Tag Archives: botanical art

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!

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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A Drawing a Day – Week 3

Well I’m keeping up with the daily drawing but it is impacting on my other drawing……..it seems that I can only manage so much drawing a week, but I am enjoying the discipline of having to go upstairs and sit down and draw, in fact I look forward to it.  It has been helpful recently to have an activity that can stop my mind thinking about STUFF! Drawing brings its own concentration and intensity and there is no room for anything else and that is a blessing and relief. I am noticing too the turning of the year, although at the moment it is bitterly cold, spring is not far away and the plants are showing this to me.  The snowdrops, aconites and hellebores are all back, my winter friends – I draw them every year (note to self….dig out the old drawings and see if I have made any progress, or maybe not….. I might be very disappointed………..).

14-365 Holly

14-365 Holly

15-365 Holly

15-365 Holly

16-365 Seated woman

16-365 Seated woman

17-365 Hellebore

17-365 Hellebore

19-365 Hellebore

19-365 Hellebore

 

18-365 Hellebore

18-365 Hellebore

20-365 Winter Aconite

20-365 Winter Aconite

Link to the group page – group is now nine

Drawing a Day – Week 1

Drawings 1 – 6, there’s a long way to go until 31st December 2015…….. but here’s the start……

1-365 Catkins

1-365 Catkins

2-365 More Catkins

2-365 More Catkins

3-365 Pine Cone

3-365 Pine Cone

4-365 Pine Cone

4-365 Pine Cone

5-365 Pine Cone

5-365 Pine Cone

6-365 Honesty

6-365 Honesty

Draws Shoots and Leaves – 2015

I spent an hour going through my posts from the last year, reading about my activities and thought – how soon we forget!

The new year has dawned and our new project is underway, but as I write this (01/01/2015) I am the sole person who has posted a drawn image on our 365 Drawings for 2015 group site.  As I talked to friends, several people expressed an interest in joining in, so it is not just me!  During the run up to the challenge I have managed to draw every day and it has been really helpful knowing that if I did not post an image, then I might disappoint Maggie who was also doing a practice run up.

I was given a Bromeliad for my birthday and this was the subject of several of my drawings and the colours and shapes are so dramatic I thought it would make a good winter subject – the reds and greens will cheer me up.

Bromeliad

Bromeliad

I found it difficult to draw and with the stem running through the centre difficult to see.

Bromeliad 2

Bromeliad 2

However the complicated shape made it fun and interesting.  With the final drawing, I thought, just go for it, so I just started on good paper directly with coloured pencil (usually I do a careful drawing then trace and transfer to good paper).  Using Wendy Hollender’s limited palette of 20 pencils and her direct way of image making I have launched myself into a drawing – and ran out of paper; my drawing is just a gnat’s bollock (s’cuse my French) from the top of the sheet – doh! Still, the drafting is OK so I’m ignoring that and finishing the piece.

Bromeliad in colour

Bromeliad in colour

These images show the start of the drawing and I have only lightly blocked in the colours and shadows.  Looking at the image now though, I can see all the drafting mistakes, I read somewhere that this was a good way of spotting errors, shame I have already done so much as I can see something I would really like to fix (and I think I know how to fix it).

Bromeliad in colour

Bromeliad in colour

At Christmas my sons told me that they read my blog, that they liked it and that they had shown it to their friends, I was surprised as in some weird way I thought this blog was just me musing away to a few (distant) folks. They have never posted a comment………..so this is a request to any of you out there that read this, drop me a note once in a while to let me know that you are there………….Happy New Year.

Using colour

Still working with Wendy Hollender’s book ‘Botanical Drawing in Color’ I copied two of her drawings to try out her limited colours.  I tried a tulip, which I just drew out really quickly with graphite pencil and then coloured in following her step by step instructions.

Copy of Wendy Hollender tulip drawing

Then I followed the instructions for a bunch of crabapples.

