RBGE - Unit 8

Activity 1

Activity 1 - Color Matching & 3D Rendering of Leaves

February 20 - Trying to push through this down time (this sort of artistic block I am experiencing) and get on with my composition. I won't say it's easy, but I'm pushing nonetheless.

Mixing colors for stems of the Cyclamen persicum and trying to get such a small area to look convincing is not easy for me right now. The plant is groaning and I am groaning...  Hmmmm - It reminds me of a couple of verses in Romans.  Here's what I have to show for my practice...

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?
— Romans 8:22-24



February 22 - Well, it has finally happened! My artistic block has moved on and I am back in the botanical illustrating seat once again! Praise the Lord for bringing me through.

I almost walked away from it all! I know that sounds extreme, but as I have told you before, I want to be real here. This course is difficult on many different levels for each of us students, but difficult all the same - and the key is to press on - press through. Keep practicing something even if you don't want to do it at all.  Just don't stop!  If I can do it, so can you! :)

Also, here is a good time to say that the forming of a Facebook group for our RBGE students during this time was perfect. One of the other students suggested it and she was wise to do so. We have been able to encourage and help each other through it all and we have grown close to each other as artists during these past 5 months! I'm proud to know each of the RBGE Certificate students from my session! Each one of them have been a personal blessing to me in so many ways!

So after days of just practicing stems and color mixing during an artistic block, here's what I'm finally doing now...


You may notice that I am using my other Cyclamen persicum plant. The flower is the same color over all as my first plant, but has two additional colors at the base of the petals.  I had to make the change as there is only one flower and a new baby leaf coming up on my first plant after I exposed the root system for part of my composition study.

Don't worry, it hasn't died - and believe me, I'm surprised!! Here's a photo:

Can you see that brand new shiny baby leaf?  See, it will be just fine :) Here's a closer look...


These are pretty tough little plants - Great for a botanical illustration - or at least that has been my experience so far :)

At the bottom of this page, you read an email that came in from Deedy H. who wants to know how I take care of my Cyclamen - you can also read my response after her email if you are interested in how I am caring for these beautiful little plants :)


The colors of this flower are perfect in that I don't have to mix them.  The darkest of the colors is Quinacridone Magenta, the second color up is Quinacridone Red and the rest of the petal is Permanent Rose - all in Winsor & Newton Professional 1/2 pans.


So far, I have only used my #2 & Eradicator brushes by Billy Showell - I do not foresee using anything larger than this for this composition. 

Also, I am working quite dry for the purpose of keeping my paper from bleeding outside of my subject.  I am using the Saunders Waterford Block, 140 lb, hot press, watercolor paper.  So far, it is going well and I am pleased to have finally begun!


Now I'm back to work as I am quite behind the other students.  I plan to have my flowers, buds, leaves and stems completed by next Friday, March 2 - the due date for Unit 8. 

However, I do have a grandbaby coming soon - so I must work hard until he arrives because I don't think I have to tell you that I am going to be head-over-heels in love with my sweet little August Michael gift from God and won't be thinking much of my composition after that!!! Giggle, Giggle!



February 26 - It's crazy with this composition... I find that I really need to wait until I feel led to work on it. It's stressful for me to even think of working on it when I don't feel I'm ready to do so.  I'm not a procrastinator, so I'm not worried about wasting any of my time and for that reason, I am willing to wait to work on it when I feel absolutely ready to do so.

Unit 8 is due this Friday, March 2 by 3 p.m. Pacific Time - and as I have mentioned before, I am to have all flowers, buds, leaves and stems completed.  I feel really good about getting a large portion of these completed, if not the whole thing, by Friday.  But I won't rush myself - I would not like to make a mistake for the sake of rushing. You know what "They" say, - and my husband would ask me here, "Who is They?" - Ha Ha!, but They say, "Haste makes waste." and I find this to be true almost every time. - So slow I will go... but still get done by March 31 :) 

Here's what I've been working on...


I am being very careful to keep my composition covered with a clean piece of tracing paper when I am not working on it - And I also use a folded up piece to rest my hand on while painting.  Really, it would be ideal to use a full piece with a cut out area where I am working.  I will do that right now...


