I feel like my wheelbarrow. I used to be slightly embarassed of its green, shiny newness amongst all the battle-hardened others. It's now had two new wheels, needs rewelding, has been repaired countless times with wire and steel rods, and it still doesn't work very well. (It's actually a better analogy than I was expecting, now I write it down.)
Another sign that the building work has become so all consuming was when my youngest daughter gazed up at the sky on a cloudless night and said, "Look daddy, the moon looks just like concrete" - and, to be fair, it did.
So I’ve decided to do two things; firstly look the other way, and start to appreciate the changing landscape whenever I take the dog for a walk (while we pretend to look for truffles), and secondly get back to painting. It's a good thing too, as I'm running a Botanical Illustration course next Spring.
Last year I was able to visit a group of experts in this field and, to my surprise, some of the most interesting work seemed to focus on plants in the process of turning from green to brown as they dried and decayed. There was something mesmeric about watching these painters so focused and concentrated on their subjects, sometimes working through magnifying glasses, and often using lamps fitted with special daylight bulbs to allow them to continue working through into the night. I knew immediately that this was an area I would be foolish to ignore, especially living here, literally tripping over so much flora and fauna.
Some botanical illustrators work in a true, scientific way, documenting and recording the exactitude of the species and giving notes and measurements on the page very precisely. Others, like this particular group, have also developed this type of illustration into a true art form and the images are stunning, plants so real you can almost touch and smell them. You can see their work at www.amicusbotanicus.com
During my Art degree we never spent much time on this area of study but, as I’ve become older, I’ve started to appreciate more the subtlety of this exacting discipline and, living here, you've got no choice. You have to love nature.
Anyway, here’s my early offering of the season, it’s called ‘Parthenocissus quinquefolia’ (or Virginia Creeper to you and me).
The stupidest thing I did today;
This is perhaps the stupidest thing I’ve done all year and I can hardly bring myself to write it down, so all I’ll say is that it involves seeing a poor abandoned kitten one morning outside a bar …