Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Introducing the world's biggest gem lettuce

This is what is looks like from an angle - a crazy perspective which I rather like. I wish I could actually paint it with a warped perspective - that would be really rather funky, if a bit tricky! Anyway I am putting this in as several readers have said they like to see it at a mad angle so you see that it is in fact on paper.

So these are the leaves I tackled yesterday and today... the one I did yesterday (below) was not too difficult as I had actually put in a lot of it's foundations towards the end of last year. I also find darker leaves much easier to paint (don't you?!). there seems to be more room for error, even if the layers do take an age to build up!

The leaf I did today is still not finished, but I am showing you a zoomed in section of the leave for you to see anyway. I can't believe how long this one is taking if I am honest, I have been at it all day. I guess you could say that I am finding this one MUCH harder. So may bits of white 'nothingness'. Throughout the entire process of capturing this beaut, I am thinking of Rory's highlights... how he did it and the fact that it can be done! Sometimes things seem completely impossible, but if I know that he did it, then I can damn well do it too. So here's a crack...

The process of painting tints is a rather odd one. You have nothing on the paper, and yet there is leaf there... It's all about making the white paper look solid and therefore the leaf not holey, which is actually really hard. I would usually use many thin layers of paint, or my bristle brush to soften the edges of the paint into the white. However, this time I find myself putting in a dots and specks of a light wash, either of a bluish tinge or a light purple. Then going over those layers again with a darker wash (usually a blue-purple) and making the marks I do very angular and dark. So far so good, just got to keep going. Minute work with a minute brush which will inevitably take a while to do correctly.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Painting Cos' Solar Plexus

A couple of days in the studio and I have managed to make a start on the middle leaves, (which were a really tricky green) and the right leaf. For the middle I used a lot of W&N transparent yellow, and Daler and Rowney Vivid Green, the later of which is opaque so I had to be a bit careful with how I applied it. Then I also used a spot of W&N French Ultramarine and W&N Prussian Blue.  

For the right leaf I used a lot more Permanent Rose to get the shadows really dark and then again I used that Vivid Green. I am a bit funny about the Vivid stuff as it's very bright and can look really un-natural, but when the light is shining through a leaf it actually makes it that bright. When a highlight is from reflected light though, I tend to see it being more of a greyish tinge, or in this case sometimes yellow. Anyway - I just wish the Vivid Green wasn't so opaque. Daler or Winsor - if you are reading, please can you make a transparent version? Or, if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know, I am always very grateful for any advice.

I am glad to be back and embracing 2014 with all my gusto.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Nepal Natural History Drawings

This is a unique opportunity to see a display of some of the first scientific natural history drawings from Nepal in London at Embassy of Nepal, 12A Kensington Palace Gardens

Daphne papyrifera

 Admission is free, and the show will be open to the public 7-24 January, 
Monday-Friday, 10am-1pm and 2-4pm

This collection of drawings from Nepal was made by Dr Francis Buchanan (later known as Buchanan-Hamilton) between 1802-03, when he was practicing as a surgeon-naturalist on the British Mission led by Captain Knox. During his year in the Kathmandu Valley, he documented more than a thousand plant species, many of which are now rarely seen. This Scottish 'father of Nepalese botany' laid the foundation of botanical knowledge for this Himalayan country, and over 500 new species have been described using his collections.

Woodcut of George Buchanan
Buchanan-Hamilton took with him to Nepal a Bengali artist from Calcutta who prepared exquisite coloured watercolour drawings of over a hundred species – 27 of which have been selected for this exhibition. On his return to England in 1806, Buchanan-Hamilton gave these drawings, and his other scientific records, to his friend James Edward Smith, and they have lain virtually unknown in the archives of the Linnean Society of London ever since. This exhibition is the first public viewing outside Nepal of the Buchanan-Hamilton’s drawings, made by a talented but sadly un-named Indian artist.

Current research is still uncovering the scientific and cultural value of these early collections. Buchanan-Hamilton placed great importance on the local names that the people were using for plants and instructed his Indian pandit, Babu Ramajai Bhattacharji, to record these spoken names and translate them into English. Buchanan-Hamilton frequently used these common names for the new scientific names that he coined and subsequently wrote on the drawings.

Buchanan-Hamilton is now recognised as the pioneer of biodiversity research in Nepal, but he could not have done this by himself and he needed to collaborate with Nepalese and Indian people. As he was one of the first foreigners to spend any length of time in Nepal, he had an unsurpassed understanding of the people, their cultures and traditions, which later helped underpin the developing relationship between Britain and Nepal. Two centuries on, botanical research continues with British and Nepalese scientists working together on the Flora of Nepal.

This facsimile exhibition has been produced by the Linnean Society of London and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, with the support of the Embassy of Nepal and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It has been sponsored by Nature & Herbs UK Ltd.