And the winner is……

Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson
Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson

Well, the feather drawing has a home to go to.

I wrote out your names and put them into the GoodLuck Bowl (aka the old ice cream container!). If you look closely you can see your piece of paper there….right there… next to the other folded piece of paper….

The GoodLuck Bowl
The GoodLuck Bowl

Then the Fella, who does a wonderful impression of a Barrel Girl ūüėÄ pulled out the winning name

Anne Marie, from Denmark.

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A big thank you to everyone who left a comment. They were all very positive and heart warming, and told me that the name change was the right thing to do. This blogging world is an amazing place. A special mention to Meeks, who reblogged and Tweeted the post to give me more exposure. She is a fine author and her books are available on Amazon.

The sad news is that not everyone could win. ūüė¶ The good news is that you can buy a similar feather in my Etsy shop. But if you don’t feel like going through Etsy, have a chat to me here or via annebags@optusnet.com.au and we can sort it out.

Melaleuca tapestry

You know that I love to paint, but I am not sure if you know that I love fibres and textiles too. In fact I started my creative life after retirement form teaching making bags, often embellished with embroidery, beads and ribbons. That’s why my Etsy store is anne4bags, even though I no longer sell the bags.

I still get the urge to create with yarns. My latest series are tapestry pictures of the melaleucas from Flinders Island. Series is stretching it, because I have only finished one! However, the second has begun and I would like to do a third.

While one the Island I found some beautiful yarn from Fibreworks. When I returned home I ordered some more because it was just perfect for what I had in mind. It is Australian merino wool, smooth and even. The colours are hand dyed and are rich and slightly variegated. The slight variegation gives me the subtle changes that I was looking for. For the finished one I did use some other wools but I found the colours changed too abruptly. It made it harder to control the tone.

I have had wonderful service from Gill at Fireworks. If you want yarn for your next project, drop in; I highly recommend a visit to the site! How can you resist yarn like this? ūüôā

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Melaleucas

As you can see, I have been obsessed¬† fascinated with the melaleucas on Flinders Island. I have even learnt how to spell “melaleuca”. ūüôā You may know them as paperbarks, as their bark peels away like sheets of paper. I think this variety is a swamp paperbark.

I did many sketches when I was there, doing my Artist in Residency at Mountain Seas.

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Image copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

It is a move away from my detailed botanic work and I have enjoyed discovering how to capture the form in paint. Easy to do with pencil and graphite, as you can see in the gallery above; not so easy for me to do as soft watercolour washes.

I also loved the tangled undergrowth, using masking fluid to build up the depth. I will tell you my process in a future post.

I don’t think I have finished with the melaleucas yet, but I am conscious that I need to move onto other elements of my time there. At the moment I am playing with paintings of ¬†individual trees, using soluble graphite and negative spaces. My evening project is to work up a tapestry. Thanks to my friend Liz, who has given me lots of inspiration and advice. Again, I am just playing with this, thinking about what works and what doesn’t. I would love to get any feedback on anything you see here.

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Copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

Also, I have some other plans, secret plans for the moment, just in case I chicken out. I hope I won’t. My new motto is “Be brave and the rest will follow”, so wish me some courage!

It’s tea time!

I am so pleased that my Little Sketchbooks have been embraced by you. I have sent off some and they are winging their way around the globe. They have been sent to Wales and North Carolina, Northern Queensland and Melbourne, Washington and central Victoria. I am delighted to give people an opportunity to be creative, and follow their passions. It brings a smile to my face.

On a different art note……You may remember a page I showed you from my current sketchbook, a page of some teapots from my collection. If you don’t remember here it is again.

I really like the way this spreads across the page. It was a conscious composition.(Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
I really like the way this spreads across the page. It was a conscious composition.(Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)

Well, I received some very favourable comments about it. You are such a supportive group of friends, and I truly thank you for that. The delightful Alys from Gardening Nirvana made this comment

I fell in love with your teapot study. I’ve always loved teapots. Any chance of making those up into some art cards?

and that got me thinking. Not cards, but small studies on A5 paper. I have had great fun with the washes, and as watercolour is a continual learning experience, have learnt so much about water on paper and in brushes. I am also learning about leaving some of the paper unpainted, so that the white comes through as a highlight. The trick is to remember to leave it. I wouldn’t be the first watercolour painter to paint over the white area that had been reserved as a highlight. ūüôā

The first studies are of a little teapot I bought in Hong Kong many years ago. I loved the contrast between the smooth body and the knobbly bamboo-like handle. The knob on the lid reminds me of a little grub! It is the one on the right hand of the sketch. In real life it is a dark grey terracotta, so you can see that I have taken many liberties with the colour, both in the following paintings as well as in the sketchbook.

