Monthly Archives: May 2014

Well I met my posting target this week, but that is all.

I am going to post the four scrubby drawing I managed this week.  I put them up as the intention of this blog is to share my progress as I struggle to revive my art practice.  The best thing that I can say about them is that they have been done.  I have managed to hack out a couple of hours and to sit myself in front of a drawing board and start, which is no mean achievement this week.  I had another go at the Easter Cactus.


But the plant that caught my eye in the garden was another weed – this time the wild carrot (Daucus carota) a small specimen but bushy and growing well.  I read that it is a plant of high summer so that shows how forward the season is this year after the mild winter.  The attraction was the festoon of bracts beneath the flower umbel so I had a good scribbly go at them.



And finally this afternoon I attempted a more detailed sketch.


When the flowers are finished and they turn to seed, the flower heads contract and become concave like birds’-nests.  I like this plant, it grows well in the garden and the hover flies love it




Getting to be an exhibition junky………..The Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition 2014

P1010470I went by myself to a Botanical Art exhibition, ‘how sad’ you say, but no it was great, it was just what was needed.  I had no one to talk to, no distractions, no worrying about if someone else was bored, tired or hungry, needed the loo or just wanted to go home.  I just had myself to please and somehow that does not happen very often.

I was able to go around the show which ran to nearly 700 pieces and look at each one individually.  I treated my visit as a learning experience and decided to analyse the pictures I liked and to decide what it was in that image that ‘spoke’ to me, and then I took notes (nerdy or what?)  Still I was there by myself so I could please myself!

At the end of three and a half hours, these are my findings about the things that I liked:

  • images that were larger than life size
  • compositions that overflowed their own boundaries
  • images that were ‘arrangements’ of separate items
  • gouache compared to straight water colour
  • images that were a single item (e.g. leaf)
  • interesting cropping that filled the picture plane
  • the combo of graphite and colour

I also noticed that some subjects are just ‘done to death’ and however beautiful and clever the work there is really nothing much new to say about strawberries, peppers, conkers, aubergines, tulips, daffodils, onions, garlic, carrots, cherries, orchids, iris, violas………….. I could go on.  That said, I’m sure I’m going to have a go at all of these over the coming months.

Artists I liked:

Some amazing work in the exhibition and so many talented artists.

Back at my own drawing board, things are not so amazing………. This week I followed instructions from a book called ‘ Creating Radiant Flowers in Colored Pencil’, this had instructions about using solvents to dissolve and blend coloured pencil.

With and without solvent

With and without solvent

First petal is just blended/burnished pencil and second one has had solvent applied to blend the colours, not only is it bigger (not caused by solvent but by operator error) but it is brighter, so I guess that is one way of getting really intense colour.

Then I went onto my plant of the week, which this week is my flowering ‘Easter’ cactus, this flowers for me every year and survives on neglect.  Have not put much time into it but I did try to have a go at the flower, pale pink almost white in places, how do you draw white petals on white paper?  Another skill to learn – to be added to the list.

Easter Cactus drawing by Sue Hagley

Easter Cactus

Botanical Artist – yer ‘avin a larf!

Since last week’s instalment my time for Botanical Art has been used up as follows:

  • Saturday – teaching (see Pink Sky Cycling), domestic duties (shopping) blah blah, and the start of an addiction to Breaking Bad.
  • Sunday – cycle ride to Hadleigh (30 miles round trip) and continuation of Breaking Bad.
  • Monday – a  Bank Holiday, a stream of visitors plus a little time at the drawing board.  Evening lost to Breaking Bad.
  • Tuesday – teaching all day followed by evening class.
  • Wednesday – trip to town to run errands (12 miles round trip on bike), visit to a friend, arm twisted by dear husband to keep him company at the dump (he has been having a clear out). In the evening I squeezed in 20 minutes at drawing board after the ironing and before a planning meeting with our Felting Group.
  • Thursday – my so called ‘art’ day started with another trip to town to collect gift of chair from friend.  I did spend the afternoon at drawing board but the lure of Breaking Bad was strong and the evening disappeared.
  • Friday – trip to Felixstowe to be present as representative of Pink Sky Cycling at the start of Stage 3 of the Womens Tour.  Weekend looming so domestics took over the afternoon and Breaking Bad called…..
  • Saturday – and back again to Saturday, teaching, domestics etc etc ……. Breaking Bad…..
  • Sunday – trip to London to see the Society of Botanical Artists 2014 exhibition.

The moral of the tale is……..don’t get sucked into an addictive TV show, especially one that ran for five series and we are still only on the second series…………..

Well I did get some drawing done, and I had another bash at the marigold, a scribbly fast session, I find I have developed a real liking for the marigold, it has an interesting way of growing and I will revisit it later in the year because it has good seed heads too.

Pencil Marigolds

Scribbly marigolds

The new plant that called to me this week, and which has been a favourite of mine for several years is the Cerinthe.  Wonderful, electric blue/purple colour and, even better, not many petals.

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Did not have much time (see list above) so not much done, but found the colour work on this plant was very interesting – what colours!

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Wednesday Word (of a botanical nature)

drawing of an apple by Sue HagleyKex – the dry usually hollow stem of a large umbellifer, or the whole umbelliferous plant.

Orange! A Marmite type of colour.

This week as I wandered around the garden wondering what to draw, mulling over my skills, I realised that I had been avoiding flowers with too many petals.  Too hard, too complicated – nah not for me, I can’t do that yet.  Despite my doubts I left the garden with a marigold in my hand, and decided to give it a go.  As I sat down and started drawing in dawned on me that it was not the shape or the number of petals that was going to be the problem but the colour.  What a bright orange, what a singeing eye popping colour, it really does not look like a natural colour – it is just way too bright.

Orange, is a strange colour, many people don’t like it and I can understand why, it is very fierce and in your face, it is a Marmite type colour, you either love it or hate it.  Maybe not quite like Marmite as I have converted from hate to love.  My conversion to orange came many years ago when I was still a quilter and a completely lurid piece of orange fabric came into my possession and dominated my stash.  I decided that instead of throwing the fabric away I would use it, and I pieced it into one of my very first ‘art’ quilts, and found to my surprise that it was the orange colour made the quilt sing.  The quilt was not brilliant but it opened my eyes to the magic of orange.  After that, most of my textile work had a sprinkle of orange sparkle and were all the better for it. (Apologies for the rubbish photo)

Orange Squares Quilt by Sue Hagley

First ‘art’ quilt made in 2002

Back at the drawing board, I was struggling with both the colour and the shape of the marigolds and now that I have finished a few and photographed them and looked with new eye I can see how wobbly they are and how very ‘off’ I am in places and how I have failed to match the orange.

Marigold flower in coloured pencil

Wonky flower

Marigold Bud in coloured pencil


So although not satisfied at all with my coloured pencil efforts, I really enjoyed the pencil drawing, a marigold when studied closely has a complicated and interesting shape, the leaves wrap around the stalk and they twist and spiral outwards.  The bud is tightly wrapped with a calyx with spikes that curl beautifully.  I found the structure fascinating and a real challenge to draw.

Graphite drawing of marigolds

Graphite drawing of marigolds

Graphite drawing of marigolds

Graphite drawing of marigolds

Graphite drawing of marigolds

Graphite drawing of marigolds