solo exhibition, the Old Auction House Gallery

Painting for sale!

Anne Lawson Art

My exhibition at the Old Auction House has finished. Many of you were unable to make it, so I would like to offer you the opportunity to have a closer look at the individual pieces. This is the first one, and it is for sale.

$150.00

Watercolour

Paper size: 26 x 36 cm, A3

Paper: Arches watercolour paper

I used a slightly glittery paint on the tops fo the tree. You can see it a little in the photos.

Tree painting from Anne Lawson Art

Anne Lawson Art

Anne Lawson Art

If you are interested in knowing more, contact me:

  • In the comments
  • via my contact page
  • email me     annebags@optusnet.com.au

I happily ship internationally and shipping is free.

Cheers!

 

Colour mixing videos

I have been thinking about colour mixing lately. I am trying to be more systematic with it, because my nature is quite slap dash. That’s close enough, I’m going with my gut instinct (i.e. being lazy!) ~ they’re the phrases that go through my head.

Then I read Jane Blundell’s blog and see all the fantastic experiments she does with so many different brands of paints, and I want to be systematic like her! I looked at Shevaun Doherty’s Instagram post where she identified a huge range of colours in her divine lavender, and I want to see colours like she does! But I know I never will be like that.

However, I can try to understand colour, and I can be far more systematic in thinking about colour before I start to paint.

Colour is a very interesting, but complex topic. There are many things to think about and it would be easy, for someone else 🙂 to overthink it. Overthinking colour is not my problem! (See the first paragraph.) YouTube is over endowed with videos about the colour wheel, how to mix colours, instructional videos and so on. However, I recently found Robert Gamblin’s videos. He is an oil painter and has a company that produces oil paints in America.

His series of videos that have really helped me understand the colour wheel because his colour wheel is 3D, instead of the usual 2D ones. That allows him to explain tones, hues, chromatic intensity etc while demonstrating it visually on his wheel. He calls it “Navigating colour space”. He also uses his 3D model to explain why the palettes of the Old Masters (Rembrandt etc), the Impressionists (Monet, Renoir etc) and modern painters are so different. Worth a look if you are interested in understanding more about colour.

There are three videos to be watched in order.

What did you think of the videos? Do you have any recommendations for me to watch or websites that are useful?

The finished teapots

I liked the way these two pots have turned out. Putting the time into the drawing certainly helped.

Both are available in my Etsy shop AnneLawsonArt. For more details of the green one click here

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Jade green teapot (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2016)

and for details of the gold one click here

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A pink one and a blue one are in the pipeline.

Time to sit back and watch some videos

I have been up on my soap box a bit lately….so today I am stepping off it to let some videos do the talking. In my last post I showed you a few images from John Wolseley’s exhibition at the NGV; today I am posting some videos of him, to show you bigger images of his work. In the first he shows the magic that can happen when art and science meet. It also refers to bird migration, which connects back to my last post about the short-tailed shearwaters.

The next video is an interview on Radio National’s Books and Writing programme.  Wolseley is interviewed by Michael Cathcart, and it shows a number of the paintings from the exhibition.

So, for those of you who can’t make it to Melbourne to see his works, I hope you enjoy these glimpses..

Using masking fluid

Image copyright: Anne Lawson 2015
Image copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

Before I show how I used masking fluid on the understory of my melaleuca painting, I need to explain two things to those of you who don’t use watercolours.

Firstly, the delight of watercolour is its transparency. Light is able to travel through the paint and bounce back off the paper. So, if you put down two layers of colour the first will add to the colour of the second. In the photo you can see the colours in the undergrowth, created by about three layers of watercolour washes. My limited understanding of oil and acrylic paints is that the second layer will cover the first. [Handy if you make a mistake!]

Secondly, masking fluid is a rubberised medium that you use to cover areas you want to protect. The highlight in watercolour is usually the white of the paper, so an artist may paint on masking fluid to protect the white paper. I put it on with a nib pen, but you could use an old brush. Once it is dry you can then paint over the area, knowing that it is protected by the masking fluid. It is easily rubbed off, with no damage to the paper and no oily residue..

I don’t use masking to preserve the highlights, although it is really useful for little slivers of light. I use it more to help me build up layers. I first used it when I was doing a lot of bird nests. I wanted to have method that allowed me to get the depth of the nest while still showing the strands of grasses. These photos show a bird nest painting in progress and you can see how I have used masking fluid to create the fine lines of the grasses.

The understory of the melaleucas is a dark, dense jumble of skinny trunks. I wanted to show this, but to also show it as a space that could be moved through. However I also wanted the contrast between the stark white trunks of the front trees and the more muted ones in the undergrowth. Masking fluid was the way to go. It requires a little bit of planning and understanding of tone.

The first wash was the lightest one, but while the paper was damp I added in splodges of other colours, starting to build up the depth of the understory. Once that was dry I used the nib pen to add masking fluid lines for the trunks of the trees that were closer to the edge of the grove, closer to the light.

