Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Wishes

Happy Christmas to everyone, my little postcard to wish you all a big thank you for all your lovely comments and for stopping by at Drawings from Nature to read my posts. I am sitting cosy by the fire, lights twinkling and fireplace decorated with all my favourite cards and postcards collected from art galleries on holidays.
We have a windy evening and hail showers outside.  Today we went for a walk and I collected some ivy and red berries and greenery to add to the  fireplace.

 I have been busy,  now finding time to reflect on how quickly the days fly by when I am occupied with a project that takes up all my thinking time as I plan and focus on all I need to do to complete the task. The  task was a  patchwork quilt and I did manage to successfully finish it.  So as promised I am sharing it with you.
I suddenly feel very pleased with myself  looking back at my photographs.  I had a really busy few weeks as I decided to make it for a birthday present and had not much time before the date.   I used Liberty fabrics and cut out triangles from the slippery fabric, the first hint that this was going to be quite a challenge.  As I have been collecting  different  Liberty patterns for  several years  my stash of fabrics gave me lots of choice.   It was to be a  present for my god daughters 21st birthday.  She is studying at London and loves the Liberty Shop.
So after cutting the piles of triangles I started by sewing two  together.  Then joined the twos  into  rows, and finally the rows  together for the quilt.  It was a time consuming job, every triangle needed pinning to match the seams,  and again to match the rows,  as you have to be so accurate with triangles.  It took over the bedroom floor !  My hare pincushion was put to good use.
I really enjoyed making it, looking at all the beautiful patterns, colours and details of the Liberty fabrics. Little by little it soon started to take form, pinning, sewing and ironing and arranging the shapes.  A busy three days, the last leg of backing and hand stitching the binding suddenly gave it the finishing touches and I was delighted how it turned out.   I made a little Happy Birthday  panel to record the date to sew on the back of the quilt  and a card with the blue fabric.  I imagined her surprise when she opened the present.
My gift was well received,  a box of  beautiful flowers arrived as a huge thank you, with a message to say she will treasure it.

It has been my own birthday,  I had my birthday in sunshine and by the sea, as we went on a winter break  to Malta.  It was lovely to feel the warm sunshine, sit outside and enjoy the views.  We did have some stormy weather and rain showers but who cares.  Some walks took us through orange trees, with  lemon and pomegranate  orchards. I collected some objects to draw that I will share again.  I bought some sepia ink and a note book from a little shop selling pens and paper, products made in Rome.   I look forward to experimenting and writing with the sepia ink.
A  little Christmas Postcard to wish you all,   "Happy Christmas", using the ivy leaf and red berries I  found on a walk. I photographed my wrist warmers, mossy green hand knits to wear as I draw and the warm wool cabled head band I wearing in my last post, as some of you wanted to see.

 I have also managed to finished a sock, hopefully the second soon so I can wear them,  I have been really enjoying knitting in the long evenings and it is easier on my eyes than drawing.  I have plans for more sewing and knitting, maybe another quilt.
So for now I will leave you with my Good Wishes for a peaceful Christmas.                  Millyx

Saturday, 2 November 2013

On A Grey Day

It is a very grey day here today. The clouds have been getting darker and darker and the rain has never stopped.  It is quite appropriate that I should be painting with grey.  I walked home in the rain on Thursday and collected these two leaves. The red berries were so bright and glossy in the rain and I couldn't resist picking these little branches off the ground and the empty snail shell came home too.
It has been raining quite a lot lately. I don't really mind.  My bulbs are planted and I will be happy to see the spring flowers.  Another 120 new fritillary bulbs have been added to the garden.  I just love them and feel excited at the very thought of them next April and May, drawing them again and capturing some lovely chequered patterns on the flowers.  They are one of my favourite flowers, as seen on my header.
As I was gardening this little fellow came hopping out and I managed to captured him.  He must surely be camouflaged amongst the autumn leaves.  How he gets into my garden I will never know but he is very welcome.  He disappeared between some stones, maybe that is where he lives.
When the rain stopped and the sun shone we wandered through the muddy wet lanes.  I collected a bag of lovely autumn colours and brought them home.  I felt really inspired and placed them all on the big plate to admire.  I knew I didn't have time to draw them but I can still enjoy looking.   The acid green and dark leaves are the ones I have painted, at the next stage in their life when they go completely black and have a grey underside.
When I saw them in the rain they looked very dramatic , wet  glossy black and dull grey. I carried the two grey and black leaves  home and the bright red berries and knew I had to capture them.  So two days of drawing and here is the finished picture......freshly painted today!
It felt really nice to draw again.  I lost myself in the painting listening to the wild wind and the rain on this stormy grey day.     Here are some stages of the drawing.
Sketching it out in pencil and getting the objects ready to paint.
I used acrylic paint and a fine brush.  Grey, white, black, sepia brown, green and red.
I love snail shells, the colours and patterns are beautiful.
The leaves have curled in the heat of the room. And you know how much I love red berries.

