Stay tuned for more images of this little skull. Susan is currently working on a watercolour of it from a different angle altogether.
Leaves and Grapevine
This painting is a perfect example of how important "negative spaces" are to a composition... those shapes in a drawing or painting that are created by what isn't there. That little white flame shape at the centre of the leaf is such an intrinsic part of what makes this painting so satisfying. Use your finger to block it out and you'll see what I mean.
Fabienne's luminous apple, a MacIntosh, was painted in the fall but I've fallen way behind in posting... so here it is at last!
She was happy with everything about this painting, especially the way it glows from within, but not the dark shadow on the right, only worth mentioning because it's a common frustration in the early stages. It's hard not to default to blues when mixing shadow colours. This can make for a darkness that looks like it's sitting on top of the colour of the object itself, in this case the red. What we want is for the red to still look red but darker...red with less light coming from within. It means deepening the mix without losing that red.
But words are words and paint is paint. I like how Laurie Anderson put it: "Talking about painting is like dancing about architecture."
I, too, like the luminosity of this painting and the subtle details she managed to show very successfully...the texture and markings on the skin and that little stem shadow that works perfectly without being too blue or too dark.
We'll come back to the subject of shadows again with Fabienne...she's on a mission now.
She worked so hard to depict the leaf texture in the first painting that everything else was forgotten until she stepped back and saw what was missing.
The second painting considered the whole in balance with the details, including volume, depth of colour and shadows while retaining the ridges in the leaves she worked so hard for previously.
The result is a strong, confident and complete painting.
It often takes more than one go to really see a subject and paint it well, but the results speak for themselves.
Lucie has only been drawing for less than a year and this is her first finished botanical painting.
For someone so new to art practice it is truly remarkable what she's been able to achieve in such a short time, expressing volume and subtlety of colour with such delicacy.
Fabienne's new painting of curling dried maple leaves showing both front and back in a delightful circular composition.
She told me that she painted the back of the leaf quite quickly and was much happier with the result, after having spent so many weeks on the front, struggling to get the curls and shadows right.
Sometimes things go better when you get out of your head and just trust yourself, your eyes and your brush.
Easier said than done!
As I've mentioned in previous posts, Meriel lost most of the sight in one of her eyes a few years ago. She loved the experience of painting so much that after an initial stage of discouragement, she adapted to a looser approach and hasn't looked back since.
For this painting I lent her my large watercolour block (12"x16") and off she went. She painted the flower head first, and came back a week later to add the leaves and stem. The resulting painting, a class favorite, is as light and airy as the flower supported by some dark, anchoring leaves.
She has since purchased a larger block of her own and is painting in her local community garden space. I'll be posting some of those in the near future.
Below are the pictures I took of it as it developed along with the final painting so you can see how it came into colour before it reached completion.
Buddha's Hand | Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis
Yes, it is a lemon! And a beautifully exotic flowering shrub. But when it fruits it looks a bit like an octopus tree. Painting it was a challenge and Pam's study got cut short as it decayed and she couldn't find a replacement. Still, she started getting a good amount of it's bumpy skin painted before the end came. And the colour...
"Though it looks like a lemon gone wild, the Buddha's hand is actually a distinct fruit in the citron family. It has a sweet, lemon blossom aroma and no juice or pulp. The mild-tasting pith is not bitter, so the fruit can be zested or used whole."
All three of KATHRYN MACDONALD'S submissions to the Art of the Plant were accepted! There is also a conference planned during the exhibition with guest instructors and speakers.
The show runs from May 10 - October 14th 2018 at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Stone Wall Gallery, Ottawa.
Big Leaf Maple | Acer macrophyllum
Douglas Fir | Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii
Kathryn has also been selling some prints of her paintings. She's in between lives right now so until she gets herself settled in her new home and sets up a web presence you can find out more about acquiring her artworks
by contacting her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Poplar Skeleton Leaf
Big Leaf Maple - Acer macrophyllum
Sadly for us Kathryn is packing up and moving back to Ontario this year. She will be based just outside Ottawa where she's already found a botanical painting group to hang out with. We miss you already...
This watery jewel is one of Meriel's summer paintings. She has a thing for shells...
It's already been 5 years that Meriel has been painting with us and in that time I've had the privilege of watching her develop her skills through some difficult changes. She had a bicycle accident a few years ago that broke her leg and took the sight from one of her eyes. Despite the frustrations that came with that she kept on painting, approaching her limitations with the mind of an explorer. When she was able to adjust to her new vision she embraced what became an opening for a new, more diffuse way of painting, surprising us all with the results.
All that she learned early on is still present in her new paintings along with a blossoming freedom of expression. She still manages to capture an incredible amount of detail, now more impressionistic and flowing, and a wonderful luminosity. She's been focusing on developing her understanding of colour by limiting her palette and exploring new ways of seeing.
I'm always amazed at Meriel's ability to take whatever life hands her, use it to learn something new and then bring it forward to share it with all of us.
of this little plant... a great start.
Nadia took my drawing class at Emily Carr years ago and wanted to take the painting class but got too busy with work. Already a graphic artist and illustrator, Nadia paints and draws and takes beautiful photographs.
A little window into Meriel's studio. She's been making her paintings on small cards that she then sends off to friends... it keeps her away from getting too hung up on perfection and remaining present in the process of painting itself.
Magnolia Skeleton Leaf
Time made this leaf this way, months outside in the winter rain and snow and sun.
Pam made this painting over the summer months, slowly and carefully recording every fine line and detail.
Time and patience and persistence, care and careful observation, time and the slowing down of the speed of life...
Yes, it really was this bright.
Elizabeth had a whole plant with many flowers, each of which started bright and vibrant but faded to a butter yellow before falling away too quickly. It was a bit frustrating having to switch from bloom to bloom in one painting but she got there in the end.
Here is the original drawing, wonderfully rendered in great detail. Both works retain a great sense of roundness and dimension.