At last the Fuchsia microphylla picture

Yesterday we spent a super day in London, visiting Kew gardens. We had a lovely time and lunch with a good friend (also a botanical artist) at Kew, before going to have a look at the latest exhibition in the Shirley Sherwood gallery. The pieces that struck me most, were a series of Poppies by Denise Ramsay. If you get the chance to go and see them, please do.

We had been invited to an exhibition at the Herbarium in the early evening. The artist was Gustavo Marigo from Brazil, who had been on the Margaret Mee Fellowship programme. Watch this space, the last piece he worked on right up to the exhibition had so much depth and was quite beautiful.

The weather yesterday was so miserable and wet; we never thought, when we got up that the day would be so interesting.

Today I have been in the shed finishing off the Fuchsia microphylla. I mentioned last time that I had one or two problems because of the intense colours. Like anything else, when one sees a plant up close the colours become very clear and stronger than they might seem from a distance.

I had intended to draw a snippet of the plant actual size, in graphite. However the graphite appeared so subdued against the strong colours.

Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with graphite section actual size.
Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with graphite section actual size.

Robin suggested that i change the graphite section to ink to balance the picture. I was very dubious, but traced the section in ink on a sheet of acetate.

 

 

Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with trial ink section actual size.
Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with trial ink section actual size.

 

 

 

Doesn’t look too bad does it? So I took the plunge.

Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with ink section actual size.
Fuchsia microphylla in watercolour with ink section actual size.

Here is the final painting. Try and imagine it without the watermark as it unbalances the actual composition:

Fuchsia microphylla from Chelsea Physic Garden, in watercolour with ink.
Fuchsia microphylla from Chelsea Physic Garden, in watercolour with ink.

Fuchsia microphylla progress report and BT broadband hassle!

I am getting so fed up with BT broadband, phone and TV. I cannot believe that they sell us a service like this and we have to pay as we signed a contract with them. I don’t know how many times the server fell out today, starting whilst responding to emails before 08:00 this morning. The hub seems to be going orange on and off all day and the phone is an old fashioned crackling line; a repeating problem!

Grumble over – until it goes again when I try to send this blog!

I have been concentrating on my Fuchsia microphylla picture (its gone again! – Broadband I mean.) for the last few days. I left you with some composition plans I had for redoing the picture. During the open studio event early August, I decided to change it and that meant starting all over again. The detail I had originally painted was too low on the page, and I felt that in fact the paper colour was a little too creamy. This meant that the pink that I saw in the flower, couldn’t be replicated on the paper I was using. The off-white of Fabriano Artistico extra white, affected the pink, warming it up too much. I therefore needed to paint the picture on Fabriano Classico 5, which I think is about the whitest watercolour paper. I of course tested out the colours before tracing my chosen design on to the paper.

I still intend to keep you in suspense about which composition I chose. Although I have had a lot of people looking at my blog both on WordPress and Facebook, so far no-one has got back to me with suggestions as to which one I did choose!

I am going to show you the various elements in my composition right before putting the picture together.

Fuchsia microphylla side branch - magnified x 2
Fuchsia microphylla side branch – magnified x 2
Fuchsia microphylla longitudinal section of flower, magnified x 4
Fuchsia microphylla longitudinal section of flower, magnified x 4

Notice how two of the stamens hang down and three curl up. This is completely different to the standard Fuchsias you may be familiar with, where the stamens hang quite a long way below the  skirt of the flower. There are a total of eight stamens attached round the base of the sepals before they split up into four sections; looking like an outer whorl of petals. There is one style with four stigma. Therefore it is very appropriate that there are four ovaries in the fruit.

Fuchsia microphylla cross-section of fruit. Magnified x 3
Fuchsia microphylla cross-section of fruit. Magnified x 3
Fuchsia microphylla longitudinal section of fruit, magnified x 3
Fuchsia microphylla longitudinal section of fruit, magnified x 3

Funnily enough, although quite small – just under 1 cm when ripe, the fruit really stain.

When the plant is seen close to, the colours are so intense, which is very obvious in the final picture – causing additional compositional problems! Watch this space.

