Saturday, 29 March 2014

New Obsessions

Spring begins with a new obsession for horse chestnuts. I've gathered a few shoots from a local tree and each day as they've unfurled I've been sketching them eagerly. The sticky buds and leaf scales glisten as they capture the light and the fresh leaves are covered with a furry down, like a web. This is to prevent water loss and soon disappears as they open out more. They are fascinating to study and draw. The top leaf scales are a lovely carmine colour and further down they become golden, perfect for transparent quinacridones.

The horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum, is a native of the Greek/Albanian border region which was introduced into Western Europe in 1576 and to Britain in 1633. Its name comes from when Europeans found the Turks feeding conkers to sick horses in Constantinople in the 16th century. Today it is used in alternative and veterinary medicines.
Below is an interesting link about this tree:

The painter's obsession with his subject is all that he needs to drive him to work. - Lucian Freud

Grey willow, Salix cinerea is another wonder to draw, and quite difficult to capture that soft furriness; gouache paint can help here for this. This is for another habitat study, this time of a nature reserve very near my house called Grogwynion. It is a shingle heathland by the river Ystwyth which is an SAC - a special area of conservation. This is due to it being classed as a Calaminarian grassland as it has a high concentration of heavy metals from past mining activities. Because of this there are not many plant species so I should be able to fit every species I find on the one page! Hopefully anyway.

I've also been busy making some cards with Lunaria seedpods and handmade paper. 

I submitted four paintings to the SBA and am delighted that they will all be hung at Westminster Central Hall in May. It's going to be a great show and shouldn't be missed by any botanical art lover


  1. You've been busy Claire! Furry and sticky buds must be so hard to do! Looking forward to seeing more. Also it'll be great to see how the habitat work develops. Lovely stuff

    1. Thanks Erica, It is tricky to get it right, more practise needed!!

  2. Your studies are a delight to see! I like all how the subtle colors blend so beautifully. I've been watching leaves unfurl from a cutting I took too and it is fascinating.

    1. Thanks Janene, it's great to record the progression