Tag Archives: botanical

The Gift of a Handmade Notebook

 

It is very satisfying to design and make your own pad or jotter.  You get to choose the colour, the size and materials to use.  You can have as few or as many pages as you like and create something personal to you.  I have made different ones for specific uses.  Also they make lovely gifts for friends and family.   

  • First I print the cover design on whatever card I have chosen.  This can be textured or smooth, coloured or white, but bear in mind it will need to hold a good crease.
  • I then cut whatever paper I am using for the inside to size.
  • Fold all pages in half and crease.
  • Punch holes where you want the stitching to be along the crease-line and sew together using strong thread.

Stitched together

All that remains is to trim the edges of your notebook and your are ready to go!  The tricky part is actually starting to write in the notebook.  You want it to be special as it is the first page, but this can be a bit daunting.  I read somewhere to leave the first page blank and begin on the second, so I can’t be the only one to feel this.

There are good reasons for using both paper and tablets for note taking, but for me the pleasure of a handmade paper one wins.  What do you think!

Notebooks in my etsy shop
www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Chrishaywoodart

 

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

 

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.

 

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!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Artist’s block or writer’s block?

I have not posted for some time as I appear to have been suffering from writer’s block.  Thankfully not artist’s block as I have plenty of subjects to choose from in my own garden.  The thing is – what to write about.  I know what the problem is or rather what the problems are.  1.  I have been looking at the blogs written by artists who are members of the SBA and/or are teachers of botanical art.  These are marvellous in that they are so informative and inspiring I want to try all the ideas, but ….. they are all so good!  I wonder if I will ever get to that stage!  2.  This is a similar end result.  I have entered several local art exhibitions and as a consequence become very critical of my paintings during the time lapse between entering and exhibiting.  This rhododendron for example needs more work on it.  All the time I was working on it I hadn’t noticed the prominence of the large leaf at the bottom.  Still I can perhaps solve that problem by adding more leaves.

Rhododendron

This dip in confidence has meant that I have not been able to think of anything to write about that is informative or noteworthy.  Then I realised I may not be the only one who has this problem and would love to hear your experiences of confidence dips and how you get over them.

I have been inspired this week by the artwork of Suzanne Hull Wilson (at www.suzannehullwilson.com) for the beautiful transparency and clarity she gets in her colours.  I love her subjects too for no other reason than they make me feel good.  Definitely worth a visit! 

Printing Your Own Artwork Dilemmas

I have been very busy lately learning how to make good prints of my paintings.  Before I started I didn’t realise what an all encompassing task this would be.  It all began with a new printer – a Canon Pixma which takes up to A3 and is wonderful.  Then I had to calibrate the screen on my laptop as the colours were not the same as the printer’s.  This is not an easy task as it seems to be all down to personal preference and we all see things differently don’t we!

I already had a photoshop elements 1 but after wasting a lot of time, paper and ink trying to get prints I was happy with I finally decided to buy a more up-to-date version – number 11, thanks to a recent birthday.  This was an eye-opener. it is so easy to use compared with the original version.  My colours are so much better now although I had to change a lot of settings on my scanner, computer and printer to get them all working off the same hymn sheet as they say.  The beauty of the internet is that there is always someone somewhere who has the information you require and I certainly required a lot.  It is very satisfying when it all comes together though, because I do not find computer technology very easy.

I still get through a lot of paper just fine tuning my prints, but I think experience will probably help on this one.  It always seems to be the case that the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.  My next issue is with paper as they all take up the inks differently…… but enough of the technical stuff for now!

Recent paintings …

Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa are small spring bulbs which look lovely naturalised in grass.  The colour is beautiful and they look so cheerful.  I love to paint close ups of small flowers as it really makes you appreciate how intricate they are.  Some day I intend to paint so called weeds as they are just as beautiful as our prized garden flowers when you look as them properly.

Heleniums

Heleniums

This is of  Helenium ‘Ruby Tuesday’ which is growing in my garden.  It is not quite as tall as other heleniums and the blooms are a richer red/dark orange.  It is one of those plants that are very popular for prairie planting with lots of ornamental grasses.  I noticed that I always seem to paint blue or pink flowers, so decided to try these for a change.  It was quite a challenge because  I do think it is easier to paint subjects you like  in colours that you like.

 

 

 

 

On-line learning

I have enrolled on an on-line watercolour course to hopefully broaden the scope of what I am able to paint.  For some time I have not been entirely happy about the finished painting – it did not jump off the page as I wanted it to.  At first I thought it was just more practice that was needed, but then felt maybe a change in direction!  When I saw the on-line course by Anna Mason, it seemed ideal.

The beauty of a course like this is that you can do it in your own time, the videos are like have your own personal tutor and all the other students are there to compare notes with and to express sympathy and encouragement.

When I have completed a lesson, I then do something similar of my own to try out the new techniques.  One lesson was a white flower, so I did this snowdrop…..

Snowdrop

Snowdrop

A clematis followed, so I chose a clematis from my own garden whose name I do not know, but luckily photographed last year…

Clematis

Clematis

So far so good.  I am pleased with the results.  It is making me think more about how I want the painting to look instead of just rushing in.

The lessons range from beginner, through intermediate to advanced which are really quite difficult.  This is where it is so helpful to have the backup of the ‘community’.  Another person’s comment can inspire you and get you back on track when you feel like throwing your work in the bin.

There are quite a few artists now offering on-line courses.  They vary a great deal in content and price, but I like the fact that I can do it for as long as I want, there are no deadlines to meet – therefore no pressure, and I can stop when I want.

I would love to hear if anyone else has tried one or is running one.