Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Building skills - botanical illustration

I am taking time off from calligraphy for two weeks - driving up and down to London's Kew Gardens which should be the best place in the world to study botanical illustration. 
After a two and a half hour drive (I think it was the first Monday after the school holidays for the rest of the country) up the M4, I was last to arrive and got the desk at the very back of the room but I just scraped in by the start at 10.30am. 

I was reassured to see I fit the demographic - not a single man and most of the women looked about my age - though I was pleased to see there were several younger!

The first task - choose a leaf and then draw it - but while holding dividers worth £100 in one hand and measure every single thing - my drawing is much too approximate! It helps if the leaf is as flat as possible too.

I had another go with an ivy leaf - decided it would save a lot of time to use a grid - this is with 2H pencil on Bristol board which I don't think I have used before, very hard and shiny and not my usual style but this is to be inked in and is for serious scientific use and has to be accurate above all else.

Time to start with pen and ink - should be ok at this - decided to use my new Walker copperplate/spencerian nib and had to use the Sumi ink I had as I left my inkstone at home but it was a good choice. This is a bit of practice on the inaccurate drawing from yesterday.

I soon got carried away and started experimenting with a Brause pointed nib, and walnut ink - quickly rejected the old Rotring rapidograph (.25 nib much too big) and started playing with continuous tone in 2H pencil at the top. You can see a little bit of me trying to explain about pointed pens and copperplate to non calligraphers.

Now time to get serious with the more accurate drawings - inked in and working in tone on the Camelia leaf....

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