Despite the garden being all tangled, rotting and winter worn I notice that the birds are already getting rather frisky. The woodpeckers are drilling, doves pursuing each other, bobbing up and down in their courtship dance along next door’s roof ridge and the blackbirds fighting on the lawn. Scuffles are breaking out all over the place. Things are hotting up out there.
The sun has come out too, brightening up the studio no end. My spirits are lifting and the paints are calling me. Having just finished a portrait of Rubble, a fine Brighton Bulldog (a charming chap he is too but with a great penchant for ankles – we all know his sort). Well, now that I’ve shaken him off, no easy task I can tell you, there’s nothing to stop me. It’s gotta be something colourful – more inebriated parrots or some dodgy little chameleons maybe?
Yes, I know they eat the lettuces but I love them. It’s the form of their shells that appeals to me and I approve of their sexual arrangements too. How sensible to be able switch gender at the drop of a hat and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. It’s called sequential hermaphroditism. But enough of the technical stuff.
Several years back I was commissioned to do a little painting of a snail with a frog messenger riding on its back. Now, I do like to get things right so I went hunting for an unoccupied shell to use as a reference. Oddly, I couldn’t find one so I made do with a wrecked old timer, hibernating behind a thick and dried operculum. It clearly wasn’t going to go anywhere very fast, or so I thought. Back in the studio I made a nice little frog out of plasticine and placed it on top of the snail before nipping out to make a cup of tea, prior to drawing. I was really only gone for a few moments and just got back in time. Old Rip Van Winkle was off at a lick and disappearing over the edge of the table with its jockey still firmly in place. They’re livelier than we think.
Snails are fun. Here are a few that have been out on a hen night in Brighton. Well, they may have started out as hens and some may have turned into stags before the night was through – or vice versa if their reputation is anything to go by. Whatever, they have clearly had a wonderful time. Babs took off her shell and was mistaken for a slug. Gloria took something she shouldn’t have and had an epiphany on the beach. Yep, snails are fun.