Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Colour swatching

Colour swatching is one of my favourites things to do when I have got new paints/inks/crayons.  Previously, I put these into my techniques book but have recently decided to make a swatch book separately from anything else.  The pages of colour are just so satisfying to look at and make a very helpful directory so that I can see what I have and choose what I need to use for a project.  So far, I have done gouache paints,  sparkle inks, inktense pencils (my new favourite watercolour pencils), Woodys and Neo Colours. 

Lovely rainbows of colour...

These make me happy - so bright and colourful.  I still have dye inks, oxides, pigment inks, stickles, pixie powders and more watercolour pencils to do.  I can probably find other supplies that I need to make swatches for...

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Late Autumn in the garden

It has certainly turned more wintry this week and we have had a couple of frosts. The garden has reacted accordingly, with leaves falling quickly.  I took these photos last weekend, before it all changed. Above shows one of  the miscanthus grasses which changed to a buttery yellow.
The blueberries are taking on their fiery Autumn colours.
They are such good value plants.
Lysimachia Clethroides is also showing changes of leaf colour.
These little cyclamen in the shady corner bring me joy with their beautifully patterned silver and green leaves.
My Fatsia Japonica is trying to flower.  This flower is just starting to open...
..this one is much further along.
A bright splash of orange/red is provided by the pyracantha berries.
One of my little ginkgos has buttery yellow leaves now too.  I have put a standard ginkgo on my 'one day' wish list - they are such beautiful (and ancient) trees. I am trying to have something of interest in the garden every month of the year and I am slowly getting there...

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Tulips for 2022

I have finally started planting my tulips for next Spring.  I have gone for Brown Sugar (pictured above from this year)...
...Ronaldo (again pictured from this year)...
Ballerina (on the left, pictured from a couple of years ago, with Brown Sugar,  in the border)...
Beautiful blowsy Danceline (photo from a couple of years ago)...
...and just because I can, another photo of Ronaldo and Ballerina together (photo from a while ago). I do love the combination of orange and purple for tulips.
These are favourites and have proved to be a good buy as they have all come back once planted in the borders.  I also have some from last year which I need to plant in the borders, somewhere.  The borders are pretty full, so that may be a challenge!

I have also bought some double orange 'Sunlover' tulips, which I haven't grown before, for a couple of pots at the front and they need to be planted too - hopefully this week!

Saturday, 6 November 2021

November - the seasons turn

The temperatures have gone down a bit this week (although surprisingly, have gone up a bit this weekend) and the autumn colours are starting to glow.  However, there are still some plants bravely hanging on. Above is the 'old velvet' colours of the hydrangea flowers.
The standard cherry Kojo-no-mai is showing fiery shades...
...as are the blueberries.
Salvia Nachtvlinder is still in bloom, with its deep purple flowers.
Rose Kew Gardens is also still putting out the odd flower.
Fuchsia Thamar is the only fuchsia I have now - the others got rust and I got rid of them.
Liriope Muscari is such a reliable plant for me.  I really need to divide the poor thing and give it a bit more space.
Hydrangeas are still flowering at the bottom end of the garden.
I like the mix of the bright white flower against the earlier flowers which have turned green
The Magnolia is now losing its leaves - and that is a proper November sky.
There are still some autumn fruiting raspberries ( I ate this one straight after taking this photo).
Lysimachia Clethroides in the front, starting to go yellow, with the cherry behind.  I need to start on the pot insulation I think.  We have had one frost so far and there will certainly be more to come. 

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Wanderlust 2021 - weeks forty-one to forty-four - Movement

Week forty-one involved creating a face with a continous line and watching the movement of the pencil/pen/brush and ink.  We didn't need to worry about proportions or realistic faces, just concentrate on the movement.   Using a brush and ink was a new technique to me and one I really enjoyed.
Then we used watercolours for week forty-two and my heart sank just a little bit as I watched the demo.  (The image came about as the teacher usually went travelling around the world, but was not able to  during the pandemic, so had to travel in her studio, using items around her.)  I am not confident with watercolours and have never been all that successful.  However, this class was really interesting and gave me lots of advice such as: use a watersoluble pencil to draw the outlines; don't try to colour everything in - it is not a colouring book; use mid tones to start adding the shading; don't be afraid of  really dark shadows.  I was really pleased with the finished picture. 
I used a new medium during week forty-three, which was slow drying medium or retarder.  This is mixed into the acrylic paint and extends the drying time, meaning you can work with the paint for longer. In this instance, we had to create skies on blended ombre backgrounds.  I had plenty of photos of skies to work from and really enjoyed making the blended backgrounds.
Week forty-four was about moving the eye around the page, using images, collage and marks.  I really enjoyed making the background using watercolours and acrylic paint, with stencilling on top.
The course is drawing to an end with the final theme, which is 'Fables'.  