 My collection from the walk last week, the little apples and red berries went outside for the birds.

I have not been drawing as I have another project on the go, been cutting out and sewing a patchwork.  I will share that when it is finished.  I have also been knitting, some very useful hand warmers to wear as I am working on my sewing.  Somehow I always want to sew and knit in the dark evenings, better for my eyes too. I have about four different knitting projects half done, things to wear in the cold winter months.
                                   Looking forward to more of these next year.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my drawings and I hope you are all keeping warm, I am sitting next to a cosy fire in the wood burner.  It has been dark here all day and my grey photograph was taken at four o'clock and it was so dark outside.
When I wake up to a bright day and the view,  I will see it again with new eyes.

Thank you  for the lovely comments, it  is so nice to find them. I enjoyed reading each one, so thank you.
See you soon.       Millyx

Monday, 30 September 2013

More Seashore Treasures

I woke up early on Saturday to this beautiful view, the sun rising over to the east.  I gazed out of the window just to enjoy the moment, as I watched the white line of the aeroplane moving across the sky, people travelling high above in the early morning light.  A few birds are singing. I need more sleep so return to my warm cosy bed. I realise more and more that it is the simple pleasures, the moments which make life special.
 I looked at the view out of the front of the house. 6 am and it is going to be a beautiful day.  
Saturday morning view of the estuary.
 There have been some high tides and I have enjoyed some more collecting trips along the shore.  More feathers, a new collection of mermaids purses, some seaweed, a snail shell and red berries. So I spent the day washing all my new treasures and letting them dry in the sunshine
all my collection still in the bag from Wednesday
The butterflies were all happy as they landed on my last flowering  buddleia , with a really sweet scent drifting in the air it soon became covered with many different butterflies.  Bees and several wasps buzzed around the flowers near to the kitchen door. Here I sat with a dish of soapy water and washed and sorted and examined all my  finds from Wednesday.

Thoughts of that day drifted through my head.  It was a really quiet day, low clouds as the tide crept into the estuary.  It  looked grey and green,   one of those days where the sky just meets the grass and no view of the hills.  The pale grey water slowly covered the wide expanse of sand,  flat lines of water and sand as you looked out to sea.  After the tide turned it left the tell tale wavy  line on the green grass, which was two shades darker after being sea washed.
I felt like there was an invisible pull on me, a need to go and see what the sea had left behind.  It was like the sea was whispering to me, Come on you know you want to,  it is all here waiting for you.
Quite shocked to see this huge chunk fallen, more erosion in the last week!
So armed with a big bag I wandered down to do some collecting.

