Sunday, 24 November 2013

Fcuking Fecundus

Work in progress... Pinus ponderosa cone in sepia ink.

Thinking of adding some zing on this 22 incher, but need to sleep on it before I act. It's either going to have some gold, or blood red, or lapis blue. Or all three. Currently toying with the idea of finger prints. Whatever happens, this cone is not just a cone, it's a fertility bomb brimming with power.

n.b. Spelling error has been put in place in title so that Google doesn't through me out.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

At the Seaside, by the Sea

On Sunday, I decided to run away from the Big Smoke and spend some of my holiday at the seaside - in true British style! It is so lovely down here... The pace of life is so much slower and its quiet. The sun has been out nearly everyday and it's very beautiful. The sun glistening on the lapping waves, no wind and all that fresh air. On Monday night we had a storm and the following day I decided to have a walk along the tide mark and go for a paddle. There were so many beautiful seaweeds there, covering nearly every colour of the spectrum in an array of shapes and sizes. They'd make such beautiful subjects to paint, especially when wet and shiny. The way the light dances on them is really rather beautiful and I felt that it would be a good challenge to this depict accurately. Just think of all those reflections!

Anyway, I had a look online and found this lovely collection of seaweeds which I felt accurately portrayed the diversity of form found in this group of 'mystical' flora. I rather like them all as a collection and thought I'd share them with you.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Pop-up Botanical Art Studio

So nowadays we get pop-up cafes, pop-up galleries and pop-up shops or pop-up anything really. Life has become nomadic, ever 'on the move'. Forget your diary? No worries, we have an app for that. Forget your i-pod? No worries, everything is synced.  Businesses take advantage of niches, of disused spaces and holes. With this in mind, I have jumped on the band waggon and am calling my Kew studio my 'pop-up studio'. So what's been happening in the pop-up studio I hear you ask? Well I am still busy painting the third Tulip painting in a collection I have made of Tulips. Why are you doing this? - I hear you ponder... Well, I am doing this mainly to practice my techniques. I am trying to master my watercolours and these Tulips are so very different from leaves, and from Cos, that they are a welcome break from what happens in 'The Studio'... I also find them technically challenging with all their changes in colour, their highlights, reflected light and their shadows.

Tulip 'Reduced to Clear' - work in progress
Oddly, when I stared this collection of paintings I just jumped in and did them, because they were something I found to be rather beautiful on that sunny day I spent in Chelsea Physic Garden in May 2012. And it wasn't until after getting under way with two of the pieces that I noticed I had made a bit of a mistake on them. The first one - 'Buy One Get One Free' I really didn't think about the composition and dived in. Only to notice that I had painted two flowers on one stem. Putting the other stem in would have ruined it and I rather liked the oddness of it. Botanical surrealism - or call it what you will. I have therefore titled it 'Buy One Get One Free' because I love supermarket gimmicks.

Close up on 'Buy One Get One Free' - place where the two flowers meet
The second painting 'Buy Three for the Price of Two', where there are three in a row, is still not finished... this doesn't have any mistakes (yet).

Tulips 'Buy Three for the Price of Two' - work in progress

The one I am currently working on is called 'Reduced to Clear'. Again - getting way too enthralled in the heat of the sun I didn't realise that what I was sketching was a mutant... too many petals on this bad boy! So yes - bad stock and thus it is 'Reduced to Clear'.

'Tulip 'Reduced to Clear' - work in progress

Whilst painting the Tulips and the Lettuce there is one question that has really stuck in my mind and that is how I much am I consciously painting in the reflected light? With the lettuce it isn't too tricky, but with the Tulips it is. A lot of the reflected light is blue, green or pale indigo. Quite remarkable really - it makes the whole thing almost look like a rainbow when you add it in with the predominant colours of yellow, orange and red. I have been doing a bit of reading on reflected light and I found these articles in case any one is interested. I don't subscribe to any magazines or own any how to books, so I am really learning as I am going...
Subtleties of Light by Jane Jones
Understanding how Reflected light works by Christopher Schink 

On another note - a nice bit of reading about some rare watercolours depicting English varieties of fruit trees at the Ashmolean Museum can be found here.  I particularly like the bit about the astrological signs on the sheets - very unusual and something I'd love to do with my own work being an advocate of astrology. 

 Painting of the Great Roman Hazel Nut with a red squirrel and frog below

"Little astrological signs can be detected on some of the pictures. A cherry which ripened on June 10 has the sign for Gemini beside it. A Morocco plum which ripened on July 15 is accompanied by the sign of Mercury. Astrology was important to the pictures’ owner."

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Little Gem Lettuce

Little Gem Lettuce - work in progress - watercolour on paper
So here is the lettuce... It's definitely coming along (although it often feels like it isn't) and all those wintry days indoors appear to be paying off. 

Yesterday, I was working on the paler bits at the bottom. I find that the white bits are the hardest to paint because it is tricky to show the highlights when you have hardly any colour on the rest of the bump if you get my drift. Shiny white things are a nightmare. Still, it seems to be going well considering! This is still probably one of the most technically challenging paintings I have done and I am no where near completion. So many greens and whites and yellows and pinks with all the undulations and changing textures. The veins are pretty difficult too - they look translucent and watery on the real lettuce and it's really hard to capture that. Interestingly, I am finding  that I am bringing more of the things that I learnt after painting 2011 Grapes to this particular piece than I am from what I learnt on Sally the Savoy. I think it's because of the translucency of this particular subject, the displaced highlights and all the bumps and shadows. Who would have thought that a lettuce would have more in common with a bunch of grapes than a cabbage? Well there you go... you learn something everyday!

The Romance of Kew

Wondering around the bookshelves of our house I stumbled upon this little gem: 'The Romance of Kew'...

Map of Kew Gardens
Map of Kew Gardens

Lotus Flower
Wood cut of a Lotus Flower growing at Kew Gardens

Wood cut of Kew Gardens by Lalande Patteson

Ginkgo biloba leaves

Maidenhair Tree at Kew Gardens

Friday, 1 November 2013

Form and Process at The Gallery

An exhibition of new paintings by Piers Ottey
at The Gallery, Redchurch Street, London, E2
from 29 October to 10 November


Family friend, Piers Ottey, is currently exhibiting his new work in conjunction with Zimmer Stewart Gallery at 50 Redchurch Street, London, E2 - in the heart of Shoreditch's edgy art scene.

 Ghurka Bridge

If you are in the area, or fancy a night out with a difference, I can strongly recommend popping into The Gallery to see Piers' latest work. As the title of the exhibition suggests, the artworks to be shown will demonstrate the artist's view on both form and process in art. He has painted several entrancing views of London, including pieces that demonstrate the awesome power of Battersea Power Station as a landmark to more humble view points of view which capture the drama and querkiness that is London. He also has some brilliant pieces showing scenes from his travels.

So when I say 'a night out with a difference' what I mean is that on Thursday nights the galleries in the east end open up their doors as part of a semi-permanent' gallery trail. It makes for an entertaining evening. Every month I try to see something on the Thursday lates - I often stop into The Whitechapel Gallery (for First Thursdays), or at least end up there for dinner at their amazing restaurant who's menu has been carefully created by the talented Angela Hartnett

The catalogue of Piers' show can be found here

You can watch Piers in action here