Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Return of the Unpleasant Pheasant

I sowed 60 aquadulce broad beans back in early January.

Ever so gently nurtured them on windowsills.

Very carefully hardened them off in the cold-frame at home.

With love, braved the mud, and planted them all out in neat rows at the allotment.

Only to see them decimated this week by the resident pesky allotment pheasant.

And for what? The darn thing doesn't even eat the shoots - just idiotically pulls them up in the hope of the odd worm maybe, if it's very very lucky, making an appearance.

Wanton vandalism that leaves me dreaming of shooting the darn pest....

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Spring And I Are Nearly Sprung

Like many things I like to grow, I've been quietly hibernating since last Autumn.

Well, by that, I don't mean literally gorging myself, hiding in a cave, slowing my heartbeat and going into a semi-comotose state while simultaneously devouring my fat reserves (now that part, I wish).

No, I mean I've just been plodding along through the depths of winter, getting up 6am in the dark, working dawn to dusk in the much-maligned public sector, coming home again at 6pm in the dark, spending the evenings munching on (probably more than I care to admit to) packets of Bombay Mix and downing (probably more than I care to admit to) glasses of red wine in front of (probably more than I care to admit to) way too much TV. Talking of which, increasingly throwing (probably more than I care to admit to) my slippers at said TV at the rot and nonsense spewing from assorted politicians mouths, in a middle-eastern fashion of disdain or disgust.

Yeah, specifically, anytime David Cameron, Nick Clegg or  George Osbourne try to justify any of the drastic public sector cuts they are making. Anything that impacts on or damages the arts, museums or libraries is of particular significance and importance to me at the moment.

But on a more personal note, for the last few months, it seems that weekends have been all about about catching up on housework or DIY.

But as the month of February marches on, I'm feeling the sap rising once again, and along with the urge to haul myself back down to the gym, there is the need to start planting seeds again and get things growing. But equally I feel the urge to get my arty expressive juices flowing once again.

This year I have a second new half-plot to develop on the allotment (though it's been too wet and muddy since November to be able to do much yet). But more importantly, thanks to completed DIY projects at home I've finally been able to turn a room over to become an art studio.

I cannot begin to express what an utter joy this is....  it's been about 16 years since I last had a dedicated space to make art - a space that isn't really normally a kitchen or living room, so needs everything tidying away at the end of a painting or drawing session.

To get myself back into the regular habit of drawing and painting (so yes, I confess to spending several weeks so far looking at the room with a great deal of trepidation and a not a small amount of fear, noodling about in my "studio", pretty much terrified of all the clean paint brushes and white paper and blank canvasses I've lined up) I'm determined to spend some time in there every single day drawing or painting anything at all - anything just to get the creative sap flowing again. To get going again after what amounts to several years of doing very little creative work (bar this blog which I started last year to kick-start myself drawing again), I've promised myself I will spend at least 30 minutes a day in there doing something/anything creative.

Obviously, I have more time at the weekends.  I bought myself an assortment of yellow flowers this week to paint, so I've been struggling with that today. I quickly realised that it really is almost impossible to paint sumflowers without referencing Van Gogh. But his work is always such a pleasure to look at (I had been reading about him recently, which might've influenced my choice in flowers?) so I got some books of his work out and couldn't but help making the sunflowers I was trying to paint even more Van Gogh-y in style than than the painting was going to be anyway. But his work is such complete joy to look at, and a real challenge to even attempt to emulate.

But besides all of this, seeing as how March and April are the key months for getting seedlings going, I'm just duty bound to end up drawing and sketching these...