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“Spring~ the music of open windows”
Terri Guillemets

Spring has finally arrived in a burst of blue skies, blossoms and bumblebees. 

I love this time of year when the world awakes from it’s winter sleep and new life begins. Gardeners and Botanical artists are eternal optimists, dreaming and planning for the months ahead. 
It’s a very busy time of year.
Bees have been on my mind quite a lot in recent weeks.

In Spring, the new queen bees emerge from hibernation. Each queen needs 6000 flowers a day to build up enough energy reserves to start a new hive.

 Last month I went to the Pollinators Symposium at the National Biodiversity Data Centre  with a vague idea that sometime in the future, I would like to create a series of paintings highlighting the relationship between plants and insects. I wanted to learn more about this topic. I came away feeling so inspired and motivated to get involved. Bees really need our help. So I’ve signed up to become a Bee Monitor
To become a bee monitor, all you need to do is to agree to give an hour your time each month (March-October) to go on a designated Bee Walk of your choosing, and record the bees that you see. You will need to do a little bit of homework beforehand to become familiar with all the different types of bees around, but there are plenty of ID charts online. The data that is collected is vital to help scientists get a better picture of what is happening around the world to bee populations.
It’s not too late to get involved! There is also a similar UK scheme  here
If you aren’t able to commit to Bee Monitoring, then be more Bee Aware. Plant bee- friendly flowers in your garden and leave a strip of long grass with wild flowers in your garden.

Most importantly, STOP USING PESTICIDES.  

 Whilst there are restrictions on the chemicals that farmers spray on crops, a lot of the harmful products are sold to the general public in garden centres and hardware stores. There is no such thing as a selective pesticide. If it kills aphids, it kills bees. If you are unsure, here is a list of products to avoid- 

It hasn’t been all bees and buzzing though. Life has been a busy whirl of meetings and appointments recently, so I’ve reluctantly had to put aside the roses and paint something that won’t wilt or fade. Dried leaves and seed cases make wonderful subjects for those times when you only have a few hours to paint.
Building up the layers of colour in this old Horse Chestnut leaf.
There are more details of the progression on my facebook page
The deadline for the Botanical Art in Bloom is fast approaching, and so I decided to paint a couple of tiny vellum pieces and make a Conker painting triptych. Bloom is a fantastic event to be involved in, and last year’s event was a particularly joyful one for me. 
Two parts of the triptych. (Ignore the blue tape!)
To harmonise the painting, I’m sticking to the palette that I used in the conker painting~
 Cerulean, Cobalt violet, Indanthrene, Natural sienna (DS), Quinacridone gold deep (DS), Magnesium brown, Brown madder, Burnt Umber, Perylene maroon, Perylene Violet, Raw Umber, Transparent brown (DS) and my new favourite Moonglow (DS)

Planning out the composition… I still don’t know whether I will include the small conker, but it will certainly be repositioned for balance.
I’ve taken a bit of liberty with the stalk here as you can see, so that it added to the overall composition. As long as it is botanically correct, then it’s fine to use a bit of artistic licence. I’m still undecided by the small conker and will probably leave it out. Maybe.
I’ve still a fair bit to do on this conker case, but I’m excited by the abstract patterns emerging. 

The roses will be making an appearance once I’ve got this little triptych finished. I have a very busy month ahead, particularly as the Society of Botanical Artists will be having their annual exhibition in London. This year I will be giving a demo on vellum painting during the exhibition, so if you around Westminster on Friday 17th April, please come and say hello.
Life may be a buzz with new happenings, but it’s good.
I will leave you with this short video about bumble bees. Isn’t nature incredible?

“Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations. 
 It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.”

 Charles Dudley Warner

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