Thursday, 29 December 2011

Final leaves for the 30/30 Leaf Challenge

Ornamental cherry from outside my daughter's house in Stoke on Trent
Picked up at a motorway service station in Glasgow on the trip home following my grandson's first visit to Scotland.

From Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire, my hometown
No blogging for weeks now and never did get round to finishing the challenge - I think I managed  just 17! too many other things to do in October but here are the last few leaves that I managed to complete....maybe next year I'll complete the 30! or maybe 30 flowers instead.

Friday, 28 October 2011

30/30 Leaf Challenge, week 2

I'm a bit behind with posting the leaf challenge images but will try to catch up. Here are the leaves from week two.
Red oak from Trentham Estate Sept 2011, graphite

Mahonia, from my garden. A gift a gardener  friend at the Cruickshank Botanic Garden, Aberdeen. Watercolour.
Wych Elm, from Aden Country Park Aberdeenshire October 2011, watercolour. Collected by my husband from outside the North East Folklore Archive
Oak  leaf from Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire, Sept 2011, Graphite.

Rhododendron leaf from Aden Country Park, Aberdeenshire,  October 2011. Collected by my husband from outside the North East Folklore Archive. Watercolour

A worse for wear Lime leaf, not sure what type. Collected from Aden Country Park, Aberdeenshire, October 2011.  

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Week one - 30/30 Leaf Study Challenge.

Here's a selection of leaves painted for the first week of the 30 day leaf challenge. There's no doubt that some leaves are definitely easier to paint than others! I found it difficult to paint them in such a short amount of time too and only allowed about 1- 2 hrs each but some have taken a little longer. I'd normally spend longer than this on my work but it's good practice to set a time limit.Not sure I'll manage 30 paintings or drawings in 30 days but we'll see!
Bit of a cheat because I completed the first two, including this Oak from Duff House before October.
Another one completed before the start but thought I'd incliude it all the same. It's from a Herb Robert plant that arrived in the garden without invitation and gets everywhere! but it's lovely ground cover and gives this fantatic colour.  

Hydrangea leaf from my mother. The large hydrangea grows by the front door of my paerents house. Collected Sept 11
Norway maple collected from Trentham Estate, Staffordshire,  Sept 11
Copper beech collected from Duff House grounds in Banff  2010. I worked there for a couple of years until Jan 11 during which time I collected and painted many leaves.
Oxalis, I found this growing in the compost heap at the Cruickshank Botanic Garden at Aberdeen University during my studentship as a gardener in 2005.
Beech, collected from Trentham Estate, Staffordshire, September 2011

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Botanical Artists, 30 Day Leaf Challenge

On October the 1st I started a challenge - to paint 30 leaves in 30 days! The task was set by botanical artist and illustrator Mindy Lighthipe via the Facebook Botanical Artists Group.  It all started when Mindy was invited to be the guest artist for the new Botanical Artists blog. Mindy wrote about her previous experience of a similar task and invited other artists to join her in a  new 30/30 challenge- so I decided to give it a go!

I have chosen to paint leaves given to me by friends and family or from places that I have some personal connection with.

Last week I visited my home town in Staffordshire and collected leaves from a number of locations including the Trentham Gardens  estate- it was the first time I had visited the beautiful gardens since I was a child.

Here's the first leaf. It's from an enormous Acer cappadocium at Trentham Gardens which the estate manager estimates dates back to the1840's.

I'll be posting my leaves at the end of each week for the remainder of the challenge.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Botanical miniatures - jewellery

I've been painting a few botanical miniatures for my daughter's online jewellery shop, pollypoppit. Great fun and so intricate, reminds me of my days painting tiny floral china patterns for Royal Albert! The paintings range from 13 x 18mm up to 30 x 40 mm. I painted them on HP watercolour paper which is then mounted behind a magnifying clear glass cabochon. The first few have now been mounted in sterling silver or natural brass surrounds.  I might try a vellum version because it picks up the detail so well. Here's a few pictures of work in progress and  a couple of finished items.
A selection of the miniature paintings