(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
Rosy pink teapot (Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)

The next ones are modelled on the blue and white pot in the middle of the sketchbook page. I may add some of the pattern in a future one. But, then again, maybe not! It was a present from my sister, as she knew that I love Asian inspired teapots. The different facets have given me interesting areas to play with.

(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
(Photo and art copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015)
Aubergine and gold tea pot (Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
Aubergine and gold tea pot (Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

If you click on any of the photos you will be taken to my Etsy store. Then you can look at the description and price. If you are interested in buying, you can go through the shop, or contact me directly: annebags@optusnet.com.au

It not all about the sketchbook

You would be forgiven for thinking that all I have been doing lately has been swanning about with my sketchbook. But no, I have been busy with other art works, including these gum leaves and nuts that I painted for a friend. She wanted them as a present for her mum. I love the curves and folds of dried gum leaves. The colours too are more interesting than green ones.

I have painted gum leaves before, but not with gum nuts. It was nice to have the extra challenge. The leaves below are for sale in my Etsy shop.

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Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015
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Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

 

Click on the image to follow the link to my shop. Or contact me directly.

By the way, don’t forget my offer to make you a little sketchbook of your own. A couple have already winged their way to different parts of the world. ūüôā

Coffee and cake — outdoor sketching

I am stepping out of my comfort zone and sketching in public. At this stage it is still discrete sketching. I am not up to sitting on the footpath madly sketching away! This was latte and cheesecake at the cafe that is not Brunetti’s in the Nova Cinema complex.

As I sat there, drawing in ink, I let the conversations around me drift in and out of my head. I did pick up on the waitress saying to me “That’s fantastic” as she whizzed by with a pile of dirty dishes. That made me feel good.

Drawing the cheesecake made me eat it more slowly!

The paint was added at home.

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Creating for someone else

As well as painting larger scale botanic art works, like the Cullen pallidum that was recently shown in the exhibition, I love to create smaller drawings and paintings. These are usually of things I am fascinated by, objects from the natural world. I have told you about my shells, some painted in watercolour, some in soluble graphite.

Usually I potter around with my materials, letting my creativity flow as much as possible. If I am happy, I will put them up for sale in my Etsy shop.

Sometimes though I am asked to create something specific and I love working on these commissions. I enjoy the challenge of creating an art work that meets the image in someone else’s mind. There may be a specific photo they would like me to use. They may like something already in the shop but with different colours. For the¬†latest commission my client had the frames so my images had to be a precise size.

I am usually quite relaxed about commissions, because I always make it clear that there is no obligation to buy. My image may not match up with the one in the client’s mind. That’s fine. I can pop it into¬†the shop, and it may appeal to someone else. However, it hasn’t happened often, because I try to keep them abreast of what I am doing, sending images of what I am creating. Also I like to give them options, and this gives me a chance to play with different effects. Like these bats.

I had never drawn bats before, but I was happy to try. I love gently working with graphite and that was my first choice. Then I thought about having a go with ink stippling — little ink dots that build up to create the tone. The customer couldn’t choose and bought both! I was especially delighted as he was a bat researcher ūüôā

Another customer asked me to create a drawing of a black cockatoo feather. Isn’t this just the most stunning feather?

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Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013

 

And another wanted a feather for a tattoo. I would love to know if she ever used it.

Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013
Art work and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013

As I mentioned, occasionally the person doesn’t buy. I was asked to create some watercolour oyster shells, like the ones already in my shop¬†, but bigger and with less purple. I don’t know why she didn’t buy them, but I am quite happy to have them in my shop. Someone else may just desire an oyster shell painting with a little less purple!

How to draw with a water-soluble pencil

A little while ago someone gave me a water-soluble pencil which then lingered in my pencil case. Until recently my work was more precise than this pencil would allow. I needed pencils that would give fine lines and not shift with water.

