Monday, 30 June 2014

Summertime, and the living is easy

Well, it ought to be. But alas this month life hit me with something of an enormous great thud. Without going into tedious detail, it was all rather awful for a little while. But, luckily the big light at the end of the tunnel looms ever larger, (and Marks and Spencer cakes help an awful lot too). 

So, onto this month's missive and the sketchbook of choice this time around belongs to Frances. Now, I don't know Frances that well but I know she is rather partial to a Celtic knot design or too. Having seen a couple of lovely designs in her sketchbook, I decided I couldn't quite match the intricate Celtic knottery and decided to go with a pageful of flowers instead. Also, with all the rather hellish nonsense going on, I knew I wouldn't be able to spend as much time as I would have liked on this one.  

A seasonal display.

So, not wanting to disappoint, I had a good trawl through the archives and came upon a page of mixed summer flowers that I had completed a little while ago. I loved working on this page and knew with all the colours and shapes Frances might quite like these in her book. Rather than just a simple cut and paste job, I decided to work them up a bit with the addition of some dry brush work, to bring out the details a bit more. This also gave me the chance to see how the addition of Ox-gall liquid to the water would affect the paint. It worked a treat, and really helped with the flow of the paint, particularly when painting the 'Summertime' lettering. Highly recommended and great thanks to renowned artist Fiona Strickland for the tip.

The 'touching up' palette.
With the addition of some Winsor and Newton Ox-gall to the painting water.

As always, I added some of my typography flourishes, (well, I can't help myself on that) just to give it all that final personal touch. Flourishy and fluttery, I hope you like it Frances.

A gorgeous pink for the May / June entry

A size 0 brush, a steady hand and some Ox-gall work a treat.

The Ox-gall really assisted in getting the sweeping arches smoothly round.
Here's a quick edit. Recently I wrote a piece about our exchange for the Society of Floral Painters.

Friday, 27 June 2014


June the month of the cherries

A nice subject, when you can get enough of them, cherries to draw ! I started drawing them in 2003 as a small still life, then I continued painting this colourful and nice fruit trying to respect the usual rules of the botanical art. 
Cherries are cultivated plants, but I discovered that in Mugello, part of Tuscan region, they grow in wild, big trees as an element of the local flora, expecially in the hight hills with a cool climate. At the end of June there are no cherries anymore, because of the birds, that have all the fruits eaten.

Where are the cherries I drew gone ?

The first drawing I did is in a forgotten sketchbook 

The second is in Amsterdam 

The third (wild plant) is still framed and it was in Berlin for an exibition last year 

The fourth (wild plant) I gave as a present to a friend

The last is in Jarnie's sketchbook

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Moving on...

These are my last few weeks in London; after a life's worth of traffic pollution and the screaming sounds of sirens in the streets at all hours I'm giving my lungs, and ears, a rest and moving to Trowbridge in Wiltshire.
The park that has been a delight to me since living nearby all my life will be somewhere I only visit occasionally when Dyson and I come to London to visit our respective friends. Instead I will be living four minutes walk from the Kennet and Avon canal so looking forward to towpath walks and new bounty to discover and draw in the hedges and edges.

For what may be the last entry in the sketchbook from here I chose to put in something from my garden ... a fern crosier. I love watching the magic unfurling, tightly packed leaves filling out and surprising me with their fullness. The first attempt was in colour pencil (Polychromos) and I only managed about four layers before the paper wouldn't take any more...and neither could I !! it was frustrating.

Plan B... stick a new one in on different paper over the top.

On the next spread I took the book into the park and tried my best with the parakeets(something else I'm going to miss in Wiltshire). I did some rough sketches and tried painting on site but have decided that 'in the field' isn't for me and Dyson, maybe just me, certainly not Dyson! Used the colour pencils over the layer of watercolour for a little detail, jotted down some notes of the parakeets nesting, and did a graphite drawing on the opposite page from one of my own photo's. Came across a lovely poem by John Holloway and added that. Was fairly happy by the time I finished, which was a lovely turnaround from a frustrating start. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Ida Mitrani: May 2014-The Mandarin duck and the Amaryllis

An illustration inspired by an everlasting love between a Mandarin duck and an Amaryllis...

Derwent Studio pencils with pen

I've always had an interest in hybridization and the desire for humans to take control over Nature and create stronger species (selective breeding or artificial selection)

I wanted to create a drawing based on what could be the story of a forbidden and everlasting love. A fairy tale version of  two absolutely different species,which merged together and unite to become one.

Using a drawing I made of an Amaryllis Regina at the beginning of the year, I combined it with the feathers of both male and female Mandarin ducks.

'In traditional Chinese culture, Mandarin ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence they are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity, and are frequently featured in Chinese art.' Wikipedia

Male feathers are more colourful
I also decided to include the ducks beaks merging them with the buds of the flower.