'A gush of bird-song, a patter of dew,
A cloud, and a rainbow's warning, Suddenly sunshine and perfect blue
-- An April day in the morning.'
Harriet Prescott Spofford
April is a favourite month. The Earth at springtime seems to breathe a huge sigh of relief and begins to relax under warm sunshine, and refresh itself with showers. The flowers too now stretch out across the countryside, with verges and hedgerows providing much needed cheer after the dull and gloomy days of winter. Change is also heralded by the coming of spring, with the need to throw open the windows, brush away the cobwebs. and clear out the old all giving us a boost, along with a fabulous sense of achievement.
Springtime blooms are quite special to paint. Their colours are vibrant, providing a refreshing zest to our palette, and with structural forms and shapes, the challenge to capture the often short lived flowers makes for a great start to the year.
In this video I show you how to paint a delicate narcissus, with a combination of pale outer petals against a vibrant yellow trumpet. Narcissus are the classic springtime flower, but rather than the all over yellow varieties, I like the bi-colour blooms with their paper-thin, almost white halo of petals. These ones are everywhere in our garden, and pop up like clockwork every year. It's also heart-warming to know that the newly emerging queen bumblebees will have a little something to feast on as they drowsily pootle about in search of food and a nest.
If pale and pretty doesn't always take your fancy, spring offers up the happy-to-see-you face of the viola. They may be tiny, but put them under a magnifying glass, and the hard effort of this tiny flower to put on a show takes on a bees eye view. Or how about the all out glamour of huge magnolias or a wealth of camellias?
At this time of year nothing says the British countryside quite like a carpet of nodding bluebells, and for me this will be the next springtime classic on the painting to do list. It's always good to hold something special in reserve. And the peonies are on their way too...