Monday, 12 January 2015

Conker Shells

"Oh my goodness! How I have missed your smoothness you gorgeous little piece of vellum you! You are my world and I love you very, very much"... I squeal as my brush caresses the skin with the most delicate of touches. The quiet plucking of harp strings gently fills the space of the darkened room. Tiny beams of bright light shine through the partially closed window shutters forming little stairways to heaven all around my desk. One stairway dances with the plumes of steam rising up from my large tea cup. Travelling in opposite directions they meet in the middle and embrace. 

Conker Shells (Aesculus hippocastanum) on vellum

I rapidly clap my hands and shriek in delight! Another brief moment of ecstasy as a moist blob of paint takes its journey across the polished surface flawlessly. I am home alone, and feel as though I can make as much noise as I like. No one will ever know what is happening in my darkened bedroom. Shutters down I am in a world of my own.

Conker Shells (Aesculus hippocastanum) on vellum

Today is a particularly sunny day. The frosty lawn in the garden below is being hastily thawed and the withered Wisteria at the foot of my window pane is exhausted. In it's last breath it has decided to shed it's seeds all over the driveway. Between brief silent interludes one can hear a loud cracking sound from the other side of the glass veil as the pods crash to the floor, releasing their seed in an explosion of utter desperation. They look like Galaxy Minstrels, but are probably poisonous as ricin. Days like this are glorious, but the intensity of the white light is too difficult to paint in, which is why the front shutter is partially closed. The aperture on the eastern facet is open however, bestowing not only the right type of light, but also revealing a breathtaking view of the Sierra Nevada.

Conker Shells (Aesculus hippocastanum) close up

The snowy peaks trickle down the harsh jagged slopes like milk. From the peaks, the energy of the ice seems to radiate out until it touches the roof tops of the houses that are about 30 minutes closer. Olive wood smoke rises from a chimney and smothers the summit in a shroud of filthy Turner's Yellow. 

Conker Shells (Aesculus hippocastanum) close up
"Yellow! That's what it needs..." I realise as I busily mix the greys for my velvety conker shell. Capturing the textures and colours that cover the walls of this concave vessel has been particularly gruelling, but raptured by the tussle, I am taking much delight in the slog. 


  1. Hi Jess

    What lovely work on vellum (and the Plane Tree on paper - beautiful too), so refined in its range of hues, and the microcosmic landscape of the detail is an enchanting display of artistic devotion. Lovely to view.

    Looking forward to seeing you demonstrate on the forth coming Rory documentary.


    1. Thanks Coral! It was so lovely going back to vellum after my Saunders Waterford. It was like a little treat. Might have to pop into Cowleys and get some more!

      It's been ages since I logged on and did some reading - I have so much to catch up on. I am going to read your blog now I have completed my projects and can fully devote myself to your prose. Looking forward to it - another treat.

      Best wishes,


  2. This is gorgeous Jess! not seen the finished piece and just stumbled across this post in Google images. . Hope you will do more work on vellum soon