Spring at folly farm

I’ve been asked to write an article for the local Wildlife Trust (Avon) about drawing inspiration from their reserves. Floundering a bit as it seems such a big subject. So I’ve tied it down to one reserve, Folly Farm (about 10 miles south of Bristol) and at this season (early spring) and then started to look at my sketches made around this time of year. Having had one go at it and feeling it was a bit cheesy I thought I’d be better off captioning the pictures and just making a brief overview… then thinking that I could double up and try to do more of my website maintenance whilst I was at it.
So my subjects so far are :

  • nuthatches    – whoop whistling and excited trilling.  They seem to do the first when just clambering around and you don’t really see their beaks open to emit the far carrying ‘whup’ ‘whup’ ‘whup’… When trilling it needs a bit more thinking about and they often adopt a more vertical stance as though really bringing it up from the diaphragm. Sometimes they start to rotate whilst making the loud trill, as if going into a trance, hyperventilating.  So I don’t have to be actually sketching nuthatches for them to infuse themselves into the pictures, they can be there as part of the soundscape backdrop.
  • primroses   – The appearance of the primroses on the banks and woodland floor seems synonymous with the air warming. Giving warmth to the day even when there is no sun. They are harder to stylise for me, their mounded growth form and flowers going off at all angles are challenging to put down quickly.
  • early purple orchids  – Early purple orchids were one of the first plants I got to know at folly farm. A showy species, if a plant can be charismatic then this is it. It’s spotted, lolling tongue leaves bring on anticipation of the big flowering to come. One of the challenges of making pictures is trying to capture something of the fleeting thrill of what is usually a fairly brief encounter. We don’t often sit and earnestly study our common flowers. To draw the simply that is what seems to be required, and then with repetition it becomes possible to make quicker drawings or paintings that have something of the corner of the eye view.
  • early butterflies – On the first warm days butterflies start to appear in the rides. Orange tips & brimstones tend to be on the move most of the time and are tricky to sketch. The peacocks and commas are perched for longer periods, sunning themselves on log piles or dead vegetation. Last year the blackthorn was heavy (and heady smells) with blossom and lots of peacocks were feeding. Something exotic in an English landscape, the dense clothing of flowers like deep sleeves over the spikey blackthorn. Slow flapping of peacocks, eyed, red velvet wings probing the flowers with their long tongues.

Highlights problems I’ve got with opening up galleries of images… the wordpress features/plugins for doing this just aren’t working for me so far.
So if you do have a look at the links above you will need to click the HOME link to come back to the blog.