Monday, 28 January 2013

It's All a Journey





It may be a little odd to start a new post with a map of the London Underground, but this one celebrates 150 years of the transport system, and I am a great fan of maps! My favourite, of course, is the red Central Line, running right through the middle of the map, this line would regularly take me home from many happy shopping trips to the West End, long working days and visits to friends and family.  With new bits being added all the time, including a new gondola over the Thames, the map is an ever changing feast of spaghetti, and I often wonder if there is actually any ground left under London. Maybe the reinforced concrete tube tunnels are the only support the city has. Hmmm, probably best not to ponder that one too much!

Ah, back to botanicals then. Working on two pieces at once is a strange way to go, but with time pressing it has to be done. It's also hard to do step by step blogging when you are doing two at the same time, hence you haven't really seen the progress.

So, the dreaded nemesis that is the mixed floral and the challenging illustration are being worked on together. For the mixed floral, I went with a tangly, twiggy combo of rose hips, hazel, Garrya, Camellia and berries. Lots of shiny surfaces here but it's not looking too bad. These phots were taken before I finished last week, so this one is more or less done now. Phew!!


Hazel buds

Camellia buds with just a hint of the colour to come 

Hazel catkins and prunus berries

The illustration is a rather more formal affair, which is as it should be of course. The dissection details are being done in graphite, I love working with pencil as it has such a sophisticated, simple appeal. Going with a lovely, stately Iris reticulata with this one. There are some good opportunities for dissection and I haven't really had a chance to work in blue. What happened to the Hellebore? Ah, well, that all proved a bit much with the time allowed. Maybe next time old thing!

       

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Anyone for Sledging?

So, the snow finally came last Friday and Britain ground to a halt. It's the same every year, we get a bit of snow and then...shutdown. No trains, no planes and here, no automobiles! Just lots of cheeky little tikes throwing snowballs and sledging down the road. Oh to be 12 again! 
 

A favourite spot for me in the garden.
Perhaps not today though!
 
I know you're in there!
Even the birds are staying indoors
 

No such fun and games for me, that deadline isn't getting any longer, so onwards!! Fuelled and fortified by tea and birthday cake, the dreaded nemesis that is the mixed floral is coming along, but for comfort, could be coming along a little quicker. The plan is to have this one out of the way by January 30th, giving a good month to get the last one done.

 
A small corner 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Next Step

Ah yes, the thorny question of what to do when the course ends. For me, this will be rather soon, March in fact, so time is of the essence to think about moving on. Of course like many, I would like to sell my work and get my pieces selected for exhibitions, but this is a harsh world and there is a lot of luck involved as well as talent, and there is certainly a lot of that about. Getting work noticed and having a genuine style is the key, (and a large portion of lucky breaks!).
The new year has already got off to a lovely start, with the Honeysuckle Heart, (or, Sammy and Lucy as you may know it) being selected for the next SBA Exhibition, being nominated for a MAM Award, getting a page on the botanical gallery site Botanical Artists (coming soon), and now my new online shop at Open House Art, (the 'Shop' page at the top of this page will take you straight there, which is handy). All my recent SBA assignments will be available soon as prints, but three are available now, including the Honeysuckle Heart. A number of other irons are poking about in the fire and fingers are loitering around innumerable pies! So further, plans should be unfolding soon.

As a January baby, birthdays are often cold, wet miserable affairs, during a time when everyone is all spent out or on post-Christmas diets! As a simple creature, I enjoy the pleasures of homemade cake, a phone call from family back home, quality time with 'Husband' and perhaps some fresh flowers for the table. This year, the team really pulled out the stops with deliveries all through the day.

Oh, and work progresses, of course!
  
  
A pretty, scented selection of spring beauties 
Roses from 'Husband'...

...and from my brother and his girlfriend

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Forage Factor

Well, here we are in 2013, and getting back into the daily routine has been a slow and rather sluggish affair. Lots of brisk walking on a daily basis in crisp weather certainly blows the cobwebs away and gets that fresh oxygen into the brain, something I have been sorely needing lately!
During one of these forays into the 'great outdoors' I packed a small pair of secateurs and a plastic bag for any gems I might find. Not expecting to find much, nothing really caught my eye until, on reaching a roadside hedgerow, I hit the jackpot! Lots of gorgeously bulging rose hips and deep purply-black berries were hitting their peak, but in amongst all this was a real find. Garrya, or the 'Silk Tassel Bush' is an old-fashioned garden favourite but something of a rarity, falling by the wayside with modern tastes. Deciding to bring all this home, I finally found the inspiration I needed to get the final mixed study under way.
     
Garrya or, the Silk Tassel Bush
The 'tassels' can get to 14 inches long!  
All wrinkly and shiny, but still beautiful
Rose hips from the Dog Rose



Hazel catkins always look fabulous just before they burst
When they do, it's all yellow froth

Saturday, 5 January 2013

All Change

First I was going to attempt the illustration, then it was going to be the mixed floral but now I have gone back to my original idea. Although I had selected some really pretty seasonal varieties, I was not happy with how the flowers and foliage were working together. Each variety would have made a lovely study on their own, together was a bit of a mixed bag. So, I will now give the mixed a bit of breathing space to allow some other spring flowers to get going.
 
A couple of weeks before Christmas, I bought some Hellebore plants. Hellebores are just coming into their own and in the garden we have orientalis and foetidus making themselves comfortable in the wilderness beneath the Poplar tree. The plants I bought are Helleborus niger with their beautiful white flowers that are flushed with fresh spring green tones. I particularly like the stems on these plants as they are stained like red wine and zing against the pure white and greens of the leaves.  
 
Hellebores are a bit of an old botanical 'chestnut' and are very popular as subjects for us students, but I like their simplicity and there are plenty of ideas for dissections.
 
Hellebore flowers fade to a zesty green whilst the seeds develop
Young leaves have a fresher colour
I used Freesia flowers in my last mixed and loved their simplicty

From the sketchbook