It all started when...
I applied to the RBGE Certificate Online Course and received a letter of acceptance!
I have to say that after applying to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in Scotland - Certificate Course back in February of 2017 and waiting until September to hear if I had been accepted, I was shocked!
And wouldn't you know that it couldn't come at a more crazy time in my life. It's not calm with not much to do like I would like it to be... As a matter of fact, it's so crazy that I actually considered saying, "No, I just can't do it right now."
But deep inside I felt God give me a nudge to trust Him in this too. So here I am posting my first thoughts about my almost four year botanical illustration journey that lies ahead of me provided I do well in this six month RBGE Certificate Course and then get accepted into the almost three and a half year RBGE Diploma Course... Ready, set - Here I go!
One more thing. Even though it's not the ideal time with all that's going on in my life right now, it really couldn't be better timing with my youngest child entering into homeschool 9th grade at the same time I begin this course - We just may be graduating together in four years - WOW!
Thank you for joining me on this journey. I will continue to post updates to my RBGE Course here - so please check in periodically to see what I'm up to.
October 9, 2017
Unit 1, Activity 1
October 12, 2017 - I have been spending my time learning the online classroom for the RBGE and introducing myself to my fellow classmates who come from all over the world. It's so exciting to be a part of such amazing opportunities on the internet! I can't wait to see what the next six months bring.
Today was our first opportunity to get started in our studies and it began in a way that all botanical illustration courses should begin - with graphite work. It is important that we become familiar with our tools and this first study is perfect to accomplish the familiarity of our graphites.
My favorites are the Faber-Castell 9000 Series which is what we were recommended to use for this course. We were to focus this first activity on the 3H, HB & 3B pencils, but could include others as well.
I have a total of 4 Activities in Unit 1, so I will be including them here as I complete each one. I hope you will join me on my journey to becoming a botanical illustrator through the RBGE.
October 26, 2017 - During this first Unit which lasted from October 9 through the 26th, we were given lots of time to do each of the four units. However, it also became the perfect time for our family to make a move! Yes, I'm talking about packing up all our belongings and moving them 45 minutes away. At least we weren't moving across the country :)
Before we began the move, I was able to complete my first two Activities - but I didn't have time to do any more than the assignment required. I took time to read and re-read the instructions so I knew exactly what was required of me and set to work.
These first four activities are not graded. They will however, be put into our growing portfolio to help make up our final grade at the end of the course.
Unit 1, Activity 2
The first activity focused on getting to know our graphites, but this second activity was fun because we moved into measuring a subject and I really love measuring! I decided to make it a little bit difficult by choosing and apple that leaned a bit to the right...
I had to set everything up just right so that my subject was at eye level and I could stretch out my arm to just in front of the apple for measuring. I could not move at all while measuring or it would change my perspective and mess up my drawing.
Next, I had to imagine there was a pane of glass right in front of my subject that I could not go through and had to measure everything with my ruler flat and straight up and down. When I squinted one eye, I got great measurements! I then used a 6B and an 8B to darken on the right and bottom of the apples. I found this gave a little more dimension to the apple.
Unit 1, Activity 3
Activity 3 was fun too and I chose an Ivy leaf, Hedera, growing on the side of my house to demonstrate. I know once my Hon- discovers it growing there it will come down quickly as it destroys the paint and wall - so here's a little memorial for it :) Look at those lovely veins!
In Activity 3, I listened to a video on the structure and various parts of the leaf and it was very interesting. One of my goals through this course is to learn each part of the plant so that I don't have to look them up all the time. Here's the assignment:
I spent a little time making a simple line drawing of the Hedera vine and labeling it, but the main focus of this activity was to enlarge our drawing. As you can see above on the right, I cut out a square 3cm x 3cm window in a stiff piece of paper and chose a portion of the Hedera leaf to focus on. Then I drew two boxes 2 times larger (6cm x 6cm) and drew out what I could see on the front and the back of the leaf, multiplying all of my measurements by 2.
This is a really cool activity, but it can get quite confusing if you are tired from moving! :) I will definitely be practicing this more.
unit 1, activity 4
In Activity 4 of Unit 1, I had to draw the general shape of a leaf with red for the left margin, green for the right margin and blue for the central vein. I then cut it out and curved it in different ways and drew what my eye saw with the lines passing through each other.
Then I was to take a real leaf and do the same thing with my HB graphite. It was pretty late at night when I finally began this Activity, so I grabbed the closest leaf outside. I'm not sure what this tree is in my backyard, but it has such pretty little leaves, with greenish-white bell-shaped flowers and these bright red poky berries too... Maybe you have seen it before?
UPDATE: I just found the name of this tree! It is a Strawberry Tree or arbutus unedo and apparently that means, "I only eat one." in Latin and they make great jam and even liqueur.
Here's how my Activity 4 page turned out with the final drawing being the arbutus unedo leaf measured and a bounding box around it. I chose to have it curving slightly toward me.
Well, that's the end of Unit 1. Today, October 26 our new Unit 2 has begun and I have taken today to catch up on my journaling for Unit 1 - Then I'll be ready to begin the new Unit tomorrow.
I'm really excited about all I am learning and going to learn during this Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Certificate Course. The tutors are amazing and my fellow students are lovely sending in their beautiful and inspiring activities from all over the world. I think I might be the only one in my group from the U.S.A.!
If you are interested in how you can begin this course - it is time right now to fill out an application and get it in. The next course will begin in March and here is the website: Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Professional Courses
Thank you so much for following along on my journey to becoming a botanical illustrator.
P.S. As I finish the activities in each unit, I attach them with a tiny clothespin to this frame with strings that I found at Michaels Art Supplies store. My family likes it because they can pass by my art desk and see what I'm up to in my RBGE course and I like it because it inspires and encourages me to keep going. :)
Unit 2, Activities 1-2
November 2, 2017 - I want to start out by saying that I am absolutely loving this RBGE Certificate Course! I'm so happy to be on a regular schedule that keeps me practicing my art every day - and not just a little bit, but several hours a day... Four to six hours!!
Because of this, I know that I will grow immensely in my art in the next six months of this course and for that, it has been worth it already.
For Unit 2, we have only three activities. But they are much more difficult and time consuming. So far I have completed 1 & 2 and will begin my work on Activity 3 tomorrow evening.
Here is my work so far...
The Activity above was to get us even more familiar with our graphites. I like doing this kind of preliminary work because it really does give me a good feel for how each graphite will behave.
As I began working on shading the shapes below, I seemed to know just which graphite to use. This makes the whole Activity so much easier.
I am hoping to get a new scanner before I begin the Diploma course because although this one does a decent job, it tends to lighten my work up and doesn't show my gradual gradation from shadow to light.
The shapes above were super fun to shade. I tried to vary them as to whether I wanted them to appear concave or flat at the ends. This Activity really served in preparing me well for Activity 2...
A pear! I began by setting my subject up at eye level and I even placed a pane of glass in front of it to help me with getting the most correct measurements that I possibly could.
Once I had it in position with a light giving a good highlight, I took lots of photos and I even did one in black and white to better capture the contrast in highlights and shadows.
Then I proceeded to draw out my subject while looking at the real subject.
As I neared the end of my fourth, fully rendered pear in Activity 2, I paid close attention to the shadowing and the highlights and then worked in all the little dents, scratches and freckles :) It was a great subject to work with. Now I'm looking forward to Activity 3.
Please check back in as I continue to document my personal journey with the RBGE Certificate Online Course.
Right now is a great time to apply for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Online Certificate Course if you are interested. The next course will begin in March 2018, so don't wait! Here's the website... RBGE Online Certificate Botanical Illustration.
UNIT 2, ACTIVITY 3
November 4 - I decided to give myself a break yesterday and stay away from my art desk. I was doing fairly well, with a few moments of wanting to tidy up and get ready for my next assignment, but then I decided to create a newsletter to go out to all of my subscribers. Which you should have received by now.
