Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Berry Nice

Gosh, what a cold snap. Autumn has arrived almost over night here, and already there has been the first ground frosts, (and the inaugural lighting of the woodburner for this season). Well, it is heading towards winter, and it's only right it should start to get a bit nippy. Of course, this also means loads of fruits and berries out in the garden and amongst the hedgerows. With the birds tucking in with a vengeance, it's time for a good forage before they scoff the lot.

My next workshop was set to focus on hips, berries and all the glorious fruits of the season, so there certainly was no shortage of variety. I really enjoy painting berries and rose hips as their colours are so vibrant and jolly, but also there is challenge in achieving the shine or bloom that gives each subject their character, and ensuring the colours don't dull. The garden, as always was a great starting point, and with the wilderness still untamed, there were still a few little surprises to be found.

Pumpkin 'Munchkin'
Tiny sized pumpkins that are delicious roasted whole,
and a great subject to paint

Loads of berries and hips collected from my garden
and from the local hedgerows

And to top off a great day of painting and tutoring, here is a selection of the students work.

I was so pleased with the results.
They all worked so hard and really came to grips with some tricky techniques.
Everyone went home happy.

Many of the ladies who came yesterday are retired and have only now found time to return to their hobbies. I was so impressed with their sheer gusto and enthusiasm, even though one or two hadn't picked up a brush for some time, or were very new to watercolour. 

Even with a good few years experience of teaching, I must admit to getting quite nervous on a tutoring day. It is so easy to overwhelm the students or give them so much to do that the confidence wanes somewhat, so I try to keep things fun with lots of one to one help to keep everyone going and happy. They all had such a super day, and even after quite a long day went away smiling. It might be tiring, but I love my job. 

So, what's next? Well, for some there is the added bonus of seedheads at Squirrel HQ and then it's onto the fireworks of autumn leaves.

Drying out nicely
The Nigella seed head from the garden, (I hadn't even planted these)
and Spindle berries I found earlier at Florum,
along with the iris and conifer seeds.

All dried out.
Alas, the iris seed heads didn't open,
so needed a little assistance to reveal their treasure.

The seeds are like little discs and really hard.
Although the wild iris is a bit of a thug, I might try germinating these. 

I love painting honeysuckle berries.
This little study is in one of the sketchbooks
for the Nature Trail Exchange.

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