One Swallow doesn't make a Summer

We've reached May and the fifth blogpost about the illustrations I did last summer for Lia Leendertz's 2019 edition of The Almanac - a seasonal guide ... when out for walks this month I've been looking out deer and swallows to photograph for this blog, without success; so with the month of May drawing to a close I'll have to do without them.

The opening spread is of a glorious sunny late morning in May. in the illustration the Apple trees are in full blossom and the 'May' ... Hawthorn blossom has transformed the hedgerows to a frothy creaminess. Swallows newly arrived from Africa are enthusiastically wheeling around the sky. In the shadows of the hedge a newly born fawn has been left safely by its mother who is grazing the fresh grass nearby.

Here's my workings for the linocut for this spread ... and as this is a warts and all account, you can spot the deliberate mistake! Yes, I got my Elder muddled up with my May blossom and had to make a  patch to print and digitally patch in. And yes said some choice words and stomped around angrily ... given the number of illustrations I was doing it's amazing this didn't happen more often.

On the right hand page is a sprig of Woodruff ... this delicately apple scented woodland herb is included in a recipe for May Wine - white wine flavoured with herbs and strawberries. Luckily we have Woodruff growing under the trees in our garden, I'll have to try the recipe, it sounds delicious.

I know there are deer in the countryside around my studio, but I only spot them fleetingly or from a long distance while out walking in the evening. Sadly occasionally the deer are victims to collisions on the road ... dangerous for drivers too, so take care on the rural roads in East Anglia as our deer population thriving and the herds are often on the move at dusk or just after dark.

The identification guide page for May is for Swallows, Swifts and House Martins ... there really should be an easy collective noun for these, like Corvids for Crows, Magpies, etc. Though Swifts aren't actually related to the other two, in fact they are related to Hummingbirds. Complicated!

I chose this page as the first illustration I worked on. It's pretty straightforward and I used it to show how I'd treat the words and add extra info such as small images of the birds in flight ... after all that's how we mostly see these birds.

Have you seen many Swallows, Martins or Swifts so far this Spring? Here in SW Suffolk there are few ... hopefully more will turn up. We had that false warm 'Spring' in February followed by bitter cold in March and then changeable wether in May. Fingers crossed the birds are still on their way and will soon be swooping over the Barley fields.

I almost forgot to mention the meteor shower diagrams ... how could I?
This one explains the Eta Aquarids. Withe the best will in the world I wasn't going to tackle these as linocuts, so these are digital illustrations with scanned hand-lettered labels. These diagrams were a breeze as in a former life this kind of artwork was my stock in trade.

The May blossom is fading ... I found this lovely spray of flowers in a shady corner of my garden this morning. A reminder to look at the seasonal highlights before they disappear for another year.