Blog 31 : Tips on erasing that smudge

Yesterday I made a mistake which is an easy one to make when you’re rushing. I brushed my hand across part of my painting to remove a speck of dust when it wasn’t quite dry. This resulted in rather an annoying pale smudge on an area where I couldn’t possibly add anything in to cover it up!

The smudge!

It could have been pretty fatal had it been darker. I decided to try my Eradicator brush to remove as much as I could before letting it dry thoroughly overnight. The Eradicator brush is a super useful tool, you can buy them from Billy Showell or Jackson’s Art. There is a method to using it which I will explain under the photos below…

Wet the brush in clean water
Wipe the excess water off to make the brush damp, not saturated
To tidy edges : Rub the side of the brush gently just outside the edge of the painted area then dab with kitchen roll.
For bigger areas : move the brush gently in circles or strokes. Do not use force or you will break up the papers surface.
Important : Clean the brush and remove excess water between each stroke or you will rub more paint into the paper!
Dab with kitchen roll. The brush will have loosened the surface paint so dab it off. Don’t forget to clean the brush before doing more erasing!

If the stain isn’t fully removed (as it wasn’t in my case) leave it to dry overnight before attempting to try again. Don’t panic and keep erasing or you will ruin the paper surface completely.

You can use magic eraser to remove stubborn stains. This is a white foam which I cut into a small wedge shape. This for ease of erasing close to an edge of paint and it is more comfortable to hold whilst working with it.

Cut a small wedge of magic eraser
Dip it into clean water
Squeeze it dry, it only needs to be damp
Gently use small strokes on the area near an edge. Do not rub hard! Clean it in water and squeeze dry again before carrying on.
You can use the fatter end to do bigger areas. Once it’s removed let it dry thoroughly before burnishing it. This is described below.

Once it’s dry you can burnish the area to try and flatten any fibres which are still loose. They may not go away completely but it will feel a little smoother. A second attempt using this method proved successful on my painting, thank goodness! After letting it dry thoroughly I burnished the area again. This is described below.

This is my burnishing stone. You don’t necessarily have to buy a burnishing tool. So long as its very smooth and easy to hold, a smooth pebble will do. You can even use the back of a spoon!
Take a piece of kitchen roll, or even better a piece of silk, and place it over the area you want to burnish. Rub quite firmly in circles across the area. Remove the kitchen roll and check, with a clean finger, if it is smooth. Repeat if needed.

I used a very fine sanding block to smooth the paper again as the fibres were still obvious. This is only suitable if you don’t want to paint over the area again. If you do, then stick to burnishing and use dry brush method carefully over the area. Washes will lift the fibres again.

This is a fine emery block. It can be used to wipe away fibres which may have been left after erasing. Do it carefully and don’t press too hard. On thicker 300lb paper it isn’t such a problem but on 140lb you could rub a hole into the paper!
Only use gentle strokes to remove fibres.
Stain gone… yippee!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me with a comment or via my contact details below.

For great information on erasing see Mindy Lighthipe’s video. She shows how to remove a larger blob of paint. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NBOC0rJad5Q

Happy new year all!






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
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Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
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Blog 30 : Painting for climate change

Jackie Isard BA (Hons) SBA Fellow CBM ASBA

The PNBA (Pacific Northwest Botanical Artists) asked me to write an article for their newsletter and I thought I would share this as a blog with you too. I hope you enjoy it.

The reason

This Autumn COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, was held in Glasgow Scotland. It brought together the nations of the world for one of the most important international meetings about the future of our planet. The conference had six major themes and the theme that was relevant to the ABBA (Association of British Botanical Artists) ReflectionS exhibition was:

Nature – to safeguard and restore natural habitats and ecosystems to preserve the planet’s biodiversity

Inspired by COP26, ABBA has released an exhibition focused on the crucial role that plants play in preserving the planet’s health and biodiversity. ABBA’s slogan for the exhibition is  ‘No plants – no planet’.

Thirty-five juried artists’ submissions are being exhibited in digital form in the prestigious Shirley Sherwood Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew). The exhibition is also online until March 2022 which includes all sixty-six artists’ entries, http://www.britishbotanicalartists.com/reflections-1. At present the Shirley Sherwood Gallery is featuring an exhibition by Sculptor Zadok Ben-David called ‘Natural Reserve’ and the ReflectionS digital exhibition can be viewed on a large screen within the same building.

I am very privileged to have had my work selected by the judges to be shown at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. This blog is about the painting I made and why I felt it was important to show. The Southern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza praetissima) is a British wet meadow wild orchid. This orchid was restricted to southern UK but due to climate change, recent records now find it as far north as Newcastle upon Tyne. A warmer climate may result in this orchid declining or disappearing from southern UK altogether. Wetland is one of our essential habitats for small mammals, insects, birds and wildflower species. 

My working method

I like to find wild plants in their own habitat to make an accurate drawing and study the plant botany first. Working in this way allows you to understand everything about the plant before you start to draw. If I am able to, I will pull a plant apart and examine each individual bit before I start my composition. I make study drawings of all these parts and note measurements too. With a head full of information and notes I will start to plan out the composition. For this wild orchid, I wanted to show part of its living habitat too, which is why I included some grasses and insects in the composition. These were Grass Vetchling – growing nearby, a common blue damselfly – an insect flying around in the area and a solitary mason bee – a bee which pollinates early flowering wildflowers. I feel by including these details the plant and its story are being told.

My workspace whilst working on Geum rivale (Water Avens) for my RHS project

The journey 

I was having great trouble locating this orchid locally when the University Bristol Botanic Garden called me one day to say they thought they had a specimen growing that I could borrow. I was delighted! Having a specimen right next to you on your desk is such a benefit when drawing and painting. However, the specimen was not a true Southern Marsh Orchid but a very similar hybrid and so my hunt went on. I have a lot of experience in hunting down wildflower species as I have had to do this for all the plants which feature in my RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) botanical exhibition work. It isn’t easy sometimes and involves a lot of research, driving around and walking! 

This is the plant that was very kindly loaned to me by the University Bristol Botanic Gardens,
growing in a pot with another shrub!

I was disappointed but kept on with my research in the hope that I could find one before it was too late. There was a tight deadline! By chance whilst chatting to a local walking friend (Simon Harding), who works in the area recording wild orchid and flower species, I was told that he knew exactly where I could find plenty of specimens to study in the field. Excited and so very grateful, I followed his map to a place about 20 minutes from my home, see image.