If you got the newsletter and you can't see the images just click on "display images below" at the top of the email and you should be able to see them. Of course you can contact me at any time with any questions you may have.
If you would like to get my newsletter, please sign up for it below and you will receive my next newsletter in a week or so.
I decided to make a little craft project out of Activity 3, just because it kind of changes things up a bit. People have been asking me lately how I'm doing the RBGE and keeping up with my website and the first thought that comes to mind while I am typing this post, preparing to begin my Activity 3 and making chocolate chip cookies is...
Do you happen to remember the TV show "Zoom"?
I'm 52 years old, so I'm not talking about any remakes of it - I'm talking about the original real deal! If you are in my generation you know what I'm talking about...
I honestly believe that it's because of Zoom that I have learned to be kind of an extreme multi-tasker. I like to show people how I do what I do and I learned it from
Send it to Zoom!
Ha Ha! Okay, well anyway - getting back to botanical illustrations... Unit 2, Activity 3 is taking us back to Unit 1 where we learned how to enlarge our drawing from the original size of the subject. In this case, I am choosing a portion of a Maple leaf that is 5cm x 5cm and enlarging it to 10cm x 10cm in my drawing.
I first drew two boxes on my Bristol paper that are 10cm x 10cm - one for the front of the leaf and one for the back. Secondly, I cut out two square frames out of a stiff paper with 5cm x 5cm openings.
I then took the two frames and taped them together with the Maple leaf sandwiched in between.
I cut off the excess leaf, and now I have the front and back of the leaf framed in a 5cm x 5cm frame :)
Each measurement that I take of the original leaf in the frame, I will multiply x 2 in order to get the correct measurements for my 10cm x 10cm bounding boxes on my Bristol paper.
I'll be back once I finish my drawings. Our deadline for Unit 2 is November 8, so be watching for my completed work in the next few days.
November 5 - I was recently reminded by one of my botanical illustrator friends how to keep our paper clean from smudges and other spots that may happen unexpectedly while doing our botanical work.
Use a clean piece of tracing paper and cut out a shape just large enough to reveal the area you are working on. Remember to always work with clean hands and you can use a feather or soft brush to dust away any fuzzies or eraser bits.
I'll be back with more as I move along over the next few days...
November 6 - Here's my set up for working on Activity 3. I found this cute little subject holder at Artco and I'm so glad I got it! It's perfect for holding my little 5cm x 5cm framed leaf subject - Acer japonicum
Of course I will need a way to keep my subject from drying out, so I wrap it gently in a damp (not dripping wet) towel and keep it in the refrigerator in a sealed container. This will keep for several days, but I always take lots of photos of my original just in case it doesn't survive the length of time it takes to complete the work. Each day I will work on this for 4 to 6 hours, but as long as I remember to wrap it, seal it and store it in the fridge when I'm not using it, it's all good.
And once everything was in place, and my light was shining from the side of my leaf in order to cast some dramatic shadows, then I got to work...
November 7 - Okay, so I have finally finished the front of the leaf - pictured below on the left side, but my whole Unit 2 (Activities 1, 2 & 3) are due tomorrow!!! EEEEKKKK!! I still have the back side of the leaf to complete and I have very little done on it. I'm thinking I will have to pull an all nighter since my list of "Honey Do's" (You know, "Honey do this, Honey do that...") has to be tended to while it is light out. So here I go!
I always have my original live leaf in front of me, but for more detail, I have also taken black and white photos to zoom in on...
November 8 - It's 5:30 a.m. and I haven't slept a wink through the night so that I could finish Activity 3 for the RBGE!
I must say, this is hard work! Definitely not for the faint of heart! But it's so worth it!
We have a break now and will not begin Unit 3, working with watercolor, until November 16. In the meantime, you can be sure I will have my paints out and getting re-acquainted with them. Watercolor is not something I feel very confident in, so this is where the course will become a real challenge for me. Off to sleep and my family will wake up to this...
P.S. Remember to Subscribe to my Newsletter below or send me any questions or thoughts you may have - I would love to hear from you!
Also, I just had to frame my Acer japonicum in graphite - I put it in a floating frame since I had to cut it out from the surrounding notes for class...
November 14, 2017 - Just wanted to sneak in and leave a brief message that Unit 3 of the RBGE begins this coming Thursday, November 16 - so make sure to pop in and see what I'm up to.
I'm excited for Thursday, but to be honest, I have been experiencing a range of emotions during this little break. Although I have completed a botanical composition in watercolor, it was last year at this time - and shortly after I sustained an injury to my right shoulder and have not been able to practice watercolor at all until recently.
During my watercolor practice of the last few days, I am finding that I am not even remotely good at it. So, I have once again in this journey, found myself having to trust God and go forward. I would like to say that is easy for me, but it really is not. I am really struggling and want to step down from the RBGE. But as I think about it, it has got to be my pride speaking and I am choosing right now to humble myself and seek the Lord in prayer and press on.
I want to be as real as possible for anyone reading this post right now. This is not an easy course, but I have a feeling that it is going to be so worth it to push on to the end.
Here's my current practice...
Do you notice how my art desk looks like a mad scientist works here? I'm definitely struggling - :) See you on Thursday.
Unit 3, Activities 1.1 & 1.2
November 16, 2017 - I was very excited last night when I checked in with the RBGE and found that Unit 3 had been posted early! Surprisingly, all anxiety had been set aside and I had wonderful peace to begin Unit 3, Activity 1 right away.
I don't know about you, but I have a really hard time just practicing on my good watercolor paper, but I simply have to do it in order to learn how the watercolor is going to react with the paper I am using for this course.
The suggested paper is Saunders Waterford, Hot Pressed, High White, 140 lb by St. Cuthberts Mill and I am using Winsor & Newton Professional 1/2 pan watercolor paints along with Winsor & Newton Series 7 Miniature and DaVinci watercolor brushes. So far, this seems to be the perfect combination.
For Unit 3, Activity 1 we have 3 things to do and I have completed the first two as you can see below.
In Activity 1.1 I have used a blue, red and a yellow to mix and make a tertiary color - then I applied it to the first block and for each block after I added two drops of water until I reached the end of the row.
I don't know why, but the mixing of these three colors was not easy for me, so I ended up throwing away my first two pages - they just weren't working out. But I feel good about it this time and have submitted it. I need to keep moving on Activities each day since we have a total of 6 this time. This Unit is not due until December 6, so I have a little time, but I don't like to procrastinate, and the hardest ones seem to come toward the end of each Unit. With that in mind, I want to move along and work on them each day for as long as I can.
All I know, is the practice is going to pay big dividends and that's what I want when it is all said and done. I don't want to waste any of this class if I can avoid it.
Alright, I plan to be back tomorrow with Activity 1.3, but we'll see if that happens. I'm working on geometric shapes and shading in watercolor... So cool!
November 18 - After a great conversation with some fellow students as to what exactly was required in Unit 3, Activity 1.2, I decided that it would be a good choice to add another practice page of this particular technique which is very important to understand and be able to perform. It is a gradation of our watercolors from dark to light.
I used French Ultramarine, Indigo, Cadmium Red, Permanent Rose, Winsor Lemon and Cadmium Yellow - all Winsor & Newton Professional watercolors.
Unit 3, Activity 1.3
As soon as I completed this additional practice of Activity 1.2, I moved on to Activity 1.3. I have listened to the tutorial that accompanied this Activity many times and have watched every stroke of the brush and listened closely to everything that was suggested and now I feel ready!
However, I had to take time to draw out some geometric shapes first. To speed this process up, I printed out the recommended pdf and then traced each shape onto a piece of tracing paper - then I flipped the tracing paper over and traced over each shape from the back side with a 4B graphite. Once that was completed I flipped the tracing paper over again and placed it carefully onto my watercolor paper. At this point I used my H graphite to trace over the shapes until they filled my watercolor paper. I did this, so that I can practice this technique over and over before I complete my final paper. Here are the results so far...
