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Patio Potatoes

Sunday, 22nd June 2003, Cumbria and North Yorkshire

pen topart pen

I've been doing a lot of black and white drawings recently because I wanted to get back to the discipline and simplicity of that type of drawing but I am beginning to feel an urge to work in colour again.

Putting a watercolour wash over a fountain pen drawing in black ink usually results in the black running into the colours. It's not impossible but it's difficult to control and you end up with a dark drawing.

I haven't used brown pen and ink much since I bought a new pen - a Rotring Art Pen with a fine sketch nib - especially for the brown ink because the new pen hasn't been flowing properly. I just get an insipid unsteady line. It makes a mark but I feel I'm having to try hard.

While we were in Cumbria last week I came across a type of calligraphy ink that I hadn't come across before, so I decided to give that a try. I bought a bottle of sepia. I've been using ink cartridges but going over to the new ink gave me an opportunity to clean the nib unit out thoroughly, using the fountain pen filler to flush warm soapy water through the nib several times, then rinsing several times with clean water before filling with the new ink (again running the new ink in and out of the pen several times).

slippersTo my delight it has started flowing again and I just drew the first thing that happened to be in front of me, which was my slippers.

It's a reminder to me that I need a new pair of slippers and not to get into the habit of wearing them!

potato flowersJust to show you how you can put colour over a brown pen and ink sketch here are the flowers on the potatoes we're growing on the patio. The brown ink doesn't seem to run anything like as much as the black ink I use and, if it does run, it doesn't turn every colour wash grey.

These patio potatoes were four small plants I found growing in one of the veg beds when I was weeding it out. They looked so healthy that I thought it would be worth potting them up in my homemade compost and growing them on the patio.

As they're near the house they're more likely to get watered, for instance when we have a bowl of water we've been using while cleaning or peeling vegetables.

It's satisfying to grow a few of your own potatoes but you don't always want to go out and buy a whole bag of seed potatoes which gives you enough to plant out a bed. Garden centres have started selling individually potted 'patio potatoes' and we bought one for Barbara's Mum but I will be looking out for some healthy looking plants for free when I weed the veg beds next year.

A potato plant can start sprouting out from an eye you've cut while peeling potatoes and thrown out with the compost. I wonder what variety we've ended up with? next page

Richard Bell