Fuchsia microphylla progress; and composition.

The last time that I mentioned anything about this botanical art piece in progress, was August 3, during my Open Studio event in Bosham. You saw the start of the picture and I will reintroduce it here.

Fuchsia microphylla painting started
Fuchsia microphylla painting started

I got as far as this:

Fuchsia Microphylla botanical art progression - change point!
Fuchsia Microphylla botanical art progression – change point!

When, with the help of a very good friend who is a brilliant mentor, I decided I needed to change the composition. As he said, I hadn’t put enough thought and work into the composition before I had started and therefore I was likely to come a cropper. I agreed with with him.

Following this discussion, I decided to prepare all my dissections and other parts to be introduced into the composition, in detail. Until this time, I had only prepared the main part in detail and put a rough sketch where I was going to have the other sections; this included a ‘line’ that represented a branch! Therefore I had to get down to the hard work that I needed to do; my detailed line drawings ready to trace over.

The microscope then came into function and this helped me change my mind completely about the sort of dissections I needed for the picture. Here is what I saw:

Fuchsia micrphylla stamens
Fuchsia micrphylla stamens

The flower has eight stamens. Four are tucked up and four hang down, with the hanging down ones ripening first. Had I done a typical dissection showing a separate stamen and separate style and stigma, no-one would have realised how it was all placed in the funnel formed by the semi-fused sepals. The solution to this problem was to do one longitudinal dissection of the flower, showing the stamens, style and stigma in situ. All I have to do is the drawing and painting show that it shows clearly!

We are still back at problem number one; composition. How are the elements to be placed and what size will they be. If you remember the plant has tiny leaves and flowers. The main section is painted at twice the normal size, although I will include a graphite line drawing actual size. But how big do the dissected flower and fruit have to be to be seen clearly?

I completed all my line drawings, traced them onto tracing paper in the manner I have previously written about in this blog, and I cut each traced element to arrange around the paper. These are all the compositional trials I made. Which one do you think I chose?

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As a final for this blog, I still have a couple of places left for the next workshop in Bosham; Hedgerow produce, 25 – 27 September. If you are interested have a look at the the page on this website, Tuition –> Workshops. You will be very welcome.

Summer Open Studio – Botanical art

Its that time of year again. Children are on holiday and the waterways (as well as motorways) are bustling. The sun is shining and the bees are buzzing, making sure we get the produce from our kitchen gardens and seeds for next year.

From my shed (studio), I can hear happy sailors in the creek, as well as curlews as they land. There seem also to be a lot of children and teenagers learning the ropes out on the water. But I am happy painting away with the sun pouring in through the open door and the cats curled up asleep as company; oblivious to anything.

Do come and experience my little haven during the next couple of weekends. You will be most welcome.

2015 Summer Open Studios flyer

One of the pieces I will be working on is my latest challenge. Fuchsia microphylla. Microphylla means small leaves. Everyone knows more or less what a Fuchsia looks like as for some it seems to be a challenge to find as many different sorts as possibly – whether hardy in the UK climate, or not. This plant is hardy but intriguing. The flowers are tiny, as are the leaves, but the fruit is also quite small although seeming to get somewhat larger than the flower.

Fuchsia microphylla
Fuchsia microphylla
Fuchsia microphylla flowers
Fuchsia microphylla flowers

I have started to paint a picture in watercolour. The composition is the real challenge and how I am going to express this on paper, with dissections. Come and see how I intend to try and solve the problems. Comments and suggestions will be most welcome.

Fuchsia microphylla painting started
Fuchsia microphylla painting started

My husband commented today that he didn’t realise that the colours in the plant were so vibrant. I had done a tad more on the painting by the time he made this comment. But it is like all things botanical, once you get down to the detail – even in grasses – the colours are amazing.

 

Fuchsia microphylla setup in my shed (studio). Plant, magnifying glasses galore, easel, chair, paints, brushes and water.
Fuchsia microphylla setup in my shed (studio). Plant, magnifying glasses galore, easel, chair, paints, brushes and water.

Robin will be ably manning the gallery and I look forward to you joining me down in the shed.