You cannot see all the shapes covering this page, but I have filled every place I can fit a shape into. The first four shaded on the top left have two washes of Payne's Grey - the next four on the top right have only one of the same.
Now I will continue to practice and will check back in when I have finished my final paper for this Activity.
Thank you so much for checking in to read about my journey in becoming a botanical illustrator. It is so much funner with you joining me! If you have not done so already, remember to subscribe to my Newsletter below. Thank you so much :)
Here's where I end tonight...
November 20 - Still practicing for Unit 3, Activity 1.3 - I am getting closer to feeling that I can complete an entire page of these shapes without any mess ups - but want to be sure and only practice can make that possible. In this activity, I am working from light to dark with about four layers total - All wet in wet. The color I am using is Payne's Grey - and I love it!
November 23 - I have taken a bit of a break for Thanksgiving Day, but continued to practice when the time was available. Now I feel ready to begin my final page for Unit 3, Activity 1.3 and I'm hoping I can get through all four layers and the final shading and smoothing on all 7 shapes without messing any of them up! :)
Here is my practice page and my first layer on my final page with lots of notes so I don't forget.
November 23 - Well, I've been doing my best to get a lot of practice in, even while it's Thanksgiving weekend - which I know will really pay off in the end, but I was hoping to avoid having to get even more practice as a result of my paint brush suddenly flinging out of my hand and landing in the middle of my Activity 1.3!
I quickly reminded myself that I wasn't totally happy with the way it was going anyways as I had just made a mistake at the bottom of the cone on the left and it was time to start over.
Off to redraw my shapes and begin again... Is there anyone out there who can feel my pain! Today is my personal deadline for having Unit 3, Activity 1.1, 1.2 & 1.3 done, so back to work I go, with a smile on my face and determination in my heart to press on. I tend to work better under pressure, so we'll see how this goes :)
With prayer and perseverance I will get through this class and I will learn watercolor! I am determined :)
November 24 - Okay - redrew my shapes and I'm still at it and don't want to go to bed yet, I just feel that I need to keep working at it until I conquer this thing! I know I'm just about ready for a breakthrough!
Here's my first layer...
WOW! I think something is beginning to click!! It's 4:30 a.m. and I need to go to bed!! But seriously! I think I'm finally getting this! Ha!! Very excited!!
Yes! This is definitely a great place to take a break and get some good sleep! So excited! A breakthrough finally!!! WOW!!
November 25 - Back to a day of practice and I do feel like I'm getting better and better with each stroke of my brush. My brush hasn't done a circus act today so that's good and here's what I have so far...
So I say it again... Practice makes art! :)
Evening of November 25 - Well, I'm sorry to say that I have learned yet another hard lesson as this paper I have been working on tends to bleed at the edges and in the process of trying to save the edge of the sphere at the top right side, I totally messed it up. The lesson is that I should have left it alone.
The good news is my new St. Cuthberts Mill, Bockingford, hot pressed, watercolor paper has arrived today all the way from Jackson's in England, and it has the good reputation of not bleeding over the edges of the subject - so yes folks, I will begin again.
Don't feel bad for me. I am a first born girl and that makes me fairly persistent. It does not bother me to begin again in order to get it right. However, I do not have as many days to complete each activity in Unit 3 as I did when I first began. With only 11 days left, I am slowly running out of time to complete the next four activities. You can probably guess I will be praying like crazy for God's help!
Here's my sad mistake and attempt to make it right...
And here's my third time of redrawing this composition of shapes, but on my new Bockingford watercolor paper :) Very excited to see how it does - Off to bed and I will begin again tomorrow after church!
November 26 - I am sad to say that the St. Cuthberts Mill, Bockingford, HP watercolor paper did not help the situation. It is much smoother and it seems to not bleed around the edges quite as bad, however, it still requires a lot of water for the wet in wet technique. It isn't bad paper, but it is quite different from the Saunders Waterford I have been working on, and I just don't have the time to master it right now.
Here's what I managed on the Bockingford...
My final decision regarding Activity 1.3 is to go back to my page with the last mistake and finish it. It's not perfect, but I have learned so much from working this technique over and over again. I am certainly better than when I first began - So here is my final scanned version of this activity for now...
I also received some much needed thoughts and advice from my "Practice Makes Art!" group friend, Dolores, and when I get a chance to come back to this activity, I plan to really put into action the things she has so graciously shared.
By the way, if you are an artist and need a small FB group to share your work with and be encouraged by, consider joining us at Practice Makes Art!
Tomorrow I am going to move on to get my final 4 activities completed by December 6, and if I should finish early and have time, I will revisit Activity 1.3 and see if I can improve it. For now, all is quiet at the art desk. Good night! :)
UNIT 3, ACTIVITY 2.1
November 28 - It was such a good idea to decide to move on from Activity 1.3! I feel much better about it all now and I am ready to begin Unit 3, Activity 2.1! I have chosen a new pear and have decided on my composition and I am to make a measured drawing in graphite, a monochrome painting of the pear with just the shading, and then another monochrome painting with all the imperfections found on my pear.
Below you can see my measured drawing at the top of my paper.
Once my drawing was completed, I then traced the drawing onto my tracing paper and then transferred it twice on the same page as my initial drawing.
After I have erased all measuring lines, I will use my putty eraser to lighten the graphite to barely visible. I do this because once the water touches the graphite lines they are pretty much permanent - and I don't want to see them through the paint when it is completed.
I have taken some black and white photos to help me with my tones and shadows, and also some up-close photos of the stem, so I can see a bit more detail while doing my work.
I will be back soon to post my progress. Thank you so much for taking time to visit and read my journey through the RBGE Certificate Course. It is so much more interesting with you along with me!
If you are interested in checking out this course for yourself, you can visit their site at Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Oh, and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter below - It will keep you posted in your email of what I have going on in this adventure/journey into becoming a botanical illustrator :)
Back a little earlier than I thought. I went ahead and mixed my paint - I chose to do a grey monochrome as we are supposed to choose between grey or brown.
I mixed a lot of Payne's Grey with a good touch of Alizarin Crimson & a few very small touches of Winsor Lemon until I got a nice grey. Here are my first two monochrome wash layers... Not sure what I think. The edges are scaring me, but I feel confident that I can tidy them when I add my darkest layer... Oh, I'm such a perfectionist!
But I have managed to keep a good sized area for my highlight on the left end - that's new! Ha Ha! I think I got this! :)
I'm going to let it dry for the night and continue tomorrow.
November 29 - At the suggestion of my sweet friend, Victoria, I took a bit of a break today from my monochrome pear and did a free pear class with Anna Mason! Although I haven't finished it yet, it has been light and fun and has really helped to get me refocused and ready to press on.
I also got a much needed pep talk from another friend, Jackie, who always has good insights for me, and before I knew it I was ready to get back to work!
It's coming along slowly, but it's getting there :) If you are interested in checking out the free pear video by Anna Mason and maybe even her online school which I have heard many good things about, you can catch her HERE.
November 30 - I've had a breakthrough (again), and I'm now in a groove of some sort. Funny, I am moving along slowly in this technique, but I never really feel that I have a clear handle on it - I'm just doing it and things are happening - some good and some not so good. But with both, I'm learning new things and that's what matters right now.
The hardest part of watercolor are the two words that make this word! Water and color! But since we are not really dealing with color right now - it's mainly the water that is causing the trouble! I keep thinking of the verses in Job 38 when God says to Job...
I think I know the One who can help me with this one :)
Unit 3, Activities 2.2 & 3
December 2 - I have finally found a good time to work on my RBGE without any interruptions and I am very excited. It is a big change for me, but it's worth the extra effort to be able to concentrate on my work.
