Friday, 27 July 2012

RBGE Certificate of Botanical Illustration - end of Week 1

Well, where has this last week gone?  I arrived in Edinburgh last Saturday, feeling some trepidation but also excitement as I made my way to the family I am staying with.

Sunday gave me the chance to explore some of the centre of Edinburgh, but inevitably I made my way to the Royal Botanic Gardens, not able to wait any longer and wanting to see where I would be spending the next two weeks painting / studying. 

I was definately not disappointed as I walked through the gardens.  I was immediately drawn to the glasshouses that have evolved over several eras.  It was like walking into a sweetshop with so many beautiful botanical specimens.  My favourite has to be the glasshouse where the Waterlillies were - spectacular is not the word !

Back to the main reason for coming here, the Certificate in Botanical Illustration.  I have been wanting to return more to botanical illustration for a long time, after all that is the area of art that I started painting in many years ago.  In recent years I have been concentrating more on general natural history illustration and print-making. 

It can be difficult as an artist with some experience to find a suitable course to re-tune our skills.  We should not sit back and just presume we can paint and will carry on doing so at the same level of quality.  I was drawn to the RBGE because of my previous working background in ecology and botany and wanted a botanical illsutration course with an organisation where this was their main working ethos.  The certificate course has enabled me to dip my toe in the water gradually, and I must admit now my toe wants to go deeper and I would love to study for the RBGE Diploma.

The course has taken us back to basics and the students include individuals at all levels.  Exercises have included creating simple line drawings, measuring plant specimens accurately, using the tracing process, studying tone and leading onto the use of paint colours.

Pear tonal study - graphite pencil

Pear tonal study - monochrome paint

Pear - painted study

Colour tests for Pear study

We have been using a limited palette of Winsor and Newton watercolour paints - Perm. Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Rose, Indigo, French Ultramarine, Winsor Lemon and New Gamboge.  Using a palette such as this certainly makes you realise how many additional colours and tones can be created with these few initial paints.

All of the exercises are leading to us creating a plant portrait using all of the methods we have learnt so far and this will take most of next week to complete.  As well as that we have to compile a portfolio as we progress through the course and both of these are assessed to give us our final grade.

Hopefully there will be sometime this weekend to explore more of Edinburgh !

Friday, 20 July 2012

Lino-prints and then off to Edinburgh !

This time last week I was busy setting up for the second lino-print workshop for the Society of Floral Painters.  I have now tutored the two workshops and the interest seems to be going from strength to strength, with a third one having been booked for 2013 !

As usual we had great fun and most of the students had come to the first one, so they were coming with new ideas and were more confident (at least that is what I would hope !)  I also had several new students, who were soon less tense and getting used to this new medium for them.

More of the workshop images can be seen on the SFP blog:

My demonstration piece was a multi-layered lino-cut which I had been working on for a while.  With the help of a factsheet from the Printmaker Laura Boswell, , I made a form of registration device to ensure that each layer was aligned with the one before.  I have only taken two prints from the cuts at the moment, as I want to improve an area of the design so that it shows up a bit more (the egg case cluster in the corner).

Printing the first layer using the registration device

The original design incorporating seaweed, mussel shell, mermaid's purse, egg case cluster and
wire- weed

The final lino-cut, there were three in total

I will have to return to this lino-cut design at a later date, as tomorrow I am off to Edinburgh and from next Monday I will be taking part in the Certificate in Botanical Illustration Course at the Royal Botanic Gardens.  I am very excited and nervous at the same time.  The course is for two weeks in total and I imagine it will be pretty intense.  One thing I am really looking forward to is to have two weeks of a complete focus on botanical art and hopefully 're-tune' my botanical illustration skills.  After all, that is where my passion in portraying the natural world began many years ago !

Happy painting and I will try and post whilst I am up in Edinburgh :)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Seashore Life Illustration Project with the Hants & IOW Wildlife Trust

There is a new 'page' that has been added to this blog which will show artwork that I am producing for the Marine Team at the Hampshire and IOW Wildlife Trust.

The project will be ongoing and will run alongside my other artwork and teaching committments, but it will be really exciting to be involved in another project with the Trust, after the success of the Swanwick Lakes Artist in Residence Project in 2010-2011.

Please click on the page tab above for further information about the project and to view the artwork being produced.

Happy Painting !