

My screen this week has been filled with the blossoming petals of a peony. I try to concentrate on the clouds of colour, working in highly magnified detail, rather than trying to make the drawing look like a flower. I sometimes only zoom out to view the whole picture after a full hour of work.

I can see my little garden bursting into life from my desk by the window. The Elephant Ears were the first flowers to arrive this year.

I created a quick sketch to preserve the memory of the first flush of colour that celebrated the end of the colder months. Quick shading – not worrying if it was patchy here and there – just capturing the moment rather than aiming for a perfect representation. I save all these little sketches and they are really useful when I am drawing in the depths of winter.

Yesterday I took on a new commission to create a logo for a lovely client’s new community venture. For an early draft I created a fast sketch and used a light watercolour wash to suggest a colour palette. Below is a little detail from the centre of my picture.

We are now in one of my favourite stages of the project – where I get sent a lot of photos and pictures as inspiration, which I then get to interpret into the final design. I’ve been asked to add fairy lights and I’ll spend the next few enjoyable days playing with light and shade. I think perhaps early evening in a spring or summer cottage garden might be perfect.

I’d love to here your ideas for cottage garden plants to add to my commission. Please feel very welcome to leave me a comment below 🙂

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Potager Garden: An old watering can, a gifted tree and patterns in the stream

The skies are greying and it is a glorious sight. After two months of very little rain, watering our little vegetable plot has become a part of daily life. The watering can is almost half the size of my toddler daughter, though she insists on tending to the seedlings herself. She has found a way of heaving the can onto the raised bed and then tipping it from there. The dent in the metallic surface is a tribute to her persistence.

Our three resident pigeons always like to sit on the potager gate before a rain storm, ruffling their feathers and preening as the light starts to dim. They seem unsure of whether to chance a few more grains from the feeder or hurry off to shelter. If they look a little portly, it is because they supplement their diet of bird seed with the fallen biscuit and cake crumbs of our five children.

Two of them seem intent on digging up the silver birch tree. There has been a deepening trench just in front of it for some time where the pigeon family likes to bathe and rest. Maybe this is nature’s instinct, for now I notice there is a tiny tree sapling growing from the soft, pecked-at soil; a thank you gift from the birds.

The first spots of rain are sporadic and heavy, thudding as they thump down on the hollyhock leaves beside me. The pace quickens. Shrubs flicker and twitch in the downpour. My daughter and I retreat to the kitchen.

Later, hail arrives. In June?! I dive outside, no time to grab a coat, to catch a closer look at the beautiful swirls and overlapping circles in our tiny stream. The ice storm subsides within seconds and the hail melts away. I am thankful to have witnessed the precious, rare moment of ice chips dusting the summer flowers.

Afterwards, there is the drip-drip of the plants and that wonderful scent of greenness and life that always follows a thorough soaking.

I wonder if this year’s bees have been chastened by their first encounter with rain. They seem to slowly creep back to the garden with less confidence than before; not darting now, but warily circling the salvia petals from a distance before approaching.

Soon after, the bird song starts up once more. The day gradually brightens into the perfect evening. No watering required tonight, I pull up a chair.

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