Watercolours – going it alone

As long-term readers of this blog will know I dabble in botanical art.  I use the word ‘dabble’ advisedly since my abilities are far from the pristine scientifically correct paintings you see at RHS shows.  I have been going to classes once a week, 2 hours a week, about 26 weeks a year for a couple of years now and I have definitely progressed.  However, I have a huge stumbling block  in that I have no confidence at the best of times in the class and have to ask the tutor to show me each stage so any idea of having a go at home on my own are non-existence.

Anyway, the other day on Twitter a new follower (@penelopehellyer) commented that she dabbled in botanical art and she recommended the books of Billy Showell as a way of learning techniques and maybe overcoming my lack of confidence.  I had a look and ordered A – Z of Flower Portraits as this was obviously watercolours.  It arrived on Saturday and I wasn’t disappointed.  The paintings are beautiful and far more my style than some botanical illustrations I have seen.  In the book Billy shows some basic techniques, all of which my tutor has shown me, with step by step instructions and then there are 40 portraits of flowers with step by step instructions.

My youngest son egged me on reminding me that I learn better from books than being shown or told and for the first time since I started the classes I actually had an urge to have a go on my own.  Being on annual leave, and it raining, I decided this afternoon I would have a go.  So first step was to practise some of the techniques I had been taught following the instructions in the book – firstly wet on wet and then dry brushing which I find incredibly hard.  Anyway I am quite chuffed with the result, the drawing isn’t great but then I didn’t bother too much with it as I can draw and it was the painting I want to practice.

Next is probably a leaf – leaves are feared by all my class mates and you would be surprised at the lengths they go to avoid these green demons.  Not sure when the leaf will appear but the biggest thing is that I actually feel a little bit confident and didn’t bail out  at the first hurdle.



9 Comments Add yours

  1. leenie says:

    I enjoy doing botanical art and have found Billy Shotwell books excellent. I recently purchased the vegetable and flowers one which is very good.

    1. leenie says:

      Typo …Showell 🙂

  2. How lovely to find a way to learn and explore that suits you. TNG learns best by reading and being left alone to get on with it, it has made such a difference to him since he realised and actively pursued that rather than carrying on with the conventional show and tell type approach you get at evening classes etc. And as someone who can neither draw nor paint, I am tremendously impressed at what you achieve.

  3. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Yvonne – NZ – Good luck. Watched an Aussie gardening programme the other day and there was an article about early Australian plants – so meticulous!! I do more abstract sloshy wet on wet landscapes. Have done life paintings also – quite successfully – but SO hard!!

  4. I am impressed with your talent! Would love to be able to paint and the Shotwell books seem to be a good place to start. Maybe I’ll give it a try …

  5. Libby says:

    Wow that’s really good! You have an interesting point about learning methods that suit the individual best. I hope your confidence takes off now 🙂

  6. Simon Green says:

    Your painting is lovely – though I understand what you mean about taking botanical art on in baby steps. Not all of us have the confidence to just go for it!

  7. alison says:

    Your painting really is lovely – I wish I could do half as well as that. I too went to watercolour classes for a year but found it very difficult to remember all the techniques and lost a lot of confidence as the others ploughed ahead. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more of your paintings.

  8. penelopesh says:

    Sorry I didn’t look at these earlier – having looked at all your paintings I hardly feel that you needed any ‘help’ at all – though I’m glad you like the Billy Showell book – I too have the vegetable book. Your paintings are exquisite; but I do think that eventually you will find that there is a different quality to painting from an actual specimen – the only problem is that they can wither and die before you have time to finish. I am very impressed

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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