England is a Garden

Saturday, 7th May 2005, page 1 of 2

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daffodils by Joan Bell

MumI thought I'd start today with some work by a special guest artist: my mum, Joan Bell. She drew this as a card to go with a voucher for Armitage's art shop in Ossett that she gave me for my birthday recently.

She says that the design was inspired by Catherine Hamilton's illustrations to the England is a Garden series. Hamilton would set out with her caravan to various parts of the country, for example the Lake birthday cardDistrict, to draw the wild flowers, garden flowers, landscapes and traditional buildings that give a particular region its character. Typically she would paint the flowers in watercolour and add a background in pencil.

I'd like that job!

Garden Posy

The evenings are now getting too light to use a candle on the dinner table so when my mum, my sister Lin and her husband Dave, came around for a meal yesterday I went down the garden with a small jug and picked a selection of flowers (including the odd weed):

flowers from the garden

Bush Vetch
Anemone blanda

Lily of the Valley
London Pride
Elephant's Ears

The Art of Botanical Painting

Botanical PaintingWhen I went browsing around the art shop with the token my mum had given me I came across this book by Margaret Stevens, produced in association with the Society of Botanical Artists. I'd like to immerse myself in natural history again this summer and this book appeals to me; it's not too coldly scientific like some books on botanical illustration nor is it airily elegant like some of the flowers painting guides that I've seen. The scientific approach might involve stultifyingly precise stippled pen and ink work while at the other extreme - the more painterly approach - blooms might dissolve into misty ripples of watercolour.

I guess I could learn a lot from both ends of the botanical art spectrum but The Art of Botanical Painting appeals to me as a starting point because it strikes a balance - relaxed but rigorous - between the two extremes.

It includes 14 step-by-step demonstrations and I think that if I try painting my own versions of these, using fresh flowers and fruits as subjects, as I read through the book it will serve as a useful refresher course for me. Next Page

Related Link

Collins who publish The Art of Botanical Painting

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk

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