There I found hundreds of Southern Marsh Orchids living quietly in a damp field on the nature reserve. I measured, made colour studies, sketched and also made a note of what other plants were growing nearby. I also noted insects visiting the area too. This was a typical wet meadow environment, the type I love, as all my RHS exhibition species are wet meadow plants too. My initial sketches were raw and I found the inflorescence very tricky! 

Some of my rough sketching

Research and botany

I was allowed to take a few individual flowers from an inflorescence to help me with my dissection illustrations. Orchids are difficult to dissect and understand but with the help of a botanist friend, I managed to make a perfect dissection drawing. I also painted an enlarged pollinium; a body of pollen grains forming a mass and attached to a sticky pad. There are two of them per flower on this plant. This reproductive part attaches to an insects head as it enters the flower. It is then taken by the insect to another orchid flower or plant and pollination happens. To see all the detail of these flowers I used a microscope. The front-facing orchid flower reminded me of an alien face and the side view of a baby in a bonnet! Below are images of my studies and microscope photos.

Microscope images of the reproductive area
A pollinium enlarged
The dissection and front-facing flower illustrations

Preparing to paint

The colour on this orchid was quite tricky to match. It has a lovely pink/lilac flower, burgundy/brown tinges on green bracts and the stem and foliage are quite a bright green. I tested my mixes using live pieces that had been carefully removed from plants in the field. I also took many reference photos to help me with the final drawing and colouring. Not an easy task, as photos make this plant look so different where colour is concerned, but then, photos generally do!

I decided to make this a long thin painting as the subject was tall and its foliage quite upright. I completed the drawing in outline and left the habitat part at the bottom to finish later. I really needed to start painting!

My original inflorescence sketch was too large so I outlined it in black fine liner and reduced it on my laptop, then printed it out at the correct size. It was tidied up later and drawn neatly before I transferred it to watercolour paper.

Testing colour mixes for the flowers, stem and leaves on a small practice piece

I particularly enjoyed painting the insects. This is the start of the bright blue damselfly. No black paint was used, this black is a mix of Indanthrene Blue, Permanent Carmine and New Gamboge. I prefer to mix my own black as there are many versions of black too, warm and cool! This is a warm black mix that compliments the bright vivid cool blue.

This painting was a mammoth task with such a short time to complete. I really wanted to be involved in this exhibition as the theme is very close to my heart. Protecting all our ecosystems is crucial to human survival and these environments are becoming so rare. In the UK 97% of all meadow grassland has been lost since the 1950s due to modern intensive farming, housing and draining of wetlands. Then there are pesticides that are killing the pollinators of our food plants. Something needs to change….

Extra research

I went back to the nature reserve later on to see the seeding inflorescences. I did this so that if I had time to include this plant in my RHS entry, I would have more information available about its lifecycle. It would be a different style composition to this painting here as I have done my RHS paintings in a more scientific way. I do now have all the necessary information and research to hand though, just in case! The seeds are very small, fine and delicate, almost like dust. see microscope image below.

The finished painting

Dactylorhiza praetissima (Southern Marsh Orchid) with Lathyrus nissolia (Grass Vetchling), Osmia bicornis (solitary mason Bee) and Enallagma cyathigerum (Common blue damselfly)

I was pleased with the result and thrilled that it was chosen to be shown in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery by ABBA judges. It is probably the fasted detailed painting I have ever done!

I hope you enjoyed my painting journey for the Southern Marsh Orchid.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, it’s very close now!






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
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Blog 29 : RHS adventures in 2021

The perfect place

I had a wonderful summer this year with time to concentrate on my RHS paintings. I took myself away to a lodge in Trefeglwys, Wales. The lodge was in a quiet, remote location and it gave me time to focus on my work. The lodge is surrounded by fields, woodland, hills, sheep (I miss the bleating!) and cows.

The wildlife

Wild hares leapt around the fields at night. A pond faced the deck of the lodge and many dragonflies and damselflies frequented it. For the first time, I saw a dragonfly emerge from its nymph. The process took almost 2 days and was fascinating to watch even though I found the nymph a little scary at first! Overhead many Red Kites flew, I’ve never seen them this close up. They are magnificent birds, although a little noisy on occasions as they were nesting!

Nature reserve visits

As well as visiting my usual Trewalkin meadow, on the journey, each time I travelled to the lodge, I also visited two other local meadows, Llanmerewig and Pen Y Waun. The latter was such a tiny meadow but full of wildflowers. One weekend my cousin and hubby came to stay and we went to Hafren forest. An amazing place, the atmosphere there is very dear to my heart. It was teaming with unripe bilberries too.

Below are photos of Llanmerewig meadow. It was a very hot balmy day and it was buzzing with bees, hoverflies and I even spotted a nursery spider web. These grassland habitats fill my heart with joy especially so as they are very rare. Let’s hope in the future we will see more of these grasslands appearing and that there will be protection for what we have left – only 2% only since the 1930s!

I visited Pen Y Waun meadow in June. The tiniest nature reserve I’ve ever encountered! However, this tiny meadow was boasting some wildflower species. I went in the hope of finding evidence of Devil’s bit scabious growing there. This plant doesn’t flower until late summer but I would recognise the basal leaves if they were present. Unfortunately, nothing was to be seen. Below are photos of Pen Y Waun. You can literally see all of it in the first photo!

The main meadow for my research, Trewalkin

Trewalkin meadow is en-route to the lodge in Trefeglwys, snuggled down a narrow country lane. A small, damp, flower-rich meadow at the foot of the Black Mountains between Llangorse and Talgarth. I stopped on the way on all my journeys to see how the meadow was progressing. I have visited this meadow many times since I started my plant research. It is home to all but one of the species I am painting. I was delighted to find a lot of them still flowering along with wild orchids when I visited in July.

The process

I took with me all the paintings I have already started in order to do some more work on them. Setting up my workspace at the lodge was simple, there was a huge dining table! The light wasn’t as good as I expected but I had pre-empted this and taken my lamps with me. I moved the table as close to the windows as I could. My car was overflowing as I needed to take reference books, research work and all my equipment too. I didn’t enjoy the packing and unpacking but the place was perfect and idyllic. I also had to take some plant stems from my garden at home for reference.

The painting

I started by working on my Ragged Robin and Greater Birds Foot Trefoil dissection details using my plant specimens as reference. Here are some photos of the work I completed whilst away. The hours flew by…

On my next trip to the lodge, I took a Water Avens plant with me and again checked Trewalkin meadow on the way. Trewalkin was very water-logged in May and the Water Avens plants growing there were very short in comparison to my home-grown Water Avens. I have found it was important to find all my chosen species growing in the wild as they grow more naturally than in a garden. Habitats in the wild are quite different. Because the field was so water-logged, this year the plants had been stunted a little. They were much smaller than last year.