Now, having finished my big painting,¬†I am ready to create more fluid works, and the pencil is just perfect! [Yet another example of why you never throw anything out!] I have been playing with it, creating oyster shell drawings, and I want to share with you some of my thoughts. The best way for me is to show you “How to draw an oyster shell”.

Firstly, a little about the pencil and other tools.

It is a Derwent Graphitone 2B light. The B indicates that it is the range of pencils that  give a dense bold line. 2 is at one end of the scale, 8 is at the other creating the densest black lines and shadows. The other range of pencils is the H range. They are hard and excellent for fine lines and delicate tones.

The pencil is a stick of pure graphite held together with some sort of water-soluble binder. There is no wood around the graphite, although some brands to have wood. Instead the paper/plastic wrapper has sections that peel off as you need to sharpen further down the pencil. Neat! I am able to sharpen the Graphitone pencil to a reasonable point. I am saving the sharpenings because I want to play with them sometime, perhaps mixing them with water.

I have also discovered 2 of my watercolour paint brushes are excellent to use with it. The first is a rigger, a type of brush has long bristles that allow the paint to be dragged along in a smooth line. The other is a 6 mm square brush. I rarely use it for painting, but it was just perfect for this work. Its flat edge allowed me to either make a ragged line by using the flat top or drag the wash out from the line. Both brushes are sable and held the water for a good length of time.

So, to the drawing.

This was the shell I was using as my model.

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Can you see why I am captivated by oyster shells? The shape, the lines, the colours, the laminations, the way the shadows disappear. And you don’t have to be really precise to draw them.

My first lines are made on dry watercolour paper. They outline the shell and give me visual markers for other things I need to take note of. At this stage it is only a line drawing, but I am already looking for where lines meet and reappear, where the darks and lights are. They are important because they build the 3D impression. even the smallest sliver of reflected light will add to the realism.

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Then I begin to add in some of the darkest areas. I move around the painting, often leaving one part to work on another. I am only drawing in the broad, but my mind is taking in the detail as well, remembering places to come back to. All the time I am conscious about the marks I am making. They need to mean something, to add to the drawing and not just be meaningless scribbles. This photo also shows the pencil I am using.

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Now is a time to assess, to sit back to see what has been going on.

It is ready for some water. Sometimes I moved the brush along the line, to work the graphite into the paper. Sometimes I have dragged the graphite out from the line because I want to get some shadow in there while keeping the white edge. Thats the edge of the layer above, where it is catching the light. Sometimes there is enough graphite still on the brush to make a wash away from the line, hinting at the curve of the shell. I am still moving around the drawing, not working too long in one area.

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I also discovered that I can rub a wet brush onto the pencil and gather graphite that way. I use that as another form of wash. I keep going, making pencil lines then using either of the 2 brushes to move the graphite around. Making lines, breaking up the lines, adding graphite to deepen tone, adding water to move the graphite around. Playing!

You will notice that I hadn’t done anything to the end of the shell. It has a different texture, smoother with more tonal areas. That needed more water and less line work. The square brush was great for here too. I used it to dab more graphite into washes.

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It seemed to be getting close to the finish. I added the shadows at the side. Here I noticed a few things. Firstly, the darkest part of the shadow was right under the shell, but it wasn’t a continuous line.¬†The side of the shell, while in shadow, was not uniformly dark. The layers of the shell created layers of light and shadow. And there is reflected light in there too.

I wanted to keep that reflected light right at the bottom of the shell, but I wasn’t happy with that end. It was too square and just looked wrong. I couldn’t do anything much about the shape, as that was a fault of the original drawing. [Maybe if I had begun work on it earlier I could have changed it in some way….] However, I could break up the lines and add more complexity to the wash area.

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So this is the finished work. I did add some finer lines with a 2H pencil. You can see them at the edge of some of the tonal work, hinting at a layer of shell.

What do I think? I am very happy with it. It was fun to do. While I love botanic drawing and painting I have enjoyed allowing myself to play. And of course it is through play that we learn. I know so much more about the water-soluble pencil. I know that I really liked using it, but I know that it has limitations.

As for oyster shells…..I know that I love them and will continue to be fascinated by them for a number of drawings to come! And then I will explore muscle shells ūüôā

[The drawing is available for sale in my Etsy store. Click here to have a look. If you would like to buy it, or any of my other works, but don’t want to go through Etsy, contact me directly.]

What fun!

