Project 3, exercise 1.8 portraying by drawing


I started by drawing the fushia from different angles with pencil in my sketchbook then colouring it with wet on wet watercolour (top left). I tried to keep the images quite loose. Next I tried wet on wet watercolor without drawing any pencil lines first (top right). I liked the flow and movement of these images better. I then drew outlines of the fushia, using different angles to get interesting shapes (bottom left). I did the same on the next page (bottom right) but without looking down at the page so much. These images were much more confident funnily enough- the images on the bottom left have hesitant marks and some of the lines are a bit shaky where I was conscious of what I was doing. I am finding that I like the shapes that come from not looking too much at the page and just concentrating on the lines of the object, they seem more ‘honest’ if that’s the right word to use?


Next I looked at the Rudbeckia flower. It was looking a little wilted and eaten but I liked how that made the edges of the petals different (wabi-sabi!). I followed the same process as before, line drawing first followed by wet on wet watercolor (top left) then wet on wet without any pencil outline (top right). I did some pen drawings, some looking at the page some without (bottom left) and then I concentrated on the spiral of tiny buds in the centre of the flower. They are in a sort of fibonacci pattern which I found hard to draw.


I found the chard (chard as in the vegetable not burnt!) leaf the most interesting to draw and the most challenging. Again I started by doing a very loose pencil drawing and then wet on wet watercolour. This piece didn’t go very well- I couldn’t match the green of the leaf and the wet on wet was just creating a mess rather than the nice flow and blend I had managed to achieve with the other paintings. I moved onto a detailed pencil drawing as I really wanted to capture the texture and bumpiness of the leaf. The drawing took a good couple of hours but I was really pleased with how it turned out. I think I have managed to capture the texture. I then did a speedy pen drawing, trying not to look to much at the page again.


The next day I was able to buy a bunch of flowers. I chose the bunch I did because of the cabbage rose, I liked the colour of it and the veins and texture. I used big sheets of lining paper for this next stage as I wanted to draw big. I drew a rough sketch of the flowers and then used the wet on wet watercolour. I then did a wet on wet painting without the pencil lines and painting only 3 of the flowers together. I was not pleased with the results of either of these paintings. I thought they came out quite wishy washy- I think the paper may have been a factor as it seemed to suck up the colour of the paint.


The pink and the green together on the cabbage rose and one of the other flowers was really standing out to me, I loved the contrast of the two colours together. I did a loose pencil sketch of the cabbage rose and then did wet on wet watercolour (top right). At this stage it sort of lost all its definition so I waited for it to dry and went back in, highlighting the veins and the slightly bumpy texture. I don’t think the end result is very good. The definition is gone and you can’t tell what it is, although I do like the colours together. I went on to draw a single leaf from the cabbage rose in pen and then decided to add water colour (top middle). I liked the contrast between the black pen and the watercolour paint so I also drew the other flower like it (bottom line, 2nd in) and one of the daisies (not sure it is a daisy, bottom row far right). I also painted one of the white flowers  and did some outlines of some of the leaves. I hammered the colour out of the leaves to leave imprints on the page. I liked the effect that gave.


By this stage I was feeling a little disheartened by the watercolour. It is a very hard medium to work with and I was getting a bit frustrated that some of the paintings were not turning out very well. I went back to the brief and looked at how I could bring some pattern, repetition and different orientation to the drawings. I went back to the pen drawings of the fuchsias I had done and two of the images stood out to me (bottom left). I traced the first image onto deli paper and then rotated the paper and traced it again upside down, matching the petals so that the tips touched each other. I continued down the page like this so that I had an alternating pattern. I really liked this effect and The negative space between the flowers where they joined. Also because of the angle that the fuchsia was drawn at originally, you couldn’t really tell what it was. I decided to add in the other image of the fuchsia but I found I couldn’t make it fit nicely as a repeating pattern matched in with the other image (top left). Still, I liked the overall result and coloured the images in with whispers brush markers (top middle). I wanted to expand on this pattern but it had taken ages to trace all the images so I decided to do a lino cut (bottom right) of the image. This way I could experiment with layout and colour (top right, bottom middle). I loved the way the print came out and it took it another step further from recognising what the image actually was.


