Pussy cat, pussy cat

Pussy cat,
Pussy cat,
Where have you been?
I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen.

Pussy cat,
Pussy cat,
What did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under a chair.

None of this is true of course, except I have been up to London and I have visited the Gallery at Buckingham Palace and the old nursery rhyme is going around in my head.

I visited the exhibition of the drawings done by Maria Sibylla Meriam that are in the possession of the Queen.  What an amazing woman Maria was, travelling to Surinam in 1699 with her daughter and drawing the plants and insects she found there.

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The lady at the entrance desk whispered conspiritorially that David Attenbough was viewing the exhibition, but sadly I did not see him.

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I guess the copyright belongs to the Queen and I hope I am not treading on her toes by posting this image.

We were allowed to photograph the images (no flash) which surprised me as the rule nowadays seems to be to prohibit photography, I am posting this amazing drawing, what fun she had observing these creatures, the audio commentary commented that these not entirely accurate but mostly she drew from life.

I also visited the Society of Botanical Artists exhibition (no photography allowed) which is on until 23rd April, and I must say, nothing grabbed me as much as Maria’s work.  Maybe it was the lack of creepy crawlies!

Tulips

Last week I treated myself to a bunch of tulips from the market, pondering for a long time on what colour to choose.

Nearly finished tulips

Nearly finished tulips

They have been really fun to draw and I downloaded an audiobook from the library to keep me company Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler.  I use my iPad to record the flowers before I start drawing because flowers move! shock horror…….and they even die.

Finished tulips

Finished tulips

But, but, but……….this bunch is just as beautiful and I am very tempted to have a go at drawing of these just as they are right now.

I have been considering how to progress my skills and continue with a regular practice and I think I have found a way.  I am focussing my attention close to home……my own garden in fact.  I have been bemoaning the fact that there are not many plants and they are not very exotic and blah blah blah but in fact they are the plants I have, they are the plants on my doorstep so to speak and the are available all year round – what more do I want?!

I am starting a sketchbook and I am going to catalogue and draw each plant that grows in my garden (as I look around I can see at least thirty different species) which should keep me busy for a while.  Each plant will be drawn as it changes through the seasons.  I suspect it will be a never ending project as I am already buying new plants and then there will be the vegetables we grow, the bulbs we hope to plant, the herbs, the houseplants, and the bouquets (feel free to send them whenever you like). I might even try some calligraphy so that the notes will also look decorative.

I have found a brilliant web site for cataloguing plants (Plantsmap.com) which appeals to nerdy me – it is FaceBook for plants and I have started adding my plants and collections to help keep track.

Full moon at night and a sunny morning what could be nicer?

Update

I was not able to attend my drawing class this week so I sat down and made up the time so at least I will not fall behind all the others in the class.  I have left the tulip (it is not finished yet) and started on the chrysanthemum.  I wanted to start to see how the reds would work together and assess the composition.  Photograph not very good……but I can’t face tackling photo editing again……P1030521

Coloured Pencil class

I have signed up again with Janie Pirie for a coloured pencil class and we are now several weeks in.  She provided some coloured plates from the 1950s / 1960s and we were to select some flower heads from these plates, to make a composition.  This is not how I usually work but I am interested in learning from Janie.  I chose these three plates for my flower heads mainly because I wanted some unity in colour as the three flower heads are very different structures.P1030514

Left to right, I am using the red/yellow chrysanthemum, the centre salpiglossis, and the bottom open tulip.  Strange to use already drawn images as source material.  Here is the beginning of the open tulip, I have arranged the flower heads with this one at the bottom the chrysanthemum in the middle and the salpiglossis at the apex, and hopefully the similarity of the colours will give some sense of cohesion to the very simple composition.

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This year’s project

Well we had our get together at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Maggie and Alison met each other for the first time which was great, I felt that they already knew a bit about each other because of the drawings they had shared over the year.  The exhibition was heaving with people which spoiled the enjoyment a little, but that seems to be the problem with these ‘special’ exhibitions with allotted time slots, we bypassed the first two rooms and skipped ahead where the space was emptier.  Then backtracked later to see the beginning.  Here we are! Sue, Maggie and Alison, over lunch we talked about continuing to share what we were working on and we decided on a name for our new blog – Drawn Together.

