6th part of the Blackberry on vellum story.

 

 

 

 

Painting the leaves

I am told that often people hate painting leaves. But the leaves on the Blackberry are really exciting to paint.

The original set-up for this picture had green leaves, although partly eaten up by various bugs. As it has been a few weeks since I started this picture, I needed to find some replacement leaves, which I found from the same plant; they were really beautiful. This picture is one of the new leaflets showing the colouration I introduced into the leaf set I had already drawn. The other two leaflets remained predominantly green.

When painting on vellum, one of the things I was taught was to keep the first layers of colour as pure as possible. The reason for this is somehow obvious, although I often forget in my haste; it is easy to dull colours, but it is not easy to restore them to their original brilliance.

But it’s not just about colour; for best results the brush needs to be as dry as possible so that the pigment is laid finely with the very tip of the brush.

The technique for painting on vellum is similar to the purely dry technique (as opposed to wet-on-wet or dry-on-wet) used when painting watercolour on paper.  Even better, the paint is laid using a cross-hatch stroke in many layers when painting on vellum. This is a necessity if wanting to achieve a depth of colour (particularly dark colours) without getting a thick layer of paint that is visible when viewing the picture at different angles.

By the way, I use a brush with plenty of body to hold the pigment and an exceptionally good point; normally a Rafael 8408 size 4. But Rosemary brushes series 8 also work well, this time no smaller than a size 2 even for the finest detail.

Below you can see the steps I took when painting the leaves.

Next time, I intend to show you the mistakes and take-outs I made. Making mistakes is where one learns. Learning to deal with them is as important as realising you have made them. The ideal is of course not to make them in the first place; but that comes with time!

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My next workshop in Bosham is ‘Hedgerow Colour’ 27-28 September. Get in touch via the contact form below quickly if you would like to join us. If you would like to follow my blogs, put your email address in the ‘Follow’ section on the right hand side of this page.

A little more of my Benton Iris ‘Farewell’

Trying to paint more with the Benton Iris – work that I love doing, has been complicated by all the adjustments in relation to the botanical art exhibition ‘ In Ruskin’s Footsteps’. But you can now see the updated website in relation to the new improved venue (still at Lancaster University) and adjustment to the dates. I will give you the link at the end of this blog.

In my last blog I showed you my progression in relation to the large fan-like leaves of this majestic plant. I chose to include only colour for those on the right hand side of the artwork and graphite on the remaining leaves. This was so that the picture would not be overwhelmingly heavy with green leaves. 

I finished off last time with the bud spike on the left hand side of the artwork. Now I will show you the start of the main flower spike, which needed to be divided in two because of the height of it.

 

 

 

This is customary in botanical art when painting correctly.

 

It is important to give an indication of the habit of the plant if painting life-size and the plant is very tall; try to include as much of it as possible in the same painting. I have divided the flower spike in two and have shown the cut ends with the same profile at the cut edge.

On this stem you can clearly see the flowers and buds spiralling off.

I have started off with a pale wash for the bud leading up to the main flower before completing the detail with a dry brush technique.

Now the start of the top flower and he developing bud just underneath. This was actually quite difficult to get right.


All my sketches were done outside in the garden last year and if you don’t keep your head still while drawing, the detail visible will change.

If you are enjoying following the stages in the development of the Benton Iris ‘Farewell’, you might like to come to my next workshop March 23-24th, where this time we will be concentrating on a line drawing and tonal sketch. Normal, good preparation for any botanical art painting. Get in touch with me via the contact form below if you would like to join us. The details are on the Workshop page of my website.

Look at the last blog of 2017 to remind you about how I started off this Iris. https://gaynorsflora.com/2017/12/30/last-gaynors-flora-blog-of-2017/.

Although botanical art is fairly strict in what is ideally included in a picture, it is quite wide ranging and much wider than for pure botanical illustration. But it is important to remember that what I show you in my blog is my style of working. There are many different styles and none are wrong; It is the result that counts!

 

Last but not least the link to the Association of British Botanical Art website: www.britishbotanicalartists.com/2018exhibition

Where to find daffodils and global warming!

At the weekend I had a two-day workshop with the title of ‘Daffodils – Herald of Spring’.

