Goodbye to “Farewell” and hallo to another project start.

The Easter break has been and gone, visiting family who enlivened the recent days have gone back to their own homes and it is back to botanical art.

I will say farewell to “Farewell” (the Benton Iris) at the end of this blog, but invite you to see a couple of developments.

My project for the Chelsea Florilegium this year is the Rhododendron impeditum. It is an exquisite dwarf Rhododendron. Why I do such tiny plants, I have no idea. I spend a lot of time trying to think out how I am going to portray it even before I start. I know that it won’t be easy but at the moment I am doing as many sketches of it as possible before the buds open. Initially the buds looked fairly dead and in fact the winter did kill off my first plant and killed the buds of the 2nd plant. Luckily I managed to find a 3rd one, so my sketches so far have been from this one.

I think I will tickle your imagination as to how I might tackle this by just showing you a picture of my plant this time. With any luck, before too long I might have a better idea of what I am doing because soon the plant will flower and I will need to capture the detail on paper.

There is still a lot of work to do in preparing for the UK part of the Botanical Art Worldwide Exhibition – In Ruskin’s Footsteps. I hope as many people as possible will put the dates of the exhibition into their diaries. It will be held at the Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University between 18th May – Worldwide Day of Botanical Art – and 9th June. It will be open on weekdays between 12:00 – 17:00, and there are two special event days on Saturday 19th May and 9th June. These Saturdays will be open from 10:00 – 16:00.

Apart from the 40 juried pictures of native flora on view, we will also be having some demonstrations in botanical art  and in depth tours of the artworks on the special event days. All this in addition to showing a continuous slideshow of roughly 40 pictures from each of the 25 participating countries throughout the whole exhibition.

I think this exhibition will be very different to any one you will have seen before because of the involvement of so many countries from around the globe – all at the same time.

I also want to share with you the excitement I have felt recently because of one of my plants from Norway. It is called Empetrum nigrum; hermaphroditum (Krekling in Norwegian or Crowberry in English). Normally this plant is either male or female, but at high altitudes it has both sexes in the same plant. During the autumn my plant developed some flower buds. But nothing else happened until this last week when a couple of them started opening and showing petals.

I took this picture with a macro lens on my iPhone. The actual size of each flower at this stage is about 2mm. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will be fertilised so that I get fruit in the autumn.

By the way, this is one of the plants that I will be painting for my series of Norwegian mountain plants.

Before I finish, my next botanical art workshop is 27-28 April and we will be concentrating on different pen and ink techniques. Have you ever thought how many techniques there are? I think you will get a surprise. Knowing a little more about them can really enhance your botanical art practice. Get in touch  via the contact form on my Workshop web page: gaynorsflora.com/tuition-2/workshops/

So finally, the Benton Iris ‘Farewell’. I am pleased that I own the copyright for this picture.

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A little more of my Benton Iris ‘Farewell’

Trying to paint more with the Benton Iris – work that I love doing, has been complicated by all the adjustments in relation to the botanical art exhibition ‘ In Ruskin’s Footsteps’. But you can now see the updated website in relation to the new improved venue (still at Lancaster University) and adjustment to the dates. I will give you the link at the end of this blog.

In my last blog I showed you my progression in relation to the large fan-like leaves of this majestic plant. I chose to include only colour for those on the right hand side of the artwork and graphite on the remaining leaves. This was so that the picture would not be overwhelmingly heavy with green leaves. 

I finished off last time with the bud spike on the left hand side of the artwork. Now I will show you the start of the main flower spike, which needed to be divided in two because of the height of it.

 

 

 

This is customary in botanical art when painting correctly.

 

It is important to give an indication of the habit of the plant if painting life-size and the plant is very tall; try to include as much of it as possible in the same painting. I have divided the flower spike in two and have shown the cut ends with the same profile at the cut edge.

On this stem you can clearly see the flowers and buds spiralling off.

I have started off with a pale wash for the bud leading up to the main flower before completing the detail with a dry brush technique.

Now the start of the top flower and he developing bud just underneath. This was actually quite difficult to get right.


All my sketches were done outside in the garden last year and if you don’t keep your head still while drawing, the detail visible will change.

If you are enjoying following the stages in the development of the Benton Iris ‘Farewell’, you might like to come to my next workshop March 23-24th, where this time we will be concentrating on a line drawing and tonal sketch. Normal, good preparation for any botanical art painting. Get in touch with me via the contact form below if you would like to join us. The details are on the Workshop page of my website.

Look at the last blog of 2017 to remind you about how I started off this Iris. https://gaynorsflora.com/2017/12/30/last-gaynors-flora-blog-of-2017/.

Although botanical art is fairly strict in what is ideally included in a picture, it is quite wide ranging and much wider than for pure botanical illustration. But it is important to remember that what I show you in my blog is my style of working. There are many different styles and none are wrong; It is the result that counts!

 

Last but not least the link to the Association of British Botanical Art website: www.britishbotanicalartists.com/2018exhibition

Last Gaynor’s Flora blog of 2017

First of all I hope that everyone able to follow my blog had a very peaceful Christmas. Thank you for your interest in my work over recent months. I hope that it has encouraged your own botanical art involvement.

I have been quiet for a while as I have been so completely engaged in the UK preparations of the Botanical Art Worldwide Exhibition  opening 18 May 2018. But during relatively quiet moments I have been working on my next painting for the Benton Irises Florilegium.

