Snails’ pace

Snails. They have a reputation for slowness. But after overnight rain they're making the most of a garden going over, edibles ready for last harvests and composting. I spot a yellowing squash leaf teeming with them. It's a bit like a one-minute pose in a life drawing class – swift marks, drawing the snails first before each one nips off somewhere else. I haven't made life easy for myself with my choice of paper, a rough surface, picked more for size than subject.

On the fennel I spot another little snail, and an exquisitely-beautiful slug. No, I wasn't expecting those words either... but there it is, translucent amber at the front, mauve at the back. As I look, I see that a tiny fly is piggy-backing, staying perfectly still even when the slug stretches its way down the stem.

As I nip into the kitchen I pass the chilli plant, full of holes now (though still with one last, magnificent chilli to harvest) and working their way around the edges of a leaf are a small, intricately-striped snail with a mini companion.

Like most gardeners, I have a love-hate relationship with my garden's slugs and snails. But spending time with these tiny tidiers as I draw, I get to appreciate their colours, patterns, shapes and textures as they get to work on the garden's leftovers.

Ballpen, watercolour and fineliner on handed-down watercolour paper.

Sketches from this project are available as greeting cards, from the Garden Museum shop in London, at Hackney Wick Underground, and here on Etsy, with prints to order.

On my Teemill shop, sketches on t-shirts and tote bags.