The big change is that I have to get to bed before 10 pm! Believe me, this is a hard one! The easy part is I have to be up by 3:45 a.m. - I can then get my art desk ready and be able to focus completely from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.!! Four lovely hours of no interruptions!
So here's what I have accomplished this early morning while the rest of the family is fast asleep... I added my first wash to my third and final pear for Unit 3, Activity 2.2
And while the first wash was drying, I went out to my backyard and found a leaf for Unit 3, Activity 3 - I noticed my Begonia still has some nice leaves on it and the veins are quite noticeable which makes it perfect for the next activity! Here's the front...
And here's the back - Look how shiny! So beautiful :)
My first wash was dry, so I added a second being careful to not lose my highlight...
And while that was drying, I worked on a frame for my leaf...
Then I was able to add a third layer to my pear. I have learned that it is absolutely crucial to allow each layer to dry completely!!!
While that dried, I put my leaf into my frame, and cut off the edges...
So, now I have added the first three layers to my third pear, which will be a completely rendered monochrome pear when I finish it and I have started on Unit 3, Activity 3 with my Begonia leaf! I will need to have all of Unit 3 completed and turned in by December 6, and I feel pretty good about accomplishing this in the remaining time I have.
As you can see in the photo above, Activity 3 will be a scaled up, measured drawing of the front and back of a leaf (I have chosen a Begonia grandis) and it will also be painted in monochrome.
As I did when working a scaled up leaf in graphite prior, I have created a frame at 5cm x 5cm and I will then upscale the leaf to 10cm x 10cm. On the left is the front of the leaf and right is the back side of the leaf.
I will keep my leaf fresh by wrapping it in a damp paper towel and placing it in a container in the refrigerator. It should keep several days in this manner - long enough to get my drawing and painting done :)
And I also take black and white photos so I can see the contrast between the shaded areas and the highlights. Photos come in handy when your subject begins to wilt :)
Although this has nothing to do with my RBGE Certificate Course, I want to show you something I learned from a video I recently watched. The video showed me how to re-grow Begonia plants through the leaves - So I thought it would be fun to try it with you...
You will want to have at least one healthy leaf to work with from the mother plant, a utility knife and a container with damp, fresh gardening dirt.
Now, using your utility knife, carefully cut small slits across a few of the veins like this...
Now carefully lay your leaf right side up onto your damp gardening dirt and lay some stones onto the leaf to help press down and keep the slitted areas near the dirt. This is where the new roots will begin to grow.
Place a lid on the container and keep inside near a window that gets sun exposure - not too hot though, and keep your leaf moist.
I will keep you posted as to the growth of any new plants! Hopefully it will work :)
Thank you again for checking in on my botanical illustration journey - I love having you join me - it is very encouraging!
December 3 - Up early again and working on my third pear - I feel like it is coming along quite nicely. Still working in washes here and there, beginning to add some detail areas, but mostly sticking to layering - Remembering to let it dry thoroughly.
I began my morning mixing some more of my grey color - which consists of lots of Payne's Grey, a touch or two of Alizarin Crimson and just a very little smidgen of Winsor Lemon. In mixing colors, I am learning to not add very much at all when trying to get it just right. I have learned in the RBGE that in order to make grey, I need to first mix my blue and red to get a purple, then begin adding little bits of yellow - and in order to make brown, I need to mix red and yellow to get an orange first and then add little bits of blue.
I also drew the 10cm x 10cm boxes on my watercolor paper - and tomorrow I will draw out my Begonia grandis leaf front and back - and begin my washes on that as well. I will need to have it all completed by Tuesday evening, so I can have Wednesday to do any last minute items if needed. Very happy with my progress at this point.
My skills are not great in watercolor yet, but I can definitely tell that my daily practice is paying off. My practice is making art! Yay!! :)
Here's what I have for today... A few more layers, but in specific areas and watching my edges and not allowing harsh watermarks to develop by constantly smoothing with my damp, clean brush...
Then I drew out my two 10cm x 10cm squares to begin drawing the front and back of my upscaled Begonia grandis tomorrow...
And a few more layers and slight detailing on my pear :)
Have a wonderful Sabbath and I pray that all of your practice is making lots of beautiful art!
December 4 - Ended the day with a bit more done on my third pear :) Will hopefully finish up tomorrow!!
December 5 - Finally finished Unit 3, Activities 2.1 & 2.3 - Measured Drawing & Monochrome Painting of a Pear!! Yay :)
On to Unit 3, Activity 3 which is due by tomorrow!!! It's a scaled measured drawing of the front and back of my Begonia grandis leaf in monochrome! So glad we are not working in colors until next Unit!! :)
Unit 3, Activity 3
December 5 - It was such a blessing to have my website mentioned in the Pacific Northwest Botanical Artists Newsletter today!
So, I was finally able to continue from my two 10cm x 10cm boxes that I have drawn out and my 5cm x 5cm framed Begonia grandis leaf after a very busy day at our newly sold property! It is late, but I am hoping and praying that I will be able to complete this leaf by the deadline of tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.!
Once again, I find myself trusting the Lord to help me through, and this is what I have so far at 10:46 p.m.!! Oh my!!
As you can see, I have increased my measurements of my leaf x2 and have drawn out the lines for the veins both front (left) and back (right) in the 10x10cm squares above.
I hope you will continue to check in periodically through tonight and tomorrow - as I will have to work on this leaf pretty much non-stop if I'm going to get it done. I am only just learning watercolor, and as you probably know, it took me quite a few days to do the pear activities above... So here I go!
December 6 - Missed my 3:00 p.m. deadline!!! Ugh!
Yes, we were given plenty of time to complete Unit 3, but I just couldn't get all of Unit 3 done with the recent sale of our farm and having to move all of our belongings from 2 acres to our small city home - and then there was the inspection which resulted in work orders that I had to find workers to fulfill as they had to be certified and then the appraisal today... The list goes on and on of things that have kept me from working on my RBGE during this Unit!
Here's what I was able to get done for Activity 3...
It was 5 a.m. this morning when I finally got the above portion completed and I just had to go to bed! When I woke up this morning at 10 a.m., I decided to go ahead and begin the leaf again, but try a simpler approach to it in hopes I would somehow complete it by 3 p.m., but this is all I could get done...
So at 2:55 p.m. I went ahead and scanned in my work and submitted it. At 5 a.m. I had also sent a message to my tutor in hopes that somehow I could be given a bit more time...
Overall I feel good about my work because I have finally learned how to work in watercolor! I completed a pear that looks way better than I ever thought I could do and I know I can finish my Begonia grandis too!
This course is hard work, but anything worth achieving is going to be hard and that's a fact of life. I will push on and hope that I will be given the opportunity to complete my leaf too. That's it for tonight. :)
GREAT NEWS!! My wonderful tutor, Sarah Roberts, has given me much grace and I now have the opportunity to continue working on my Begonia grandis over the rest of this week! I'm not sure that I will have the chance to get back to it by then, but it is nice to know that it is an option. Thank You God for Your favor and Your wonderful mercy! :)
December 10 - In the midst of this crazy weekend, I was able to get a little more done on my Begonia grandis, so I turned that in to my tutor for the grading of my Unit 3. Here's what I was able to do...
I do plan to come back to it as I can, but I don't want to take any more time away from beginning my Unit 4. Thank you again for stopping by and I hope you find the information in my journey of becoming a botanical illustration useful for your own journey.
The RBGE Certificate Course has been such a huge blessing for me as I have learned so much. I have made more progress in learning watercolor with this course than I have over the past year and for that alone I am very grateful and extremely excited to see where I will be at the end of this course come March 2018!