On my final visit to the lodge, I collected Great Burnet specimens (with permission) from Trewalkin to study this plants botany and make preliminary sketches. In August Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) fills this field and looks like hundreds of red lollipops. It’s a sight to see in real life. Hoverflies were enjoying the nectar too!

I had come to the end of my visits to Trefeglwys where I had done a great deal of work. I was pleased with my progress. On returning home I was distracted by other things I needed to catch up on and pressing work for the SBA. It took a little while before I could settle into my studies again. I have just completed a Devil’s bit scabious composition which you may have seen on Facebook. This has taken over three weeks to get the composition and drawing just right. Next, I will be making my composition for Great Burnet. This will be the last one of the six paintings prepared, then all I have to do is complete the paintings!

I have learned a great deal along the way about wildflowers and botany. Thanks must go to a well know botanist who has helped me learn and get my drawings right along the way. I am very grateful to her. I so enjoyed learning about botany that I designed a course for my local students in September. I called it ‘Flower Studies and a little Botany’. They learned so much and made a page of botanical studies on a chosen plant. They were all very excited by what they had learned and are now looking at plants in a new way!

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this blog and I will be back with another one soon.

Take care and happy painting!






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
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Blog 28 : Colour Matters

Colours by the same name….part 2!

I’m back at last! I have decided to continue on from Blog 25 which discussed Quinacridone Gold across three brands and how very different they all were. It is very easy to make the mistake of thinking different brand pigments will be the same if they have the same name or a very similar name. Some even have the same pigment index number!

In this blog I will be looking at a number of pigment colours across the Daniel Smith and the Winsor & Newton range. All but one have identical names but as you will see many of them are quite different. One colour even shows a difference in temperature, one is warmer and the other cooler. Some are more intense than others, five are completely different!

I am a big fan of W&N as the colour selection, where primaries are concerned, suits me well. Don’t get me wrong I like DS pigments too. DS pigments are beautifully intense and I especially like their iridescent range. These are great for adding shine to butterfly wings. I just feel there is too much choice in the DS range as it is possible to mix every colour you need with 3 blues, 3 reds and 3 yellows. When you mix with primaries, I really don’t think you need 25 reds to choose from, do you? There are also 13 violets in the DS range and I only use 2 from the W&N range, Winsor Violet and Perylene Violet. Some pigment colours across both brands make you think, do you really need them? W&N Ultramarine Violet for instance, why not add a little Winsor Violet to French Ultramarine? Cobalt Violet….a little Quinacridone Magenta mixed with Cobalt Blue will do the trick! Anyway, it’s food for thought.

I have selected 25 W&N pigments for my palette and one DS, Lemon Yellow. The only reason this yellow is there is because it is very like cool Winsor Lemon but DS Lemon Yellow is transparent, not semi-transparent. I generally use 6-9 of my pigments at the most when painting, depending on the subject.

The colours with the same names (except one) that I have selected to compare across these two ranges are listed below:

New Gamboge
Indian Yellow
Quinacridone Gold
Quinacridone Red
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Perylene Maroon
Burnt Sienna
Cobalt Blue
French Ultramarine
Indanthrene Blue (Indanthrone Blue)
Perylene Green
Perylene Violet

I have written an outline for each pigment below to show you the differences and qualities. As you will notice there are three DS pigments which are semi-transparent. I prefer to use transparent or semi-transparent pigments. Some of the differences here are huge but some are actually quite favourable!

(Note: Some photographs are not always a true representation. The DS transparency symbols are different to W&N. Their semi-transparent symbol is a circle which is half black and half white. W&N uses a square which is half white and black but in this brand it means semi-opaque).

New Gamboge
DS – Transparent PY97, PY110
W&N – Transparent PR209, PY150
DS – very close to the primary yellow with a slight orange bias. A lovely pure pigment similar to W&N Indian Yellow but nearer to the yellow spectrum.
W&N – a muted yellow, similar to Transparent Yellow with a very slight brown bias when at full colour. A little warmer than Transparent Yellow. Makes a beautiful pale cream/yellow when watered down.

Indian Yellow
DS – Transparent PY97, PY110
W&N – Transparent PO62, PY139
DS – a cool yellow with translucency. Not what I would consider an Indian Yellow, more like W&N Transparent Yellow. This pigment could be used as a transparent yellow.
W&N – a rich orange yellow, flows smoothly and makes beautiful cream/apricot tones when watered down. Great for mixing bright oranges.

Quinacridone Gold
DS – Transparent PO48, PY150
W&N – Transparent PR206, PV19, PY150
DS – a warmer, less muted version with a lovely golden glow. It has an orange bias.
W&N – a muted, duller QG with a strong yellow bias. Rich brown/gold when at full strength.

Quinacridone Red
DS – Transparent PV19
W&N – Transparent PR209
DS – a cool magenta/red resembling Permanent Rose (PV19). Quinadridone Red in the DS range is closest to Permanent Rose.
W&N – a warm primary red. The match for this red is Quinadridone Coral (PR209) in the DS range. It is quite a weak pigment in both ranges but a beautiful pink/red.

Permanent Alizarin Crimson
DS – Transparent PR177, PV19, PR149
W&N – Transparent PR206
DS – a rich intense version of this colour but made with three index colours. It has a slightly warm red bias compared the W&N version which is cooler.
W&N – a cool not as intense version which can look a little flat when watered down on some watercolour papers.

Perylene Maroon
DS – Semi-Transparent PR179
W&N – Transparent PR179
DS – a rich intense version of this colour. It has a slightly warm red bias compared the W&N version which appears a little cooler.
W&N – Nicely intense too. Very slightly cooler than the DS version.

Burnt Sienna
DS – Semi-Transparent PBr7
W&N – Transparent PR101
DS – a very different Burnt Sienna to W&N and it appears to granulate. It is also semi-transparent.
W&N – one of my favourite reds. A much warmer version than DS. It is more like Pompeii Red (PBr7) in the DS range. I would add a tiny bit of Transparent Yellow (DS Indian Yellow) to Pompeii Red to make it a perfect match!

Cobalt Blue
DSSemi-Transparent PB28
W&N – Semi-transparent PB28
DS – this appears to granulate a little more than the W&N version and is very, very slightly cooler despite having the same index number.
W&N – a lovely middle blue, granulating. There seems to be a very slight difference but it is minimal.