Looking into most gardens on the south coast of England, the daffodils were long gone, so how did I decide to teach this subject at this time of the year.

When planning my botanical art workshops, I look back at the photos I have taken of daffodils over the years and note the dates. Before my introduction into the digital age, I remembered that for my 49th birthday (21 years ago), we had snow (in the UK) and the daffodils were just coming out.

Working from then until last year, I expected that there would still be some in the garden. If you remember last year the daffodils were extremely early and we thought that was that. But then we had a new flowering and rather than just a few odd ones, there was an almighty crop. Not so this year!

Robin and I went trailing around Chichester and surrounding areas buying up what we could find. It was an interesting exercise.

As you can see, in the end we found the remains of some tiny ‘Tête á Tête” bulbs still flowering, but also some Narcissi. Therefore the workshop was saved.

As a note here, all my workshop titles where specific plants are mentioned, are just suggestions for subjects to paint. My workshops are not based on a step-by-step approach, but on individual support to improve your own technique.

Here are several pictures from the workshop including a preparation page, a very rough sketch and a ‘before and after’ picture showing the importance of cleaning up around the image as a last task.

I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but once again I met with some lovely, hard working botanical artists and I believe a good time was had by all.

Now to prepare for the next two weekends, which is the Chichester Open  Studio art trail. In addition to my usual exhibition space where my workshops are held, I will be doing some  work towards pictures I will need to have finished before the end of the year. Robin will be looking after the exhibition and you will find me tucked away in the shed at the bottom of the garden. Do come and visit me at Venue 35 in Bosham. For more details visit page: https://gaynorsflora.com/exhibitions/.

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Completed from the last botanical art workshop; when is the next?

I thought that it would be pleasing to show one picture started in the last workshop, completed. Sue James sent me this message and gave her permission to use use her name and her image.

‘Finished article! Thanks for a great workshop, learned a lot! Looking forward to the next one’.

Version 2

I am sure that you will like it as much as I do. Painting the hairy buds of the Magnolia x solangeana in the technique that I use is not easy although it gives the best result. I think you will agree with me that she has achieved this very well.

There are plenty of opportunities to learn my techniques in workshops https://gaynorsflora.com/tuition-2/workshops/ ,

workshop holiday https://gaynorsflora.com/tuition-2/exclusive-botanical-art-painting-holiday-at-le-manoir-in-france/,

and the online botanical art course https://gaynorsflora.com/tuition-2/online-botanical-art-course/.

Because I limit the number of students at each workshop I teach in watercolour, coloured pencil and or graphite.

The next botanical art workshop in Bosham is ‘White flowers against dark ones’, although in reality the topic is really about what is to be gained by painting pale flowers against something darker in the background; leaves or darker flowers. The workshop is Thursday, Friday and Saturday 16 – 18 February and there are still a very few places available.

The workshop holiday at Le Manoir in the French Dordogne has only four painting places left, so if you want to come, sign up for this soon. Take advantage of being looked after from the botanical art point of view, and in relation to the holiday with well thought out afternoon trips and of course looking after your taste buds.

Last, but not least is the ongoing Online Botanical art course. Unlike many other online botanical art courses, this one takes a limited number of new students each month and is therefore continuous. It is spread over a longer period of time (18 months), allowing you to fit it in with your other commitments and life in general. Additionally, you can get in touch with me with any queries you have about the course at any time; you can communicate with other students participating in the course via a secret Facebook page; the feedback you get for each of your assignments is a several page long very detailed constructive critique about each of the pieces you send to me. I take on new students for February 1 tomorrow, and again 15 February. Get in touch.

It may be grey out there just now, but there is so much already in the garden (in the Northern hemisphere), just ready and waiting to explode. Down under, it is probably the hottest part of the year, but it is always exciting for me to see the subjects chosen to paint, which might be considered exotic in the UK. Oh how I love doing what I do!

 

Workshop schedule and booking forms now available

I had to work hard to finish the Liriope muscari ‘Moneymaker’ in time for handing it in at the beginning of this month. Including the sketches when I first got the plant in 2015, sketchbook drawings, colour matching and composing the picture to my satisfaction, it took 211 hrs.

