The high point of the year falls in a few day’s time when the light lasts longest and the night-dark disappears in the blink of an eye. It’s been a centuries’ old time of midsummer magic, of growth and bloom, of fire and flower. In this post, I take a look at some past illustrations, from children’s picture book illustration to drawings for adult non-fiction, murals and maps inspired by the season. Celebrate the solstice with me in 10 slow, gentle ways.
- Watch the sun rise.
Find a hill top or a beach, wrap up warm with a flask of fresh coffee and feel the first rays bless you, benediction-like.
Chapter opener illustration from ‘For Every Little Thing’, publishing in September 2021 by Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers.
2. Spend some time outdoors.
As the morning swells, hold on to your wide-brimmed, appropriately romantic, straw hat and revel in the good things that nature brings in the Summer. Constellations of flowers cover the hedgerows and pathsides and the faint scent of wild rose is on the air. Sit in the grass with the butter-loving buttercups and make daisy chains while happy insects do their thing in the sun.
Drawings from the Mead Gallery Art and Nature programme of 2018 – Follow That Hare
3. Forage for wild foods.
In Britain, pick common dandelions to add to salads, make nettle pesto with steamed leaves whizzed up with nuts and cheese or conjure soup from the wild garlic carpeting the woodlands at this time of year. (Obviously double check what you’re picking before you eat it, don’t over-pick and pick from a safe area away from footpaths and dogs!)
Self promotional chapter opener with hand lettering.
4. Get your hands dirty in the garden.
Tend what you have planted and water and whisper to them. They like that. Feel the damp earth under your bare feet and smell all the growing things. You might like doing that too.
Illustration from ‘For Every Little Thing’ (details above).
I love drawing gardening instructions like these ones below from the June chapter from ‘A Year Full of Flowers’ by Sarah Raven, published by Bloomsbury which show you how to stake your dahlias and crysanthemums…
5. Go on a journey.
In the brazen heat of the day, catch the gentle brush of a butterfly wing and marvel at the journey the Painted Ladies take to Europe from the hot plains of Africa where their colours sing the brightest. It might not be possible to go so far but even exploring a different route home expands your world, keeps you curious and helps to grow new neural pathways in your brain (always a good thing!).
Map illustration above from The Almanac 2021 by Lia Leendertz. Published by Octopus
6. Spend time with those you love.
Large parties are out but meet with a few friends. Hang lanterns, offer simple bread, cheese and a fine fresh salad. Camp out and add some good cheer.
Map illustration above from ‘How to Draw Hand Drawn Maps’ by Thames and Hudson.
Only one other person is necessary!
Chapter opener from The Almanac 2021 published by Octopus.
Of course, it goes without saying that wild summer singing and dancing is encouraged, even if your patch is small. With the birds, celebrate the forever hopeful flowers and the sunshine. Never mind if your neighbours laugh. This moment will be gone on the warm breeze all too quickly. Alone or with others, it’s scientifically proven to be good for you.
Illustration from ‘For Every Little Thing’ (details above.)
8. Make a midsummer fire –
– a tradition followed across Northern Europe with barely-there nights at this time of year. Mark the Summer Solstice by watching the sun sink below the horizon to the sound of gently thrumming crickets in the grass.
Illustration above from Wonder by Julia Keys publishing 2023 by Wisdom Press.
9. Look up at the stars.
Learn to recognise the constellations. There are so many stories to tell…
Map of the Midsummer Stars Mural for Unity Technology.
10. Sleep well.
Chapter opener illustration for ‘For Every Little Thing’, (details above.)