Still Life: Houseplants (2020)


What I enjoyed about the most recent Kick-About prompt was the way Leger’s painting encouraged immediacy and directness – a sort of ‘first pass, job done’ flourish that meant lingering too long on any subject wasn’t quite the ticket. I also appreciated a chance to occupy a more domestic space – nothing metaphysical to see here, ladies and gents! Our kitchen is stuffed full of house plants – I look at them many times a day, every day. They are as part of the fixtures and fittings of our kitchen as the cutlery and plates. With this in mind, I wanted to make them the subject of my offering this week, and also to try a new technique first brought to my attention by fellow kick-abouter, Charly Skilling – drawing onto ceramic tiles with Sharpie markers, and then spritzing the drawings with alcohol to encourage them to bleed and soften to pleasingly impressionist effect. To be honest, I worked up these studies super-fast and without any fuss or forethought and just really enjoyed what the process itself was giving back. Given the knock-about informality of the technique, it amused me a bit to dial-up the formality with some tasteful frames, imagining these ill-disciplined little drawings on the walls of some tasteful interior.



Up-close, there’s so much activity and texture in these tiny unstable explosions of colour and subject, I couldn’t resist abstracting everything a little further.



Throwback Friday #12 Eschscholzia californica


A roar of Summer at the end of the week! In common with lots of my plant photography, I don’t know when these portraits of Eschscholzia californica were taken, but at some point in the early 2000s. I know where they were taken – in the garden of a post office in rural Lincolnshire, and on 35mm film. Californian poppies are a personal favourite of mine, for the delicacy of their satin-like blooms and their ferny sea-glass-coloured foliage.



Night Flyers #2


Lilium ‘Night Flyer’ in the late afternoon sun was an impressive sight – nearly black flowers revealing the deepest, richest reds and licks of orange flame. Lilium ‘Night Flyer’ in the early morning after the night’s rain, lit by the soft-box of the clouds, was something else again; black petals reflecting white, droplets of water like garnet beads, and anthers like moist chocolate orange eclairs.



Ox-eye Daisies


Another trip out into the luxuriant froth of the Kent countryside yesterday evening to locate and photograph an entire field of ox-eye daisies – or Leucanthemum vulgare if you’re feeling fancy. The sunlight was milky and yellow and the effortless pointillism of the meadow was another impressionists’ delight!



Bud Burst Final


As I type this bit of preamble, the swallows are screeching overhead, a fat wood pigeon is hoo-hooing insistently -if melodically – and a blackbird is trilling away like a happy milkman. It’s been very sunny, very warm, and our garden’s bobbing asteroid-belt of alliums is winking out, globe-by-starry globe, their purple colour desaturating and their flowers giving way to bulbous seed capsules that resemble little green pumpkins. It’s been quite a show, and the ending of it means the garden is moving towards a hotter, racier palette. Fireworks to follow!



Perfect Papery Things


We’ve got several great big clumps of Astrantia major – or Greater Masterwort – growing in the garden. It has just come into flower, though ‘flowers’ don’t quite describe the perfect papery things sitting above the foliage. They manage to be both very old-fashioned seeming and also architectural, a bit scruffy, but neatly appointed. Their green tips, green venation and translucency make them very photogenic, but they’re let down by their scent, which to my nostrils smells like cat shit you haven’t discovered yet. I think we can see this in the difference between the plant’s latin name, Astrantia major, which sounds rather lovely and important-seeming, and its common name, Masterwort, which sounds like a mildly unpleasant character imagined by Mervyn Peake.



Throwback Friday #4 Anemones Anonymous


I can’t tell you the year these photographs were taken, somewhere between 2003 and 2005. I can tell you they were taken in the front garden of a rural Lincolnshire post-office and that they’re De caen anemones. I can likewise tell you these photographs were taken on 35mm film. This is the thing about plants – the closer you get to them, the more extraordinary they are. I do remember when I first saw these images, how the common-or-garden reality of their subject slipped away, leaving me instead with milky nebulas and strange, hirsute planets orbited by pillow-shaped asteroids…



Bud Burst Contd


A few posts back I shared these images of the alliums in my garden on the cusp of bursting their buds. There should have been a whole series of audible pops when they finally did their thing, releasing seemingly impossible numbers of tiny purple ‘flames’, destined to open up to form hemispheres of stars. In truth, it’s difficult to stop photographing them so apologies in advance!


This is a different variety of allium, a ‘globemaster’ I think, but looks like a dragon egg from Game of Thrones.
Taken this afternoon, Allium jesdianum (note unfolding stars) plus some impressionist smudges of Geranium phaeum ‘Samobor’.