Today, has been one such day. Although we have family visiting over Christmas and more due over the New Year Period, I managed to work a little on the composition of the Benton Iris Farewell.

This is an absolutely stunning Iris which at first glance is white with reddy-brown falls. But when taking a second look, white does not describe it. The Iris seems to pick up all the colours of the rainbow!

I now have several plants in my garden and in the spring made full use of all the days I could sit out in the sun and sketch it. These are some of my preparatory sketches.

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Today I worked on the composition and it is completely different to that which I had anticipated. I had already scanned my sketches and moved the different parts around on my computer screen after having worked out where my Golden section and area of focus was likely to be. From this exercise I thought I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, so started sketching it.

This is my rough layout. Where do you think the area of focus is? Is it in a Golden section? Is the eye lead around the composition?

Colours will also influence the final composition as will weight of the various elements.

I hope to keep you up to date with how the painting develops, but that is dependent upon the amount of work with the Worldwide exhibition. Do look at www.britishbotanicalartists.com.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

2018

 

Second Gaynor’s Flora update

Whilst I was away, I was filling in forms, writing CVs etc for the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) conference in Pittsburgh and the exhibition in New York in November. I didn’t have access to all my paperwork to fill everything in, but thought I could rely on the information in my website. Not so! For some reason or other a couple of pages were empty, such as the one for awards, and several others were not updated. Why, I don’t know. But as my husband says it is because I’m human. That might be a surprise to some!

Have a look at my website, because some of the factual things were updated yesterday.

What has this got to do with botanical art? Find out in the botanical art course.
What has this got to do with botanical art? Find out in the botanical art course.

Whilst doing this vital function, I was reminded that I needed to mention that I have some places on the online botanical art course Online botanical art course .   I keep the number low for new people starting each month so that I don’t become overloaded with teaching, leaving no room for my own painting.

The feedback that students get back from me for each assignment is comprehensive – as those who are already doing the course can vouch for. Each assignment I receive often takes several hours to mark, so that as you embrace the tutorials and struggle with practicing for the work you send to me, you know that your efforts will be treated seriously.

The course is suitable for people starting out in botanical art and for those who want to improve. Generally speaking, the ‘wanting’ to improve in our botanical art practices applies to all of us and it sometimes helps to have someone else to guide us further along this path. Do sign up and give it a go.

Going back to the beginning of June and the Cedric Morris collection of Irises; these are the pictures of the second Iris. This time it is the Benton Apollo. In the garden in Hadleigh, Suffolk, the Irises were at various stages of flowering. The Benton Farewell that I showed you yesterday had only just started flowering and there was only the one fully opened. However, the Benton Apollo Irises were very much in full bloom.

Iris Benton Apollo
Iris Benton Apollo

In this picture you can see some of the other Iris colours in background. And I believe that this part of the garden was secondary!! Anyway, again I was smitten. But who in their right mind would choose a yellow flower to paint?

Both white flowers and yellow flowers are considered very difficult to paint, but it all depends on whether you have leaves backing the flowers, and the way you do your shadows. In actual fact the Benton Farewell had a lot of subtle mauve tints in the white and the yellow iris has also some beautiful and interesting shades, particularly in the fall petals.

On Saturday evening I made my way home in the car. It was hot. For the first part of the journey, Julia accompanied me, sitting in the front seat holding her Iris cutting with all the windows wide open. My Iris was safely supported in the boot of the car – or so I thought! Julia’s Iris didn’t even flutter in the wind and mine was safely in the boot being torn to shreds.

I was lucky enough to have some buds left on the cuttings and during the following week I did demonstrations on four days. What did I use for my subjects? The Irises of course.

Benton Apollo sketch done in situ.
Benton Apollo sketch done in situ.

 

Benton Apollo sketch from cutting
Benton Apollo sketch from cutting

Both sketches are watercolour in a Stillman & Bern Zeta sketchbook.

I am back!

I haven’t written a blog, updated my website or done too much in recent weeks. But after an enforced rest (more in another blog)  I am now refreshed and raring to go.

My last blog was in May when I told you that my Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ picture had been accepted for the ASBA exhibition in New York in November. Such a lot has happened since then. and we only have three days left in July.

At the time I was exhibiting in the Cranleigh Arts Centre and at the same time in the last Society of Floral  Painters Exhibition in Chichester. But in the beginning of June I was asked if I would paint two Irises as part of the Cedric Morris Florilegium. I agreed and met up at the garden of Sarah Cook in Suffolk, who is collecting the Benton Irises. All who had agreed to paint an Iris for the intended Florilegium met up for the Saturday and were flabbergasted at the array of Irises in flower.

Iris Benton Farewell, in all its glory.

As you can vaguely see, we were spread out around the garden sitting and sketching on our knees. Not the best of positions, but for the love of painting botanically we almost do anything. I have to say that luckily the sun came out at lunchtime and we all started shedding our layers of clothes. Unlike many of the others I was stupid enough to forget a hat!

I did do several sketches, making notes of size and colour, so that I have a better opportunity to paint the portrait at home.

Luckily, we have two years to complete these pictures and we are invited to catch up with the Irises again in June next year.

Today I will show you a couple of sketches of the Iris Benton Farewell. They are in watercolour.

Some sketches from my sketchbook done in the garden