I decided to do lino cuts of the chard leaf and the cabbage rose leaf. I really wanted to continue trying to capture that bumpy texture of the chard leaf and the green and pinky mauve of the cabbage rose contrasted well with the fuschia and the chard leaf. I had drawn the chard leaf to actual size in my sketchbook so I photocopied it and reduced the scale until I had a size I felt I could work with sufficiently, without losing any detail in the carving. I used dye based mini Ink pads so that I could get the varied colours. I am extremely pleased with how these have turned out. You can almost feel the texture of the chard leaf  and the cabbage leaf print just flows. There is a crispness to the prints which is in total contrast to the watercolours and the separate images join together really well to create a pattern, especially the chard leaf.


I then spent some time mixing up the prints but I wasn’t as happy with these results. They didn’t go as well together as I had hoped, I couldn’t get them to fit into a pattern that worked, but it was fun experimenting with them. I printed the images onto some calico and I am going to try various embroidery stitches to fill them in.

Project 3, exercise 1.7, Sources and Media

project31.jpgI wrote in my paper learning log that I wanted to go big and bold in this exercise. I wanted to be loose and free with my drawings and maybe use lots of layers for backgrounds and be quite abstract in capturing the colour and energy of the flowers rather than make precise botanical drawings. I wanted to buy a big bunch of flowers and do some drawings of the whole bunch in the vase.I had been inspired by the works of Jane Askley when looking at the artists in a previous exercises so thought I would try something in her sort of style.

But, It didn’t go that way! Circumstances found me having finished the previous exercises, with time on my hands, my new watercolours arriving that morning and no way to get to the flower shop, so I had a hunt around my garden. It’s november so all I could find was a fuchsia, one lonely rudbeckia flower and a chard leaf from the veggie patch! Change and adapt! I decided to go with the watercolor, looking more at Elizabeth Blackadder’s style. I have not used watercolour in years so I felt this was an ideal exercise to start again with this media.

What is drawing?

Another one of those ambiguous questions!

The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines drawing as:

‘the formation of a line by drawing some tracing instrument from point to point of a surface; representation by lines; delineation as distinguished from painting…the arrangement of lines which determine form.’

‘The term drawing is applied to works that vary greatly in technique. It has been understood in different ways at different times and is difficult to define. During the Renaissance the term ‘disegno’ implied drawing both as a technique to be distinguished from colouring and also as the creative idea made visible in the preliminary sketch.’ [1]

‘Drawing is the probity of art. To draw does not mean simply to reproduce contours; drawing does not consist merely of line: drawing is also expression, the inner form, the plane, the modeling. See what remains after that.’-Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867) [1]

From all I learnt at school in GCSE and A level art, 20 odd years ago, my first response to this question would be that a drawing is an image created using pencil or pen to translate an item or an idea onto paper. When you add colour or paint it becomes a painting- the drawing may still be there underneath, but you have expanded on it. It is fully acceptable to push the boundaries in drawing, more so than when I was at school, but I do think you need a drawing implement to create a drawing.

I don’t see photographs as drawings- a photo is an image captured by a device/piece of equipment. There is art in taking a good photo certainly, but you have not ‘drawn’ it you have captured it. You can edit digital images of that photograph which could be seen as drawing, depending on what you do to it.

I stated previously while looking at the eight artists in part one that I didn’t see Alison Carlier’s spoken drawings as drawings. She is creating a visual image in someone else’s mind but it’s not tangible and no two will be the same. It’s also transient, you will never remember all the details as you did the first time, so each time will be different and after a while the image will fade away and even if you listen again, you won’t create the same image again.. A drawing on paper or canvas you can look at again and again and it will be the same each time.  That’s not to say that her spoken drawings are not art- I personally just feel they are not drawings.

