An Old Friend – Acrylic in a Watercolour Moleskine

This is a horse chestnut in the grounds of Almondell Park, West Lothian. It is the very tree, over 20 years ago, that my sons collected around 200 chestnuts from, to play “conkers” with.

Their supply lasted all winter. I stumbled across this “old friend” last week when I was out sketching and was delighted to see little change since those long-gone days.

Horse Chestnuts were grown, mainly for aesthetic purposes, being planted in some of the large country estates of the well to do. It is not a native UK tree and seems to have originated in parts of the Balkans (Ziza country). It also grows in other countries along with the “Sweet Chestnut” variety. Perhaps this was the type Longfellow referred to in his poem “The Village Blacksmith”

Under a spreading chestnut tree

The village smithy stands;

The smith, a mighty man is he,

With large and sinewy hands;

And the muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.

Its timber is of little commercial use. If you look at my sketch I hope I have managed to show that almost every part seems to grow in different directions. This means the timber has a twisted grain which is difficult to work. No matter. These are lovely trees to look at and are at their best, in summer, when they provide beauty and shade for weary sketchers.