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anne4bags Botanic Art My art work

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? 🙂

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My art work

Melaleucas and negative spaces

No surprises to know that there is another series of melaleucas. I created these with soluble graphite and ink. I have shown you how to draw with soluble graphite, when I was drawing oyster shells.

This time I wanted the drama of the black and white, with the details being added in with ink.

Part of the enjoyment in creating these was using the negative spaces between the branches. Negative space is the shape created between images in the art work and are an important compositional tool. Thinking about how two objects relate to each other on the page is thinking about negative space, the space between them.

In these drawings the background was the important beginning. The shapes of the trunk, branches and canopy were created out of the background. In essence the lines that I drew to create them were really the line on the background rather than the object (the trunk, branch etc.). I incorporated that line into the scribble of the background and smoothed it out when I added the water. They were quite stark, black and white drawings before I added in the ink details.

Seeing negative spaces also helps to reduce the complexity of an object. If you look closely at the underside of the melaleuca canopies you can see how I have inked in the darker areas between the little branches. Because I have observed these canopies and because I understand tone I know what spaces to create to make the branches come forward. Sometimes too there is just the hint of a branch, built up by the negative spaces.

Another advantage of drawing the negative spaces is that it quietens your brain. We have all had the experience of drawing something only to have our inner critic, the left side of our brain, say “That doesn’t look like an eye/elephant/apple [add in your own object].” That’s the point when many people give up drawing, believing that they can’t do it. Their dominant, rational, left side of the brain has taken over.

Negative spaces are abstract shapes, shapes that the left side of the brain doesn’t recognise as anything in particular. Drawing abstracts quietens the left down and allows the right, creative side to come to play. Instead of drawing an elephant trunk draw the abstract shapes around the trunk, mouth and tusk. It may not be perfect, but you have given yourself time to work out if you are enjoying what you are doing.

Happy drawing!

[These drawings are all available in my Etsy shop. Three or four of them would make a stunning series. Click here to go to see them in the shop and find out more details. Would like some but don’t want to go through Etsy? Contact me in the comments or at

annebags@optusnet.com.au

We can work it out!]

Categories
My art work

Melaleucas

As you can see, I have been obsessed  fascinated with the melaleucas on Flinders Island. I have even learnt how to spell “melaleuca”. 🙂 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!