The course was Botanical drawing. Sarah has authored several art books, on drawing in general, anatomy for the artist, botany for the artist and is now working on a new book. She is a very good artist and also does a lot of research in the areas in which she chooses to teach. To cap it all, Sarah is a lovely person and very supportive of her students when struggling with new media.
The reason for going on the course was to draw in pen and ink. I have always been intimidated by this medium and therefore hoped that I would be less so once I had had a little expert tuition. Sarah constantly draws in black and white and in reality with her work you feel that you are looking at it in colour. Getting to that level of expertise would be something I would love to achieve, but it possibly won’t be in this lifetime.
Sarah got us to relinquish our feelings of control when drawing by using unusual implements. After this she encouraged us to build ourselves up again using the new medium (ink) and new implements (pen). It was exciting. I can’t show you pictures of the pulling down, but this is an example of learning to build up again. It is a plant I have never seen before – Molucella laevis. Very attractive. In fact whilst in Oxford I did see another painting of one.
We went to the Herbarium and were given a treat. All of Ferdinand Bauer’s work that went into the Flora Graeca was laid out for us. It was amazing. His sketch books and all his notes were there. He had a colour coding system that he used when doing his sketches in situ. He could spend years away from any studio and when he returned he used his notes to make his botanical paintings for the Florum. Therefore we were able to see his actual sketches, notes and final paintings before they were eventually published.
I made new friends on the course who are from around the world. Two I will be meeting again in a few weeks time at the opening of the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation Exhibition in Pittsburgh.
I am now coming down to earth and catching up on all I need to do. But hopefully I will get my act together to keep the blog updated.
Thank you for reading this. I do recommend Sarah Simblet’s summer courses.