Friday, 24 February 2017

Times they are a changin...


"Change is the end result of all true learning." 


Leo Buscaglia


...and so there are changes afoot. As spring arrives, and the garden renews itself, there is a revitalising sense of optimism that seems to inject a certain zest and a need for progress and industry. Perhaps that's why we call it spring cleaning.

Sketchbook Squirrel has been with me since 2011, way back when I started the blog to keep me occupied during my entangled efforts to complete the SBA Distance Learning Diploma. Six years seems like an awful long time ago, and my how things have moved on. Additional arms of Squirrel HQ quickly followed, with the Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram, and many other social media pages all coming into the fold.

With the launch of the You Tube channel and tutorials website, things really took off. From just a few subscribers on the channel, and very few videos, the number of people tuning in to view the little technique videos released to accompany the tutorials has rocketed. In just one year, I now have over 500 subscribers. The website too has been active on a daily basis, with requests for the freebie videos, and subscribers coming on board to try out my botanical painting techniques. It's got awfully big.

See the Ruby Rosehip Technique video on YouTube



This year, I have already made some big changes, with new kit for the videos coming online in March, making everything clearer and sharper, and some nice projects that will take me right through to 2018. With all this, I was given a nudge that maybe it was time to let Sketchbook Squirrel take a well earned rest, and for me to take on more of the work. 

Now, I'm not one to think about things too hard when it comes to a good idea. First, if you think too hard, you will never do it. Second, you can miss an opportunity. Second, you have to see good advice for what it is, good advice. The old analogy of 'you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink' comes to mind. You can be given the opportunity, but it's up to you to take it.

Well, take it I have. Sketchbook Squirrel will be making an elegant and dignified retreat this year, heading into retirement, and handing over the reigns to Jarnie Godwin Art, and the tutorials website Botanical so Beautiful. Some of you may have already spotted the metamorphosis taking place here on the blog, on Twitter, the Facebook Page, and You Tube. The website will follow later this year, so Squirrel is still very much in charge there for now. (Well, putting her out to grass all in one go would have been something of wrench).  



"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds

 cannot change anything." 


George Bernard Shaw
      





Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Springing for Springtime

It's a gorgeous spring day here at Squirrel HQ. The birds are singing, the sun is shining and many of the lovely spring blooms are brightening every corner of the garden. February is a funny old month. Often the coldest month of the year here in Britain, there can also be days of glorious sunshine when the snow, wind and icy mornings feel like another time. But, we can also be caught out, and the frost, snow and ice come back again.

It must be because of their dogged determination to bloom whatever the world throws at them, that I really admire early spring flowers. No matter how cold that wind, or how much they are buried by snow, they still come up. Good for them I say.

With this in mind I decided to give the little viola a centre stage for my next project. With flowers that are just an inch or so across, violas blooming en masse with their little faces all turning towards the sun, are a joy, but one on it's own might just be a little underwhelming. Why not make it BIG?


Starting softly

Delicate, almost see through petals in pastel shades needed gentle washes and glazes

Building up

Stronger hues for the yellow staining and darker blue petals added to the form and dimension 

The fine details

I loved adding the characteristic veining to the lower petals.

I called this process 'tattooing' the petals 

Putting the face on

Bright Blue Viola

With the complicated centre complete,
the Viola had put it's game face on and was nearly ready to take on the world
This was a great little project for February, and only took a few days to complete. With a limited palette of just a couple of blues and yellows, with some red thrown in for the shadow tones I really enjoyed taking a simple approach, and using a delicate touch to get that fluttery and fragile appearance. Having enjoyed this one so much myself, I've decided to make Bright Blue Viola the first of my new 2017 tutorials on the website.