Copy of bunch of crabapples by Wendy Hollender

 

What I really noticed, was that she uses a much freer and more ‘sketchy’ way of applying the pencil to the paper, and looking closely at her images I can see individual pencil lines.  This method is much quicker than trying to eliminate all traces of the makers mark which is how I have been doing things previously.

I then went on to experiment with an original drawing of my own of a Pomegranate.

Coloured pencil drawing of a pomegranate by Sue Hagley

Now this was really fun to do, I loved building up the layers of colour, I loved the ‘scribbly’ speed of working and the texture left behind by working quickly and more intuitively.  I also like the depth and variety of colour.

So now, how to progress?  Hmmmmm………I guess it will resolve itself as I start into the second year of my blog and my more focussed attention on drawing.  I have more or less decided that I will commit myself to doing a drawing a day for 2015….and have reviewed Frederick Franck’s guidelines ‘The Awakened Eye’ from my post way back in June.

 

Ally Pally, an old friend, a new toy and the Milton method

This week I made my annual pilgrimage to Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace for those of you in far flung places) to the Knitting and Stitching show.  There, those of a textile persuasion gather to indulge their passion…….. to look, to touch and to buy.  So much to buy…… and I did put my hand in my pocket: my purchase, a magnificent magnifying glass with daylight LEDs – wonderful.

Magnifier

Magnifier

This year the exhibition felt very different for me, I finally felt that textiles was no longer my ‘thing’: don’t get me wrong I still love fabric, yarn and cloth in all its wondrous variety but it no longer grabs me to ‘do it myself’, it’s been a long goodbye  but it’s over.  Contributing to that feeling was meeting someone from my past quilting life who was exhibiting there and it felt really good to catch up with her and hear about other members of the Quilt Art group of which I used to be a member but I have really moved on (at last).

Back to more pressing matters, the nasty stain on my drawing.  I don’t know how it got there or what it is but it looks like watercolour (but it can’t be).  I decided that I would try and remove it using ‘the Milton method’ that I learned from Ann Swan .  Milton fluid is used in the UK to sterilise infant feeding equipment.

The Problem

The Problem

So the method is to use a cotton bud and dab the solution onto the mark, not rubbing and then to blot it off using tissue.  I tried it out on a spare piece of paper first  and then went for it!  Slowly as I dabbed and blotted the mark faded and I was left with a wet patch.

Waiting

Waiting

Finally the paper dried and the mark was gone – amazing…..

Gone

Gone

Very happy with the result, now that it is fully dry it does not show at all, especially as the mark will not be as enlarged as the above photo.  I then tidied up my picture, erasing all the other marks and sharpened up my edges.

Finished image

Finished image

Finished picture is called ‘Ripening’, I really enjoyed working on it and realise that may be because as a ‘recovering quilt maker’ I am very attached to repetition and pattern.

Progress and Felt

Not much chance to do very much this week with a trip to London to help with a house move.  But some colouring in did take place.  I am happy with the intensity of colour I am getting, but a mysterious mark has appeared on my white paper and I am at a loss as to where it came from…. Not tea or coffee, I suspect a spider or a fly or even an earwig!  Using an eraser has not worked so I am going to have to try the Milton fluid technique.

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

There was also a meeting of our felting group this Saturday and here is the piece of felt I produced, only 3 more to go and then I shall make myself a multicoloured waistcoat, or bag, or pillow, or tea cosy – who knows? something anyway.  Circles seem to be a theme…….

Spotty Felt Panel

Spotty Felt Panel

Back to real life and drawing when I can fit it in…….

A few days away in Liverpool (wonderfully interesting city by the way) meant that I have not had much chance to do anything. So a very short post this week.

My eyes were attracted to the rose hips yesterday, and now I realise that they are very similar to the tomatoes I have just finished – not necessarily a bad thing as I can have another go at working with red and shiny.

Test page for colour

Test page for colour

This is as far as I have got with the drawing, I have laid down some ground colours and am now starting to build on that.

Rose hips in progress

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.