The still silence of the shore, all wrapped in clouds which muffled the sounds.  The birds flew, white against white, huge sea gulls soaring above. A train came into the station and seemed to abide by the rules of the quiet day, gentle brakes, soft banging of doors and then very slowly and silently stole away along the tracks.
I wandered along to the line of promised treasures and found a perfect feather,  it looked like it might have just floated down from the sky.  It was pristine and as I picked it up examined the colours and the round dot on the tip.  A herring gull and another one to add to my collection, each one slightly different in size and shape.
a close up of 13 beautiful feathers I have painted 
I found five mermaids purses, a snail shell and a brown nut, twin sycamore seeds and lots of pieces of seaweed with fat bubbles.  There are always lots of different pieces after the big tides and I limited myself to just smaller pieces, one green, a length of browny orangey tones, some delicate black strands and a black bubbly twisted shape.
It was the many brown and white tiny striped feathers which really stole my heart.  The smallest feathers from the Curlew, or perhaps young birds as they were all so tiny.  I found so many and again in perfect condition, so clean and brand new,  as if they had just floated in for me.
If I  had found just one I would have been happy. They seemed to be everywhere,  each one was so beautiful,  I had to have them.
 My bag was pretty much full except for the berries.  Yes it is red berry time and you know me, I always collect the red berries, my unwritten rule. I have more than enough and maybe it is time to just enjoy the walk.  The clouds were lifting and it started to show glimpses of blue sky, so quickly the days can change.
It seems that I never tire of the same objects. I have been planning some little drawings  in my mind, the objects all look so well together. We found this tiny half eaten fish, an interesting little subject for me trying to capture it in inks.

 I enjoyed this little study, using my own handmade oak gall watery brown ink, playing with a dip ink pen and lots of drips!

 My feathers are slowly drying,  they always make me feel so inspired.
Meanwhile I have been busy working on my Lords and Ladies Zig  Zag book, have been loving this project.  Each year I see the glossy berries, they fascinate me and I just want to capture them.  My book tells part of the life cycle, maybe I will add more next year.
I had a little visitor on Saturday, delighted to see her crawling by my kitchen door.  I just watched her as she walked along my hand. Then proceeded to wander up my sleeve, a lovely lovely moment.
She is the first one I have seen this year in my garden and it was a pleasure to have her walking up my arm and then across my book.

I feel that I must cling on to the lovely warm days of sunshine, watch every evening sky as I see the autumn colours creep into every hedgerow, knowing  it will  not be long till it turns colder, grey days and the dark evenings .
My head is full of  ideas and projects,  beautiful objects surround me and I want to draw them, also to sew, to knit, to print and to use my hands and feel that sense of simple beauty in making.  So I slow down, take the time to decide, listen to my heart.  I have so many things I want to do and often it is hard to know what to do first.

  It is in those moments when I feel happy to just sit quietly drawing or sewing and feel total contentment.  I know then,  that I will create something beautiful, something I really care about and I can share with you.
It takes me so long to put all this together, if it gives you pleasure I would love to hear, leave a comment as I do appreciate it and love to read them, thank you.                                                       Millyx

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Long shore walk

 I have been washing and sorting out my bag of finds from a lovely long walk on the shore. I said before we left home that it was going to be a walk, not a collecting walk and I didn't even take a bag.  It was a heavy sky full of grey and darker grey clouds, it looked like rain but we often have  such a sky when the tide is coming in.  It was quite a high tide and the gullies were all filling up with sea water and it was going to be an energetic walk.  Energetic as you have to jump across the gullies and water filled pools which cover this flat marshy shore, definitely a chance of wet feet and muddy parts.
We packed a sandwich and fruit and snacks and plenty of drinks.  Not really a picnic but I need to refuel on  such a long walk.  It was actually very warm and the breeze from the incoming sea was welcome on my face.  So off we go jumping over water, often smelling pungent green or brown filled pools of stagnant water.  There was, as always, all manner of washed up objects, some remains of a kill  looking unpleasant, sadly with  feathers, the wings and  carcase of one or more decaying birds.  A skull and selection of white bones from an animal fill a hole,  now all that remains of a drowned sheep.  The tide line and the fences gather a huge tangle of all that the sea washes up on to our shores.  I see  feathers, seaweed, bottles, ropes, crab shells, balloons from celebrations final resting place,  plastic objects,  ragged pieces of lost clothing, odd shoes and  plastic wrappers and toys and balls from humans at other places, all washing up here on our shore. As they cling to the wire fences so do the  young black and white calves, all tagged and numbered,  clambering to the fence to take a better look at us.  Behind them about twenty geese sat in the field, it seemed a strange combination.
The geese did not like the visitors and with much wing flapping and even more shouting  and shrieking took flight.  I usually hear this calling through my bedroom window in the morning and suddenly realised just how loud it is.  The photographer quickly captured some of the birds in flight.  All their heads facing the same way, so beautiful to be this close and watch them flying.
Little tiny tiny ladybirds resting on pieces of dirt on the ground, we counted thirty and kept seeing them along the way.  As I have barely seen one this year I was intrigued to see them, but really needed my glasses to have a better look.  A piece of grey coloured holly was home to one,  I picked it up but the breeze blew it from the holly.  I have the image in my head,  thorns wrapping around this miniature orange baby like a cradle.
The erosion of the land is quite shocking to see. years ago we would have walked straight across this sandy area as it was part of the grassy shore. Huge chunks of the banking have collapsed and  wider gullies are forming as the sea pours in and the damage will only get worse as another Winter takes its toll.