First attempt - Parrot tulip in brass 25mm round

Tulip mounted in sterling silver 18 x 25mm

Iris mounted in sterling silver 18 x25 mm
work in progress, meconopsis  30 x 40mm in sterling silver
Fritillaria meleagris ( Snakeshead lily) in natural brass surround 18 x 25mm

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Primula vulgaris on kelmscott Vellum, SBA exhibition 2012

I've been working on this painting of Primula vulgaris on vellum for what seems like weeks's finally  finished..... well almost!I hope to exhibit it at the SBA show, when I'll be applying for full membership in Feb 2012. Here's a few detail photos and the preparatory graphite work. I should have taken more photos of the process but forgot, sorry.

Finished! Primula vulgaris on Kelmscott vellum
Original the difference. I added an extra flower in the gap on the better! also the roots. Poor plant was pulled from its pot and suspended in a retort stand for this. Love roots!

The slightly labourious tonal graphite is time well spent when it somes to painting. the continuous tone technique is not so different from thae dry brush methof used when painting on vellum

I'm goint to use these two for my business cards!

Love that little bit of pink...It's little things like that that make the my opinion

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Meconopsis

Several years ago Dr Evelyn Stevens, co-founder of the Meconopsis Group, gifted me some seeds for a cross pollination experiment. I raised a fairly large number of Meconopsis plants but far too many for my small garden, so passed on a number to the Cruickshank Botanic Garden at the University of Aberdeen, keeping just a small number at home. I've been trying to get around to painting them for the past 3 years - a few weeks ago I finally made a start, although in fairness it had taken 3 years prior to this to produce any flowers and some still refuse to flower! Anyway so much time has passed that one of the plants has recently been reclassified! (see description below)
Here is just one of the preparatory watercolours towards the series of Meconopsis paintings. They're quite tricky because the colour of the petals changes so quickly with age. The final pieces will probably be painted on vellum.....but that will have to wait until next year.

Meconopsis baileyi
Discovered in 1913 by Col. F.M. Bailey in Rong Chu, SE Tibet, the Tibetan blue poppy was named Meconopsis baileyi in 1915 from a herbarium specimen. Ten years after Col Bailey's discovery, Frank Kingdon Ward collected substantial samples of herbarium material and seeds from the same area. From this seed M. baileyi, or Bailey's blue poppy, was introduced into western gardens.
However,  it was discovered that a similar plant had been previously been discovered, in 1886, by Pere Delavay in NW Yunnan. This plant was described and named, M. Betonicifolia in 1889. It was not introduced into cultivation. When George Taylor published his monograph of the genus in 1934, he maintained that the two taxa, were conspecific, therefore the name M. betonicifolia had priority having been published at the earlier date, thus, M. baileyi became a synonym.

In June 2009, Dr Chris Grey-Wilson, of Kew,  published a paper in The Alpine Gardener which identified more than 8 distinct features that justify separation of the two taxa, as a result the original two species were reinstated. M. betonicifolia endemic to NW Yunnan and M. baileyi endemic to SE Tibet. You can read more about the history and classification on the Meconopsis Group website.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

More leaves exhibited in Scotland, McEwan Gallery

Painting has resumed again after a few glitches. The problem at this time of year is that there are just too many plants to choose from and not enough time to paint them. It's hard to decide what to do first and the end result always seems to be that I attempt too many pieces and flit from one thing to another, finishing only one or two. Every year I decide to be more organised..... 

Now with all this choice and such a limited season it seems ridiculous to be painting dead leaves but that's what I've been doing. This behaviour was inspired by my recent purchase of the exhibition catalogue from Rory McEwen's 1988 retrospective 'Rory McEwen 1932-1982, The Botanical Paintings' - it has 24 colour plates of his works including some of his incredible leaves, there are still a few copies around through book dealers for those willing to search for it. This mahonia leaf was my latest challenge and caused me to abandon the poor Meconopsis that I've been promising to paint for 3 years! Below are some of the other dead leaves completed over the past year..... I'll finish the meconopsis next week.I do love leaves!

