Blog Art Seasonally Nature

About

I will be creating a drawing each week, documenting the nature around me in Sussex throughout 2018. These images will be made into prints and given away free of charge.

Free Prints

To be eligible to qualify for a free print, you will need to have signed up to my newsletter. Each person on my newsletter mailing list will be allocated a ticket number, and then at the end of each month the four pictures will be given away to the four winning tickets. Each person will only have one number so can only win a maximum of one print for this promotion. The prints will be A6, unframed and unmounted. These will be posted free of charge to the address you provide, once you have been notified by email of winning.

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Why

I am doing this project throughout 2018 to show how the timings of our seasons are changing. Thirty years ago, bluebells would flower in South-East England during May, now they are flowering early April, a month earlier than they used to. I want to start documenting the timings of the seasons and their changes in our landscape; for example, we are currently having a very mild winter. I have named the project ‘Art Seasonally’ as we are constantly encouraged to eat fruit and veg more seasonally. I am creating art works seasonally too, by only documenting what I see that week.
Most of you who already follow me and my work will know that I grow flowers and veg from seed that I then photograph, draw and paint. This all happens in our garden in rural Sussex, but I also take inspiration from the local landscape as we enjoy walking in the surrounding countryside and on the South Downs.
As a grower of fruit and veg, last year was a sad one because of this change in seasons. We had another warm Winter and Spring, which woke up all the trees early. This meant that their delicate blossoms were killed when frosts returned before the end of the Spring. This normally happens during May, and it did again last year, but it devastated our cherry crop, and killed all the pretty Wisteria blooms.

It is for all these reasons that I am doing this project, not for any militant environmental reasons, but for observational ones, to raise awareness that our seasons have changed compared to thirty years ago - within my lifetime! These changes will affect what we as a nation can and cannot grow in the UK, it will cause native species to start to migrate further north to find cooler climates, and bring in non-native species from Europe. Whilst questions are still being asked by governments on if this is something we can reverse, we need to be aware of the damage we have done, and hope to make an effort to slow it down. You can follow this project online, on social media, via this blog and via my newsletter.

I look forward to sharing my observations and my love of nature with you all, please don’t hesitate to share your comments on social media with me.

Week 1 - 1 January 2018

Wow, what a warm start to the New Year! I’m an incredibly cold soul and I’m only wearing a T-shirt and jumper, rather than the normal thermals and 2 jumpers. The garden is still pretty gloomy, and due to the warm weather, I have held off planting my bulbs at this time of year. This is something I have done for the past few years now, hoping to plant them mid-late January, so I have daffodils at Easter. I notice that my Day Lilies have already sprouted, which is far too early!
This week’s drawing is of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a frequent visitor to our garden, bullying all the smaller birds away from the feeders. They like to frequently attack the telephone pole, which I hope is for insects rather than a personal dislike against our 21st century communication to the outside world! I have mentioned it to the telephone engineer who regularly checks on the pole, but they assured me that they couldn’t do too much harm! Phew, where would I be without my access to Netflix on these wintry evenings?

Last year, the Woodpeckers had a family close to the garden and decided to perch on the single storey extension roof below our bedroom window early one spring morning, or should I say VERY early….! I was woken to a cross between a chirp and screaming and wondered what on earth was going on. After peeking out between my bedroom curtains, I saw that the baby woodpecker was sitting on the roof, whilst mum went off to find it food, which it would bring back and feed to the youngster. All was well for 30 seconds after feeding, when the youth would holler for its mother to hurry back with the next morsel. I do love rural living, and watching them really made my day but next time could it possibly be slightly later in the morning?

Week 2 - 8 January 2018

Ah, this week’s picture is of a Blue Tit. These are one of my favourite garden visitors, as they tend to visit in a mob. They begin by lining up on the branches and roof surrounding the feeders in what appears to be a somewhat orderly queue. Alas, this never appears to last long, as one fellow might take too long on the feeder and there is then a free for all, where they all cram onto the feeder squawking and knocking each other, so that the feeder becomes an out of control children’s swing. They remind me of the teenagers of the bird world, first all relaxed, cool (or at least that was the word in my day) and chilling, before excitement takes over and they all bundle towards the music stage!

