Weather is very changeable in the Norwegian mountains and although mid-summer, it can snow. This can make it difficult not only in choosing species to paint, but also finding them and making sketches in the open.
I still. hadn’t decided which species I was going to choose to follow up on, although I did have a rough idea. A lot depended on how easy it would be for me to access the plants and whether I could find them in the vicinity of the cottage we rented each year.
Several of the plants I had been thinking about had fairly small fruit and elements of the plants were also very small. How was I going to display this? One plant had large leaves and two had very tiny leaves. Some plants lived in very boggy areas, several had access to water but the roots weren’t lying in water, and one was happiest in dry areas such as sandy pine forests. Some of them intermingled.
How was I going to work this out? I wanted an exhibit that drew together seven different plants into a whole.
I started by just sketching mountain plants with fruit that were edible (not toxic). This started my several-year long period of ‘Constructive Procrastination’!
I started painting the final pieces in 2021 after moving back to Norway.
Today, my sketch pages are rather a mess. They started out beautifully organised, but as time has progressed, I have added more sketches, more information, and more colour matching. This means that my sketch book is now not a beautiful work of art but a tool to get enough information for completing a final composition.
This is the first page in the sketchbook I kept for this series. You can see the very first sketch of the cloudberry leaf that I did in 2014 whilst teaching at Åsgårdstrand. In later years I was able to add both male and female flowers actual size and enlarged dissections. BUT, I was stupid enough to forget to get all the measurements and have spent the last two summers chasing to find the relevant pieces at the right time of year.
I had other pages with Cloudberry sketches including research done on the net, and referencing different photos I had taken, but none gave me all the information I needed!
It took me years to catch up on this plant as every year is so different. One can’t guarantee that flowering will happen at the same time each year, or, as in this case that you find both sexes of flower. One year, we had planned our trip from the UK to coincide with a roughly general fruit picking time for this plant. But when we got up to the cottage, everything was long over as it had been a very hot summer.
I am telling you this here as it shows how important it is to get all the necessary information when you are doing the sketches.
Each year we rented the same cottage in the mountains for a two-week period. I spent the whole time sketching and painting, when we weren’t out hunting for specimens or picking fruit.
By 2018 I had not been lucky enough to find any fruit since starting the project in 2014.
One day we were out picking Bilberries when below me I saw a couple walking along a path with two bulging plastic bags full of something orange. I knew immediately what they were and rushed down to ask the stupid question ‘where did you find these’? I knew full well no-one gives up the location of their ‘mountain gold’ – a name used for Cloudberry fruit. But luckily enough when I explained what I wanted them for, they gave me two berries. The above sketch is those two berries. My husband had never even tasted them at that point, so they became a treat for him!
This will continue 2 April 2023
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