Since September of 2016, I have been working at my childrens’ local primary school as Artist-In-Residence. I was very lucky to have been asked to take on this very fancy sounding role by the head teacher, after I painted a mural in the school library over a period of about a year. That in itself was no easy feat, but one which I enjoyed more than any job I’ve ever done and was very sad when it ended. However, as the old saying goes, when one door closes, another door opens and I began my year long contract as Artist-In-Residence at the beginning of the new school year. The role, to simplify the job title, is basically an unqualified art teacher. I teach all classes, except entry level Foundation Stage and am very fortunate that I can basically teach whatever I like. Being an Art History lover, this has played an obvious part in my lesson plans and so far, we’ve covered an eclectic mixture of Wassily Kandinsky, Jeff Koons, Frida Kahlo and William Morris. This post wasn’t intended to be about my current job, but part of it is relevant to what I actually wanted to talk about, so I’ll get right back on topic.
Last week, a very lovely student from Year 5 left a large canvas on my desk in the art room, which she had painted over the Easter break. It was a gift she had made me using spray paint and stencils and it now sits proudly on my desk receiving a healthy amount of compliments on a daily basis. Before half term, her class were learning about planets, and she created a planet-inspired picture using the same technique. Her picture was put up onto the wall of her classroom, along with other pieces of artwork and being nosy, I went and had a good look and heard about how she created it. When she heard I’d been to have a look, she made me my very own picture – I was frankly flattered that she had taken the time to do this for me, so in return, I made her a piece of art work and this is what you see here on the right. Its her birth flower, Morning Glory, for all birthdays in September. They vary, depending on what country you search for, and generally there are two flowers per month, so I chose this one.
Like anyone who enjoys drawing, or creating anything for that matter, knowing when to stop is a very tricky business. The simpler, the better. Less is more. All those old chestnuts.
I drew the initial giant flower with the intention of leaving it to fly solo and be the star of the show, but it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to rush it, so I left it and came back to it a day later and still felt the same – it needed more.
So I added some leaves and some furled up Morning Glory buds
And then the balance of the composition changed, so it needed more. More leaves, more flowers.
Everytime a new element is added, the composition changes, so its important to remain fluid, to allow these changes to benefit your drawing, rather than ruin it. The more organic, the better. And if you’re still not happy, then just start over. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. And from mistakes often come the best ideas or results. I decided after adding the last two or three flower buds, that no more was required. The main trumpet-like stem still hails as the focal point of the picture, but looks more in context amongst the rambling vine below.
Another risk I took with this piece of work was adding more detail. You may notice from other drawings from my Etsy shop, that some are much simpler, and of course I went through the same process of ‘should I add more lines/detail/shapes?’ but had already decided that those drawings were supposed to be that way, so the answer was always no. But I’ve been reading a book called Botany For The Artist by Sarah Simblet, an incredibly talented and educated botanist and artist who has written this particular book to help other budding (sorry) artists with their drawings. And so, clearly I became inspired to add more definition to this drawing, than in previous drawings. And I’m glad I did, because I’m pretty pleased with the final piece. Its an evolution of my style and evidence that its ok to experiment. Its still my style, it was created by me and it was created with someone in mind, which is the most important point of this drawing.
And since I’ve drawn this Morning Glory for a September birthday, I’ve decided I’ll carry on with this drawing theme, into a series of birth flowers for every month, which will also make their way eventually into my Etsy shop. Next up, Lily of the Valley for a special friend of mine who has a birthday coming up shortly…..
To see more of my work or buy prints of my drawings, please take a look at my shop on Etsy. The shop is pretty new and growing day by day. I’m also on Instagram at either @victoria__archer, my personal account, or @studio6illustrations.