Sweet Peas ‘Fire and Ice’
I have been working on this drawing for awhile now. Adding different backgrounds to my flower portraits has been an idea in my head for some time, but I have had trouble trying to figure out how to do it. I have tried before with smudgy type backgrounds (technical term there), but I have never liked it.
The idea for this background came to me when I was photographing some sweet peas last year and was looking at the great pattern of the stems and tendrils and thought they would make a good background, especially if I did them in grey scale. This also gave me the chance to use my water soluble graphite sticks. I always love the chance to play with new art supplies and it may even justify their purchase!
under coat of ink
Starting the coloured pencil
Although I am fairly happy with the result, I am not completely sure that this is the answer. The sweet peas are cut out and are just sitting on top of the background, so nothing is set yet. When I am not sure of a picture I have a few techniques I try to get another perspective on the work.
- Put the whole thing away and look at it again in a few weeks. Not having seen it for awhile gives me fresh eyes to look at the work again to see if I really do like it or not.
- The opposite of this is to stick it on the wall where I can look at it for awhile to figure out what is not working.
- Taking a photo of the work is my third way of figuring out what is the problem, making it black and white can help, especially if you do not have enough contrast, as this is hard to tell sometime with coloured work.
If you have a different technique please share it with me as I always need help.
Last weekend I went back to one of my favourite nurseries, Lambley Nursery just out of Ballarat, as they had a garden tour and you could visit their sweet peas that they grow for their flower seeds, over 100 varieties. The sweet pea I drew is from their garden last year and is called Fire and Ice. I took a few photos, (over 70, but who is counting) and have included a few of my favourites for your viewing pleasure.
Might be a second Sweet Pea picture….
Posted in 2017 Artwork, Flowers from the Garden, What inspires me
Tagged art, colored pencils, coloured pencil, drawing, floral portraints, flowers, gardening, karenbaileystudio, Lambley nursery, sweet pea
Fairy Wax Flower Coloured Pencil and Ink
Still running around taking photos of the wildflowers in the bush, it has not let up and with still more varieties coming into bloom. We have not had such a bumper year (or a wetter one) and I am still finding new flowers to add to my collection of photos. I will have so many photos to inspire my drawings, I hope they will last all year.
This one is the Fairy Wax flower. It is so very photogenic, just about every photo I have taken of these flowers have worked and the white flowers against the dark green leaves really stand out. I never realised that flowers could be photogenic, but for me it is the case. Some photograph well enough but just don’t look as good as others. Of course this would have nothing to do with my ineptitude at photography or lack of real equipment (Ha ha). I am still taking all my photos on the Iphone with the Camera+ app. I love the ease and I know that I would not have the patience to faff around with setting up a lot of equipment and give up taking photos. Here are some of what I have taken lately.
Pink Fingers Orchid
Castlemaine Spider Orchid
Castlemaine Spider Orchid
We have planned a beautiful poteger vegetable patch with raised beds, formal layout and walls of wire mesh to climb things up. It will be a staged event, with the beds going in this year and the walls next. But we have had the wettest September on record, instead of 60mm of rain we have had 160mm. this is really slowing down progress.
I will leave you with t Rosie watching the rain. She is growing so fast, but seems to do it in stages, one moment her legs have grown and she is all gangling, then her ears will grow and she looks like a fox. Never had a dog do that, but it is very funny to watch.
Rosie watching the rain
Posted in 2016 Artwork, Australian Natives, What inspires me
Tagged art, australian native flower, Castlemaine, Castlemaine Spider Orchid, colored pencil, coloured pencil, coloured pencils, drawing, drawings, flowers, native flowers, pink bells, Pink finger Orchid, Sundew flower
Greenhood Orchid Coloured Pencil and Ink
Spring is finally ‘officially’ here and I have been torn between walks in the bush to find flowers, drawing and gardening. I feel like the puppy, excitedly running from one to the other, not settling at anything.
It is such a busy time and as the weather tries to warm up, you just want to be out there. We have just finished planting the roses and lavender in the front garden bed and made a huge seed order for the summer vege patch. Not sure where they are all going to go, but it was impossible to be restrained with all these amazing heirloom varieties that sound so wonderful. Vegetables such as Flageolet Flagrano Bean, Paris market carrots, Costoluto Genovese tomatoe, one of the oldest Italian varieties and Rosa Bianca eggplant.