This Saunders Waterford Block of paper is very fuzzy and rough feeling.  Any water spreads quickly and farther than I want it to go, so I am working quite dry and then smoothing a bit with a very lightly damp brush.  


Can you see the three cut stems samples I have lying there?  This shows you how different each stem is in color... It's very hard to capture that look, and make them look convincing :)  But it's the different colors of the stems that can really add interest to my composition, so I want to do the best I can with them - still working on them :)


My newly opening flower has died, and so I have to work from a photo of it as I have no newly opening flowers at this time... I'm so glad I took lots of pictures! It does pay off to do so when you are working with a subject over a few months as we have with this one.


I love seeing all of my study pages in the background.  I think these are key to making a composition really work.  I still have so much to learn, but as I near the end of this course, I truly am amazed at how much all the hard work has really paid off - already! It has been worth it and I hope you find the same to be true if you should venture to step out and take this course too! 


I am actually enjoying myself with this composition tonight. That's nice. To have peace while working with watercolor is a new thing and it's quite surprising and I find myself very thankful for God's help in this matter. :)



Oh to truly learn the truth of these verses...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:6-7

February 27 - I was able to finish up the flower I started - or at least I think I'm done with it, we'll see, and I added the Calyx, which are the smaller leaves at the top of the newly opening flower. Excuse me, while I practice the different parts of the Cyclamen persicum :)

I like how the Calyx turned out - they are quite fuzzy looking and that has been one good thing this Saunders Waterford watercolor paper has been good for as it is a quite fuzzy and rough paper.  I'm sure there are many artists who like this paper and find it easy to work with.  It is just not my preference at this time, but who knows, maybe when this composition is finished in a month from now, I might find that I have grown accustomed to it.  I will stay open minded about it for now.

Here's my work for the day...


I know my shadows are too dark behind each petal, but I feel that I just don't get it... It will come to me with practice, I know, but it is frustrating, to work away on it, only to find when I am done, that I have made it too dark and not smoothed it out gradually enough...

It can be quite maddening if I let it. But for now, I'm going to be thankful for all I have learned and press on to finish this course with joy in my heart of a job well done!


Isn't that Calyx just so cute!!! lol

Thank you so much for following along on my journey to becoming a botanical illustrator.  It is such a joy having you join me! I hope you will have a look around at the rest of my website if you are here for the first time and if you might find yourself interested in the course that I am taking, it is called the RBGE Online Certificate Course.  You can find more information on their website.

Don't forget to subscribe to my monthly newsletter below and if you missed my January and/or February Newsletter and would like to receive it, please contact me and let me know.



February 28 - I know I'm supposed to be painting, but every time I took my composition out today to get started, I just didn't have it in me, and I don't want to paint on it, if I'm not feeling it, because I would surely mess it up!

Well, I didn't work on my composition, but I did have the desire to transfer all of my study pages for the Cyclamen persicum into my sketchbook for safekeeping.  I have worked so hard on studying this plant, and I had my sketches, measurements, dissection drawings and color mixing papers all over the place -


It really felt good to bring it all together in my Stillman & Birn favorite sketchbook, until... I stepped away from my desk for a brief moment and...


Yep! You can see it with your own eyes!  Simon the pesty cat, played in my jar of water, then proceeded to walk across my study page and then do you know what this cat of seemingly no fear did? - Let me show you...


Apparently, all his hard destructive work, exhausted him and he laid down on the chair and fell dead asleep! Well! I never!! lol

I'm just glad I have enough sense to put my final RBGE composition away in safekeeping while I'm not around my desk!!



March 1 - Happy March everyone!! Well, tomorrow is my deadline for Unit 8 and I'm happy to say that I can submit at least a little bit of what my tutor would like to see for this unit :)

I am enjoying myself more and more each time I get going on my watercolor.  I still have so much to learn as my flowers and leaves seem flat to me, but all in good time and for now, this is what I've learned and I'm thrilled to say the least!! (Big smile!!)

So here's my work...




March 2 - And here's my submission for Unit 8 - The scanner does not pick up my faint pencil drawings... I'm happy with it so far, and very pleased to learn that we have 14 whole days for Unit 9! Believe me, I will need it!

Unit 8, Final CompScan1.jpeg

Blessings and thank you so much for following along with me on this 6 month journey of becoming a botanical illustrator... forever becoming! Ha Ha