Saturday, 29 November 2014

Paphio praestans: Back to Indonesia

While preparing for my return to Indonesia for good, I managed to paint this before leaving Sheffield. I have received too much blessings while living in the UK, which I lose count, but the most important one is my journey through botanical arts. I am not sure how my new-found love for botanical art will survive Indonesia since finding botanical art societies, even fellow artists, will be difficult in my home country. However, let's worry not. Instead, I thank for all things life has given me. Hence, I'd rather think about many intriguing plants in Indonesia waiting to be painted!

This is a painting of Paphiopedilum praestans, lady slipper orchid from Papua, Indonesia, based on my study sketch and photographs of the specimen I did last year. Somehow having a baby changed my initial plan on how to paint it. I left my previous sketch of a complete plant (with leaves and roots), then drew a new sketch driven by my current feelings. If you notice it, I paint the blossomed flower to pose as if hugging the bud. Have I become such a sentimental painter now?

"The Old and The Young I", Paphiopedilum praestans. Watercolours on Fabriano Artistico HP paper.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Saying Goodbye to The Florilegium Society in Sheffield.

With Valerie Oxley, the chairman of The Florilegium Society - Sheffield
It's been taking me forever to write a farewell to Sheffield, especially The Florilegium Society, where I learn painting botanical arts.

My limited language cannot express how blessed I feel to meet the Florilegium Society (and NSBA as well) during my short life in Sheffield and how lucky I am to know botanical art and to learn it from the best and passionate artists.

I am keeping my fondest memories of those first times when many of them encouraged me to join the societies, at our first meeting. And I am very happy that I took the chance (no matter how intimidated I was with the quality of their works), because not only that they got me through all the hoops of making botanical arts, they also offered warm friendships beyond my expectation. Being part of the societies has been one of the best part of my life. It also has brought about a big leap of my creative journey.

I can hardly believe that the time is coming to an end and I will be going back to Indonesia for good.
I will miss them but I hope to see them again someday.

P.S. Huge thanks to the Florilegium Society for the unexpected gift, the precious set of 108 tubes of watercolours and beautiful brushes. I will treasure and make the best use of them in my paintings. xx

Saturday, 27 September 2014

[Tips] Blueberries: Painting Bloom and Correcting Mistakes in Watercolour

Painting Bloom 

Painting something new is always challenging. Case in point, painting blueberries for the first time gave me the heebie-jeebies. I racked my brains quite long to find a way to do the shine and the bloom (the thin white coating of powdery wax on berries) right. Thanks to Sigrid Frensen for her post on painting the grapes, finally I could muster my will to do it. I could imagine how to apply the watercolour layer by layer from her painting better than from photo references.

Since I am bad at remembering, I write these steps to help myself remember. At the same time, I hope you find it useful someday.

Watercolours I used: (all W&N) 
- Cobalt Blue
- Payne Grey
- French Ultramarine
- Indigo
- Alizarin Crimson

Steps I took:
1. I based the whole fruits with diluted Cobalt Blue unevenly. I left some parts of the white paper unpainted for the brightest highlight.
2. I built the shape using wet into wet washes of Payne Grey, but left some parts pale for the bloom. Later, I darkened the bloom with another wash of Cobalt blue.
3. I used either a mixture of French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson, or Indigo and Alizarin Crimson for the darkest areas. I left some edges a bit paler to give them the effect of light reflection.
4. With dry brush, I added some details and created the "scratch" effect of the bloom using Payne Grey or the no. 3 mixture. And viola! It was done faster and not as hard as I thought it would be. Instead, it turned out to be fun! 
[Insights] The dry brush technique for the scratch effect of the bloom was the most fun part! I did it randomly and the effect still managed to look natural.

Correcting Watercolour Mistakes with Flat Brushes 

As I wrote here, a good watercolour paper usually has a robust surface that it forgives some mistakes. I, quite often, lift watercolour paints or correct mistakes using my old Proarte 106, flat 1/8" sized brush (see picture below, the black handle). However, the brush wore off quite fast in a couple months. The hair ends were bent, losing their accuracy of correction. FYI, I saw Billy Showell has similar brushes in her demonstration; it was called the eradicator brushes.

In addition to that brush, I have other brushes for fixing for more precise point, the cheap, flat, 00 sized brushes (see picture, the red handles), which I got from a clearance sale. As you can see in the picture, they are much smaller than my 1/8" sized brush, which usually is the smallest size of flat brushes.
They are also less thick that I can lift paints more precisely. The hairs are synthetic and quite stiff to rub papers and lift paints. They also stay in good shape longer than my 1/8" sized brushes. If you are curious why the rightmost brush is shorter, it is because I cut it with scissor. I use the stiffer hairs for the toughest stains since it is more abrasive to papers.

[Tips] I wet the area to be removed or corrected with clean water by stroking a damp brush gently, then pat the pigment away with a kitchen towel/paper.

[Tips] I lift paints using my "broken" 1/8" sized brush for a soft-edged result, e.g. to enhance highlights. In the meantime, I use the 00 sized brush for the sharper edges, e.g. to remove paints that go beyond the outlines (see pictures below) or to create lines or vines of leaves when the paint is not completely dry.
The illustration was quite small, about 10 x 10 cm, hence it was not very detailed. It is one of the 15 illustrations of ingredients and nature elements I did for Ibaco ice cream's serving cup. The project was fun, supervised by a kind art director, Diya Pallikal of Rubecon.

*Please visit my behance to see more illustrations of the project :) Enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

[Tips] Magnolia: Painting White Flowers

Mixing 3 primary colour paints will produce richer "grey" than using only diluted single black/grey pigment to paint white objects. As I mentioned here, the mix consisted of 2 parts of French Ultramarine, 1 part of Cadmium Yellow Pale, and 1 part of Cadmium red deep. I added a small amount of other paint that matched with the object's hue, e.g. Permanent Rose for the Magnolia and the Hydrangea, or Cadmium Lemon for the snowy wood-rush (illustration in the middle). 
[Insights] Those 3 paints of basic mix didn't mix together long, they would separate out.  It meant I needed to stir it again soon before applying it on paper. You can even expect them to separate again on paper if the wash is really wet. However, I liked the "separated" effect especially when the granulating french ultramarine came out in this Magnolia illustration. The shadow tone looked rich and it lent the leathery effect of the petals, too.

In addition, I used white gouache for the fine hair of the buds. [Tips] I mixed white gouache with yellow watercolour, hence it blended nicely with the whole illustration. If not, the white gouache tended to look bluish.

And here is the scanned image of the Magnolia. It is one of the 4 illustrations I made for Rathbone Square Garden. Please visit my Behance to see the complete illustrations. Cheers :)

Friday, 19 September 2014

[Commission] Rathbone Square Garden - London W1

I worked on 4 illustrations for Rathbone Square's brochure. The illustrations were created to show the key plantings of their garden. I will write a tip or two on other post. Please check out the complete illustrations on my Behance.

**Thank you, Heavenly and Great Portland Estates for having me in this great project!