Monday, 31 December 2012

Colours of the month - December

On the eve of 2013, here are my selection of the month's colours (12/12), a Decemberry tree! and a favourite poem...

In Greece many years ago I was given a book of poetry because it contained this poem.


As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard


Wishing you an inspirational and happy New Year...xx

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...from my seasonal colour sample notebook. 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Colour from the season - Christmas Box - red

My son Josse said to me a few days ago that Christmas is just an excuse for me to bring even more plant life into the house! I will admit there is rather a lot of Ivy twined around and about fairy lights to brighten these dark evenings, also branches of Cotoneaster and a little Christmas Box, but this year I would say that I've been incredibly restrained - (I reminded him it's the season of good will!)

Gorgeous glossy green leaves, the deepest red to black berries (they quickly turn black when you bring them indoors) and tiny white flowers with a powerful fragrance (a bit like Lily of the Valley), this is Christmas Box (Sarcococca confusa).

Lots of wonderful wreaths at this time of year - here's mine!

Merry Christmas! 

(Cotoneaster Red, Christmas Box Red and (font) Bodoni ornaments)...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Colour from the season - Cotoneaster red

I'm not fixed to tradition, therefore branches of this Himalayan Cotoneaster are adorning my dining room table and front door wreath in the lead up to Christmas this year. Holly, it always seems to me, is just too vicious, so last year I championed Hawthorn as a seasonal alternative and this year I'm trialling this Himalayan Cotoneaster for its festive December berries, also Box (more to come on that). I don't really think that this Cotoneaster will keep its leaves or berries long enough to be a serious contender! but it is the most fabulous colour palette for Christmas as you can see...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Colour from the season - Chrysanthemum red

Mostly I draw from life, but occasionally from photos if I can't study the subject easily (life model required with antlers!). Drawing can be a way of helping to generate creative ideas and this is especially the case I've noticed when I'm drawing more complex forms, which require not only complete visual concentration on the subject, but also more analytical thought(working out how elements/spaces etc interact). So I was interested to read this enlightening short research article about using both the right and left side of the brain to develop creativity, written by Annukka Lindell  'Monday's medical myth: the right side of your brain controls creativity'  which explains why this might be the case, and how training that interaction can increase creativity.

The red and yellow petals from this desperate little Spider Chrysanthemum caught my eye as it tried to flower on an icy December day, so I brought it in from the cold to note its energising colours and further develop the right/left creative interaction of my brain..!!

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...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Colour from the season - Rosehip red

Fabulous hips! They're a bit more frost-bitten than I'd thought at first glance, but just look at the extra colour that the frost has brought out in them, not just one glossy red but an entire passion of reds! I took the liberty of removing the stem green from the palette but decided to include it separately below just in case anyone's after a green to go with these reds - you might find this shade works rather well...

!..from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Colours of the month - November

Uh-oh, I'd fully intended to compose November's colours in November and now December has barged in and Christmas is only a few weeks away!

So here, tardily, are a select three of my November favourites - New Zealand Flax and its muted Art Nouveau palette; waving madly and adding vintage winter shades the pods and berries of the Stinking Iris, leading to a prickly end with the silver, grey and yellow ochre of the Carline Thistle...

I've had my eye on some pretty extra-ordinary hips for a few weeks now and was relieved to see when I got home after such an icy weekend that they are still looking just as colourful. It should be a fabulous red for December! Watch this space.

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Colour from the Season - Medlar golden brown

These are the Medlar fruits, known in Medieval times as the Dog's Bottoms for fairly obvious reasons, although perhaps not the clearest of sketches to show this! They are so old fashioned hardly anyone knows what they are anymore (which included me). Not really surprising though as they have to be ripened to the point of rotting (a process called bletting) before they're edible - and are highly explosive at this stage! Given to me last week by friends who'd picked up some windfalls from Rosemoor (inspirational RHS garden in North Devon) and thought I might be interested in them (which of course I was!). Their Autumnal colours are like a Russet Apple - they are in fact a cross between an Apple and a Rosehip, but taste a bit like banana and caramel custard (apparently). If you want to find out how to make jelly with them, Nigel Slater has quite a bit to say about them here.

I've been printing these (and recycling a few frames I found).

as well as making these!

I've a last minute space to exhibit here next week (thanks Sarah!)
So do come along if you're in Wales, and please can it stop raining..!

