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

First impressions ...

Parrot Bush

I love  botanical art in any format and love to absorb books showing depictions of all plant matter,  scientific illustrations that tell a story about the plant and the biographies of those that bring this work to our attention.  However choosing botanical art as my genre was more about painting the plants I love to see - the richly coloured, voluptuous, elegant, exotic subjects I wanted to decorate my walls. 

If you had told me I would have depicted the Parrot Bush - Banksia sessilis  in one of my artworks I would have asked why on earth?  This plant grows in profusion in the hills where I live, is extremely invasive and worst of all ... has hideously sharp leaves which leave anyone who goes near it scratched up and bleeding ...  I actually disliked this plant intensely. 

Field studies sketch pages 

However for the field studies assignment there was little flowering - but there was the Parrot Bush emerging  everywhere around me  ... and reluctantly I gave in, because the choices were few and there was a plentiful supply of this bush.  I spent a lot of time sketching and carefully investigating the leaves, stems, seed pods, inflorescence and growth habit to provide an accurate portrayal.  Needless to say ...   "ouch" was repeated constantly while trying to inspect more closely and no doubt there are spots of my blood on the sketchbook pages!

First washes going on

 However in time I have grown to admire this plant - it is so hardy, surviving in difficult conditions and is a key source of food for honeyeaters, cockatoos and parrots.

Adding the gnarly  branch

Once I started painting the Parrot Bush I enjoyed it immensely - away from the sharp spiky leaves and referring to my notes and colour studies I started to see it with new eyes.

Banksia sessilis - Parrot Bush with dissection

At the other end of the appreciation scale is a little flower that really appeals to me ... Oxalis glabra - Finger-leaf Oxalis.

I think it's such a sweet little flower ... when you grow up on a farm in a harsh environment,  Oxalis is one of the species which seems to exist in the most difficult conditions .. a touch of colour when there is little else.  Although many think of them as weeds and our local rangers tend to spray them to reduce outcrops, I was very happy to include them in my artwork as a common sight in my habitat.

Another requirement of the field studies artwork is to show at least one subject in situ in the habitat showing the growth site, including leaf litter, stones, gravel and nuts.  I decided graphite would be the best choice to depict these less lively subjects.

Oxalis glabra - Finger-leaf Oxalis

I have posted quite a bit about this assignment but it is relative to the amount of background research, study and sketch requirements to complete this style of botanical work.    I would love to try this again in Spring ... the Australian native wildflowers are beautiful and so unique ...



  1. Impressive sketchbook notes! Loosing your blood over this assignment was well worth it, the result is wonderful!

  2. How nice to see the plants and studies.
    Love the studies pages; find beautiful the Parrot bush. I was wondering if this plant has sharp spiky leaves and yes, you mentionned it.
    Thanks for this post...love it like usual..
    Manon xx

  3. It is really interesting to get the background on your work, Vicki. Your work is beautiful, and your notes on the specimens adds to the work. :)

  4. Your paintings are gorgeous Vicki...it is fantastic to read about the process also! xv

  5. Thanks Alena, Manon, Anne and Vicki ... nice to think it's completed now ... on to the next one :)