— Ecogeographer

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Tag "painting"

This time last year I was working
on the below illustration
for a cancer theme and in memory
of my granny Whisker.

Colchicum Autumnale by Dominica Williamson
Colchicum autumnale finished
section by Dominica Williamson

This year I am in the midst of creating my first very own studio and so painting is on hold.
However, I’ve just finished a glass commission and about to take on another. I can work without a studio at present because I am working with people who cut glass connected to computers – so from your file. I’ve worked with stain glass and lead in the past and a bit of acid but this is etching with machines. Benjamin eat your heart out – it’s my botanical work becoming mechanised.

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http://www.ecogeographer.com/images/Glandular-trichome_sm.jpg
A peltate glandular trichome

A forest of glandular and non-glandular hairs (trichomes) cover the catmint leaves that I am painting. I am painting the glandular hairs in detail for the Eden Project Florilegium archive so that in the future the work can be used to educate children about why cats love this plant and why it is of ethnobotanical importance to humans.

The hair that is important to cats and humans is the peltate glandular trichome – the small mushroom shaped object. It looks like a satellite station under the microscope – it is quite yellow compared to the long horn like hairs. This is because the trichome is turgid – there is content, it has its cellular contents intact (slime, water, and protein)… When cats rub against the plant, terpene, a chemical mixture gets released and sends them into heaven. (More details about this later.)

These glandular trichomes are microscopic and so I needed the botanist Dr Alistair Griffiths to help me find them. The above image he took summarizes our findings. The non-glandular hairs are rather easier to find and I’ve been looking at these at various different magnification levels whilst drawing, painting and taking snapshots of them.

Non-glandular hairs of catmint
Snapshot of non-glandular catmint trichomes

As I enter into the winter, I will get into the intricacies of painting this whole plant. I will be working with dusty green and purple mixes of paint (my specimen has purple flowers). I will post some water colour details in the future.

Notes:
Alistair Griffiths is Horticultural Science Curator at the Eden Project

We used the below as our main reference:
Catnip, Nepeta cataria, a Morphological Comparison of Mutant and Wild Type Specimens to Gain an Ethnobotanical Perspective
Scott Herron
Department of Biological Sciences, Ferris State University, 820 Campus Dr. ASC 2012, Big Rapids, MI 49307-2225; herrons@ferris.edu

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Detail of European Gorse DissectionIt’s winter.
I am currently painting in a land that is winter yellow; Cornwall. It is surrounded by harsh explosive yellow gorse, then shades of yellow daffodils, prissy pale primroses, followed by powdery yellow willow.
I’m finishing a willow dissection, which harbours a gorgeous squat yellowy glistening nectary.
But first showing here is European Gorse dissected. The Gorse gave me beautiful objects to paint. I know Derek Jarman would appreciate them, especially the above detail.
The mechanical hinge of the keel is illustrated below.

…its five petals form the keel, wings and standard – the wings and keel interlocking. If we carefully dissect a flower we can see at the base of each half of the keel a great tooth, and a similar one at the base of each wing, by which the interlocking is effected. We further discover that all the stamens are here joined into a tube round a minute pod; they are monodelphous – “in one brotherhood” – say the botanists.*

European Gorse Dissection
Plant family: Fabaceae
Plant genus: Ulex
Plant species: U. europaeus
Plant cultivar: NA
Held: Eden Project Florilegium
Artist: Dominica Williamson

A friend and colleague, Matt Groshek, remarked, ‘Your work is reminding me of Jarman’. The last year I had periodically clutched his Garden book. It must have seeped in. I hadn’t realised.
Jarman would look at this not only for its form, he would wonder at the colour. It would take him to Prospect Cottage. It’s yellow window frames and the very way he framed the house with Gorse.

‘The milk-white sap bleeds, the yellow flowers turn brown in death.’
‘Daffodil yellow. Primrose yellow. The Yellow Rose of Texas. Canary bird.’
‘Spring comes with celandine and daffodil. The yellow rape sends the bees dizzy. Yellow is a difficult colour, fugitive as mimosa that sheds its dusty pollen as the sun sets.’
Yellow Lines the Kerbside. Yellow earth-moving equipment with flashing yellow lights, cutting a wound in the landscape.
excerpts from Jarman’s Chroma 1994

And it’s Matt who indirectly, through Leslie, took me to the Yellow Wallpaper. What a book. I think it’s because it shows the two extremities of the colour in huge depth – the two polar opposites of what the colour can do. Life and joy versus death and despair – summer versus winter. And now I am thinking of Jarman again.

Yellow has long been my favourite colour, and I am sure always will. (I believe it is Leslies too.)

* Quote taken from Knolik

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