The weather has turned. Rain and grey skies and, underfoot, mud. Even the breaks between showers are generally gloomy but that always makes me want to head for the woods. So, at the weekend, we did.
I love the woods when it's damp. All you can hear at this time of year is the river flowing by and the birds singing and darting about. We took Joe bug hunting, as he'd been given a worksheet to fill in for his homework. Not that I agree with four-year-olds being given homework, but that's how it is and we make the best of it.
We didn't actually collect any insects but we saw plenty and had a good close-up look at them. Ladybirds and spiders mostly. The butterflies were too quick for us (Joe doesn't do 'sneaking up' just yet). But he was taken with the bluebells. If you take a little-used path up a steep bank, the ground is absolutely covered with them.
The rain had made everything seem that much greener, too - a perfect foil. There's something about this particular spot just after the rain: a tiny stream babbling away, ferns unfurling, long grass and the pale trunks of the birches. You could smell the bluebells too.
Returning to the river bank, a very different scent greeted us: pungent wild garlic, now in full flower but probably past its best for eating purposes. I noticed a lot of other interesting-looking plants for pressing and printmaking. I'll head back tomorrow to collect some.
Speaking of printmaking, I've not been feeling particularly creative of late. But yesterday I ordered some supplies for a new project, and put some line drawings together for monotype prints.
One of the things I like the most about printmaking is that it's such a resourceful, low-waste method of making art. I keep all my old junk mail and written-on paper for blotting. Mono prints can be reused for making line drawings, which can in turn be traced for monotypes. Pressed stems can be recycled over and over again until they literally fall to bits.
Monotype printing appeals to me because I like the simplicity of it and the slightly messy quality - imperfect and blurred and blotchy. A bit of a departure from my usual controlled, painstakingly tidy approach to drawing and illustration. You never quite know what you'll end up with when you're making monotypes.
I'd like to do some more drawings for prints. And perhaps have a look through my sketchbooks to see if there's anything which I could take and adapt.
I'm starting to feel creative again after that little blip. This is how it goes. Sometimes you don't feel inspired, or you doubt your abilities. Those are the times when I concentrate on admin and the like. The dull but necessary. But it's always a relief when the ideas and - more importantly - the inclination return.