As we reached near to the stone outcrop the water had also crept up and reached up to this little island and had left a tide line shattered with feathers and leaves and seaweed and grasses.  I saw a lovely feather, I had to pick it up, then another and too late now to collecting had begun.  I felt that, ooh feeling,  a pull to so many objects and I was thrilled to find the blackened sycamore seeds with the contrasting green.  I know I don't need to collect another feather ever,  but I felt such an attraction to seeing such beautiful and interesting things, blue and white shells, skeleton sycamores, amazing brown and white striped feathers and black and white patterned pointed feathers and some orangey red berries.   They are all similar to others I have found in the past but I listen to how excited I feel when I find such objects and feel so inspired by them.  I loved the spotty leaf, everything I collected was chosen from the hundreds of others washed up and  begging me to take them home.
Food tastes so good after a long walk,  sitting in the fresh air listening to nothing only the sound of waves and bird calls and the sun joined us for lunch. It was a chance to take in the views, looking backwards to home  and feeling nearer to the hills as they seem so much bigger here.  I wandered along the edge of the grassy banks and along the stone outcrop looking at what was trapped between the stones, more feathers but also a thick bubbly brown foam everywhere.  Quick look !  A blue dragonfly flew passed us. It was not so surprising as we are  close to the peat marsh,  home to many beautiful butterfly, moths and dragonfly.
work in progress
 The walk home was through the marshes, a long thin strip of road, it is wild and mostly untouched, the board walk is where we often venture to see the dragonflies.  Blackberries are ripening,  red Rowan berries brighten up the hedges,  tall bull rushes grow from the ditches at the side of the road.  Perhaps the only thing I dislike here is the thought of a snake, having been told that a friend had encountered an adder the  other day.  There was still high cow parsley and tall pink spikes of wild flowers that flourish here.  A kestrel hovers above and the cool shade was welcome as the afternoon heat was making me feel tired.  Butterflies flit from plants and dance in the sunshine.  The brown patterned  fritillary butterflies match the colour of my snack of ginger oat biscuits which I take from my pocket to enjoy.  Every so often a huge dragonfly would dive across our path, yellow and blue flashes of these  mesmerising creatures.
The ditches have been cleaned out  and wild flowers cut back in preparation for winter, earthy smells of peat and moss and green stagnant water, but all looks tidy and organised.   A rest as we lean over the gate and glimpse into the wood under the shade of  the huge old Oak tree.  Can you see the Rowan berries in the hedgerow?
 Still a walk across the marsh,  through lanes to reach the roads.  My house looks a long way off,  the sun is hot and so are my feet.  Thank goodness I have plenty of water to drink.   As we reach home the view is lovely,  in the distance is the little island and I can trace my journey and see where I have been,  no wonder I am feeling a little weary.
The tide coming into the estuary
Later I washed and sorted my finds and this is how they looked.  The feathers are beautiful,  my drawing of the striped feathers was done for my folder of cards in 2009.  I never tire of finding and drawing the lovely natural objects I am lucky enough to have here in this amazing estuary and countryside.
I chose the sycamore,  spotted leaf,  feathers and the red berries for my drawing.
my finished drawing
It is on an A4 sheet of cartridge paper and I used acrylic inks with a fine paintbrush and a dip in pen.

A lovely evening to end the day.  Hope you are all enjoying your Summer days.
Thank you for the lovely comments which I always enjoy reading.  Hope you enjoy my walk .
 See you soon  Millyx

thank you to my husband for all the outdoor photographs x very much appreciated xxx