Have you been following the media coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show, I'm not going to be there in person but I've enjoyed looking at photos of the gardens and displays while I've been packing a big order for greetings cards for the Conchord Festival. From what I've seen, there's a lot of zingy colour this year and orange seems to be 'in', geums, verbascums, irises and those very sexy orange foxgloves on Andy Sturgeon's 'Best in Show' garden.
So it seems I was 'on trend' when I chose a vivid shade of saffron for my linocut illustration for Frank Ronan's column about the summer heat in California and two native poppies that enjoy the baking temperatures - the huge white Matilija Poppy and the orange Californian Poppy.
I began with sketches of both, getting to know the shapes of the petals; and I made a quick sketch of an idea for the composition.
I then worked more on the composition - using negative and positive shapes I could place the white poppies on one side and the orange on the other, joining them together with the rocky canyon landscape and sizzling mid-day sun.
It needed something to focus the attention and add a quirky touch - I imagined the scene and in my head heard the rustle of dry leaves as a lizard scurried out of view - that's it! So I added a little Californian Alligator Lizard.
And then . . . Oooops! do you see what I did there? I flipped my design on the tracing paper then I flipped it back again and without even realising I cut the block and finished the print as a mirror image of my rough design. AND I didn't notice until I was showing a customer my sketchbook on my stall at a craft fair. Oh well, we all have our 'embarrissing moment'. And the composition still looks OK, even though it's back to front!
There are no Matilija Poppies, Romneya coulteri, in our garden (though I know some people grow them in the UK) but I do have a few Californian Poppies grown from seeds from Ben at Higgledy Garden . . .
The variety is Eschscholzia 'Ivory Castle' and petals are like expensive wedding dress fabric.
So my Californian poppies aren't the fashionable zingy orange but I do grow another lovely orange coloured poppy, Papaver atlanticum, the Atlas Poppy, which is a beautiful shade of earthy pale orange.
I think this is my 'signature plant', I love how it seeds itself into just the right spot and then the transient flowers (each lasts no more than 2 days) on tall wire thin and almost invisible stems, seem to float above the foliage like vivid butterflies.
Before I finish, if you're interested in original prints here's a date for your diaries:
The Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale takes place from 22nd to 28th September. I'm excited to have been selected to take part and I'm also doing a demonstration on hand-burnished linocuts - details on the web site. The exhibition and all the talks and demonstrations are free of charge, though you need to book a ticket for the talks (and you need to be quick to grab one)so, I recommend keeping an eye on the web site/facebook/twitter for updates of when the tickets go live.
And the next thing on my work list is . . . Christmas Cards (not joking) the fabulous wildflower charity Plantlife have once again asked me to design some cards for them.
Hope you all enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend
PS: I'll try to do a non-work-related blog next time.