|Sketchbook page: My Windowsill Collection, 10" x 8".|
One of my habits (which my husband finds charmingly eccentric, so much so that he now joins me in this eccentricity) is to collect curious odds and ends on my nature walks--objects such as dried seed pods, twigs, mushrooms, a tiny bird's nest, a shed snakeskin--for future study and perhaps sketching. These objects are displayed on my studio windowsill (and his office), making for some interesting conversation pieces, and some find their way into my paintings before they disintegrate.
A few weeks ago, while it was snowing and outside temperatures were in the single digits, I sat down with my sketchbook to try out ways to render one of my favorite little treasures: a skeletonized daylily seedpod. Every year I find dozens of these from my Stella d'Oro daylilies and collect the best ones; the lacy veins are just beautiful!
My first try in watercolor didn't work quite the way I had hoped, so I switched to colored pencils to try again. That version proved more successful, so I moved onto one of the mushrooms that had dried and become mummified on the windowsill.
I have several of these dried mushrooms of various sizes, the spores under the caps of these all have settled into very unusual patterns as they dried. I'm not sure this drawing of the small mushroom quite communicates. The geometric spore patterns are seen in the larger mushroom on the right, a more satisfying rendering. The colors all reflect the neutral tones of the season.
|Venus Flytrap (Dionea muscipula) colored pencil sketch, 4" x 5"|
About a week ago while I was shopping at our local Lowe's I saw these tiny Venus Flytrap plants on sale, and on a whim, I bought one. My plant is very small, its rosette no larger than three and a half inches across. As a child, when I first heard about the Venus Flytrap, I had imagined--as many folks who have never seen one in real life and only know of it from horror movies--that it would be the size of a pineapple plant (growing up in the tropics I was familiar with this plant)--large enough to lure a small mammal into one of its traps. In reality, the plant is quite small, ants and spiders are its primary food source; flies or perhaps a small frog are about as large an animal as it can manage. Still, its fascinating carnivorous habit and the curious triggering mechanism of its traps has given the plant a strange mythical appeal ever since it was discovered in Colonial times.
I saw and photographed quite a few Venus Flytrap plants on a botanical excursion to North Carolina's bogs a few years back. Those plants were lush and well-nourished, with rosettes some five to six inches across, and many were in bloom. The flowers are white with delicate green veining, and the top of the stalk is held well above the level of the leaves, so as not to trap its pollinators.
|Venus Flytrap flower|
|Venus Flytrap (Dionea muscipula) from North Carolina|
Venus Flytraps are known to be difficult to grow, and I don't expect mine to last very long--I'm keeping in in a saucer filled with distilled water, since our water is so alkaline. But I'm hoping to get a painting of the Venus Flytrap done before my live model succumbs.