Tag Archives: botanical art

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

I painted this in memory of a lovely lady I used to garden for.  She adored her garden and one of her favourite plants was the blue hydrangea.  She would grow them in very large half barrels in special acid compost.  In the part of Norfolk where I live the soil is alkaline and the hydrangeas grow in various shades of pink.

It is a fact of human nature that we always seem to cherish the rare or unusual.  I am sure those who garden on acid soil would love to grow  the pink hydrangeas.

The painting took me quite a while as it was important to show all the different shades of the warm lilac blue in the many bracts.  The flower itself is insignificant, with the modified bracts holding all the colour.  As the whole is essentially a ball shape (hence the name mophead hydrangea) the shading had to show this whilst not being too dark as to lose the light airy feeling.

I have chosen to paint in a botanical style, but a looser style would also work – they are so spectacular.  It makes you feel good just to look at them.

 

       “Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realising one’s sensations”

Paul Cezanne

Crocus

When is the first day of Spring?

Spring is here at last!  This year it was 20th March at 4.30 in the morning.  This is the day when the day and the night are of equal length and is called the Vernal Equinox.  This time does change very slightly which explains why I always looked forward to 21st March as the first day of Spring.  That’s when it used to be!

A meteorological season is different.  Spring begins on 1st March and ends on 31st May which makes it easier for forecasting and recording weather trends.  However I have noticed this does seems to create at lot of confusion in the media.

Spring has seemed a long time coming but then it always does.  That is what makes us appreciated it all the more.  This year with the warmer winter the spring flowers seem to have shown their heads earlier than usual.  There was some concern that they would all be over too soon, but not so.  The garden is full of crocus, daffodils and hellebores.

Helleborus niger

Helleborus niger

The snowdrops are still bravely hanging on and the tulips just starting to form.

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

Tulip

Tulip

 

 

The colours of spring flowers are so clear and fresh they raise the spirits,  even though the temperatures can still be very chilly.

 

Iris reticulata

Irises

 

” The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also”  –  Harriet Ann Jacobs

 

Join in the Big Butterfly Count

Butterfly PosterIt is time for the Big Butterfly Count in the UK.  It runs from 17th July to 9th August and the general public are asked to get involved.  All you have to do is count the butterflies you see during a fifteen minute period at any sunny spot you choose.  This gives an idea of the state of the environment and is a really fun and educational thing to do.  I have done it twice now, downloading the identification chart from www.bigbutterflycount.orgButterfly ID and have learnt a lot about the different species.  The first time I took my dogs for a walk along a nearby track to the forest and was amazed by the amount of small brown butterflies I saw.  Without the identification chart I wouldn’t have been able to tell what sort they were.  Some meadow browns, speckled woods and gatekeepers that I had never identified before, with the flowers of the blackberry brambles being very attractive to them.

Red Admirals

Red Admirals as Asters

The second year I decided to count the butterflies in my garden.  I have planted lots of butterfly and insect friendly plants in my garden, so I was hoping for a lot of different ones.  However I was a little disappointed to find they were mainly peacocks, red admirals and cabbage whites with smaller amounts of commas and small tortoiseshell.  (Quite a lot really, but the identification chart makes you aspire to greater things!)

Isn’t it always the case that when you want to see something it is never there!  To be fair though some species and just not around at this time of year.  The orange-tip flies very early, in the Spring.

Orange-Tip

Orange-Tip

The large blue is a very beautiful butterfly, but one of the rarest in the UK as its life cycle depends on the grubs of the red ant.  This makes them very vulnerable.

Large Blue

Large Blue

If you are interested in butterflies and haven’t joined in with the count, have a go this year!

 

May Inspiration

“All things seem possible in May”  Edwin Way Teale

May is here and everything is bursting into bloom. Growth is exuberant, a time of blossom, hope and optimism.  There are so many flowers in the garden which inspire an artist to paint, but where to start?  What is it that particularly draws the inspiration?  I have been trying to understand.

In the past I have noticed most of my paintings seem to be of pink, lilac or blue flowers.  Very seldom do I pick out a yellow, orange or red bloom as I wander round searching for my next project.  But not every pink, lilac or blue flowers get considered.  Why not?  What next?  Perhaps how it catches the light.  This is very important in the finished composition as it adds depth and quality and brings the painting to life.

