Monday, 24 May 2010

Moving On

Finally, finally, finally finished , well at least to a point where I can put it on the wall and live with it for a few days or weeks, and see what else it needs. While adding the extra leaves certainly helped balance it and bring it together better, but for the first time in quite some time I am pretty dissatisfied with an end result.

I think that it is important to experiment and try to progress both your skills technically and in terms of composition, but this has left me a bit disappointed. I still think I will get there and I still love the idea of combining graphite and colour, but obviously need to keep working to get it to work better.

I did learn quite a few things though, most notably to complete the colour first, or at least the watercolour component first, and then go onto black and white after that. I think if I had done a more complete watercolour rendering then I would have seen the problems emerging much earlier and would have been able to correct them as I went. I also now know that if you strip coloured pencil back from the watercolour base more than twice then it becomes almost impossible to achieve any sort of delicate touch on successive layers. The residual colour bleeds through and leaves you with rather flat results. All good things to have learned, and will all be put to good use in future projects, but I think this one should be put to one side as an experiment rather than a finished piece.

It is the start of a fresh week, and time to start a fresh project. I had morning tea with my good friend Nat, and she suggested I look at doing some smaller pieces, as there seems to be a trend towards smaller at the moment. Tracey Potter's recent very well deserved success at being picked as a finalist in the Sunshine Coast Art Prize would also seem to support this. In the past it seemed bigger was always better , especially in art prizes, but finally people are starting to appreciate smaller work, and the work and effort that goes into them to make them work compositionally, as well as the fact there there is nowhere to hide in a smaller work, every brushstroke counts. At last year's Floressence exhibition for the Botanic Art Society of Queensland there was also a small work by John Pastoriza Pinol of a mangosteen which has stayed firmly in my thoughts since last July. In a room full of beautiful, exquisitely detailed and expressive works, this tiny piece has stuck in my mind and since talking to Nat I have been thinking, and as last week was so hectic I had little time for anything else but thinking about my art, I would like to explore the idea.

So the next few projects will be smaller scale works and I have been scouring gardens and shops looking for suitable subjects. My friend Melissa, a former flat mate and fellow art teacher who is now very active in the Monto Potter's Group, posted a beautiful photo of a clivia which has flowered. It was beautiful and inspiring and today will be spent trying to hunt down one that is flowering around here. Unfortunately mine haven't flowered but fingers crossed that I manage to find one so I can get drawing tomorrow. Of course I could very well find something else that grabs my attention and distracts me, but at the moment I can't seem to get those gorgeous orange leaves out of my mind.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Packaging, Pencils and Inspiration

I hope that everyone had a lovely mother's day and were all spoilt at least a little bit. I was lucky to receive beautiful flowers and much hoped for stab blender thingy, which means that soups can be back on the menu as the weather starts to turn colder. You don't realise how often you use something until it breaks, and then it seems that you need it for every recipe you see. Of course flowers are always welcome , as they not only look great but are also inspirational and it is comforting to know that there is something on hand to draw if you feel like a bit of a change. It is great to have things around which visually inspire you, and they can come from many different sources. The last few days have been a little light on hands on work, but they have been full of inspiration, and from many sources.

Matt and Phoebe also got me a beautiful Italian soap in a perfect white porcelain tray, and the soap smells like melons and peaches and is absolutely exquisite. Even more than the smell and beautiful tray is the packaging which I have photographed and posted here. The drawings are just wonderful and lush and are absolutely inspiring. I am actually a bit desperate to finish the cyclamen now so that I can explore the ideas I am getting looking at the beautiful rich colours. I have put the packaging up above my desk and can't wait to explore some drawings trying to capture that sort of rich, deep colour myself. I am thinking of papaya and passionfruit, with those beautiful passionfruit flowers would be pretty wonderful, but I must finish the piece I am on first. Too many pieces are sitting in my storage draws waiting to be finished off- including a papaya - so maybe I should channel this energy into getting some things finished first.

I have also been happily distracted all day by doing some drawing and trying out some ideas from a new book which arrived on Friday. Ann Swan is a British botanical artist who works in coloured pencils and the book is so overflowing with ideas and techniques, that I have spent hours today reading and experimenting. It is great to read a book which deals so directly in pencil and it has many tips and techniques that I think would have taken me a long time and a lot of trial and error to get to some of the results, so it is time well spent and I am sure that it will quickly become one of my favourite reference books.