While I am busy cutting mounts (mats) and framing, and culling and re-writing blog posts.. sigh .. here are some very famous veg people, and another tribute to Archimboldo. Thank you so much Claire from Exterior Visions for the tip re: the excellent and memorable Australian ad campaign “2 & 5” which promotes eating more fruit and veg. Go to their website here for some really great visual treats.
You can transform yourself from poor grey pill man to a colourful veg man.
The campaign has a stellar cast… Hosted by dear Rolf…..
aided by Edna, resplendent in stunning chili pepper specs.
Watch the ads online, they are such fun, and see Rolf create some vegie masterpieces including of course, a healthy cabbage clad but still inscrutable Mona.(Rolf gets in the picture in the background)
…and, joy of joys….a colouring page which I shall be getting right down to after breakfast ( I LOVE colouring books, all that tedious drawing done for you!)
Oh dear, more playing with food possibilities Eleanor…..but still I see no kohlrabies….!
I have had to knuckle down to writing today.. well re-writing to be exact. The exhibition will have extracts from the blog to accompany the drawings but that means cutting and re working them for a bigger type face, fewer words and less images. In essence, reducing them to just a few interesting facts about what will be shown. It’s so difficult and very time consuming and wish I had fewer to choose from. But I have achieved 10 texts today, 30 more to go and I also framed a couple more pieces too..so no time at all for drawing.
Now the dreaded kohlrabi is in the post I can face veg again with more interest and while I was painting it I was musing on the wonderful and bizarre work of the 16th Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, wondering whose face I might try to replicate and just where the kohlrabi would go.
Here is the “The Vegetable Gardener” c 1590 a visual pun which can be turned upside down.
and one of the Seasons, series “Autumn” 1573
Images from Olgas Gallery here
I have looked quite hard but can’t find a kohlrabi anywhere.. sensible man..
There is a wonderful book called “The Archimboldo Effect” which was produced alongside an exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice back in 1987. It contains of a collection of images illustrating composite portraits and other transformed heads from the Renaissance to contemporary art.
Many have been inspired to make their own homage to these strange paintings either in 2D or 3D, but “Salad” by Till Nowak digital artist, designer and filmmaker, is just wonderful…
“In November 2006 Till Nowak created the image “Salad”. For this image he created digital vegetable models and combined them to become a tribute to the fantastic biomechanical creations of H.R. Giger and the vegetable portraits of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. “
see more of his stunning work here and there is a great PDF showing the developmental work of “Salad” here.
Hmmmm…I still see no kohlrabies…
The mountaineering analogy seemed more apt the more I worked on the kohlrabi, progress measured inch by painstaking inch. I decided some time ago that I was not going to resort to a magnifying glass for painting. They are useful for looking at the details of the plants and I know some artists do use them but if I can’t see something with out my good glasses then I am not going to worry about it too much. One undoubted advantage of age and less acute eyesight is that everything has nicely blurred, soft focus edges, including wrinkles, grubby worksurfaces and the wobbly edges on my work. To submit my kohlrabi to the pitiless scrutiny of the magnifying glass would seem too cruel and could be just too disheartening.
My models are all wilting and smell more cabbagey by the day, but they have stayed fairly fresh in the fridge every night. In the photo below you can see them along with K1 at the back.
This is the most complicated piece I have tackled so far and the biggest ..phew.. I will think twice before doing a dark subject with dark leaves again. I used an amalgam of bits and pieces, a leaf from one and the rounded base from another. They all differ in colour slightly but all did have a purple tip to almost every leaf serration, which drove me to distraction.
I can’t say it is really “finished” and as usual, all I can see now are the mistakes, but I have had enough of it. Tomorrow I will venture out and see if the world is still there.. hurrahhhh..
Kohlrabi middle and (almost) final stage
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico HP, size 16.5 x 12 inches.
I had only a couple of hours yesterday on this vegetable challenge.. so nothing really to post. Today a solid 8 hours, during which time I seemed to take more paint off than I put on. Why, oh why does the paint slide around so much? Perhaps I am working on the wrong paper for my rather heavy handed way of applying paint. I am giving myself 2 more days on this, after which it is going in the post, finished or not.
Tomorrow the south face, which I understand is known as the suicide route.. 🙂
I redrew the Kohlrabi today and put a light wash over it and, as I now have a “spare” drawing, I decided to use it for some painting practice before committing myself to the real thing. There are many things I still don’t really understand about this type of work. I have said before that learning from books is so difficult and this is a major drawback of the course. One hour with a top class botanical painter would answer many of my questions. I still don’t know how thick to have the paint or how wet to have the paper etc etc. I am not used to working on smooth paper and the paint seems to sit on the top of the surface which is giving me a headache when building up dark tones, maybe I need to change the paper. …so it’s trial and error…
I have however come to one very important conclusion. To be a really first class botanical painter you need to be very methodical and very patient. I am not and think I am too set in my ways and bad habits to change. I cannot imagine pursuing this very detailed type of work as a career but I may combine a bit of my own looser style with some detail to create something different. There is room for some experimentation. However I will persevere with this.. but TGIF..