Week 3 - 15 January 2018

l was rather surprised to find our periwinkle in flower at the end of last week, not just one flower but three! It is early flowering, but I think this is the earliest I have ever seen it. I know some gardeners think this plant is invasive, but I think it is great ground cover as it roams about covering the ground and stops the nettles from coming through, and of course it is purple - my favourite!

Week 4 - 22 January 2018

A Rosebud! Yep it is the 22 January 2018, and I have a rosebud in the garden. I was walking around the garden last week and photographed all the new activity and then drew this picture over the weekend for week 4. So, in fact, this has been in the garden for a while, It is not that I don't have Snowdrops or Hellebores but I am interested in documenting the unusual and the early to show the changing seasons. January is far too mild, and the rosebud is approximately 4 months too early. I wondered at first if the rosebud had been preserved in frost from the summer but of course we haven't had many frosts because of the mild Winter, so this has been provoked to flower because of the warm weather.

Week 5 - 29 January 2018

Teasels, my prickly favourites, which annoy my beloved, as they constantly snag at his clothes and generally get in the way in the garden. They are fascinating plants, though their flower is not overly exciting, these architectural structures last all winter (or longer if someone didn’t pull them up in frustration), which attracts flocks of Goldfinches to feed on them. I read in BBC Wildlife Magazine a few years ago that there is a theory that the rainwater that collects in their leaves may actually be full of enzymes digesting the drowning insects. They may in fact be a secret carnivorous plant on our doorstep!

Week 6 - 5 February 2018

This is the view from our back garden of a beautiful old oak tree that is a whole ecosystem to insects, animals and birds.  They are so majestic dominating the landscape with their branches arcing out into a wonderful geometric pattern. I find the branches are just beautiful at this time of year, especially early morning in the frost with the sun breaking through the mist.  You maybe able to tell I love trees and I painted them so much at university that I earnt the nickname The Tree Lady…!

oak tree

Week 7 - 12 February 2018

The Hellebores have been in flower for a while, but this week they were all hanging in bud and flower. Sadly you can never see the inside of the flower when they are on the plant as they all hang like magenta bells. Therefore I cheated this week, and put one in a vase so I could see the beautiful colouring inside.

Week 8 - 19 February 2018

Snowdrops, even though I think I saw the first snowdrop bud in early January, it is only now that I think they might be at their peak. The field that backs onto our garden have swathes of snowdrops all in bloom, so at the first bleary eyed glance in the morning when I open the curtains, it really does seem as though snow borders the field. Instead, it is this hopeful little flower signifing that spring is on its way.

daffodil

Week 9 - 26 February 2018

Daffodil.  This daffodil has been out for weeks and it has been my only one, all alone braving the weather!  It is now having to cope with snow and ice too.  However all my other daffodils are still tight buds and no where near flowering, so I thought this week, I would dedicate it my lonely, stoic and cheerful daffodil!

Week 10 - 5 March 2018

Pheasant. Last week it was cold and snowy and peering in at the warmth was this handsome fellow. He is the resident pheasant in the field at the back of the house and at last count had approximately 6 females following him around. There is another pheasant that resides in the front field but alas he has no females!

The grass was heavily frosted with a light dusting of snow, so that the grass was pale and against this backdrop was the vibrant colours of the pheasant.

 

Pheasant
Anenome

Week 11 - 12 March 2018

Anenome. This brave bud survived a week of snow and sub-zero temperatures. I can't believe that in early February we were enjoying lunch in the garden in beautiful sunshine, that is when we first spotted this Anenome bud. It was tightly closed then and remained so until the warm sunshine of this week and it finally opened completely on 11 March.

Week 12 - 19 March 2018

Last week over 8 frogs were spawning in our very tiny puddle of a pond. As many may know I love frogs so I just had to sneak out with a camera and photograph them. I think we now have so much spawn that it has displaced all the water, but really looking forward to seeing all the little froglets in the summer.

