Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A tricky couple of days for Wilma

Yesterday can only be described as a nightmare in the studio. Only once the sun started to go down was I finally able to do something productive. The result of this is that I am exceptionally tired today, but I feel that it was worth the agony.  

What you see below-below is a result of the painting I did today. Yesterday was mainly spent agonising over it. It was a big step, a big decision and I just couldn't for the life of me find a pair of balls to make the commitment. Recently, I have been seriously interested floral diagrams, or 'mandalas', as my mum likes to call them. I have always loved them - such a simple and effective way of representing the structure of a flower in transverse section. It also looks like a secret code, which is very appealing as I like all mysterious things. I always make one of these first before drawing a flower in longitudinal section, much like Arthur Harry Church would have done. It's better to do it this way, as you can work out what exactly half of a flower looks like had your knife cut straight through the middle (as we all know - it rarely does!).

The astonishingly complex floral diagram of a Theobroma cacao flower that is displaying partial inflorescence. I personally never knew that they can reveal such partiality... I always thought they were single flowers arranged in a cauliflory, so you learn something everyday!

As I wanted to place a super-size floral diagram on Wilma, I reached the conclusion that I wouldn't be able to finish her before my trip to the UK as the climbers over here in Spain stopped flowering weeks ago and I forgot to make a floral diagram. However rather  bizarrely, our Wisteria decided to flower again yesterday. Delighted, I planned to nail this painting  over the next 24 hours. How wrong was I?! 

Wisteria chinensis botanical illustration
Wilma the Wisteria (Wisteria chinensis) - a work in progress

First up - I drew the 'mandala'. I worked out how big I wanted it to be by looking at the original and planned it out on tracing paper. Then I stuck the paper to the composition - it looked stupid. I had to keep moving the tracing paper around AND drawing it in from the paper before I could make up my mind as the extra layers of paper were fooling me each time. Every tracing I transferred onto the painting interfered with the flow of the piece and this seriously irritated me, as usually just placing the tracing paper on the composition is enough for one to judge if it looks acceptable. I was beginning to get pencil marks on my Saunders Waterford and my putty rubber had definitely seen better days. I began to blame this ridiculous process on the top-heavy composition - it was blowing my mind. After a few hours I finally felt like I had the mandala in the right place, but the whole thing still looked ridiculous to me and way too risqué. Frustrated, I put it to one side, went into the garden, picked another flower and studied the side view. I then drew the line drawing out on tracing paper and then put the entire bitch of a painting to bed.

With the sun turning in for the night and desperate to actually achieve something I hoiked the Pineapple out. After being sat on my shelf for a good month I was very aware of what needed sorting out in the leaf department and worked on that. This was pure joy to do and I finished it. It appears that yesterday was definitely one of those days where it was a colouring-in day and not a planning day!

Wisteria chinensis botanical illustration
Close up on extra large flower side study (Wisteria chinensis)

Anyway, today I work up and felt much more assertive and just painted the god damn things in whilst listening to Pink Floyd and I am happy to say that I am pleased with it. A whole day of planning, repositioning, thinking, mulling, day-time drinking and getting seriously annoyed with oneself to the point where one throws their spectacles into a dusty corner of the studio in a fit of rage, I am pleased. 

It's still not quite finished, but almost.  Need to get a move on though, as these flowers are disappearing fast.


  1. I love this Jess,really stunning work. You are so prolific atm,please send me some painting vibes!

    1. Thanks Claire - glad you like it. Haha! Only prolific because I am having a mini meltdown that I don't get enough work ready for the RHS and the exhibition we are having here in Spain. It's funny though, as I don't feel very prolific. It's only when you guys make me stop and think about it do I realise I have done some work. I always feel like I am being lazy. I spoke to Heidi Willis the other day, she's producing 8 paintings in a month! Small ones, but still... 8?! Bloody hell.

      SENDING VIBES to you honey. V... I... B... E... S...! Sun's out - good to get out and look at the shrubbery. :)

    2. Yay, vibes received Jess, I'll get painting tomorrow!!! :) xxxx
      You'll be ready for the exhibition and fantastic!