Spotting the near miss with a Dipladenia leaf

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.

Finished leaf and tendril.
Finished leaf and tendril.
More leaves
More leaves
Last adult Dipladenia leaf
Last adult Dipladenia leaf


The Dipladenia leaf start. Help!

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.

This is a picture of the start of the leaf.

A leaf or two in progress.
A leaf or two in progress.

My fingers, toes and everything else are crossed.

The start of a leaf and part of a tendril
The start of a leaf and part of a tendril

Spot the mistake leading to a near miss!

Dipladenia progression

I have to be honest that the photos I am sending out in my blog are ones taken during work done over the last couple of weeks.  I suppose that rather than show you them as I am doing them, I am still hesitant as to where the painting will go and if I will get over my fear of doing it badly yet again!

I am still spending quite a bit of time on the Palmengarten exhibition organisation which means that some days I have virtually no time to paint.  Additionally I mark the assignments for the two botanical art courses at the London Art College. It all takes time off the actual painting. But, I am enjoying seeing the assignments that come in and the development of the students.

Do have a look at the London Art College website if you are interested in doing botanical painting either in watercolour or coloured pencil. Obviously getting hands-on tuition is the best, but sometimes distances preclude this and the distance learning is a good option.


Now a couple more photos from the Dipladenia picture.

Dipladenia flower pair with bud and a flower having lots its fused, tubular petals.
Dipladenia flower pair with bud and a flower having lost its fused, tubular petals.
Dipladenia flower shrivelling & two buds.
Dipladenia flower shrivelling & two buds.

Dipladenia – again

I am now on my 6th attempt – I think. I’m losing count.

It is a while since I last wrote a blog and since then I have been trying to get my head around my temporary(!) lack of skills. I had decided to paint a Dipladenia plant for the Botanical art exhibition at Palmengarten, Frankfurt in October. The title of the exhibition is Poisonous and Medicinal plants.

Prior to going to Norway I had sketched out and gently started the picture. For those who may not know, the Dipladenia is as poisonous as Poinsettia. But it grows long tendrils and these are a temptation to a playful cat. Unfortunately I didn’t know how poisonous the plant was and I now know that when the cat suddenly became seriously ill before we went away, that in fact he had been poisoned by the plant.The trouble is it also seems to have had a negative affect on my painting skills.

The plant is now in the shed – well away from playful cats, and will be given away once the picture is finished. I will not give up.

This time I have reduced the design and have painted most of the flowers first. I suppose that is asking for trouble as I seem to get a blockage when I get to the leaves. I know what I want to do, but somehow there is a disconnect between my head and the messages sent to my hand and skills with the brush, pigment and water!

I am taking some photos as I go along.

Dipladenia flower 1
Dipladenia flower 1

First layer of the dipladenia flower. Note what looks like a heavy dark tracing. It is in fact not heavy and is traced in the method I have demonstrated in an earlier blog. Because no sharp tool, even a pencil is used to do the tracing, the graphite is easily lifted off completely with a putty rubber, leaving NO indent.

Dipladenia flower 2
Dipladenia flower 2

The layers of watercolour are almost complete.

In between botanical art demonstrations.

Following my botanical art demonstration at Westminster Central Hall during the SBA exhibition, I have hardly done any painting until today.

We had a few days good weather last week, so I did some much needed weeding in the garden. My husband and I also sorted what vegetables were to go into our new raised beds in the kitchen garden (he did the work). And I spent one day colour matching on Photoshop two pictures that I have just had framed. One is of Hellebore heads and the other was the large Hydrangea head in black and white.

I also had to mount some prints in preparation for the Society of Floral Painters (SFP) exhibition in Chichester handing in was on Monday and I was on one of the two assessment teams.

The arrangement of teams was quite impressive. The SFP is Floral and not necessarily botanical. I am strictly botanical, and as a counter balance, one artists paints very loosely and the third member is in between. In this way we got quite a good selection of paintings.

Once all the pictures had gone through the selection process, we were again divided into teams to hang the pictures. My husband had been a runner during the morning session and was also now hanging the pictures. In the end the SFP committee thought they would to adopt him!

Hanging the pictures lasted two days with the opening on Tuesday evening. Do go and visit the Oxmarket Art Centre in Chichester. It is a good exhibition and there is something there to suit all artistic tastes, as long as it is in relation to the kingdom of plants.

I am demonstrating coloured pencil and botanical art this first Sunday between 11:00 and 16:30. Do come and watch and ask questions if there is something you would like to know. I will be demonstrating again the following Sunday 1 June, but this time watercolour. Other artists will be demonstrating other techniques whilst the exhibition is on. Have a look at my website for the address, dates and times of the exhibition.

On Wednesday my husband and I drove up to London to collect pictures following the SBA exhibition at Westminster and to attend the AGM meeting. One of the topics was the exhibition that the SBA are providing pictures for at Palmengarten, Frankfurt in October. We are both heavily involved with collecting the pictures from across the UK and getting them to Frankfurt. But more about that at a later stage. But we managed to start the collection of paintings during the AGM. We are off to a good start.

Today was my usual weekly class and since then I have been painting.

Do you remember the Irises that I did in watercolour and then demonstrated in coloured pencil at Westminster? I have continued with that today and will be using the same to demonstrate on Sunday. I think I have been doing myself a disservice in trying to keep it true to the watercolour as it is quite different to the iris I am now painting from. I’m tying myself up in knots.

This is it so far. The completed watercolour one first followed by the very incomplete coloured pencil one.




Demonstration at SBA exhibition, Westminster

Yesterday was the last day of the Chichester Open Studios art trail. We had many interested visitors and several of you who read this blog. Thank you for coming so far. It was lovely seeing all of you, and an honour.

After finishing yesterday we obviously had to clear everything up. Take the pictures and screens down and pack everything away for the next show. This will be at the Stansted Garden Show in June; more about that another time.

But, today I have been hastily finishing off the picture of Irises in Watercolour, so that I can trace off a similar image to use for the coloured pencil demo tomorrow. I have made some adjustments to the tracing I used and I will tell you why at the demonstration – if you are interested.

A hint might be in the following pictures. Yesterday you saw the start of the picture with only two Irises of the three intended. I was waiting for the third flower to open properly before I drew it.

It will be good to see you in London tomorrow.