(special thanks to Pete and Bec for the Pomaceous drupes :)
...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

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Monday, 19 November 2012

Colour from the season - Carline Thistle yellow

The tough and very prickly Carline Thistle (Carlina Vulgaris) can be found in sand dunes and dry banks and pastures around the U.K. Like most thistles it has pink/purple petals when in flower, which I think leave an even more attractive skeletal form and colours when the flower dies. Yellow and grey  look great together and these golden yellows and warm grey are especially harmonious, in fact they're colours I can really live with and I enjoyed drawing this thistle - great walk too...

Pencil Sketch, first page of a new sketchbook !

Carline Thistle, brushes, Hella Jongerius vase, inky drawing stick, empty beetroot jar(?!) and a Rook and Pheasant feather.

Saunton Sands last week. Over three miles of sandy beach nearly deserted in winter - Fabulous !

If you like this post - you can subscribe to Planet Sam by email :) here.

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The little things - Postcard from Monty!

The little things in life that make the difference...

....Bloomin' heck! my Monterey Cone has taken off with a life of its own and is travelling all over the world with a little help from Pinterest. I don't do Pinning as I'm told it's quite addictive(!) and it took me long enough to give up smoking.

So - even though I read Leo Babauta's post "Untrack: Letting go of the Stress of Measuring" (Zen Habits) only today and I am mostly almost fully (!) in agreement with untracking - has to be admitted that it did give me a bit of a warm feeling that it's so well thought of - 3,000 page views today! ..x

x (one more for luck)
...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Colour from the Season - Chrysanthemum Spider yellow

One of the reasons I'm feeling cheery is because the Spider Chrysanthemums I've been nurturing since May have just started flowering. These are like small explosions of yellow brightening up the greenhouse and that's just the start - I'm expecting orange, pink and even green Spiders right up until Christmas. I briefly considered drawing a real spider to go alongside these blooms as there was quite a big one in the sink at my studio this morning, but decided I'd rather not get that close..!

blow away the cobwebs  (British & Australian)
to do something which makes you feel less tired or bored, especially to spend time outside in the fresh air
Usage notes: Cobwebs are made by spiders (= small insects with 8 legs) and are usually found in rooms or places that no one uses very much.
A stroll along the cliffs will blow away the cobwebs.

(or..Drawing Chrysanthemums while watching outtakes from "Keep Your Head Up" - Ben Howard) 

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The little things - a new pencil

The little things in life that make the difference...

 I the only person who can't find a pencil when I need one? (unless it's a 3" stub or an H lead!)

So, I'm feeling very pleased today with my new clutch pencil :) which should always be the same lead and length (KEEP OFF)!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Colour from the Season - Schizostylis pink

The colour of this Schizostylis cultivar is an icy pink, quite a brilliant sight in November. They were in flower at Buckfast Abbey when I was there last week - (though this one came from my garden - honestly!)...

I was at the Abbey because I'm working on a number of illustration projects with Buckfast Media Studio leading up to the Abbey's Millennium celebrations in 2018. Buckfast is the U.K's only Monastery which still exists on exactly the site recorded in the Domesday book. It's a very tranquil and beautiful place - the name Buckfast meaning where deer can feel safe...

The Millennium logo - one of three logos I've designed for the Abbey and Media Studio.

Buckfast Abbey (photo by Luke Davies).

Autumn colour in the grounds.

Schizostylis in the Abbey gardens.

If you like this post - you can subscribe to Planet Sam by email :) here.

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Colours of the Month - October

These October colours were so easy to put together, it left me wondering if maybe I'd got it wrong. When things fit together without much effort, it can seem that something's missing, or it should have been given more consideration. So, I left it for a while to get a clearer perspective, but in the end decided that this selection and composition was exactly right.

Autumnal and quite retro browns from the conker, still one of my favourite notebook drawings; The grey of the Great Tit, reminds me of stormy skies on some of October's worst days and its feather yellow of the sun on some of its best; The deep red of the Planet Rose made me smile on just such a grey day; A little more yellow from the berries of the Cotoneaster tree and Acorns which remind me that "mighty things from small beginnings grow" (John Dryden)...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Colour from the season - Pepper green

Sorry if anyone has a soft spot for peppers! this sweet Italian variety namely Corno Rosso is a bit strung up. Not enough sunshine in North Devon this year to turn it even slightly red - even in the greenhouse (I know the feeling!)

As green is set to be hugely influential in the design world in the next year or two (according to trend forecasters Global Colour Research), I thought I'd make a few colour notes of my own as a useful 'Greens' reference...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Colour from the Season - Lavender green

...dilly dilly
(or, those are the words that spring into my mind next to Lavender green!).

