Friday, 21 December 2012

Tulip Number One

Since my last post to you all I have managed to get some work done on the first Tulip of the three... Goodness knows why I work backwards! It is a rather scatty way of working, especially if one doesn't want to mark the right side of the page with their sleeve. Most of my friends have a super way of preventing marks by covering the parts of the painting they are not working on with a bit of tracing paper. I would do this, but I believe that firstly it is better to see the whole thing as you work on it in it's full form (especially in my case as there is a lot of colour matching going on - I never make up enough paint to get me through) and secondly I believe that having the tracing paper there gives me a false sense of security. I think it is better to get used to keeping my arm slightly in the air and generally feeling aware of my surroundings (cups of tea etc).

So the progress I have made so far isn't too bad. I might get a chance to tackle it tonight too. I am working this weekend in Kew so probably won't get a chance to do much more until after Christmas. Blimey it has come round fast!

On Wednesday I was busy darkening these petals (flower in the foreground). I have quite a way to go still, but I am really enjoying having the time to actually make the tones as dark as I want to. I found during the SBA course that I kept running out of time and had to hand in work which was in my view very pale and not finished.

Anyway... Just in case this is my last post before Christmas - I wish you all a very merry Yuletide and hopefully I'll get a chance to post before the New Year.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

I've made a deal

 So here I am hovering - after signing the official Roll and Charter book of the Linnean Society of London.

The picture below shows a page in the Roll and Charter book which was officially signed by Queen Victoria who was the Patron of the Society. Basically it's a big book - full of signatures.

...and here I am shaking on my pledge.

So now I am officially a Fellow - best Christmas present ever. Now I better get to work...

Monday, 3 December 2012

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The Third Tulip Encounter (Tulipa sp.)

No aliens today... just studying that this little gem very closely... It's the third tulip and hence the wacky title. I have been concentrating on the bottom petal and the one on the right today - can you tell? I am quite pleased with her development so far. Lots of reflections though and the highlights are green and ultramarine and not white or grey or pink. Very interesting to look at this one so closely.

Off to the Linnean Society tonight for my offical signing. I am not sure what to expect really. I have got my friend Oxana coming with me tonight, and maybe some others if they can get there from work on time. I hope Oxana will be able to take a photograph is it's a real affair! I'll let you know how it goes...

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Cards

Busy making Christmas cards today...

They will have some gold put on them when the pens I have ordered online arrive. I wanted to do full sets of dolls to represent the coming together of the family at this time of year, but it was too much, so I am doing just the mummy doll instead.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Press and the Media

Radio and Television

  • Interview (click to listen) on BBC Radio Devon about Sir John St. Aubyn aired 2008



Egelnick and Webb, 2015

The Joy of Plants, 2015

The English Home Magazine, Issue 117, October 2014

RHS Botanical Art Show, April 2014
International Dendrology Society Yearbook, 2015, Illustrations.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Things Really Do Tend To Happen In Threes

Tulips all in a row... (a watercolour painting in progress)

I was going to go for a walk today, but that hasn't happened! I have made a cake though, cleaned my part of the house on our cleaning rota and done a bit of painting. So here's the latest for you... If I am honest I'd rather have more leaves on the page, but in essence these are just study pages while I experiement with colour and tone. If the piece is ok in the end, then that's an added bonus and I'll try and get it into the SBA exhibition... If not, then I learned a lot in the process.

 Close up on one of the Tulip Flowers

 Close up on one of the Tulip Petals

Tomorrow I am going to try and work out how to upload audio files onto blogger. I have tried lots of times already, but it just isn't working.  I am also looking into loading up some videos for you all. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Botanical Illustration

Tulipa species - a painting in progress

Today I am going to be painting, but here is a snap shot of the piece as I did do some work on it last week and didn't post anything. I am working from photographs a lot at the moment and I am desperate to do some painting from life*.  I'm starting to think about a painting holiday for after Christmas, it'll consist of a week off work and lots of sitting in Kew's glasshouses. There doesn't seem to be much growing out of my window at the moment so I will have to go under glass. However, there are things growing on my window sill! Cindy and Phil both have flower heads on them! I am so pleased with myself - I see this as a huge achievement as my dad can never get his orchids to flower. Sadly, Milly passed away this month after battling with baggy leaves for 10 months. I think the climate just wasn't right for her in my room.
 Phil (left) and Cindy's (right) flower buds

*In the winter I do work mainly from photographs and herbarium material. In the summer I work more from real life and use photographs towards the end of the piece to check my shadows. If I worked full time as an illustrator I'd definitely paint directly from the subject a lot more, but with a full time job I find I have to squeeze in bits of painting here and there and the process is more drawn out, by which time a lot of subject material would have gone 'over'.  This is one of the reasons why I at first tended to depict leaves and seeds more than flowers and fruit, but since completing the SBA course I have started exploring new subject matter. It's also why I used to work predominately in ink more than paint, again - something else which has changed since I completed my SBA course.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

FLS Certificate

So a lovely parcel arrived in the post for me this week - it was full of magazines and newsletters. Yes, it was from the Linnean Society and hidden between the pages was my election certificate all wrapped up in a nice plastic sleeve. Another one for my collection! I am very pleased about this piece of paper and hope that it will lead to new things. I want to really take part in the Linnean Society as a whole and try to get a dialogue going between natural scientists and natural history illustrators by increasing the number of illustration based talks and articles in their lecture theatre and newsletters. It would also be nice to have small exhibitions... but of course one step at a time!

