First signs of Spring.. and the Allotment ...

At the end of February on a clear sunny day, with crocuses and snowdrops in flower and honey bees awake and buzzing around in search of early nectar, it feels as if spring is in the air.

Once again the allotment is waking up and the weeds, wildflowers and all other forms of flora are starting  to peek through the soil. Ladybirds are still hibernating in dead flower stems and the mice still sleeping in the compost heap, but there's soil to prepare ready for 
planting veg and other edibles. 

Standing in my allotment it's hard to imagine in only a few months time that this piece of ground will be buzzing and full of life and colour. In my best attempts at growing, hopefully there'll be some veg but it'll mainly be wild flowers that thrive here, which is just as well for all the insects that call my allotment their home.
My mind turns back to a resident Peacock butterfly that I managed to capture on camera last summer basking in the sun on freshly tilled soil...

Inspiration from a discovered nest...

On a winter walk recently I found a perfect little creation nestled amongst a leafless Hawthorn hedge. It was the nest of a bird, a Long Tailed Tit, no longer in use but so perfectly constructed using feathers and moss to create a cosy dome-shaped house last spring. 

 The parents carefully build their nest over three weeks, creating a domed oblong shape out of moss, cobwebs and even bits of paper. They fill this with a feather lining to create a soft home for their young, sometimes with as many as 1,500 feathers! The nest can house as many as 15 chicks, so the parents plan for their growing family by making sure the entrance hole and the nest itself are stretchy! 

I just had to paint a portrait of this incredibly clever, resourceful little bird.

'Blotched Emerald Moth on an Oak Leaf'

The beautiful blotched emerald moth relies on the oak tree for it's survival, laying its eggs on the leaves which will hatch into caterpillars. It's one of hundreds of different species of insect that lives on Oak trees. 

Oak trees support more life than any other native tree in Britain. Birds and mammals feed on its acorns and build homes in the bark and branches, and insects and funghi live in the oak's bark and feed on the leaf litter. Oak trees can live for over a thousand years supporting thousands of generations of life. What an amazing tree!

Latest painting inspiration... an Otter sighting!

On a recent walk along our local canal we had the surprising delight 
of seeing an Otter for the first time...

Upon stopping to look at a very relaxed looking Mr and Mrs Duck bobbing along in the water, suddenly out of nowhere appeared the rather large head of an Otter! Mr and Mrs Duck got a fright as he came up from underneath them and they quickly flew off unharmed. The otter dove underwater before emerging again a few metres along the canal when we glimpsed his slippery, fur-covered head and muzzle, before diving underwater again to be on his way.  

It was an amazing privilege to catch a glimpse of this lively amphibious creature in its natural environment - an endearing character in our English countryside.

More Greeting cards have arrived!

I have been so pleased with how my first few greeting cards have turned out, 
how they have beautifully re-produced my delicate leaf paintings, so I've had some more printed. More endearing woodland mammals, birds and butterflies to send to loved ones
 and brighten up any shelf or windowsill!

New Greeting Cards have arrived ...

I'm thrilled to be able to start selling greeting cards, professionally printed
using my original pressed leaf Nature Paintings.

Complete with a brown recycled envelope, they are a lovely way of presenting the delicate and detailed look of my original paintings, and also sending a hand-written note to a friend.
I have included a tiny passage on the reverse of the card describing the illustrated creature and
designs come in two sizes - 12x12cm and 15x15cm. More designs are on their way soon!

Autumn 2020 

parks and woodlands... my workplace

My local park is a beautiful place for leaf collecting during autumn, particularly when the leaves are just beginning to change colour from greens to oranges and golds.

Collected Sycamore leaves are placed between the pages of a book for the journey home, 
before they are put into the press.

Thorpe Perrow arboretum is a magical place of park and woodlands, and with such a huge number of trees it is a truly special place to go leaf collecting . . .

The grand Pines - I don't use their needles in my art but their pinecones are exquisite!

The beautiful scarlet and gold leaves of the Smokebush tree...

A particularly beautiful leaf from the Smokebush tree, and once pressed and preserved 
they make a striking canvas for my art.

Once home, the autumn leaves are pressed for a number of weeks in a flower press and my Great Grandmother's vintage press.