French Ultramarine
DS – Transparent PB29
W&N – Transparent PB29
DS – a pure primary blue slightly more intense than the W&N version. Granulates.
W&N – a vibrant primary blue with no bias. Granulates. The only difference here is intensity of pigment.

Indanthrene Blue & Indanthrone Blue
DS Indanthrone – Transparent PB60
W&N Indanthrene – Semi-transparent PB60
DS – Indanthrone Blue is more like royal blue compared to Indanthrene Blue. It has a very slight red bias.
W&N – this version is very different to the DS version. It is a deeper blue with a very slight green bias. They both have the same index number though!
These are a nice option for a choice of warm or cool dark blue!

Perylene Green
DS – Semi-Transparent PBk31
W&N – Transparent PBk31
DS – very slightly warmer than W&N. It is semi-transparent. Mix it with a rich red like Pyrrol Crimson for a true black.
W&N – this version is very similar but it has a very slight blue bias. It is totally transparent as opposed to semi-transparent. Add a rich red like Permanent Carmine for a true black mix.

Perylene Violet
DS – Transparent PV29
W&N – Transparent PB29
DS – a rich pigment but it is more muted than the W&N version, that is, it has duller appearance.
W&N – slightly brighter and more intense. It veers more towards the violet spectrum and less towards the brown. A favourite pigment of mine, seen so much in plants! Mix with different yellows for some wonderful muted ochre and brown tones.

As you have seen there are various differences for a number of pigments listed above. There are even slight differences with pigments that have the same index numbers. This variation will most likely be due to different production processes and binders. On one occasion above we saw that a comparison offered up warm and cool versions, W&N Indanthrene Blue and DS Indanthrone Blue. When mixing with these two pigments, the tones would be more muted with Indanthrene Blue and brighter with the DS version. A few DS and W&N pigments have the same name but another colour in the DS range matches more closely.

So, I hope you enjoyed this blog and that it proves useful to you. Thank you for reading and I’ll be back soon with more interesting colour matters.

Great news received today!

My book has arrived in the UK! I will be receiving one of the first copies in the post soon. So exciting! More details below.

Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists

A practical guide to accurate watercolour mixing with primaries for botanical artists
Colour mixing is a key skill for the botanical artist. In this practical guide, Jackie Isard explains how to observe and use colour accurately. She shows artists how to make informed choices when selecting pigments, as well as how to learn about colour mixing and its application.
• Gives detailed instruction and advice on understanding colour and pigments
• Explains how to ‘see’ colour and tricky mixes, from greens and reds to the difficult botanical greys
• Includes advanced colour application techniques – colour enhancement, shadow colours and colour temperature transition
• Step-by-step guides illustrate how to paint with layers, how to use underlaying colours to enhance, and colour and fine detailing

Order online via major book shops or Amazon. Published by The Crowood Press Ltd

More information on how to buy is on my website www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, preorders for the USA and Canada are online. Launch in the states is October 2021. E-books are available worldwide.

USA and Canada distributor: www.ipgbook.com

Otherwise, Europe or UK can order through www.crowood.com or as below:

Amazon link UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watercolour-Mixing-Techniques-Botanical-Artists/dp/1785008285
Waterstones link UK :https://www.waterstones.com/book/watercolour-mixing-techniques-for-botanical-artists/jackie-isard//9781785008283
WHSmith link UK: https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/watercolour-mixing-techniques-for-botanical-artists/jackie-isard/paperback/9781785008283.html

Also available as an e-book worldwide.






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
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Blog 27 : Colour matters

Oranges and reds

For this blog I have decided to discuss how a pigment with a bias affects the mix using orange and red as an example. There are many different tones of red and orange from the bright and vivid to the muted and dark. Colours can range from a pale apricot to the bright orange in a Gerbera and with reds, from a deep dark red Dahlia to a bright red field poppy and the orange-red of a slightly unripe tomato. So, let’s start with orange and find out how we can select the right reds and yellows for the job in hand.

Mixing your own orange tones is more accurate than buying a ready-made orange pigments. There are many ready-made oranges but you will most likely find that they are opaque. Cadmium pigments are always opaque and Winsor Orange is also semi-opaque. Daniel Smith have a very good selection of reds and oranges which are mostly semi-transparent and transparent. There is a relatively new orange in the Winsor & Newton professional watercolour range called Transparent Orange. This is totally transparent and has a beautifully bright orange/red hue. However, it may not be quite the tone of orange you are looking when painting a marigold for instance, but adding a little Transparent or Indian yellow will adjust it, simples! Opaque pigments are not good for layering watercolour when painting as you will not achieve as much depth or translucency.

The image below shows the pigments used for this experiment. They are all Winsor & Newton professional watercolour pigments. Four reds: Permanent Rose (PR), Quinacridone Red (QR), Scarlet Lake (SL) and Winsor Red (WR). Three yellows: Winsor Lemon (WL), Transparent Yellow (TY) and Indian Yellow (IY). They are all transparent or semi-transparent pigments. They all have different qualities of their own. PR is a violet bias magenta red pretending to be pink, QR is a saturated and very appealing red (close to the primary), SL is a lovely warm orange biased red and WR is a richer saturated primary red with a slightly darker value. WL is a very cool green biased yellow, TY is a slightly orange biased yellow and Indian yellow is a very orange biased rich yellow. Let’s see how these colours mix together and what the results are like. You could add many more reds to this experiment such as Permanent Carmine, Perylene Maroon, Quinacridone Magenta and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. If you try mixing all these variations too you will discover a million different tones of red and orange!

The chart below shows a mix of oranges with different amounts of yellow added to each red. Three variations of each. The violet bias of the PR makes makes the mix look more muted, especially in the TY column. These mixes are not as vivid as the other orange mixes, although the PR orange is a little brighter with IY added. My favourite bright orange mix is QR or SL and IY. However, oranges come in many guises and you would need to match your subject by testing your yellow and red mixes first. Test yourself for a true colour match as the photos here are not totally accurate.

The red chart below also shows the differences in orange tones across four yellows. This time I have introduced Quinacridone Gold (QG). QG is a gorgeous colour but a very muting yellow. It is probably easier to see the difference on this chart as the first mix in each column is a red mix with a little yellow added to make orange. Again, there are subtle differences to intensity of colour depending which red and yellow are used. The QG column is quite muted. The TY column is slightly muted. The PR and WR rows are also muted in places. Brightness is appearing more in the first three yellow columns of the SL and QR rows. The differences happen partly due to the colour index numbers within each pigment which I have described for you below. Again, test yourself for a true colour match as the photos here are not totally accurate.

