Monday, 18 June 2012

More on Monstera

Colours are - Phthalo Blue, Transparent Yellow, Hookers Green, Crimson Rose, Mauve and Cerulean Blue... I think... ! As you can see, I like to layer my greens.

Really pleased with shadowing on the bottom, furthest right leaf, even if I do say do myself!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ellsworth Kelly's Plant Drawings

Ellsworth Kelly might be better known for his hard-edged, bold canvas works such as this:

Spectrum colours arranged by chance III, Ellsworth Kelly, 1951 

Which I really like, (cross reference Meine Mandlebrotand would like one of these on my wall very much!  However, I read an interesting article in the Financial Times today that Kelly is also draws plants:

Kelly's drawings depict nature using as few strokes as possible, yet they remain representative. If you like tonal studies - this is not for you! Kelly doesn't do anything but create the line required - a simple, beautiful line. It's all about trying to get the essence of the plant across in a minimalistic way. This is something I have been trying to do myself. Not only to cut down on the time it takes to do a botanical study, but also because I believe that it makes the artwork look fresher. I am a believer in 'less is more'. 

I sympathise with the way in which Kelly describes how every one of his drawings has a story. Indeed they do, but where the story lies is often about the subject itself, which I think is often the case with botanical art. It's not about illustrating an event, or a feeling, or a scene, it's about personifying the plant. In trying to describe a plant with a pencil we are also perusing another line of enquiry - not just what it looks like. We are concerned about portraying it's essence or spirit, which is a very human notion. I find myself wondering if the essence of a forget-me-not is different for different people, and my reply is that it is - that's why people paint things differently, it's not just a question of talent or mood, it's do to with an individuals' make-up. So I feel that to give the drawing/subject a story is part of that personification. That's why I give my plants names. Often, the story comes afterwards, but in the end it's about how we interacted with that plant during those moments of exploration. 

I am delighted that Kelly will be showing his plant drawings after keeping them private for so long. I hope that they inspire lots of people to draw or at least give them a sense of how cathartic drawing is. It's a risky process marking a blank page, but if followed through with an experimental mind it can be rather magical.

Further reading:

Friday, 15 June 2012

 Monstera problema

A bit more work on my 'problema'... doing lots of wet on wet at the moment so this is pretty experimental for me. I have had quite a week this week. I have removed sugar from my diet for health reasons and it's been quite a struggle changing to a protein based, alcohol-free, low GI diet. I seem to be getting there, but it's made me quite tired and less productive. Once I get on the correct medication I can then resume my intake of a few sugary things...

Last week I went to see the Riziki Kateya's work in Kew. She has been spending some time in England and had all her paintings out in the library on show for staff members. It was really interesting to see her work.  She was trained by Christabel King through Kew in Tanzania and has since been painting the plants and birds in a National Park in Tanzania for a Kew publication. You can see how she has improved with practice and is really very good (her website is not that up to date). She trained in Fine Art originally, so this has been a big change for her. 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Monstera problema

This is the other painting I am working on, (although I am likely to have to re-do due to rubbish paper). I love it. I have been looking at Swiss Cheese Plants for a while and thought I'd get cracking on with a leaf. I am calling this Monstera problema because it represents how I felt yesterday when painting it. I had some rather gutting news and to me this leaf with all its holes and incompleteness represents that.

It's on a very large board which I found dumped in a street in Kew. It's a bit awkward to manoeuvre around my room but it's really helping my posture and makes me feel much more professional.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Chelsea Tulips

Just starting this painting now of two Tulips - might do a set of them  - let's see how it goes... I am feeling very experimental and not really thinking about it very much - just illustrating what I find to be beautiful.

Here is an update on my embroidery... It's slow going I tell ya! I really want to get it finished by Christmas...

And finally here is my coffee bean! I grew Caroline from seed using a berry I stole when visiting the Eden Project as a 1st year botany student in 2003. Nine years on and she is doing well. I have tried to bonsai her slightly so that she won't outgrow my bedrooms and she seems to not mind too much. She has flowered before - back in 2007, but I didn't get any fruit. 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

In  the corner of my room...

...there is a pile of rubbish. It's been growing for sometime and well... it was beginning to smell and take over. You all know how small my room is, so of course when I discovered that the pile was encroaching on precious territory I decided that this would never do and did something about it today.  Despite me washing everything, the cartoons were beginning to go a bit manky so it seems I cannot keep hold of a year's worth of rubbish - thought not! You can't say I didn't try though... 
 Fortunately my pile hadn't reached this state of proportions!

Alas before environmental health were onto me I concluded that I had to remove this pile of rubbish  - organise it and bin/recycle the smelly bits. If you are wondering why I have rubbish in my room, it's part of the Bare Necessities Project. So today I have been measuring the dimensions of every punnet, box and packet in sight and recording all the elements (bar codes, companies, ingredients, country of origin, varieties of plants, country of packaging and how much packaging - lots have extra stickers stuck on them). This has been a valuable experience. In a month I have collected about 4 pillow cases worth of rubbish (not flattened). I know a lot about where things are grown, how much FSC approved cardboard is used in juice cartons and what food stuffs are good value for money (by weight). 

This stall is right by Henry's house - I really want one of these coffee 
bean sacks - they are only a fiver...  
Image from Flextiles

My Bare Necessities spreadsheet is enormous and because I am a nerd it is my pride and joy. I don't fill in the cells everyday though. I often take notes on scrap paper and am now able to remember everything I use/consume for several days at a time. I have this down to an art! All the packaging information is going under the product/plant as a 'comment'.

Cool Banana Japanese Cartons 
Image from Vickie Burns

So, rubbish... all sorted pretty much. There will certainly be a lot for the recycling man on Wednesday regardless of the Jubilee bank Holiday as I have added nicely to our household rubbish today! Goodness knows what he'll think I have been up to. There are lots of cartons with their fronts and backs missing and egg boxes with their tops cut out.  I was hoping to do some painting... I did start a Tulip this evening which I will endeavour to carry on with during the course of Sunday. Unfortunately, this packaging scenario really needed to be sorted out, that and washing my hair (see last post). 

Friday, 1 June 2012

New Florilegium Portfolio Released for the Jubilee

Addison Publishers, who published the Highgrove Florilegium, have published 500 limited edition portfolios containing sets of fine art prints in celebration of Her Majesty the Queen's 60-year reign. Within the set, each decade of the Queen's Reign is represented by a different anniversary flower. They are £295.00 at the moment, and after the 30th June the price will go up to £395.00. I saw them for the first time last night and they are beautifully presented - a real collectors piece.

Been a bit quiet again lately... it's been very busy in the gallery preparing for the Nash exhibition and last week I was away up north.  This week has been one of those crazy weeks where I haven't even found the time to wash my hair and my bedroom looks like a bomb has hit it. I am pretty zonked out, but hope to paint something tomorrow on my weekend off. Have a super Jubilee weekend everyone!

Oh and I saw this and thought her work was so amazing I had to share it:

Lisa Nilsson ©