It was back August that I received Frank Ronan's article for the November edition of Gardens Illustrated magazine, Frank is writing about plants to enliven a winter garden, a subject that has been covered in many TV programmes, books and articles . . . but interestingly he takes a different perspective - and it's one I'll share with you for the Making Winter blog hop organised by Emma aka Silverpebble - so if you crave ideas to brighten gloomy days, hop on over!
But first, I'll quickly tell you my inspiration for the composition of my illustration . . .
I had only a few days to come up with an idea for my linocut illustration, before I headed off for almost 3 weeks in the south of France. As usual, I sat down, carefully read Frank's words and looked up reference for all the plants he mentions - feathery yellow grasses, shiny red thorns, scented winter flowering shrubs, etc. But the editor had specifically requested "something atmospheric"
"you want to be drawn outdoors in the winter; to go and look for things and see and smell whether they are doing what they should"
I'd just visited the Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the much aclaimed exhibition of Eric Ravilious paintings and there were two that I'd spent a long time looking at, intrigued by how the subtle marks and textures – they were full of light and atmosphere . . .
"Interior at Furlongs"
The memory of these to Ravilious paintings was floating in the back of my mind as I worked on this linocut. And to continue the 'Bardfield Group' homage, when I needed a focus in the foreground I added a cat – in the spirit of all the cats that inhabit many of, Ravilious's friend, Edward Bawden's domestic pictures.
Re-reading Frank's thoughts in the gloom of an overcast and foggy November day this week, I decided to take his advice:
"the weather always seems so much worse from inside than it is when you emerge, so you might be stuck there until March were it not for a few judiciously placed things that can catch the momentary light and make you drop your work and draw you out"
From the bedroom window I'd spotted some vibrant pinky-gold leaves – outside they shone even brighter!
After being outside for a few minutes the light really did seem as brighter! A patch of vivid yellow drew me further into the garden - our small Witch Hazel bush's leaves had turned sulphur yellow edged with copper. Looking closely I could see lots of tiny round flower buds which will open early in the New Year and fill the air with their fragrance.
I hope I've convinced you to venture outside on even the dullest of days – it really does make winter brighter