Botanical Drawing ~ Rhododendron Field Drawings
Field work is such a critical component to the quality of our work as botanical artists. In this day and age of fast pace and expectation, of our desire for instant gratification and the remarkable advances in technology that supports us in our work, we often skip taking time on the simple pleasures of our work such as drawing.
With years of experience and confidence behind me now, my work processes have become more and more decisive and slick, but my personal drawing time has been reduced to minimal, simple linework as a result. By necessity, the objective for me is always the same, to spend the least amount of time indulging in drawing in order to jump right in to painting.
When painting is the objective and the work we produce already so labour intensive, when we have deadlines and demand on us to produce new work – and we have fantastic new ways or reducing the drawing process all together through technology, most would understand the desire to minimise the time spent on the drawing process. In fact, I would say its all about working smart… But can we work smarter without compromise to the quality of our work?
The truth is there is no escaping the need to develop your drawing skills competently. Drawing explores the most critical areas of knowledge to produce a sound painting. It is a process by which we create a rich dialogue between ourselves and our subject. It is a process in which we gain essential understanding of our subject, form, structure and tone. It is where we establish that beautiful intimate connection with our subject which translates directly to our painting. If we fail to observe, understand and connect with our work and subject on these levels, we simply can’t translate this critical connection and dialogue to our viewers.
So yes we can work smart and we can work well carefully sidestepping the need to draw beautifully, but only once a firm knowledge of drawing has been established can we produce truly exceptional work. If you are struggling with your painting, perhaps its time to take a little time out to focus on and improve your drawing skills.
Besides all else, there are few things more beautiful and personal than taking time to draw. For me, botanical drawing is my ultimate luxury, an indulgence of my greatest loves and my time… and id say that my graphite botanical drawing would easily be my most intimate, personal work I produce. With such a hectic work schedule, taking time out of the studio to disappear into the wilderness for a month equipped with little more than my sketchbook and 2 pencils was my idea of heaven.
These are some of the 40 graphite botanical drawings and field sketches produced during my time trekking through the rhododendron forests of Nepal. Heaven. Just heaven.