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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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 6 – Fruit

Assignment 6 of the Society of Botanical Artist’s Distance Learning Diploma involved painting a fruit of our choosing. I really struggled with my choice of fruit in my head, but as soon as I got out into the farmer’s markerts/farm shops … 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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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!

Greens Colour Chart

A nice afternoon’s task, and something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, is create a greens colour chart. I’ve been told that it’s important, helpful, if not essential, for botanical illustration. I’ve been using it already, its stuck permanently on my art board for easy reference.

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Note to self: find my camera to take half decent photos to post.