It is now several years since I painted my last pineapple and I have been asked to paint another one. I started the drawing before I went to Norway and today have got back to it having caught up (sort of) with other outstanding tasks that accumulated whilst I was away.
The trouble is, we had to eat the last pineapple before we went away! So what do I do? It was delicious by the way.
When you buy a pineapple, it has been cut and removed from the parent plant. This of course is obvious, but what is less understood is that it will not become riper after it has been cut. As far as I understand the pineapples are cut at their ripest. Some buyers prefer to buy them green and if the golden yellow colour is wanted they are sprayed about a week prior to harvest with a plant growth regulator. If you want to check this up read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineapple.
The pineapples that I have bought are mainly from Costa Rica and I think are the cultivar “smooth cayenne”.
I normally take pictures of my subject first so that I have an idea of what it originally looked like, so that when it dies or rots too much, I can replace it with a fresher specimen. In this instance my original drawing and placing of segments will be different to any other pineapple I get. But, I can use segments in the new pineapple, making sure that they are in a similar position and lit in a similar way to the original specimen. Thus I can continue to paint from life – which for a botanical artist is far the best thing to do.
My initial work:
Note the tramlines in a Fibonacci spiral. I observe the lines, draw the crossing tramlines and at each intersection place a segment. Once a tracing has been made, I do a very rough shading on the original sketch to indicate the form of the fruit.
I traced over onto a Fabriano Classico HP 640gsm paper in a manner that I have previously described in one of my blogs. This leaves no indentations from the pencil and is easily removed before painting.
I used a watercolour pencil to lightly outline my segments in an area of the pineapple I can manage initially. When I begin to paint, this colour will be absorbed into the painting avoiding lines. I don’t do too many at once in case I really need to change any of the segments in a later pineapple.
This was a good workshop. I needed to do only a few demonstrations, and none of them were in relation to laying on the colour. However, we did talk a lot about ‘form’ and how to achieve this and what needed to be in a botanical art picture.
I also have several dried Teasels in the studio, so the next obvious question was, how to draw these ready to paint. A lesson on Fibonacci ensued.
Enjoy the following pictures from this workshop. The two pictures started last Monday on the SFP workshop will probably require no more than simple adjustments if necessary. There are two pictures with Liquid amber leaves – but the styles are hugely different and work. The Sorbus picture will take a while to come to completion with all the tiny leaves and detail. The honeysuckle has needed a lot of planning and thinking ahead, more of the basis work is in place and now she can just carry on painting the rest of the picture.
I absolutely love what I do. I can’t believe that I am doing what I have always wanted to do.
After several days work and a terrible broadband reception after 15:00 each day during Easter, my website: gaynorsflora.com now works properly. Thank goodness. I suppose that because the people who sold the ‘take-away-site’ to me, made such a mistake and cut me off, they probably did me a favour. I went through everything on the website and hopefully now everything functions as it should.
So, I am still catching up. I have had a class today, sorted out some paperwork, wrote feedback for an assignment for London Art College where I am the botanical art tutor and took some new assignments off the website in preparation for marking at the weekend. It is these assignments that I am so exhilarated about. The one I did today was really good and with a short glimpse of the new ones, I can’t believe my luck. They too are very good. People who are so interested in botanical art, are learning so much and who I am sure you will know about before too long. Obviously I can’t mention names but I wish I could. One day…..
Tomorrow I am going to put aside all paperwork and paint for the first time in a while. At least I will during the afternoon and evening while my husband is at his art class.
My face is healing. The blue-black colour that it has been from eye to under my chin is now a mauvish-grey with a little jaundiced yellow in between. The high cheekbone is still a solid lump, but I am sure that will reduce eventually. My pulled muscles and tendons prevents strenuous exercise just yet, but then I can paint. Tomorrow is the day! I will show you some of it at the end of the day – I hope.
But, I still have some pictures that I got permission to put on this blog. This time its Sharon Tingey. She was on the other side of the stand to me at the RHS. Sharon’s work was Helianthus – Sunflowers and it won a Gold. It was really beautiful work and she had actively used her knowledge of the Fibonacci sequence to paint it.
By the way, I had a student today with whom I was discussing the spiral and she referred to it as the ‘Liberace spiral’! Luckily she really understood the funny side of this and has allowed me to mention it.
Do enjoy Sharon’s work and let her know that you have done so.
Now I am back into the swing of things with a two- day botanical art workshop. The title was based on pictures I took at this time last year; spring bulbs! Bad mistake. Most spring bulbs are finished now.
I trawled through the local garden centre and found some worn out tulips, fading well in their pots, and some Fritillary. I therefore bought the latter, and some Osteospermum. One student found some Lily of the Valley and another brought some more Fritillary from the garden. Challenges galore.
I think that the greatest challenge was the pattern on the Fritillary and this was tried both in watercolour and coloured pencil. Thank goodness for a little knowledge about Fibonacci. It certainly helps in knowing about the spiral when planning the pattern.
For those who might not know, Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician and he worked out the mathematical process behind the spiral which we basically find in nature and in good design. For example, the spiral of segments in a pineapple and it’s leaves, a pine cone, the centre of a sunflower – and of course the pattern on a Fritillary petal.
Hopefully I will be back with some pictures from the workshop tomorrow. Things look promising, but I have students who have not painted since they were at school, and those who are very experienced. Believe it or not, it is those with experience who feel most challenged as it is generally very specific problems that they want to overcome.
I think it fitting that I show you Diane Sutherland’s exhibit for the RHS. She painted these Fritillary on vellum. In fact, the largest piece of vellum in this series is from Rory McEwen’s vellum left to the Hunt Institute of Botanical Art in Pittsburgh.
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