|Figure 2. Above: Calotropis gigantea, Giant Milkweed, sketchbook and finished painting (2018). I made these sketches in Indonesia, under difficult sticky hot conditions but it was essential to gather as much materials as possible because the painting was to be finished at home. I've been posting these 'Sketchbook to Painting' posts on my Dianne Sutherland Artist Facebook page if you would like to see more. I believe that I've understood a plant well enough when I can make a rough diagram from memory showing the following: floral morphology, basic reproductive strategy and parts, the leaf shape, venation and arrangement on the stem - only then do I feel like I'm in a good position to paint the plant. I decided this was a good approach after reading that it was a requirement that was employed in an examination by Ernest E Clarke, to draw a plant from memory! Clarke wrote the Handbook of Plant Form in the early 1900's.|
|Figure 4. The reproductive parts inside the flower, once measured and drawn a better understanding is achieved|
|Figure 5. Adding the anthers and dissections to the page|
|Figure 6. Making later additions, in August fruit is added to the earlier honeysuckle entry, made in early July|
|Figure 7. Lonicera periclymenum, from Down Banks, Barlaston, Staffordshire|
I only had one block of Saunders Waterford HP High White that was the correct size (9 x 12 inches) and couldn't be bothered cutting paper because of all the issues with paper grain direction etc. and likely error on my part making mistakes when cutting. So I decided to work with what was at hand rather than buying more stuff, I figured that more stuff doesn't make anything better but this limited the number of pages, so I ended up with two volumes. I used the cardboard from the back of the watercolour block to make the hard cover, glued fabric to it from an old pillow case and covered it with some William Morris wrapping paper! to be honest it wasn't terribly well made but it worked and subsequent books are much better in construction, but it served a purpose. SW paper isn't always the easiest for fine detail but I like it and it's tough stuff and good quality - the beauty of this is that you can choose your own paper. For the second volume I switched to Stonehenge Aqua, my other favourite paper, which I find facilitates better fine detail (in my opinion).
|Figure 11. A chance finding Amanita muscari|
|Figure 12. An absolute pleasure to paint, Fly Agaric. If it appears next year its going on vellum |
I have a number of approaches but it's dictated by the plant. Sometimes using a combination of watercolour and graphite to create depth and separation enables me to create a jumbled growth habit, shown in the bramble, figure 15. This also speeds up the process of completing something that would otherwise take too long - I try not to spend more than one day on each entry, I grab a bit of time when I can often first thing in the morning but also spend time looking at the subject and reading about it or asking myself questions and have to make decisions dependent on available time for each plant, some can be completed quite quickly whereas others are more complex.
For small graveyard plants in figure 12, I painted three little habitat clumps as micro habitats over three weeks. The dandelion I made studies in figure 14 of but felt I had to paint it from above because that's the way I generally encounter it, seen in figure 13. All are different.
|Figure 12. Three little habitat clumps Viola, Oxalis and Daisy from the graveyard|
Figure 13. I made two Dandelion entries for this the first was a deconstruction (below), the second was the usual habitat view
|Figure 14. The Taraxacum officinale deconstruction|
|Figure 15. Using graphite to create more complexity a Bramble another two page spread|
|Figure 16. A mixed composition of wildflowers made in Scotland. I think this was may favourite to do - probably because of my associations with Scotland, and the lovely road trip exploring, which was a treat after being home for so long. Its a memory page!|
|Early morning painting|