Monday, 29 August 2011

The Great British Bank Holiday!

The August Bank Holiday heralds a number of important facts. Firstly it is the last national holiday of the Summer and therefore is an opportunity to cram in as much fun stuff as possible before the last burning rays of sunshine give way to crisp Autumn mornings and nights drawing in.Secondly, its back to school time. Enough said!   

Of course there is also the chance to catch some of the great entertainment that goes hand in hand with the holiday season. The Notting Hill Carnival brings a flavour of the Carribean to North London and although the Police numbers will be much higher this year due to the recent trouble, the show goes on and rightly so. Enjoy if you are there this weekend.
As this is supposed to be A Botanical art blog there should be a special mention of some of the great art that is also out there at the moment.  The National Galleries of Scotland has a fantastic exhibition of works by Dame Elizabeth Blackadder. At 80, Dame Elizabeth is still going strong and has had a truly wonderful career of painting, teaching and exhibiting since graduating from both Edinburgh Art College and Edinburgh University.
Working in a range of mediums, Dame Elizabeth paints with strong colours and mixes her subjects with gorgeous patterns inspired by fabrics or ceramics. The works I like most are, of course her flower paintings. Although I will be unable to visit Scotland this year, I was lucky enough to see some of her paintings at this year's Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. Simple outlines, striking composition, some with a 'sketchbook' feel of pencil and paint made her paintings of poppies stand out amongst the more contemporary works expected at this 'juggernaut' of a show. If you are north of the border (perhaps at the Edinburgh Festival) go along and check out some paintings. Here are a couple of my favourites from Dame Elizabeth to get you started.      

Thursday, 25 August 2011

What to do when it rains?

In England, well let's be accurate, in Hampshire, when it rains it really rains and today is one of those days. What does a painter do when such a day is presented to them. Well, this one takes to the studio, (my spare room actually) and has a rummage through the vast collection of art books that are currently putting the shelves under serious strain. So much so that 'husband' is seriously concerned that some scaffolding may be required. 

Trying to appear as if I may actually edit my collection (not on your nelly!!) I have begun to sort them into some kind of ordered library. This is all well and good, and you know what they say about good intentions but I always end up getting back into the covers of a really good book that I haven't visited for ages. Before you know it an hour, (or two) has gone by and you are buried under a pile of books.

Some of my favourites are years old and very precious. These are not even expensive numbers but ones that I have picked up in Oxfam for an absolute song!! For your delectation, I have listed some of the books in current use in the Recommended Reading page. Take a look whilst I go back to the heap I have created, if I can get through the door that is.       

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Here Goes!

Welcome to my new blog and to the very first post. For the past year I have been studying with the Society of Botanical Artists for their Distance Learning Diploma. I have found the botanical style of painting very different to what I had been used to as a graphic designer and general watercolourist and a new challenge from the day job as a teacher.

The production of a sketchbook has been particularly interesting for me as over time my progression and development of style has changed dramatically.This has been reflected in those all important marks that will eventually lead to a final grade, a bit like being one of my own students .  Each assignment needs careful planning and the sketchbook provides the opportunity to try out new ideas for subjects and compositions.   Thinking others might like to share my experience and the art and artists that inspire my work, Sketchbook Squirrel was created.