Friday, 23 April 2010

SBA Silver Jubilee Show

Society of Botanical Artists Silver Jubilee Show 2010 and Diploma Seminar

I managed to make it to Westminster Central Hall for the Silver Jubilee show and to the student seminar on the 17th April 2010. It was a most enjoyable day and a pleasure to meet the tutors and fellow students.
I participated in a number of the short tours delivered by tutors and came away with lots of 'food for thought'. I particularly enjoyed hearing what Margaret Stevens had to say. She has a wealth of experience and was my tutor for four assignments. She used computer images to analyse some of the works on show in detail - this was extremely enlightening and revealing!
I also managed to submit 5 works for this years exhibition and had all accepted (although one was not shown). I am extremely grateful for the service that Jackie Gethin provides and she has submitted work on my behalf a number of times. There is no doubt that I would not be able to participate in the show without her assistance simply because I live so far away. To my surprise I was awarded a Certificate of Botanical Merit for my Scots thistle seedhead (detail from the study pictured above) , and, was highly commended for the Joyce Cumming Award for the same drawing - something that I hadn't even considered! Again thanks to Jackie for collecting the award on my behalf at the opening ceremony. Better start work now for next years show!

Botanical Illustration, SBA Assignment 9

Study pages for the Botanical Illustration, Fritillaria meleagris....then I changed my mind

Botanical Illustration Assignment 9

It's now over half way through the course and this is the assignment that I've most been looking forward to. Have been working on a couple of subjects, both native species, which is where my heart is, can't decide which one to use but think I'll go with Fritillaria meleagris - it's not too complicated and is one of my favourite flowers. The other option is the pasque flower, another favourite.
Lots of sketch book work and measurements are required for a true botanical illustration, showing all parts and a dissection. I use a magnifying glass for the reproductive parts. Here is a page from my sketch book with some of the preliminary work. My sketch book seems a bit messy and my handwriting and colour notes always look a bit rough - but I guess that's just the way I work. I recently purchased Mary Ann Scott's Botanical Sketchbook, which shows her work throughout the SBA diploma course - it's fabulous and puts mine to shame! Her book is reviewed on the 'Making a Mark' blog

Here's the update....I changed my mind and went with the Pulsatilla vulgaris below

Guess what?....I've painted it before. I think the older version was better, it's on vellum.

This assignment id worth more than the others,  15 marks, so it's an important one.

Vegetable Study, SBA Assignment 8, Savoy Cabbage

An unfinished savoy
Assignment 8 Vegetable or Fungi Study
The Savoy cabbage. This time I really regretted starting such a large and complex subject - it completely filled the paper! I find this paper size so restrictive! I like to have lots of white space so working so small means that if you want white space then you could only work on small subjects. I'd spent so much time on this and I felt I had to continue....I passed the point of no return. I didn't manage to finish it but that was OK as long as two leaves were finished and all the preliminary washes were in place. Perhaps I'll go back to it one day.....but not just yet. I couldn't find any vegetables that hadn't been decapitated ( no leaves) for this study so the choices were a bit limited, so I decided to grow some of my own veg for future studies.
Fungi is no longer allowed in future courses as DNA evidence has finally confirmed that fungi has no place in the plant world. And a lot of what is sold as vegetable is actually fruit, so it's a bit limited.

I was cheating again here because I've painted a Savoy Cabbage before! Yes playing safe again. Actually I think all subjects should be painted more than once, it's the only way to really get to grips with them.

My tutor was Billy Showell, she congratulated me on taking on such a large task! She must think I'm crazy! The criticism was on the tone and colour section. She felt some of the highlights could be toned down in the shaded areas to give more emphasis to the lighter parts. Totally agree with that looking at it now. I got so wrapped up painting all those little 'bubbles' that I lost track of the overall light and shade. It was a very dark variety, with a lot of blue in the green. I was happy with the leaf ribs and veins. it was a good mark so happy enough. Billy said she'd like to see it finished....hmmm maybe one day!  

The Essay, SBA Assignment 7, Arthur Harry Church

The Essay Assignment 7
I wrote my essay on Arthur Harry Church, simply because he completed some beautiful work on the reproductive mechanisms of flowers with such skillful dissection too - something that interests me. I studied Floral Morphology in relation to reproductive success at the University of Aberdeen, so this suited my interests. It's an easy assignment compared to painting!  Here's my thesis and also the Church's ok I don't expect you to read the thesis but I figure it's ok to post the essay now its dine and dusted. margaret Steven's is my tutor again for this one.

 I illustrated my thesis work  after Church with large dissections of my study palnts.

If you want to find out more about Church see David Mabberley's book The Anatomy of Flowers. I think the book is fairly hard to get hold of now but there is more and more information about Church's work coming to light and he has finally received the recognition he deserves through this publication.

