"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

#30DaysWild - Thursday, 9th June to Wednesday, 15th June

Last Thursday I "attempted" to paint a wild flower with water colours. I've wanted to learn how to draw flowers for a long time but never seem to have the time.

I opened this book but there were pages and pages and pages on equipment needed, techniques etc. etc. so I've shelved this yet again to another day (probably more of a project for the winter!) and turned instead

to this magazine article which appeared in "Countryfile" magazine some time ago. It breaks down in "easy" steps how to paint a Ragged Robin - how apt! :)

The Ragged Robin flowers in the garden are still in bud so I found a wild flower book with a photograph.

B has re-taken up painting in the last 6 months so luckily there are plenty of paints, rubbers,pencils and palettes to use although I wasn't allowed to use his brushes or water colour paper so had to make do with a cheap artist's sketch pad and paintbrushes that once belonged to D and E.

First stage the drawing then

you start to add the layers of the paint allowing each layer to dry before you attempt the next one. At this stage I realised the stem was too thick and the petals weren't long and spiky enough :( As you will see I really cannot draw or paint to save my life! In fact, it made me remember how relieved I was to finally be able to drop "O" level art after a rather disastrous mock exam result!!

More layers - in fact the more layers I put on the worse it looked!

The final version - yes, I know its awful but I was quite pleased with the ladybird! Interestingly, it has really improved my observational skills when I look at flowers - I see them in a completely different light :) The important thing is that I enjoyed it and perhaps one day I will find time to go through the flower artist's bible and perhaps slowly improve!

The first Blue Tit chick fledged early in the morning leaving just 2 in the nest.

Was thrilled to find 6 Orange Tip caterpillars on Honesty growing in the garden - they seem to be feeding on the seedheads.


Friday was hectic (afternoon tea with E at the Catwalk Cafe in Knowle - one of the best teas I have had and the cafe was lovely stuffed full of vintage items (E was in her element!) and then shopping for birthday presents) so for my #30DaysWild activity I only had time to spend about 10 minutes watching bees foraging on Foxglove flowers.

Driving to Knowle the motorway verges were a colourful sight with flowering Red Campion, Cow Parsley and Ox-eye Daisies galore.

The remaining two Blue Tit chicks fledged early in the morning - a poor photo of them below when still in the nest. Do hope they all survive.

Saturday - Plant and enjoy a wild flower meadow. Admittedly we planted ours many years ago but it gives endless delight and pleasure and attracts a good range of pollinators. Even if you only have room for a window box or a patio pot it really is worth planting some wild flower seeds.

Ribwort Plantain, Meadow Buttercups, Red Campion, recently planted Yellow Rattle, Ox-eye Daisies, Sorrel, Tufted Vetch and Salad Burnet are in flower at the moment.

Later in the summer there will be Scabious and Musk Mallow.

I counted 9 Orange Tip caterpillars today.

Sunday was busy so for 30 Days Wild I spent a few minutes reading Richard Jefferies - my favourite Nature writer and every time I walked past a vase of Sweet Williams I inhaled the scent :)

Monday - I rescued a Bumble Bee trapped in the garage, counted the OT caterpillars still nine plus I found 2 much smaller ones :) I knitted a hedgehog - the pattern was given in the latest edition of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust's magazine. Meet "Prickles"! :) I will make him a friend when I have time!

Tuesday - I looked at my Random Acts of Wildness cards and selected "Snap a blue photo"

Cornflowers in the front garden.

Today - I went and looked at a local drystone wall (inbetween the showers!). Stone walls and the amount of wildlife that colonise them always fascinate me.

A miniature world of lichens and mosses

So many different plants have self-seeded where little pockets of soil have gathered between the stones. Interestingly, I failed to find any Ivy-leaved Toadflax.

Blue Tits were taking food into a hole inbetween the stones and I found many spider webs.

Books read recently

I spotted this book in an Oxfam second hand book shop in Swanage when we were on holiday in Dorset a few years ago and I just couldn't resist buying it. It was one of those occasions when I bought a book purely and simply because I loved the cover. Its a short biography of Reginald Farrer, a gardener, writer and plant collector from a century ago. I enjoyed every minute reading this charming and interesting book.

Secrets of the Sea House - a story that moves between the 1860's and the present day set on the Hebridean Island of Harris. A haunting book with plenty of history, mythology, ghosts and tragedies - ideal holiday reading. I won't go into the plot in detail in case I give any secrets away.

Apart from Akenfield I have never previously read any Ronald Blythe but he has been on my list of authors to try for a long time so I treated myself to The Time by the Sea. Set in Aldeburgh 1955-58 it chronicles the story of the Aldeburgh Festival and Blythe's encounters and friendship with famous people, such as Benjamin Britten, John and Christine Nash, E M Forster and Mervyn Peake.

I am going to be brutally honest now (hope I don't upset people as I know Blythe is a highly respected author) and say I didn't really enjoy this book at all. It wasn't really what I was expecting although the fact that I have never been to Suffolk and so don't know the area probably didn't help. To be fair I did "get into the book" more as I progressed through the chapters and I did enjoy some of the chapters more than others but I am not convinced I would try any more of his books. Perhaps I started with the wrong one??


Margaret Adamson said...

I very mush enjoyed reading yourpost and looking at all the wonderful things you found in the dry stone wall. it is a world thaat often people never see or look at where there are treasures to be found. Love you knittted hedgehog. The Cornflower and Floglove shots are lovely. Painting can be a very relaxing thing to do and you wil imprive as you learn more.

amanda peters said...

Having a day of catching up on blogs, not had time to do any wild this this week due to work and family commitments, and it's Thursday, were did last week go!!!

