Saturday, 29 March 2014

New Obsessions

Spring begins with a new obsession for horse chestnuts. I've gathered a few shoots from a local tree and each day as they've unfurled I've been sketching them eagerly. The sticky buds and leaf scales glisten as they capture the light and the fresh leaves are covered with a furry down, like a web. This is to prevent water loss and soon disappears as they open out more. They are fascinating to study and draw. The top leaf scales are a lovely carmine colour and further down they become golden, perfect for transparent quinacridones.

The horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum, is a native of the Greek/Albanian border region which was introduced into Western Europe in 1576 and to Britain in 1633. Its name comes from when Europeans found the Turks feeding conkers to sick horses in Constantinople in the 16th century. Today it is used in alternative and veterinary medicines.
Below is an interesting link about this tree:

The painter's obsession with his subject is all that he needs to drive him to work. - Lucian Freud

Grey willow, Salix cinerea is another wonder to draw, and quite difficult to capture that soft furriness; gouache paint can help here for this. This is for another habitat study, this time of a nature reserve very near my house called Grogwynion. It is a shingle heathland by the river Ystwyth which is an SAC - a special area of conservation. This is due to it being classed as a Calaminarian grassland as it has a high concentration of heavy metals from past mining activities. Because of this there are not many plant species so I should be able to fit every species I find on the one page! Hopefully anyway.

I've also been busy making some cards with Lunaria seedpods and handmade paper. 

I submitted four paintings to the SBA and am delighted that they will all be hung at Westminster Central Hall in May. It's going to be a great show and shouldn't be missed by any botanical art lover

Monday, 10 March 2014

Three Years On

March brings a high pressure to the UK with much needed dry weather at last. The bees and butterflies are out in force, energised by sunshine. Spring flowers nod yellow and purple in the breeze and birds call to their mates. I have been busy too making a wildflower bed in my garden, ready for seeds of cornflower, poppy and foxglove plants.

It's also been three years since I started this blog, time flies and I really hope people still read it and like my work.

I have finished a painting of a skeletal holly leaf, twice life size to show up the detail of the intricate veins and patches of decay.

The colours used are cool cerulean in the highlights, 
transparent burnt sienna, quinacridone deep gold (Dan Smiths), raw umber for the warm colours,
Buff titanium (Dan Smiths), 
French ultramarine & light red for the grey shading,
French ultramarine & burnt umber for the darker sepia colour.
All paints are by Winsor Newton unless I have indicated otherwise.
I used wet into wet technique with some dry brush work on top for the detail. Also my magnifying glass was indispensable to get close up. Definitely a subject you can get carried away with and lose time.
I have plenty more skeleton leaves to paint, each time I go for a walk I find more to do!

I have also completed month two of the nature sketchbook exchange, 
a collection of seaside findings from Ynyslas and Tan y Bwlch beaches for Doreen.

It is turning out to be a very interesting and enjoyable challenge with some wonderful nature inspired artwork to be seen. There is a link in the side panel for the blog.

The SBA submission of paintings for the May exhibition in London is now less than a week away and I am still waiting for two frames. It's cutting it a bit fine to say the least.

This gouache parrot tulip will go to London along with a couple of other gouaches and the oak woods painting and hopefully they'll be accepted. Fingers crossed.

Next I will paint something spring like, Crocus vernus will do nicely.