Little Greenhoods in the bush
The little Greenhood orchids are still flowering and I finally found time to complete a drawing of one. Such gorgeous little things only a 1-2cm long flower and the stand no more than 7-8cm high. I am not usually fond of green flowers but these are so crisp and fresh and who can resist such a bizarre shape.
Lynette and the dogs, searching for orchids on a spring morning
I have found a couple of new orchids this year, which is always exciting. There is the Leopard Orchid all yellow and brown, Lynette thinks it looks more like a dragon and the Yellow Moth orchid with its stunning, clear, yellow petals. The good thing about being a beginner at this, is there are so many new plants to discover. Every walk is an adventure. I now have my sister hooked and it is better with two people searching, as all these flowers are very small. (Tap/click the image for the orchid name.)
Posted in 2016 Artwork, Australian Natives, What inspires me
Tagged art, australian native flower, Castlemaine, colored pencil, coloured pencil, coloured pencils, drawing, drawings, flowers, Greenhood orchid, Leopard Orchid, native flowers
Rosie amongst the pot plants. Water colour and ink
We have a new addition to our family, a little, red, border collie named Rosie. She is a little bundle of joy and trouble and has stolen all our hearts. Well perhaps not our older dog Hannah, but they are getting along ok and will be good friends in time.
My neice’s dog came to visit and he was so wonderfully gentle with her, for such a boisterous boy. She is only nine weeks old, but is able to hold her own with the older dogs.
I have been busy with the garden and working on the house, so haven’t been doing as much art as I had hoped, but as we settle into our new routines I hope to be doing more.
Here are some puppy photos for you to enjoy.
Hannah and Rosie
Rosie playing peek-a-boo from under the coach
Playing with Max when he came for a visit
Bounty in a mid- century kitchen Water colour and ink
It is Sunday night and for the first time (in more time then I care to remember), I am tired after spending time in the garden doing physical activity. Nothing beats the feeling of putting your feet up at the end of the day after you have really achieved something.
I have been working on three gardens this weekend. One garden has the straw bales seasoned and it has just been sown with beautiful flower seeds. I did start planting them out in a careful pattern, but sowing seed is harder then it looks as some where so tiny, so as usual the great plan was thrown over to a more adhoc system. Another garden has had the straw bales laid out and it will be planted with peas and beans, its seasoning process has begun. The other garden has been planned and the plants ordered, it will be a 17 metre long rose garden, under-planted with lavender and catmint. We have chosen mostly old fashioned scented roses going from a deep red, through the pinks to white. You have no idea how much fun it is to order 19 roses at once.
The double page spread
During the week I stayed at a friend’s house, she is an amazing cook and adores all things mid-century. I bought her some local produce and she displayed them in her new Lucie Kaas bowls. This is her picture, but I loved the composition so much I had to draw it. It shows three things close to her heart, great produce, great design and her kitchen. What’s not to love.
Posted in 2016 Artwork, C'maine Garden, What inspires me
Tagged art, Castlemaine, drawing, drawings, flower, gardening, journal, peppercorn tree, sketchbook, sketches, sketching, strawbale gardening, watercolor pencil, watercolour pencils
i have finished adding colour to the rice terraces. I should learn not to delay between the line sketch and adding colour, as I get nervous about wrecking the drawing. This is also heightened with a journal, as I will not be able to get rid of it if I mess it up. I think that is one of the reasons why it took me so long to work in journals, the permanency of work and what if I wreck the drawing and I am stuck with it?
But of course this turned out to be one of the great things that I have learned in the last year of working in journals, the mistakes aren’t as important as I thought. I have learned to not only live with mistakes and imperfections in my drawings but to embrace them and see that they add life and feeling to the image. I have also learnt to work through the mistakes and how to rescue drawings that were teetering on the brink of disaster. The use of multi media helps me, I often find a different approach of a various mediums can often be what is needed.
The few things that I now always check when a drawing is just not working are
- Line variation, I like to make sure that there are variations in the lines I am using and thicken up some of the lines or make breaks in the lines. This gives much more life and movement to what I am drawing. I have a very favourite brush pen that makes the most delicious tapered line. It is a Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Brush pen and it is under $10.
- Darks, since I started drawing, I don’t get the values right in my images and it is usually because my dark areas are not dark enough. So I always have to check my drawings and go back to what I have been taught, do I have the right balance of light, middle and dark tones in my image. As I use a lot of my photos as references, technology helps by being able to make my photos black and white. That often sorts out the problems.
