Saturday, 5 October 2013

sketchbook pages 2

And some fenugreek seeds,

I've put these pages up big because I'm trying to perfect scanning and file compression combinations so you get the maximum wandering about inside a picture without being a horrid big file, though I think Blogger makes you download things before you can do that nowadays.  (Feel free, by all means, if it tickles your fancy, everything I post here is on a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License, so you're welcome to do a mash-up with it and a photo of Prince Charles and a big potato, print it out onto stickers for your children to decorate their toy tractors and your nest of occasional tables with, but not so welcome to use it as advertising imagery for your new line in industrial-strength Cheesey Whoosits.)
Not there yet, it's very hard to reproduce any idea of the materiality of watercolour work using just photons, half the magic is in the mud, you see.

sketchbook pages 1

Some bacon-and-eggs....

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Time for some more not-science

Well,  here we are again with the marmite and the paint and the test-tubes and stuff.  It's because I want to draw some fenugreek, or methi, or Trigonella foenum-graecum, another beautiful and useful and fragrant plant.

I'm trying to get these fellas (fenugreek seeds) to grow, they sprout a bit and then die after about five days. So while I'm planting them out,  I'm wondering if I can encourage them to nodulate with their bacterial pals...

Do you like my Blue Peter Scool of Laboratory Equipment Test Tube Racks? And my fantastically inappropriate test tubes? I was going to make some agar to grow my seed in but the pressure cooker is full of chicken soup, maybe some other day....

So I got some of the soil and nodules and roots from some local sweetclover to see if I could innoculate my seeds' substrates. When it comes to the favourite flavour of bacteria, both plants are partial to a Sinorhizobium meliloti, I hear.

And here is my nonsense on the windowsill. In good company with the Winogradsky columns.

See the little purple one there? That's with the cobalt blue-violet paint, a tasty snack for S. meliloti.

Nonsense, like I say, I'm expecting my seeds to survive for another four or five days and then die.

Although as  a backup plan I might have a look at the sweetclover or Melilotis officinalis, which I've taken a real shine to on account of its gorgeous perfume and ability to sieze a shitty habitat. 

Here it is doing its phytoremediation work on the ash dump at Musselburgh.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

bog myrtle

 Owen and I went to Rannoch Moor to intrepidly hunt my bog myrtle. It's a fabulous place,  a complex blanket bog, a transition mire and a quaking bog.

What you don't really get an idea of from photos is exactly how boggy a bog is when you get there. You can't walk across this stuff, you have to leap gracefully from tussock to tussock and if you miss you're up to your neck in it.

And that's exactly what the Myrica gale loves. Apparently the more it sits in the stagnant water, the more it nodulates with its bacterial friends.

Bog myrtle has Frankia friends, like the Alnus glutinosa, and look! Here they are together having a nice time, I don't know if they are sharing their bacteria, I suspect they are, and who could blame them.

So how do you go about making a lovely botanical illustration of this beautiful and useful and fragrant plant?  I'm not absolutely convinced I've got the foggiest about that but for starters here are some sketches and drawings and nice conversations I've had with the plant.