I received a tantalizing assortment of goodies from my dear friends on Salt Spring Island for Christmas. They looked so lovely piled up that I had to sketch them. All the while smokey wafts of hot peppers filled my nostrils and glints of sugar sparkled on the candied peel. Now that the sketch is done, I can get cooking and tasting.
Since the fall I’ve had various pods, seeds and leaves gathering on my desk. At last I drew them, which was the purpose of the accumulation in the first place.
I needed a boost to start the year, and I got one thanks to Karen Abend’s online challenge to draw a flower each day for 5 days. A photo reference and suggested approach was provided each day. It worked to get me drawing again, and I also learned a few things: draw the same thing a few times, try different materials, don’t fret. (Some of these drawings appear at the end of this post).
I also realized how much I prefer drawing from life, rather than a photo. Thankfully my amaryllis was still in bloom, so I drew it, then I drew it again, then, with great trepidation, added colour.
Last summer I was balanced precariously on the edge of a raised garden bed, reaching for beans growing up a tall obelisk, most of them scarlet runner beans. Hummingbirds are particularly attracted to the brilliant red flowers produced by this pole bean, and the obelisk was covered with them. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a hummingbird, feeding on the nectar, only about 18 inches from my head! I heard it before I saw it, so I knew to keep still. Fortunately I have good peripheral vision, so I was able to get a pretty good look without turning my head. After enjoying several blooms it flew off.
I finally finished this sketch — started months ago — adding the bird (thanks to internet images) and the beans. So that magical encounter is now recorded in paint for posterity.
Several weeks ago I realized that the straw sitting in my Brandywine tomato plant was actually the start of a nest. I’m fairly certain that the eggs that eventually appeared, and the bird sitting on them were boblink. This bird normally nests in meadows and fields (it is now quite rare due to disappearing nesting habitat). With the hayfield next door harvested, they needed a new spot. My thick “hedgerow” of tomato plants was ideal.
The bobolink chose the right plant, as this particular one was producing an unprecedented number of large tomatoes providing terrific camouflage. Brandywine was the first heirloom tomato I became familiar with when I started growing my own tomato plants from seeds many decades ago. Their fruit is usually quite large and the nest was eventually barely visible among the slowly ripening fruit.
Once the chicks had hatched and left the nest, it was safe for me to sit by the plant and try to capture this unusual scene (drawn fairly quickly on a hot, sunny day and finished later). I’m not sure if it’s a successful sketch, but it’s a better record than a quick photo.
I was surprised to see that it’s been 3 months since my last post. I’ve been sketching, following courses, drawing while waiting at the vaccine centre, car mechanic, etc., etc. Then, a couple of weeks ago (how time flys), for the first time in about a year, I got together with my fellow local sketchers to sketch en plein air at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. It was a perfect day for it and so good to connect with the local art gang.
I sketched a view of the Trapper’s cabin. I was pretty rusty, but managed to produce this.
A couple of weeks ago it was time to harvest the garlic, which must be done at a certain point in the plant’s decline if you are to have success in storing the garlic for the months ahead. I planted Red Russian which has a soft pink hue. With the mud still clinging to the bulbs I couldn’t resist a sketch before hanging them up to cure in the barn, along with about 60 heads of Music garlic. In about 4 to 6 weeks I can trim and clean the bulbs to put in cold storage.
And a couple of months ago the hay fields next door got cut. And a week ago it was already time for a second cut. I did a quick sketch of the first cut. Those cylinder’s of hay are tricky to get right!
I sketched this spot in the garden where, while sitting, it is an eyeful of foliage and flowers. And it changes a bit every day.
After drawing in pen, I used Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle watercolour pencils, just for a change of pace, then watercolour paint. The pencil colour is intense.
There is a wide variety of daffodils blooming in my garden these days. Everything from huge blooms about 4 inches across to tiny ones smaller than a fingernail, from the classic yellow daffodil to scented white clusters of pillowy petals. This double-page sketch shows just a few, drawn at actual size in an A5 sketchbook.
ERRATUM: In my last post I was mistaken in the title of David Hockney’s latest book. The title is actually “Spring Cannot be Cancelled.”
A year ago, when we entered our first lockdown, I read an article about David Hockney documenting the arrival of Spring in Normandy, where he was in lockdown. He proclaimed at the time “They can’t cancel Spring” (now the title of his latest book featuring his work from that period). I took inspiration from that and started sketching almost daily, documenting the slow arrival of Spring here in Eastern Ontario. (You can see those sketches starting here.)
Here we are a year later, and another lockdown. I started my Arrival of Spring 2.0 sketchbook, but got side-tracked with the Sketch Across Canada nature sketching. Meanwhile Spring arrived with a bang. Early warm days signalled slumbering bulbs that it was time to wake up. Daffodils came into bloom at least 3 weeks earlier than last year. I know this because I looked at last year’s sketchbook! And the tulips are now blooming too.
The lovely display of daffodils in my garden was dealt a nasty blow yesterday by a Spring snowfall. It was chilly and miserable outside and I had no desire to leave the comfort of the house. But, I was inspired by Shari Blaukopf who sketched her hyacinths under snow (see her post here), and by one particular daffodil that was determined to stay upright. I proclaimed to myself, I’ve got to sketch this!
Even as I sat there, the sun was trying to shine and the snow was melting and I felt reassured that these daffodils would recover. But overnight it was below freezing and today it is snowing again. Poor daffodils.