Friday, August 28, 2015

The Learning Curve

I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen... (Frederick Franck) I am in my third week of a month long study in Butterfly drawing and painting. What a challenge. It has stretched me into an area beyond what I could have imagined. It is has changed how I take my walk in the morning. I look around at everything. Looking to see how the light reflects on leaves, trees and flowers. I stopped my walk to pick up a dead butterfly and successfuly rehydrated her and added her to my collection! I spent a morning chasing butterflies and bees and bright insects with my camera hoping to get a perfect image.
When I pick up a butterfly specimen, my eye tries to discern the underlying colours and I try to transfer those colours to a sketch book to test my painting. The learning curve is huge, but I am loving challenge. Vellum studies are next as I commit to this process for the next several months. My goal is to combine small, naturalistic spot illustrations in with my calligraphic work.Study images coming soon!!! I believe that all of these precise and technical skills will help all of my artwork in the future. I can sense an evolutionary stage in my work on the horizon and I am ready for it!


Joseph Chapman said...

Franck's quote is so true, and one of the reasons I think drawing is something everyone should do, especially those engaged in any flavor of visual art. If you can convey a French fry from plate to mouth without getting it stuck in your ear you have the mechanical dexterity needed to draw with a pencil. The challenge is seeing what's in front of you, and that's tougher than it sounds.

I was wondering whether you'd use your butterflies as integral parts of initials like Marie Angel or whether they'd flutter up the margins looking for a serif to light on like Chris Tomlin's in the St. John's Bible.

Are you planning to use gouache or watercolor for your vellum studies?

Heather Victoria Held said...

Great post Joseph...thank you!!!!! Marie Angel initials are in my mind as well as adding really naturalistic spot illustrations to my borders and margins. I am playing with a Ruskin quote at the moment and will work in an enchanted letter with a butterfly somehow! The vellum studies will all be in watercolor. Right now I am working on clouded yellow butterfly and trying to capture the makrings. This is a wonderful journey! Heather

Joseph Chapman said...

At one point I entertained a theory that a medium other than plain water would make watercolor more vellum-friendly. My problem is when I try and smooth out my inept light/dark transitions I, naturally, use more water and then the skin buckles in protest.

My first thoughts were to add a dab of (a) honey or (b) either glair or egg yolk, depending on color, just to firm up the paint a bit without wrecking the transparency. (Now that I think of it, maybe just bumping up the gum arabic slightly would have the same effect.) I never got beyond the early experimental stages, though.

I imagine you'll be using mostly dry brush for the butterflies anyway.

Happy journeys!

Heather Victoria Held said...

Thanks for this Joseph. I will be experimenting with a couple of being Gum Arabic. I will be using a dry brush technique as well. The other experiement will be switching from manuscript or calligraphy finished vellum to Kelmscott which may be a bit more receptive. Let's see what happens. Still trying to get some Kelmscott vellum.