Tag Archives: photinia

Going crazeeeeeee – GIMP, scanning and photography

I never thought that botanical art would lead me down the dark and tortuous road of photography, but it has, and let me be up front about photography – I don’t like it.  The camera does not see as I do and I am always disappointed by the results.

So I finished my drawing of the Photinia and of course I needed to photograph it – why? 1. to put in the blog of course and 2. as a record.

Photinia drawing by Sue Hagley

Finished Photinia coloured pencil drawing.


Arghhh!  Lighting, getting it right is sooooo hard, lots of research on the internet and it all seems so time intensive and boring and even more nit-picking than even I can cope with.  My research lead me to consider scanning – ah ha! much easier, the darn thing lights itself and I will just get some software to do a little colour correction. What a blind alley that turned into.  Most of my images are bigger than scanner plate, so software would also need to ‘stitch’ several images together as well as adjust colour.  More research and the dread word GIMP came into my life.  Anyway – this is all way too boring but I have just wasted two of my precious days on this earth wrestling with GIMP and some esoteric things called layers – it’s all been too horrible and I’m done with it!   The solution came to me when I was meditating – surprising what a little bit of stillness and silence can do, and it seems glaringly obvious now.  My room has been rearranged, and in that rearrangement new lights were installed, which means the room is evenly lit enough for photography (at least for the standard I need).  So I tested it out, and it works, YAY!  Only problem was a support to hold the artwork, so a request to my resident woodworker resulted in a lovely new stand, with the addition of two elastic bands my Heath Robinson ensemble is good to go.

Photography Stand

Heath Robinson ensemble

Seems to  work alright, see photo of Photinia above (although I have not cropped it properly); I will experiment some more with a tripod and a better (bigger) camera, but not today……………………..

P.S. ………if you are still with me, dear reader, I did go back to it, like an itch you can’t help scratching.  My later experiments came out really well and I am now HAPPY!  I found out how to set the white balance on my camera, lower the ISO and use a tripod.  I also used up about 500 calories going up stairs to take the photo and down again to put it on the computer, so I have had my exercise for today, which can’t be bad.  Didn’t do any drawing though………..


Chaenomeles disappointment, Photinia progress

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.

Chaenomeles blossom

Chaenomeles blossom

Not under my heavy handed pencil work; my efforts do not do it justice in any shape or form.

My effort

My effort

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.

Photinia Red Robin

Ready to go

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.


Photinia set up

Photinia set up

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.

Photinia work in progress

Photinia work in progress