I was planing on posting some recent photographs of my paintings today. I did do some more painting on Monstera problema last night, as well as on Three Times Over, but alas I forgot to take a picture. The rain here is also pretty dismal (nice fine drizzle added to a very short day length = perpetual dark), so the daylight isn't very good to take pictures anyway (I was hoping for a bright morning and it didn't come). So I will post some new images on Saturday or Monday. I am enjoying my routine of painting for a couple of hours every night and recommend it to all! It was Gael Sellwood who told me that it is the best way to do things when you have a full time job to contend with - wise words. She also said it's good to have a business plan - again  - wise words!

Other news... I had a nice rally of emails with Shevaun Doherty this week - she seems to be very busy setting up the new Irish Society of Botanical Illustrators. This is really exciting news and I am so pleased that she has taken the plunge to set this up. It must be taking a lot of her time sorting out all the admin, but I think it will be worth it. I also contacted Mervi to ask if she could add a 'follow this blog' button on the Denver Botanic Gardens blog - hopefully this will make it easier for everyone to follow the latest news from Denver.


Monday, 19 November 2012

New Book on Rory McEwen

Just found the information on Kew's upcoming publication on Rory McEwen:

Least you get an idea of pricing now and the ISBN numbers...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A New Wedding Gift - second post

So I managed to get quite a lot of work completed over the last week on this piece. Train journeys have helped! I think this piece will be completed over the Christmas period, so this probably is the fastest piece of embroidery I have ever done! Just trying to work out what I want to put in the alternate green diamonds. Does anyone have any ideas? Something to do with love would be good. I am going to put the Tunisian and German flags in the composition, and some flowers in the corners and two love birds at the bottom.

Detail on one of the corners

 Detail on the signature corner

Friday, 16 November 2012

A New Wedding Gift

So I have done the impossible and started another sampler! This one is for a wedding in July, so I am well ahead of the game. As you can probably tell the beautiful couple are German! They have just moved out to Tunsia and are busy preparing for their wedding.

So I've tried to make this piece of sewing a bit easier than the last wedding sampler I did. So far so good.  I have also done another impossible thing of gaining an i-phone (people who know me well will confirm that I am generally against such devices). Henry got his new iphone 5 this week and has given me his old iphone 3GS which I actually prefer as a model. So this blog post has been half written on the iphone (hence the bad pictures). This is great as it means I can post when I am in the East of London. The only irritating thing is that the app for Google Blogger is rubbish and I have to polish off what I am doing on Henry's computer. Never mind - hopefully Google will sort themselves out soon.

Off for a walk today with Henry... The sun is shining and I have the weekend off. So will log in tomorrow with other news. Have a super day!

The Wedding Sampler

 Close up on the boarder - there will be hearts in all the green diamonds

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Number two of three

Botanical illustrations of Tulips in progress (Tulipa sp.)

I was very disciplined last night when I got home from work. I had some cashews and opened my mail and then went straight upstairs to my room and got on with this painting. My 'plan' to increase my production has got off on a good start. I decided to start the tulip on the left yesterday, as the one in the middle is annoying me and I want to get an over all idea of how the composition will look. To be honest I am just playing around at the moment.

I had a lovely day in the gallery at Kew yesterday - met up with Jacqui Pestell (you can find her on Twitter) and her group from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and gave them a little tour of the gallery. I have to say I find the courses that RBGE offer are (in my view) the best institutional courses in the country. It's a brilliant programme and the classroom they work in is fabulous and well lit. I'd like to go back up north one day and complete one of their workshops.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Making a start on the other petals...

Sunset over my house last night:

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Boris and Polly have been re-located

This week has been a busy one so far. I posted Boris and Polly the other day and hopefully they now have a new owner. It was sad to see them go, but I am keen to clear the way for new work and clinging onto older pieces isn't a very good idea in my world. I need to keep some bits back though - for exhibitions - but I felt that Boris was not suitable material for the SBA exhibition this Spring and if I get a slot in the gallery I've approached in Richmond, I'd rather use new works.  So yes - Boris as gone and so has Polly. The good news is that I have got limited edition prints of Boris available, which you can get here.

 Boris the Broccoli, Watercolour, 2012

I have been busy tidying my room and trying to sort out all my Bare Necessities by logging everything in a spreadsheet - it takes most of my time these days, but I am over half way through my 12 month measuring period which is the good news. My room did pong a bit the other day because I got a bit behind! This isn't very nice, but it is an incentive to not get behind in my data entry.  I just have lots of birthday cards and wrapping paper to do now - the non-smelly stuff.  I am not sure how I am going to work out how much wood pulp has been used on all this cardboard packaging, but I am sure I'll find a way and then I can get cracking on with the painting itself.

