The second piece I painted for the Society of Botanical Artists Diploma Portfolio was a mixed floral piece. At the time all the spring bulbs were emerging in my Mum’s garden, and so my choosing my subject was an easy … Continue reading
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 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. … Continue reading
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
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.
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!
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.
The Final Piece
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.
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.
And here they are all ready to be sent!
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…!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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:
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.
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!
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!
Next job is to start thinking about a composition, including the other 6 stems!