The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is a 3 1/2 acre site, a haven amid dense housing, implementing organic permaculture of plants and promoting wildlife.  It is run by the charity Mind to provide people with an environment supporting mental health.  My son has the great good fortune to be support worker there.  He originally trained in 3D design and then horticulture.  He is using these skills in a way that makes the garden accessible to individuals and which also reaches out to the community.  Weekends during May, they are raising funds through plant sales.  My wife, nephew and step-daughter have all been baking cakes for this enterprise.

The beds contain diverse growing frames, some simple and functional, others spiralling out of the ground.  I spent a few minutes yesterday sketching, in my smallest pad, first a willow growing frame and then a metallic sculpture turning gently in the wind, both set by the pond, home to newts.

More power Igor, give me more POWER!

The Conservative Party is on course for a triple figure majority in the 8th June general election despite causing impoverishment and cutting us off from our main trading partners without planning.  They can spin a good yarn and have powerful interested media outlets to promote it.  As for the three left of centre parties, Labour lacks an engaging narrative whereas the Liberal Democrats and Green Parties both tell clear stories.  All three seem to have at best niche appeal while May is pitching for the kind of nationwide approval only Tony Blair achieved in recent times.

We cannot despair.  We remain a parliamentary democracy and the government must answer to elected MPs.  Every seat denied the Conservatives, indeed every seat they hold by only a slender margin, brings them closer to scrutiny.  Though left centre parties face defeat, it is still worth campaigning.

A progressive alliance, as called for by the Green Party, is unlikely to deliver a left centre government but it can make it harder for Theresa May to narrow state-funded healthcare provision or impose divisive education policies: she may be opposed by some in her own side as well as by a slightly stronger opposition.  What we do now may help sow the seeds of change for the future.

In at least one seat there are moves to give an anti-Tory candidate a clear run.   Lists of marginal constituencies and how to vote tactically are starting to circulate on-line.  A think tank, Compass, is crowd funding for a website to help people build non-partisan alliances.  Small groups seem to be springing up of non-aligned inexperienced people, wanting to know how to help.

I think we need a non-partisan campaigning handbook if we are to make democracy work for us.  One of the earliest tasks is to work to increase voter registration.  Even if local parties cannot make way for a joint candidate, might they at least cooperate on that?

 

 

 

 

 

Who are these characters?

Dr Sketchy’s was themed on characters from Quentin Tarantino films.  That would be those films I have never watched.  Even with months of notice, I never found time to work through the canon.  So from tagging on facebook and a little searching online, I can tell you that these are (in no particular order) Santanico Pandemonium, Mia Wallace, Stuntman Mike, Mr Pink, Jules and Vince and these are played by Liberty Pink, Mysti Vine, Kitten von Mew and Trampy Holford.

I cut down my drawing kit to Ingres textured toned paper, graphite stick, conte crayons and black ink brush pen.  Stuntman Mike was the last and most sparing of the images.  Mr Pink (Liberty Pink in false beard) was the first.

I drew the two ten minute poses by Kitten von Mew side by side.  After these I started working larger.

Mysti Vine (posing with her green companion “Sid”) gave me a challenge – skin reflects light with so many more hues than do clothes. I struggled to simplify this to two or three tones which would have been more effective on the dark blue paper.

The diminutive Liberty Pink posed as hired thug Vince (John Travolta in Pulp Fiction) and Mysti Vine as Jules declaimed from the Bible before shooting us with a banana.

I am not sure who was the gun toting bloke who warmed up before Liberty came on to sing at the start.

Dr Sketchy’s yesterday migrated unexpectedly and with an hour or so to spare up the road to CherryReds café.  The food looks great: I’ll make a point of going back sometime.  Despite this (and it must have been a real challenge to the organisers), as always the team put on a great act.  I saw lots of interesting good sketches round the room.

light on trees

In recent sketches I have sought to capture the effects capture sunlight on and behind trees using my standard field kit of conte crayons, ink and water.  In the earlier sketches, I drew on textured white paper, dampened so the crayons layer thickly and reworked the drawing later with paint.  Then I started explore the use of toned paper, struggling to leave unworked negative spaces to form part of the image.  The most direct inspiration for this is from the recent sketches of professional artist and blogger, Rosie Scribblah as well as the current explorations of trees in other media by my occasional art buddy, outsideauthority.  Unlike my previous drawings, ones shown here are all completed in the field, not reworked at home.

Last week, returning from drawing at the burial ground, I found a footpath along fields which skirted Nunnery Wood, fenced off on the western side.  The evening sun filtered through the trees and last year’s undergrowth glowed.  In the first sketch,  at the top, the tan surface just about shows through between the short strokes of grey, an attempt to suggest the sky broken by branches into intersecting polygons.  In the second sketch, the surface shows through the light strokes showing the fields but I still could not bring myself to leave the paper untouched.

The next two were done today, closer to home in Sidden Hill Wood.  The low sun slanted in from the left so the many small branches and early leaves scintillated in the background and the nearer trunks glowed green and gold.  I drew on machine-textured Ingress paper.  Having completed the first as well as I thought I would achieve, for the second I tried to  abstract the woods into simple blocks of lightly applied colour through which the toothed paper still shows.