Monday, 26 June 2017

Olive sprig

I have decided to apply to join a local Botanical Art society - well, I say join but they haven't said yes yet! In the process of putting together my submission I realise that I haven't really done much in the way of plants or flowers. Or, more accurately, I have tried and found to my dismay that the delicate and subtle textures of petals and leaves are really hard to capture! 

Today I had a go at a simple sprig of olive, but I haven't done particularly well. It just looks messy and grubby and clumsy - because it's thoroughly overworked. The leaves are quite battered and spotted with a bit of disease which I like, and they also genuinely looked much greener than you'd expect. Olive foliage tends to a much softer, glaucous grey-green as a rule, but I wonder if the light bouncing off my yellow walls made the leaves look a bit 'greener'.

I quite like the 'lines', but the surface and textures are bleurgh. Lots of work for me to do on tackling green things then, and this won't be going towards supporting my application.

For comparison, here's an image of the sketch that I used to transfer onto the watercolour paper. I like this better, even though the lines are really heavy and graphic due to the transfer process I used.

Maybe I should try doing some 'proper' black and white botanical/scientific illustrations...

Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Here's a first-try sketch of these funny little fruits. They have several names, mainly called Cape Gooseberries I think, and I've also seen them referred to as 'ground cherries' as well. This fruit is part of the nightshade family - which immediately makes me think they can't be edible* - they are sort of like cherry tomatoes but with a very intense and sharp fruitiness.

The challenge was to capture the reflected light and colour through the papery outer casing. Not entirely successful, but a useful exercise.

* 'Nightshade' always makes the word 'deadly' pop into my head, such an evocative and perfectly gothic name for a poisonous plant! But, this plant family - solanaceae - includes potato, aubergine, tomato and bell and chilli peppers as well as belladonna (nightshade), mandrake, datura and tobacco. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Nuts in May

Painting is proving very absorbing.

Here's a little clutch of hazelnuts.

I really enjoyed drawing this little twist of seaweed - it has a very old fashioned feel about it, but both times I think I did a less than idea job of the top bits. It was a challenge though, as in fact it is really very black and matt, and I have indulged in a bit of artistic licence to describe the form.

And then my mum's - and dad's - favourite flag iris. Most of my iris, all of which come from the family garden, are pale purple. This one is really dramatic and bold, such a deep maroon, as rich and velvety as a victorian gentleman's smoking jacket. This is a work in progress, though the flower is going over so fast in this warm weather it's a real challenge.