Thursday, 31 March 2011

Poetic Spring

Crocus botanical study in watercolour.

I went through a stage a few years ago of painting spring flowering bulb studies.I like the details of stamens,buds,seedheads and bulbs that tell the story of the plants life.

I managed to do this Crocus,a snakeshead fritillary,Iris reticulata(sold that one),and bluebell. Yet to do tulip,snow-drop,grape hyacinth,scilla and Narcissus.Anymore?I doubt I'll get around to doing all these though.

Poetry is art in language,so let words paint a picture.

Here is a spring poem for all the mums on mothers day,but especially mine-(we love poetry!).

Spring Flowers

Along the blushing borders bright with dew,

And in yon mingled wilderness of flowers,

Fair-handed spring unbosoms every grace:

Throws out the snow-drop and the crocus first;

The daisy,primrose,violet darkly blue,

And Polyanthus of unnumbered dyes;

The yellow wallflower,stained with iron brown,

And lavish stock that scents the garden round:

From the soft wing of vernal breezes shed,


With shining meal o'er all their velvet leaves;

And full Ranunculas of glowing red.

Then comes the tulip race,where beauty plays

Her idle freaks :from family diffused .

To family,as flies the father-dust,

The varied colours run;and while they break

On the charmed eye,the exulting florist marks,

With secret pride,the wonders of his hand.

No gradual bloom is wanting;from the bud,

First-born of spring,to summer's musky tribes:

Nor hyacinths,deep-purpled;nor jonquils,

Of potent fragrance;nor Narcissus fair,

As o'er the fabled fountain hanging still;

Nor broad carnations,nor spotted pinks;

Nor,showered from every bush,the Damask-rose;

Infinite numbers,delicacies,smells,

With hues on hues expression cannot paint,

The breathe of Nature, and her endless bloom.

James Thomson 1700-1748

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Painted Food - The Chef

I thought I'd post my veg assignment for the SBA diploma course from 2006 for my friends who are doing the course now and waiting for their veg assignment marks. Good luck with the marks, I remember it well, waiting for the marks with anticipation and a bit of dread! 
I am a chef by trade and so am slaving away in the kitchen of my business most nights.It can be a stressful job and the key is not to panic,otherwise the mind goes blank,then you're in trouble.When really busy perceptions change,time slows down and movements speed up;you're riding an adrenaline wave.

Cooking is creative and each plate (hopefully) is an art form;colours and textures to balance of flavours.

I find drawing therapeutic and it is a self medication for stress.

Recently I thought about doing some food pictures.I make a lot of garlic mushrooms at work so I've done some sketches of the ingredients;mushrooms,garlic and parsley. Of course I couldn't paint all the ingredients,just the botanical ones!

Eventually I will do a finished painting of garlic mushrooms and hang it at work if its any good!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

My Equipment

I have a vast array of art equipment and materials,which keeps on growing.

This first photo shows various painting and drawing paraphernalia;

My paints are mainly Winsor and Newton in pans and tubes but I have some Sennelier and some Schminke watercolours too .I fill the pans from the tubes as I go.I have some Schminke artists goauche and W/N goauche in tubes. Some of these paints are not very lightfast-the pinks usually.Also here are some FW acrylic inks and I have Atelier interactive acrylics,which dry slower than normal acrylics, but I haven't used them much yet!

In the wooden box is a set of Derwent artists coloured pencils which I don't use very much at all.They are not too good for fine detail.I have a few grey Faber Castell Polychromos that were recommended and they do have a finer point;better for detail.

My watercolour paper ranges from Fabriano classico 5 and Fabriano artistico to Arches hot press,in pads and large sheets. I also have Arches cold press for landscapes.

As a drawing board I use the back of a picture frame which is perfect.
My brushes are various ranging from Da Vinci,and Winsor and Newton to Raphael extra fine tip.

I even have a mini Henry hoover which was a gift though it doesn't work too well!!!

The next picture shows my pastels which range from hard & chalky to soft and creamy.

The Conte and Ashby pastels are hardest and then the Unisons,which are my favourite,and Schminke which are very soft, to use at the end of a painting.

Pastel papers range from tinted Ingres and Sennelier carte to the sanded Fisher 400.

I work on a free standing easel for pastels.

Buying pastels is addictive and can get expensive especially if you like Unisons and Sennelier. I also buy cheap ones from a local art shop to block in at the beginning of a painting to save the expensive ones! I also tried a set of Pan pastels when they first came out but haven't really used them much. A few Derwent and Faber Castell pastel pencils or a charcoal pencil is great for finishing off details.

