I have lots of lichen, moss and liverwort in my garden, and I like to encourage them, especially the mosses which are spreading to all sorts of places this damp summer. The way they form miniature ‘forests’ appeals to my love of detail and small things.

A few weeks ago I decided to start some sketches of lichen fairly soon, and that same day when I was out walking I found my way blocked by a huge branch fallen from a massive oak tree. This gave me the opportunity to study and photograph the lichens up close, and I picked up a small piece for my collectors drawer, which you can see below. Some days later when the subject had begun to dry out I began some sketches of the shape and detail of the branchy lichen.

Above: My first attempts at getting the lighting and details, and then a more overall sketch (far right) to see the way it grows. This is a complicated little subject which I found quite challenging.

Above: Here are stages in the finished drawing of this twig with lichen. Once I had sketched lightly in H pencil the approximate position of the branches I added in more detail, finishing the dark shadows in the softer pencil. The drawings were all done with H and 2B pencil on cartridge paper. The finished drawing is approx. 11 x 7.5″.

Below: A view of a corner of my studio, with lichen amongst other little natural items I pick up during my walks. I like to work with the studio relatively low-lit, and use lamps to illuminate the subjects. Sometimes I use the magnifier lamp to see and draw detail, as I did for the lichen here.

I have not identified my shrubby lichen, but if you are looking to identify some sample from your garden or walk, I did find a very nice picture ID site here: British Lichen.

For my next drawing I will be returning to the bees, and recording once more the leafcutter bees which live outside my studio. I almost gave up hope that any would hatch this year, but almost a month later than usual those from the drilled logs emerged! My next post will have an update on the hatching, for you bee lovers.

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