As a natural history illustrator, and someone who loves colour, decoration, and nature; I enjoy the Christmas season as it allows me to bring botanical subjects into my home.
This weekend saw the family heading off to choose a christmas tree. Once set up at home, there were plenty of off-cuts. As in previous years, these get tucked behing the paintings on the walls.
Holly recieves similar treatment.
Study of Holly Ilex aquifolium in flower and in berry
Finding holly in berry is always a challenge as only the female plant bears the seeds. If we're going to be sticklers, holly doesn't produce berries, but drupes. (For more on fruit and seed terminology see my blog).
And a slightly better illustration of the European holly.
I tend to tuck greenery behind everything on the walls, including the sheep skull.
Ivy and douglas fir (off-cuts from the tree) also get used like this. Collecting ivy is simple, we have a wall full in the garden, and there's much less prickling involved than when I wander around woodland, questing for holly, with secateurs and an empty feed sack...
Ivy Hedera helix studies. Click on the link for more sketchbook studies
Sketchbook study of Douglas fir Pseudotsuga menziesii.
No Christmasy home is complete without mistletoe, which proved slightly problematic this year. I know it grows in abundance in orchards, and often up high in ash trees. However, orchards are mostly privately owned... It took some time to find an unguarded orchard, and my children acted as look outs as I scurried across the mud to a conveniently fallen apple tree, and cut my mistletoe. Base behaviour, I know, but at least I have my mistletoe!
Watercolour study of mistletoe Viscum album
Pencil study of mistletoe, done for Wildfowl & Wetlands trust many years ago.
I had some trouble stringing the heavy mistletoe from the hall light, and then decided it needed a little something extra, namely a spangly bird. My son added a christmas ball, and lo, the house was fully decorated. Now I just need to go and start making mince pies!
Happy holidays to all of you, and may 2015 be a wonderful year.
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