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In the Cornish garden - May

In the Cornish garden - May

The great swathes of bluebells and three cornered leek have pushed up through the warming earth to delight us here in the depths of Cornwall. May is one of the most promising months, and as the flowers begin to burst open, Summer feels very surely on its way. It has been very cold this month, and compared to last year, the garden is very behind. May Day was a very welcome sunny surprise, and I got out amongst the Spring colours to sketch and paint, and the sunshine on my back was so welcome.

My sketch book has become a nature journal, a visual display of the fleeting changes and growth. Collecting, observing and photographing helps me to build up a bank of information and imagery to work from. I have realised that drawing from life is so much more natural to me. Understanding the forms, and being able to study natures architecture is very helpful in being able to draw it. Since lockdown began, and life slowed, I became much more observant, and having a 5 year old who is at the perfect height for spotting all sorts of interesting things, we have become nature detectives! Accumulating knowledge of the natural world, does not happen overnight. It takes patience, focus and time - something that we have all had a lot of recently (the time part mostly!) The practice has given me a greater awareness of the seasonal rhythms of the plants and animals in our garden, and each day with the help my nature detective team, I learn something new. 

gouache nature painting cornish garden painting study
This time of year is about taking note of the new shoots bursting in to life, remembering all those surprise Spring and Summer shooting bulbs that I planted in the Autumn. We are surrounded by trees here, and the speed of their budding growth surprises me every year. In the blink of an eye, we are covered by our tree canopy. It astounds me to think about how our trees hold life deep within the branches all Winter. The reassuring cycles of nature keeps me grounded and reassured.  
GOUACHE WILD FLOWER PAINTING Fiona Leighton CORNISH NATURE ARTIST
My studio becomes absorbed in greenery at this time of year, and the green canopy brings lovely dappled shade to my studio in the early evening. Standing at my door at dusk in May is a magical experience. Robins, blackbirds, wrens, thrushes and finches are all defending the territory this month and attracting mates. Taking the time to observe my nest boxes, or watching bird activity in the trees fills me with joy. They work tirelessly to sculpt and line thier nest, and after the eggs are laid, they dedicate their time to feeding and nurturing their young. It is like watching motherhood in fast forward! 
We also welcomed back the Swallows this month, a joyful addition to our skies - a migrational feat that they take on every year from South Africa to Cornwall to delight us with their acrobatics and their high pitched song.
swallows gouache painting cornwall artist particle press
I am looking forward to bringing you the next instalment and observations from my Cornish Garden, surrounding fields and woodlands! See you in June!

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