November is not my favourite month of the year; being plunged into an hour’s extra darkness at the end of October makes me miss the sunlit days of spring and summer (well the ones that actually are sunlit).
On dark, dismal and dank November days, I very much envy the dormice who snuggle themselves away in the comparative warmth of nests, freshly lined with straw, soft grass, moss and downy bird feathers. I feel to sleep away the darker months would be a jolly good reason to become a dormouse, IF I had the chance that is.The line illustration, above, was drawn by me as a very young student at Cumbria Institute of the Arts, in Carlisle, for a book that someone was producing. They required a small picture of a dormouse or dormice for a nature book and they required it very quickly. I was very pleased to be the one that was chosen to illustrate it. Although the book and the client are now long forgotten in my memory, I do remember drawing the dormice amidst the bramble leaves and dead oak leaves that create the roof of their straw nest. I’m not quite sure why one of the dormice is cosy and warm in the nest – snuggled in the leaves – whilst the other seems to be fiddling around with a nut, but maybe he is bringing the other one a gift after a quarrel.
I suppose if I were to hibernate for the winter, I would not be awake for Christmas and for the usual hustle and bustle of one of the busiest times of the year; I WOULD miss the queues and the crowds and my bank balance would stay healthy. Oh, the more I think of it, the more I WANT to be a dormouse – the lucky wee things 🙂 .
It seems many, many years ago that I was working on this ‘When autumn leaves start to fall’ illustration. All of the Bear-a-thought illustrations take me right back to the time I was drawing them. This was an illustration that appeared in my 2006 calendar and was inspired by a famous song performed by the immortal Nat King Cole.
I was chatting to a good friend recently who mentioned the song and I thought that this illustration would make a very good blog post this month. I have to be honest and say that I have a bit of a ‘downer’ about November and it’s my least favourite month, as I dislike being plunged into the dark days of autumn at the end of October.
In this illustration, I have tried to show November at it’s best with golden leaves and azure blue skies. I chose one of my new teddy bears, named Raymond, for the illustration as I just thought he was so appealing in his blue duffle coat and I loved illustrating the cord buttons on his coat that are keeping him warm from the autumn chills. I also really enjoyed drawing the golden-leafed oak tree in the background and I do remember putting some shapes in amongst the foliage. I think there was a heart, a gingerbread man and a goldfish to name a few, though looking at the illustration now I can’t see them.
The leaves that our lovely little bear is bouncing on were quite difficult and rather monotonous to draw, but I wanted to give them the appearance of looking dry, brittle and ‘crackly’; the kind of bone-dry leaves you cannot resist running through and then watch them being whisked-off by the cool autumn breezes…
Autumn leaves of red, orange and brown, to the ground come fluttering down.
Raymond jumps to catch them as they fall, from the trees above – so big and tall.