Friday, 18 December 2015

Oh Happy Day! New books!

I have to start with what happened yesterday - I finally received my self-Christmas-gift! Around three weeks ago I ordered "Botanical Sketchbook" by Mary Ann Scott with Margaret Stevens. A book is always a great gift. I was waiting for this particular book very impatiently, because I was very, very curious what is inside. And it totally blew me away! Can you imagine that I spent the whole day until 2 a.m. at night, not drinking, not eating, with an English-Polish dictionary next to me, reading this book?! And I read it from cover to cover! 

This is what we read on the back cover:
This is the story of Mary Ann Scott's development from enthusiastic amateur painter to supremely accomplished botanical artist, told through the paintings she produced for the Distance Learning Diploma Course run by the Society of Botanical Artists. Featuring work from every assignment she undertook, it offers a first hand account of the joys and challenges she faced as she progressed. Packed with practical advice, Botanical Sketchbook will serve as a guide and inspiration to anyone wanting to embark on life as a botanical artist."
It describes this book very well and I must add that it is just a must-have for everyone who is interested in botanical painting. I was fascinated not only by the detailed description of the whole Mary Ann Scott's journey through every assignment (I've found out how the Distance Learning Diploma Course works), but also by those just absolutely amazing paintings inside the book. I especially love all the pages from the sketchbook, all those color swatches with handwritten comments, which were a true pleasure to read. On the front cover there is a subtitle "A guide and inspiration for any botanical artist". This book is one of the most inspiring books I have, honestly. I was just hypnotized by every single page and I can truly recommend this book to everyone who hasn't got it yet. Satisfaction guaranteed! Here is a quick flick through:

This is not the end. Today we've had a small Chrismas Eve with my friends before we go to our hometowns for Christmas. And guess what... I was given another book! Billy Showell's "Watercolour fruit & vegetable portraits"! I'm in a half way of reading it now, but I just had to write this blogpost, because I'm so excited. Two wonderful books. I have previous books of Billy Showell. The only book about botanical painting in Poland (!) translated into Polish (!) is Billy Showell's "A-Z of Flower Portraits". This was my first ever book concerning botanical painting and I think Billy's style of painting has influenced me the most. Since then I started collecting other botanical painting related books, of course from abroad as we don't have any here. I have all three Billy's books now (and I'm already waiting for the new one which will be published in 2016, I can't wait).

Now, I have never painted any vegetable nor fruit. But again, Billy's book, as all of her books, is so inspiring, it has so many fantastic paintings inside, so many tips, techniques, explenations, that I just fell the urge to pick up my brush and paint a tomato from my fridge. All Billy's books are excellent, they are truly informative and I always recommend them to everyone who wants to start painting. Here is a quick flick through:

It's a real pity that all those wonderful books are not translated into Polish. But eventually, with a litlle help of the dictionary, I can read English versions. Maybe one day, if botanical painting will be more popular here, there will be a possibility to translate them and someone will publish them. As for now my little library of books about botanical painting is getting bigger:

I'm absolutely fascinated by botanical painting and I love books about it. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Big Brother lily - first washes

I've started my next painting with this big wonderful Big Broher lily. I've applied first washes on the buds of the lily. On one of the buds, the one on the right side, there is a butterfly. I don't know yet if I will paint it as a next step or I will leave it for later. Probably the second option is better, because on my palettes I have mixes of colors which I'm using to paint the lilies. I would like to keep them for other parts too.
It is always very surprising for me how many colors there are on, you might think, such a simple object. My buds are full of colors. I used yellow, greens, blues, pinks, violets and even Cobalt Turquoise Light (PG50) - the color that I bought but was not even sure that I would ever use it. And here it was very helpful (actually I'm using this color much often I would think).
Here are the three photos from the process. On the first one you can see the magnifying glass. I was using it to paint the details but I must say that it was not comfortable because the size of it is too small for me and the frame of it was quite annoying. I was able to see only a small area and I was focused on it but I like to see the whole part, because this way I can make better adjustments. Even so, I think that a magnifying glass is very helpful, especially that my sight is not really good. Instead of putting my nose very close to the paper I can sit straight and still see everything clearly. OK, I'm rumbilng. Here are the photos:

Friday, 11 December 2015

Big Brother lily and the Old World swallowtail butterfly

I'm preparing to my next painting. This time I've chosen the Big Brother lily and the Old World swallowtail butterfly. They both are so interesting!
I spotted the Big Brother lily (actually Lilium hybridum Big Brother Oriental Trumpet) last year when I was walking around with my camera to capture the beauty of the flowers near my parents home. I was just rooted to the spot when I saw this flower. It was huge, the flowers were the biggest lily flowers I had ever seen before. Moreover, I could smell it from a distance and I actually found her by following her fragrance. I took several dozen photos of it. Here is how it looked like:

I still remember how fascinated I was by it's beauty. At that time I just new that I would paint it one day. And here is the time.
I've read that this lily can get very tall (up to 2 meters), with blooms up to 35 cm in diameter. I think the one that I spotted was about 1,5 meters tall.
I'm still thinking which colors should I use for the petals. They are not really white, they have lemon yellow centres, but the petals have light-butter-like color. The colors will be challenging in this one, that's for sure.

I decided to place this flower in the center of the page with about 15 cm of stem with the leaves. On one leaf I want to paint a caterpillar of the Old World swallowtail butterfly and the adult butterfly on one of the buds. The butterfly is also known as the common yellow swallowtail or simply the swallowtail. That's interesting because in Poland (where it's very popular, like in most countries in Europe) it's called paź królowej, which in English literally means the queen's pageboy. Wikipedia also says that it's considered to be one of the most beautiful insects, which has become valuable prize for collectors.
Here is my initial ink sketch. Now I have to transfer it to watercolor paper and I'll be ready to pait. I can't wait! :)

Monday, 7 December 2015

Iris - video tutorial

A couple of days ago I painted this iris. I made a video tutorial how to paint it and it was the reason why I didn't paint as many details as I would normally paint. But I think it still can be categorised as botanical style. So, if you would like to see how I was painting it maybe give it a go, just check out the videos below.

Iris. Finished version.

The Great Mormon and Orchid Tree - finished

It was a long journey. But so pleasant! This is my second painting done for the Museums at Night 2016. I was asked to paint illustrations referring to Maria Sibylla Meriam's artworks. They will be exibited in May 2016. I hope I will have managed to paint five paintings by the time.

Scanned version.

Here are the photos from previous stages and the close-ups.

It was fascinating to learn more about the cycle of life of the Great Mormon. The caterpillar looks amazing.
Notice the way the chrysalis is hanging on the twig. It uses very very thin hair-like strand (I don't know how to name it).