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

Composition ...

I have finally completed Assignment 5 of the SBA Distance Course - this assignment highlights Composition - bringing together all the elements of learning so far - line, form, tone, colour - and our studies with leaves and flowers.  The subject was not a whole plant on a page, more an arrangement of cut stems from a flowering plant - arranged on paper in a way that was aesthetically pleasing.

Painted the flowers first ...

The plant I chose was an Alyogyne ... there was very little in flower at the time of starting as our seasons are opposite to the UK.  When painting in such detail it helps if you have a great synergy with the subject.

Building up the washes

 The Alyogyne was growing on the side of the road during our recent visit to the country - the flowers are outstanding in their colour.  Also outstandingly difficult to paint as they change constantly - from pink/purple to a vivid violet and then blue/purple.  However I am always drawn to vibrant colour and wanted to learn about these pigments .... I posted previously about the time spent with colour testing and I am happy with the results....

Starting to paint the leaves ...

The washes were built up very slowly using only Quinacridone Magenta, French Ultramarine and Winsor Violet, each flower varying in hue.
The painting took many weeks of work in my spare time, and this courageous little plant even survived inside the house.  I had cut and arranged the stems while planning my composition but needed to use the plant for reference.  The Alyogyne is used to full sun and by the time I completed the painting there was only one flower left on it - it is now retired to the garden .....

© Vicki Lee Johnston

Thank you for visiting ... and for your lovely comments, they are very encouraging!


  1. Beautiful blog Vicki - love the way you document your progress through this assignment. I'm sure future students will find it a real inspiration:)

  2. Vicki,

    Your alyogyne huegelii is spendide!
    The values, the precision, the composition, all is there for a beautiful art work.

    Proud of you,

  3. Vicki, this is exquisite! Beautiful work here and such a darling flower. Lovely.

  4. Great work Vicki,its gorgeous xxx

  5. Great work!
    I love the 'swing' in the stems. And the color of the flowers is lovely!

  6. Lovely piece of work. I like to see the flower heads in different stages of growth and colouring. I know that feeling of capturing a specimen as the shapes and colouring has change each time you sit down to continue your work. Your detail is wonderful, well done.

  7. Such a beautiful colour Vicki, you have really 'got it' with this one.

  8. Thank you all so much - your comments encourage me! Am looking forward to painting for fun rather than always assignment study and work but this all leads to confidence and hopefully even more enjoyment.

  9. Vicki - would you mind if I nominated this painting for 'best natural history painting of 2011' for the marking a mark awards? http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2011/12/nominate-best-artwork-natural-world-on.html

  10. Vicki - this work has been nominated by Jessica Shepherd for Best Picture (Natural World) in my Making A Mark Art Blog Awards 2011 - see MAM Awards 2011: Nominations for Best Artwork (Natural World)

    Your artwork is now posted on my blog - do let me know if this is not OK

  11. Thank you so much Jess - what a nice surprise to receive a nomination ... and thank you Katherine for the opportunity to be involved.

  12. Vicki,
    Thank you so much for walking us new SBA students thru your progress on this assignment. It's so helpful to see how others tackle assignments.
    Lori V.