They normally spawn slightly earlier in the year, but I think it was delayed slightly by the cold snap we had a few weeks ago.

blue tit

Week 13 - 26 March 2018

This week is another Blue Tit as so many were in the garden last week because of the snow. They were squabbling over the peanuts and fat balls we put out to feed them. We also had several Long Tailed Tits and a Jay, but they were just too elusive to catch on camera for me to draw!! I love these birds, but they seem to disappear during Spring and Summer to raise their little ones.

Week 14 - 2 April 2018

My early tulips were flowering in March as normal, and this week I captured this fading bloom. Another day or so and it will drop all of its petals; I have been inspired by flowers at the end of their life for a while and it has inspired an entire series of work which can be seen here.

tulip
new zealand laburnum

Week 15 - 9 April 2018

This is Sophora Tetraptera (yes I did look that up!!!) apparently it's common name is New Zealand Laburnum, I really hope it isn't related to the British laburnum as we have it happily growing by our eating area in the garden, oops! I love this early flowering shrub it most definitely signals spring to me, and most years when it is in flower I decamp my studio into the garden and sit under this tree in the sunshine and paint. This can be as early as February but this year it is late flowering in early April, it is normally in flower by March.

Week 16 - 16 April 2018

Bellis Perennis, the little daisy that grows in the lawn, this is now flowering in the grass verges. My favourite flower is the daisy, more the ox-eye daisy as they are a lot showier than this little flower. The "weeds" such as these daisies, buttercups and dandelions are often the first flowers to show their heads before we get the opportunity to mow the lawn after the long winter. These are the first flowers I will pick of the season and brighten up the windowsills by putting them in inkwells.

daisy
bluebells

Week 17 - 23 April 2018

Bluebells - These brighten up the end of garden each year, this year they flowered pretty much on schedule for recent years. They flower at the same time as the Wild Garlic so the grass underneath the apple tree is a carpet of blue and white. They have self-seeded from the field behind our garden.

 

Week 18 - 30 April 2018

Apple Blossom - This year the tree is groaning in blossom, last year we had very little because we had to prune it quite hard. The Cherry tree, strawberries and red currants are all in flower and setting their fruit, I think if we don't have another frost, this year will be a brilliant fruit year. We will soon be covering the Cherry Tree in netting so that the birds don't steal our cherries again!!!

apple blossom
Mining Bee

Week 19 - 7 May 2018

Tawny Mining Bee - Our house is full of bees! Mostly honey bees but a few of these, which are extremely brightly coloured. The head and the stripes are orange/brown and I had to look it up to identify it. The Tawny Mining Bee generally lives on sand, so I'm not entirely sure how we have so many as we live on very thick, water logged, gloop clay! So, I hope they haven't taken up residence in the sandy mortar between our bricks! :)

Week 20 - 14 May 2018

Aquilegia/Columbine - I love this little flower, the back of the flower looks like alien antennae. I only tend to grow the wild ones which naturally seed in the garden. We have incredibly dark purple ones which look almost black and these which are pale pink/lilac. This for me, is the best time of year for our garden, we have the columbine, with the Irises and the Ox-Eye daisies about to flower and the cow parsley is in full bloom.

Aquilegia Columbine
geum flower

Week 21 - 21 May 2018

Geum - These apricot ones flowered first this year, normally it is the "Mrs Bradshaw's" but these were really prolific and put on a great show. They always appear in my first posie of the year which consists of all the tiny flowers that brave it to flower first from dandelions, daisies to forget-me-nots.

Week 22 - 28 May 2018

Iris - I wait eagerly each year for these to come into flower around our pond, well I say pond, but it is more of a puddle. However this small puddle attracts so much wildlife to the garden, dragonflies, toads and frogs.