Because I was not able to complete the last activity of Unit 3, I have had quite a few people ask me if there is enough time given through the RBGE to get all the work done and the answer is, "Yes!" The RBGE has given more than enough time to complete each of our activities and the activities are progressive in that we build upon what we have learned in each Unit, but life is still happening and we are in the midst of selling our farm which has required some extra work for me away from my art desk, and for that reason, I simply could not meet the deadline for Unit 3.
As you can read above, I asked for some extra time and I was very graciously given it. I am very happy with the way the course has gone so far and I highly recommend it. It is hard, but it is worth it. :)
Unit 4, Activity 1.1
December 10 (Cont.'d) - In Unit 4, Activity 1.1 we are to create a Green Tonal Range chart by selecting two blues and two yellows and mixing each blue with each yellow, first with a strong pigment using very little water, and then adding a little more water for each square in order to create a tonal range of each green created.
In my first mixture of Indigo and Winsor Lemon, you can see that I did not use enough Winsor Yellow to create a good solid green. Here's my chart...
I decided to try out a different Hot Press Watercolor paper by St. Cuthberts Mill called Bockingford, HP White in block form - it was referred to me by a good friend. Surprisingly it is quite a bit different from the Saunders Waterford in that it doesn't absorb the paint as quickly (not as thirsty as the Saunders W.), which is good, but will definitely take a bit of getting used to. It almost feels like it is waterproof in some spots (but not consistently), so this may pose a problem - you can see in some of the squares where the watercolor would not soak in. I do, however, really like that it doesn't buckle as badly as the Saunders Waterford after applying watercolor paint. The Bockingford stays nice and flat.
Now I am on to Activity 1.2, making a Green Color Balance Chart. I'll be back soon with the results of that :)
Unit 4, Activity 1.2
December 11 - Just made one more chart for Activity 1.2 and then moving on to a pear - in color instead of monochrome this time :)
You may be able to see in my notes that I tried the Bockingford watercolor paper again, only this time I taped it down to my drawing board with painter's tape and then I painted over the entire surface with clean, clear water - and let it dry.
Once it was dry, I drew out my squares and began to paint each one as instructed. No more resistance to my watercolor! It worked and I have to say that I really like this paper!
In case you missed it before, it is a block of Bockingford by St. Cuthberts Mill, HP White, 140 lb. However, it is not 100% cotton as the Saunders Waterford is (which I've understood is important, but not sure why). It does not buckle after being painted on as the Saunders W. does which I really like as well.
As far as lifting paint goes, as you can see I made a big OOPS! on my first square below...
but I was able to lift it off pretty well. I also used a bit of Mr. Clean to try to get it completely white again, but I could only get so far with it.
I wanted to let you know that my next Newsletter will be issued in January 2018 and from that point I hope to do one monthly. December is too busy to get it done, but I'll be thinking of some good things to include in the January issue, just for you!
Now I'm off to work on Unit 4, Activity 1.3 - A pear :) Hope to see you back here soon :)
Unit 4, Activities 2.1 & 2.2
December 12 - Finally got a chance to lay down my first wash after having a bit of the flu to deal with! I was so glad it came and left in one night - but it left me extremely tired today, so could only get down this little bit...
Thank you so much for stopping by - Hopefully, I'll have more to show you tomorrow. :)
December 13 - Getting much more done today! As a matter of fact, I got so lost and mesmerized by the process of painting it that I forgot the pear to the left was supposed to be tonal work only for Activity 2.1! But that's okay - I'm happy with the end result and will press on for a second one to look even better... Hopefully!
Off to work on the second pear and will check in again soon. Blessings for a wonderful day for you!
December 14 - Finished up another pear. I have really enjoyed mixing colors and just working in color in general. I feel that I need much more work in getting the subject to really pop off the page, but for now I'm happy that I am beginning to be able to work around my highlights so much easier without losing them and working with watercolor just seems to be clicking a little more with me.
Blessings for a wonderful day! I will be back to complete Activity 2.1 at a later time. I am ready to press on with Activity 3 - the front and back of a new leaf...
Unit 4, Activity 3
December 14 - I have chosen my leaf for Activity 3, and it's perfect for this beautiful Christmas season! A Euphorbia pulcherrima...
Now I just have to keep Simon, my cat, from eating it! Isn't it beautiful?!!!
The colors are simply magnificent! The red has a velvety look...
It's so strange how the flower portion of it look like leaves... I have not studied one before, so I will have to take time to do so... But for now, I just need to make a framed portion of the leaf at 5cm x 5cm and then draw out the front and back upsized by 2 for my course :)
As I have done before, I have drawn out the front and back of the leaf in two 10cm x 10cm squares on my Bockingford watercolor paper by St. Cuthberts Mill.
This time I decided to do a little pre-shading with my graphite, so that I can better tell where to shade with watercolor. We'll see how this works...
This is it for today - tomorrow I will mix my colors and hopefully begin painting!
December 15 - Well, I mixed my paint colors and set up my desk to begin painting, and was thinking about practicing first. So I drew out a smaller leaf on a scrap piece of watercolor paper, but then stepped away for a brief moment...
When I returned I found Simon, my cat, on my desk drinking the water for my painting, and when he saw me coming (because he knows...), he tore out, stepped in my red paint, smeared it all over my desk, and scratched up my drawing on the watercolor paper!!!
Time to start over! But I won't let the scratched one go to waste - now I have something to really practice on! :)
Here's my first layer on my practice page...
Thank you for stopping by!
December 17 - Still working on my practice page, and have put down my second layer... So far shading with graphite lightly at first has really helped me to keep a shaded area in mind and the very small highlights.
You can see in the photo above, that I tested my colors on a scrap piece of the same watercolor paper I am working on - Bockinford by St. Cuthberts Mill.
At the bottom of the scrap paper you can see where I have put down my darkest green and then drew it down with water on my brush to get the lighter tones of it. I have been using this to decide which shades to apply to my leaf as I go. I learned to do this in my RBGE course.
I have been keeping my leaf fresh by wrapping it in a lightly wetted towel and keeping it in a plastic container in the refrigerator. This method works very well and typically keeps my subjects for quite a few days.
In addition to doing this, I have taken many photos in case my leaf should die completely.
December 18 - Today I took a little break from my leaf and worked on drawing out my Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Color Wheels. It was nice getting this drawing part done now, because I don't think they are going to be very easy to paint when the time comes. After watching the tutorial, I realized quickly it will take lots of patience and concentration to get them just right.
If you have never painted one yourself, you'll see what I mean when I get there. I'm a little nervous about it! :)
UNIT 4, ACTIVITY 2.2-Final
December 21 - Well, the sale of our farm got moved up to today, but today has come and gone and it still hasn't closed. It's been one thing after another, and now they are saying it will close tomorrow - so we'll see.
I have gone 3 days of not being able to work on my RBGE Unit 4 due to having to work on the farm close, so I decided to get a few hours of study and painting time in before the day is over... and now it's coming up on midnight - so I barely made it! Here is the beginnings of my final pear page, if it turns out right!
The left pear will show only tonal and highlight work, while the pear on the right will eventually be the completed pear. I found a pear that has lots of nicks and scratches and even a hint of red around the edges - Also, the stem is interesting with some grooves in the top portion.
The view above is not the best and it certainly distorts my pear in the painting, but you get the idea :)
Thank you for stopping by and I hope you are having a wonderful end to 2017 - Merry Christmas to you all as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ - the Savior of the world! Hallelujah!
December 22 - Our property sale finally closed today and what a joyful day it has been! Now this evening I feel that I can get back to my daily study of botanical illustration.
I cannot believe how this year of 2017 has flown by and I want to be sure to take some time and reflect on all that God has done! Even just looking at these pears, I can see His faithfulness in helping me to progress in my watercolor. There has been so much learned! Botanical illustration in watercolor is certainly not an easy thing, but the daily practice shows consistent improvement and I am thrilled to say the least!
