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

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

  1. KnitNell

    Good idea to take notes of what you like when going around an art exhibition – not nerdy at all! And also wise to go on your own – I often go around art galleries on my own, gives me space to think.

  2. occasionalartist

    I enjoy going to galleries on my own for all the reasons you wrote about, white on white is hard I usually colour in the background or better still draw on coloured paper. Karen.

  3. Inese Poga Art Gallery

    I suppose, you’d like watercolor pencils, these blend just with water and control is as strong as with pencil only. I usually think this: if one medium does not allow to achieve what you want effortlessly, why not to try some other? Like pastel pencils. I personally cannot tolerate the sound which pastel pencil makes on pastel paper, but other than that it’s a good way to achieve brights and neutrals and whatever you want. I’ve never done white flowers with colored pencils, but normally you’d need either toned background and shadows on the flower to show off its shape.
    Going alone to exhibitions is probably the best way to get most out of them because you are completely undisturbed and no need to make courtesy remarks.
    Liked your post! Good luck with your next drawings!

    1. Draws Shoots and Leaves Post author

      I have not tried watercolour pencils, and I think this is good advice about combining mediums – it has come to me from several sources so I will definitely give it a go. I saw an artist at the exhibition using acrylic inks as the under layer and that looked very effective. Thanks for the input.


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