Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Playing with the Larkspur

The weather is finally being kind... though after what it has put my poor city through in the last week I think it is the least it can do, and so as the house dries out and the garden can be wrangled back into some semblance of order, thoughts turn back to finding time to be creative. So many people have had a terrible time and for many it will continue for many months, and seeing the devastation that these floods have caused has a way of focusing your attention on what is important and on being thankful and grateful to even have the opportunity and luxury of sitting in my beautiful little room and having the time and space to pursue something I love so much.
I have spent some time over the last two days reorganising the studio and getting things set up so that I can revisit some collage and mixed media work. I miss it and think it will be a lovely way to offset the concentration and single mindedness that botanical art needs. I have recently come across Artist Trading Cards and love the idea of little collages to fill in gaps and make use of little spaces of time, and they seem a perfect way to use my botanical art and move it beyond the traditional. I spent some time yesterday playing with the larkspur drawing that I recently finished and have posted the two little collages that came out of that play.

The agapanthus are progressing and the watercolour layer is complete on the second, while I have started laying in quite a bit of pencil on the other. I am hoping to get to them for a few hours this afternoon and look forward to sharing their progress.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Agapanthus Progress

The weather may be beyond lousy, but it is actually quite kind to watercolours, so I have made use of it by getting the first layer down on one of the agapanthus. I start with a light pencil drawing, and then lay down some watercolour to help me see what it is going to look like and to put in some tonal values. It is really helpful in seeing if there are any compositional problems and also is invaluable in keeping complex flowers like agapanthus a bit easier to handle.
I have started to lay down a little more colour in the top corner, partly because the weather is just too damp to do much coloured pencil work, but also to try to speed up the whole process. By laying down more colour in paint, I am hoping that coloured pencil will be more detail, rather than the bulk of the work. If you can't beat the weather then maybe you just have to go with the flow.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year Drizzle

a wet welcome home
 New Year and more rain, more damp paper and more grey cool days. Summer seems to have taken a vacation this year and while some people are just awash with floods, luckily we had two clear days to end 2010 and so I got some paper dry and have now spent the first free morning back in the studio after the Christmas New Year madness. It is so great just to have the time and mental space to get back into the swing of some drawing. The gardens are a sodden mess, the grass in the back yard is threatening to engulf the dog and the pool has overflowed with monotonous regularity, but also it is cool and dry in the studio so all is a bit right with the world at least.

Before Christmas festivities started in earnest I finished off the Larkspur, which was a present for my sister. She welcomed beautiful Grace in July  so I added her name and birthdate to the bottom of the picture as a keepsake and it came together really beautifully. I am not sure about the whole birth flower list as it seems to be based in the northern hemisphere, and the larkspurs were in bloom in December just at the right time for me to draw it, but tradition is tradition and there is something timeless about the lovely old fashioned flowers which make up the list..

The plan for the new year is to finish off a few projects which I have had on the go, such as the fruit blossoms and an asiatic lily which I started some time ago, and to try to get as many finished as I can before the school year starts again. Most of them are small pieces, so fingers crossed I can get stuck in and get plenty achieved. I have drawn up two new pieces to add to the list today and am going to make use of the damp weather to lay down some watercolour this afternoon. It is too damp to lay in colour and detail on other pieces as the coloured pencils seem to have trouble holding a very fine edge on the damp paper, but I managed to get the lead pencil down before it got too damp so I have something to go on with. I have rescued the sodden agapanthus stalks from the back jungle and am trying to use them and some photos I have been taken during the rare sunny spells, to try to capture one of my absolute favourite flowers. All I need is now is some sun and there will be no excuses for not getting these done by the end of January.