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

Field Study Composition ...




The artwork is finally in the UK with my tutor and I wanted to show the final composition of all the field work and individual studies.  The SBA Distance Learning Diploma Course has become such a familiar routine now and it's reassuring to think there will be feedback on the way we approach a botanical artwork as complex as this.

Very rough composition ideas

Once back in the studio it's time to make some sense of it all.  There are so many components to the final artwork - five plants including flowers or fruit plus one to include undergrowth  ... as well as a dissection of one of the plants.  I had a fair idea of which five I would choose from the ten full studies done - and it came down to size as well as my personal favourites.  One of my original choices was a fabulous Hakea petiolaris but in reality would have taken most of the page on its own.   I scribbled a very rough plan and tried to portray my mental image of what the page would look like.

Top section

By this point it was too difficult to decide on a final composition until the painting started to take shape with colours and flow ... so I began the top two - starting with the top left Eucalyptus leucoxylon - once I had the basic drawing and washes done I moved on to the Corymbia calophylla as I was anxious to see the fit.

Starting lower area

Then on to the lower left part of the page I began the Banksia sessilis.... as you can see I had already deviated from the original plan due to how it was developing

Taking shape 


Followed by the Acacia aphylla, bottom right - no room for the snapshot in the centre 

Beginning the habitat study in graphite

 There wasn't a lot of space left and I still had to do the plant with habitat... thankfully the Oxalis glabra is quite dainty!  After doing the initial stages I threw caution to the wind and started drawing freehand with the graphite understory ... but then again it is erasable!  I wanted to fill the space and chose leaves, stones, gumnuts etc to bring the composition together



 I  had to think about the dissection and decided (mostly due to excess white spaces) to do two dissections showing longitudinal section of the inflorescence on each one.  The top dissection  is done at actual size, and the Banksia sessilis was made slightly larger, hence the x 1.25 written next to it.  When doing a dissection it is important to show the size portrayed for accuracy of identification.

I also played with the grasses a little to pull it all together, as there was a little too much white paper in the middle of the composition.

Assignment 10 - Working in the Field

As many of the SBA students would say, this assignment is exhaustive and I was happy to let it go.   I spent a day writing a summary page,  collating the long list of species sighted in the habitat, plus gathering the many pages of sketchbook studies to include in the envelope.
Botanical art is such a precise genre, although I am sensing it is important not to be too mechanical about filling the criteria ... and despite all my grumbles I really did enjoy working in the field and hope to do a lot more once the course is completed next year.


16 comments:

  1. Hi Vicki, I have to say I am in awe of your drawing and painting skills. I'm a pretty keen gardener myself and have always enjoyed looking at botanical art, one of my favorite books is The Frampton Flora put together by Richard Mabey. Botanical paintings always seem so delicate and the accuracy is astounding. Your composition in this field study is perfect.

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    1. Thank you so much PerthDailyPhoto - nice to hear from you and great you have an admiration for this art. I really appreciate your kind comments.

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  2. Hi Vicki. Congratulations! The final product is absolutely beautiful and so perfectly captures the magic of our natives. Louise

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    1. Hi Louise, nice to see you here, appreciate your comments very much

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  3. Fascinating to see the progress and how you had to be flexible with your choice of composition (habitat picture was eventually taken out). I love the graphite at the bottom especially. Beautiful colours and lovely intense, bright tones. This is quite a striking piece. Hope you get a good mark for it. Wish I could Photoshop as well as you - still not worked out how to do white backgrounds... :S

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    1. Thank you Jess ... fingers crossed for good marks.
      None of the photos here have been Photoshopped - I try to ensure the photos are taken in good daylight and the ones on the desk have the daylight lamp on.
      The last two pics here only have a minimal autocorrect with the contrast so that you can see the graphite, which is really difficult to show well.
      I haven't spent any time on Photoshop taking the grey background out - again the graphite makes that too difficult and time consuming.
      Hoping to get a good A3 scanner soon because a lot of the other artists have had good results with the whiter background.

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  4. Oh to be able to do what you do. To create like that. The talent escapes my hands but I love to enjoy the work.

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    1. Thank you Barb, so nice to you came to visit and enjoy.

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  5. I find your process fascinating. And the results, absolutely lovely.

    (Once upon a time, I drew nearly as much as I wrote, though it's been some years I assure you. Your botanicals tempt me into picking up a pencil again. Alas, no time. Instead, I will take pleasure in your beautiful work.)

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    1. Thank you BLW ...
      Please do pick up a pencil ... when you have time. I have to make time because of this course but so glad I am being disciplined to produce ... one day I hope to do a lot more ...

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  6. Dear Vicki,a work very complex, with a final full of grace and beauty along with scientific precision! Superb!

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    1. Thank you Rita! It is a very tight work but learning so much ...

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  7. This is completely beautiful Vickie.....composition and all! Thanks so much for taking the time to present your process and let us see into your world :)♥

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  8. Dear friend,
    We need to be very proud of this work. Like Laura wrote, thanks for the time you took for presenting the process. Really liked it. <3

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