These flowers have inspired so many of my paintings, every few years I return to these flowers to draw and paint, these are only a few paintings which they have inspired over the last 15 years,

irises iris

iris

 

iris
ox-eye daisy

Week 23 - 4 June 2018

Ox-eye Daisy - my favourite! These have been in flower on the roadside verges since the first week in May, however they didn't start flowering until mid-May in my garden. For the last 9 years I have been working towards a wild garden in the front of our house. It is not entirely wild, I have sneaked a few day lilies and Peonies in there, but the self-sown daisies this year are stunning (shown below...) This garden attracts a huge amount of wildlife and contains the puddle as mentioned in last week above. During the summer it hums with insects.

ox eye daisies

Week 24 - 11 June 2018

Peonies - every year these flower when the windy, rainy storms arrive, so I have to run outside (generally in the rain and wind) and rescue these showy but delicate blooms from the weather. I cannot remember the last time they flowered peacefully in the garden without me having to rescue them! This year was probably the best as I only had to do it twice, so most of them stayed outside, because most of the large storms missed us.

This week I combined my love of these intricate petals with willow charcoal.

peony
rose drawing pastel

Week 25 - 18 June 2018

Rose - They are looking their best this week, so many blooms in flower, it is most definitely a rose year! This one comes from my climbing rose over an arch that battles space with the Wisteria. It has a lovely perfume. I used pastel this week to capture the beautiful colour.

 

Week 26 - 25 June 2018

Honeysuckle - It has been such beautiful weather everything is coming into flower so much so one post a week is not enough to keep up! Honeysuckle has an amazing perfume but it does set off my hayfever!!! Very pretty and bee friendly, it climbs our drainpipe and makes the water butts look almost pretty!

honeysuckle watercolour

Week 27 - 2 July 2018

Swallows - At the beginning of last week the Swallows fledged from the nest that they fought and squabbled away from the house martins at the beginning of the season. Thankfully the House Martins have returned and resumed their rightful residence last week, so we get the best of both species. The nest is above my studio window, so I may need some window cleaners this Autumn!

Week 28 - 9 July 2018

Cornflower - these are a little smaller than they normally are, I can't decide if it is the extremely hot temperatures that have stunted their growth, or I have accidentally sown the dwarf variety... oops, which I didn't really want in the bed! Oh well, they still look pretty! This was a beautiful deep red one that came into flower this week rather than the regular blue or white ones.

The main thing to report this week is the weather, and the extreme temperatures, it was regularly reading 31c in the shade over the weekend (we have a south facing garden) and well over 40c in the greenhouse. It must be now our 6 or 7 week straight without rain...

cornflower
helenium

Week 29 - 16 July 2018

Helenium - I draw these flowers every year, it is when they are starting to go over that I like them the best because of the shapes the twisting petals make. I sadly think I have lost my older plants as these were planted freshly this year and are making a wonderful show.

Slightly cooler this week, with a very welcome breeze.

Week 30 - 23 July 2018

Hibiscus - My Hibiscus started flowering last week, but this week the shrub is now full of flower. When we moved in we had to move it as we wanted to put a greenhouse in its place, so we moved it to in front of the kitchen window. It has taken 7 years before it came into full flower again, so 9 years on it truly looks terrific this year. It is simply loving the warm weather, we have now had no rain since May. Other parts of the UK have but not us!

hibiscus watercolour painting
sweet peas

Week 31 - 30 July 2018

Sweet-Peas - It's the last one! I only have perennial sweet peas in the garden because they are unscented. I have hayfever so the annual ones are perfumed and I cannot put them in vases in the house because I won't stop sneezing. Sadly it means that mine are only ever pink rather than the variety of colours that the annual ones are. These have been flowering for several weeks but now are starting to go over, I usually dead-head them but am concerned that they can't expend anymore energy this year after all the hot weather we have had.

We finally had some rain! It was torrential on Sunday but no thunder and lightning storms for us, and thankfully no flash floods either.

Week 32 - 6 August 2018

Echinacea - These have been out a few weeks and are now finally drooping, which is when I think they are at their best. The petals curl and extend backwards and the centre protrudes.

flower drawing Echinacea
butterfly drawing Comma

Week 33 - 13 August 2018

Comma Butterfly - This beautiful butterfly is starting to look tatty as it's wings are damaged. Just as the flowers have been struggling this year in the heat as the summer season nears its end, so too are the butterflies. The Swallows and House Martins have left, it is chilly in the mornings with condensation and the days are getting shorter. Autumn is definitely on it's way.