Fruit Study, SBA Assignment 6

It's a Pineapple for assignment 6

Fruit Study Composition 2

Again I didn't really do a composition here, just a straight forward pineapple! I think I forgot what I was suposed to be doing and got carried away with the detail. I was also very short of time on this one. Anyway it was an enjoyable assignment all the same.

Having said that I don't think things need to be complicated just for the sake of it....I think a floating subject makse a good composition and the space is as important as the subject ( my justification) but seriously I dont want to add stuff for the sake of it.
I've painted a few pineapples and they always sell, so felt a bit like taking the easy option here by doing something that I was already familiar with but if time is short that seems like a sensible idea to me.

Many people say that  pinapples follow a Fibonacci sequence but I challenge anybody to go prove that. It's a very broad generalisation of  the growth pattern that results two spirals, one clockwise and one counterclockwise. The pinapple rarely adds up to fit the Fibonacchi sequence, it's a myth. However sunflowers and pinecones genarally do. This type of pattern is basically the most energy efficient growth pattern, it's a matter of energy economics or conservation. That's why these types of patterns occur's  not magic nor mystery. People try to make things fit the sequence but they seldom actually test the theory by counting!

Tutor comments
 For this one lovely Billy Showell was the tutor : she was very kind with the comments and gave me an excellent mark. She suggested a wash on the leaves to deepen a little, she liked the level of  detail and colour.

I painted this one a few years ago and sold it at the SBA exhibition I think in 2004. I think it's better becaus eits more colourful, The one for the assignment was past it's best and very dark

Flower Composition. Assignment 5. Paphio

Paphio flower from Assignment 4
Following on from the  previous assignment, I decided to paint the whole plant of the paphio. Not much time at the moment because of other work. Not sure I read the brief properly here....that means I know I didn't.

Paphio Composition. Too much foliage! Hate this and it's heading for oblivion!
 Orchids are such obliging flowers and stay in bloom for long periods so are perfect for slower painters or those that have a limited amount of time each day. I think I fit into both of these categories.   Unfortunately I made the fatal error of not reading the brief properly for this assignment! so I carried on with the work oblivious to the fact that I was supposed to include various aspects of the flower! As a result I had only painted the central flower, then decided to read the assignment as I was about to pop it in the envelope. There was a clue in the word 'composition' and to my horror that I hadn't met the brief!  I tried not to panic and proceeded to add two further flowers ( showing front and back views)  I suppose I  was lucky in that the Paphio has more than one flower. So my lesson here was to read and re-read all assignment texts! It's pretty shocking considering that I'd worked as a freelance illustrator for over 15 years but for some reason these courses turn the brain to mush ! I wouldn't make this mistake again....would I?

Tutor comments:Anyway the surprise was that I got an exceptionally high mark for this from Margaret Stevens! yes she seems to be my tutor for a lot of the assignments! I had raised my own concern about the symmetry in the arrangement of the flower heads but she said she liked it, it reminded her of the Mikado 'Three Little Maids' and that in this case it worked, she didn't have any adverse!  

SBA Assignment 4, Flower Studies and SBA Exhibition surprise award!

flower library
Assignment 4, Flower studies...must take a better photo!

This assignment involved painting a library of  seven flowers, which must include a yellow or white flower.  Again lots to choose from so went for different coloured flowers and different flower shapes, trumpet, umbel etc.  I chose yellow rather than white because for me it's more challenging. Flowers are: Alcea rosa, Crocosmia 'Lucifer', Digitalis purpurea, Hydranga macrophylla, Gentiana septemfida, Trapoleum majus. Sorry I've chopped the image will post a better one later. Not too challenging. I think I'd like to do more of the same.

paphio flower
Detail of the Paphio
I spaced the flower head evenly to cover the page in a balanced way, placing the Hydrangea at the centre. It worked out ok. My tutor for this assignment is Course President Margaret Stevens.

A good mark for this, best one yet, a very slightly dodgy alignment on the hollyhock reproductive parts was the only criticism. I missed that.She particularly liked the paphio and the hydrangea. She said she would like to include this and the previous leaf assignment in the DLDC exhibit at the Westminster but I need to remind her, and send it back to her in plenty of time.

A certificate in Botanical Merit form the SBA 
This month I also exhibited with the SBA, having gone a bit mad with the extra Graphite in January, working on getting the depth of tone right.  I completed a number of studies of things I'd grown from seed the previous year and submitted them with a few other for the annual SBA show. I was lucky enough to have all 5 accepted in Feb! I visited the exhibition and was delighted to find out that I'd been awarded a Certificate in Botanical Merit for my Scots Thistle Seed head. I was also highly commended for the Joyce Cumming Award!  There's and entry about it on the excellent Making a Mark blog 

Scots Thistle seed head which was awarded a Certificate of Botanical Merit at the SBA Annual Exhibition and also highly commended for the Joyce Cumming Award. Bit of a pale photo so some details below.
Dried Artichoke drawing also exhibited at the SBA
Detail from the Scots thistle

Detail from the Scots thistle