So yesterday I started thinking about the colour set for the red cabbage leaf painting. If I were to use the closest colours I could get to the ones printers use in three colour printing, I could use them in two alternative combinations of warm and cool. But this morning as I was trying a few swatches, it occurred to me that I could get closer to the purple red I need by using alizarin crimson. Then a couple of experiments with the two blues moved me towards French ultramarine which gives a warmer touch. But there are also many browns and greens to be got and sticking with my three tube resolution I tested cadmium orange and Indian yellow. Why bother? Why not just open a different tube for every colour I can see? Well, because it’s far less interesting and it costs a fortune and I don’t need to work that way. I’m just an apprentice, and I just learn a lot more by using a restricted palette. Didn’t I learn all this at art school decades ago? No I didn’t because art schools went through a long phase of treating technique with great suspicion. Imagine a conservatoire that didn’t allow students to practice scales because it might disrupt their inner musicality? That was what art schools were like in the seventies – ideas were supposed to emerge untroubled by anything resembling skill. I’ve no idea whether things have changed, but if I were offered that kind of education on a huge loan I’d think twice.
Anyway, today was meant to be a drawing day because the forecast was for rain, but it didn’t rain and so we went up to the allotment and while Madame sowed peas – douce Provence do well over the winter – I dug up strawberry offsets and planted them out in their new bed. It’s a little late to be doing it but if they get their roots down and we have a decent autumn we’ll have new plants for free and we can give many of the fruit bushes more space when we move them.
It’s been a good year for Jays – we saw six together yesterday, but todays unusual sighting was a parakeet. We heard it first, and then caught sight of its brilliant green plumage. Sadly we also noticed that someone has nicked a bag of compost – there’s obviously a thief on the site, but very little we can do about it. I’m cooking pork shoulder in cider tonight, with pommes dauphinoise and chard off the allotment. If this is brief it’s because I’m knackered. The only thing we could do to prevent any more compost being stolen was to get it all on to the beds – which involved much heavy lifting. As I was prepping the new strawberry bed I noticed that the worm population has exploded since last year – good news and confirmation that all this emphasis on organic matter is paying off. Not so, sadly, with the leeks which have been struck down for the second year running by allium leaf miner. There are just a couple of plots that haven’t been affected but the variety doesn’t seem to matter. Next year we’ll have to think whether leeks are one crop we should give up for a year or two.
I’ve ordered second hand copies of Gerard’s and Culpeper’s herbals – Gerard was only 17p so well worth a try. Culpeper just arrived and that’s where I’m off next.