Sunday, 17 January 2016

The acorn story – part 4

Keeping a blog is not a simple task, at least not to keep blogging regularly. So here I am 9 months later trying to pick up where I left my acorns last time.

They had just started to grow green leafs. The root system was enormous and they were ready to be planted. I carefully picked them up from their small acorn vases and studied them thoroughly.

One of them was cracked open and showed the green nut and a tiny stem growing from the top of it. I did some pencil sketches and a rather quick color sketch as well. Enlarged a couple of times.
And yes, I’m still not confident or happy with the green leaf, I really got to learn how to paint green leafs!

I then planted my plants in plastic pots so they would not dry out to quick. A ceramic pot is much better looking and suitable (at least according to me) but they were to be standing in my west facing window with lots of sun in the afternoon. So plastic it was.

The acorn that sprouted in the wrong end (and then in the right end after some time) did not last for so long. It had probably put too much energy to reverse its growing so it was drained when it actually got a pot with soil.

The other one thrived. It grow and produced lots of green leafs. First one round of 4 leafs. Then it grow a bit more and had one little leaf and then 5 more healthie looking bright green leafs at the top. I did not paint them.

I managed to keep my oak over the summer before it started to look a little bit unhappy. Then it got some sort of fungus on the leaf, they become brown and white speckled. I tried to wash the leaf, to clean of the fungus. I gave it more water and for a short period of time it looked like it was going to recover. But no. One after another the leaf started to fall. And soon it was just the tiny lonely leaf left and tow curled up leafs at the bottom of the pot.

The one leaf was only a little green, and the two fallen was brownish and covered with the white fungus – that’s when I started to paint leafs!

To paint the fungus, or mildew, I had to experiment a bit. I tried different color mixes. But to my surprise I ended up using gouache.

I am one of those water color "fanatics" who don't use body color. All my painting life I have avoided it and never failed an occasion to tell other that I don't use body color! It was really important to me. But hey, old habits are to be broken :-) So I bravely went to the artist shop and bought one tube of Winsor & Newton Designers gouache, Zinc white.

After some testing I mixed my white with a tiny hint of Cobolt blue, and used it at the very end of the painting. I'm not entirely sure it was the best solution for mould painting. But I have overcome a mental barrier, and that is always a good thing!

The only thing left now was to uproot the oak. I let it dry well and then carefully removed all the soil to unveil the root system to see how it looked now. It was brown as before but a bit thicker than when I planted it, it was almost the same.

My acorns grow in small round vases, so the root system came out in circular forms. My first thought was to draw them in that fashion, but I decided to do some research about oaks growth habit first.
And I learned that they have a taproot!
So I straighten it out in my mind and draw it that way. Actually a lot easier than the swirled one, but the format of this picture is rather hopeless… When I straighten out the root with my hands it was about 50 cm long, and really really thin in the end.

I am wondering if the small pot was a problem, if an oak usually have a taproot it must require quite some space underneath itself.

So, the acorn adventure lasted for little more than a year. And I must say it have been fun and exciting to watch the whole process from an escaping larva, over sprouting root and green leafs to a dead and dry nut.
Try it! I’ll do it again next autumn – I have two acorn vases that I have to put to use!

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