I remember a comment that someone made not too long ago; when they started painting they thought that as they got better they would be quicker, but it didn’t work out that way. They too were a botanical artist.

I have to say that when I took up painting plants a few years ago, having painted birds in great detail previously, I too thought that I would get quicker as I got more experienced. The trouble is that as one becomes more experienced one knows what to look for and that getting the detail right is imperative. I suppose that this is affected too by my style of painting which is not wet-in-wet. I use a fairly dry technique generally, which allows for the finer detail. Added to which I am my own worst critic!

The finished painting can now be seen in my website portfolio. Follow this link: Liriope muscari ‘Moneymaker’

At last my schedule of botanical art workshops in 2017 is complete and you will find the detail and booking form here: Workshops for 2017

The booking form for the botanical art workshop holiday at Le Manoir in the Dordogne region of France is also ready. You can find this here: Le Manoir 2017. There has been a lot of interest for this workshop holiday, so grab your place as soon as you can. There is a lot packed into the holiday and if you want to take your partner, there will be plenty for them to do too – that is if they want to do anything outside the planned trips! You will be painting at least in the mornings and can choose to do the excursions if you wish.

As a reminder, all levels of experience in botanical art will be welcome because the class sizes are small. Life is about continually developing your skills, therefore to join a workshop, experience is not necessary, just the desire to learn.

You can use coloured pencil, graphite or watercolour on all of the workshops and the holiday – except for the workshop with vellum.

Botanical art workshop booking form for 2017
Botanical art workshop booking form for 2017
Le Manoir; Exclusive botanical art workshop holiday
Le Manoir; Exclusive botanical art workshop holiday

Do get in touch if you have any queries.

Last two Bosham botanical art workshops for 2016

I have been remiss in showing some of the pictures from my last two 2016 workshops in Bosham. One was about autumn colours where all the students chose to use coloured pencil, and the other was pen & ink.

As usually happens there was a lovely group of students, all wanting to learn and enjoy the workshop. On both occasions the members in the group jelled very quickly and there was a lovely atmosphere. I don’t know what it is about botanical art, but it does seem to have a very positive effect on the people doing it.

Rather than rattle on, I will just show the pictures. As soon as I have the workshop schedule for 2017 finished, I will post this. However, so that you can put this in your diary, the first botanical art workshop in Bosham next year, will be Friday 27 – Saturday 28 Jan. The topic will be Textures: bark and moss as examples.

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Its apples in the air!

Each workshop that I have done recently has been about apples. Shape, form and colour.

You have seen the pictures from the last SFP workshop that it was almost all apples. The small workshop that I had this last weekend also focused on apples.

One of the students was working in watercolour and as she was neither very familiar with watercolour, nor botanical art. I think she did an amazing job. The other student first came on one of my workshops a couple of years ago with the wish to learn coloured pencil. She hadn’t done any art either, so she too had a steep learning curve. But she comes to my classes and workshops on a regular basis and is now a very good artist.

It was a lovely balance to have in the workshop as the more experienced student had a very good idea how the other felt and was able to give encouragement.

The two pictures shown here are very good and I think both were very happy with the results so far. Obviously the coloured pencil picture is quite a challenge. Apart from the form of the apples (four different ones) with their respective shrivelling leaves, she had to contend with different textures too. I know that she went home with a determination to complete the picture.

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Normally, when one has flowers and leaves in a botanical art picture, one does the flowers first as they die first. But in this instance the issue was the shrivelling leaves as they were moving constantly. Therefore these were started first to capture the initial shape and the colour that attracted her to them in the first place. She intends to go back to them after getting the apples finished.

The next workshop in Bosham will be ‘Autumn colours. Wow!’ Friday 28 October to Sunday 30th. I still have some places available so do get in touch soon so that you can secure yours. Please use the contact form at the end to contact me if you would like to come as I will be at the ASBA conference in Pittsburgh. I will be able to pick up emails and confirm if there is still room for you.

Now, to continue with more about the botanical art holiday planned for next year. Here is a bit more about it on this page of my website: Gaynor’s Flora exclusive botanical art holiday at Le Manoir

nightpool-website

 

Exciting news!