Then I put on another wash, going right over the masking fluid, know that those areas were protected. The wash was not a smooth, even one, rather I moved the colour around, adding more in some parts, less in others. As with the first one there were dashes of darker and lighter colours.

This is the sneaky, happy part. The second layer has darkened the area a little more. Adding masking fluid over this created trunks that were slightly darker than the ones created with the first wash.

A third wash and more masking fluid and the darkest trunks of all. A final wash over the top. However, the number of washes is really dependent on the depth and effect you are after.

After the last wash the paper looking like this. The yellow lines are the masking fluid.

Close up of the use of masking fluid
Close up of the use of masking fluid

The masking fluid is very close to the colour of the paper, and this makes it hard to see where you have put it. Fortunately it is shiny!

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As you can imagine, it is a rather serendipitous process — I am never quite sure of what the end product will be! It is fun to rub it off  to see how the painting turned out. I rub with my [clean] finger. That gives me a good feel for any that might have not come off. This is important because, naturally, bits left will continue to do the job and not take any paint.

Then there is touching up to do. Masking fluid leaves a hard white edge that looks artificial and usually needs softening. This caused by the wet watercolour running up against the hard edge of the masking fluid, leaving a slight line. Also, I had to refine the darks and lights in the undergrowth, making some parts recede further.

The process was a good one, and allowed me to create a complex scene. However I felt that the undergrowth was too dense — too many trunks = too much masking fluid. I used the same process on a second one, this time with a lighter touch in the undergrowth and on the canopy. I am happier with this one, but it will not surprise you to know that I am still playing around with melaleucas, still hoping to create the perfect one!

Image copyright: Anne Lawson 2015
Image copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

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. 🙂

The Art of Botanical Illustration 2014

Unfortunately the Art of Botanical Illustration Exhibition, organised by the friends of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne, is finished. Also, again unfortunately, I have no photos to show you. Photography was not allowed. Even if it was I would not show photos of the works of others without their permission. They are not mine to show. However follow this link to the Friends website to see the digital catalogue. Other links through the post will take you to menu of the catalogue and from there you can select the name of the artist I am referring to.

Botanic art is not still life or floral art [perfectly valid art forms], but rather a scientific depiction of a plant. That sounds rather dry until you recognise that there is a spectrum, from the pure scientific drawings that you would see in an encyclopaedia of plants, drawings that have to be accurate to exact length of the hairs on the stem, through to paintings that might be ‘portraits’ of the plant, almost floral art. Within that range there is scope for all sorts of works.

There were paintings in the exhibition that some might have been taken aback to see — orange segments, single autumn leaves, walnuts and seaweed. For me, each work displayed showed the amazing diversity, complexity and fragility of the our world.

It is the artist’s job to tell the story of the plant, flowers and seed, habit and form; to convey the complexity of the plant. We have to make artistic decisions about how to do that. What medium is best suited to the plant? What composition will tell the story best? I am always amazed at the quality of the works in exhibitions, and feel lucky to be able to learn from these wonderful artists.

Watercolour is the traditional medium for botanic artists. It has a transparency that allows the light to shine through. If you get it right it is perfect for plants like roses and poppies or plants that have very fine detail. Jennifer Wilkinson‘s Iceland poppy shows how subtle and delicate watercolour can be.

A number of artists chose other mediums because they were better suited to their plant. Have a look at Simon Deere‘s wonderful, controlled works in graphite [pencil]. Other artists, like Sandra Johnston, selected coloured pencils. The bark on Sandra’s eucalyptus work is amazing. For others the best solution was a mix of media. Two of my favourites used watercolour and graphite.

Joanna Hyunsuk Kim exhibited a couple of Strelizias, and both were gorgeous. However it was the S. nicolai that demanded that I stop and look. It was a dried flower head. The detail of the husk was captured beautifully in graphite, while the petals were watercolour. What really made it for me were the seeds. They had been painted in bright orange and popped off the page when compared to the muted tones of the rest.

Another perfect mix of media was Anne HayesBanksia serrata. The image on the website is lovely, but it doesn’t show the texture of the original. If you have ever touched the leaves of a banksia you will know that they have an interesting combination of a fuzzy surface with tough, prickly structure. Anne has captured that beautifully. And the control of the pattern of the seed head……oh my.

I was also taking note of composition, looking to see how others tell the story of the plant. I was lucky that on my plant, Cullen palladium,  the seeds, mature flowers and buds are all on the one spray. Other specimens are not so accommodating!

Fiona McKinnon solved the problem by having the different stages of the plant on different stalks that intertwined over the page. Kate Nolan’s composition for her Spinifex sericeus combined a couple of strand of the plant. This was another wonderful example of mixing media. Who knew that the humble beach grass could be so ethereal?

These are just a small number of the works. If you saw the exhibition, I hoped you liked it. Tell us, in the comments, which was your favourite. If you missed it, there will be another in two years, with another stunning selection of delights for you.

 

Why are limpet shells so frustrating?

You know that I have been enjoying painting shells lately. You watched me draw oyster shells and I have raved on about other paintings I have done. So I found some limpet shells on the beach at Apollo Bay and was fascinated by their texture. Their tops are worn smooth and pearlescent while their sides are ridged and lined and multi-coloured.

