Friday, August 3, 2018

Botanical Studies

I have just completed a coloured pencil study course online with Gaynor Dickeson. You can find her at Gaynor's Flora online.

I started out with the watercolour course and wanted to keep studying with her. I would recommend her course of study to whoever is interested in botanical art. She is a wonderful tutor with a keen eye for detail and years of experience. She accompanies her detailed notes with wonderful videos of parts of the notes. Enough time is given in each of the modules to do the necessary assigments which are challenging. From line drawing, to perspective, to ink work, thumbnail sketches, composition ( my nemesis!)  and then to all the necessary colour information and techniques needed to complete a finished piece this was the most in depth online course I could ever have dreamed of.  The ink drawings were completed in her course and the garlic and pearl onion were part of her watercolour course.

I really did not want the course of study to end. If you look at Gaynor's work online you will see a delicacy and sensitivity in the paintings that is breathtaking. She is a detailed and thorough tutor.
The journey into botanical art started a few years ago and my bookshelves are now burgeoning with books that dive deeply into the subject. I wanted to learn botanical art to start to incorporate the paintings into my calligraphic work. To date, I really haven't completed that vision but I hope to. My calligraphic work has improved as I learn to control and utilize both coloured pencil and watercolour more carefully. My dear friend Brian Walker would always encourage me to continue these drawing and painting course. He would always tell me this is "all grist for the mill" and everything would work together to help inform and improve my calligraphic work. I will miss him so much as he passed away last month. I still hear his encouraging words when I work with pencil, pen, watercolour or ink.
My Dad and husband bought me a camera to photograph my subjects. There are so many skills to learn in this field! You can see my little bits of stick tack to prop up my harebells on a white piece of foam board. I also have little "helping hands" to help me isolate and photograph a subject.

A botanical artist has a huge skill set and I am only scratching the surface. I wanted to show you some of my photo studies as welll as the work from this module. Working from life is encouraged from the start and could prove challenging. I had to set up a little photo area where I could arrange the plant, photograph it with my camera and then my ipad. I found I needed to enlarge the images on the ipad to really study things and I am so slow with the process that the specimen would change and then die before I scratched the surface. I even took a white backdrop into the garden to photography my california poppies so I wouldn't need to cut them! As a former florist, you would think I would be ok with the life cycles of plants, but in the garden, I want the plants to flourish and bring on the honey bees!
Every field of study is a "rabbit hole adventure" for me. It opens ideas for more and more studies! Botanical art has started to open my eyes to the minute details of the natural word. I want to see things as deeply as I can and really understand what I am looking into. I appreciate the folds of a petal so much more than I ever did. I look like a lunatic in the produce section fo the grocery store as I inspect each fruit and vegetable for its potential to become a painting! But what an appreciation for the details! Years ago my Mom and I took a botanical course and I remember both of us feeling we could never do this type of drawing or painting as we held rulers and dividers up to an iris in front of us and then tried to mix colours to match it. I never thought I would try my hand at it again, but I am so happy I did. I am still in eager learning mode and enrolled in another botanical art course and vellum study course which I will post about in the future.
 If you are thinking of botanical studies, I would encourage you to pursue it. There is no time better than now.  If you are thinking of adding any area of study to your it! Don't continually put off things that are in your heart to do. Just find a way and put aside the time to invest in your own happiness.  I know online courses or in person studies are expensive and if you don't have the funds right now for that, try starting with a book and see what you  can dive into that way. No matter whay you choose, you  may or may not end up reaching the goal that you would like to reach, but you will enrinch your soul if that doesn't sound too strange! Do what you love! Love what you do.

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