The Yellows
Winsor Lemon – PY175 – A lighter yellow with a green bias, this will generally brighten.
I personally prefer Sennelier Lemon Yellow (PY3) as it is totally transparent whereas WL is semi-transparent. It has a very light value and is a good primary yellow. Daniel Smith Lemon Yellow (PY175) is similar.
Transparent Yellow – PY150 – An intense very slightly orange biased middle tone yellow, very slightly muting.
Indian Yellow – PY139, PO62 – A warm orange biased yellow, a beautifully rich colour! Great for orange mixes but it will dull green mixes to olive/earthy green tones due to the orange pigment content.
Quinacridone Gold – PY150 slightly orange biased yellow, PV19 violet biased red, PR206 brown biased red. This colour has three colour index numbers. The violet bias and brown bias are the muting elements.

The Reds
Permanent Rose – PV19 – A violet bias magenta/red. A cooler red but with a warm pink undertone.
Quinacridone Red – PR209 – A saturated red with a little warmth. It is a less intense, softer red.
Scarlet Lake – PR188 – An intense orange biased red. Mix it with a cool green bias blue though and you’ll get a muddy mess!
Winsor Red – PR254 – A deeper value saturated and intense red. It will mute because of it’s deeper tone.

The orange
Transparent Orange – DPP (Diketo-Pyrrolo-Pyrrol) – a lovely rich orange/red pigment.

I hope this blog was useful and wish you all a very merry Christmas!


Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists

A practical guide to accurate watercolour mixing with primaries for botanical artists
Colour mixing is a key skill for the botanical artist. In this practical guide, Jackie Isard explains how to observe and use colour accurately. She shows artists how to make informed choices when selecting pigments, as well as how to learn about colour mixing and its application.
• Gives detailed instruction and advice on understanding colour and pigments
• Explains how to ‘see’ colour and tricky mixes, from greens and reds to the difficult botanical greys
• Includes advanced colour application techniques – colour enhancement, shadow colours and colour temperature transition
• Step-by-step guides illustrate how to paint with layers, how to use underlaying colours to enhance, and colour and fine detailing

Order online via major book shops or Amazon. Published by The Crowood Press Ltd
ISBN: 9781785008283

More information on how to buy is on my website www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, preorder for the USA and Canada are online. Launch in the states is October 2021. E-books are available worldwide.


Online courses for botanical artists:
•  Mixing Watercolour Accurately for Botanical
•  Fine Details and Finishing Techniques
For more information and course outlines see my website at:
www.jibotanicals.co.uk


NEW MINI-BOOK for beginner botanical artists.
Order from me direct via email or visit my Etsy shop, link below.

The Little Book of Watercolour
for Beginner Botanical Artists

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is little-book-cover-rgb.jpg

A very useful little guide for beginner botanical artists wishing to learn how to use watercolour and their painting materials.
• Water and pigment balance 
• Brush types and uses 
• Using a palette
• Exercises to improve brush skills 
• Useful painting techniques

This self published mini-book. 148mm x 148mm

Available to purchase via me personally, email jackieisard@googlemail.com

More little mini-books which will be added to this series
All these books will be aimed at the beginner botanical artist. Subjects will include: What is Botanical art, Easy to understand botany, Measuring and accurate drawing – tips, Painting techniques and application, Colour values in painting, Botany and the botanical artist, Developing a composition – tools and tips, Framing and exhibiting – tips.






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

Blog 25 : Colour matters

Colours with the same name – don’t be fooled!

A little bit of advice today. Never rely on one manufacturers pigment being exactly the same as another brand, even if it has the same name.

Quinacridone Gold is one example of this anomaly. Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Gold is made with index numbers PY150, PR206 and PV19 but the Sennelier version uses PY150, PR206 and PR101 and Daniel Smith, to further confuse, is made with PY150 and PO48. All three brands will look different when painted due to this.

Quin Golds by Sennelier, Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith

All brands have the bright PY150  yellow pigment. This is the same pigment used in Transparent Yellow. The Winsor & Newton version is definitely a more muted colour than the Sennelier version and the Daniel Smith one is quite different again. 

Let’s look at the colour index numbers first. These are the index numbers for all three brands. Winsor & Newton: PY150 is a bright yellow, PV19 is a cool magenta, PR206 is a red/brown. Sennelier: PY150 and PR101 a reddish terracotta, a little like Burnt Sienna. Daniel Smith: PY150 and PO48 a burnt orange. 

Here is an analogy of the index numbers within these three pigments.

Winsor & Newton: PY150 (yellow) + PR206 (red/brown) + PV19 (cool magenta like Permanent Rose and Permanent Magenta) – the spike of magenta makes this version more muted because PV19 is cool and very near to the violet/blue spectrum. When red/brown, yellow and the violet biased magenta are mixed we get a golden beige/brown. The magenta makes this mix a more muted gold with a slight brown bias.

Sennelier: PY150 (yellow) + PR206 (red/brown) + PR101 (terracotta/burnt sienna) – the warmth of this mix is due to red index colours being of the same warmth and bias. It is only slightly muted and more golden than the Winsor & Newton version as there is no violet or cool bias.

Daniel Smith: This version of Quinacridone Gold is made with PO48 and PY150. PO48 is a burnt orange tone. This is a warm and brighter version due to no violet or red/brown influence. 

Quinacridone Gold is a colour which sings out in this autumn subjects like this magnolia leaf below!

So when you are selecting new pigments, always check the index numbers. Single index numbers are best for mixing but occasionally you will find a colour with two or even three, like Quinacridone Gold. When mixing with pigments of more than one index number, be aware not to add too many other pigments to it. A maximum of three index numbers mixed together are best for vibrance. Quinacridone Gold is already a muted colour by having three index numbers, so adding more index numbers to it will just mute it even further to brown.

For everything you need to know about colour mixing theory and application techniques see my book below which will be available to purchase next year in March 2021.

Until then, happy painting!


Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists

Published by The Crowood Press

A practical guide to accurate watercolour mixing with primaries for botanical artists
Colour mixing is a key skill for the botanical artist. In this practical guide, Jackie Isard explains how to observe and use colour accurately. She shows artists how to make informed choices when selecting pigments, as well as how to learn about colour mixing and its application.
• Gives detailed instruction and advice on understanding colour and pigments
• Explains how to ‘see’ colour and tricky mixes, from greens and reds to the difficult botanical greys
• Includes advanced colour application techniques – colour enhancement, shadow colours and colour temperature transition
• Step-by-step guides illustrate how to paint with layers, how to use underlaying colours to enhance, and colour and fine detailing

Order online via book shops or Amazon. More information on how to buy is on my website www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, preorders for USA and Canada are available online. Launch in the states is October 2021. E-books are also available.


Online courses for botanical artists:
•  Mixing Watercolour Accurately for Botanical
•  Fine Details and Finishing Techniques
For more information and course outlines see my website at:
www.jibotanicals.co.uk


NEW MINI-BOOK for beginner botanical artists being launched soon. Order from me direct when it is announced on Facebook or via email if you have joined my website mail-list www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, no preorders are being taken at present.

The Little Book of Watercolour
for Beginner Botanical Artists

A very useful little guide for beginner botanical artists wishing to learn how to use watercolour and their painting materials.
• Water and pigment balance 
• Brush types and uses 
• Using a palette
• Exercises to improve brush skills 
• Useful painting techniques

This self published mini-book is available to purchase. See the preview flip through blog here on my blog. Please contact me personally to buy, jackieisard@jibotanicals






Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

Blog 23: Colour matters

Fugitives

We have all heard that dreaded word at some point in our painting career. But what does it mean? How do I know if I’m using a fugitive colour?  It always seems to be the unanswered question!

What is a fugitive and why do they exist?

In history the standards set for pigments was not as important as it is to us now. As time went on pigment manufacturers experimented with different chemicals and natural substances to make even better and more reliable pigments.

During the impressionist period the demand was for bright and vivid colours. However, many of these bright pigments were still fugitive, unreliable and faded badly. The most unreliable were red lakes, madders, carmines, purples, red leads and chrome yellows. A great deal of historic paintings look very different today than when they were first painted because of this. The few more reliable pigments that were made were much more expensive and some famous artists just couldn’t afford them. It was the same for oil colours.

Vincent van Gogh favoured a vivid palette of colours and most of his paintings have faded. His ‘Sunflowers’ painting is a prime example of a fugitive yellow pigment, chrome yellow, which fades to brown in sunlight. Today the flowers look brown. You can see his paintings on this link: www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/vincent-van-gogh-sunflowers-best-photos-sunflower-close-up-vincent-van-gogh-paintings-wallpaper-image-sunflowers-1323376383
In Victorian times new chemistry developed synthetic prismatic and brighter colours but a lot of these were still fugitive. 

It wasn’t until 1984 that the standards became stricter with the introduction of testing. Nowadays, permanency and lightfast ratings are available for all pigments but there are still some to be aware of. Ratings for artists’ use are A, AA, I and II (companies who use asterisks or stars differ and are detailed in the company pigment lists further on). Anything less than this will not be as reliable for lightfastness. All this information can be found on watercolour company charts or online via their websites. See list of standards below:

I – Very lightfast
II – Good lightfast
III – Average lightfast

AA – Extremely permanent
A – Permanent
B – Moderately durable
C – Fugitive
V – well don’t go there!
n.r. – Not rated by ASTM

I, II ratings are given by the ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials). The society started testing pigments in 1984 to set standards for the performance of art materials, including lightfastness. Winsor & Newton use both ASTM and permanence ratings. In the ASTM system ‘I’ is the highest lightfastness available and ‘V’ is the lowest. Pigments that are not rated by ASTM or the companies who make them bear the symbol n.r.

A, AA – The Winsor & Newton permanence classifications measure not only lightfastness but also general stability of the pigment.

I have made a small A6 chart with all these rating symbols plus transparency symbols for you to download here. Watercolour-rating-symbols  Keep it handy!

Which pigments should I be wary of?

W& N professional 
Alizarin Crimson (B) – as we learned last month Permanent Alizarin Crimson is good, this is lightfast A 
Rose Madder Genuine (B)
Opera Rose (B, really a C!)
Aureolin (II – PY40 this fades to brown despite being rated II)

Daniel Smith
Opera Pink (IV)
Alizarin Crimson (IV)
Aureolin (II – PY40 this fades to brown despite being rated II)

Sennelier
Helios Purple (III)
Dioxazine purple (III)
Quite a few Sennelier pigments are not rated. It’s best to test them yourself to be sure. 

Schmincke
Symbols vary for Schmincke colours, they are as follows:
***** extremely lightfast, **** good lightfastness, *** lightfast, ** limited lightfastness, * less lightfast, – not lightfast
Alizarin crimson (*)
Madder lake deep (**)
Rose Madder (**)
Schmincke violet (**)
Indigo (**)
Olive green (**)
These Brilliant pigments are not rated, would avoid:
Brilliant red violet
Brilliant opera rose
Brilliant purple
Brilliant red violet
Brilliant blue violet

Daler Rowney 
Symbols vary for Daler Rowney, they are as follows:
**** Permanent, *** Normally permanent, ** Moderately permanent,
* Fugitive
Aureolin (** PY40)
21 colours offer **** 
56 colours are rated ***

White Nights
Symbols vary for White Nights colours, they are as follows:
*** high lightfast, ** medium lightfastness, * low lightfast
Hanza yellow (*)
Orange lake (*)
Scarlet (*)
Claret (*)
Rose (*)
Vermillion (*)
Violet rose (*)
Violet (*)
Blue lake (*)

M. Graham
Alizarin crimson (III)

Below is a lightfastness test I did for Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta over a two year period (2017 left side and 2019 right side). The Opera Rose is still bright but all the florescent additive has disappeared making it look less intense in colour. The Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) has not altered. The Winsor and Newton (Opera Rose) and Daniel Smith (Opera Pink) versions of this vivid pink are the most reliable across brands using PR122. Both have added fluorescence.
test swatch
If painting for an exhibition where your work will be for sale, always use lightfast pigments. If you have to use a pigment which is less permanent then ensure you put a label on the back of your framed painting stating not to hang it in direct sunlight.

I recommend watching the Winsor and Newton video ‘Masterclass on Colour Permanence’ to see how a simulated 100 year lightfast test changes these fugitive colours; Rose Madder Genuine, Alizarin Crimson and Opera Rose. Here is the link: www.winsornewton.com/uk/masterclass/permanence-in-colour/

So, the secret is to always check the watercolour company rating charts before you buy or look for the ratings on tubes or pans as you shop! If in doubt colour test the pigment by painting it onto watercolour paper and leaving it on a really sunny windowsill for at least 3-6 months.