- Highlights. Adding those last highlights is now much easier since I discovered good white pens. My extra fine white sharpie is great to add in those highlight, (or fix a problem) and you can go back over them with colour to knock back the brightness and sink the area back into the drawing.
Back to the journal, my main disappointment in my last trip was not seeing the rice terraces, so this time we went for a day trip to the north of the island and did a half day walking tour of the rice fields It was so interesting as the guide not only explained the rice production but showed us the medicinal and other plants in the region, plus something I had not seen before, clove trees I did not realise how big the trees are and you can smell the cloves as you walk by them. You could also see the cloves being dried on large sheets beside the road.
Cloves drying by the side of the road
I also went back to one of my previous pages and added a drawing on a urn that was beside the bridge. I drew the urn, but the spread didn’t work and I thought I had wrecked it, but a couple of days away from it and with fresh eyes I realised it had no darks and by adding in a very dark background it matched in with the other drawing and the spread was saved. A drawing is such a journey and there is hardly a drawing I do that I don’t hate at some stage, but as I learn more I find that I am able to see were the problems are and fix them or learn to let go of the perfection and embrace the wonkiness
Urn and offering. Water colou and ink. Bali Journal 2015
Bamboo bridge and Urn spread. Watercolour and ink Bali Journal 2015
PS I have written this post on my IPad, so please forgive any problems as this is not my preferred way of posting.
Posted in 2015 Artwork, Journal, What inspires me
Tagged art, Bali, clove trees, colored pencil, coloured pencils, journal, mixed media, Rice terraces, sketchbook, sketches, sketching, travel, travel journal, working in a journal
Water lily and dragonfly Water color pencil and ink Bali Journal 2015
I am still drawing in my Bali journal and quietly proud of it. I am determined to complete it and although I have a number of different projects that I think I would like to try, back to the journal it is. This will not be one of my many uncompleted projects. With the completing of journals I feel the need to start some larger more finished art works. It has been ages since I did a big drawing outside a journal. (See one sentence is about finishing and the next is looking at the bright, sparkly idea over there, the attention span of a gnat.)
The drawings that I have recently completed in the Bali journal all have a watery theme. One of the highlights from the trip was a tour we took to the north of the island to go walking through the rice fields. I was also keen to get out of the built up areas of Bali and see the rural landscape.
Line drawing of rice fields Pen and ink Bali Journal 2015
Above is a line drawing of the rice fields, I haven’t added the colour yet, not sure what medium I want to use, but no rush. On the way to the rice fields we passed by some volcanic lakes, one with an important water shrine, Pura Ulun Danu Beratan. We had followed a whole village who were going for the yearly celebration to this important shrine, they were packed into every type of transport imaginable including large trucks with about 50 people squashed into the back. It was a beautiful and tranquil place and here are a couple of water serpent carvings that were right on the lake edge.
Water serpents at Lake Danau Beratan. Matt water colour and ink Bali Journal 2015
While at Ubud I went to the art store, you can get some really cheap and unusual art supplies in Bali and I found some matte water colours which looked like fun. I used them on the serpents, interesting with a chalky feel to them. Undecided on whether I like them or not, but always fun to have new supplies. Below is a picture of the line drawing before I added the water colour.
Line drawing of water serpents Ink Bali Journal 2015
I had to have a close up of the water lilies in the journal as that pond was such an important part of our trip. This picture was taken to catch a fleeting glimpse of a the dragon fly, but as such things happen I really liked the composition and decided to use it for my picture. I took the image onto the next page to add some interest to the journal spread.
Life on the lily pond page Journal spread water colour and ink Bali journal 2015
Last of all is another Balinese inspired pattern, it has been a horrendously busy 10 days at work and I just needed the solace of a peaceful repeat pattern. Art is such a wonderful retreat where I can forget the problems of the present and return to my holiday.
Balinese Pattern, water colour and ink Bali Journal 2015
Posted in 2015 Artwork, Journal, What inspires me
Tagged art, Bali, Bali travel journal, Danau Beratan, dragon fly, journal, rice fields, sketchbook, sketches, sketching, Spau Lidi, travel, travel journal, water color, water lily, water serpents, watercolor pencil, watercolour, watercolour pencils