Week 34 - 20 August 2018

Sunflowers - My sunflowers are finally flowering, they are slightly stunted this year as I planted everything so late because of the torrential rain and cold this spring. I didn't manage to plant my seeds until May, so they are a little short at 2 foot this year!

flower drawing sunflower art
insect art shield bug

Week 35 - 27 August 2018

Shield Bug - We picked the first ripe blackberries and they were covered in Shield bugs. Easily in the hundreds all leaping off the berries each time we picked one. I find these little insects very charasmatic as they poke their heads and antennae over the berry looking at you as you reach out for the next berry. Sadly though the farmer trimmed the hedge early this year so no more blackberries for us and no more berries for the Shield bugs... :(

Week 36 - 3 September 2018

Wasps! - Everywhere, definitely more than normal, we have spent the last week capturing them and evicting them back outside the house, rather than their preferred location inside. This one was found amongst 15 of his friends eating jam from a plate on the kitchen side. (Okay, so I admit it, I deliberately left the plate by the open door so I could capture these naughty critters on camera...!) But, still, wow. 16, definitely a lot more abundant than previous years.

wasp nature insect claire harrison art
rose drawing pastel claire harrison art

Week 37 - 10 September 2018

Rose and Hoverfly - My Rose had its second flush of flowers, which was welcome nectar to this Hoverfly. The sun is still warm and shining and although the mornings are cooler it is still beautiful weather here in the southeast.

Week 38 - 17 September 2018

Cricket - This is in fact a Long-Winged Cricket (I looked it up!) which was hiding from my cat, who loves to chase Grasshoppers and Crickets and, more often than not, is outwitted by these little creatures. What I really wanted to share with you this week was a Garden spider, as their webs are highlighted in the morning chill. I saw one last week, but didn't document it in time to draw it, so I went hunting for another, and they are all deliberately hiding from me. During my hunt, I wondered what my Cat was hunting and found this fully grown handsome fellow hiding from her on the underneath of a sunflower. Who knows, with the cooler weather and the Equinox signalling Autumn this month perhaps I will find a Garden Spider for you...

Cricket pen and ink claire harrison art
crane fly pen drawing claire harrison art drawing

Week 39 - 24 September 2018

Crane Fly- This is the first week where my inspiration has come from inside the house! In fact it was my husband that found my muse this week. This fly was found exploring our lampshade (see below). So late one evening I dashed off to find the camera and capture this insect. For me, these insects alwasy signify Autumn and they have only appeared in numbers in the last few days. We only turned on the heating this week, there is a chill morning and evening, but there are still times of warmth during the day, so the windows are still open and these Crane Flies bumble in and make themselves at home. We try and capture and release where we can but sadly the resident house spiders have been happily feasting upon them!

crane fly photography claire harrison art

Week 40 - 1 October 2018

Dahlia - Despite the few frosts we have had, these are still flowering and brightening up the Autumn months. I love the complexity of Dahlias with their many petals often creating geometric patterns.

dahlia-flower-art-drawing
flower drawing ink cosmos

Week 41 - 8 October 2018

Cosmos - These are still looking beautiful. I planted these seeds late this year, and their growth was stunted somewhat by the really hot summer. Now that we have had some rain they are looking their best, making the garden look quite summery. Autumn though is progressing rapidly and the trees have changed colour, and have started to lose their leaves.

Week 42 - 15 October 2018

Spiders Web - The mornings are not frosty as our days have suddenly warmed up and we are getting temperatures between 20-24c. Even though we haven't had frosts, the morning condensation still show spiders web scattered across the garden. Our entire front garden is left to grow naturally so our path is overgrown and it is almost impossible to navigate through. Therefore as the plants die back and create wonderful structural forms the spiders are creating their webs between them.

spiders web drawing pastel