The two main shades of green sampled from the Lavender leaves in my garden. A simple notebook page - and very calming to draw...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Colour from the season - Planet Rose Red

Time to change the subject. Enough of dead things, at least for the time being and a focus on something splendidly alive.

Walking with Chip and daydreaming on Planet Sam a couple of days ago, the sheer beauty of this late flowering rose brought my attention back to earth.

Researching what it might be, I came across names such as High Flier, Crimson Sky and Crimson Cascade (Crimson Cascade the most likely match by the way), but somehow attaching such pedestrian names as these to this incredible, slightly frost burned, deeply saturated crimson red rose  - just spoiled the romance of it.  So I've called it Planet Rose red...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Colour from the season - Jay blue

This handsome Jay measured a foot long from head to tail! A member of the Crow family yet so much more colourful. Still warm when I found it, its eyes were open and had an unexpected intensely pale blue iris.

Had we been driving along that stretch of road a few minutes earlier or later, it would almost certainly not have been there. In the short time it took to pull over, a Crow tried to carry him off lifting him out of the ditch into the path of oncoming traffic. So, a rare opportunity to study and make a note of the truly extraordinary colours that I found in the plumage of the Jay...

These exquisitely drawn prints by the French artist Edouard Traviés are in Treriefe House, Cornwall. I saw them when I exhibited my work there in August during Cornwall Design Fair and found them inspirational.

Another Traviés image - of a Jay (c. 1854).

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook

Monday, 8 October 2012

Colour from the Season - Great Tit yellow

Not all my colours have been exactly seasonal. I've drawn feathers, lichen, shells etc. when I've discovered interesting and beautiful forms and colours and thought them worth recording. My dad loved birds and often encouraged me to draw them. Since his death earlier this year, by chance, I've been given a number of dead birds to draw. While it's sad that these birds have died, it's an opportunity to draw and document them and learn about their anatomy through studying them, which would be impossible in quite the same way from a photograph.

This is a Great Tit, sent to me last week by a friend who found it in their studio, quite a bit bigger and more aggressive looking than a Blue Tit. I drew him last week before going for a short holiday (camper vanning!) in St. Ives. On the last stretch of road before arriving back home today, lay a dead Jay...

The first pencil and acrylic sketch.

The second (one handed) sketch.

finished second sketch - again acrylic and pencil.

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...from my seasonal Colour sample notebook.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Colours of the month - September

Autumn is here and it feels like the chance of an Indian Summer has probably passed, nights are drawing in and there's a chill in the air. I thought I'd focus on some of September's more fiery colours to warm myself up a bit.

Sloe black and blue, if you're making Sloe Gin or Vodka this year, now may be the time to do it; Blackberry reds, green and of course black; Chrysanthemum's burnt reds; Dahlia (My Love) whites and finally the warm brown of the Bulrush...

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Colour from the Season - White Poplar white

This might seem a miserable little twig to add to my notebook pages - but I carried it all over London and then it spent two days in the car - let me explain!

Last Saturday, I happened to be on Hampstead Heath in London. If you haven't been there, I can tell you that the views from Parliament Hill across London are spectacular - protected by law in fact.
Down the hill, along a bit and I looked up because a White Poplar in the late afternoon sun caused me to stop to absorb the incredible beauty of its leaves and colour. This half dead and partially mildewed twig has little of that moment where Parrots (yes, really) were flying across a blue sky (yes, really!) and a breathtaking and contrasting industrial skyline on the horizon. I wanted to remember something of that moment, hence the twig.

The white is not quite white - it's the whitest tree in the landscape yet branch and leaf are in fact very very pale grey green...

(we spend so much time looking down and across - don't forget to look up!)

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Colour from the season - Bulrush brown

This Bulrush is in fact a Reed Mace, as everyone (apparently) misnames it, I thought I might as well too.

Whichever name it goes by, the sun was glancing off the burnt sienna heads and rich ochre leaves of this smaller slightly less invasive version in a friends pond in Bristol, so thanks Marion for letting me cut one off (there were only six). Fabulous colours for an interior design project perhaps ?! - that gold ochre is incredible!

A new profile photo as friends thought they were on the wrong blog/were worried about my sanity - so minus the specs (for the time being)...

(whilst listening to the album 'Here' by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - just got blasted with rainbow colours on their site - watch out for that!)

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...from my seasonal colour sample notebook.