As tropical themes proliferate the summer collections this year I thought I’d concentrate on hibiscus flowers for my plant of the fortnight.
According to legend, the hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian and Hawaiian girls and is symbolic of relationship status. Apparently if the flower is worn behind the left ear, the woman is married or in a relationship. If the flower is worn on the right, she is single or openly available for love.
These flowers look so robust and full of allure with their strong trumpet shape and long stigma. That makes them such fun to draw. Check out my watercolour and ink illustrations on Friday.
I told you I’d go for colour and perhaps on reflection I could have been more subtle in my finished illustration. Ah well next time (I intend to draw these birds a LOT).
Bee-eaters do actually eat bees. They remove the stinging part by repeatedly hitting and rubbing the insect on a hard surface, the subsequent pressure to the insect extracts most of the venom.
These birds are mainly native to Africa and Asia but you can see some in southern Europe, Australia, and New Guinea. And I spotted on Twitter the other day that someone had seen and taken pictures of a pair of European bee-eaters in Norfolk (I would LOVE to see them for myself).
The birds form colonies by nesting in burrows tunnelled into the side of sandy banks, such as those that have collapsed on the edges of rivers. Most of the species in the family are monogamous and both parents care for the young, sometimes with the assistance of other birds in the colony, isn’t that lovely? The more I learn about these birds the more I like them.
As an obsessive of iconic, classic design and illustration I regard a Liberty print with admiration and awe. But as I don’t live in a particularly girlie gaff, I’m sometimes at a loss as to where to put them in my home. In fact it would be fair to say that Ella’s place is quite gender neutral so, while I like a floral print (I mean, I draw enough flowers and like to display a bloom in practically every room), I restrict more ornate, flowery designs to accents rather than a full on floral fest, which is why I made these handmade clocks.
Creating a bespoke time piece is super simple. As clock fittings are so easy to come across these days (seriously, google it and you’ll be faced with a wealth of cost-effective options) you can make clocks in any shape or size with the minimum of effort all you need is the fitting and a suitable surface to attach it to.
I took a cheat’s choice and used a needcraft clock kit for ease, as everything was pre-cut and measured. All I needed to do was add fabric – a total timesaver. But you can always cover an area of mdf or stiff card with material or paper with a hole made for the clock piece. It really is that simple – easy crafting if there ever was.
I got the Liberty fabric from Sewbox who has an extensive collection of designs by the brand – Sue from Sewbox is lovely too, I worked with her a lot on Homemaker and she was super helpful.
I selected Liberty Betsy Ann in Rossmore Cord for a lighter, classically floral time-piece and Liberty Cranston in Colourway A from its Lifestyle Stile Collection for a deco-style feel (it looks ever so nice with Henry and Matilda my retro cat ceramics). I’ve got the latter hanging in my hallway and the former is looking rather splendid on the white sideboard in the dining room.
I know I normally lead with black and white sketches for my first post for my bird of the fortnight and there are some below. I just could resist sharing with you a previous Bee-eater illustration I did as part of an art work commission for a US indie band called Five Mile Float.
It was when I took on the commission that I developed an interest in Bee-eaters. The family have such a variety of plumage and I that Zoro type mask across their eyes is the coolest.
The Five Mile Float brief asked me to be subtle in my use of colour so I stuck to very light washes of peach and mint. No such subtlety is required this time so I’m going to go to town on my final watercolour and ink version.
As I mentioned in my last post I was looking forward to being a bit free and easy with my watercolour for this finished sweetpea illustration. And I was; I applied lots of layers of watery purples, blues and pinks for this colour version so, much so I had to finish it in two sessions as there was no way the black pigment ink would sit on it until the piece was completely dry.
As we’re well into summer I think I’m going to continue with larey looking, brightly coloured blooms for my up-coming plant of the fortnights, so no matter what the actual weather we’ve got something to either amplify the heat or to warm us up.
Sweetpeas are the quintessential summer flower for the UK. Their variety of colours and their delicate paper-like petals are a seasonal favourite in people’s gardens.
It’s not quite sweetpea season yet but once they come I hope to fill little jars and bottles. They look so lovely all grouped together – particularly so when I’m having any outdoor garden gathering.
Not only are they a pleasure to display, they are also a joy to draw. These black and white sketches didn’t take long to do but it’s fun to capture the folds and structure of the individual blooms if you like line drawing (which I do). I can’t wait to go wild with my colour paints when I work up the watercolour versions.
Although the spotted flycatcher is quite a dull bird I couldn’t resist giving it a somewhat sun-kissed appearance for my final, finished watercolour and ink illustration. I think I was imagining this little grey silver bird perched on a headstone as sun was setting, looking around for a little tasty morsel flitting around in the fading light.
With this in mind I’m in the mood for some colour so I think I’m going to draw a more exotic bird next fortnight… Watch this space.