Looked through your last post the shots of the Heron are great, and all the wild flowers, think they have done well this year despite of the weather. Driving round it's nice to see how the council are leaving more areas un-cut allowing the wild flowers to grow.

Your painting is lovely, something I must try and have a go at.Your Wild flower meadow is full of flowers, notice Ox-eye Daisies attract a good variety of wildlife, sadly the slugs as well!

I find it hard to pass a wall without looking whats growing in the cracks, loved seeing what you found.
Books as well :)
You have given me some good ideas, life permitting I might get a post in...
Have a lovely weekend.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks so much Margaret. I do love stone walls - you can find a mini ecosystem everywhere :) Thanks too for kind words re: painting. I will continue with it - luckily husband is very good so I can ask him for advice in future on how to improve and achieve certain effects :)

Amanda Peters - Thanks very much Amanda. I know the feeling about where has the last week gone? So hectic at the moment and I had so many plans and ideas for 30 Days Wild but just can't find time to implement them and the weather hasn't helped!!! :( Still the ideas will keep and can always be done at other times.

I agree it seems to have been a good year for wild flowers and that so many Councils are leaving areas uncut. I drove past an urban wild flower meadow yesterday when fetching OH from garage where he'd left his car for service and, although not quite as colourful as previous years, it was still a mass of ox-eye daisies and poppies :)

I am sure you would enjoy painting flowers - you are lot more creative than me!! There are lots of videos on you-tube to give help etc. I found a snail at the base of one of our Ox-eye Daisies!

I remember you love stone walls too. Hope you find time for a post and have a lovely weekend too :)

Rosie said...

I like your painting, I couldn't draw or paint anything as well. I had to smile because I too was dropped from Art at 'o' level, although I did study 'History of Art' later. I love the world within a stone wall and the foxgloves and cornflowers. Your knitted hedgehog is cute. We haven't had a hedgehog in our garden for a couple of years but earlier this week found 'evidence' that we may have one again. We have plenty of log piles and other hidy holes where they could live or it could just have been passing through:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks very much especially your kind words on the painting! :) I was saying to my husband earlier that it was a pity the "O" level didn't include history of art which would have been so interesting but it was all drawing/painting :( I used to dread the homework and sarcasm of art teacher :(

That is promising news re: your hedgehog :) We used to get them here but then no sightings for years although we did find droppings but they have since disappeared. They are in the area though as evidence of squashed ones on the road are seen - very sad. I suspect a lot has to do with the huge amount of high fencing and lack of hedgehog gaps :(

Wendy said...

I love your painting. I wouldn't even attempt one and I do wish I could draw/paint wildflowers and wildlife. That is great that you're finding so many orange tip caterpillars and it's good news that your blue tits have fledged OK. Your wildflower meadow looks wonderful and perfect for pollinators. We have areas for wildflowers here but I'm finding our soil is too fertile for a successful meadow. The nettles love it at least!

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks so much Wendy. Every time I look at my Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden I think I wish I could paint wild flowers like that. To be honest I would never in a million years reach her standard but it was interesting to have a go at painting and I might try a few more when I have some spare time and see if OH can give me some tips :)

When we first created our "meadow" Brian left it fallow for a year or so but the soil is sandy so not overly fertile anyway. The main problem we have had is with couch grass (so perhaps that suggests it is more fertile than we thought) hence this year we have planted lots of yellow rattle to try and get rid of some of the coarser grass.

Millymollymandy said...

The painting is really good for a beginner and the ladybird is great! The main thing is that you tried, and practice makes perfect. I adore the knitted hedgehog!

You have been really busy doing your wild things and documenting it all. Love the wild patch - looks really good. I hope your blue tits survive, and I now want to go looking for OT caterpillars to see if I can find any here. :-)

Toffeeapple said...

I like your painting very much; if you carry on with it you will continue to make observations also about how you are laying paint down on the paper. With the book, ignore the chapters on equipment and go to the 'how to' pages just to get another's insight into technique. All knowledge is useful.

Your Hedgehog is very sweet.

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy THanks so much. Found the hedgehog much easier than painting. Just hoping blue tits don't eat ot caterpillars!

Ragged Robin said...

TOffee apple Having problems using kindle at present.LOathe predictive text. Thanks TOffee apple for very kind words and advice which I will take.

David said...

All excellent stuff Caroline and it looks like you are certainly going strong as regards 30 Days Wild :-) Speaking as someone who is truly awful at painting and drawing I actually think your Ragged Robin study is excellent, certainly much better than anything I could do!!!

The wildflower meadow is certainly looking good with a great diversity of species, and the Cornflowers in your front garden are so beautiful. All the various mosses, lichens and plants growing in the wall was also interesting to see :-)

Kindest regards and best wishes to all :-)

Countryside Tales said...

Hooray for the orange tips. Hopefully they weren't all on the same plant! We've had four on the cuckoo flower here which I'm thrilled about. I love the dry stone wall you visited.

Ragged Robin said...

David - thanks so much. Sorry for late publication of your comment (and not commenting on your posts) but have been on holiday in East Devon for a week. I did visit Twitter on my Kindle from time to time but not blogs! That is very kind and sweet of you re: the Ragged Robin painting - believe me I can't draw or paint either but I will persevere as hopefully if I learn a few techniques I could improve a little!!

The cornflowers are self seeding from year to year :) Have been studying plants in walls on holiday too - totally fascinating.

Hope you are all well and best wishes to you all :)

Countryside Tales - thanks CT :) Again apologies for late publication of your comment but we have been on holiday in Devon for a week. Yes, sadly, they are all on the same plant - three within inches of each other :( Have just got home so will go and check them to see if they are still alive and haven't eaten each other!