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

Rose Mallee ...

Eucalyptus rhodantha
Rose Mallee - © Vicki Lee Johnston

It has been ages since I posted a blog update but sometimes I think we need to allow the process to find its own flow ... it should never be forced unless it's a commission or exhibition deadline but in terms of communicating in a social way sometimes less is more while you get your bearings.

The great thing about the creative process is being able to find a community that supports and encourages without constant expectation.  I belong to a few art societies which are very welcoming and always communicate upcoming projects, exhibitions, publications and invite participation wherever possible, despite where you are located.  One such project was run by the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) to celebrate their recent silver anniversary.  

As I am a Member of the ASBA, I was invited to contribute to their publication by painting a subject within the theme of 'silver' whether it be silver leaves, silver in the name of the plant, etc.  I wasn't going to participate due to a very busy calendar and overseas travel at the time, but on one of my road trips I came across the Eucalyptus rhodantha, Rose Mallee, which happened to be in flower on the roadside.

It is a beautiful small tree, if somewhat scraggly and messy at times - however once it comes into bud and flowers - wow, it's a showstopper.  It's endemic to my region and seemed a perfect subject to choose to paint considering the glaucous silver blue leaves and powdery grey buds .... just right for the job description at hand - and especially meaningful being an artwork portraying a West Australian native plant published in an international publication.

WIP - first layers of paint going on ...

I realised once again I had put myself under the pump time wise, as was due to travel within days so I decided just get it done, I loved the subject and once all the colour studies were done, I really hurried the layers of silver grey/blue on the leaves and started building up the shadows to create depth and form.

The powdery greyish silver was a joy to paint, keeping in mind less is more and only painting the shadows and a very subtle silver grey hue.  I then added the raspberry red of the flower, trying to show the light and shade to highlight the details and finally the minute details of the stamen.  The photos are very poor due to me working late into the night.  I had three days from start to finish to complete the painting, which is probably a good thing to avoid overworking.

Probably the most difficult part for many artists could often be the technology associated with exhibiting, publishing and showing artworks.  Being able to photograph, scan, convert files, edit, then ensure you have met the technical criteria for a publication, as it could end up less than complimentary to your work if the colours and light are off.  Fortunately all deadlines were met and the artwork was sent digitally to the society and able to be entered into this beautiful book celebrating their members, their art and the society as an international and inclusive organisation.

It was a few months before the book was published and it took quite a bit longer to reach Western Australia.  It was published in limited numbers, so somewhat of a collectors piece and I am very grateful for my edition.

Excuse the poor quality photo, not easy taking a pic from a glossy book ... but you get the gist! 
For further information here is the website for the American Society of Botanical Artists:

I have a number of artworks in the members gallery - which reminds me, I need to update that too!  Never ending tech alongside art and creation ... guess it keeps both sides of the brain in tune!

Rose Mallee - © Vicki Lee Johnston 

All artwork and images © Vicki Lee Johnston 2020