I hope this blog has answered a few questions for you. Please share it to help others too! Thank you.

Happy painting and see you next month!


Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/
Instagram: @jackieisard
Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/
Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

 

Blog 22: Colour matters

Blue hues…

Welcome to the second ‘Colour matters’ blog, The topic this month is about my favourite Winsor and Newton blues and a select few that I use as an underlay colour. Laying down a pale blue underlay is a great way to cool a colour mix placed above and enhance strong highlights when added thinly along the edges of them. Just as yellow will warm from underneath and violet will darken shadows. You may have come across this method when painting richly coloured subjects like Holly and Conkers. Let’s find out a bit more about the blues Many blues are granulating and some are semi-opaque or opaque. It is useful to know what’s what! When painting in layers, transparent and semi-transparent pigments are best to achieve translucence and depth. Opaque pigments will make your work look dense on watercolour paper. The symbols on your tubes and pans will advise you of this. Those bearing the marks ‘A”, ‘AA’, ‘I’ and ‘II’ are ratings which are best for lightfastness and permanency. Transparency symbols look like this: transparency symbols Here I have split some of the W&N blues into categories. The permanency, lightfastness and transparency ratings are under each colour: strongs new copy Strongs – those which have greater intensity of pigment, you’ll need less when mixing! granulators newGranulators – those which granulate, not good for smooth rendering! Some of them will granulate more than others. Cobalt Blue isn’t as grainy as French Ultramarine. However, Ultramarine Green Shade shows very little granulation, but it does have a very slight green bias compared to French Ultramarine. I like the intensity of this pigment compared to French Ultramarine though. Cerulean is a particularly granulating pigment and semi-opaque. If used as an underlayer, you will not achieve a smooth see-through effect with it. It is good for textured style painting though. See the image below for a comparison. Hopefully you can see it as this was quite hard to photograph! The difference is more obvious in real life. Try it out and see for yourself. new swatch copyAs seen above, a purple overlay was painted over base layers of Cerulean and Winsor Blue (Red Shade). The purple mix overlaid is a transparent mix. As you will see in the Cerulean example, it appears less crisp and quite mottled by the granulation. It also looks a little flatter where transparency is concerned. The Winsor Blue (Red Shade) underlay appears crisper and more see-through. So, if you are looking for a lighter blue underlay but with a slight yellow bias, just add a teensy bit of Winsor Lemon to Winsor Blue (Red Shade) and you will have a lovely smooth Cerulean look-alike! green bias new Green bias – those which will cool a mix or are more green in appearance. Further along the image above are the very green bias blues, turquoise. The greener a blue is, the more vivid it will be when mixing greens. It will need to be tamed by adding a tiny bit of red to make a more natural mix. Add Quinacridone Red (QR) to Phthalo Turquoise (PT) and you will make a muted purple/mauve/burgundy because of the green bias. Add QR to Ultramarine Green Shade (UGS), a less green biased blue, and you will make brighter purple and mauve. This is because the green bias adds more yellow to the mix muting it down. Yellow and blue make green (green/blue), plus red makes brown! red biasRed bias – those which will add warmth a mix. Add Transparent Yellow to a red bias blue and you will make more natural greens. Add it to Winsor Blue (Green Shade), a green bias blue, and you will make vibrant but less natural emerald greens. Red will need to be added to tame these mixes.

Nearly greens Nearly greens – those which have a definite green bias. You will notice above that Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Turquoise Light are semi-opaque. They also granulate. I would only use these for textured, looser style painting.

nearly blacks Nearly blacks – those blues which are very dark pigments with a blue bias. Notice also that both Indigo and Payne’s Grey are opaque and semi-opaque. These pigments contain black which gives them their opacity. Both have the same colour index numbers – PB15 • PBk6 • PV19 but in different proportions. The black colour index will make a mix dense and flat looking. These pigments are only useful in extremely dark areas although darkening a mix is much better using transparent or semi-transparent primaries. If done this way, it will still have a see-through feel despite being almost black. My underlay blue choices My favourite blues for underlaying are Winsor Blue (Red Shade), French Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue. Winsor Blue (Red Shade) is particularly good when watered down as it is really smooth. It is a lovely bright red biased blue. Make sure you paint it on very pale though as it is one of the stronger pigments. It is also one of my favourite blues to mix with. French Ultramarine, although it granulates, when used very thinly it adds a nice coolness. It is a blue with little to no bias. It is great for edging highlights on dark coloured leaves like holly. Cobalt is a lighter blue which also granulates a little. Again, used thinly, it adds a nice coolness to the layers above. Well that’s it for this month! If you like, please do message me with any suggestions of which colours you’d like to discuss next. Until the 24th of next month, I hope you all have a great August. Maybe even have a break and be able to spend a few days away from home!

Happy colour mixing and painting!

Jackie Isard BA (Hons) SBA Fellow CBM ASBA
Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/ Instagram: @jackieisard Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/ Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/ Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

Blog 21: Colour matters

Colour matters – colour comparison tip

based on Winsor & Newton professional watercolours

From today, each month, I will be making a short blog about Winsor & Newton watercolour pigments and explain a few discoveries I have made along the way. Each blog will contain a range of interesting facts, tips and tricks. It will be a monthly post at about the same time each month, so look out for it around the 24th! Like my ‘Jackie Isard Botanicals’ Page to receive it on your Facebook timeline. You will find my page on this link: https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/

Alizarin Crimson versus Permanent Carmine…

Is Alizarin Crimson dulling your paintings? It looks really bright in the palette so why should this be? Don’t you wish it would stay bright?… well, unfortunately, that’s not possible as it will always dry a little duller than expected. This is because Alizarin Crimson (PR83) is a warm red with a slight maroon bias. It is also fugitive and will fade in sunlight. If you like to use Alizarin Crimson then make sure you buy the permanent version, Permanent Alizarin Crimson (PR206) for reliability. Another question springs to mind. What’s the difference between Alizarin Crimson and Permanent Alizarin Crimson? There is very little difference in colour but Permanent Alizarin Crimson is very permanent, rated ‘A’ so shouldn’t fade. Alizarin Crimson is moderately permanent, rated ‘B’ and fugitive so it will fade badly. Alizarin Crimson is not good to use if you are exhibiting paintings where reliability and permanence are expected. An ‘A’ rating is always much better! You could substitute this colour for Permanent Carmine (Quinacridone pyrrolidone) which is only a teensy, tiny bit cooler. Add a teensy, tiny bit of Transparent yellow to it and you’ll have a Permanent Alizarin Crimson match which stays bright. It will also give a slightly brighter colour mix when added to yellows and blues. Add French Ultramarine for a beautiful rich warm purple/mauve. Add Indian Yellow for really rich and vibrant orange and red mixes. Historically, Carmine was made from thousands of crushed kermes insects, ewwww… Thank goodness for Quinacridones! Until next months, take care and keep safe! Look out for my book ‘ Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists’ coming out later this year!
Email address:jackieisard@googlemail.com Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/ Instagram: @jackieisard Blog: https://jibotanicals.com/ Web: https://www.jibotanicals.co.uk/ Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jibotanicalsGifts