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I played around with watercolour pencils and created some smaller studies. They worked well, and went into my Etsy shop. If I am not happy with one of my works, I won’t put it up for sale.

I wanted to play with painting larger, A4 works, and I thought that I knew how to create one with watercolour pencils. I found out that I didn’t know after all!

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There is always a time in a painting where I feel that it is just not working; that time when I feel like throwing a little tantie on the floor, kicking and screaming. In most cases I work through and find that things suddenly come together, and the painting is how I thought it would be. This was not one of those cases. So I left it and started to work on a watercolour version. Can you guess what the result of that one was?

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Yep, another one that I wasn’t happy with. 😉

Now I am pondering why. I think there are three issues, but I would love to know what you think. (And in answer to my question in the title — in all fairness, the limpet shell is blameless. The frustration is all my own!)

  1. In both cases I lost the highlights. I loved the smaller ones because they were fresh and light. It is the white of the paper that gives watercolour life. Enlarging the shell encouraged me to add more pencil or paint to the ridges, covering the paper with colour. Can you see the second browny ridge from the left in the photo above? That’s the part of the painting that I like, because the white of the paper shows through. That’s how the rest should be.
  2. The follow on from that is if there are fewer highlights, there are fewer deep darks too. I was working in the mid-tone range too much. Nothing was jumping out, zinging.
  3. I went onto the detail too early. My artisitc default position is to go straight to the detail. I am always reminding myself to go from broad to fine, but I guess I just wasn’t listening. 😉 Then I tried to fix things by adding in details.

What do you think? I would love constructive feedback in the comments.

As for the next….well, I can do this, and I want to succeed. So my next painting is going to be a different limpet shell, one with less colour variation, probably in watercolour. I will let you know how I go!

[Remember, if you like something in my Etsy shop, you can buy it directly through me. Just let me know via this blog or annebags@optusnet.com.au]

 

 

On to the next thing

Life has been very busy lately.

Not only have I organised my painting for the Exhibition , but I have been organising another exhibition.

You will remember that I am a member of a group of botanical artists who, each year, go up to the small town of Menindee in the arid outback of New South Wales. We go there to collect and paint the plants that Dr Hermann Beckler collected while he was at the supply camp of the Burke and Wills Expedition. You can read more about it here, and you might like to visit our blog becklersbotanicals.blogspot.com

(My Cullen pallidum painting, that I have been raving telling you about in recent posts, was part of that project. But this is a different exhibition.)

The project a fascinating meeting of history, art and science. We have always intended to have an exhibition of our work and this one is a smaller version, a practice run! It is being held up at Menindee. There is a little gallery in the Information Centre and our 30 works should fit in very nicely. We decided to exhibit prints of our originals, which we are donating to the community at the end of the exhibition. They will be there for people to use as they need.

I have had fun doing the work, but it has been a steep learning curve! Fortunately John, the curator up at the gallery, has been holding my hand via emails and phone calls.

For example I had to put together the plant names for the catalogue. Unfortunately it is not enough to just say “daisy” or “saltbush”. The scientific names are needed. Boy, are some of those Latin spellings tricky! Also, botanic convention means that there is a precise way of writing them, italicised in the right way, commas at the right place, capitals and non-capitals, etc.

I have also been talking to media people in Broken Hill, the biggest town in the area. I am not good at ringing up people, especially people I don’t know. Emails, texts, even blogs, no worries; phone calls make me quite anxious. But I did it, and found lovely helpful people at the other end, just like I knew I would.

So, just incase you should happen to be passing through Menindee in September and October drop into the exhibition. If you are in Broken Hill or Mildura, make a detour. And if you can’t be there in person check out our Beckler Blog or wait for me to post some photos here. The details, for those of you lucky enough to be up in that marvellous part of the world, are

BECKLER’S BOTANICAL BOUNTY EXHIBITION
 
Monday 22nd September to Sunday 12th October 2014 (inclusive)
 
Darling River Art Gallery
Menindee Visitor Information Centre
49 Yartla St Menindee
 
Open daily, 10 am to 2 pm

I will leave you with some photos of us collecting and painting over the last few years.

 

Tomorrow is the big day, but Wednesday will be even bigger!

Tomorrow is the day that I have to drop my painting of Cullen pallidum off to be part of the selection process for the Art of Botanical Illustration, hosted by the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. Their standard, both botanical and artistic is very high, so selection is not guaranteed.

Some of the criteria are:

  • accurately represent the form and the botanical characteristics of the chosen subject
  • adequately convey the characteristics of the species or variety and ensure that the subject is representative of the species
  • the painting should be well composed, well executed and artistically effective.

Now it is all done. The painting is finished, I have had a professional scan done of it and have organised a mount and foam core backing. It is protected by plastic…..and ready.

So think of me tomorrow morning, taking that big deep breath when I drop off the painting. And an even bigger, deeper breath on Wednesday when I go to pick the painting up!