Leaf Trials and First Wash
Kohlrabi Leaf Trials …
First colour wash for Kohlrabi, 16 x 12″ watercolour on Fabriano HP
There are some days when you just wished you had stayed in bed with a good book aren’t there? Today has been a bit of a disaster work wise, and the only thing to do is just start again tomorrow. I am in a hurry with this assignment, but this sort of painting just can’t be hurried and of course things go wrong. So having spent all afternoon drawing the whole wretched thing out on my pristine watercolour paper, ready for the final painting, and laying down the first tones, I managed to get a nice big splash of purple paint on it. So far, for a splashy painter I have been fairly lucky, with only the odd little spot of stray paint but this is, of course, in a non disguisable area. If it were not for this assignment I would have turned it into an insect of some sort..but hey, it’s just sods law and better it was at the start of the painting than at the end. So I am drawing it out yet again.. I am getting a bit fed up with kohlrabi!
I did however make some more quick sketches, a drawing of one of the leaves just to sort the shape out and then a quick painting of one of the folded leaves. They are quite complicated with an irregularly serrated edge, in fact nothing is quite regular about them. There are little ancillary leaflets which grow at intervals along the stem (petiole) and the main blade of each leaf has deep divisions at the base, but not always two. As you pull the leaf away from the rounded and thickened part of the stem, there always seem to be 5, 6 or 7 main veins which anchor the leaf and pull away leaving the little indentations on the leaf scar. Fascinating.
Well I guess finished version 2 will be better…Hmmmm. Meanwhile I am going to find some chocolate..
I only had the evening to work today and the deadline for veg is getting very close. So I bought some new kohlrabies, bigger this time and with more leaves. They are not the freshest and the leaves are somewhat limp so I am having to “arrange” them a bit. This is the problem of living in a city. I did go to the local farmers market last Saturday but found nothing better there and I can’t find any with roots intact, so these will have to do.
As I can’t draw such a complicated piece straight onto the watercolour paper (I would need to rub out too much and damage the surface), I have made a pencil sketch first and think I will also have to work out the leaves in more detail before painting.
This will be quite a big piece. I had to use the big 16 x14″ sketch book for the pencil drawing (and had to scan the drawing in 2 halves as you can see).
The new colour sketch is on the smaller 9 x12″.
For me, the danger of having to draw and redraw something is getting bored with the image. I do like to get on with the next thing. But it really does pay off if you can persevere. I have great regard for artists who specialise in just one subject … say butterflies or birds, I just don’t have the temperament, but that is the way to true excellence. I have been reading more about Audubon whose dedication and drive was completely extraordinary, the more I read, the more I respect and admire this remarkable man. Even if I had the talent and the drive I don’t have enough years left to match a fraction of his achievement…
More Kohlrabi Sketches
Pencil sketch on cartridge 16 x 14″
Watercolour and Pencil, on Kilimanjaro Watercolour Sketch Book 9 x 12″
Just the pencil study today… no time for writing… A day full of those “other things” in life which have to be done.
I got started on this study today at 3 and finished at 7. It’s 10 inches high and pencil on Arches HP. I am trying to wean myself off the cheap sketchbook now and make better studies. The paper makes such a difference but I still am not 100% happy with this particular watercolour surface. It does have a slight tooth which causes the pencil to catch sometimes and then it needs more working over. Bristol Board I find too smooth but may try the vellum finish…the endless search for the magic art materials continues.
These more detailed pencil studies are useful for understanding how the things are put together. The more you understand, the easier things are to draw, well that’s the theory …
Kohlrabi Pencil Study
Pencil on Arches HP. Size 12″x 8″
Well it’s getting round to time for the next course submission piece and this time it is veg. I went to Wholefoods the other day for inspiration. I was not entirely overwhelmed by what I found, at this time of the year the squashes are over and the corn is finished but I did like these small purple Kohlrabies. I have never eaten Kohlrabi and read that it is not such a popular vegetable these days but there were piles and piles of them, so someone is eating them.
Kohlrabi Brassica oleracea from the Gongylodes Group.
Kohlrabi’s true origin seems unclear, the name is from the German ‘kohl’ for cabbage and ‘rabi‘ for turnip because of its mongrel appearance. The bulb part is not in fact a root but the thickened lower part of the stem which grows on top of the ground. Its appearance has a very quirky appeal, likened by some to a Sputnik or a hot air balloon. The leaves and flesh are edible and taste like mild cabbage, perhaps slightly sweeter.
Some sites say that the 1st century writer Pliny the Elder described a “Corinthian turnip” which could have been a variety of Kohlrabi. It was described in Italy in 1554, was first grown as a commercial crop in 1724 in Ireland and introduced into the USA in 1806. There are white and red to be found in the local supermarkets here. It is low calorie and easy to prepare. I will try it.
A little footnote to this: whilst researching the Kohlrabi I kept seeing a reference to the American Society of Indexing, here. As 90 % of my books have been reference books, I LOVE indexes. A good index is a complete joy and I feel bereft and sad if a book does not have one. I am 100% behind their aims to improve indexing in general. It is a fascinating site and one that gives hope to the disorganised. They have workshops.. lucky Chicago, who in October got “Taming the Wild Project List: Organizing Tools for the Complex Life: by Do Mi Stauber. Couldn’t we all do with some of that!
However, having looked at the site, I am still not exactly sure why Kohlrabies and indexing go together. They do have the Order of the Kohlrabi which is bestowed on volunteer members who are deemed to have given great service to the cause and these lucky recipients become proud owners of the much coveted Kohlrabi pin.
They clearly state that “The American Society of Indexers did, at its 2000 convention, associate itself with the vegetable, kohlrabi,” but not why…
Perhaps the significance, to indexers as a breed, is explained by their endearing motto;
“Kohlrabi: no one knows who we are, or what to do with us.”
Here are some prelim sketches and colour studies… there may be quite a few more..
Kohlrabi Preliminary Sketches