Sunday, 20 December 2015

The art of polishing and partying

Still polishing this botanical illustration of an Artichoke leaf  (76 x 56cm)
(Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus)...
I took a day off yesterday and drove across Spain. I needed to spend some time out of the studio, to travel under a big blue sky and see something new. The journey took me to the ancient city of Gaudix where the people still live inside caves, and onwards through the Alpujarras and to the towns of Yegen, Órgiva and Lanjarón. I saw great swathes of national forest, Roman ruins and Islamic castles. The weather has been incredibly unusual of late and as a consequence confused Almond trees have started to blossom again and there wasn't any snow to stop me in my tracks. Only fragments of mica piled up on the mountain slopes glistened in the sunlight shining like little mirrors, and the only a few deer and a partridge provided company - there was no one around - it was the middle of nowhere and incredibly silent. 

It has been a busy week in the studio - lots of darting about from painting to painting. A very restless energy has built up and it is being reflected in my work. I have been trying to finish the Artichoke, whilst also delving deeper into the giant poplar leaf - two paintings that couldn't be any more different to each other. I like this, it is keeping my brain busy, preventing boredom. I wish I could say that I don't get bored, but I do. After weeks painting the same subject in the same colour it can get a little overwhelming. Mid last week when I sat down in front of the Artichoke I felt my tummy doing somersaults and actually felt a bit sick, like I'd eaten too much chocolate. I usually take this as a sign to stop what I am doing and move away. The intensity of the Artichoke is also not doing my back any favours as I tend to tense up when working in that amount of detail, so the Poplar has been a useful tool in doing the exact opposite. 

Little and Large, although little isn't exactly little! Artichoke (on top) and Poplar (underneath) - a sense of scale
(Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus and Populus nigra)

I am still on a limited palette but have swapped my D&R Rose Madder for D&R Cadmium Red (an old one too, so its bound to be seriously toxic) and I have to say I am very much enjoying it. I had forgotten what an awesome colour this is, especially if you mix your own green and don't use any green pans. It just gives the green some depth and reality. 

Black Poplar (Populus nigra) leaf found in the plantations of Granada (1.5m x 1m)

I have been reading a fabulous book called On Longing by Susan Stewart which I recommend to those who are interested in the psychology of longing, especially in the context of art. I found some of my missing paints that had managed to hide themselves under the plastic casing of my Daler Rowney set when I knocked all of my paints on the floor after the catastrophe that was starting the Poplar leaf. Video link here:

Live from the Inky Leaves studio...
Posted by Inky Leaves on Friday, 4 December 2015
Had a Christmas party, but still not done my shopping... leaves took over my life. Shopping tomorrow...
Have a very lovely Christmas everyone if I don't see you in this virtual space before hand!


  1. Wonderful post! Courgeous you are my dear! Great work and beautiful story attached to it. Makes me want to see this country. Best wishes from Canada!

    1. Thanks Manon! Well if you ever fancy popping over to Spain you are welcome to stay with us, we have room. x

  2. Lovely post Jess, those leaves have so much dynamic energy - no wonder you need to get out and travel! Wonderful colours and light! Spain really suits you xxx

    1. Thanks Polly - very happy to hear that about my leaves. Yes I do like it in Spain, especially in this part of it, with all the history. Have you been watching the BBC series?