I recently had the honor of participating in the 2016 SBAI Chronicles project, a handmade leatherbound sketchbook that has been making the rounds since March. Each participant has seven days to illustrate pretty much anything they want—in the botanical world. After that the book goes to the next artist, and on and on, for an entire year. The first spread was completed by Dr. Sarah Simblet, the renowned illustrator, teacher and Author of The New Silva. Yikes! I was very nervous at first about not screwing up, not damaging or losing the book, etc. But it went pretty well. Nothing like a hard deadline to make you focus. And focus I did.
I chose the common wood sorrel. Carpeting old, undisturbed woodlands in spring, this pretty, downy perennial also grows on moss-covered trees and shady walls and is widespread throughout the Burren. Each white five-petalled, bell-shaped flower (10 – 15 mm) is held solitarily on a stem which comes directly from the roots.
The petals are lined with a tracery of pink veins through to the golden centre of the flower. The leaves are trifoliate, each leaflet heart-shaped and these fold up towards late afternoon or in rain as do the fragile flowers. They have a sharp taste of oxalic acid. This flower blooms from April to June, is a native plant to Ireland and belongs to the family Oxalidaceae.
Also known as Wood Shamrock and Wood Sour, the leaves of this plant were used to make an ointment by early herbalists. Some people eat these leaves in salads or soups but beware, as large doses may cause oxalate poisoning.
The common wood sorrel is sometimes referred to as a shamrock and given as a gift on St. Patrick’s Day. This is due to its trifoliate clover-like leaf, and to early references to shamrock being eaten. Despite this, it is generally accepted that the plant described as shamrock is a species of clover, usually white clover (Trifolium repens).
Attached are several images showing the process of illustrating in color pencil and graphite.