30 Days Wild – Day 15 – Mother’s Day

It’s Day 15 of 30 Days Wild and once again my plans for today’s theme took an unexpected turn. I had intended to do a review of the wildlife picked up on my trail cam that I’d left in my Dad’s garden overnight. His garden is packed with wildlife, but typically none of it chose to walk in front of the trail camera in the last 24 hours. However yesterday at Dad’s I’d found a little sketching notebook belonging to my Mum. One of the Random Acts of Wildness suggestions for 30 Days Wild is to “Unleash Your Inner Artist”. Well I’m not sure I’ve got an inner artist, but my Mum certainly had. I’d been thinking about her paintings on Day 12 of 30 Days Wild, when I’d taken a photo of a view with flowers in front which reminded me of her.  Then to cap it all I watched Springwatch tonight which had a couple of features from the Scilly Isles. My parents loved the Scillies and Mum painted a lot there. So today’s Act was reconnecting me with my Mum’s paintings and the Scilly Isles and through them with my mother herself.

The notebook is full of little sketches and watercolours of flowers. They are all just simple little pictures, intended I presume to jog her memory for the details when she later wanted to paint full paintings. But to me they are beautiful in their own right.

There is more to so many of them though than just a flat picture of a flower. She drew or painted them from different angles, front and back, to get the feel for the whole plant not just the obvious view.

She painted them in full flower in bud, clearly realising that in any natural group of flowers, they don’t all open at the same time.

Although not a great gardener, she clearly knew the names of a lot of the plants. The artist in her noted the subtle colour differences.

Mum made notes about the arrangements of the leaves around the stems and how they changed with age, which way they faced and how the group together might form a mound.

So many of them are dated, it looks like she was using this notebook in the early 1990s. Sometimes places were named too; my parents always went to the Scilly Isles in May, so even if it doesn’t always say, I can guess some of those dated May were painted there.

This is one of my favourite completed paintings – not taken from the notebook, but hanging on my wall. It is the view from Bryher looking across the water to Tresco. It may only look like a simple watercolour, but if you’ve ever been to the Isles of Scilly I reckon it would conjure up the view perfectly.

I know I am biased but I think Mum was rather good. Looking through her notebook and seeing not only her sketches, but her familiar handwriting and thinking of her and Dad on the Scilly Isles together was quite emotional.

It struck me looking through Mum’s notebook, that she had made these little sketches as an artist, but they could equally have been done by a botanist. Her eye for the details of the plant and the notes she made would have been perfectly at home in a naturalist’s notebook. As a child I was always interested in animals and nature and Mum was always very encouraging; but what hadn’t occurred to me until tonight was that I didn’t just get supported by her, maybe I got it all from her in the first place? So tonight’s post is for you Mum – thank you for everything. xxx

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