Gold in the Eye

May Day Bank Holiday, Monday, 2nd May 2005

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frogBack lawn, breeze from east, 30% cumulus, 22°C

I'm using my larger box of watercolours so - rather than mix the primaries - I go for the olive green, sepia and a touch of blue when painting these frogs in the pond. In contrast to their drably effective camouflage, they also have a jewel-like streak of gold in the eye.

Nature Journal

nature journalI'm drawing in the Nature Journal sketchbook that I take from the shelf when I have an opportunity to draw in the garden. This guided journal by Clare Walker Leslie is full of words of encouragement - such as; even when you've got just a minute it's worth starting a drawing - and advice - such as; start by looking at what is at your feet, then look up at what is around you, then take a look at the sky.

She punctuates the blank sketchbook pages of the book with inspirational quotes and I like this one, which happens to be on the page I'm drawing on this afternoon:

You must walk sometimes perfectly free, not prying nor inquisitive, nor bent on seeing things. Throw away a whole day for a single expansion, a single inspiration of air . . . Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.

Henry David Thoreau

Wasps and Bumblebees

queen wasphunting waspIt's a perfect afternoon to do just that. Rather than start a detailed drawing (the unfurling leaves of that hosta are very tempting) I decide to draw whatever it is that attracts my attention, to try and catch something of the activity around the pond this afternoon. A queen wasp (left) rests on a leaf on the hawthorn while a smaller (8 mm approx.) wasp with long back legs with yellow on them also settles on the hedge. I guess that it is a hunting wasp of some kind.

bronzy beetleginger beeA bronzy green beetle runs across the ground in the flower bed below.

A medium-sized ginger bumblebee visits the periwinkle flowers in the hedge.

red-tailed bumblebee
red-tailed bumblebee
red-tailed bumblebee
red-tailed bumblebee

A red-tailed bumblebee rests on a nettle leaf, trundles around on the spot, then buzzes off, briefly pausing - but not landing - at a periwinkle flower before it flies off over the hedge. Its 'tail' is orange rather than red.

wolf spiderpheasantWolf spiders are active around the pond. I get a chance to sketch this one when it rests in the sun on my ankle.

pheasant eyeI hadn't noticed a female pheasant, who looks as if she has made up her eyes with a mad mascara look, just 12 feet from me, preening by the shed. She strolls around the shrub bed and over the raised bed before walking up the lawn just 7 feet from me to peck under the bird feeder as I continue drawing.

female sparrow drinkingblue titblue titA female sparrow drinks from the corner of the pond.

A blue tit lands on the top of the spirea bush, now in orange flower, and sings briefly, if you can call that brief peevish jingle a song, then checks on and under the prickly branches of the shrub.

Rain Front

rain front

compassBack lawn, 3.1o p.m., 20°C

It's getting cooler and cloudier: although the breeze feels as if it's blowing from the east (or slightly south of east), the bank of grey stratocumulus is steadily moving in from the south. There are white cumulus clouds and high cirrus ahead of the front to the north. We soon have to run for cover.

I realise that the compass on my compass/thermometer key-ring has become erratic; a large bubble inside seems to deflect it. Perhaps the drop in pressure on the plane during our recent trip to Mallorca didn't do it any good. Or perhaps after a few hundred miles of walking, with it hanging from my art bag, it has simply worn out. Next Page

Related Link

Clare Walker Leslie

Richard Bell,

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