 Diana and me outside the Temperate House, Kew

I had a lovely walk around Kew Gardens on Wednesday with my housemates. Although I work here I don't do long walks around the gardens that often. I know the temperate house rather well because it is close to the gallery! It's always a treat bringing friends into the gardens and showing them around.  

  Three Times Over, work in progress

Lastly, I did manage to get in an hour's worth of work on 'Three Times Over' on my day off, which is better than nothing. I am intending to do some work tonight before Henry pops over and have made a schedule to help me knuckle down. It's been a bit rubbish this year with my artwork and I am keen to get going. Changes at home and with my health are the contributing factors to this, but I feel I have come out the other side and am determined to become more productive. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Handmade envelopes

Been busy making envelopes today out of old magazines. I quite like these types of envelope - they have a real 'feel good' factor about them. I think household bills should come in envelopes like this to soften the blow.

I went for a walk around Kew this morning with my housemates. It's looking gorgeous at the moment - very Autumnal and empty. There's nothing quite like having Kew Gardens to yourself!  I am about to try and do some painting now. Rather delayed but better late than never.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Yogi Lion update

A work in progress... Yogi Lion is a sampler being sewn in half cross stitch to speed it up a little...

One more pose to go... and the lotus flower has begun to grow...

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Three more letters...

So I am back in my daily rhythm again after a week of birthday celebrations. It has been rather full-on, but very fun. It just happened that a lot of my old friends and family were in town this week, probably for half term, and that gave me the option of catching up with a lot of them. Some of the friends I went to see on Thursday night I hadn't seen for 12 years! 

The upshot of all this socialising is that it has been a very quiet week on the work front. I have managed to get some sewing done on Yogi Lion however, as there have been many tube and train rides. I have also had the time to reflect on what I am trying to achieve with my life. Something that often happens on a) my birthday b) when I go home c) when I am not distracting myself with work.

Me with one glove on and one glove off next to
St. Aubyn plinth at the Linnean Society of London

The week began with a fantastic letter from the Linnean Society saying that I had been voted in as a Fellow! This is something I have wanted for a long time. When I worked in Plymouth in the city museum I researched an 18th Century collector called Sir John St. Aubyn and it was then when I first got involved with the Society. He himself was a Fellow and his herbarium contained a few specimens that were originally part of Sir James Edward Smith's collection (he founded the Society). The touring exhibition I made about his natural history collection at the end of my contract toured to the Linnean Society of London two years ago as part of its journey. I am sure all this work helped with my nomination! As my principle interests I have listed 'the history of natural history, botany, botanical art, curation, geology'.

So now I am looking for the letters E, G, H, I, J, K, N, O, Q, R, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z to be added after my name! I think X Y and Z will prove to be problematic!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Reds and Yellows

Like the Autumnal leaves around me, I am very much focusing on my use of reds and yellows at the moment:

The Middle Tulip (Tulipa sp.)

I really got into the rhythm of this painting on Monday night. I find that when I get into the process of painting, I 'dance' around the subject less and am more able to put down solid colours. The process becomes riskier, but more fluid and enjoyable. I exercise a degree of faith in the work. I don't know about you, but when I am not in the 'mood' I can waste vast amounts of my time touching things up and over working whatever is there. So I did make a bit of process on Monday night after an hour or two at the desk - no more. I am starting to find that short stints are also the answer as they keep it fresh and prevent over working.

Tulip (Tulipa sp.) - work in progress

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Magic Number

Yesterday I started painting a new piece. I am really getting into painting tulips with as much accuracy as possible. I consider them quite an easy form to paint, which in turn should make capturing the realism easier.  I have never really liked tulips much in the past; always favouring poppies and peony's, but in the last 3 years I have learnt to adore them for their simplicity. I find their petals and floppy leaves can add a lot of movement in compositions.

  Three times over - just started 

This piece (below) will have the same flower, but three times over from different points of view. Why three? Well because things work well in threes, and why this flower yet again? Because I like it and I feel I am getting to understand it better after completing 'Chelsea Tulips' (well not completing - almost, got bored of it so will return to it at a later date). Thought I'd start doing compositions that I don't usually do (to me this one is much more mechanical).  There is a reason behind this experimentation - I have an idea about painting flowers through time and I am basically trying to work out how to represent this idea on a piece of paper. It came to me after I stitched all the images of Chelsea Tulips to make a sequence piece of the painting growing through time. I then thought it would be nice to represent the flower aging instead of the painting and this is how I got to my idea. Lets just see how it goes. It's probably been done before, but it is something I am interested in pursuing.

The amount of painting I am managing to do has really slowed down this Autumn and I have been surprised by that - it wasn't intentional at all. Thursday was spent visiting the hospital again, so a lot of time was wasted on buses and in waiting rooms on one of my days off from work. The good news is this has given me some time to get on with Henry's present:

Four boxes filled - another 4 to go! Then the lotus, and the soya beans and then the watery background.