Month five and the temperature is dropping

Here's that rainy day they told me about
And I laughed at the thought that it might turn out this way

Here’s that Rainy Day again // Frank Sinatra

Working on the images in my studio from the Harvest Moon session I start abstracting, playing with shapes, but there’s one image that really captures the night for me. Using flash photography I took an image of a dried artichoke flower. I printed some cards using Ice Gold paper and the image almost pops out of the card now. I’m really pleased with the way they have worked and how well the paper compliments the image. I’m not the only one, they’re selling well.

A photograph during my visit to the allotments during the Harvest Moon

A photograph during my visit to the allotments during the Harvest Moon

I nip in for a couple of minutes on two occasions as I drive past to other destinations, more pressing for my work. As I walk around I gaze at the floor, looking for interesting leaves, unusual  shapes, berries, anything discarded and left resting on the ground. It’s another reminder that my knowledge of nature does not equal my passion for it. I am woefully unaware of which tree has which leaf and please don’t ask me to recognise a tree. I know the easy way to deal with this is to draw each tree along with its leaf and flower, and that’s probably what I’ll do. I’ll set myself yet another project / task for 2019, but for now these little objects of different shapes and sizes shall remain nameless.

I yearn to spend longer here, I’ve got used to my weekly, if not more often, visits to this haven, but this is always the busiest time of year for me and it never fails to take me by surprise. I am working 70 to 80 hours a week with little if no spare time for anything, so I’m losing out on my restorative dose of allotments. These glimpsed moments are all I can allow myself, at least for now.

I somehow find time to allow myself a breather every day to draw the assorted finds from the allotments and realise that these are heading towards a little book, a day by day record of the month. I create a small concertina artist’s book measuring 105mm wide x 60mm high when closed. At my pop up shop the book attracts a lot of interest, along with the exhibition of my work so far from the residency.

Cover of ‘A Month at the allotments’ artist’s book

Cover of ‘A Month at the allotments’ artist’s book

‘A Month at the allotments’ book’s inside concertina pages

‘A Month at the allotments’ book’s inside concertina pages

I head into the west of Wales for a week, something planned months ago and now arriving at the wrong time but I can’t cancel. I am staying in a little cottage in the Dyffryn Fernant garden where I am surrounded by plants, leaves and seeds, all talking about autumn, all fighting the wind with varying degrees of success. The early frost here has taken a lot of the plants by surprise and they have succumbed to the bitter cold. I spend a surprising amount of time wondering how the allotment plots are, how will it fair in the first frost.

Finally I have returned. I agreed with myself that this morning, whatever happens, I would visit the allotments. I hadn’t factored in a migraine though and I’m now in the post migraine hours, hoping the weather will wash away the feeling of fuzziness in my head that always follows.

It’s a grey day with promised rain but the clouds briskly pass by without having time to stand still and rain on me. However moisture sits in the air, clinging onto each breath. Suddenly I am taken aback at the noise here, this may be a heightened sensitivity due to the migraine. A murder of magpies squawking and arguing with pigeons in a tree. I can’t see why they’re so annoyed or who’s winning. A background of car alarms, electric saws and builders shouting unintelligible instructions, race over with the wind, riding the waves. 

Autumn leaves covering the paths

Autumn leaves covering the paths

Where once there were paths there are now leaves, autumnal golden brown leaves sketching out a line. The leaves that aren’t already drawing out the paths are scurrying across to their final resting place, they are frantically, desperately trying to get there, but where is there?

An early shout out from plot holder R5A saying he has an excess of silverbeet (chard or in my case I know it as Swiss Chard, but that’ll be because half of me is proudly Swiss) on his plot and any other allotmenteers are welcome to help themselves. Before they do I head over to the plot and draw. I’m shaking quite badly, not because of the cold but another after effect of the  migraine, so drawing is more challenging than normal, the wind doesn’t exactly make it easy but as long as it doesn’t rain. It doesn’t look hopeful so I draw quickly using a Conté pencil, which means I can put down areas of light and dark quickly. As soon as I’m happy with the quick sketch ~ perfectly timed rain stops play. It’s the only weather I can’t battle with, paper gets ruined within seconds and paintings can just wash away in a matter of minutes. The rain isn’t bad, just enough to stop my drawing, so I head into the sanctuary of a shed I’ve been allowed to use and listen. Bamboos whisper to each other as they bend and spring back, defying the aggressive wind. CD’s hanging to deter hungry birds tinkle against stakes and plastic bottles at the top of poles, circle around, tapping out their own rhythms. I head back, realising that my head feels clearer, it’s mending. The noises I was so aware of to begin with, have been filtered out and I’m only aware of the natural sounds around ~ of swishing leaves mostly.

SwissChardIains.jpg

Walking back I pay attention to the outlines of the plots, sheds have become more prominent as tall sweetcorn and sunflowers are no longer defining the structure of the horizon.
December will be shed drawing I think.

The Artichoke cards and ‘A Month on the Allotments’ artist’s book are both available to purchase.
Cards are £3 each (including envelope), sized 148x148mm
’A Month on the allotments’ artist’s book is £12 sized 105mm x 60mm when closed

Please contact me via the contact page if you are interested.