December 26 - Back to work on my RBGE pear page of Unit 4, Activity 2.2...
If you are wondering how my real pear has lasted so long, I just can't say - it just did, and yes, it has been sitting on my art desk this whole time...
I'm happy with this! It is a wonderful Christmas gift to come back from a few days of Christmas Celebration and find that my watercolor technique is getting better! A little rest is definitely good for the soul and good for the artist inside :)
UPDATE: I wanted to share a new brush that an artist friend has brought to my attention. It is an Eradicator Brush by Billy Showell and it truly works miracles! You may notice that the bottom of my completed pear in the photo above has a bit of a sharp area - Now looking to the photo below, you can see that I used the Eradicator Brush to smooth the edge at the bottom of my completed pear. I also used it to remove a couple spots of paint that showed up on my white background. This is a brush that I highly recommend having!
Here is my scanned version that I have submitted to my course for Unit 4 - A little lighter than my original in color, but it works and here you can see my notes too.
Unit 4, Activities 4.1, 4.2 & 4.3
December 31 - HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!!! Just got back this evening from a much needed vacation with my Hon- to my favorite place in all the world... Cannon Beach, Oregon on the lovely Pacific Ocean. I thought you might enjoy a few photos before I show you what I'm working on in the RBGE...
Just beautiful isn't it!!? God is the Master Artist in my life and I am so thankful He has given me the gift of creating! I truly hope one day I will be able to paint beautiful watercolor illustrations of His already amazing handy work. But in the meantime, I am thankful for a window view of His Pacific Ocean and a walk with my wonderful husband in the beautiful 50 degree weather we had after a huge rain storm...
Okay, now for my work with Unit 4. I have taken a little break from the Poinsettia Leaf I have been working on and began painting the Color Wheels I had already drawn out on December 18 above. There are three color wheels and I have finished the Primary and half of the Secondary...
If you happen to be thinking that there are a lot of small areas paint within the Secondary Color Wheel - Just wait until you see the Tertiary!!
I am really enjoying these Color Wheels!! The whole activity is helping me to see different shades within a color so much better! Also, I am getting a better idea of my warm and cool colors!
Blessings for a very Happy New Year!!
January 1, 2018 - Do you ever have one of those days when you don't read directions quite right and end up wasting a lot of time, materials and effort? I'll chalk it up as good practice and practice always makes art :)
So here's what happened - I finished up my Secondary Color Wheel and almost finished my Tertiary Color Wheel when I started thinking that it wasn't looking quite right...
and I almost finished my Tertiary Color Wheel when I started thinking that it wasn't looking quite right...
So I quickly went back to my instructions and found that I was correct in thinking that I had done it incorrect! And back to the drawing board I went ...
Now it's re-drawn and ready for me to begin again tomorrow. :)
I hope this post finds you starting out the New Year of 2018 on a happy note and thank you so much for stopping by!
January 2 - I worked hard this evening and got my Tertiary Color Wheel completed and although I lost my roundness in some places, I love the way it turned out!
Here are all three of my Color Wheels - You can tell that I'm quite proud of them! I really learned so much and I love how I can see the blue, red and yellow sections of the Primary Color Wheel, the yellow, orange, red, purple, blue & green sections of the Secondary Color Wheel and how I can clearly see my green turn to red, my orange turn to blue, and my purple turn to yellow on my Tertiary Color Wheel! They are so cool! :)
Now I have finished re-drawing my Poinsettia leaf, front and back, enlarged by 2 and am ready to begin painting tomorrow. I am feeling myself a bit more prepared to begin my leaves this time - we'll see how it goes!
You may notice how I have taped my Bockingford, St. Cuthberts Mill watercolor paper down to my drawing board with blue painter's tape. At this point, it has been prepped for painting by taping it flat and wetting it all over with clean water and allowed to dry. It has been a continued problem to try to figure out what to do about the buckling of this paper. You can see below a watercolor chart that I completed on December 11 and it still has not flattened out at all...
This paper is my favorite so far (I can get my edges nice and sharp), however, it is difficult to paint on it with this buckling issue - and even though I tape it down, it buckles so much that it pulls away from my drawing board, pulling the tape right up with it! It also tends toward stretching while buckling and becomes unable to be re-flattened...
For my RBGE, it will be okay until I find another paper that is more suitable, but it will not do for any work that I may want to frame in the future. For those of you who may be wondering about the Saunders Waterford by Cuthberts Mill, I could not get good crisp edging because it tends to bleed, also the buckling issue is even worse.
I will continue my quest to find a good paper - but in the meantime, this will have to do :)
P.S. If you are interested in checking out the Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh website - you can find it by clicking HERE.
Unit 4, Activity 3
January 3 - This morning I was referred to a representative of St. Cutherberts Mill and she was very helpful by giving two links (which you can find below) that give ideas of what to do with the Bockingford paper in a pad.
After reading through the links, I decided to try it out and began by locating the smoothest side of the paper - then taping it down to my drawing board with this smooth side up. Next I wetted the paper with my large clean brush as before, only this time I wetted it very lightly - really not much water at all. Then I set it aside to dry through the day.
It still buckled slightly, but nothing compared to what it has been doing! Now I have taped it down to a left over block from another watercolor paper I had used up and everything is going great!
I redrew my leaves and I started watercoloring the front and back of my Euphorbia pulcherrima this evening and it seems to be going quite well this time. I decided to begin with the stems and veins - I don't know why, but I just felt that I wanted to get on with some detail work quickly and it seems to be just what I needed - Here's what I have so far...
For the stems I chose from my Professional Winsor & Newton Watercolors to mix Permanent Rose & Permanent Alizarin Crimson and for the leaf, I have mixed up a batch of Indanthrene Blue and Winsor Yellow. Also, I am using my new #2 brush from Billy Showell - which I love!! :)
You can see above that I still have the original leaf in the frame that I picked out on December 14! Yes, it has kept quite nicely in the container in the fridge and I am very surprised!
For now I'm going to call it a night. But I'm really excited to get up in the morning, get my youngest off to the doctor as she has the flu that I believe has turned into bronchitis! ugh! and then at some point start back in on my leaf. :)
The deadline for Unit 4 is January 10 and I feel confident that I will have my leaves done by then :) Yay!!
Blessings and here are the two links should you be interested in taking on the Bockingford Pad - It really is worth it! :)
You can also get it in the block at the link below, which is supposed to be easier to work with - and I will definitely get this next time - but for now I have three of the pads to finish first :)
January 4 - I completed a bit on my leaf tonight - a wash and a portion of a second wash and some dry brushing too...
Thank you for visiting. It's fun to practice and make art, but so much funner when I get to share it with you - Hopefully to encourage you, as you encourage me when you show up here. Thank you!
January 5 - One side done on the back side of my leaf!! :)
January 6 - I woke up wanting to work on my leaf this morning, which is kind of unusual for me when it comes to watercolor. I have been waiting for some kind of enjoyment to come... Maybe this is a good sign of that happening :)
After a little laundry and housecleaning, I sat down here at my art table, put on a good sermon by my favorite Alistair Begg and began to paint. I'm not quite done with the backside, but I'm hoping to finish before I take my Australian Shepherd, Cooper, for a walk in the park.
As I walk through the park with Cooper, I will notice the pinecones, the pine needles, the twigs and branches that have fallen during this winter season. I will notice the leaves, all kinds, especially the maples, what's left of them, and I will long for Spring and Summer and Autumn - my favorite of all the seasons.
And I will enjoy all the colors and dream of the perfect watercolor palette that is made up of what I truly see...
I will definitely pick up something that will intrigue me so that I might add it to my little collection of things I would like to sketch and maybe even paint one day. And I will praise God for His beautiful creation that He has delighted in sharing with me. Happy Saturday to you all!
Here's what I found on my walk with Cooper... Isn't it beautiful? It's only one side of the seed pod, so it contains no life - all the seeds have blown away. It was shimmering in the sun, laying on my path.