I have been seeing some amazing pictures on Instagram, of a fabulous looking 19th century house in France. They were posted by a friend, Alistair, who had been experiencing it first-hand. The house itself has beautiful architecture and was furnished in the style you might expect from that period.

In late spring this year I received an email from Simon and Nicholas, brothers who have restored Le Manoir to its former glory. They wanted me to consider running a botanical art workshop holiday in this splendid place. I hesitated!

There was much to consider here. I had seen the beautiful pictures, but there can be a lot of other things hiding behind beautiful pictures. Was it suitable? How did Simon and Nicholas envisage it would be? How many artists? Etc. Etc.

I got back to them, we had an initial meeting in London a few weeks ago and in the last 24 hours we experienced staying in this amazing house, being looked after by Simon and Nicholas. We now know that Le Manoir is very suitable for an exclusive botanical art workshop holiday.

Le Manoir
Le Manoir

I don’t use the term ‘exclusive’ lightly. Le Manoir is beautiful. Each bedroom is large, with a view and with a very well equipped bathroom (two of them in turrets). In addition to that the kitchen, dining room, sitting room and lounge are all extremely comfortable and very homely. The gardens and surrounding Dordogne countryside are lovely, although slightly baked following a long hot and dry summer. The swimming pool and large open-sided dining area with equipped kitchen completes the feeling of luxury. Actually, not quite; the peace and calm that pervades dots the i’ s and crosses the t’s.

We spent the time available going through details and deciding how together we can create the ideal botanical art workshop holiday. We concluded that the mornings should generally be devoted to tuition and the afternoons to trips to explore the area and meals to experience the regional cuisine, both at Le Manoir and local restaurants.

We do know that the workshop holiday will be one week at the end of September 2017, it will be all inclusive, from local airport transfer (Limoges or Bergerac), full board and lodging, tuition and all planned trips.

But, to make it even more exclusive, it is only available to an absolute maximum of seven students, ensuring a period of individual and undivided attention to everyone. Accompanying partners will be able to take part in all the trips or can be otherwise occupied by exploring the area, hanging out by the pool, visiting vineyards, or playing golf locally.

As time goes on I will give more information about this exclusive botanical art workshop holiday, but, watch this space.

le-manoirdaypool

For more information about Le Manoir visit: http://www.lemanoirstsulpice.com

Lovely people for the Fruit & veg botanical workshop

Sometimes I feel really privileged to meet so many lovely people in botanical art.

I love painting and often wish I could just sit and paint all day every day. But that would be boring in the end. I don’t think my husband would be too happy about that either!

However, as I teach regular botanical art workshops, I am pulled out of the shed at the bottom of the garden to meet these lovely smiley people who turn up at my front door. They are always so pleasant and wanting to learn, and it is such a pleasure to help them.© 02.IMG_2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who could be more blessed than that?

The Fruit and Veg workshop was no exception. For both days the weather had turned sour and rainy, but they still stood at the front door looking really happy. Luckily it didn’t rain too heavily whilst they were choosing their subjects in the garden and they were back in doors by the time the heavens opened.© 01.IMG_2005

But as you can see from the photos, we still had some sun.

We don’t have too many subjects in the kitchen garden, but funnily enough they all chose things that were completely inedible. The globe artichokes were pointing skyward in all their majesty, but even the purple petals on the top were now brown. However, half of the group were attracted to these and the other half with radishes that had long gone to seed and were all large and wonky. One person brought their own subject – a sweet corn still suitably jacketed.

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But whilst all this was going on the cook was in the kitchen preparing lunch  and of course the Strawberries and cream for tea.© 03.IMG_2008

But these are what you are probably wondering about.

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I am pleased to say that from emails I have since received, that those taking part in the workshop thought it was successful, they learnt a lot and had enjoyed it.

The next workshop is Friday to Sunday September 30 – October 2 (Colour in the Hedgerows), just before I head off to Pittsburgh in the US to take part in the  ASBA annual conference. Although there are no more places on the workshop in Pittsburgh, there are still some vacancies in the one in Bosham, West Sussex, so please do get in touch if you want to take part. You will find the booking form here: Workshop booking form, or you can send me a message in the form at the bottom of this page.