Poppies popping

There are early morning errands to do. There are new poppies open, and bees. Poppies and bees it is, then. That’s less frivolous than it seems – in an hour, the sun will have moved and the bees will have moved on. So I take my coffee outside, taking care to put it where it won’t become accidental paint water…

The dark red poppy that started this off is a great big saucer of a thing, face turned to the light, glossy bumble bee working its way around the bowl of the flower. When a bee settles, I divert from drawing the plant, wait until it’s in an interesting pose and draw it speedily, dotting in some colour before I return to petals.

I just miss a bee disappearing entirely into a tiny mauve poppy nearby. But there is wildlife – a stem embellished with greenfly. This poppy has only just unfurled, folds still visible on its petals. I’m glad of my sturdy handed-down watercolour paper for these. It can take pools of colour, darker tones dropped on. Even so, the heat is drying the watercolour quickly so this one takes two goes.

And then there’s a wonderfully messy morning poppy, double-headed, outer petals louche, fronds every which way, bee nuzzling into its frilly centre.

Its neighbour is deceptively-tidy – it’s part of a riot of 8am colour and light that needs drawing as waywardly as it behaves. Thank you, garden; thank you June.

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

Rose sketches from this project are available as greeting cards, from the Garden Museum shop in London and at Hackney Wick Underground.

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

What does our work sound like? The third episode of Studio Snack, my collaborative podcast with Narcis Sauleda, explores.