Friday, 8 December 2017

A little bit of tech-magic goes a long way (or my first Christmas Card Collection)

I don't know about you, but unless I have a specific reason for learning to use a 'thing' and (perhaps more importantly) an 'active' context in which to practise the application of the new skills, I usually don't manage to make much headway.

Using digital/image manipulation software has always seemed like one of those 'no-brainer' things that I really should know how to use, but one way and another I've never managed to get to grips with it. I've dabbled on and off, briefly and unproductively, with various software systems, and even have a wacom 'tablet' thing for digital drawing that has knocked about the house pretty much unused for years.

But suddenly I want to get some cards printed, and ta da! There it is, a good, solid, concrete context providing a strong motivation to figure things out. Which, somewhat haltingly and with much room for improvement, I have actually managed to do.

All of which means I've been able to go from this - essentially a sketch page of experiment/practise:

To this; a rather noble looking brussel sprout if you ask me...

And this; big burly brussel's smaller, but no less dignified, sibling.

And finally, to these! Actual, proper, really nicely printed cards (many thanks to Redcliffe Print who did the job incredibly quickly). 

There's a good way to go in getting a propr handle on all of this - not least on the actual painting side of things. But, as they say, it's a good start.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Time flies

It is pretty much six months since I last posted. Six whole months.

I must have been busy, and on balance I suppose I have. There was a wedding, which came with some fairly frantic preparations, more than a little (probably more than was necessary) worrying, and a bit of travelling. Then there has been work too. All of which has eaten into painting time.

And there has been the invitation to join the Iceni Botanical Society - hurrah! That was a while back, and since happily accepting, I have visited the group's summer exhibition in Wymondham (to say my first hellos), had to cancel what look liked a really interesting fungi painting workshop with Lucy T Smith (family wedding had priority), and attended the group AGM, where it was good to really put some faces to names and get a better feel for how the society works.

And recently I've managed to re-claim a quiet space for painting.

The latest effort is a planned christmas card image - if I can get a decent one done in time - which also addresses my (self diagnosed) need to work extensively with green. As far as I can tell, understanding greens seems to be the main stumbling block for anyone with an interest in producing reasonable quality botanical painting.

Anyway, this is how far I've got.

It's a terrible photo, but you get the idea. While these studies are not exactly top notch, they do show promise I think - particularly as they tick all my required boxes just now...good practise with using green, a nicely prosaic subject, and an entirely fitting image for christmas cards from an infamously grinchy festive refuser such as myself. They could almost make christmas worth it for once.

The sprouts are starting to wilt, so I think I'll have to have them for tea tonight.

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...