Assignment 10 – Working from Photographs

Assignment 10 of the Society of Botanical Artists Distance Learning Diploma was entitled ‘Working from Photographs’. We were supposed to take our own photographs, and create a design in the form of a greetings card or poster. I do incorporate … Continue reading

Assignment 9 – Working in the Field

Assignment 9 of the Society of Botanical Artists Distance Learning Diploma was entitled ‘Working in the Field’. For this assignment we were asked to find a location we liked, any natural habitat, and study, record and illustrate the species that were present.

I deliberated for a long time about my location of choice! Eventually I chose a spot in the village of Preston in Kent where they had the most amazing display of bluebells.

I took my Jack Russel Lily along for company which turned out to be a mistake as she was nothing but a distraction…!

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I found working in the field really difficult, but enjoyable at the same time. I missed the comfort of a desk to lean on, bugs kept landing on my page and somehow I’d accidently squish them and end up with bug sauce all over my paper…! I didn’t want to pick the flowers as it’s a nature reserve, so I was rolling around the ground at all sorts of angles to try and study each flower, and I kept dropping pencils/rubbers/rulers on the ground and spending a good while searching for them on the woodland floor! Those obstacles aside, I love being outdoors, and sometimes the endless hours of painting inside at a desk does leave me craving sunshine, fresh air and exercise!

I did as many sketches as I could of each plant I could spot, picking 5 to focus on in particular:

Bluebell
Red campion
Woodland fern
Field mouse ear
Bramble

The Drawing

After all the initial drawings in my sketchbook, I then traced images which I liked using tracing paper, and started to build up my composition. I will add photos of my sketchbook pages soon, but I still need to tidy them up from their time in the wood – (i.e. they’re a complete mess!)

You’ll see in the photos above that there is a drawing of a drying bluebell. I really wanted to paint this, as I thought it was such a beautiful specimen, but unfortunately I ran out of time and I had to leave it out of the composition.

Here is a photo of the specimen, I would love to paint this one day, perhaps larger than life, to really show the colours and delicacy of those drying petals:

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The Painting

Here are some photos of this assignment in progress. I didn’t have quite enough time to give the painting the level of detail I would have liked. As a result my image had quite a stylized feel about it, which my tutor did pick up on. For example, the bramble leaves below, I didn’t get the opportunity to paint in the finer veins, only the main veins.

In this photo below you can see the bramble and fern fully painted, and the delicate field mouse ear beginning to grow up the page, entwining with the bramble.

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I really enjoyed painting the bluebell, it’s definitely a subject I’d like to paint again. You can see the bluebell ended up with the same styleized look as the bramble and fern. I found the earthy tones in the calyxes of the red campion difficult to master!

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The final piece

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Feedback

In general the feedback on this painting was quite good, but I let myself down a lot with the sketchbook pages we were asked to submit. I submitted the pages from my work in the field, with no refinement at home, so they were definitely not to the best standard.

My tutor picked up on the fact that this piece of work was painted quite stylized, which I agree with. He thought my tone and form were good, but that the tones were quite similar throughout – for example the bramble leaves at the bottom have the same light direction as those at the top.

Here is the breakdown of my marks:

Choice of subject: 9
Line: 9
Form: 8.7
Tone: 8.7
Colour: 9
Composition: 9.5
Botanical accuracy: 9.5
Technique: 8.8
Presentation 9.5
Labelling: 8

Final mark for this assignment: 8.97/10

My final thoughts

I had this really romantic picture of what ‘working in the field’ would be like. Sat in the woodland, sketching, painting… but in reality I found being away from my home comforts really difficult. I have a lot of respect for artists who spend most of their time in the field, and it’s something I would definitely like to expose myself to more, and practice.

Also a tip for this type of work – don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes, and the value of getting really detailed and thorough drawings of the specimens.

The next assignment is almost the direct opposite in terms of a botanical artists working style – working from photographs!

Thanks for reading, I hope it was a useful read, particularly for students currently on the SBA diploma.

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Assignment 8 – Botanical Illustration

I was really excited about this assignment. Botanical illustration, what the course is all about! I love painting flowers, and it was great to get back into that after the fruit and veg assignments (which I did enjoy, it was … Continue reading

Cherry Blossom Painting – and my first exhibition!

I recently completed 2 cherry blossom paintings, which I painted specifically for the Society of Floral Painters Oxmarket Exhibition. As much as I am enjoying my paintings for the SBA diploma, I really loved painting something completely different, for the … Continue reading

Assignment 7 – Vegetable

Assignment 7 for the Society of Botanical Artists Distance Learning Diploma involved painting a vegetable of our choice. I went to a number of different farm shops and farmer’s markets trying to find the perfect subject. I wanted to paint something … Continue reading

Assignment 4 – Flower Heads

Assignment 4 was a fun assignment, the first opportunity to use a lot of colour after the first two graphite assignments and then all the greens in Assignment 3. Choosing which flowers to use was really tricky for me. I’m … Continue reading

Assignment 3 – Leaves

I was really excited for Assignment 3, but for various reasons (including finishing my 4th year at University, moving house and county, and welcoming into the world 7 jackapoo puppies) I only had 2 weeks to paint, rather than 2 months. Those 2 weeks were manic, and unfortunately I couldn’t create exactly what I wanted. Here is a short photographic summary of assignment 3.

Composition

For this piece, I really struggled with the composition. A minimum of 8 leaves are required, and I wanted to avoid just plonking down (love that word) 8 leaves on a page. I wasn’t too happy with my final composition, but with time constraints it would do!

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Neither of the above compositions are the final piece. It so happened that the Iris instantly found it’s place as the leaf to plan the composition around. I liked the ivy coming down from the corner as in the righthand photo. In the end I decided to keep each leaf as it grows, i.e. the Acer hanging down as it does from the tree, the ivy climbing across the page, and all the other leaves growing upwards from the ground.

I am told with compositions with multiple specimens such as this, it works best to keep the heavier components a the base of the painting. I kept this in mind, with the hellebore in the bottom right.

Ivy

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Euonymus

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Rosa

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Iris

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Hellebore

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Geranium 

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Acer

 

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Beech

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The Final Piece

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Bold Washes

One of things I love about watercolour is the way you can build up layers of washes to create different effects. You can lay down really bold colours first, and when other colours are layered on top, everything can soften together and create a really interesting effect. I’ve demonstrated this with an ivy leaf.

I kept my mix for this really simple. Indathrone Blue  and Hansa Yellow Light (both Daniel Smith).

I determine first which areas of the leaf are facing away from the light, and which parts are not. This is a general impression, the details of shadows are added in later.

On the areas away from the light I laid down a wash of Indanthrone blue, and areas facing the light I laid down a wash of Hansa Yellow Light.

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I then use a mix of the two to add in the details, now adding areas of shadow.

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I’ll go and finish painting it now!

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Jasmine

So, 6 weeks (or so) later I have completed my Jasmine… And most excitingly I have completed all the art diploma work that I will need to whilst also tackling university work; my next assignment (leaves in watercolour) will have my undivided attention!

I thought I would do a short summary of the process of drawing the Jasmine polyanthum. You can see it grow!

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TWO CLOSE UPS:

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THE FINISHED PIECE:

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Thank you to everyone on here who gave my advice before starting! I hope you are all satisfied with the result!

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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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