The Society of Botanical Artists had their Christmas meeting in London today. It is a time to meet other full members, associate members (those on the way to getting full membership) and Distant Learning Students.
It is a good time to meet and talk about what people are doing and for me, the opportunity to mention a little about Palmengarten and what will happen when the exhibition finishes at the end of November.
There is still the opportunity to go and see the exhibition in Frankfurt and it is worth seeing. I know that some SBA members are going to see it before it finishes.
Today I am posting a picture from today’s informal meeting. It was taken while member Brenda Green was entertaining us. As you can see, we all enjoyed ourselves.
More photos from the exhibition. I do hope that you are enjoying them.
Back to almost normal for one day. I had my weekly class today instead of tomorrow as we are going up to London for the SBA Christmas meeting.
A lot of the teaching today was based around form and observing tonal values relative to the light source. Sometimes students find this a difficult area, particularly if the surface area of the subject is very uneven and absorbs the available light.
It can sometimes help to use a substitute smooth shape, to work out the underlying tonal values and thus the form. For example, with a spherical shape there might be difficulties in determining where the light falls and what is in shade, depth of shade and areas of reflective light. One can use a ball as a substitute and cover it with cling film to make the surface smooth. This will in turn reflect light well and highlight differences in tonal values creating a clearer three- dimensional form. The complications of texture, patterns and colour are reduced during this phase and can be added once the shape and form have been established.
Palmengarten news. Sue has had a good day at Palmengarten with a lot of interest again both in the gardens and the botanical art exhibition. She was very relieved to experience that this evening the trains were at last running normally and she got home at an acceptable time.
There are three new green dots on pictures indicating that they have been reserved!
Sue Henon is at last back home after the train strike. Apparently it had completely paralysed Frankfurt – as well as the rest of Germany of course. The day before the strike happened, there was a mass exercise to find hotels in the city and if you weren’t early enough – too bad.
Speaking with Sue this evening, she told me just how empty the city was. Palmengarten always has a lot of visitors, but not over the last few days – that is until today. This of course affected the botanical art exhibition as no-one came in to view the works of art. However, the emptiness gave Sue an opportunity to plan her next talk for a tour round the exhibition.
But today, although transport was not hugely reliable, life returned to Palmengarten and she was very busy. Two more pictures got red dots on them and hopefully things will be fully back to normal tomorrow. Sue is looking forward to her one day off.
Early this morning I heard from Sue Henon at Palmengarten, that yesterday evening until very late, she was getting in touch with loads of hotels in Frankfurt to try and find an affordable one for the duration of the strike. Apparently, as many people were out on the same quest, hotel prices were escalating rapidly. Eventually she found one in an area that wasn’t the best (every city has one), which she could afford. Hopefully it will be comfortable.
Sue tells me that the strike starts at 02:00 and lasts until 02:00 Monday morning. You may remember she takes her one day a week break on Monday, but luckily she has managed to get a lift home on Sunday evening after the exhibition closes for the day.
But as Sue will not be going home and won’t have access to a computer, I doubt that we will have any updates about the exhibition until Sunday evening at the earliest. However, if I get any news I will post it. In the meantime I intend to continue with posting the pictures I have from the exhibition.
On a personal note, today I had my normal weekly class. I am so lucky as there are six students who get on so well together. Four of them use watercolour and two coloured pencil. I do enjoy the class and their involvement in it.
This afternoon I have been marking assignments. I’m afraid that I haven’t got very far as the first two were completing the course. I therefore feel it, important to give a very full feedback so that they can continue working on their own. But if I can get more people interested in botanical art- so much the better.
Now the pictures. I wonder how many actually read what I have written, or just go through the pictures?
Sue Henon our SBA member in Germany, has been ably manning the exhibition at Palmengarten, Frankfurt’s botanical gardens. She has been there every day and will do so every day except Monday’s until the exhibition ends. They have been very long days for her as she doesn’t actually live in Frankfurt but has to travel in on a daily basis. The SBA is hugely lucky to have her there and willing to give up a solid month of her time for us. This of course excludes all that she has done in the months leading up to the exhibition, that she will use in breaking down the exhibition and overseeing that pictures get safely into the right hands – buyers and artists.
During the exhibition, Sue, together with a botanist from the gardens, is giving some tours and talks about the pictures. The botanist of course talks about the topic of the exhibition, poisionous and medicinal plants, in relation to the pictures that are exhibited there. Sue talks about the botanical art, the different types of medium that the artists have used in their pictures and how It is applied. She also discusses the history of botanical art In Germany.
I understand from various quarters that these talks are enthusiastically received. I am told that the visiting public have appreciated getting a better understanding of botanical art and afterwards look a lot more closely at the pictures.
