From Sketching to drawing – learn to draw botanical images workshop.

Today was the last day of the workshop concentrating on sketching and drawing skills – which is a necessity when creating botanical art images.

It was again a super workshop; as regards the participants. My husband always says that such lovely people join us for the workshops. They seemed very interested and commented upon how well they had progressed over the three days.

The first day was used in sketching and drawing simple shapes, from apples, bananas, grapes and cups. In fact it seemed that the forms we are most used to were the most difficult – the upside down cup caused the most problem.

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I have a very simple way of teaching the use of perspective in botanical art, so placing elements in space seemed less of an issue.

The second day was spent on working up a daffodil from sketch, through tonal drawing, to completed graphite picture . At least, the completed graphite picture was not done until today.

I deliberately chose daffodils as this gave a greater challenge than many simple flowers. The gardens are full of them too, so it all made sense.

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This afternoon, I was told that they hadn’t thought that they would be able to complete the workshop with a reasonable result. In fact, they and I were thrilled with the results. What do you think?
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Back home to crab apples

So far this week I have been catching up – or trying to, after our time in the US.

I mentioned that everything was green and therefore a shock after seeing the intense fall colours in America. This was the first sight of our back garden and one of our cats.

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It was still reasonably warm on our return, but I kept on my full length jeans.

Monday and Tuesday afternoon I did a lot of paperwork to catch up, but Tuesday and Wednesday morning I had my normal weekly botanical art classes. Everyone was very interested in the trip we had taken and most particularly in the catalogue from the Hunt Exhibition. Hopefully the catalogue will be motivational for some of the students.

At last on Wednesday I was able to get back to painting my crab apple series. Whilst we had been away, the Malus Golden Hornet crab apples had swelled up (luckily it has rained a little since we were away) and turned yellow. The apples are not fully ripe yet, but as this was the only painting where I had done no apples at all and very little preparatory sketches, it was the one picture I was most concerned about.

I had in fact actually started the painting before we went away. I had done a composition and finished most of the leaves, placing the apples roughly in accordance with measurements taken two years ago when starting the series. However, this year there has been little rain during the summer months and the fruit were not as big as originally allowed for. That aspect of the painting had to be sketched anew. A photo from the Malus Golden Hornet.

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On Thursday morning it started getting really cold here (relatively speaking) and a wind was building up. The Malus Gorgeous, a lovely little tree near our front door, has quite big deep red crab apples. They were beginning to fall off the tree. Although I have painted a composition with this apple several times, I had started a different composition. I again have done most of the leaves, but need to paint the apples. The Malus Gorgeous.

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I felt it was now important to do a list of the pictures, detailing what was missing on each one and the urgency of each element. I don’t want to miss an important phase in the development of each apple because I was concentrating too much on one of the..

My Malus John Downey tree now has only three apples left on it. It didn’t do too well this year. I still had five apples to paint in the picture! I decided this was a priority. I can wax lyrical about the beauty of this tree, but I will save this for another time.

So, now I have been rescuing crab apples to paint their portraits in the relevant picture and yesterday managed nine hours on John Downey. My husband went out in the evening, so I could do what I enjoyed best – paint.

I haven’t got new pictures of this painting, but here you can see the notes from my flower dissections in my sketch book. Peeking out from under the sketchbook you can just see some completed leaves on a branch contain gripe crab apples.

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Today, Friday, I have only had a couple of hours painting as we had to travel to Bristol for a meeting with other tutors from London Art College (LAC). I am the Botanical Art Tutor for LAC which is a distant learning course. If you are interested in this, have a look at their website. It is a good course.

Open studios the next two weekends

Spring is coming. At last!

This coming weekend I will be opening my studio during the Chichester Open Studios event. It will be open from Saturday to the bank holiday Monday and again the following Saturday and Sunday.

My pictures will be hung in the conservatory and prints and cards will also be displayed there. Luckily my husband Robin will be manning this area whilst I am down in the shed at the bottom of the garden.

As the event is called ‘Open Studios’, I have the excuse to stay in the shed all day long. I will be getting on with either painting my current piece of work or doing the preparations for other aspects of it.

Normally people do like to find their way down to the shed to see what an artists studio is like. I expect all studios are very different, just as the mess in mine varies according to what I am doing – even though it is generally botanical.

During ‘Open studios’ I can’t say that I work too effectively. I enjoy the visits throughout the two weekends as people are so interested and have so many questions. As I work in coloured pencil, watercolour or graphite, I am given so many opportunities to explain and demonstrate the different techniques. Sometimes, visitors become so interested they want to learn more. This is exciting.

Presently I am working on a series if crab apple paintings. There are meant to be six different crab apples, but my neighbour has just gone and bought a new one which is quite beautiful.

My husband Robin bought me a microscope for my birthday and at last the crab apple flowers are beginning to open, allowing me to capture their detail. Hopefully, more of the trees will be coming into blossom, in which case I will be using the microscope when dissecting the flowers. This might well be art with a difference for those who visit me down in the shed during these next two weeks.

I do hope you will join me.

The address is on my website, but have a look on the Chichester Open studios website for instructions as to how to get here. It is http://www.chichesterarttrail.org/.

