Friday, 17 June 2016

Watercolour cornflowers straight from the garden.

There is more than one way to be creative with colour, and one of my very favourite pastimes is looking after (and looking AT!) my garden. I am lucky that it is surrounded by mature trees, giving home to a multitude of birds from Magpies to Wrens and Stonechats. This is the view from my kitchen window this morning, June 2016. The garden is an abundance of greens and is a joy to behold. 

Julne 2016

But when I moved here, the main flower bed was dominated by two enormous Leyandii trees and an overgrown Rhododendron. Two men with lots of elbow grease and axes got rid of those, leaving me with a blank canvas of earth to play with. This photo below was taken in July 2012, four years ago. 
July 2012
As you can see, the ground was covered in ivy and bramble, with a lot of little tree stumps too. After I had dug and cleared those, I had a tonne of manure delivered, to give it all a nutritious treat, then the planting began. 
June 2015
By last year, the garden was a sea of Floxgloves, most of which were taller than me (and I'm 5 Foot 8!). One of the joys of gardening is the way that gardeners share their over-enthusiastic plants.  The Foxgloves were given to me by my friend Liz, so of course I think of her when I see them. In the back of the border are Buddlea and Himalayan Honeysuckle adonated by Glynis and dotted about are geraniums and more, given to me by Joanna. As well as this, I have taken cuttings of many of my own plants when I have moved house, so they become memories which go back a very long way. Many of the plants still growing now are the same ones in photographs of my children, taken in other gardens I have had. The white irises were mature in my garden in East Sussex when I moved there in 1991.. 

My son Christie in the garden in Sussex 1999

In the photo above you can see the Irises at the top left behind Christie's head in 1999 (and Christie is now 22!) and below here they are outside my window today, still going strong.
June 2016

Another plant which moves easily is the cornflower, and if there are enough to cut, I give them to my students to paint. They are lovely in watercolour, with a small amount of drawing on the leaves and straight-to-paint with the blue-purple petals. 

The exercise this time was in getting the right variety and contrast in the colour of the leaves - the back of the leaf is greyish green, and the front is a warm yellow-green. With just two hours to work, the students so really well to get so much done. 

Cornflower watercolour by Barbara, Student

Cornflower watercolour by Pat, student

Upcoming workshops - location drawing in Belfast, Portrait Drawing, Watercolour landscapes and oils. For info please email

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