Every Day in May: Day 31


Helix Aspersa #2

Snails, it transpires, aren’t as slow as their PR would have us believe. The final day of May was greeted by intense sunshine, and this little guy (if that’s an acceptable term for a hermaphrodite) was lurking inside its shell in the leafy shade, but I coaxed it out by watering the earth, and it proceeded to make a rapid and twisty escape as I rushed to paint its portrait. Pen & Inktense in Japanese-fold Pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May has taught me a lot about what my Inktense watersoluble pencils can do, both on their own and in combination with waterproof pen, coloured pencil, white gel pen and watercolour. I’ve grown used to the feel of my Pablo CPs on smooth Moleskine paper. I’ve had a fine excuse to spend a total of many hours out of doors enjoying the garden, learning loads about the flora and fauna that inhabit it. I’ve become quicker on the draw, as it were – less hesitant – when it comes to attempting a sketch in limited time, developing shortcuts to enable me to finish a drawing later if my sketching session has to be abandoned. Finally, I can now open up my accordion-style Moly to display 31 images, all in a row: a sequence that conjures up every single day of my own personal month of May.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to view my May entries and leave me an encouraging comment. All of my Every Day in May posts can be viewed here.

Every Day in May: Days 29 & 30

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Pieris “Forest Flame” and Prunus Domestica

I couldn’t resist sketching the Pieris for a third time on noticing that new red leaves had begun firing up among the greenery.

Our fan-trained plum tree made a very half-hearted attempt to blossom this spring, but its small green baubles suggest that we shall, after all, have home-made plum cake later in the year.

See you on the final day in May!

Pen & Inktense in Japanese-fold pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 27 & 28


Mystery plant and Lonicera [Reprise]

Could there be a better advertisement for “less is more” than the contrast between my two latest drawings?

Due to a conspiracy of time and weather (and suddenly I grasp why those partners in crime share a name in so many languages: le temps, el tiempo, il tempo … They are both part of the same plot to keep me from sketching!) I started my entry for Day 28 from a photo snapped last night, finishing it from life this morning, by which time no amount of watercolour would improve it. This is the first sketch I have posted to my blog which I truly hate. Move along now, folks. There’s nothing to see. Ugh.

#27 pen & coloured pencil; #28 pen, Inktense & watercolour in Japanese-fold pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 25 & 26


Cymbalaria muralis and Rosmarinus officinalis

“Ivy-leaved toadflax” sounds more like an Elizabethan term of abuse than something I’d wish to find growing in a crevice of my garden wall; but it is a delicate and pretty thing to find there. I added a close-up of one of the tiny flowers, barely a centimetre high. It had a little cartoon face.

It is stupidly easy to grow rosemary, and we have plenty. Fortunately it’s one of my favourite herbs.

Pen, coloured pencil & a bit of Inktense in Japanese-fold pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 23 & 24


Rosa and Calibrachoa

Our white roses are coming into bloom, but I got carried away with this one, seeming to discern more and more colours the longer I looked. Though drawn from life, it therefore turned out surprisingly stained-glassy and stylized.

Three weeks ago, I planted some calibrachoa seeds, and they’ve started to flower. The seeds came free with a gardening magazine. I’d never heard of calibrachoa (and stupidly, chupacabra is the word that more readily springs to mind when I try to recall it!) but I now learn it was named after Mexican pharmacist Antonio de Caly Bracho. “Every Day in May” is proving nothing if not educational.

Pen, coloured pencil & Inktense in Japanese-fold pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 21 & 22

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Viola (pansy)

We now have a thriving flowerbed of pansies, and after a couple of days of colour starvation, I couldn’t resist returning to them for today’s subject.

Lycopersicon esculentum …

… Or is it, more correctly, solanum lycopersicum? Or Lycopersicon lycopersicum? I think I’ll stick to calling it a tomato plant – and that’s “ta-MAAH-toe”. In any case, the first flower on our Gardener’s Delight is coyly revealing itself.

#21 pen, Inktense & coloured pencil; #22 pen & Inktense in Japanese-fold pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 15-20


Lonicera (Honeysuckle) and, potentially, a lemon tree

Not sure about the second one: it came with the garden, and only recently have we considered the possibility that it might be a not-yet-fruiting Citrus limon, though a Google search hasn’t quite convinced me.

I was slightly fretful about keeping up my efforts for Every Day in May this weekend, as we were spending a couple of nights in Kent, at my parents’ home. Fortunately, my mother’s garden has long been better tended than ours (Kent is, after all, known as the “Garden of England”) so there was plenty of flora to attract me – though for the first of these drawings, I was forced to sit and sketch from inside the patio doors due to the incessant rain.

Weigela florida (Bristol Ruby) and Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower)

Back home yesterday evening, I fitted in a quickie of one of our recently-acquired courgette plants, which (to my surprise) are growing visibly by the day.


Finally, today’s unidentified shrub. I’m not normally a fan of shrubby things, but the vibrant greenish-yellow of its leaves attracted me today. As usual, I’ve drawn only a small section, but I would love to know what this might be, if anybody has a clue.

Since hitting the halfway mark on Every Day in May, I’ve found myself slightly resentful of this self-imposed daily discipline, yet compelled to do my daily drawing. Where circumstances have made this tricky (seemingly no free slot in the day … wet weather, or having to stand in the cold to sketch … a family member trying to direct my attention to every flower in the garden but the one I’m trying to draw) I have developed strategies and shortcuts. In other words, though this exercise is hardly going to turn me into a top-class botanical illustrator, it seems it may just be making me a more confident and committed sketcher.

Various combinations of pen, Inktense, watercolour coloured pencil, watercolour pencil & touches of white gel marker in Japanese-fold Pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 13 & 14


Saxifraga hypnoides and Myosotis …

… or mossy saxifrage and forget-me-nots, in common parlance. Not that I have ever commonly uttered the words “mossy saxifrage”.

#13 Pen, Inktense & coloured pencil; #14 pen & coloured pencil in Japanese-fold Pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 11 & 12


Rubus Idaeus and Erysimum

These plants yield us a handful or three of raspberries each summer.

This evening, for the first time in a couple of weeks, it turned suddenly chilly. The breeze tempted these wallflowers to a dance just as I started to draw them.

#11 Pen, Inktense & coloured pencil; #12 pen & coloured pencil in Japanese-fold Pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 9 & 10


Hyacinthoides non-scripta and Capsicum annuum

These seem overly fancy names to apply to a couple of sketches I’m so underwhelmed by: never the less, here they are.

#9 Pen & watercolour; #10 pen & watercolour pencil (a cheap tin of 12, ok quality but too narrow a selection) in Japanese-fold Pocket Moleskine.

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