"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home" (Twyla Tharp)

Diversion ...

Framed and ready to go

The Watercolour Society of WA Annual Exhibition was a great success in terms of numbers attending and artworks exhibited - almost 300 which were received with great enthusiasm.
My botanical rose painting looked a bit subdued in amongst the vibrant colour and movement of the works in the gallery - portraits, landscapes, architecture etc  with many artists taking advantage of larger sheets and full colour to portray their subjects.

Initial washes

I love to see work in progress photos of watercolour paintings to see the layers and detail bringing it to life.  Sometimes I think I prefer those images to the finished piece!

Starting the leaves

Rose leaves are so complex, take longer than the flower

 I knew my painting would be the shy girl in the corner - botanical art is the kind of work that the closer you get to the painting, the more you see - everything is in focus and detailed.    Many mainstream artworks are best viewed from a distance where you can get the full visual impact whereas botanicals invite you to step in closer ... just as in nature.

I always do a quick check of black and white tonal values:
© Vicki Lee Johnston

"Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way" 
 - Edward de Bono.
This quote was posted online recently and resonated strongly with me, thanks to friend Sarah from The Natural Year

The artistic path has led me down many roads and the newest route is taking somewhat of a detour to my norm.  I am working on a couple of projects to explore a slightly new way of working.  My subject is still nature - still botanically correct - but there will be some subtle changes and shifts in the way I present the work which is already bringing in positive new energy and optimism.  We have to find the fire that lights the creative juices and keeps us inspired and motivated, even if it takes us on the path less travelled.

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Acceptance ...

Almost completed rose WIP

 I have almost finished my latest piece which had an extremely short deadline of one week from start to finish!  I had previously decided I wasn't going to put myself under the pressure of such deadlines but this was a labour of love and came together quite quickly.

Botanical art is a beautiful tradition, very exact and technical - but also an expression of the artist's curiosity with the natural world and wanting to portray it accurately through art.  

As I work in watercolour it seemed like a good fit to approach the Watercolour Society of WA for consideration to join their art community.  Acceptance is based on a juried submission, so I presented a number of paintings for assessment and I was very happy to be welcomed as a full member.  I was surprised to hear their annual exhibition was to be only weeks later, a great opportunity to work on a new painting.

With a very short time frame it's best to do what you are familiar with and choose a subject you love ... so for me it was the rose.  I have plenty of inspiration here in my garden and I chose a simple elegant rose in beautiful shades of pink.  I composed it in a classically traditional way - thinking along the lines of how Redoute would portray his magnificent rose paintings - as though they were suspended in mid air, with a slightly ethereal quality.
Some fine tuning to be done and then off to the framers.

© Vicki Lee Johnston

The pink rose represents love, gratitude, appreciation, gentleness and admiration.

 I would like to dedicate this rose painting to a special friend.
In honour of Rita and her beloved Danilo.
Un abbraccio forte xx

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Flower Power ...

It's spring in Western Australia and the wildflowers are blooming!  I grew up on a farm in an area of  prolific wildflower diversity and I always try and head to the countryside to see this spectacle in situ. If I can't get away from work I head to Kings Park and Botanic Gardens in Perth.  We are so lucky to have this wide open space right  in the centre of our city to showcase our natural diversity and beautiful wildflowers which bring locals and tourists in their droves to view nature showing off.

When you visit the Botanic Gardens you don't have to go far to see a wide variety of species - September is the best month to visit during the Kings Park Festival when the wildflowers are at their best.  We enjoyed a beautiful blue sky day about 25 degrees, perfection.

I feel like something is missing if I don't see the wildflower display each year, nature is putting on a show and deserves to be noticed.

Western Australia is a huge state and you could drive for hours to see these wildflowers growing in their native habitat, thanks to Kings Park and Botanic Gardens for allowing locals and visitors alike to see so much variety in one place.

I took hundreds of photos as usual, so it's difficult to display only a few here - so I hope you will indulge my love of our local flora and enjoy the visual art show.

My husband is a great supporter of my botanical art and a lover of nature also - he also managed to take some beautiful pics for our archives.

Paradise ...

I hope you enjoyed these images - I loved being out amongst our flora on a beautiful spring day.  So much food for thought and inspiration for upcoming art projects, very happy!  Every season brings a unique view on nature and its bounty.

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All images © Vicki Lee Johnston

Time is always changing ...

..... and particularly in the online world.   This post has been prompted by Blogger - apparently due to the lack of posts and updates my blog will soon be relegated as belonging to the dark ages!   Either keep up or let go - so for me, an enforced return to blogging is probably a good thing, rather than allow it to disappear due to inactivity.  Apparently according to the tech geeks there are some old issues which can be resolved by newer posts and flushing out gremlins.
One particular problem showing up now is if you have composed any blog posts on a Word document and then copied them into your blog.  If you are a fellow blogger having similar issues it's good to know or it can cause big problems down the track.

Play time ... quick paintings

One of my 'Paint Anything' days ...

Sketching and design work filling the book

I have been working in solitude for a long time so I am looking forward to sharing and engaging with art and creative design enthusiasts - if you're still out there??  
I still read all the beautiful blogs which I have in my Feedly reader now, blogging is a great way to have your own tailored reading library with your favourite subjects, writers and artists.  There are so many great botanical art blogs now - when I started mine back in 2011 there were only a couple, now we are really fortunate to be able to view beautiful botanical paintings and great advice from many outstanding artists.   This blog is a personal visual art diary which I initially started to explain my passion and change in direction at a later age towards the world of botanical art.  My family and friends like to see what I'm up to but over time I've met so many like minded creative types from around the world who love to interact via the blogosphere.

 Quite a lot has changed over the last year or so - I have a chronic spinal condition which makes sitting for long periods very difficult and painful ... I have now moved into a small studio and have a standing architect's desk with lovely big plan drawers for my watercolour papers.  The tall drafting  chair is there for a brief rest when needed  but I am now enjoying always standing to paint and wish I had done it a long time ago.    It's a great move forward and allows me to paint and draw for much longer periods of time, so I am better able to continue with my art,  given the change of working conditions.  Worth checking out if you have neck and back issues, which so many artists have.


Since our wonderful exhibition I have been very fortunate to have interest in my art progress to further work.  I completed a couple of small commissions for clients and more recently was lucky enough to be invited to complete a series of paintings for a national entity.  They are purchasing the paintings and will own copyright to the artworks so I am not able to share the progress of the works or the subject matter ... in time perhaps, but I felt honoured to be invited and while it has been a huge amount of work it has taught me a great deal.  It's not easy to work within confined parameters and I am really looking forward to returning to painting subjects of choice and having some fun with them in a more relaxed timeline.

 In the meantime I will just share some older pics to bring some colour to this overdue post and then try and get my act together with some updates.  Personally I think blogging is a great way to bring order into your creative world, it is a wonderful visual diary and a nice legacy to leave documenting the creative itinerary over the years.  At the end of the day it doesn't matter if one person or one hundred like the words and pictures - it's just a way of saying "I'm still here".