Cooper found an old abandoned tennis ball that still had plenty of life left in it and he added it to his collection of chewable, bouncy, throwable tennis balls in our backyard. :)
Also, I stopped by Michaels on my way home from my walk and picked up some painter's cloths. No more paper towels as I have been told that they have chemicals in them that cause unwanted blotches in our paintings after we dab our brushes on them.
Back to my painting...
Adding just one more photo of where I have ended my painting on this beautiful day -
January 8 - Well, I was able to take a lovely Sabbath Day of Rest yesterday and during that time I was able to really pray and reflect on this journey into botanical illustration.
The subject matter has been presenting itself to me quite often lately of applying for the Diploma Course through the RBGE since I'm into watercolor now and maybe have a better idea of the path I'd like to take.
I have been pondering the title, "Botanical Illustrator", and I don't really think it fits me. It may fit others, but it's not truly who I am. It might be something I attempt to do, but it's not who I am.
I am first a Child of God. Secondly, I am the daughter of my lovely Mom and my wonderful Dad. Thirdly, I am a wife to my Hon-, and fourthly, I am Mom to my four amazing kids. Soon, I will have another crazy and amazing title of Grandma.
Art is something I like to do periodically, but it's not one of my titles - It just doesn't carry enough weight for me and I want to keep it in it's rightful place, lest confusion set in and I forget who I really am.
So, what have I learned in this RBGE Certificate Course? If you dare read through all these posts, you can see for yourself all I have learned! It's amazing and I am not even halfway through the course!
Do I think the course is worth the cost? Absolutely! Even if like me, you choose to only do this course and not go on to the Diploma course - it is worth it!!! But like anything, it's not for everyone, and we each need to make our own decision.
So here is all my work for Unit 4 - and done two days early this time! So far this has been my favorite Unit because much has been revealed to my heart. It was a good and much needed challenge for me personally and artistically. And that makes me truly grateful. I like a true revelation - it keeps things real.
Thank you again for stopping by!
Blessings to you!
Unit 5, Activity 1.1
January 11 - Last night I was able to find ONE Cyclamen plant in town and I am very excited since this is the plant we are using for our study in Unit 5! Here's the beauty I found...
In this unit, we have four activities that I am really looking forward to as we get to do quite a bit of graphite work again - Here's what I have done so far in Unit 5, Activity 1.1.
First, I took lots of photos... (here's just a few).
Then I did some snipping and took some more photos of individual parts of the plant...
Then placing each part under some good lighting, I began to draw them out...
That's all I have for now. You may have noticed that my surroundings have changed a bit. That's because I like change, so I cleared out my whole art area and put it all away, including the desk, and then took out just what I needed for this portion of Unit 5, and I'm having out at the dining room table until I think of something else :)
You can see the tools I'm using in the photos above. It feels good to have it all cleaned up and put away - for now anyway, and you will probably see a new set up before the end of this Unit. :)
Thank you for stopping by...
January 14 - Finished up my Activity 1.1 of Unit 5 - A measured drawing of flower and bud and submitted it to my profile and will begin Activity 1.2 tomorrow, which is the tonal study of a flower and bud.
Using the real plant and not a photo as instructed, today I drew from the following views...
And here's my Activity 1.1. - My original drawing was with HB Graphite, but as you can see I had to re-trace with a 4B Graphite in order for my scanned image to be seen for my submission.
For Activity 1.2 I want to make it picture perfect and fully rendered so I can frame it and hang it on my wall :) Very excited to see how it turns out! This Clycamen is really beautiful and elegant with lots of movement and gorgeous magenta color!
Blessings and thank you so much for stopping by!
Unit 5, Activity 1.2
January 18 - Well hello! Sorry for disappearing for a few days - Unit 5 has a shorter amount of time to get our work done, so I have been working diligently on my activities, knowing that it takes me some time to get my work done. Also, it was my birthday yesterday and I took some time off, just to enjoy the day... How did I spend my birthday day? I listened to a wonderful series of sermons by Pastor Alistair Begg called, "Guard The Truth" while I worked on my RBGE course.
So here's what I have done...
Above is the flower I'm working on - this photo taken with a flash, and I clipped it way back on January 11! Today is the 18th - 7 days later! So how is it keeping so well, you may ask? I simply put it in this jar of water and have kept it in the refrigerator when I am not working with it. I would say the RBGE tutors knew what they were doing when they picked this plant for our work! The flowers last a really long time!
Here's a little closer photo to the way I am viewing it while working - It's really so hard to get a perfect shot, since it is so dark here lately, but you get the general idea...
So I took my study page of drawn out parts, and I picked a few of the parts that I would like to include in my final graphite piece of work for Activity 1.2 and here's the tracing paper piece I came up with...
Then I transferred this drawing to my Bristol paper and began shading and toning...
As I work on this graphite composition, I am keeping in mind to not press on my paper which would cause an indention in my paper. I am being careful to keep my touch light to not cause a shine in my lead. I am bringing about the darkened areas by using layers and layers of darker and darker graphite. At this point, I have begun with H and worked to HB and now to B.
The hard part of this Cyclamen flower, but part of the beauty of it, are all the little fine groves and lines in the petals...
Thank you for stopping by and I will be back to my normal daily posting now, so keep checking in.
Evening of January 18 - Just finished my graphite work on my Cyclamen and I love how it turned out...
And just a little more contrast with my B graphite... And here's the scan I submitted for Unit 5, Activity 1.2!! Onto my watercolor version!
Blessings for a wonderful time of art wherever in the world you may be visiting from!
Unit 5, Activity 2.1
January 19 - Just finished Unit 5, Activity 2.1 and wanted to show you! For this activity we are supposed to do a color match for a bud, a freshly opened flower and a fading flower. As you can see, the colors can change drastically as the flower matures and begins to fade...
I definitely need to come up with a more organized and neat way of doing my color matching - some artists keep their's in a watercolor note pad so they can make reference to it, and I think that's a really good idea. However we choose to do it, it needs to be done on the same watercolor paper we will do our final painting on because not all watercolor papers respond the same.
The paper I am using this time is the Bockingford Block. On my prior work, I have used the Bockingford Pad - and that tends to buckle quite a bit with watercolor work, so I'm trying this block instead. So far, it's really good, but we'll see how it does when I begin my painting :)
P.S. You might like to know... I set my desk back up :) lol
January 20 - I just had to spend time organizing my color matching for my Cyclamen. Finally, I decided on the flower, and two buds that I wanted to include in my Activity 2.2 - I don't know if you can see the drawing as it is very light, but you'll definitely be able to see my organized color matching at the bottom :)
I'll begin my painting soon, so be sure to check back in. Unit 5 is due on Wednesday and this is the last Activity and then I'm done and onto Unit 6!
If you haven't already seen it, you may want to read my new blog post, "Lighting For The Art Desk" inspired by a reader of this website!! :)
Thank you so much for stopping by - and thank you to those of you who have sent me an email asking questions! I love it :)
January 21 - I have finished Unit 5 and I'm so glad to have a break until Thursday! My final piece of work is not perfect, as I lost my highlights!! But I'm happy to have tried hard and be done for a bit :) Here's my work...
If you have subscribed to my website and keep getting the same Newsletter from me about the Solar Eclipse Sale - I apologize and please disregard. MailChimp is currently trying to help me with the issue.
Thank you so much for stopping by and following along with me on my botanical illustration journey. I hope you will be here when I begin Unit 6 on Thursday! I'm so glad that graphite botanical illustration is a thing as that seems to be the medium for me :)
Blessings to you!
Constance - Here's a fun picture...
January 22 - Well, after listening to a really great sermon today by Alistair Begg, I was inspired to try again at my final composition of the Cyclamen flower and bud - and I'm glad I had another go at it!
