Friday, 18 May 2012

A trip in Timothy, Devon Hedgebanks and Twisted Sweet Chestnuts

Blog post written on 16th May:

Well, after an abscence I finally have some worthy sketches to post on the blog.  Painting has been hard to establish over the coming weeks, but finally now I am in wonderful Devon, new inspiration has given me a great kick-start.

We are staying on a friend's farm for a week and it is the midst of the Devon countryside surrounded by glorious hedgebanks that are starting to be swathed in wild flowers - more of those later.

The first sketch that I completed was of a Marsh marigold that was growing by the edge of the river.  I love the venation pattern on the leaves but wasn't brave enough to draw a large leaf.

The sketchbook I am using is a 'Moleskin' watercolour journal, with slightly off-white paper with a very slight texture, that I wouldn't quite call cold-pressed.  I had always thought that there was some 'snobbery' surrounding this make of journal, but I can now see their appeal. 
The paper is similar in colour to Fabriano Artistico natural white, which means that for reference purposes I do not need to make many alterations in terms of paint colours.  It also takes a certain amount of moisture which is great for using wet in to wet, to lay down initial washes of colour.

We ventured out this morning with our friends to visit a beautiful estate near Collumpton that is being restored.  The parkland is stunning and there is a line of Sweet chestnut trees that used to line the original driveway many, many years ago.  At a guess the trees must be nearing 300 years old and virtually all of them are still in full growth.  There are many cracks and fissures in the trunks and the varying patterns of the bark twisting up through the trees is amazing.  My mind is buzzing with ideas for paintings !  Some images of the trees are below:



We visited a local village pub for lunch and my journey was in an Austin 7 that is 83 years old!  My solid body shape took up rather a lot of room and I hung onto the passenger door in the hope that I wouldn't fall out !  The car is called 'Timothy' and is looked upon rather affectionately.  As the journey back to the farm was up some rather steep hills I declined the journey as there was the risk that I and the car wouldn't make it !!

The wild flowers in the hedgerows and banks seem a bit behind down here compared to in Hampshire.  Saying that though, there were swathes of Early Purple orchids in the hedgerow verges today, seen as we whizzed past them in Timothy.

Nearer to the farm the flowers are starting to open and the narrow lanes and steep banks provide a wonderful micro-climate for these plants to grow in, along with ferns, mosses, lichens and later in the year fungi.

Spot the plants and flowers in the montage below:

More sketches to complete tomorrow, then off to Pembrokeshire at the end of the week to celebrate our first year of marriage and then another special visit to tick off of my 'wish-list' - a two day trip to the island of Skomer to photograph Puffins and hopefully do some more sketching.  Cheerio for now!

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