Saturday, 4 April 2015

A Trip into Brambly Hedge and Other Diversions

Curiously, I got going with these three leaves first and have just carried on with them. It's always good to get the first washes onto the leaves and start to see the light and shade taking shape.

Making a start on the first washes

Laying colour wet-on-wet and allowing the colour to spread before dropping in a second shade.

These mingle and merge to create soft blending and highlights  

And a little bit more
Gradually building up the colour, whilst allowing the first layers to show through.

Some details are added

Thursday 2nd April, (Hans Christian Andersen's birthday) was actually International Children's Book Day and in amongst all the virtual posts and notifications that came my way, I was happily reminded of a somewhat forgotten childhood favourite. The Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barklem told the charming story of a community of mice through the seasons. As a child I was completely entranced by these books, and not just for their charming stories, the illustrations by Barklem herself were quite exquisite, executed with incredible detail and accuracy. As with the work of Beatrix Potter, Cicely Mary Barker and Edith Holden, these beautiful images shaped my early love of the natural world and my attempts to capture it. 

Of course there has to be brambles taking pride of place
on the front cover

Only recently I discovered that the author was born in Epping in Essex, just up the road from my home town, and like me travelled to art college on the Central Line of the Tube network. During these journeys Jill Barklem would enter her make believe world of Brambly Hedge, and created the beginnings of her stories. Many of the ancient trees she illustrated for the books still stand within the forest. Oh I love a bit of sentimental escapism, and I guess you get to know a bit more about how I got myself into this gig.

Oh, and as it is the Easter weekend I couldn't resist heading into the kitchen to make some sweet, sticky and spicy Hot Cross buns. These ones are a bit different though, as I didn't do the cross. Instead I piped simple flower shapes on the top, just for a bit of fun. I digress.

'Botanical Buns!'

So, bramble leaves. After building up the initial washes and getting the main areas of light and shade established, I generally work up individual segments with a greater level of detail. Using richer, more concentrated mixes of the washes, I keep a nice, coherent look while beefing up the oomph and detail. Looking closely at a bramble leaf, you will see very fine, but characteristic veining that really gives a particular look. So, mustn't miss that. Or the reddish tone to the serrated edges either. Plenty to do.

I always keep the original colour chart handy,
so I can keep the same mixes throughout.

It's bye bye to The Three Amigos
as it's time to start on some of the others 

And, as it's a bank Holiday weekend, something to keep me busy arrived in the post this morning. Roses are an absolute must for me in any garden, and I couldn't resist treating myself to some of the most stunning offerings from the David Austin English Rose Collection. The names alone were enough to get me excited and that was before I had to whittle my choice down to just four. The colours are simply to die for, the blooms ethereal and steeped in history, and then there's the scent. Oh my goodness.

So for our plot, I chose Fighting Temeraire, (a real nostalgic one for me as I have been looking at a print of the Turner painting of the same name for nearly all of my life); Boscobel, named after Boscobel House, built in 1632 and famous for the fact that during the English Civil War, Charles II hid there for a time, escaping Cromwell's army. Then there's Scepter'd Isle. Well, what can I say on this one:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,

This other Eden, demi-paradise,

This fortress built by Nature for herself,

Against infection and the hand of war,

This happy breed of men, this little world,

This precious stone set in a silver sea,

Which serves it in the office of a wall,

Or as a moat defensive to a house,

Against the envy of less happier lands,

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England

Richard II, Act 2 (Shakespeare)

And lastly, Lady of Shalott. Well, where would we be without Tennyson. Hopefully, we won't have a situation where:  

...The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' cried
       The Lady of Shalott.

The Lady of Shalott. Alfred, Lord Tennyson 

A rose by any other name?
Can't wait to see them in full bloom.

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