As you can see in the photo above, the color match of the first one is definitely better, but I was able to maintain my highlights so much better the second time :)
And here's my finished scanned version, I have submitted to my tutor to see if she will allow me to include it in my final submission of Unit 5. I have already submitted my work - So hopefully she will say yes! :)
This is my third piece of work on the Bockingford Block by St. Cuthberts Mill and unfortunately it bleeds quite a bit on edges and the washes appear to be smudged. For now I can only say that Moulin du Roy by Canson, 140 lb, Hot Presssed is the best paper I have found to work on in watercolor and it can be quite difficult too - but out of the papers I have tried so far, it is the best. I'm kind of sad that I will never know what it was like to work on an old piece of Fabriano since it has been discontinued, never to be made again. :(
Here's to trying again, because "Practice Makes Art! Blessings!
January 23 - Well, after reading through Mary Ann Scott's book, "Botanical Sketchbook", I was inspired to do a little more refining on my second attempt at the Cyclamen composition above. I was able to get some great advice from a fellow artist/teacher and I did my best to apply what she suggested. Although I couldn't do much to improve the stems as they are a bit too thick at the bottoms, I am thoroughly happy with the outcome of the flower and buds.
Actually, I got so excited about it all that I have decided to cut another flower tomorrow, draw it out, and start in again! I'm truly shooting for perfection in watercolor - or at least as perfect as I can get with my level of skills, and Unit 6 doesn't begin until Thursday, so it's a good time to practice and make some art!
Here's what I did today:
Thank you for stopping by! If you are thinking about applying for the RBGE Certificate Course - I highly recommend it. I have learned so much - and yes, it is hard work and it is very hard on some days to fit into my life, but sometimes we just need to cease the moment and do what we may never get the chance to do later in life :)
Unit 6, Activities 1.1 & 1.2
January 24 - I was so excited to draw up another Cyclamen flower and paint it, that I was able to get it done fairly quickly with good measurement - but then, Unit 6 was made available to us a bit early and I had to check it out...
And I found that we have only 12 days for this unit, but we have a lot to do - so I put away my third flower drawing for another time, and got started straight away!
The first thing we have to do is make some quick thumbnail sketches in order to begin preparing for our final composition! I'm so excited as we near the end of the course - not to be done, but to begin applying all that we have learned since October when we began!
Here are my ideas for possible compositions - this just gets the juices flowing :) These are put together using small sketches, cut out and arranged in different ways...
Page 2 is sketched by looking at my actual Cyclamen plant and coming up with possibilities for compositions...
I took some time to clean up my plant, cutting out any dying materials, as well as some flowers , buds and leaves that will make good specimens for drawing and dissecting. These I placed in jars and put them in the fridge...
And fortunately, these Cyclamen really like the refrigerator. The original ones have stayed alive since January 13, when I first cut them!
I'll be back to continue on with Activity 1.2 tomorrow - so be sure to check in and see which two thumbnails I choose above to do a line drawing...
Unit 6, Activity 1.2
January 24 & 25 - I have to choose two possible compositions that I really like from my thumbnails above and this has been harder than I thought - But I think I have it figured out now. Here's the first idea - just quickly drawn out while looking at my plant near the bottom. Trying to keep it simple, while meeting all the guidelines we have been given... There are still lots of things to fix about it, but I feel that it captures the true botany of my plant and shows the working of the stems below.
This next one is a bit simpler in that it does not show the stems show much, but focuses more on the top of the plant and has dissections displayed at the bottom as in a traditional botanical illustration.
Okay, back to work on Unit 6, Activity 1.2. Do you know which one you would pick of these two? Do you think you might know which one I might pick? Stay tuned and I will hopefully have the final measured composition done by the end of the day on Saturday :)
January 27 - It took me a little bit of reorganizing and asking fellow artist friends which of the two compositions they liked, then I combined what I liked about both and came up with this one...
But then I got an idea to bring my leaves together just a little bit and came up with this one which I really, really like - so I submitted it! :)
Now I'm off to begin study of my Cyclamen leaves so I can draw them out and paint them! So fun!!
Are you interested in the RBGE Online Certificate Course? If so, you can find their website at: Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh
Unit 6, Activities 2.1 & 2.2
February 2 - It's been a hard week after the Home-going of my Dear Sister In Christ. My feelings are all over the place with the thought that I won't see her here in this lifetime again, but knowing that she is dancing with our Sweet Lord Jesus this very moment! WOW! I pray for her precious family and friends as I know she will be missed desperately!
This life is hard, come Lord Jesus, come.
Here is what I have completed in my Unit 6 so far - just a tad bit behind...
I made a few more changes to my Cyclamen composition, however, I still have measuring to do and need to make a few more changes to stems.
Off to begin watercolor of my leaf.
Blessings for a wonderful day,
UNIT 6, ACTIVITIES 3.1 AND 3.2
February 2 & 3 - I have begun Activities 3.1 - Color matching and 3.2 - Painting Cyclamen persicum leaf, front and back and it will be slow going, but I think I'm off to a decent start. Remembering to keep my washes light and to not lose my highlights - it is becoming a bit more automatic to think of these things after all the practice I have had through these first six units of the RBGE.
Here's what I have so far... Unit 6 is due on Feb 7, so only 4 days to go and I still need to do my measuring on my composition with a few changes and finish the front and back of my Cyclamen leaf in graphite!! I know I can do this :)
And one more thing, which is a must! Keep a clean small brush at your side,I decided to go back and give my Saunders Waterford Block by St. Cuthberts Mill a try again, as I hate to waste all the paper I have been trying out lately. I think the key is to choose the paper you like the most and then practice, practice, practice until you know that paper so well, that you can work with anything it happens to do during the watercolor process. I think my paper choice will be Moulin du Roy by Canson - 140 lb, hot pressed in block, 9 x 12.
Leaving the Saunders Waterford attached to the block and trying to not work so wet, it actually seems to be going quite well this time. I will do my best to work the edges in a way that hopefully will not bleed, and I will let you know how that goes.
For paints, I am working with my favored Winsor & Newton Professional watercolors. Some are half pans and some are tubes, and at this point in my journey, I honestly cannot tell a difference as they both work well.
I am also using my new Billy Showell paintbrushes which I love. I have Billy's #6, #4, #2 and her Eradicator brush. I have used each of them and love them all. I probably use the #2 brush and the Eradicator the most. And one more very important thing I have learned during the RBGE, keep a clean small brush at your side to smooth your edges with. So, in the area your choose to work, you will lay down your color and then wet your small clean brush with clear water, dab it on your cloth so it's not so wet, then use it to smooth your edges of paint to keep them from making a harsh line. Once you get the hang of doing this, it will make a world of difference in your painting. I use my #2 Rosemary & Co. Kolinsky Sable Series 323 for smoothing.
Thank you for visiting my website and joining me on my journey!
February 4, 5, 6 & 7 - I've been having a hard time concentrating on my RBGE, although still plugging along. My painting skills have gotten so much better and I am truly thankful for that! Here's what I have for the last four days... With today being my deadline.
I'll be checking in through the day to give some updates on what I have completed. My deadline is 3:00 today so, I have a few hours left to continue working.
Thank you for checking in!
February 7 - I just submitted Unit 6 and Unit 7 will be made available at 4:00 (in a half hour) - So I'll be off and running again, but with composition work only from here on out! Here's my final work for Unit 6.
I hope you will continue to stop by to see what I'm up to. It's been a hard week, but God is good and I will continue to rely on Him for the strength I need to get through this course.
Are you considering a professional course in botanical illustration? I would definitely suggest the RBGE Online Certificate Course. It is only 6 months long, and in that time you will learn a lot about botanical illustration and about yourself as an artist. You will definitely know if you should pursue a diploma in botanical illustration which is much longer and costs more. You can find out more about this course at Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh.