Friday, 28 February 2014

Tick Tock

I can almost hear the ticking of the looming deadline. 

Yes, the Society of Botanical Artists submission day is fast approaching (17th March), and my paintings have to be finished this week and ready for scanning and framing. 
It’s probably not the best time to change the composition of a piece, but when I thought back to what initially attracted me to the Calamondin plant, it was the abundance of little oranges peeking out through the foliage. So this week I decided to throw caution to the wind and add some more fruit.

Hmmm... what would a little extra fruit look like? Perhaps this small orange will fit?
Thank God for tracing paper! It really is the easiest way to ascertain whether something is going to work or not. You can try out new ideas without too much effort, just by using coloured pencils on tracing paper.

First one little fruit

Then another

And why not two more?

Anyway, the painting is finally finished!!! I am pleased that I had decided to add more fruit as I felt that it added depth and interest to the composition. Besides I needed a break from all those green leaves!

× Citrofortunella microcarpa,  Calamondin or Chinese Orange
watercolour on vellum 30x23cm 2014

Of all the paintings that I have done, I think this one was one that I learned the most on. Dianne has been a brilliant mentor and great support. If you are interested in painting on vellum, I'd really recommend doing a course because there is definitely a knack to it. Anyway, here's what I've learned-
  • ·        Dark shiny leaves are difficult to do on vellum, but not impossible. I’m just going to try to avoid them in future.
  • ·        Greens need a lot of pink (thank you Jess for reminding me of that)
  • ·        Sometimes it’s better to remove the paint and start again, than trying to fix something that is just not going to work
  • ·        Pumice powder, a damp paintbrush or a scalpel will all remove paint, but a damp cotton bud is like a magic wand (I have to give credit to Denise Walser-Kolar for that brilliant tip, it made such a difference)
  • ·        Beware the scalpel! That sounds a bit obvious but I got a bit carried away at one stage and ended up with a big scratch on the surface of my vellum. It's a bit addictive
  • ·        Be brave. Don’t be afraid to make changes if you feel it is necessary
  • ·        Always have a good supply of tracing paper
  • ·        Remind yourself of what first attracted you to the plant and try to capture that in your painting
  • ·        Dry brushwork is tough on paintbrushes. My miniature sable brushes are completely worn out now after completing these two vellum pieces

My no2 and no3 are stumps beside my no4. Time for new brushes!

There’s no rest for the wicked though. The Nature Sketchbook Exchange project continues, and with that deadline also approaching, I need to clean off my palette and get started. Exciting times lie ahead.

The best way to finish a painting is to start a new one” 
Sylvio Gagnon


  1. Fantastic Shevaun, can't wait to see it soon. I love that last quote by Sylvio ,wonderful! xx

    1. IF it's accepted, Claire :) Thanks for the support though

    2. This blog was a wonderful bit of education regarding vellum and composition, in and of itself. Lots of tips therein, for which I am thankful. Thanks for sharing this lovely work with us. Good luck!

  2. Just beautiful Shevaun! Great tips too. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Elaine. Hope your painting is going well

  3. Aww thanks for the mention there Shevaun! This is such a magical painting - it's got a nice 'cheeky' quality to it with the fruit peeping out amongst the leaves - I really like it. It's good to have a bit of character in a composition. Lovely to see how you planned it all out with the tracing paper too and to see how worn those brushes are. That is amazing. I am so bad at getting new brushes when really I should. I don't know why I am so mean with them, I think I get too attached, but whenever I do purchase a new brush I think 'why did I not get one sooner - this brush is delightful!'. Happy brush shopping and good luck with the submission Shevaun, I am sure your work will go down well as always. Have a super weekend.

    1. Jess, you should definitely invest in some good brushes... it makes life so much easier!! I was amazed at the difference when I first got my W&N miniatures. They hold so much paint and yet have such a fabulous point. Thanks for the nice comments

  4. If!!!! Of course it will be lady xxxxx

  5. Shevaun, You really conquered those leaves! The rich green color and shiny texture is excellent. I like the depth and lushness of the piece too. Its great how the dimpled fruit contrast with the smooth leaves. The painting is beautiful and will be well received, I am sure!

    1. Fingers crossed, Janene! Best of luck with your submissions too!


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