Activity 1 - Tonal Experiments

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...

Unit 2 - Activity 1A.jpg

The work 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.

Unit 2 - Activity 1B 1.jpeg

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...

Activity 2 - Measured & Tonal Drawing


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.

APearinBandW (1).jpg

Then I proceeded to draw out my subject while looking at the real subject.

Unit 2 - Activity 2F.jpeg

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.




Activity 3 - Scaled Measured Drawing

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.

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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...

 Image borrowed from the following Pinterest link:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/363736107380159946/

Image borrowed from the following Pinterest link:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/363736107380159946/

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

Boston, Mass.
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!  

Unit 2 - Activity 3.jpeg

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...



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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...