Size – it is not always the biggest and blousiest blooms that appeal.  Some of the smallest florets have the most amazing detail and the only limit to the finished size of the picture is your own imagination (except of course if it is to be a botanical illustration, when the dimensions must be scientifically accurate).

So to sum up, I think what attracts me is:

  • colour
  • sufficient contrast in the lights and darks
  • clean lines – I have found I do not like too much information, simple and uncluttered works best for me
  • interesting focal points – there has to be something to draw your eye into the picture.
Geranium robustum

Geranium robustum

This geranium seems to fit all my criteria.  I have it growing alongside a path in my garden and it always makes me smile as I pass when it is in flower.  I love the colour and the white centres make it really stunning as it is such a prolific flowerer.

I would love to hear what draws you to a particular subject to paint.

 

Selling at a Craft Market

I love doing craft markets, fairs and fetes and so on because it gives me the opportunity to talk with like-minded people about the things that really interest me.  I have done a lot of plant stalls where I also sell my greetings cards, but last week I went to a Makers’ Market at the Parish Church in the nearby town of Fakenham.

My stall was predominately made up my artwork, but with spring flowering plants also included to add an extra dimension and to enhance the display.

Usual Plant Stall

Usual Plant Stall

New Improved Stall

I love designing a stall and was so pleased to receive several comments on how pretty it looked – great when that’s the look I was going for.  There are so many interesting people who stop by to talk, I wonder if they realise how much this means to stallholders.  I know it is difficult not to feel that you have to buy something when you stop, but it can also be of great help.  Other people will often feel more comfortable stopping at a stall if there is someone there already and they may buy something!

It was a very enjoyable and worthwhile morning, the organisers were very welcoming, the other stallholders really friendly and the range of crafts diverse and high quality.  To anyone who is nervous about attending a market I would definately say ‘Have a Go!’

 

 

Show your artwork

I have not posted for a while ~ life as they say got in the way.  I have been very busy getting ready for an art exhibition at a local gallery and a makers’ market at a nearby town.  It is not so much the amount of work involved that has stopped me blogging, but the fact that these two things seem to have taken over my brain.  There is so much to plan that I find myself thinking of ideas when I should be doing other things. Happily planning is now almost complete ready for the two events next weekend.

The art exhibition is at a beautiful little gallery in Watton, Norfolk called the Dragonfly Gallery where the welcome is warm and the vibes are inspiring.  The exhibition is called ‘Spring is in the Air’ and is mixed media.  There are 16 East Anglian artists taking part.  These are the four watercolours I will be showing:

Tulip

Tulip

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

Crocus

Crocus

Apple Blossom Time

Apple Blossom Time

They are all in simple off-white 10 x 8 frames and I am hoping they will make a nice colourful display together.

The Makers’ Market in Fakenham, Norfolk has taken a lot more planning as I decided to virtually redesign my whole stall.

Fakenham Makers' Market

Fakenham Makers’ Market

It is to be next weekend so I will save that information for another time.  I would love to hear your experiences of craft markets!

The Colours of Advertising

I have to admit to being disappointed!

Trusting to the pictures in advertising, I have bought items and they have not come up to expectation!  Yes I know that is very naive, but that’s how it is.

The thing is that now I have been painting flowers for quite a while, I have begun to look at plant purchases which inspire me to paint them.  So I look at the pictures on the packet (for bulbs, tubers, seeds etc) or on the label (plants).  Seems simple enough, but no!  As I say, I have been disappointed.

It all began last year when I  purchased morning glory (ipomoea) seeds and looked forward to that rich blue.  The flowers when they came were, to put it politely, insipid.  My Viola sororia ‘Speckles’ which looked lovely on the label – white petals liberally sprinkled with violet dots, was actually sporadically sprinkled with pale lilac dots, which could not be seen from a distance.

At Christmas I bought myself an amaryllis which, according to the packet, was white with red stripes.  I watched it sprout, bud and grow with mounting anticipation, paper and paints at the ready until the day it opened.  Cream with peach stripes which, whilst lovely in its own right, was not what I was expecting and the desire to paint it withered.

