Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Quick plants

 Well, in the continuing mission to get out of my rut, this morning I did some (very) quick plant sketches. Quick, as in they each had to be done before my father's screen saver came on. 10 minutes, if I remember right. What you see here didn't take nearly that amount of time.

Pretty obvious, yes, but that's sort of what I was aiming for.

Like I said below, I've been too detail oriented lately so I'm trying to make myself not be. Sticking with broad stroke media (Prismacolor Art Stix, in this case), and trying my best to give enough detail to suggest the plant to someone who may not know it but at the same time to keep things simple and quick. And notice that I'm trying to use media that don't let me erase and second-guess myself.

Anyway, here's the first couple. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) up top and Common Plantain (Plantago major) below. Weeds both, yes, but distinctive shapes and -- as an added bonus -- both very useful plants.

I should probably explain that I led my last edible plant walk of the season on Sunday.

I should probably further explain that amongst other things I do at work, I lead edible plant walks...

Um, yeah. Briefly, dandelion leaves are good steamed or in salads. Choose the younger leaves to avoid bitterness, or put a box over a plant and let it grow in the dark for a while. Dried and ground roots make a coffee substitute, flowers make wine, and dried flowers and leaves together can make a tea. Don't use too much though -- the plant gets its French nickname (pissenlit, or pee-the-bed) because it's a diuretic.

Plantain is also good steamed or raw when it's young. It gets stringy as it gets older, though. What makes it more important for you outdoorsy types, though, is that it's very effective at calming the itching and swelling form mosquito bites. Chew on a leaf until it's mushy (and the chewing is important. Saliva contains a mild protease that makes this work better), and then just slap it on the bite. It works, I promise. Plantain tea can also be soothing for itchy skin.

Well, there it is, then. Your useful weed moment of the day. Will I do more of these? Maybe. It seems to help to have a topic. I just can't run away from the teacher in me, I guess.

And to anyone wondering why I keep using the paper with the (fake) laid lines (Strathmore 300 Series Charcoal, for anyone curious. It has the advantage of being inexpensive, if nothing else) for things like this, I really have no answer. I suppose I like the bit of added texture.

Or something.

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