I thought I'd include a photo of my sketching kit;

This includes a tin of really old watercolour pencils(I've had some of them since school!!),sketch books,a pencil case of drawing pens,various graphite pencils ranging from 4H to 4B and some Derwent Inktense pencils,which are watersoluble.

Also I have a water brush so I don't have to take out pots of water.These are very handy.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Daffodil Painting

I completed another mini-daffodil in the painting; a Narcissus 'Hawera' which is a beautiful,dwarf daffodil with pale yellow,reflexed petals.

I took photos as I went to show the steps.

Step 1 shows the shading,with pale ultramarine and light red washes;

Step 2 shows the yellow petals washed in carefully over the shading.

Then step 3 shows the stems painted in with a glaucous green and also the papery spathe;trying to keep it looking transparent.

Then I thought I'd posts some facts about the daf;

It is the national flower of Wales and is called Cenhinen Bedr (Peters leek) in Welsh.

The genus name, Narcissus, means "to grow numb" in Greek and the plants, especially the bulbs are poisonous.

Florists who handle daffodils can sometimes get a skin condition called 'daffodil itch'. Umm!

Friday, 18 March 2011

In the Woods

Went walking in my local woods the other day in glorious sunshine,and found some of these curious fungi. Heres my sketch:

They have such a great name; 'Scarlet elf cups' (Sarcoscypha coccinea) and are a vivid red colour. They live on dead,rooting wood and usually have moss accompanying them;which sets off the red beautifully. I had to bring this stick home and draw them!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

My Studio

I love to see other artists studios or wherever they work.For ages I used to do the set up/pack up routine on the dining room table;it had a good light source so was fine. But this time last year I got two velux windows fitted into an attic room.Its small but perfectly formed and has That essential sink.It faces north which is just right but working in there last midsummer, the sun managed to shine straight in at such an angle as to burn out my retinas! But here in Wales we don't get too much sun so all is fine! - no only joking ,its beautiful and sunny today.

Unfortunately in winter when it froze then defrosted,one of the windows started to leak and almost ruined some work. Its Ok now ;I bunged it up with loads of tissue paper!

I have loads of nature stuff that I collect while out walking.I've tidyed it up a little as it can get a bit of a mess!! Does anyone else do this? I've got boxes of it!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Spring is coming

Spring will soon be here,bringing much needed colour and warmth(hopefully!!)

I've been working on some mini dafs,for ages it seems,so I'll post what I've done so far.

Its hard to paint yellow flowers,too quickly they can turn muddy or dirty coloured. These 'Golden Dawn' Narcissus were shaded first using ultramarine violet watercolour, and then very carefully, yellows placed on top,without disturbing the underlayer.

Incidently,I always use artists quality Winsor and Newton watercolours but I have some Schminkes and Senneliers too. For the Paperwhite Narcissus I used Davys grey and greens, which I usually mix myself;my favourite mix being Winsor yellow and Ultramarine. I don't know when it'll be finished but I'll keep posting snippets.

Monday, 14 March 2011

More lichens

These little studies of lichens show different species of Cladonia;but I'm not exactly sure on the species name.They bear spore producing bodies of brown or scarlet red looking like matchsticks.I found them in the heathland of the Ystwyth river valley in Ceredigion.
The black lichen underneath is the very common dog lichen; Peltigera spp,with lots of different moss species.

These pixie cup lichens pictured above are brilliant;they reminds me of the clangers ?!!
They were drawn in pen (my favourite pen is the Pilot series) and coloured pencils.
Pen is a great way of drawing lichens using a variety of marks, like hatching lines, dots- stippling, or even just little squiggles!
One day I'll paint them better!

Drawing lichens in winter

During the winter months there's not much to draw out there botanically, but lichens make a fascinating subject. You can see them better in the winter woodlands when there's no leaf-cover.  They can be easily found littering the forest floor, blown down from their treetop homes by winter gales.

  A fascinating organism; they are made up of green algae (and sometimes cyanobacteria aswell) living within the body of a fungus in a symbiotic relationship ; the algae provides the food by photosynthesis and the fungi gives protection against the elements.

They have a variety of many different forms and textures, making them very interesting to draw.  Some are large, frilly and bushy, others are fine and dusty and some are so tiny that they occupy a micro world only seen with a hand-lens.

A magnifying glass is needed to get close up on the detail, or even better a x10 hand-lens.
They are good to draw in all medias especially pen and graphite pencil.
I like to use a Pilot, fibre tip pen, with water resistant ink so it's good with watercolour washes too. You can get different size nibs, the smaller the better for me!

Using pen really shows up all the little details on a lichen twig. 

Here I used lots of different marks with the pen - dots, dashes & squiggles.

For more info on lichens here's an interesting link to the British Lichen Society.