Saturday, 3 October 2015

Thirty Day Vellum Challenge Concludes....feathers, bugs and a few old favourites

Having made a late start to the challenge on Sept 5th, I was a bit worried that it wasn't going to be possible to paint 30 small vellum works in the 25 remaining days in September but forged ahead regardless but as predicted fell short of the full 30. I posted the first 10 previously so here are the remaining 15 - in no particular order. These are quick snaps taken on the phone but I'll photograph them properly before uploading to my Etsy shop where they will be for sale. All are painted life size with the exception of the feathers (x1.5)

Watercolour on vellum of a peacock feather
No 17. Peacock Feather, collected from the David Austin Garden back in July. I try to find one of the feathers every time I go there. The contrast from the glossy vibrant top compared to the downy base make this a great subject. It also has the tiny distinctive barbs which are tricky to paint at this size...W& N series 7 miniature, size 1 required! Colours winsor blue green shade and winsor green blue shade with some violet dioxazine. the feathery base is a mix of paynes grey and van dyke brown. I scratched away a few small highlights. This image is approx 4 x 3.5 inches.
It was a good opportunity for me to paint a few things that I might not normally have time for, such as feathers and insects.Feathers are great subjects because they are very ordered and smooth at the top but also have the light floaty base which is great to paint. Definitely a good exercise in painting texture!
Peacock feather painting
Number 16 The first small  Peacock feather painted. It has a very iridescent tip and great colour. I added a little of the Daniel Smith iridescent paint but I don't think it really added that much. I also used some titanium white on the downy parts but wished I hadn't, again not needed.

Blue Peacock feather painting in watercolour on vellum
No. 20 Another peacock feather, such a beautiful colour I don't think I do it justice, might try it again sometime I particularly like how the light catches one side of the feather and makes it so vibrant, whereas the other side appears quite dull until it's turned to the light and become this electric blue/ I used winsor blue green shade and prussian blue wit some winsor green ( blue shade). Both colours that I would almost never use in a botanical painting....with the exception of the Jade vine.

Small brown and green peacock feather painting, watercolour on vellum
No. 19,  I love this very small peacock feather, it's not one that I would recognise from this beautiful bird. Its very delicate and floaty

Small grey pigeon feather painting, watercolour on vellum
No. 22. Small Pigeon feather from down the lane. I'd found  a dead bird at the roadside so collected a few of it's feathers. This is on natural vellum using titanium white over a mix of paynes grey and van dyke brown washes. Not sure if it works or not.

Insects are always fun to paint on vellum, so I added a couple from my daughters collection. I had intended to do more but had to spend a few days away unexpectedly.

Red beetle painting on vellum, watercolour
No. 11 Gorgeous red beetle. The colours change in the light shimmering from red to green and making this very tricky. Vellum has to be the perfect surface to achieve these rich colours, shine and fine detail. Image is approx 2.5 x 2.5 inches

Green spotted beetle watercolour painting on vellum
Another Flower beetle for day 12. The white spot are easily removed from vellum with a scalpel so much easier than using masking fluid on paper. I also added a touch of titanium white on the spots catching the light to make it brighter than the background vellum colour.

Of course I also painted some of the more usual subject material for a 30 day challenge and there's no better time for this than late summer/autumn here in the UK. I did want to avoid repeating too many of subjects previously painted so although the rose hips were tempting I gave them a miss this year but couldn't resist the acorns again.

Three Acorns on vellum, watercolour painting
I did this in one day but I'm claiming it as days 15-17 because there are 3. Again collected from the graveyard next to my flat. These are pretty tiny acorns which I thought really cute.

Branch with Lichens, watercolour painting on vellum
No. 23, A lichen encrusted branch on Natural vellum. I did this very quickly, maybe 90 minutes in total so it's less detailed but I quite like a less detailed finish on natural vellum.

Decaying leaf painting, watercolour on vellum
No. 24, This old leaf was found in the lane and really was falling apart, there was no shine on it but I liked the holes and decay

Arum fruit painting, watercolour on vellum
No. 14 I discovered a patch of Arum fruits at the bottom of the lane which had been trampled on, so managed to rescue this one and paint it  before all the fruits fell off

Autumn leaf painting, watercolour on vellum
Day 18 - this one was featured in last weeks post - along with a video of the painting process
Honeysuckle berries, watercolour on vellum painting
Out of time! I made a start  on this honeysuckle fruit but have too many other things to do.... so that's all folks!


  1. Beautiful, inspiring, and wow, you made it, Dianne, even with a late start! Thank you for posting these...

    1. Thanks Celeste, it was a bit of a rush but there's always spare time and it's such a fun thing to do

  2. I like seeing the use of the Prussian Blue, which is a color I haven't found a place to use except in cast shadows, and of course, which are not botanical!

  3. Dianne, what is the name of your etsy shop?

    1. Thanks Celeste, it's 'diannesutherlandart'
      I'm trying to get all of the images uploaded. There should be a link on the blog in the side bar too but not sure that works on differeent devices

  4. I am not sure how fast you SELL off Etsy, but have tried several times to purchase from there, went to look and items never seem to change - so have never bought!! Do you only sell originals or prints?

    1. Hi Liz, I don't use the shop much - just for small originals and prints. But they seem to sell quite well

  5. Oh and PS love the feathers............

  6. Dianne, you are so amazing--each painting is a small treasure! Besides being an incredibly fast and skilled painter, you are clever make these small works available to collectors who may be running out of room for bigger pieces!

    1. Thank you Janene, I love small studies and they're great for making me feel like I achieved something and actually finished it ;) ....always paint what I think I would like to have on the wall. Not everbody wants big paintings

  7. I love the tiny details in the feather. Very meticulous and gorgeous.