Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Fresh Start! first painting underway.

Relocating takes time and definitely distracts from getting on with painting! A couple of months ago I  moved after 23 years living in Aberdeenshire..... a painting is long overdue! Always in need of a bit of a goal to motivate,  I tracked down the Society of Staffordshire Artists and will be submitting 5 paintings to be considered for membership in October this year. This has given me the incentive I need to get painting again and is a great opportunity being originally from the area. The Society has been established for around 80 years and holds several exhibitions each year.....they have no botanical artists as members!   

Looking for inspiration I decided to raid mum's garden because I no longer have one, and, have reverted to working on the kitchen table.... no studio anymore either! It's easy to use the absence of these things as an excuse not to paint but having worked for years without such luxuries it's really not a valid reason to abstain. I don't have the lamps or the magnifiers and to be honest although these things help they are not particularly good for the eyes or essential. It will be interesting to see how the new work turns out under different conditions... but it's got to be good to be able to adapt to a different working environment because running demonstrations can prove difficult if you get too picky about your working conditions.

I found some lovely honeysuckle with beautiful bronze coloured leaves weaving it's way through the garden,  it seems like a good candidate to start with, so many colours in the flowers, leaves and fruit it's a bit of a gift to the botanical painter. I actually can't remember the last time I produced a 'proper' painting and seem to have been been producing small studies for around a year now. here we go with the first study page towards the new painting.

I have included as many different parts of the plant as possible, flower, bud, dissection, woody stem, fruit at different stages of development, I may add a few more bits and will probably complete a second study page but think it's time to start thinking about the composition. I don't make a lot of colour notes because I seem to find colour to be pretty instinctive and there are often several different ways of getting to the same place with colour mixing....although I could be way off the mark!  The light and shade is more tricky with warm and cool colours but I'll write more about this later because it deserves a separate post.  More difficult for me is the composition. I usually start with some rough sketches on tracing paper using just the basic shapes. I want to get the movement and 'feel' for the plants growth habit, these are the elements that have become increasingly important to me....too often botanical studies can look quite rigid and for plant like honeysuckle it's anything but rigid!  


  1. This is gorgeous! I love honeysuckle. I used to pull the stamens out and lick the nectar at the bottom - so sweet! It's great to see you working again Dianne - you're so talented.

  2. It really is gorgeous. I did too Jess - love honeysuckle - although yours seem to have more pink in them than ours, a more whitish yellow form. Great to see you working on your artwork Dianne and thanks for sharing.

  3. Very interesting read Dianne and I must take note about the magnifier...I'm becoming very attached to mine and even though my eyes are still pretty good; i'm worried about using the magnifier all the time and what it could do to my eyes! I shall try to work without it for part of the day and just use it for the finer details! It's always good to get in touch with local artists...I'm certainly finding it a real bonus and i'm the new kid on the block, however i'm meeting some fantastics contacts in my local area! So good luck with that and i'm sure you are not going to have any problems being accepted in to the SSA. I'm looking forward to your blog about light, shade, warm and cold colours! We have talked about this and of course would like to learn more! Lovely study page and i'm looking forward to seeing the finished piece :) Great to see you blogging again!

  4. It is so great to see you brimming with enthusiasm and painting again; the studies are brilliant and put my efforts to shame! If only you could paint the smell though!! :)
    Hope you have settled in your new home too xx

  5. I don't blame you for taking a bit of a breather before starting again. This piece is looking wonderful already Dianne. x