Tag Archives: botanic

What a week I have had! 6 day course with Ann Swan at Dedham Hall

An enthusiastic group of students, an experienced and knowledgeable teacher (Ann Swan), a great studio (despite the abundance of spiders and other creepy crawlies) wonderful weather and a full six days of time; the recipe for a really enjoyable and productive week.

I learned so much:

  • Which side is the right side of the paper, I got this wrong twice and was made to start again. A stern teacher indeed but I will pay attention in future.
  • Which greens are ‘good’ and ‘safe’ and make natural looking greens for leaves.
  • How to use a light box, I got this wrong too in two ways 1) I reversed my image and 2) used wrong side of paper.  Had to laugh though…….. and I will be much more careful next time.
  • Found out what a Plamp is (no I am not telling you, you will have to look it up for yourself).  Have also found out how to make one for myself (super scrimper that I am).
  • How to sharpen and pencil and why a sharp pencil is important.
  • The order that a coloured pencil drawing is best done.
  • Different methods of underpainting and how this works really well if a graphite drawing is planned.
  • What baby oil really is; not oil at all – who knew?
  • Burnishing and bloom: what colours to use and how to do it.
  • How to remove random marks e.g. fly poop, pencil slips from paper starting gently and moving onto the heavy guns of Milton fluid.
  • How to select colours for shadows, not necessarily greys but a pale complimentary instead.
  • To be much much braver when I lay down my first layer……….this is hard as I can feel myself not wanting to ‘go wrong’ but to get deep intense colour I must plunge in.

Here is my output for the week:

Abandoned drawing due to wrong side of paper used

Abandoned drawing due to wrong side of paper used

Here you can see the resist veins and the initial shading.

 

Leaf showing highlights and shine

Leaf showing highlights and shine

Here is a finished leaf, photo has dulled it rather but the depth of colour was good.

Backside of leaf

Backside of leaf

Backside of leaf (if you excuse the expression), this is generally duller than the top often with a velvety texture, Veins incised with ivory, bluntish pencils used to create softness. Used wrong side of paper again and reversed image on light box.  Tutor commented on lack of observation on where the veins finished, but I was able to add some extensions to bring the veins to edge of leaf.

Perky Tomatoes

Perky Tomatoes

A lot of hours went into these little babies! I loved the little dancing calyxes and that was what made me want to draw them.  They ripened as I watched.  I feel I have captured some of their perky nature, and preserved some of their luminance and translucency (don’t read on Karen because there is a ‘but’ coming) but I could work on them some more to intensify the colour.

Tangutica clematisMy final piece of work was this drawing of Clematis Tangutica and I don’t think the photo does it justice, it is not quite as washed out as this picture portrays.  I am happy with the composition of this drawing and used many of the ‘tricks’ I observed and learned to put this picture together.   I thought it was finished but it needs ‘beefing up’ Ann’s words and I will do that and try and strengthen the colour.

I had a really positive experience on this course and am fired up to keep going, I have improved  skills and a better understanding of the medium as well as a long shopping list for pencils and paper and other sundry equipment.

 

 

 

Advertisements

In which the author meets a virtual internet friend in real reality and spends the day in London.

I obviously don’t get out much! But this has been an exciting and encouraging week, in which I have seen some quality botanical art, met a great teacher and met some new people.  I am a member of the FaceBook page Botanical Art for Beginners, and I found out that a fellow member would also be at the RHS Botanical Art Exhibition in London.  We arranged to meet and amazingly we found each other, in that great crowded hall.  She introduced me to Ann Swan a pencil art teacher and author, who was coming to Dedham Hall (just down the road from me) to teach for a week, she was kind enough to let me gatecrash one of her classes so I did.  Some wonderful work was going on, and Ann is a supportive and knowledgable teacher, everyone was really friendly and I have made contact now with a local group which meets monthly.  The quality of the artwork at the RHS show was amazing, very inspiring and very varied, something to aspire to one day (in my next lifetime!)

Clematis Montana drawing

Clematis Montana drawing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even with all the excitement of London and Dedham I did get some drawing done, and this week what interested me was our Clematis Montana coming out, it seems to be best ever this year, maybe all the rain last year helped.  Petals again, oh dear, but practice makes perfect so I had another go.

Two clematis flowers

Two clematis flowers

Rough drawings

Rough drawings

So it is all very well being able to draw a plant fairly accurately, but what I realised at the exhibition this week is that accuracy does not an ‘artwork’ make.  Well, that’s obvious, obviously but it had not really sunk in; but visiting this class I could see that although the plant material was there the students were using it as inspiration rather than a guide.  So having done my preparatory drawings and photos of the clematis I thought I would have a go at ‘composition’.  I therefore spent a happy few hours with tracing paper, IPad, drawings, scissors and eraser laying out my first composition.

Clematis composition

Clematis composition

What I had noticed when I photographed the plant was that all the buds looked like little faces searching for the sunshine, so I tried to get the feeling in my picture of the buds and opening blossoms straining towards the warmth.  Not sure if it has worked but I am going to go with it, it is only small (a finished size of 6 inches square).

 

 

 

Wednesday Word (of a botanical nature)

Anemochore – A plant whose seeds or fruits are dispersed by the wind.