Sparrows & Marrows
A blog about art and gardening
Wednesday 18 June 2014
Painting roses for a baby

I've been working on a painting for my baby son since he was born. Whist the studio fills and empties with work earmarked for shows and events, this one destined for one of our own walls sits alone on the easel, and hardly changes. Occasionally I add or subtract from the composition, a mug appears, then disappears as I have a change of heart and mind.

Whist my little boy for whom this work already belongs, has metamorphosed from a tiny wrinkly sausage to 11 kilos of boisterousness, his picture remains relatively unchanged since late winter, when the first snowdrops made their way into my studio, but never onto this particular canvas.

Each season I plan a composition for this work around what is flowering in the garden, but each time the flowers fade faster than I find time to paint them. It seems that when it comes to creating something for him, I want it to be perfect, and there lies the problem. I dither, instead of being bold. I have over scrutinised this picture, and in doing so have not been able to finish it.

This week my favourite flower in all of the garden is at the point of bursting from its bulging buds- it is an old English rose of flushed apricot hue, named Abraham Darby, and I have put aside a precious afternoon to capture it, alongside the tiny pale bleeding hearts, and the last granny bonnet or two.

The weather is dull, the light is diffuse and fading a little, through the open studio window I can smell the rain soaked flowers of lilac oozing their heady perfume. A blackbird is midway through his evening solo concert, and I have stepped a little closer to the midway mark of this painting, which feels pretty wonderful.

Sunday 27 April 2014
Grey skies and goldfinches

From my studio I can see goldfinches perched amongst apple blossom, and a crowd of British bluebells bowing their heads at the edge of the meadow. Our chickens peck at stale hot cross buns in the dappled sunlight under a giant beech, whose buds are just bursting.

In the vegetable bed, rocket seedlings twinkle like green stars in a black sky of horse manure, and the lawn is a deli counter of worms for both families of robin and blackbird, who are nest-neighbours down by the stream.

Acid yellow primroses and egg yolk daffodils are gently replaced by the violet hues of granny bonnets, wisteria, and of course the tinkling blue strings of bells. As the season gathers pace it celebrates one primary colour then another. A grey based palette is a beautiful thing, but I love colour too much to allow it much space in either my garden or paintings. The only angry shade of grey out there is the sky, as it unleashes a sudden downpour.

The goldfinches vanish and the chickens hide under a tin roof, but it is only an April shower; in two minutes the birds are back and the plants glisten gloriously, as if varnished by raindrops.

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