Amaryllis

Amaryllis

Maybe from the seller’s point of view more sales are made from pictures with brighter colours, but it is …well…….disappointing.

I have finished my watercolour painting of an Himalayan Blue Poppy (Mecanopsis betonicifolia).   I had to use artistic licence here as the plant in my garden is distinctly pinkish.  Not the fault of the advertisers this time as it is probably due to my soil being quite limey, whereas these beautiful poppies prefer it more acidic.

Himalayan Blue Poppy

 

In the future I think I will just have to keep an open mind when looking at advertising material!

 

Time to Stand and Stare

I read Katherine Tyrell’s blog today on the her ’10 golden rules for every busy artist’ and it got me thinking.  We all struggle to allow ourselves time to do what we want, when there is so much that needs doing.  However I do think there is a balance.  The things that need doing are so much easier when personal satisfaction has been achieved by doing the things we want to do!
On my personal list I would put – allow myself time to think or rather let my mind wander.  That is when I find I am at my most creative or inspired.  We have so much “noise” and “traffic” from computers, radios and televisions going on in our heads now that original thought is sometimes difficult to grasp.  I have a picture in my mind of Mel Gibson in the film ‘What women want’ when all the thoughts of women passing by are entering his brain.  He looks as if his brain is about to explode.  I think we all feel like that sometimes…so….. 
WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.               Wiliam Henry Davies
This is a very well cited poem, but nevertheless relevant.  I often recite it to myself, but rarely do it.
Changing the subject I have at last opened a shop on Etsy.  I have had it in mind for a while now but there is quite a lot of new ‘learning’ to do to understand the system.  At present I have only two items in my shop, but hope to increase as I get better at photographing etc.  It is all taking an inordinate amount of time at the moment.  Please have a look if you have time.  I would also really appreciate any  comments you might have.
And finally, a picture to leave you with of pink phlox growing in my garden…..
 

Phlox

 

Remembering World War 1

Last week at Art Group the title for us to work from was ‘Remembering World War 1’ in any way we chose.  At first I thought a background of soldiers on the battlefield in sepia, with poppies in the foreground to highlight the remembrance.  Of course it has been done before but for the purposes of this exercise it did not matter.  However I soon realised that 1. my figure drawing ability is dismal and 2. I wouldn’t be able to adequately capture this in the 3 hours available (less coffee break, of course).

This is, then, what I came up with

Remembering WW1

Remembering WW1

I thought a silhouette would be the simplest way of depicting a soldier, and although he started off in sepia he gradually got darker and darker as time went on.  The poppies were easier to depict, being inside my comfort zone of botanical art.

Driving home through a nearby village yesterday I saw a group of field poppies in full flower – totally out of season.  This seemed very poignant as we are commemorating the centenary of the start of the first world war.  It got me to thinking though of all the other flowers that are blooming out of season. On a quick walk around the garden I discovered a helleborus niger (Christmas Rose), delphiniums, sidalcea, primroses and astrantia all still flowering away.  Some plants are flowering longer than usual and others are coming into bloom earlier.  What a warm autumn we are having so far!

 

Think Pink!

I think I have said before that I always seem to favour pinks and blues when choosing flower subjects to paint.  Well this week it has all come to a head.  I often have two or three paintings on the go at any given time, usually at different stages.  However, at the moment I am finishing off the details on three paintings – all pink.  There is a lovely pink hollyhock which I have been working on for a while, a pink phlox which just begged to be painted and my pink rhododendron.

Hollyhocks in my garden

Hollyhocks in my garden

Original rhododendron

Original rhododendron

Amended rhodendron

Amended rhodendron

If you read my last blog you will remember I was not happy with one dominant leaf and have been trying to lessen the effect by adding another leaf.  I don’t know if it has worked, because all I can see when I look at it is that one leaf!  I would really welcome your comments.

Why though, am I inspired to paint pinks and blues – is it simply that I like those two colours?  A little research tells me that pink is a compassionate and nurturing colour, basically female and that blue is a safe colour implying honesty and dependability ( boring do you think?)  However when you mix the two colours you get lilac which I have taken to wearing a lot. Apparently, this means that I need to create order and perfection – perhaps a good trait for a botanical artist!  www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com

OR…  maybe there’s just more pink and blue flowers our there in the UK.