Thursday, 30th June 2005


I've got a small interval where nothing is pressing and I can just relax and draw for half an hour while I wait in the car in the leafy grounds of Greenhead College, Huddersfield, until it's time for the meeting.

Usually while I'm hanging about here I'll draw one of the trees so, this afternoon, instead of going for the obvious subject of the ornamental cherry right in front of me, I look out of the side window at the tangle of leaves on the shady verge beside me.

I love this kind of subject. There are all those abstract shapes, twisting and interlocking; modulations of rhythms and randomness, like a piece of music. Despite this complexity it's a calm, absorbing activity, to look at this small part of the earth's surface for 30 minutes - I can just draw exactly what's in front of me and all those tasks and deadlines that I'm preoccupied with can just fade away.

Botanical Painting
The Art of Botanical Painting
Margaret Stevens,
Collins, 2004

An Artless Arrangement

Recently I've enjoyed reading The Art of Botanical Painting and The Challenge of Landscape Painting, but I realise that the approach of each has shortcomings for me (although I'd recommend both books as accessible and inspiring discussions of their subjects).

In Botanical Painting no plant is ever allowed to be as relaxed, shabby and messy as the verge I drew, even in the chapter on working in the field. The plants in the botanical portraits all look as if they've been told to 'sit up straight and sparkle!'.

In Landscape Painting no landscape is allowed to be just what it is without the burden of expressing the artist's emotional response to the scene, or acknowledging how Cézanne might have analyzed it or attempting to come to terms with the challenge from abstract art.

For me, it's so refreshing to just look at these fading daffodil leaves and upcoming weeds and seedlings without worrying about the great traditions of art and botanical illustration.

As Alan Watts succinctly put it, "This is It". Next Page

Landscape Painting
The Challenge of Landscape Painting
Ian Simpson, Collins, 1990

Richard Bell,