It still does not feel like summer here, we are having a long cold spring, I think we have only had one hot day so far. But the countryside is green and spectacular and the weeds in the garden are flourishing. Yesterday was day 160, and I have not missed a day, I deserve a pat on the back (pats herself on the back). Anyway, here are this week’s efforts, I am really enjoying the water colour pencils and have treated myself to a few more (the boxed set has a very poor selection of greens) so I am waiting impatiently for the postman.
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
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)
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.
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.
Botanic art is not an easy discipline. Last week I was very disappointed with my efforts with a Chaenomeles blossom which was only slightly alleviated by the excitement of reorganising my workroom. I will share only one of my drawings as it illustrates how difficult it was for me to draw petals (and I am too ashamed of the other drawings). A petal is delicate, light and ephemeral and flutters lightly in the breeze.
Not under my heavy handed pencil work; my efforts do not do it justice in any shape or form.
So thoroughly discouraged I have put petals to one side for the moment, when I am more skilful I will revisit the lovely Chaenomeles and try again.
Thinking I need something a bit more solid to get my teeth into, my eye landed on Photinia Red Robin growing in the garden. Ah ha! tough, bold, good angles, shape and colour and not a petal in site – my next subject.
The outline drawing was accomplished fairly painlessly, and by the end of the day I had the outline ready on good paper ready to start the colour work. I think I am going to start drawing stones and rocks, why! Because plants move! They shift, they sag, they droop, they twist, bits fall off, they just change – moment by moment they are not the same. So the next morning all was different, so that is another skill that I need to acquire; the ability to be flexible and the ability to adapt.
I am still working on this image, the colours are fun to work with, each leaf is different and I am enjoying the process. I have been listening an unabridged version audio book of Les Miserables, in all the time the musical has been running I have never seen it, and I still have not seen the film – well at least I know the story now.
Well the excitement is over. The trip to Brazil has happened and is now in the past. The drawing kit so laboriously assembled was used only once! However, in my defence, the time was so action packed that I rarely had time to sit down for any length of time to do any drawing. My eyes were in constant action though, as was my camera, I filled my memory card (note to self: next time take two) and ran down the batteries twice. What a magnificent country for plant lovers, and I only visited the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Parana & Rio Grande de Sul (please excuse spelling errors).
Highlights of the plants seen:
A Brazil Nut tree – the nuts grow on the trunk (I did not know that).
A Cashew Nut fruit – the nuts grow in the top of the fruit and the fruit smells exquisite and tastes rubbish.
Auricaria Angustifolia (Pinheiro Brasiileiro) – the trees reach the sky and look like lollipops.
Orchids – saw some in Rio Botanical Garden, they had sort of left me cold before, but there were some stonkers here.
A row of Imperial Palms (Roystonea oleracea) in the Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro
I visited the botanical gardens of Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba and have made the resolution in all future travels to always track down and visit the local botanical garden. In fact, my travels in future might be driven by the desire to visit the botanical garden.
Also visited the magical garden of Roberto Burle Marx wonderful garden and house full of beauty.