I’m afraid that at the moment i can’t show you the colour calibrated final picture of the Liriope muscari, but I can and will show you the the last two photos I took of it, before its delivery yesterday.
I struggled in places with getting the minute details on the paper that I used for the painting and wished that I had a never ending stock of the Fabriano Artistico. I therefore contacted the company in London that imports and distributes a lot of our art papers, to see if by any chance they had some old stock of these papers.
The company was fantastic and had a really good search in their two places where they store their stock. They did manage to find some Artistico and some old stock Fabriano 5 and when going up to London yesterday for the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society meeting, we went in and bought what they had found for us.
I am now a happy bunny! But I am still keeping my eyes open for a good paper to recommend to my students. So far, this might well be the Canson Moulin du Roy.
But as one of my artist colleagues pointed out to me yesterday, we can’t rely on having the same paper available to us for ever. So part of our skills as botanical artists also needs to be, in having the ability to paint on anything and still have a magnificent result.
To put your minds at rest, the picture is now finished although I will continue to show you its development day by day. I finished it yesterday and scanned it, today working on matching the colours in Photoshop. Photoshop kept on crashing every time I tried to do a colour proof, therefore that took far longer time than I could afford. If anyone knows how to sort out that little problem for me I will be more than happy for your assistance.
Back to the painting. When I was doing the flower spikes I thought they were difficult as they were so tiny. But painting the strap-like leaves was a different challenge.
The result of the 11th and 12th day of painting the Liriope muscari follows.
Working on these immature flower spikes was quite difficult as they have such tiny flowers. I continued to use the magnifying glass to paint them. Without losing the detail or gradually increasing colour of the developing flowers, I needed to make sure that the sides facing away from the light source were in shadow.
This time I finished off the enlarged flower spike of the Liriope muscari picture and started on one of the immature spikes in natural size. The tuft of leaves and immature flower spikes are done in this way to show the growth habit of the plant.
I chose to do the flower spike enlarged as the individual flowers were quite small, therefore to appreciate their beauty I felt it was better to do these on a larger scale. In actual fact they are only twice natural size, although when you see them against the immature spikes, they seem to be more than this.
In botanical art one needs to try and give as much information about the plant as possible, without repetition. There is always so much that defines an individual plant, that a picture can just get complicated if the information in it is repeated too frequently. This is often a mistake I have made. But in this instance, because the flower spike is enlarged the number of petals, stamens and stigmas can be seen clearly in relation to the size of the the whole spike.
The next section of the picture I found very difficult. The largest immature flower spike measures 5 cm therefore, because I was painting this natural size, the individual buds were tiny. Because there is some tooth on the Strathmore 500 Bristol vellum paper, I found this got in the way of painting tiny detail. So I used a piece of agate to try and burnish the surface of the paper in between layers of paint.
For all the flowers I used a magnifying glass to see the detail I was painting and to check that my edges were as clean as possible. As I don’t normally use a magnifying glass constantly, I got a nice kink in my neck!
Thank you to all the lovely people who have visited us over the weekend during the Open Studio event. It was good to meet new faces, put faces to names and of course see those who come regularly. It was a lovely weekend and the weather also put on a smiling face.
We still have a lot to put away, but this is Robin hard at it!
I have continued to work on the Liriope muscari picture. But continuing on from the last photos, these are days 5 and 6.
What a busy life, but who would have it any other way! This is both a progress report on the Liriope picture. Two days worth again, although I didn’t get anything done yesterday as we were preparing to welcome all those wise people who have decided to come and visit our home this weekend.
We are now ready and waiting for your visit during the Open Studio event – or at any time. Welcome!
But what you are really wanting to see is the Liriope muscari. Come and see me working on it this weekend.
I’m painting this on Strathmore 500 Bristol vellum. This is a 100% cotton paper which I have used successfully previously. This is instead of my favourite, the old Fabriano Artistico.
Unfortunately, the surface of the ‘new’ paper does not allow for detail in the same way as the ‘old’ paper and this is because of a production change in Italy. We are told that Fabriano have now acknowledged that there is a difference to their paper which affects us botanical artists more than they thought possible. In the meantime I am trying out different papers to help me advise my students.
I will show you here the result of two days work on the enlarged flower spike. I have been trying to take a picture at the end of each day’s work. It is a long process. The quality of the pictures will vary according to the light. I have taken photographs rather than scanning. But it gives a good idea of the progression of the artwork.