Monday, 25 October 2021

Eric and Ernie

After a long time, we ventured out to the local theatre for an evening of laughter courtesy of Eric and Ernie.  Of course, this was a tribute to Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, but the actors are very skillful and you could almost believe they were the real twosome.  

For people of a certain age, Eric and Ernie conjure up lots of happy memories - the paper bag, the plays 'wot I wrote', the humiliation (in a nice way, if there could be such a thing) of the guest stars, the musical interludes (Mr Preview), the ice cream van, Bring me Sunshine...

We had a good evening.  They were on form and the actor who played Ernie, (I would imagine, much more difficult to get right) really showed that slightly pompous persona that he adopted.  

It was nice to support live theatre again (even if I did wear a mask).  It was even nicer to have a laugh!

Sunday, 17 October 2021

A new project and some cards

I don't really need any more projects, but I have been increasingly drawn to junk journals and ephemera journals so decided on a bit of a whim to make a junk journal and tea-dye some copy paper.  This was the first time I had attempted such a thing and I got some interesting results.  The purply patterns came from the baking tray I used - it is an old one and the coating is starting to come away.  Where the paper touched the metal, these patterns emerged. 
I also got a range of colours, which I was pleased with.  The sound of the paper is rather nice too - all crinkly!  The junk journal will be an 'as and when' project - the fun will continue in making things to go in it - pockets, journal cards, tucks, bands etc.  Currently,  I would like some illustrations from some of my favourite books as a child - Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, the Secret Garden, Beatrix Potter, but I have a feeling the journal will be a mix of all kinds of things I like - there won't necessarily be a theme as such.
I have also been making cards for various occasions - the one above was for my colleague at work who needed some happy mail.
This one was inspired by the season...
...and this was for my very clever nephew.
This happy sun was for a family friend who is 102 years old!
This Christmas card is winging its way across the sea to South Africa.  Sadly, it won't get there by Christmas - my last letter took four months to reach the recipient!

As well as cards, my art journal course, my watercolour journal and my junk journal, I  would like to do some sewing and have just got a very nice pinafore pattern which I am going to try out shortly.  So much to do - I love it!

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Autumn days and my thoughts on composting

It is a lovely October so far in this part of the country and I am trying to savour every minute that I can. Above is a 'Magical revolution' hydrangea, slowly taking on some autumnal shades.
This is the colour of the sky recently.
The perennial sunflowers are still going strong, but you can see how much more shade this area gets now.
The sunlight on the miscanthus flower heads is always so beautiful.
The asters are also still doing well - this is Symphotrichum Novae-angliae Mrs S T Wright (she will always be an Aster to me!).
More gorgeous miscanthus heads...
...and again.
In other news, I have emptied my compost bin and sieved the compost.  Those of you who are gardeners will no doubt be familiar with the whole compost making process and how to achieve the best results.  

I had a few bad years, because although I thought I understood the process, it needed some tweaking.  However,  I think it is now working well.   I have a plastic 'Dalek' shaped bin and you have to remove the whole bin to get at the compost.  I left it for two years, thinking all would be well, only to find it really wasn't. The compost had condensed into a solid mass  and there were no worms to be seen.  I emptied it out and started again, this time adding a layer of paper and egg boxes in between the kitchen scraps.  I also started to turn the heap a couple of times over the year.  Adding the paper layers and turning the compost have made the difference.  The resulting compost is now lovely and soft, crumbly with an earthy smell.

Having sieved the compost this time,  I shall refine my additions to the bin further.  While tea leaves rot down beautifully, tea bags don't.  Egg shells take a while too, but the pieces that are left in are small and will rot down and also provide some air.  Some compostable plastics take a long time to rot down.  I am not  adding citrus as the worms don't like it.  Potato peelings need to be added in small amounts as sometimes they have a habit of sprouting.  

It has been a real learning process but I am so happy with what nature and those clever worms have given me.  The compost will be added to peat free multipurpose compost for planting and potting on and as a mulch around some plants.