Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Tip Top and Top Tips

This week I have been making sweeping, large brush strokes with the bramble leaves on The Green Belt but have also been tying up some of the more fiddly jobs too. Hairs on stems, shadows of stamens and overlapping stems, and tiny points of light are always the last minute, but vital botanical features that always seem to get forgotten until it's almost too late.     

Thinking that I had best not leave these tricky little numbers until the last minute when I might forget completely, I decided to tidy a few bits up before moving on to all the leaves. Starting with the shadows of the stamens on the Dog Rose, I used a very light violet grey mix, (made using the pink mix for the rose and a little more Indanthrene Blue) and the tip of a size 0 brush to carefully stroke in a little shadow. The brush needs to be fairly new as the tip will be very pointed, an old brush would not give a good, sharp result. For other stamens, just a little spot was needed where the head of the stamen made a shadow against the petal.

Adding the shadows of the stamens to add to the 3 dimensional look

Next came the hairs of the Cranesbill stems. It's really difficult to see these hairs but they are there and the painting would be botanically wrong if they weren't included. For this job I mixed a little Perylene Maroon and some of the green mix used to paint the main stem. This made a sort of brownish grey that would give the hairs a bit of body against the white paper. Later, I would use the tip of a scalpel to pick out the hairs where they appeared against the green leaves, remembering the rule of light against dark and dark against light.

Speaking of which, the last job would be down right dodgy as, lastly it was out with a nice fresh but more importantly, sharp scalpel blade. For the tiniest points of light on a painting, such as light hairs and highlights on very small berries or stamens, I use the tip of a very sharp blade and a quick picking movement to remove the paint. Taking a blade to your work feels awful as this actually damages the paper, so this is the very last job to be done where I am no longer going to apply any paint.

By using a dry brush that has splayed out a little
allows the tips of the hairs to be dotted along the edge of the stems.  

Using the tip of a brush to create a darker edge
where the stamen faces against the light. 

Using the tip of a scalpel to bring out the highlights
 on the bramble stamens...

...and on these ones too.


Carole Jurack said...

Thank you for these little nuggets of info that complete a botanical painting. The little details are what sets your paintings apart. Appreciate your gift of sharing.

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

Thank you for your lovely comment Carole. I am always happy to share what I myself have learnt from others. We are always learning. :)

Claire said...

Nice details Jarnie and you are brave using a scalpel! It'll be lovely when finished and you will be able to paint brambles with your eyes shut!! ;)

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

Thanks Claire. Using the scalpel still makes me nervous and I hope to be able to paint brambles in my sleep! ;)

Janene said...

Hmmm...I'll have to try out that 'flicking the scalpel' technique...on a piece of scrap paper that is! Sounds like it could be useful once I get it mastered. Thanks!