I have an allotment at the Roedale Valley site in a very pretty valley right at the back of Brighton, flanked by woods on one side and the municipal golf course on the other. It’s pretty inconvenient having more than half your garden a mile or more away but there’s some magic about allotments that is uniquely theirs. They straddle the boundary between wild and cultivated and are very rich in wildlife because of the abundance of food and nesting sites. If you’re not gardening you can find a robin on your knee taking raisins from your hand, witness a kestrel raiding a nest box, find grass snakes and lizards and watch foxes prowling. If I get there early enough in Spring I am greeted by a hearty dawn chorus, and I can sit with a cup of tea and watch the occasional ship pass across the distant V of the English Channel.
I have, painfully slowly, been working on an allotment project, doing drawings, watercolours and (eventually) oils and acrylics, for a show in September at 35North Gallery . The video above shows a watercolour study, done on an Arches, Not, gummed pad, worked up from various drawings done on site, using some of the common elements of an allotment: sheds, fruit cages, polytunnels, plastic chairs, water butts etc. I’ve used the usual lazy green, as in White Nights green, with transparent yellow and cerulean blue, transparent red oxide, cobalt teal, the gorgeous transparent pyrrole orange (in the top forty from Handprint). Also yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and one or two of Derwent’s Graphik Line Painters , which are great, truly opaque, acrylic pens