Wednesday 24 October 2012

The Complete A-Z of Botanical Art

In the current November 2012 issue, Australian Artist magazine has just published the first in a 3 Part series of my article The Complete A-Z of Botanical Art.

Everything you ever wanted to know about botanical art is contained in this comprehensive series. The explanations are easy to follow and concise, with many examples and visual demonstrations.

Part 1 is eight pages of information from A-Accuracy to H-Heavier Paper. See the November magazine cover and the first two pages in the article below.

To read the next six informative pages in the Australian Artists magazine, buy a copy at your local newsagent. You will not be disappointed.

Botanical art is such a meditative and toally relaxing form of art. It takes you into another place, and opens up a new world to you as you discover the magic of flowers and plants.

"I have learned...that what I have not drawn I have never really seen - and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realise how extraordinary it is - sheer miracle."
                                                                               Frederick Frank in "The Zen of Seeing"

If you are interested in learning how to draw and paint botanically, see information on my Botanical Art External Course, which can be done at your own pace, from the comfort of home. I have successfully taught people throughout Australia and worldwide.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Dryandra formosa

This is the scene I was greeted with early this morning. The sun bursting over a solid silhouette of the skyline. Sometimes I think it doesn't get much better than this. Early mornings are so peaceful and still.....

Finally! It has taken a while but I have finished my drawing of a Dryandra formosa in preparation for my next botanical painting. It was done between sorting paperwork that came out of the office, actually clearing out the office and keeping abreast of work committments.

Apologies for the quality of the images, but it was drawn directly on to 300gsm HP Arches watercolour paper with HB pencil. Due to the intricate nature of the work it would not have been feasible to complete a separate master drawing and transfer that.

I love the twists and turns, curves and arcs of the delicate leaves. I love the overall movement and chaotic growth of the leaves. The flowers grow at various angles from a slender branch.

I like to leave the initial drawing for a while so will look at it again in the morning to ensure I am happy with the balance and composition. Always view your work on a vertical surface and anything that is not right will jump out at you.

Not sure when I can begin the first washes, and from there I will probably work on it every day until finished, which should (all going well) be about 5-7 days. Life does tend to get in the way.

On Monday the removalist is taking away all the furniture in my office/studio and on Tuesday the builder is coming in to do the installation. More photos to post. I will naturally have to spend some time putting everything back in to the office but do not see that as a problem. I can put my hands on anything (except for 2 free movie tickets and a DJ gift voucher). I am sure I must have put them in a "safe" place that I would remember!

The genus Dryandra is a member of the Protea family of plants and is found only in Western Australia. Many authorities now include the Dryandra within an expanded Banksia genus  as they are closely related, although there is some opposition to this occurring.

Happy drawing and painting! And join me on the journey through the various stages of painting the Dryandra formosa.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Botanical Sketching

Having just finished publishing a sketchbook on Fiji, I thought I would share some of my botanical sketches with you. Again, these are quick sketches which capture the essence of the plants and other subjects.
Torch lily, hibiscus, leaves and coral
Butu seeds, an iridescent insect, crucifix orchid, a shell and coral

These studies are not all done at the one time. When I have some spare time I just sketch another one or two and add it to the page. There are so many exotic and colourful flowers around Daku Resort, or shells and coral found on the beach opposite the family owned resort, where I have spent a week and more every year since 2007 teaching both botanical art and holiday sketching. I am so fortunate to be able to travel and experience so many wonderful places and to share my knowledge with others.
Some hibiscus flowers and croton leaves, which all grown in abundance

I never tire of the beauty of the area around Savusavu on Vanua Levu, the second largest island of the Fiji group. It is definately a hidden paradise, with no commercialism, where the Fijians live as they always have and life plods along at a very relaxed pace. Visiting the small town of Savusavu is like stepping back in time.

More hibiscus flowers
Incredibly colourful heliconias and rare species of orchid are sourced from the resort and I bring in special plants from others gardens nearby and sometimes from the local villages. My painting groups produce some magnificent paintings.

Why not think about coming along on my next trip in June 2013. Perfect weather, perfect location. See and and view some photos from previous trips and learn a little more about Savusavu.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Sketchbooks & India Art Tour

I have been working on various projects lately, but it has taken a little longer as I have been unwell - pleased to report I am now back in my stride. Was up this morning at 5.30am finalising my India itinerary for next year and also editing my new sketchbook 'Fiji Sketches 2007-2012', which I am self publishing, but only for personal use at this stage. It is not a particularly cheap exercise.

Yaukolo Beach on Vanua Levu

I have taken 15 art tours to Daku Resort on the island of Vanua Levu, which is the second largest island in the Fijian group, and an absolute uncommerical hidden paradise. I consider my annual trips a pilgrimage and I look forward to each trip, where I not only take the group around to various locations to sketch, but I teach botanical art as well. There are so many amazing tropical plants around Savusavu and I source some extra rare plants from the gardens of a local ex-pat, as well as from the resort.

Above is the sketch of a bure at Daku, which is the family owned resort accommodation, and it is nestled beside the calm waters of Savusavu Bay. Just a walk across to the beach to enjoy kayaking, a swim or snorkelling. Add to that the incredible Fijian meals, the relaxing ambience and the perfect climate. Who wouldn't want to spend time here?

In between all that, I have completed a sketchbook on 'Bali Sketches 2009-2012'. Bali is another destination I never tire of. There is always something new to see and sketch, but I love the temples and in particular the Gunung Kawi 11th century temple, with its moss covered bricks, its colourful painted wooden decorations and sculptures.

A protector at Gunung Kawi Temple. Sketch on handmade paper

I am very excited about my holiday sketching art tour to India in November 2013 which is 'Sketching the Highlights of India'. This comprises 13 days travelling from Delhi in the north to Cochin in the south and experiencing and exploring the culture, the people and the country. Details of this trip and an itinerary can be found on my website

Luxury houseboat at Alleppey where the group spends a night aboard

A traditional Kathakali Dance performance
What can be better than to create a visual souvenir of your wonderful experiences?

I have finished the last painting in a series on botanical art commissions on Australian native plants, and it is now time for me to begin work of my own. I have an incredibly intricate and beautiful Dryandra that is begging to be painted. Not being well does not inspire motivation. So now I have my mojo back I am itching to begin this new work.

Yes, I have had to spend a few hours a day moving everything out of my office/studio, in anticipation of my new built-in office. I will be unstoppable then. I have two more weeks to prepare the room, or rather to have moved out my paperwork and art materials, computers etc and have all the current office furniture and desks removed and clean up before the installation. I can do it! For a while it seemed such an insurmountable task, but I kept picturing the finish result. At present everything I have moved out is now in the loungeroom.

I will post some pictures of this at a later date. You would think I was a hoarder if you saw how much I have kept in the office, but it is all necessary and all things I use on an almost daily basis. I have been very disciplined and thrown out things I havent used in years and not likely to use again. Isn't that when you are looking for that particular item that you no longer have?

More later.......