Monday, 24 January 2011

The Lion and the Tea-Leaf Almost Complete


The Front

Just doing the back now...

The Back

I was going to have the sampler framed, but I made a mistake on the border and a mount would have made it look really obvious, so I decided to do what I usually do, and that is to encase the back with material and place it in a special box. There is a lot of sunlight in my boyfriends room, so it will last longer kept in a box.

I chose this simple material, because a border of it can be seen from the front and so I had to pick something with the right colour that wouldn't detract from my own sewing. I made these patches when travelling on a train with him from the South West, so he'll probably recognise them. Which is rather nice I suppose... They are part of the story.

I wanted to sew in words inside each hexagon, about the things we had done, but I am running against the clock and it seemed a little obessive. He gets the idea as it is, so I only wrote inside one hexagon.

40 Tulips from Henry the Lion... Waiting to be Drawn


Friday, 21 January 2011

Portishead time for the Grapes

'2011 Grapes' having a lay-down on my Gokarnian bed spread

So, here are the grapes on their A3 stretcher, getting their Portishead moment, which consists of sitting on my desk while I blurt out Portishead numbers through my speakers in order to make myself enter some sort of deathly darkness. This enables me to add the dark layers of colour on without fear and without feebleness. It's time to get bold, which is always a nightmare when you have spent so long on a painting. Thing is, it is this which makes a painting victorious, and yes, it frequently goes wrong and this is when I can totally mess it up. So... on goes the Portishead and on go the layers... It is a risky process, which is why the speed of progression has somewhat slowed down... It's about efficiency with the brush strokes now...

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Me (in the alchemical coat), my mum (the reflection)
and Sir John St. Aubyn at the Linnean Society


I don't think I was trying to be eccentric with the 'only one glove look'...

So Sir John made it back to London 200 years or so later... and my mum too, which was really lovely (although she comes to London more regularly than Sir John). The exhibition I designed with Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery is now on show in the Linnean Society (herbarium part) and in the Geological Society (mineral part). I am very proud of this, and extremely pleased because I think Sir John would have really approved. I haven't seen these plinths since this time last year when I broke my finger, so it was a little unnerving. I am amazed that they look so good still, they have been all over the place - even up (and down) St. Michael's Mount!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

2011 Grapes After 34 Hours of Labour

SBA Assignment 7 (2011 Grapes): 9.19/10

So, another night on the grapes. Last night I couldn't face them, so carried on with my embroidery (which independently also comes with a deadline of 29th January alongside these grapes), whilst watching 'The Queen' on 4oD. It's dull enough not to grab my attention, but interesting enough so I can listen to it. I am currently bored with the radio (listened too much) and I can't do trance at this time of night after working in the gallery all day drilling. So this evening was '2011 Grapes' alongside 'The Queen'. today I added a wash of red to the grapes - more orange in this shade and it mainly goes near the yellow bits on the opposite side of the highlights. I also sorted out some of the grapes at the back on the top right - but these will need more work tomorrow on Friday.

I have another account called my blipfoto account, which is where I place photographs of my life and the things that inspire me, as well as some of my own work. It mirrors this blog on occasion, so I haven't mentioned it before. I have decided to mention it now, as it is an ideal way of watching the progression of my '2011 Grape' painting. I have never had so many comments and hits on blip as I have with these grapes, which is really encouraging.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

2011 Grapes after 29 hours...


I'm feeling like I am getting the knack of this now. All the shadows and reflections have started going into my memory bank and I am starting to understand how a grape becomes a grape a lot more.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Botanical Illustration of Vitis vinifera which I hung today

Painting from Leicestershire Society of Botanical Illustrators ©

So the work goes on with getting those grapes completed before the 26th... another day of painting as I am taking Sunday off to spend sometime with my boyfriend, who I am sure is feeling a little neglected since these grapes came on the scene. Slept well, so I have re-gained my concentration skills which is always a bonus, as I was feeling extremely tired last week and it's a nightmare painting when one feels like that because you know you are going to drop your brush or something - which I did do twice, but managed to catch it or knock it off so it fell away from the page - phew!

I can't remember who painted the grapes above, but they have just been hung in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art as part of our new exhibition - our first selling exhibition which opens of the 5th February. I will have a look at work on Monday and update the name. The picture is small and slightly out of focus in order to not impinge on the copyright, as all these pictures are still in copyright and I don't want to get into trouble!

Here are some other ways of painting grapes which I have found on Google and have been looking at really closely, but not all are in watercolour and I am beginning to wonder if they are a lot easier to paint in oils:


I really like this one (above)

I like the transparency of this one (above)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Your Techno-painting Illustrator



So, what do I use? Well I recently got a paper stretcher from my dad and so far (first time I have used it) it seems to be doing the trick. I have had quite a number of problems learning the knack of stretching paper - from vanish coming off on the back of my painting to the gum tape not sticking etc...

Alongside this I use:

Fabriano hot press paper
A squirrel hair Chinese brush (for washes)
A very fine sable brush (which was used to do this entire painting really due to the nature of the grapes not allowing large washes - the teeny brush nearest the feather),
A harder tiny brush which I used with water only to blend in the layers of paint.
A photograph - because plants inevitably wilt/decay. Within an hour under the spotlight these grapes had already moved!
Daler Rowney watercolour paints - I prefer the cubes rather than the tubes.
A feather - very useful tool for wiping away rubber shavings - reduces smudging.

And, some techno music. I assume that I probably am the only botanical illustrator to listen to serious trance music when working. It is the only thing that makes me concentrate and loose a sense of time. It also makes me drift off in some sort of euphoric way so that I feel as if I am becoming one with everything - even the grapes. It helps me to feel as if I was a grape and experience it's juiciness, it's deep colours, it's plumpness and it's sensuality. Bring on the trance. It does sound like a club in my house today, but as I am the only one in, with no hot water (boiler is broken) I think it is allowed :)

2011 Grapes after 21 hours

Monday, 10 January 2011


2011 Grapes after 15 hours ...


Slowly getting there... not sure if the highlights are in the right places becuase I am drawing just what I see grape by grape and hope that they all intergrate with eachother in the end. I guess this is the important thing in taking a photograph now and then, to check that every grape is working with the others to make a bunch... Hard to tell at this stage, but I suppose I ought to stop for five minutes and review.

I found Lisa Call's blog this morning and I feel that I have found her just at the right time. Not only is her work interesting, but it is the way she discusses the fragility of her own beliefs and dreams that I particularly appealing. Please have a read of her blog. I have linked to a specific posting which I enjoyed about success and what it means to her. However, there are many interesting posts about aspirations and how to follow them. I also discovered Copper Leaf Studio and she write a lovely piece here about letting go and letting the universe take over.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

2011 Grapes After 12 hours...

Just been blogging with a friend of mine in Falmouth... she is also doing a marathon detailed painting session today and you can see her work here: http://stephanieayres.blogspot.com/.

Friday, 7 January 2011

2011 Grapes

I think I must be mad, but I have decided to see how well I can paint a bunch of grapes. This is the ultimate test. I feel like a Dutch still life painter from the 1600s - like Jan Davidsz. de Heem - and the pressure is really on. I have to get this piece completed by the 22nd of January ideally. Back is already hurting, so it is time for a bath. Here is what I have achieved in four hours:


And here's a de Heem:


I am having a lot of trouble with capturing the yeasty exterior, at the same time as giving them translucency. Never have I looked at something this intensely!