Earlier this month I was fortunate to be in Southern Italy, teaching at the wonderful Masseria della Zingara. We had a great week exploring the land around the Masseria, walking the lanes, collecting things to use in the studio and using various techniques to record our experience. We collected, printed, stained, wrote, stitched, wove, folded . . . and ate!
Spring was in full swing (which it certainly isn’t yet here in the UK!) and we were surrounded by fruit trees in blossom, beautiful wild flowers and a green lushness that I’m sure will have gone once the temperatures rise later in the year. The wonderful red earth in that part of Italy provides a striking foil for the colours of growth. And of course my travel reading had to be The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, which provides the story for one of my favourite films, a must-see at this time of year.
> I’ve been watching my tulips, I mean really watching them, and the change is incredible.
These green buds slowly appeared from the midst of the unfurling origami-like leaves
And then somehow they change into these bright intense colours.
Its never before struck me how that change occurs. I assumed, if I’d though about it at all, that the buds were made up of sepals (I think that’s the right word) that fell away when the petals inside opened up, like some flowers do. Poppies, for instance, have a green bud covering that is peeled away when the petals burst it open. But no, these buds change slowly from green
acquire a hint of the colour to come
which slowly spreads
until the bud is a subdued version of the open flower colour
and then when its ready and with some sun it opens up.
I’ve watched butterflies emerge from their chrysalis and then pump up their soggy, crumpled wings, filling them with colour and strength. This seems like a similar but slower process – absolute magic!
The colours in the garden appear different depending on the weather and light conditions, so the sketch at the top of this post was yesterday afternoon after a day of heavy rain showers and generally overcast skies so that the garden was dominated by a glaucous green. Then this morning with bright sunshine to open up the flowers and bring an entirely different light to the greens and the shadows the same view looked like this: