There’s a beech hedge at the bottom of my drive. Over the last few weeks it has been a riot of flame-coloured leaves and every time I drive past, I think I really must sketch it. Days passed and I did no such thing, even though I knew they were starting to blow off with a vengeance. Finally, I decided to wait no longer and chose today as the day that I would sketch the tree. Unfortunately, it was also the day that God decided to get rid of all the rain he’s been saving up (for a rainy day, as it happens) and also send loads of wind. I waited for a lull between torrential rain and when it came I dashed outside, along with the faithful Reuben, who was soon happily engaged with a stick from a pile he found, gnawing it, growling at it, barking at it. I was just getting going with the painted bit when the heavens opened up – I mean it was a veritable monsoon.
I took cover under the trees, and assumed Reuben would run in too. When he didn’t, I thought it was because he’s not hugely clever and it perhaps hadn’t registered that is was raining so heavily, but then I realised he’d become tangled in his pile of sticks and couldn’t move. He just stood there getting more and more drenched, looking as sorry as I’ve ever seen him. Eventually the kind part of me clicked into gear, and I grabbed him and all my by-now soaking wet art stuff and ran for the house. I’m clearly not hugely clever either.
My cousins’ mother died this time last year: I was painting some leaves from the same tree when I’d heard she died, so I turned it onto a card for them. The yellow and golden brown leaves of the tree at this time of year will always remind me of Aunt Maura.
As Reuben and I ventured out into the lawn to gnaw sticks and sketch, respectively, we noticed a row of mushrooms in the “lawn” (I stopped mowing it too early in the season). I thought they might look nice next to a sketch of the tree, so I picked them. I wasn’t worried about whether they were unsafe – I know the species well, and I used to use them for mushroom soup back in the days when I was always doing fun country stuff like that. They self-digest from the inside though (ugh) and liquesce very fast after picking, meaning they turn black and runny and most unappetising.
(Note: what I didn’t know is that there’s another, similar variety of fungus called Common Ink Cap, which is poisonous when taken with alcohol! Well, I never!)
One of my fellow sketchers had recently made a comment about sketching white fruit and veg, and at the time I wondered if that would pose a challenge. This would be the perfect challenge.
After the kids came home from school and by sheer dint of being teenagers forced me to head out to the studio, I set up my fancy lights and got to work. I found it much more fun painting the fungi than I expected. Delicate shades of pink like the inside of a shell peeked out from under the gills…and I caught it on paper before it melted into a black puddle.
While I have you…
I’m planning a workshop in the Algarve next April. It’ll take place over the course of a week from April 28th to May 4th and I will give you all kinds of very useful tips and techniques for tackling light and water in a medium so perfectly suited to both – watercolour. You’ll learn techniques for capturing sun sparkling on sea, wet sand, rocks glistening in the tide and depicting the intense light bouncing off whitewashed buildings, the light for which the Algarve is famous. Of course there’ll be delicious food – if you’re a fan of home-cooked, simply-prepared food then you’ll be very happy – and there’ll be an “academic” side to it too, as we’ll have the use of an old schoolroom in the village where we’ll be staying. Everything is provided for a week of sketching, from accommodation to food, travel within the workshop and of course tuition. All you’ll have to organise is getting to Faro Airport (or to our village, if you’re within Portugal)
If it sounds like something you might like to do then check out the description on my website: if you need any more info then please email me at roisincurepictures(at)gmail(dot)com and I will send you all the info you’ll need.
So a mixed bag today, weather-wise – cold and rainy outside, dreaming of sunnier days…I know which one I prefer.