What a lot has happened since my last blog post on 17 June, not only has the UK decided on Brexit and to swerve onto a different course leaving everyone on both sides of the argument bemused and *insert words of your own choice* but also here at home we've had a chaotic few weeks - stuff happens sometimes! - but we're all OK and that's the main thing.
When life gets messy it's good to take the long view and get things back into perspective . . . to help us do this we had a lovely day out at Wrest Park, somewhere we discovered a few years ago; since then English Heritage have done loads of work and there's now a lovely café and more of the house is accessible. But it's the park and beautiful pavilions that are the main attraction.
On the day we visited the unexpected bonus was that there was a brass band concert, add to that sunshine and some delicious ice creams and it was a perfect Sunday afternoon in the park.
I've designed 2 more Christmas cards for Plantlife, they'll be for sale online later in the year; and I spent an intense 5 days working on a packaging project for a Scottish design company, drawing and then carving lino faster than I thought possible! I hope to show you the finished design sometime, maybe early next year.
So . . . what's been going on in my studio?
Then there's Gardens Illustrated, I illustrate Frank Ronan's column 'The Writer's Plot' a few months ahead of publication, in fact today I'm carving the lino block for the October issue.
Here are the illustrations I did for the June issue . . . Camellias - do you like them? I confess that I don't but maybe that's because I've never had a garden where they grow happily and look good, frosted buds and clumps of brownish petals aren't a good look in my opinion. In the article Frank discovers that Camellias can be pruned in the Japanese cloud-pruned style, known as Niwaki. If you follow my blog you know I love Japanese design so this immediately grabbed my attention and cheered me up; so I took my inspiration from Japanese blue and white ceramics.
As I've come to expect, Frank's next article was a complete contrast; in the dry oppressive heat of the Californian summer Frank encounters a little weed, it's Groundsel which as you probably know is a common British native weed. Frank seems homesick for a damp verdant English garden:
"you know how it is when you are abroad and lonely and you meet someone slightly disgraceful from home whom you never really liked, and suddenly you feel they are full of charm and you get drunk together and talk too loudly"
I hunted around our garden and soon found a Groundsel plant that I could draw from life; looking carefully are the complex curves and points along the leaves, how the leaf wraps around the stalk and the cluster of flower buds and the fluffy seed heads, I'd begun to find Groundsel interesting too! And this sparked an idea for a project of my own through June ... 30 Wildflowers From My Garden, each day I sketched a different wildflower and posted the picture and some facts about the plant, on Instagram.
It became fascinating ... I learned new botanical terms like 'dioica' and 'achaeophyte' and 'neophyte'.
I found that even the most mundane and common weeds have amazing stories to tell.
And at the end I realised there were many many more still to sketch, I could probably find 100 wildflowers!
So, this is something I'll probably return to from time to time and start another sketchbook of 'More Wildflowers From My Garden'.
Last week, at the end of another hectic weekend, we we went for a walk on the high fields between our village and Cambridge ... we hoped to get a glimpse of some of the air displays at Duxford Imperial War Museum and we weren't disappointed - a flypast of 19 vintage WWII planes just for us!
And on the way home, this glorious view across the cornfields and the sky full of skylarks singing - that's the tonic we needed to start another week and just focus on getting one thing done at a time - it's as good a theory as any to sort out chaos.
FolkEast 2016 and Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale