Jasmine or Fern?

I’m still struggling with what to draw for my second assignment… If I sit at home and try and decide from scratch what my next subject will be I get absolutely nowhere. I need to be in a garden, or in a nursery, or just in nature to get inspiration.

People often try and give me ideas, and it never works (namely my Mother – love you, Mum) I get a feeling when I see the right flower or plant, I can’t really explain it.

This time is was a new nursery I discovered in the New Forest in Hampshire. I couldn’t make my decision there and then, and came home with a house Jasmine, and an interesting looking Fern.

I’ve had them a week and I still haven’t decided. In fact, I’ve started drawing the Jasmine and I’m still not sure I’ve made the decision, what do you think? Maybe I’ll have time to do both…

JASMINE:

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OR FERN?

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Facebook

To all my wonderful followers,

I have created a Facebook Page!

I am staying here too, though. My plan is to keep my blog for longer posts such as step-by-step pictures of creating a full piece, and to use Facebook for quicker photo updates of work, as well as updates on my assignment marks and feedback etc. ‘Like’ the page if you wish.

I love sharing what I do, because of the support I get from you all, but mainly because I am opened up to a world of art and inspiration from your blogs themselves.

Love to all of you!

Helen x

Assignment 1 Feedback

Back to the drawing board today, slightly later than planned. I have been waiting for my feedback from my first assignment before starting the second.

I got my feedback last week. I got 8.9 as a final mark for Assignment 1. I was really, really pleased with the comments, and was completely surprised. I have a real tendency to put myself and my work down…

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There were some really helpful comments within the feedback from Guy William Eves also. No-one has ever actually taught me how to use pencil before, it’s always been something that I’ve just got on with. For example, he explained that using a harder pencil to lay down graphite first, such as a 2H, and then lay down a softer pencil such as a 4B on top, you can get a much smoother and complete layer of graphite on the paper. I’m really looking forward to trying it out!

Desperate to start Assignment 2 straight away, but it has to be sketchbook time. Practice time. 

Assignment 1

This afternoon I went to the post office and dropped off my first assignment to be sent to Guy William Eves, a wonderful botanical artist and tutor on the SBA Diploma. It feels incredibly exciting (and intimidating!) knowing that he will be judging my work. He will also be marking Assignment 2.

In my previous posts I have described the outline drawing required for the first part of the assignment, and the stippled lily for the second part, so I will focus this post on the final part.

I chose to draw a hyacinth, and as I got into planning the composition I realised I wanted to include not just the stem and flower head but also the leaves, and also the bulb and the wonderful roots. Inevitably the piece got far too large and intricate for assignment 1… but I managed to get it finished.

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I really liked the composition, and I did enjoy drawing the hyacinth, but I have to say I do find pencils much harder than watercolours (I am dying to reach for my paintbrushes). I struggle with keeping the paper crisp and clean despite all attempts to do so (my drawing board has tracing paper everywhere!)

So below are the final 3 drawings that I sent today, plus a tonal strip and a note to my tutor with a few points, particularly querying the size of my pieces.

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And here they are all ready to be sent!

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This was such an exciting day for me today. Although I’m feeling apprehensive now, I definitely know that I am going to be completely in my element during my year out from my studies. I can’t wait to see what I can come up with for the next assignments.

Now for a breather whist I wait for my feedback before Assignment 2. Perhaps I can start thinking about my subject choice…!

Completed Stippled Lily

Stippling is fun, but requires a lot of patience. Only now I realise actually how much detail about the subject you can portray just through lines and dots!

This is only my first attempt, so I’m no expert, but I can hopefully pass on some tips that I have learnt doing this exercise:

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  1. Start with a clean, clear line drawing. Include any details such a main veins, thorns, and any defining features such as small areas of pigmentation. Be happy with it before you start thinking about stippling. Once you have started stippling an area, adding lines on top is risky. It can end up very messy. 
  2. Lay down your dots in lines, not randomly. With randomly scattered dots it can be difficult to keep the form and tone even, and can look chaotic. Lay down lines of dots, varying in lengths and varying the distance between them to create your darker and lighter tones. 
  3. Take breaks. Laying down those tiny dots takes a lot of concentration. It’s very easy to want to power through, but you’ll soon realise your dots are becoming little lines, and your neat rows of dots are weaving all over the place and looking untidy. I reckoned 10 minutes stippling at a time was plenty! Lots of tea breaks…!

My next post will be of my completed  SBA diploma Assignment 1. I will break down exactly what I have had to do, and show you the finished pieces!

Stippled Lily

For the second part of my first assignment they ask us to use the stippling technique on a flower, stem and leaf. I’ve never stippled before, and after practicing with pencil and pen I decided that pen was much neater, much cleaner and gave a much better result!

For a new technique, I didn’t want to rush straight in to the final piece (something that I am very prone to doing!) I chose to draw a lily for the final stippled piece, so I practiced with a lily also.

Here is my first study, unfinished to show my progress:          (apologies for the poor photographs)

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I shall post the final stippled piece, along with my thoughts as to how it went and tips on stippling, in my next post!

Society of Botanical Artists

I feel like I have a lot of news to share and catch up on. I’ve been accepted onto the Society of Botanical Artists Distance Learning Diploma: a big decision for me that has led me to take a year out of my medical studies. This started in January, lasts 27 months, and is considered a leading botanical illustration course, certainly within the UK. 

I received my package with all of the information, some materials, and a name badge! A super exciting day. 

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Until June I am going to be balancing University with this Diploma. Assignment 1 started on January 1st 2014, and is due on the 28th February. There are 3 components: a simple line drawing (the kind that would be used prior to painting), a stippled drawing, and a full tonal pencil piece. 

Here is Part 1 (this is on tracing paper, I am yet to transfer to watercolour paper):

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I am really looking forward to using the blog to document my progress on this Diploma for the next 2 years or so!

 

Dried Roses – Composition

Having seven roses to work with, my next challenge has been to think about a composition. There were so many options. My technique  of creating a painting involves drawing the subject, then using tracing paper to create an ink line drawing. This technique is really useful for planning compositions.

The photograph below shows the penultimate composition:Image

I liked the centre rose facing forward, and having a rose on each side looking out the edge of the page. After that, I wanted to show the different aspects and views of the rose heads. The only view missing from the arrangement in the photograph is seeing the rose head directly from behind. I changed the final composition to incorporate this:Image

I knew I wasn’t satisfied with the stems. I think that the stems are one of the most important parts of this composition, I’ll make sure that I focus on these when it comes to putting the whole thing together.

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Dried Red Roses

I have begun a new project, 7 dried roses. I got given this bunch of lovely bright red roses from my boyfriend on returning from Africa (I had been there on a placement for 2 months). They have sat in their vase since August, drying out in the hope of creating an interesting subject!

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After my practicing, practicing, practicing with the holly, I knew I wanted to do a full piece (with sufficient still practice of course, but not hours and hours!)

Below is my first attempt at the practice flower. In this case a study was essential, because I really had to look hard at the different colours and textures. The photograph of the rose above doesn’t do the dried petals any favours; the golden glow isn’t visible at all! Infact, when I look closely at the subject there is hardly any of that bright red at all – its amazing how different a photograph can appear!

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Next job is to start thinking about a composition, including the other 6 stems!

Holly Leaves

I keep coming back to holly. I think I’ve found it my biggest challenge since starting botanical illustration. I think its the combination of the flat surface and the shine. I still remember an attempt I made a couple of years ago, that’s how much of a disaster I viewed it as (I would post a photo for the comedy value, but I can’t find the painting…….!)

I did quite a lot of browsing other botanical artists’ paintings of holly, and there is a lot of inspiration out there.

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This is ‘Holly and Ivy’ by Gaynor Dickeson.
She is a wonderful artist and has been a huge inspiration to me. 

I knew that for my next holly attempt, I would need to practice, practice, practice. I drew multiple outlines of a holly leaf and set to work.

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Here you can see my first 3 attempts, with some notes at the sides as to the colours I used, and the layers of washes. None of these felt right to me. By the 4th attempt I felt like I was getting somewhere.

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4th Study – Finally a success?

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