Mahonia on vellum 6 x 4
Horse chestnut on vellum 10 x 12
Maple on vellum 8 x 10
Beech on vellum 6 x 4 ( not exhibited at the McEwan) a gift for my lovely boss when I left the Council's education dept after 4 years
Cherry on vellum 6 x 4
Copper beech with skeleton 4 x 7
All of the leaves are on vellum, most of these these were exhibited and sold at the McEwan Gallery, Ballater. I've been exhibiting there since I moved to Scotland around  1989! It's a lovely gallery in a beautiful surrounding

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

SBA 2011 Annual Exhibition and Graduation....oops I missed it!.

Returned home yesterday after visiting the 2011 SBA exhibition  at Westminster Halls on Saturday 16th April. After sharing the train with the Manchester United  and City supporters I was pretty relieved to finally arrive at Westminster albeit quite late in the day.  There's so much to take in at the exhibition and I should have been there for longer to do the show justice. As always the standard was high with lots of amazing work which included a central display dedicated to illustrations of various plants from all corners of the globe titled 'The World of Plants' - A few of my favourites this year include:  Jacky Jousson - for me he's one of the best botanical painters and the way he handles the light is truly amazing! Fiona Strickland's use of colour is fabulous, Julia Trickey's paintings are technically perfect and very beautiful, Billy Showell's  design based botanicals always bring something that's very refreshing to the genre. I also saw Sigrid Frensen 's work for the first time and it really is lovely - particularly the Pelargonium sidiodes.
I had 4 works on display, three of which were assignments from the SBA course. Next year I hope to paint something specifically for the exhibition....but what?

My Ceritficate for the SBA Diploma
It was also the graduation for course 6 of the SBA Distance Learning Diploma Course on the 15th at the Art Workers Guild in Bloomsbury. Unfortunately this didn't go to plan and I missed it! After a hectic week visiting family in Staffordshire I headed to London but for some reason convinced myself that the graduation was later than the time printed on the invite! This wouldn't have mattered too much but I also managed to miss the earlier train, then got lost! Logistics are not a strong point! I finally arrived a bit red faced and almost 90 mins late! just enough time to have a quick chat with Margaret Stevens and collected my diploma before heading back feeling rather stupid.....never mind some things just aren't meant to be!


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Moving on - exhibitions 2011, SBA Associate Membership!

Running up to the end of the SBA Course the exhibition calendar kicked off early in 2011 in the cafe gallery at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed, House for an Art Lover, situated in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow. It's a lovely venue and I felt privileged to be invited to exhibit alongside four Scottish botanical artists, Fiona Strickland, Jenny MatthewsLynne Henderson and Mary-Clare Cornwallis.  

Exhibited at House for an Art Lover, Glasgow, Horse Chestnut on Vellum
SBA Associate Membership!
In February I had five works accepted by the Society of Botanical Artists for inclusion in their annual show, the World of Plants, 8th - 17th April at Westminster Central Hall, London. I've been putting odd works into the SBA shows on and off since 2002 but this was the second consecutive year that all five works had been accepted and secured election as an Associate Member of the SBA. Last year I was awarded a Certificate of Botanical Merit and highly commneded for the Joyce Cumming Award.

The next deadline is looming - to produce 8 paintings of native plants on vellum for inclusion in the BISCOT (Botanical Images Scotia) annual exhibition. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society. It's the first time I've exhibited with BISCOT after having work accepted by their committee last year.  The exhibition is held at the Gardening Scotland show at Ingleston,  Edinburgh, from 3rd - 5th June. Work is then transported to the RBGE, and forms part of their Botanical Art Bonanza exhibitions. BISCOT work will be on show at from 8th -24th June in the Fletcher Building.

Any artist interested in exhibiting at BISCOT 2012 must submit work by the 24th May 2011.

Exhibited at House for and Art Lover, Digitalis purpurea on vellum. My largest work to date on vellum. I grew the plant in the garden

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Diploma Portfolio, SBA Distance Learing Diploma Course

Posted the final 3 portfolio pieces and sketchbook this week! I will update this post with images when they have been marked.
The requirement for the Diploma Portfolio is: 
  • Botanical illustration
  • Fruit or vegetable
  • Mixed Study

The deadline for submission was brought forward by one week, the deadline 12th birthday!. 

