Spring Garden Lockdown

Spring Garden Lockdown
David A. Evans
2020, oil on canvas board, 7x5in. Plein air.


Lockdown in the UK has begun with the warmest day so far this year. I take a tour of my mother's garden and discover that spring has coaxed a wide variety of flowers to show their colourful heads. It provides me the motivation to grab my plein air kit and have a go at painting flora.  

As I paint, I listen to birdsong. They come and go like acts on a stage. There are the ravens that have nested on the very top of an elm tree a few gardens down. They caw a throaty gargle that suddenly builds. A buzzard comes into slow circling view and the ravens rise up to tackle it in midair. A blur of clashing wings, then the commotion passes and the ravens settle again. A red kite swoops in, squeals a few notes, then drifts towards more open farmland where the buzzard has gone - I always see them together; I think they are friends.

The wings of a fritillary butterfly look like the splodges of burnt sienna on my palette. It suns itself upon green leaves, untroubled. Bumblebees are now making passes at the flowers before me. Flies are building in their numbers. Next door, a blackbird perches upon a small, stringy tree and sings. Then comes a dipper, a great tit, then a robin. All seeming to choose the same branch. All staying for about the same time. A rattling puts me on my toes and I search a far tree with my binoculars. In the branches stripped of bark, I find a great spotted woodpecker, his pate a bright cadmium red. He taps out the beat as the other birds continue to come and go.

I didn't really concentrate on my painting. I sort of painted in a trance to the sounds around me. Now looking at the blossom, I think I see where the birdsong went.  


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