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.

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