The Association of British Botanical Artists (ABBA) will be holding its inaugural exhibition in 2018; a worldwide event whereby lots of countries will be holding an exhibition at the same time, all showing their natural flora. I hope very much to participate in this event and have chosen two iconic British plants to portray: our native Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima).
As artwork needs to be submitted in November 2017, I am having to take time out from my sabbatical year to paint the pictures – starting last weekend because the Bluebells are already past their best! I have just noticed that the Stinking Iris in my little wild garden is also coming into bud, so once the bluebell picture is completed, I shall have to start on the second one straightaway.
Our native bluebells have a lovely scent (alien Spanish ones do not) with pale blue stamens and cream anthers (Spanish anthers are olive or yellow). The flower shape is distinctly tubular with just the tips of petals turning outwards and upwards (Spanish ones are a paler blue with wide bell-shape flowers). Native bluebells also have narrower leaves and the inflorescence (flower head) droops to one side at the tip; their Spanish counterparts have wide leaves and the flower head remains upright. All-in-all our native bluebell is a delicate, and now endangered, plant which is fast being ousted by its more vigorous Spanish neighbour, and unfortunately the two are cross-breeding into a hybrid – which is also more robust than the native.
Here are a few preliminary photographs and drawings, as well as the eventual design on cartridge paper, which I traced and then put onto my lovely Aquarelle Arches water colour paper. I mixed the colours for the bluebell flowers and its leaves and stalks as soon as I had picked them (with permission of the owner of Bourn Golf Course, to whom I am indebted – they have been sitting in the fridge since and are still fresh), so these colours are ready for me to start painting with – probably tomorrow, all being well. I have mixed quite a lot of the three main colours so that I do not run out – as trying then to replicate the colours, even though I made a note of which base colours I used, is not an easy task and often fails.
I hope you enjoy the little story below of events so far: