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Plant Sources

Most of my art is painted from a live plant from a garden. This can present problems of course – when a flower is brought into the heat of the studio it can start to open further, and it can turn from the position you’ve set it in towards the light. So sometimes you end up trying to paint a flower that has arranged itself differently from the one you drew.

My tip is to try to stay with what you’ve drawn, and rearrange the flower to try to facilitate this. For example rotate the flower every few minutes to try to get the same pose as the one you drew.

Alternatively, bring the plant indoors a few hours before you are ready to draw and paint, in the hope that it will have settled by the time you are ready.

Another source of plants is the local supermarket. Look out for plants that are reduced, like this rose, to help keep costs down. Even the most battered looking plant will show some signs of life when looked after, and you can often plant it outside again afterwards for some colour next year.

Rose #10

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Left vs Right

I discovered Betty Edward’s “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” some 20 years ago. The basic concept is that the logical ‘left side’ of the brain tends to dominate and simplify what you see whereas as an artist you need to let the literal and artistic ‘right side’ have its say. Even although I know the theory I still find it a struggle today, especially when drawing and painting detail. The conversation goes something like this:

Right Side: I’m going to draw the centre of the flower now. What does it look like?

Left Side: It’s yellow. Draw something yellow.

Right Side: But there’s more than that to it. Let me see.

Left Side: Trust me it’s yellow. Maybe some things sticking up. But they’re yellow too, so draw something yellow.

Right Side: What shape? How many? What shade of yellow?

Left Side: That’s too much detail. You’ll be finished sooner if you just splash some yellow paint there. No-one will notice.

Right Side: But I want to be more accurate than that. Please let me see.

Left Side: It’s for you’re own good. Just yellow.


Normally I solve the problem by resorting to wearing a handsfree magnifying visor. What trick do you use?

Rose #03