Challenges,  Drawing,  Education,  Gallery,  Leaves

So much leaves

After Newcastle I was ambitious and I enrolled in the Botanical Painting course at London Art College.

The first exam is now over. I submitted my drawings and also received my criticism. I’m very happy with that, especially since I was really nervous about the first exam.

The examination topic was 4 outline drawings of different sheets in different sheet shapes from different perspectives at the start of the course.

Back in November I started collecting leaves and looked at different species. So I put some of them in the flower press and created my own herbarium sheets.

… finding the process…

I took my time and found out a lot about my own work process.

In the end, the process of botanical painting was the be-all and end-all. I definitely wanted to draw the ginkgo and maple leaves. To be honest, they are my favorites among the leaves.

Norway Marple (acer platanoides)

For the ginkgo leaf I even climbed over a fence to get a sample for my herbarium collection.

The disadvantage of winter is of course that only a few fresh, green leaves can be found. But I was able to master the whole thing very well by drying and pressing several copies of my selection exposed. So I could also use the rolled up sheets as evidence for drawing.

drafts of the dog rose leaf (rosa canina)

I ventured step by step through the different sheets and made a lot of designs, where I also rejected many, until I then decided on the motives for the exam.

For the exam, I wanted to incorporate complexity, but also aesthetics. It starts with the selection of the different perspectives that are combined on one sheet in the end.

Lady’s mantle in the observation phase,
the pressed and the naturally shaped leaf

I use a third hand for my leaves and flowers, which is usually used for soldering. I can reposition and rotate and place them anytime I want.

At first I only make rough sketches, actually these are rather leaflets, where I write the characteristics of the sheet, similar to an information board, what I notice about the sheet.

Then I make the rough draft and draw the same sheet again and again with only increased details until I am satisfied.

It is often the case that I reject my subject when I notice that I am stuck. Sometimes I take a break, get a tea or do something completely different for an hour and then go back to it with a fresh eye.

Dog rose (rosa canina) & bloody dogwood (cornus sanguinea)

During the whole process of observation and drawing, I started to develop a good routine.

If you start with this task, where it is about accurate drawing, it is really tedious and complicated with the first drawings. But then comes the famous turning point, where you realize that you have the right approaches out of your routine.

… what didn´t work…

Photos did not help me with this task as a reference because I had to take the exact dimensions of the sheet. Unfortunately, some herbarium sheets that I had pressed were completely unusable because they were completely flat..

The hint in botanical painting “Draw from life!” is absolutely correct and … yes … it definitely has its justification.

Conclusion:
I am smarter than before and my fear of criticism from my tutor was absolutely unfounded. It showed me my strengths but also my weaknesses, which was really very constructive, supportive, but also challenging. My choice of my botanical painting diploma at London Art College was absolutely right and I am very motivated for the next exam.

Now it continues with the daily painting and drawing routine. The next test is due with a tonal drawing.
Since the beginning of 2019, I have mainly worked in black and white through all my exams at Newcastle and at the LCA. I am looking forward to finally continuing with color.

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