But, I think you are more interested in seeing some more of the artwork that is in the exhibition. I notice that yesterday one of the pictures fell out of the blog for some reason. I had also wanted to give you a better idea of the botanical art in situ in the Palmhouse. It is a beautiful area for exhibiting these pictures.
Again I haven’t done too much painting over the last week as we have had family staying and we took the opportunity to have a little bit of a holiday with them.
But now I’m back to painting.
Whilst in Pittsburgh last year there were several botanical artists who tried to persuade me about the benefits of painting on Vellum. I saw some really beautiful work there and was really tempted. My husband bought me a few small sheets for Christmas and it has been lying there. Since then I have seen some more work on vellum and I wasn’t too enamoured. It definitely was not of Rory McEwen quality! You see I aim for the best.
I have been painting a small picture on vellum during the last few days. I had taken a photo of a bee on the runner beans and wanted to do this. Normally I only paint from real life and obviously this was a problem as I didn’t have the bee although did have the runner beans. I did some research on the bee and found out that it is called a Bombus pascuorum worker. It also meant that I had some other bee pictures to make sure that I got the details right. I’m not happy if I haven’t got the subject actually in front of me.
For once I decided to paint it oversize. This is another thing I don’t normally do, so I have several ‘firsts’ here. I know that I had to paint using a dry-brush technique, but still wasn’t sure how. I therefore examined the pictures in the Rory McEwen book ‘The colours of reality’. I had to refer back to this book on several occasions as I built up the layers. I thought that as I had painted on Porcelain many years ago, that I could adopt a similar process. I’m afraid that didn’t work! But I gradually began to get the hang of it and also take advantage of the fact that you can lift out mistakes.
I will put a couple of pictures in this blog, but add a few more as an album on my Facebook page.
If anyone has any tips, please let me know. I haven’t stretched the vellum, but would like to do so on larger pieces.
In between marking assignments and receiving pictures for the SBA exhibition at Palmengarten, the botanical gardens in Frankfurt, I have been painting.
Last time I suggested you find the part in the picture where I had made a mistake, but had rectified it.
Now I have three photos of the final work on the picture – I think!
What to do with the plants now as it is poisonous. It nearly took the life of one of our cats and is very much a temptation to play with – as well as being very beautiful and exotic looking for our colder climate.
The sun has just come round and is shining in the shed door. It is the only period during the day that I risk the sun coming directly into the shed and shining onto my work. I had just done loads of detail on a leaf and was doing a gentle wash on top. The sun suddenly appeared and I made a mistake. Hopefully it is recoverable.
I therefore took a couple of deep breaths, went out into the vegetable garden directly outside – picked a runner bean and chewed on it to gather my wits. Whilst the work is drying I have decided to do this blog.
Did you see the detail that I showed you yesterday, which was a near miss? In actual fact I did make the mistake and it wasn’t until I was checking over the days work that I saw it.
In the top left hand corner of the second picture I showed you yesterday, there is a leaf going off the page. To the right of it is a tendril of new growth. It was meant to appear from under the leaf. Guess what I did. Without thinking I had painted the petiole of the leaf (rather than curling it round behind and out of sight) and I connected the tendril and the leaf petiole!!!! How stupid can you get? My picture therefore had the a leaf with a petiole and the tendril as a continuation of the petiole! i.e a tendril with the tip completing one end and a leaf completing the other!
I don’t know how many times I say to students, paint what you see and not what you think you see. That also applies if composing a picture from various parts of a plant to make a cohesive whole. The details in the picture have to be completely botanically correct even though taking elements from different parts of the plant.
To correct the whole, I had to lift the edge of the leaf, petiole and end of the tendril – luckily it doesn’t show. I re-painted the tendril to disappear a little lower down the leaf, and then added a stem coming in from above the leaf. That meant I also had to slightly change the direction of the stem coming out from below the leaf. All very complicated and of course that mistake has knock-on effects with the composition in other areas. Hopefully I have managed it reasonably well.
I know that some people will find the above explanation and detail unnecessary in a blog such as this. But I am already being very honest about this picture, so why not go into the detail. It might even help someone else avoid similar stupid mistakes.
Anyway, the first of today’s pictures is the corrected view. The second picture is more leaves that I have done. These include views of the underside of Dipladenia leaves, foreshortened views and a full frontal view(!). The last is not finished yet.
By the way, I have found that for these leaves I have needed to use smaller brushes than I normally use and a dryer mixture.
Well, now the start of the leaves. I am on tender-hooks all the way. I am hoping that as I am extra careful at each stage, that I will overcome this fear – whatever the fear or blockage is.
The first whole leaf actually took a whole day and I will let you be the judge as to its success or not. The result is still not as I am wanting it and I can’t even define what it is I want. I am very much a detail person, and it may be that I am concentrating too much on this without thinking enough of the overall result.