I really look forward to seeing you in my shed!

FRom an earlier ‘Open Studios’ event:

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The Artist at work in the shed!

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Tracing to art paper

I have done some art tutorials with ArtTutor.com and they are now live via my website. Look at the page on tutorials and follow the links to download the E-book showing you how to paint a Crab apple picture with coloured pencils. You can also link into one of the tutorials as a taster.

I have had some very positive feedback and essentially this blog is in response to one of these which asked how I transferred my image onto the final art paper.

An image can be transferred in so many ways depending upon how refined you need the transfer to be. The more you rub out on your art paper, the more you damage it’s surface no matter how careful you are. You can use tracing paper, a light-box, your window as a light box, or this way:

I compose a picture using various thumbnails. This leads to a general rough design which forms the basis of the final line drawing.

This is part of the line drawing of the picture I am in the process of doing now:

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I trace the line drawing onto tracing paper, using a 0.3 clutch pencil.

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I turn the tracing paper over and draw the line again on the reverse side, being very careful to trace accurately.

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I then place the traced image right side up, on my art paper ( normally Fabriano HP) and, using a Decoupage tool, I rub across the lines. This transfers the graphite from the back side of the tracing paper to the art paper.

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The image left on the paper can then easily be lightened with a putty rubber, without leaving any indentations on the paper.

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I hope this helps those who wonder how best to transfer an image without damaging the art paper or leaving any indentations to get in the way.

Starting last picture again!

Well. I guess that any artist feels in a quandary when they feel a picture isn’t going as well as they want it to. But, starting a botanical art picture again, and at that, one in coloured pencil, needs some determination.

After starting the most recent Crab apple picture, nothing seemed straight forward with it. Each leaf was an effort and heavy going and I felt that its expression of lightness was compromised. Each one seemed to take forever and didn’t seem quite right. After I took breaks, going back with fresh eyes helped, but I still had the overall feeling that it wasn’t the best picture I had done to date.

Unfortunately I am a perfectionist and if what I am doing isn’t the best I can do, I’m not happy!

Anyway, I made the decision to start it again. This time the leaves seem to be developing much better and I am happy with the result so far. I just have to make sure I don’t mess it up over the rest of the picture. I have a long way to go, so anything can happen.

By the way, I have decided to say which crab apple I am doing at the moment. It is Malus Evereste. A beautiful stripy little apple. Some of them have double ‘bums’ underneath!

I decided on this one a couple of years ago as someone brought some branches to one of my workshops. I ended up doing sketches from the ones left behind after the workshop. Since then I have also found a source for a tree to paint in the village. But, as with the other five pictures in the series, I can only include the information I have already received.

Attached is the part of the painting completed before I ditched it!

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A very delayed update!

I have not updated this blog for a very long time. My excuse is like for everyone else – too busy.

But, a lot has happened in recent month. We decided last year that we were going to re-organise the house to accommodate my botanical art classes and open studios in May (with the Chichester Art trail) and in August. We started building works after Christmas and have continued since then. The main area, including kitchen, was done in time for the open studios in May. In fact the door into the gallery was only hung the night before – a close shave!

We had a huge increase in the number of visitors this year although the weather was very bad the first weekend with loads of rain. Two couples turned at the door and said that my type of art was not for them. A few others who came, came to have a look in other people’s houses (own admission), but became hooked on what they saw.  that was a fantastic result. I spent a lot of time telling people how I paint and why, showing them the process and giving them an opportunity to at least try out the colour pencils. Some became smitten and several signed up for classes and workshops.

I have loads more to tell, including about the Society of Floral Painters exhibition to take place this year in Chichester. I will come back to that tomorrow.

Subject for next RHS submission

As a botanical artist, I have been thinking about what subject to illustrate for the next time I submit my work to the RHS. Having won a silver for my Magnolia series in March this year, I want to choose a subject that is likely to earn me an additional medal. As Wisteria flowered not long after the exhibition, I had thought about plants from the Pea family, then seeing red berries from one of the Nightshade family (Solanum) in the hedgerows, I thought of doing that. I am in the middle of one botanical watercolour painting (Solanum dulcamara), but they have quite a sprawling habit and therefore a painting needs to show this.

We have four crab apple trees in our garden and three of them are heavily laden this year. They too make a good subject. I would have to find four more trees though to make the series of eight.

Today, I have been doing drawings, making colour samples and taking pictures of the fruit and leaves, so that I have something to start with. Hopefully I can add the flowers and young spring leaves to the preparatory work next year. I might do this series in colour pencil.

This means that in fact I have some material already on the go to do two separate series. I wonder which one will get there first?

Trying to set up this Blog

A kind friend showed me how easy it was to set up this blog the other day. I have now spent all day trying  to replicate what he told me. Unfortunately, I must be a little slow on the uptake, as it hasn’t gone quite as smoothly as I imagined. But I will get there and I will have this blog linked to my website at http://www.gaynorsflora.com.

I spent ages reading the instructions for my website; If all else fails read the instructions! After that I think I understood the terminology a little better.

As I am a botanical artist and the work I do is very time consuming for each picture, I inevitably feel that the time I used here was used in painting. Also the sun shone brilliantly today and the garden weeds called.