This might¬†will sound rather nerdy, but I love exploring new things to do on this blog. I recently found out that I could make galleries of photos. Has that always been available and I had never noticed, or is it a new feature? What else don’t I know? (Don’t answer that one ~ you will be here for ever!) I have often looked in awe at the way you clever bloggers arranged your¬†photos, wondering how you¬†did it. Now I know some of your¬†secrets, the main one being to look at my¬†editing pages a little more closely! ūüôā

So, I have updated my gallery page. Drum roll for the unveiling…….

My gallery of my work!

Almost Just Joey ~ Workshop Day 3

Last days of a class that you have enjoyed is often tinged of regret. This last day of the workshop was no different, and I was determined to make the most of my time.

Just to recap, on Day 1 Helen Burrows worked us through tone, grey scale and mixing neutral tints, while Day 2 was about colour bias and other colour theory. There was a rose painting thrown in.

Day 3 was the time to tie it all together.

I chose a Just Joey rose. It was open and flouncy, with lots of beautiful curves and folds. There were strong highlights and delicious glowing depths. Just what a rose should be. By the way, whenever possible botanic artists work from the real thing, not photos. Therefore it helps to have a good supply, or paint things that don’t change much, like feathers and knobs of garlic! It also means that, before we start, we try to get as much information about our specimen as possible. Line drawings, tonal maps, colour swatches all help.

First step was the line drawing. This was much easier than the bud I attempted on Day 2. I am not sure why. More understanding of the shape? My eye was “in”? A fluke? Probably the last!

While I was drawing I was taking mental notes about the colours and the hues (which I think are tones with colour). I was also looking for the little details that make the drawing real ~ which line goes under, which go over, what happens at the end the curl of the petal and so on.

Then to the colour mixing and creating hue scales. A hue scale is like a colour swatch from the paint store. It helps to understand the range of that colour (hue), from the darkest of pure pigment to the lightest of washes.

I have admitted before that colour doesn’t always come easily to me. Part of my problem is that I am lazy, believing that close enough will be good enough. So while I did some hue scales, I could have done more.¬†Consequently the colour I ended up using with was not accurate. So my painting of the beautiful Just Joey rose is also not accurate. To defend myself a little, I was conscious of time passing…..and the exercise was to see highlights and shadows.

My hue scales (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
My hue scales (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

Hmmm. Could do better. The pencil letters are the paints that I mixed in order to get the colours ~ Quinacrodome Red, Quinacrodome Gold and Windsor Yellow Deep, ¬†If I don’t record them, I easily forget.

On to the painting? Not quite yet. Next step is to create a tonal map/drawing of the rose. It is easy to skip this step, but I like it. Not only because I love seeing tone, but because it gives me vital information about the plant I am drawing. Then, when it goes to the compost, I have can still paint with reasonable accuracy. However, I have always done these as separate drawings. Helen’s suggestion was to do it on tracing paper, over the top of the line drawing. This is a great idea. The tonal work matches the line drawing

Tonal map (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
Tonal map, created on tracing paper (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

Now on to the painting. Following those beautiful curves. Making the depths of the rose glow. Finding the nuances of tone. Understanding that on the rose there are 2 different sorts of shadows. There are the cast shadows, those made by another petal blocking the light. On my rose they were soft blue grey. Then there is the darker tone created by the light shining through the petals. These were the areas that glowed. And remembering not to get caught up in the detail of each area too soon. This was to be a first wash.

Line drawing with the paint, in progress. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
Line drawing with the paint, in progress. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

I only had time that day to get it to the stage shown above. Time was up, for both the workshop and the specimen! I was confident that I had enough information to be able to finish it at home. Not altogether the case, however. I wasn’t sure what was happening with the petals at the top left. I knew that the light was strongest on them, so I hoped that I would only need to suggest shape and hue. If the painting reads well (ie convinces us that this really is a rose) then our brains fill in the rest.

The next photo shows the tonal drawing, done on tracing paper, over the top of the work in progress. You can see how the tonal drawing helps to determine where the darks should be.

Line, washes and tone. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
Line, washes and tone. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

And finally, the finished painting!

The finished rose -- almost Just Joey! (Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
The finished rose — almost Just Joey! (Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

I am very please with the painting, especially as an early attempt at a rose. (It is available for sale in my Etsy shop. Either follow this link, or click on the photo.) Maybe now I am enough of a Grown Up Painter to do more roses!