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We will post what we are working on and we will try and share once a week.

On a personal level I have been pondering on what I want to do artistically this year, as I have found the commitment to practice regularly so useful last year.  Finally, this morning, I had an idea………. My friend Brian sent me a book last year called ‘642 Tiny Things to Draw’ as a joke (I think) but this little book has been challenging me ever since.

The areas that I want to work on are 1) imagination & 2) composition, so I am going to take the drawing suggestions from the book in order and three at a time and try and make a picture (but I reserve the right to skip the odd suggestion).  So my first picture will contain cupcake sprinkles, a button on a TV remote and an eraser! Good luck with that I hear you say, as well you might.  Even as I wrote down those first three items my heart sank, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

A Drawing A Day – Week 52 and a bit

Three Hundred and Sixty Five days ago I started a project to do a drawing every single day and now I have completed the task.  I was not alone –  Maggie and Alison (click on Aligeebee to see her drawings) were there every drawing along the way, and it was a daily pleasure to see what they had posted on the site.  We are off for a jolly in January to see the Indian Textiles exhibition at the V & A in London – where Maggie and Alison will meet each other for the first time.

I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the people that have followed the blog and have been kind enough to comment and encourage.

Did I really truly do a drawing every day?  Well…….confession time, not exactly; I missed one drawing in June – I remembered during the day but then forgot to actually do it and woke up with a jump the next morning ‘Arggh I didn’t do my drawing!’.  The second miss was when I had a particularly busy day coming up where I could see no gap for a quiet sit down so I did an extra drawing the day before.

Have there been any benefits from drawing every day?  I would say yes, yes and yes!

I am no longer frightened by the blank white sheet of paper.  I am happy to show anyone any of my drawings –  my ‘artist’ skin has become thicker, OK so it’s not a very good drawing – so what! My skills have improved, I notice when I draw I am looking not at the thing but at the relationships, negative space and shading.  I have developed a ‘style’ or ‘handwriting’ to my drawings and mostly they are wonky and I am happy with that. Having a drawing to do each day gave me a anchor point while everything around me seemed on the move.

Another thought – doing just 30 minutes  a day means that I have clocked up over 180 hours of drawing and I know I have often taken more than 30 minutes with a drawing.  My shortest drawing? Well sitting having coffee at Felixstowe Ferry, I sketched a boat in 30 seconds and the drawing was done.

So what am I going to do next year? I don’t really know right now, I am waiting until drawing 365/365 is done, but I am thinking that my focus should be on composition and I want to start keeping a ‘proper’ sketchbook like real artists do.  I am also keen to do something with the amazing trees that are in the park over the road…………..

Here they are then, the last 9 drawings (now don’t get too excited it is just more of the same).  Happy New Year!

357 Star Candlestick

357 Star Candlestick

358 Hands

358 Hands

359 Supposed to be eggs

359 Supposed to be eggs

360 Rose

360 Rose

361 Lily

361 Lily

362 Lily again

362 Lily again

363 Andy Titcombs fishy teapot

363 Andy Titcombs fishy teapot

364 Orchid Leaves

364 Orchid Leaves

365 Lillies

365 Lillies – last drawing!

A Drawing A Day – Week 51

Week 51!!?? You gotta be kiddin’ me! Well fancy that, just 9 more drawings to go……..  Well, they are not very exciting drawings this week, my workroom is in such a muddle I have only been able to perch on the corner of my table with a pencil and an A4 pad.

350 Christmas Trees

350 Christmas Trees

351 Shoes

351 Shoes

352 Ipswich roofs

352 Ipswich roofs

353 Boxes for deep beds

353 Boxes for deep beds

354 Ivy

354 Ivy

355 Shrub leaves

355 Shrub leaves

356 Holly

356 Holly