Friday 27 July 2012

Surviving Baxteri species

I am currently working on a series of very exciting commissions. To date I have complered five of the 14 surviving Baxteri species found predominantly south west of Western Australia, around the Albany area. These plants were collected around 1828 and many of seeds were sent back to England.

Banksia baxteri
Leonie Norton
Above is one of the paintings I have completed, and I feel it is a great privilege to be able to do this work which is so wonderfully challenging, and so rewarding.

I have always admired the work of Ferdinand Bauer (1760-1826), a competent botanist and extraordinary botanical and natural history artist. He went on many voyages of discovery to illustrate new and exotic animal and plant species.

Sir Joseph Banks arranged for Bauer to accompany Matthew Flinders on the Investigator for the voyage to Australia 1801-1803. Plant dissections are a feature of his work.

I had the great fortune to actually see many of his original paintings at the Natural History Museum in London. The glowing vibrancy of the colours was astonishing and I was in total awe.

Agonis baxteri
Leonie Norton
I love the traditionalism of botanical art. Even though I like to paint unusual plants and often with a more contemporary interpretation, I also love returning to tradition.

After returning from Bali (I leave in a few days) I have another two Baxteri paintings to complete.

The passion never wanes....

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Process of Botanical Painting

Early mornings are my quiet time. I often see the sun rise and experience some wonderful sunrises, which I will share with you in the future. While the city sleeps, I begin my day by checking my emails and critiquing my External Students work. Luckily I am a morning person and I love what I do.

A friend emailed me a quote last night that says "time expands to fit in what has to be done." This is certainly true in my case, as I juggle about 3 or 4 projects at a time.

Today I want to take you on a journey through the creation of a botanical painting, and will use my Callistemon to demonstrate this. The final painting of this was in yesterday's post. It is all about the process.

1st wash. The subject is painted with a diluted wash (layer of colour). At this stage you can check to ensure the work is balanced tonally and spatially. Alterations can be made at this time.

2nd wash. Another layer of paint is appled to all areas, except the flowers. Many layers may be necessary to achieve the required colour intensity.

3rd wash. The shadows are added and more detail is applied.

4th wash. The flowers are added and more still more detail is applied. There must be colour harmony throughout the painting. There must be  balance in Tone, Space and Colour.

Detail. My love of botanical art is in the detail. Many contented hours are spent working on the final stages of a painting. 
I look forward to sharing more of my work and thoughts with you as we travel along this journey through art.

Today I am finishing off a magazine article for a publication called Artists' Back to Basics' where I am a regular contributor, and also completing an article for the Botanical Art Society of Australia's Newsletter. Will keep you posted as to when my articles are published.

There are another two articles awaiting publication for Australian Artist magazine. And last but not least, I would like to begin a new painting as I have several wonderful and exciting subjects I recently acquired, and they are begging to be painted!

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Bottlebrush Painting

Have finally finished my Callistemon (Bottlebrush) painting. After several months and many interruptions, this commission piece is finally finished. I was becoming quite embarrassed by the amount of time it took. It was for a special person so am now anxious to deliver it.

Calistemon - Bottlebrush July 2012

In my following posts I will show you the processes that went in to this painting.

Finally a little window of time (before I leave for Bali where I am taking a Sketching group) and want to begin a painting of my own.

My recent tutoring at Sturt Winter School in Mittagong produced some wonderful new specimens which I am anxious to begin.