Here is the very beginnings of color layering on the Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia). One important thing I have learned at SBAI is that color pencil drawings\paintings slowly—and I mean slowly— come into focus. After creating various color test swatches I start to lay down very light layers of color—blues, yellows, violets, and greens, and with every additional layer I begin to gradually sharpen the image. It takes patience, without worrying about how clunky the early image looks. Eventually I will switch to Verithins, which have much harder leads and much sharper points. I usually end the process with a 2H graphite pencil to really sharpen edges and deepen the darks. Slowly . . . I’ll follow up as I get further on down the road.


Still drawing

I’m getting close to finishing up preliminary drawings for my 2016 summer Burren wildflower series. Also getting ready this week for some faculty input to see where I stand on compositions, a critical stage in any botanical plate. As fond as I am of the drawing part of this, I’m beginning to think color—and the amount of color work to come! Yikes!

Anyway, clockwise from upper left: Devil’s-Bit Scabious; Oxeye Daisy; Rock Samphire (in progress); Maidenhair Spleenwort; and a redo of the famous Spring Gentian. They all are interesting stories, which I hope to tell in due time.

Burren orchids

One of the most interesting things about the Burren is the the fact that the landscape is so hospitable to orchids—many, many orchids. In August, they were plentiful if you knew where to look. Mainly the pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyrimidalis), which tended to snuggle up to limestone rocks in coastal meadows. I think the rocks provide a radiant heat source and protection from the constant winds. Anyway, they are a beast to draw! Here’s my initial attempt. They don’t normally grow in clusters, rather, I’d see solitary orchids every 10-20 feet, waving in the breeze. But each one is truly different and that’s what I want to portray. We’ll see how this one plays out.

Potions, Poisons, and Panaceas

Just attended the opening of the exhibit “Potions, poisons, and panaceas: Medicinal and pharmacological botanical illustrations” at the Art gallery at the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. It is a beautifully staged exhibit with a wonderful collection of botanical art. There was also a very interesting panel discussion on the role plants have played in medical history, and the role they play today.

That’s me with my Cannabis Sativa. Exhibit is up through November 10. If you are down there, by all means stop by. Well worth it!

Preliminary works

So, this is what I’ve been doing for the past week. Before memory fades, I’ve been trying to work out compositions in pencil for several of the plants I saw in the Burren in August. Using sketchbook drawings, photos, videos and memory, I am attempting to get it all on paper as quickly as possible. Above: Harebells; Sea bindweed; Mountain Avens; and the lovely Burnett rose. Very preliminary but it will give me something to build on as I move towards color. I still have a few to do— pyramidal orchids, Oxeye daisys, bog thistle, and a few more. I like this stage, where everything is still possible—working on tracing paper with a simple pencil. Next step, color swatches. Enough work to last through the end of the year for sure!