I'd been doing some tree drawing in my local parks, but there's nothing like sitting in the middle of a Dartmoor wood to work on an experimental painting. (I ended up working on this one in Philip's studio, and then finishing it up back in London.)
Well, until it starts raining.
I had blazing sun for the first half of drawing this, then rain...
...but I managed to shield my sketchbook under my jacket and stick it out to the end.
On one of the days, I went tree drawing with Philip.
Check out his finished drawing, it's amazing. The mossy trees on Dartmoor really make me feel like I'm in Middle Earth.
Speaking of which, Philip has been posting some great blog articles on Lord of the Rings, informally jotting down his thoughts as he read through it for his umpteenth time. You can read them all here. I've read the books and listened to the BBC dramatisation version so many times I can't even count, but reading Philip's blog still gave me new reflections on them.
Oh, and here's my tree, a work-in-progress, and the final version, when I tried to capture some of the leafy background (which is very tricky!). It was an odd tree, it reminded me of the castle in The Dark Crystal (also Dartmoor-influenced).
It was so much fun hanging out with the Reeve family, and we walked about 35 miles of moor and wood and hillside.
Here's Sam, contemplating some cows. They were mostly friendly, but it was calf season and since we had the dog, Frodo, with us (and cows don't like dogs), we had to be careful.
They have very cute faces, though.
And of course I wanted to see KEVIN, our Roly-Poly Flying Pony of the Outermost West.
Did we see him? Well, we did see quite a few magical-looking white ponies.
Ponies, ponies, ponies. I love them so much.
They're not very tame, but sometimes they forget themselves and let me go in for a cuddle.
Usually Stuart and I visit the Reeve family in the winter, and this was such a contrast, with everything green and pulsing with life.
I would have missed this tiny frogs in the grass entirely if Philip hadn't pointed them out.
And the sheep came to check us out.
I absolutely adore all the different kinds of trees on Dartmoor. Here are some tall ones poking up in the mist:
Some mossier, curving tress:
And really twisty, bendy trees that almost look like they're dancing:
Huge thanks to the Reeve family for taking me in! Be sure to follow Sarah Reeve on Instagram (@moorland) to see amazing photos of Dartmoor and its wildlife.
Thanks for coming out on walks with us, Sam!
And of course, thanks to my co-author Philip, who is an elf, but everyone knew that already.