Graduation and the SBA Associate Membership
Graduation for the SBA Distance Learning Diploma course 6 is on the 15th April at the Artists Guild, Bloomsbury, which coincides with the SBA annual show, 'The World of Plants'.  I hope to head down to London for this event. I also have 5 paintings included in the exhibition ( submitted in February), which is some of the work that I completed outside the course. I'm applying for Associate membership this year as It will be my 2nd year submitting 5 paintings and look forward to seeing the wide variety of work - last year over 700 paintings were on show!

Here are the final diploma portfolio works:
Beetroot drawing
Vegetable Study
I grew this beet myself and completed this a while ago and decided, due to lack of time, that it was OK to submit as the fruit or vegetable piece.  So I didn't actually do it for the diploma just as part of other work  during the course. This isn't actually the final version - I added an extra leaf at the top to cover a small mark made just before putting it into the envelope! I prefer this version. There could have been a bit more contrast on the leaves to give the glossy appearance and to separate the leaves on the right hand side. I was happy with the beet and the roots though and the composition was good apart from that extra leaf. (final mark 23.1/25). 

Iris reticulata for the Botanical study

Botanical Illustration
Difficult to photograph this one because of the light pencil work - there's a bit more to it which includes the reproductive parts x 1.5 on the right hand side but it didn't show up so I cropped the image. Again perhaps a bit more contrast on the pencil work would have benefitted this one. (Final Mark 23.8/25).

Mixed Floral Ttulips and Anemone

Mixed Floral, a last minute dash to the finish line
Having had a few 'out of the blue' things to deal with in Feb and March, i.e. my grandson in intensive care! I had spent some time away from home, as a resut I found myself with only 3 days left to complete my final diploma piece! It seemed inevitable at one point that I'd have to defer until next year, but following encouragement from Margaret Stevens, I picked up one of the few remaining bouquets from the supermarket on my way home from the hospital, I'd driven the 8 hour trip home and this was all that was left in the Aberdeen Tesco store - it was the middle of the night!   It had a very limited palette and I'd no idea what variety of tulips they were - but decided it was the only option and to give it my best shot! I tracked down the very helpful tulip grower via email and he helped me to identify the flowers.  It did the trick and I managed to get it in the post on time.  There's a slight misalignment on the stem on the right hand tulip, which probably cost me - I'll correct this at some point. The judges particularly liked the detail and tone in the central anemone. I would never have chosen this but hey ho! (final mark 23.6/25)

Finally some tips for future students
If I was going to make any recommendation to new students it would be to do plenty of additional work around the course materials. You never know what might happen that will leave you short of time! The time- frame for the submission of assignments is very lenient so there's no excuse not to do extra work. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Assignment 12 Mixed Flowers

There was nothing decent left in the garden when I finally got round to assignment 12, so had to resort to cut flowers for this one. This assignment was pretty challenging, and, like assignment 11, it isn't something I'd normally do. The protea didn't have any leaves, which was a real shame and the red rose was a tough subject.  Such tight petals and a rich colour. Also the maximum size of approx A3 is a bit small for something like this, it really doesn't allow much scope and ends up a bit cramped in terms of white space but I think I got there in the end with the arrangement.  There's another mixed floral for the diploma portfolio so I'm hoping to have a bit more choice of subject.  I've just about finished the other two portfolio pieces - the vegetable or fruit study and the botanical  illustration and will post when the final piece is finished....less than one month to go now, so nearly made it!
I've been seriously neglecting the blog and need to get back on track! Sorry the picture isn't great - seems anything white or red is difficult to photograph - I'll try again later.

Mixed floral, this is an updated photo, the original wasn't good. Margaret Stevens went of the purchase this one from me for a presentaion to idea who.

I tried to work with movement, balance ( colour balance too) and used the rule of odds and rule of thirds to create an arrangement. I took lots of photographs and made sketches but actually drew all the component part separately and arranged using tracing paper.  I didn't learn those things from the course though they were things I'd picked up over the years and put into practice for this assignment.

On to the Diploma bu