Blog 18: RHS research journey 2019

Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them” John Ruskin

This years journey has been full of adventure and some very hard botany learning. It became evident that it was essential for me to understand exactly what I am painting! As the weather perked up in April and was good to us during the summer months, my decision to go on a search for my chosen 6 plants in their natural habitats proved very successful. Their habitat is wet meadows, the selected subject of my RHS exhibition. I knew this was very important to ensure my drawings were as accurate as they could be to the wild plants of the field. My son also has a great interest in nature and accompanied me with his little dog, Toby, on my treks. Always great to have company!

Having completed 4 plants in my Botany sketchbook, I asked a botanist to check my final drawings for me. Good job I did! Even though you think you’ve got it just right there can still be little details which need adjusting, especially with dissection drawings which I’d never attempted before. I’m so pleased I took this advice from a fellow botanical artist. I had very little knowledge of botany when I started this project and still struggle to remember all the botanical terms. My brain doesn’t have enough space left at my age! It’s been a massive learning curve.

Below are my botany sketchbook pages for 4 of my chosen species. This helps me to learn about each plant before I start drawing. I measure them, study their habit, dissect them, study them under the microscope, press pieces of plant in a flower press, have a little practice run on mixing up colours and paint a few small sections of each one. The record is then referred to as I draw and paint the final compositions.

The drawings so far…
My drawings for Ragged Robin, Water Avens, Greater Bird’s foot trefoil and Cuckoo flower have now had a full botany check and are transferred to watercolour paper ready for painting. It took many, many months to get to this stage. Left to right below: Cardamine pratensis – Cuckooflower, Lotus pedunculatus – Greater Birds foot trefoil, Geum rivale – Water Avens and Silene (Lychnis) flos-cuculi – Ragged Robin. They are all life-size compositions.

Next year, as well as painting the final pieces, I will be studying and drawing up Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) and Devil’s bit scabious (Succisa pratensis) in late summer. I have managed to get some of the painting for three of my chosen species done this year which are featured below. The sections below were painted using live plants. I have a great deal of photo reference to enable me to continue painting these three through the next few months.

The Journey…
My journey started locally where I live in Bristol. I have grown some of my chosen plants in my home garden which were doing well. Although these are great to refer to, they do not necessarily grow in exactly the same way as they would in their natural habitat. It’s great to have them on the doorstep though. They can be dug out and popped into a pot to use when painting! To find my chosen species in the field was really difficult but with a lot of research and walking I eventually located all of them this year.

Cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis) grows near my house and also on a lovely dog walk my son and I often do from Alveston to Old Down. One sunny day in May I decided my son and I should try this walk in order to find the pub at the end and have a lovely roast dinner. What a wonderful walk with yummy food half way. Essential therapy! It was full of meadow plants and pollinators. I saw my very first Green winged orchid and Musk thistles on this walk, one of which had a white flower. It became our favourite local dog walk this summer. Later in the summer I thought I had found Devil’s bit scabious (Succisa pratensis) growing there too but unfortunately it turned out to be Field scabious with a genetic fault! It looked like Devil’s bit but the leaves and height were all wrong. It’s also very important to research your wildflower keys!

Common Blue Butterfly
Two of my plants were really difficult to locate so my journey led me into Wales this year. What a beautiful country. There is so much wildlife and Wales is abundant with wildflowers. Love it!

The first plant, Greater Bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus pendunculatus), I found at Great Traston meadows near Newport. Great Traston is a piece of protected land consisting of a series of wet meadow fields and teeming with insect life. We saw many dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies. We even saw a beautiful blue lacewing, many grasshoppers and later in the year a nursery-web spiders nest which was huge! This place is also home to the very rare Shrill Carder bee. Unfortunately, I didn’t see, or rather, hear one but maybe next year! There was also evidence of other wet meadow wildflower species like Marsh orchid and Marsh musk thistle. I visited three times in total. Once when Greater Bird’s foot trefoil was starting to grow, then when it was in full flower and finally when it had gone to seed. It is important for me to see the plant growth in all its stages as my drawings are intended to cover the whole aspect of each plant, telling their story.

“Hold nature in your hand and take a look at the intricate beauty within. Treasure our wildflowers and pollinators. It’s so easy to just walk by…” Jackie Isard

From here I wanted to find Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis). After tons of researching, my journey took me back into Wales again to a tiny little meadow called Trewalkin on the edge of Brecon Beacons. Another naturally wet meadow. It is managed by the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales. Unfortunately, the meadow had already been cut by the time I had found out that Great Burnet grew there. However, there was evidence of the species as some new plants were starting to grow. It has very distinctive serated leaves.
great burnet.jpg
I noticed a few other wet meadow species too including Devil’s bit scabious. This was exciting news as Devil’s bit was also one I needed to locate. When I returned home I contacted the Wildlife Trust officer and asked for a species list. I was so delighted when it was sent through, every one of my chosen plants grow in this tiny meadow! This included Water Avens (Geum rivale) which was proving almost impossible to find. There will be many visits to this meadow next year.

Another place I visited earlier in the year was Crickley Hill Nature Reserve, in Gloucestershire. This is a beautiful place with lovely walks. Many wildflower species live here and the insect life is abundant. I saw many 6 spot burnet moths who were loving the Field Scabious growing near the car park. Beautiful Harebells grow everywhere too. I wasn’t expecting to find my chosen species as this is a dry limestone grassland area but I very much enjoyed the walk and the stunning views.

The last photo of trees, taken in the woodland area of Crickley Hill, I entered into the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust photography competition. I was amazed to learn this week that it had been ‘Highly Commended’ by the judges!

My journey for wildflowers has ended this year as winter is now upon us. The plants will all sleep now until April/May next year when I’ll be off out with my camera and walking boots to see them again.

Until then, have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!