These are obviously just my humble opinions. The boundaries of drawing and art are stretched further every day, with new ideas and technologies bringing new ways to create I feel it’s down to your own personal view as to what you see as a drawing, or indeed what you consider art. Art is an extremely personal experience and maybe should not have labels. Is it a drawing or a painting, is it real or imagined, is it art or not, is it good or bad- who’s to say??


Research point 2 –project three, picking and portraying

Research point 2 notes- 3 examples of artists that employ floral and leaf motifs in their work. (More notes and images are in my paper learning log for my own reference, along with images for research point 3 on david hockney which I have not included on this blog)

I chose these three artists as their work spoke to me the most. I did a project on William Morris when I was studying fashion design at college as his work has always interested me. I love the medieval feel to his works and the use of pattern and repetition.

I must admit to not knowing the other 2 artists but their work appealed to me- the one with quite detailed flower paintings and the other with much more vivid and bolder flower paintings and a little more of an abstract feel.

Elizabeth Blackadder

  • She doesn’t like to plan her paintings too much but prefers to “let them grow on their own1
  • She studied Byzantine art and architecture and likes Japanese watercolour art
  • She began to become very interested in plants and flowers when she was sent to live with her grandmother at the beginning of the war when her father died. She used to be sent out as a gardener to all her grandmothers friends and her interest grew from there.
  • She doesn’t like to talk about her work much, she says in the YouTube video I watched that “I don’t like to talk about my art. It’s the paintings. That’s it.1
  • Some of her paintings don’t seem to be that detailed but others are very detailed, almost botanical reference like.
  • She likes to compose her works by arranging miscellaneous objects and painting them from above.2
  • Sometimes it is just the objects she paints- no table or background, and the items look like they are floating.
  • “The spaces between flowers and objects are very important to the composition, in fact almost as important as the objects themselves” Elizabeth Blackadder Masterclass
  • She often leaves the background white in her flower paintings.





William Morris

  • English textile designer 1834-1896
  • Part of the arts and crafts movement which was a revival of traditional handicrafts, improving the design of domestic objects and returning to a simpler way of life. (Even though his wallpapers were expensive!) 1
  • His sources were the plants themselves, although very much stylised and he was inspired by medieval tapestries and early printed herbals.
  • He uses repeating patterns and motifs in his designs
  • Due to the medieval influence his works could be mistaken for older than they are, and they also give a sense of opulence I feel- very suited to the upper class and manor houses.
  • “His success in creating structured patterns from natural forms, with a sense of organic growth controlled by a subtle geometry, was his most important design legacy.”2
  • He was influenced by John Ruskin who was also an artist and a nature observer and who also collected herbals. He was a member of the pre-Raphaelite circle and interestingly Morris’s wife Jane was a model for Dante Gabriel Rossetti painting ‘Proserpine’ 3






Jane Askey

  • “Painting is an attempt to make concrete the transience and fragility of flowers.” 1
  • ‘Jane is a painter, freelance giftware designer and university lecturer. She studied a degree in Textile Design at Manchester Polytechnic 1984-87 specialising in Printed Textile Design. Her textile background has influenced her current practise as a painter and designer. ‘ 1
  • Floral imagery, still life, vintage fabrics and decorative ceramics- ‘Elements pertinent to textiles are central to her approach to painting: pattern, rhythms and echoes of colour are investigated with a sensitivity to space and balance.’ 2
  • For still life paintings I think they actually portray a lot of movement. Whether this is due to the patterns of the vintage fabrics or the decorative spotty mugs and jugs, I don’t know. They feel very much alive to me though.
  • “The works are painted using mixed media on gesso panel, card and canvas. If I am painting in the studio I stand up to work either at an easel or a table focusing on energetic mark making, experimenting with the paint media, building transparent and opaque layers, allowing the texture of the brush to suggest rather than describe. Surfaces are constructed and de-constructed scraping and wiping away the medium and then re-applying the paint with a variety of brushes and tools until the piece has the balance and interest of the place that inspired me. My landscapes have the immediacy of a glimpse, somewhere seen in my peripheral vision as I walk the Cornish or Scottish landscape.” 3